When we last saw our new “Dancing with the Stars” cast, one well-known TV star (Jaleel White) and an unknown singer (Katherine Jenkins) had taken control of the first week’s competition while a hunky Latin lover (William Levy) had created a frenzy never seen before in the ballroom. But the other celebrities weren’t far behind, as they danced brilliantly, resulting in the best first show of any of the previous “DWTS” seasons.
All in all, it was a great start to season 14, and we were looking forward to the level of dancing being sustained in the second week. But this week, there would be an elimination, so everyone had to be on their game.
So here we go, and let the Levy-mania continue!
The traditional parade of stars began. Jack Wagner’s partner Anna Trebunskaya is the one showing off cleavage this week, and my gosh, WHAT was Martina Navratilova wearing? It looks like a tennis net worn as a top, how appropriate! I continued to be amazed by her makeover.
Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower: Quickstep
We started with the youngest couple this week, with Chelsie telling Roshan in rehearsal that he had to be like a prince in the ballroom — and he was still trying to do hip hop instead. The pro dancer decided (or was it the DWTS producers?) to speak his language with hip hop attitude, but her swagger didn’t really work. I was relieved they moved on quickly to the live dance. Roshon showed some fancy footwork in this ballroom dance and stayed on the beat beautifully. His posture was very good for a ballromm beginner. The young Disney star kept her in a nice hold, nothing wimpy or uncertain here, and ended the dance on his knees in front of Chelsie (where a man should be!). Judge Len Goodman was smiling and loved the Charleston moves. “It was young, it was fresh,” he said. Bruno Tonioli said he had cheeky swagger he found delicious. Carrie Ann Inaba praised his elegance and sophistication. The second show was off to a great start, as they were rewarded with a 26, which was the highest score last week.
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Sherri Shepherd and Val Chmerkovskiy: Jive
In rehearsal, Sherri said she should be 20 pounds lighter to jive to Proud Mary (an early use of the weight card to get female votes? Go for it!). She looked out of breath while bouncing around in practice. The TV hostess said Val didn’t know how to pick her up and she felt she looked like a fat-assed baby. Sherri started the dance in black but then stripped down to a Tina Turner-esque gold sparkly dress. She kept up with the insanely physical choregraphy and kept that big smile plastered on her face and appeared to miss one of Val’s bits of direction (was she supposed to go under his legs and chickened out? I wasn’t sure). But it was no biggie as she continued to gyrate like Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray. She showed a lot of fun attitude and ended the dance with a smirk on her face. Sherri’s dance won the Carson Kressley award for entertainment, for sure — in fact, Bruno leaped up and said Tina Turner would be proud even though Sherri had flubbed part of the dance. Carrie Ann said yes, there was a mistake, but didn’t care because she was chock full of confidence. Len said it really worked and he loved watching her. Surprise, surprise—last week was no fluke! Sherri seemed in it to win it! The hostess said she didn’t know why she forgot a step and Brooke Burke praised her for the brilliant recovery. I thought 23 was a little stingy, myself.
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Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Quickstep
Melissa got the lowest score last week. Maks told her she looked like she was taking a dump in rehearsal—eeww, didn’t need that visual! But later, Maks told her she did excellent job on something else and she burst into tears of joy, confusing the longtime pro. They danced to Melissa’s old boyfriend Billy Idol’s song Dancing with Myself. Melissa seemed a little better than last week but was uncertain on the stairs and later, looked like a deer in the headlights in trying to complete another move. She messed up and showed she knew it. The applause was tepid, never a good sign on DWTS. Carrie Ann noted that she had a slip and her shoulders raised up because of nervousness. Len said she lost energy during the dance and it was hectic. Bruno said Melissa needed to relax but she coped well with difficult steps. Maks told Brooke he once cried—during a screening of The Lion King. What was the verdict for “Half Pint”? 20 points, same as last week. Poor Melissa.
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Jack Wagner and Anna Trebunskaya: Jive
Jack and Anna were talking about their great scores from last week. In rehearsal, Anna said he had trouble with his hips. The soap hunk was covered in sweat, soaking through two tee shirts. They hit the floor in what looked like a 70s jive given his brown vest and orange shirt. I was hard on Jack last week but he was moving well this week in a very quick dance. He never let up with the kicks and cleanly sent Anna under his legs. No major problems in the dance and I enjoyed watching him! Len liked his energy but said he lost a bit of control. Bruno pointed out how fast it was and said Jack lost the beat, which I didn’t see. Carrie Ann commented that he over danced it but he was fun to watch. Over dancing a jive? Was it possible to hold back in that dance? This week, I thought Jack got underscored—only one point above Melissa?
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Gladys Knight and Tristan MacManus: Quickstep
The soul icon didn’t want to fall on her face this week. Gladys was taking it very seriously and talked tough in rehearsal about how competitive it all was. It was fun to see her lack of vanity in practice without her stage makeup (take note, Katherine Jenkins!). So they started the dance in major ballroom hold and Gladys bobbled a bit when Tristan led her near the chairs on the side of the stage. Dancing to Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke, Gladys seemed like she wanted to bust out of hold and do some freestyling! The judges confirmed my thoughts on the hold problem, with Bruno saying she was locked in Tristan’s eyes but her frame wasn’t precise. Carrie Ann mentioned she was light on her feet but the frame was too casual. Meanwhile, Len congratulated her on getting through the dance—hell, Len, that’s what DWTS is all about! But Len got boos when he said that he didn’t like her dance. That was the old Len I remember—he has been polite so far this season, but now, the gloves were off. Backstage, she admitted she knew the frame was going to get her. Len gave her a 5 but Gladys kept smiling. She has been in show business a long time and showed nothing fazes her.
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Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas: Jive
Katherine said she was overwhelmed by her great reviews last week. We were in rehearsal again and K is in full makeup—what gives? I’d like to see her without the heavy eyeliner. Anyway, she was worried about trying to look sexy in the ballroom. After his time with her in London, Mark couldn’t stop speaking like an Englishman. They began the dance by “gambling” on a prop table. The singer looked like a professional for the second week in a row—where did they find her? Her bends were a little tentative but when she was more upright, it was perfect. They ended it all by scoring on the slots with Len, Carrie Ann, and Bruno in the pictures. Carrie Ann loved the hyperextension in her legs while Len loved the start and thought the middle a little wobbly. “The blonde bombshell is unleashed!” Bruno raved, and added that they taught a master class on flicks.
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Jaleel White and Kym Johnson: Jive
The former TV nerd relived his triumph of last week, when he got a 26. Back in rehearsal, they said they were doing the dance to Bruno Mars’ Marry Me. Jaleel said Kym gets a crazy look in her eye when she wasn’t completely satisfied and wanted to add something else. They were yucking it up in practice, seemed like a content team so far. The dance had them as a couple of soda jerks who leave their lunch counter to dance up a storm. Although Jaleel looked flexible, I preferred his foxtrot from last week. He didn’t seem quite athletic or quick enough in this demanding dance. He ended the jive by jumping back behind the counter and serving Kym a malt. Len said there wasn’t a crispness about it and he was a little bit disappointed. Me, too! Bruno loved the diner concept but admitted it lacked something. The other judge, Carrie Ann, thought the former Steve Urkel was flat-footed. Uh oh. A front runner has fallen.
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Maria Menounos and Derek Hough: Quickstep
There we were with Maria’s odd laugh again, reminding one of a donkey. Maria said they were doing a Bonnie and Clyde themed dance this week—looked like another choreographic triumph for Derek, the man who brought us Psycho last season, so I couldn’t wait. Maria was doing the power of positive thinking even though she had injured her rib. They started with the two running from the law in their black masks. Maria seemed to be getting the hang of it more than last week; I enjoyed her traveling moves and the footwork looked cool and she didn’t fight him on the hold like Gladys did with her partner. They ended the number by approaching the judges’ table and throwing their paperwork up in the air. But did the ‘30s criminals slay the judges? Bruno said you could frame her frame, it was near-perfection. “Flying killers,” he said. Carrie Ann said they were solid and strong but they went out of synch at one point. Len didn’t mind “the little incident” in the middle and applauded them for strength and control. Maria brushed off talk of her rib injury backstage with Brooke in the kiss and cry area. They got one 9, which made Maria jump up and down.
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Martina Navratilova and Tony Dovolani: Jive
The fierce competitor was shown in rehearsal being chided by Tony for not keeping her head up. She finally nailed it. But later, Martina complained about hurting her bad left toe and collapsed on the floor. Were those tears from the tennis legend? Martina started the jive by fondling Len, of all people, from behind the judge’s table. Sadly, her footwork, side by side with Tony, was stiff and ungainly. She was waaay too slow for jive and that net/bikini combo with the fringed pants was beyond cartoonish. Martina has a great body for her age, but still. She ended the dance by fondling Carrie Ann (a nod to her orientation for the first time this season?). Carrie Ann took the girl action in stride and said Martina missed the counts in the jive but she really enjoyed Martina’s attitude (uh oh, the kiss of death). Len was kind, but said it was too careful. Bruno felt the ball hit the net—ouch! Another big ouch—Brooke announced that they posted Martina and Tony’s voting numbers wrong on the screen and to make the adjustment. Thanks a lot for that, and for Len’s 5!
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Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd: Quickstep
The Super Bowl champ was underscored last week, but he brushed it off and told Peta in practice that his nickname was Quicky (so quickstep should be a breeze!). At one point, he said “I quit!” when he didn’t do that well in rehearsal. But the amiable football player was just frustrated for the moment; he rebounded, yes, quickly. I couldn’t figure out the theme of their dance but their hops and traveling moves seemed to be solid, although not as good as Maria and Derek. This was Donald trying to portray a romantic mood, though, and I thought he botched it. It wasn’t as good as last week, not as fast and interesting. But Len said was one of the best he’d seen this night and admitted he’d under-marked Donald last week. Host Tom Bergeron said it’s the first time Len ever admitted he’d been wrong! “Refined and elegant,” Bruno said. All the years of watching DWTS paid off for Donald, Carrie Ann smiled. Okay, they under-scored him last week, but made up for it this week, which was wrong to me.
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Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff: Jive
Last week, the singer was tied for last place. Gavin said in practice that jive was horrible and tried to leave but Karina dragged him back. Gavin said Karina was giving him the evil eye. Gavin was on a motorcycle this time so it was a Wild One Marlon Brando- themed dance, ‘50s style. Man, Karina looked amazing in that red retro dress. Gavin did surprisingly well on the side-by-side kicks and ended the dance cute, getting back on the bike with Karina. The pro’s former fiancée, Maks, was shown clapping in the dancer’s section, but was that a slight glower on his face? Bruno praised the Elvis parts (Elvis? I thought more Marlon) but said Gavin missed the flicks and kicks. However, the judge dug the leather look! He would! “Your posture was funky,” Carrie Ann said, but admired his hustle. Len liked the energy and declared it was better than last week. I agreed.
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William Levy and Cheryl Burke: Quickstep
They saved the hottest for last tonight, of course. Cheryl was concentrating on his frame, but I was surprised she could concentrate at all with that hunky guy rehearsing with her. Nice Work If You Can Get It was the ‘20s style theme. This time William was corseted in a tux, no biceps visible. I had seen better footwork tonight and even though he threw Cheryl under his legs with ease (ahem), I felt it a bit lackluster compared to what we’d seen earilier. Carrie Ann couldn’t talk over the screams but called him the Harry Connick Jr. of the ballroom. Len knocked him for a lack of body contact: “Good, not great.” Bruno thought he had the ability to dazzle even fully clothed. I don’t know about that. He’ll clearly make it through to next week and I hope the biceps return, asap! Brooke told him he’s become an overnight star in America and he said it’s beautiful. He didn’t have to say antying, though.
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