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So here we are, our second season of Dancing With the Stars. For most of the shows that promise to breathe life into minor celebrities, I tune in simply to take pleasure in the misfortune of others, but I can’t say that with Dancing With the Stars. Public speaking is difficult, and public dancing is not much better. When you consider that everybody has to do this live in front of millions of people without a script to follow and almost no skill for the event which they will be judged, I sort of have to give all of these people a hand. Then, of course, they actually make it on to the dance floor, and open their mouths and I am ready to make fun of them. This season, the producers have changed the elimination. The audience will vote on the same performances as the judges, with a results show to be aired Fridays for elimination. That takes care of one of the biggest evaluation mysteries from last season, and should give people more incentive to vote. After the success of the show this summer, appearing on Dancing With the Stars holds a little bit of cachet now, although as we will see, the prestige of the event means more to some people than others. Nevertheless, it was a great first episode, and I think we’ll have plenty to talk about over the next eight weeks.Tom Bergeron is back, and I think after audience reviews from last summer, he has been allowed to right his own jokes. Considering his other gigs are Hollywood Squares and America’s Funniest Home Videos, I hope the audience re-surveys him out of that role, because he was really bad. That might be why the networks decided to get rid of co-host Lisa Canning, now entering her fortieth year of existence with the younger Samantha Harris, who you may know as the host of The Next Joe Millionaire and correspondent from E! News. To tell you the truth, I am not sure why they got rid of Lisa Cannon, but between Samantha and Tom, there can’t be any more than a few dozen brain cells between the two of them. Luckily, this is ballroom dancing, and there would be no play by play, which might seem sad because I would pay just to see Keith Jackson say “Whoooaaa Nellie!” any time a woman’s skirt reached her knees, but in the long run it’s probably better for all of us.
They called the stars to come down the stairs, and we first caught sight of George Hamilton, although I think he can officially change his name to Orange Hamilton. I wasn’t aware that those self-tanning lotions came in “Oompah Loompah”, but now I know. George was followed by the rest of the celebrities, including Kenny Mayne, who looks quite dashing in a puffy shirt, as well as Master P, oh, I’m sorry, P. Miller. I am not sure if there was some reason P was requesting they use his government name, but a few more weeks of “P Miller, also known as Master P”, and I’ll be tattooing a prince sign to the back of his ass. Everybody looked good, and Tia Carrere looked pregnant, but actually she just had a baby, so I will ease off the Rachel Hunter impersonation jokes for a few weeks. Overall, everybody looked really good, and with that we got right to the dancing.
If you remember from this summer, before the couples dance, we have a little skit with their practice session or what not, followed by the dance. First was George Hamilton, and we learned that he was a famous actor, and to top it off, he had a sense of humor, mentioning that he was probably most famous for his tan, sort of like mentioning that Jennifer Lopez is famous for her ass. He is paired with Edyta Sliwinska, who we never really got to see a lot of last year since she was paired with Evander Holyfield, and they were the second couple do be eliminated. We learned that Edyta is famous for her animal passion, so it would be interesting to learn how all of those hours watching Discovery Channel would pay off in the choreography. To tell you the truth, I really like Edyta. She’s the type of girls where you think soft restraints plus hot wax is a REALLY good idea. I think George really liked her too, judging by the look on his face when they opened the show.
I knew that I was going to enjoy watching George Hamilton’s practice sessions, but I was not prepared for just how enjoyable they would be. Not only did George look great in his khaki and sweater combinations, but we learned that he was going to be dancing through an injury. He broke his ribs, and not in the usual way that most of us break our ribs, you know, fighting over the best flavors of Vitamin Water. No, George fell off of his yacht, and how can you not enjoy that? When it came time to start this week’s dance, the cha cha cha, things weren’t quite what I expected. I started this season thinking that George Hamilton would be much like John O’Hurley with his style and panache, and while that was mostly true, George struggled with the cha cha cha. He is quite a bit older than John, at 67, and perhaps worried that he would have a heart attack, so the moves were crisp, but few and far between. He mostly looked like he was imagining himself getting a boner without Viagra, and let Edyta do all the work. The judges liked his style (nice way to open the session with a fake martini), but thought he had a lot of work to do with his moves, and scored him a 7-5-6. If he can get in shape, I still think these two have a lot to offer.
Next up was Lisa Rinna, and she said she was inspired to do the show because she wanted to show everybody out there that you could do anything you want if you put your mind to it, and she was determined to prove that he mind contained thoughts of things other than collagen lip injections. She was paired with Louis Von Amstel, and you knew right away that these two were going to be fun to watch. Louis knew right away that they would have big bondage”. Oh Louis, who knew you were so kinky? You kiss your mama with that mouth sweetheart? Lisa said they were like two peas in a pod, and you only needed to take a look at their legs side by side to see that they both go to the same crazy Brazilian waxing salon.
Although Louis would be happier if his partner was Hugh Jackman, once he learned that Ms. Rinna was just as flexible, he saw that he would have a lot to work with, and immediately put it into their routine. On the dance floor, I thought that Lisa and Louis did very well, and showed a ton of chemistry. The judges, on the other hand, didn’t totally agree with me. Our judges are Len Goodman, the sophisticate, Carrie Ann Inaba the modern choreographer, and Bruno Tonioli the requisite flamboyant European. They are a good group, and usually have different tastes, and when you can get pas Bruno’s penchant for grandstanding, they usually give thoughtful responses. I knew that Lisa was having trouble with some of her footwork, but Carrie Ann took her to task for it, and was booed heavily by the crowd. One person, in particular, could be heard over everybody else, and I SWEAR it was Harry Hamelin, Lisa’s husband, who happened to be in the live audience. Len and Bruno also saw potential, and didn’t penalize her as much. She ended up with a 5-7-7, which is still a respectable showing your first time out.
After a brief interlude where saw a demonstration from professionals how to do each dance as well as what to look for (could have helped before we saw anybody dance, don’t you think), we went back to the dancing. One of the reasons I was so excited about this season was the participation of Kenny Mayne. While there are other ESPN personalities that we might have enjoyed a little more (seriously, imagine Steven A. Smith doing this), Kenny was out to have fun, and his partner, Andrea Hale was out to make sure that he wasn’t going to enjoy any of it. OK, maybe that was a little unfair, because while she was really trying to get Kenny to be serious, it was really so he would focus on practicing. People were going to make fun of him anyway, so at least he could look good while he was out there.
During their cha cha cha, we could see why Ms. Hale wanted to get serious with Kenny. In the cha cha cha, we look for crisp body movements, strong hip action, and the famous New York step. Kenny was concentrating the whole time, but I think there was something wrong with his hips, like he didn’t know that they existed until a few weeks ago. Kenny missed a lot of moves, did hip thrusts like he had learned them from a watching a Franklin Roosevelt documentary, and couldn’t even keep his arms in sync. Andrea did a good job, but the judges really let him have it. I’m a Kenny Mayne fan, and even I was thinking that ABC should implement some sort of MRSA, or minimum rhythm skills assessment before picking people for the next round. I think it would save the stars a whole lot of embarrassment, but maybe it was intentional leaving him in their for the gag factor. Despite having his work called “demented” Kenny was very funny backstage, and I hope people voted him along next week, because I would love to see what he says to Bruno now that he knows what a huge asshole that guy has turned into this year. Kenny’s assertion that his dance was an interpretation of two people lost in the woods finding their way back even elicited a Tolstoy joke from Bergeron. Bravo Tom, bravo. Kenny Mayne walked away with a 4-5-4, and you could argue that the judges were generous.
We next got to see Stacy Keibler. I think she is good looking, but since she has a background in ballet, I think her inclusion in this particular show gives her an unfair advantage. Her partner, Tony Dovolani, described himself as very macho and one of the bad boys of dance, and I can see what he means. Whenever I am trying to look intimidating, I put on a tight, frilly tuxedo shirt and unbutton it to my navel. In reality, Tony looks like Milos, the guy from Seinfeld who was the worst tennis pro in the history of the game. Stacy and Tony danced well, but I felt like it was more a showcase of Stacy’s ability to stretch her body than any sort of waltz demonstration. Carrie Ann and Bruno were just gushing with praise, saying that the dance was not a waltz, and was all sizzle and no sausage. Tom made a comment that there was plenty of sausage, but I would have to disagree. If you want to see sausage, go to bingo night at Hamburger Mary’s. Unless Stacy was doing the best tuck this side of the crying game, there was little sausage in that number. Still, the judges scored them 8-6-8, meaning they will almost certainly make it to next week.
What is it about Drew Lachey that makes you wonder if he lost his virginity in the back seat of a Dodge Spirit? I thought Drew would be pretty good in this competition, but might struggle for votes given that he is best known as being the younger brother of the guy who got to bone Jessica Simpson with regularity. (Come on! She’s dumb, but don’t say that you wouldn’t do the same thing, especially if she didn’t care about a pre-nup). His partner was Cheryl Burke or as we like to call her around the office, the hottest little fraggle on the west coast. She tried to come off as really demanding, but Cheryl comes off about as intimidating as Nicole Richie at a hot dog eating contest. While Drew tried to act like being in 98 degrees wouldn’t help him in the competition, I knew it wasn’t true. And even if it was true, the fact that he was in RENT on Broadway means that he has to have at least a little bit of grace, right? That was exactly the case. Perhaps the cha cha cha was just suited to Drew’s style, but the two of them looked good together, and they picked up an 8-8-8 from the judges, and a some encouraging applause from his older brother who happened to be in attendance.
The next woman would be Tia Carrere, and she said she wanted to do the show to help her lose some baby weight. I think Ms. Carrere is gorgeous, even though she is teetering very close to that Anna Nicole Smith pre-TrimSpa (baby!) look. She even brought her baby to her first meeting with her partner Maksim. (Note to self, write pilot for show: Breast-feeding with the Stars). What can you say about Maksim? I am sure he is a good dancer, but the guy was comparing himself to Keanu Reeves and said that like Neo, he was very mysterious. The only real mystery, of course, was wondering how long it had been since Maksim had taken a shower. These two were another great pairing, and seemed to have good chemistry. I particularly liked the way Maksim liked to practice in his black, sleeveless argyle sweater or white t-shirt that said “Cash Only”, which I believe is the name of the mail-order bride service he runs on the side. Oh, I’m sorry, the mysterious mail-order bride service he runs on the side.
As Tia and Maksim started, and the music began to play, I wondered a couple of things. First, just how long would it take before Tia’s dress splits, and two, did Nick Lachey join the Dancing With the Stars band and begin to do lead vocals? I thought that these two danced pretty well, and although there were several miscues, they looked good together. The judges had a lot of criticism, but gave them a 6-7-7. If Tia gets in better shape, these two could do well.
Next up was P. Miller, also known as Master P. We got a quick explanation from Bergeron that Romeo was supposed to be on the show, but when he injured himself playing basketball, he had to pull out of the competition. His dad, Master P, decided to fill in, and let’s just say they didn’t get much practice. While I think Master P had a pretty good attitude about the whole thing, his appearance on the show had less to do with wanting to be there and more to do with “contractual obligation”. To say he was just going through the motions would be an understatement. The judges saw that he wasn’t taking it seriously, and Len Goodman desperately asked him to take it more seriously and even wear proper ballroom shoes and attire next time. Bruno also asked Master P to try harder, and Carrie decided her thoughts on the actual dance would be better left unsaid. Who knew the gangster cha cha wouldn’t play well to the shrill, gay, and British Master P and Ashley DelGrossa walked away with a 4-4-4.
Giselle Fernandez was the fourth woman to go, and I really can’t say that much about her. Uhh, she looks good for her age. Ummm, her father was a dancer? More interesting was her partner, Jonathan Roberts, who said his skills were that he could work with any partner, evidenced by the way he worked with Rachel Hunter last season. Mr. Roberts also has a very freaky Tom Cruise double-take like thing going on when you look at him at certain angles. These two worked fairly well together, and while their movements looked solid, something seemed to be missing. Carrie Ann helped when she said that some parts looked forced. She got some boos from the crowd, but I think it was good constructive criticism, and with practice, these two could also go far. Their score was 7-8-8.
The last of the guys was Jerry Rice. One of the great things about a lot of these dancers is that a lot of them are not American, so they don’t know just how famous or important the people they are working with. This goes double for Anna Trebunskaya, Jerry’s partner. She had no clue who he was and could care less about football in general. Her description of the game as a bunch of guys running around with a ball until a bunch of other guys jump on top of him sounds like it would automatically qualify you for don’t ask don’t tell. And don’t tell me you didn’t love it when she said that she was going to bring the Russian mentality to the dance studio. i.e., “Do it or die!” Seriously, no gymnast or dance story is complete without some sort of communist bloc athlete narrative is included somewhere.
In my predictions for the show, I gave advantages to people who were athletes, but even throwing out Master P’s example, the other athletes on this squad had a lot to learn. As Anna was saying, they have to learn an entirely new set of ways to move your body, as well as completely different footwork. As Jerry and Anna started to danced, I was actually amazed at how unnatural Jerry Rice still looked. I mean, he was a million times better than Kenny Mayne, but she still had some problems with his hips early. He did eventually get warmed up and got into the mood of the whole thing, and from there, the rest was pretty good. The judges said that he was a work in progress, but liked what he brought to the table, which was good enough for a 7-7-7.
I am not sure if they chose who would dance in random order, but if the producers hand picked the lineup and chose Tatum O’Neal to end the show, we have pretty good proof that it must be half of Swedish meatballs at the Ikea in Burbank once again. Something had to be distracting them to be so out of line. I am not sure who was doing their demographics, but off the top of my head, I would have ended with Lisa Rinna. I guess it makes you sound important to tend with an Oscar winner, but in ten years would you really care if Jillian Barberie or Mia Sorvino went first? Seriously, can you shut up about an Oscar when it’s been THIRTY YEARS since your win? And if I were Tatum, I wouldn’t brag about being a mother, considering she lost custody to John McEnroe. Imagine that, your divorce lawyer has video of your husband threatening almost everybody at a tennis match at some point or another in his life, and you still lose custody? But I guess family court would rather see kids get screamed at than accidentally getting into mom’s stash of H.
Speaking of drug addictions, I am not convinced she is clean. During her practice sessions, she kept on saying she was sick from the spins, and would immediately go for a coffee break. Hmmm, desperately seeking caffeine while in the presence of others? Offbeat behavior? Maybe she isn’t Pat O’Brien sniffing coke off a hooker’s ass, and I guess we should get to the bottom of this. Rampant speculation will either cause her to deny it all, or relapse and go into rehab, so I think we should give it a try. Her partner, Nick, is an arrogant Australian. How you can stay arrogant and still tolerate the existence of vegemite is beyond me, but these two also had good chemistry. Their waltz was nice, and while I wouldn’t call it the “most sophisticated and sexy waltz I have ever seen” as Carrie Ann said, I do think it was one of the better performances of the night. Tatum was absolutely giddy, and began to ramble incoherently backstage over simple questions. Samantha Harris finally cut her off so we could get to the score, which was 7-8-8.
After a little American Idol-esque recap of what went on, we received the numbers to call. Those numbers don’t work now, but if you want to sign up for an ABC account, you can vote online.
Overall, I thought that this was a good episode, and I think I will really enjoy the season over the next eight weeks. Master P is probably done for, but there are six couples that have a good shot at winning this depending on how they improve. Who was your favorite couple? Least favorite? Who do you think will win?