I was excited that “Dancing with the Stars‘” season 16 premiere had been so much fun courtesy of the train wreck that was D.L. Hughley. I’m just being honest, folks, because that is the “DWTS” we know and love. The comedian had gone down as one of the show’s worst dancers on week one, but had the chance to redeem himself tonight, as each celebrity this season would perform twice before any elimination. And the scores from two weeks would be added together for the stars.
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Here was what happened on week two for all our stars as elimination would loom tomorrow:
Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson: Quickstep
Kym told Ingo he had to dance like a penny was in his butt, very easy for the hunky soap star! As the dance got started, Ingo looked very high energy if a bit like a colt learning to walk. I didn’t like the look of his feet too much, but his back was nice and straight. Although the footwork looked a little awkward, he smiled gamely and appeared to be trying to use his acting skills to become that merry swing dancer type. It ended well, perhaps better than the dance started. Judge Len Goodman said, “Bingo, Ingo. Much improved!” Bruno Tonioli said it was a bonanza of tricky steps but he messed it up a bit with flattened toes. And Carrie Ann Inaba thought Ingo’s frame was the problem and caused the couple to be out of sync. Ingo was quite happy with his score, however. I must admit his laid back attitude is refreshing when some of the other stars have been melting down.
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Dorothy Hamill and Tristan MacManus: Jive
This couple had great chemistry last week, and I was looking forward to seeing more from them this time. But, uh oh, first injury alert of the season–Dorothy complained about a cyst in her back that affected her ankle and she was limping a lot in rehearsal. Drama as she literally couldn’t dance for a few days of crucial practice. But dancing in flats to the song “Chantilly Lace,” the ice skater started the jive fine. But there was a little bobble with this pair a little later in the dance and then the wheels (or the blades to use an ice skating term) completely came off. It appeared as though she wasn’t moving fast enough to keep up with Tristan and she kept making embarrassing mistakes, even bumping her partner at one point. What a shame! It looked like Dorothy had really been hurting during that dance. Bruno called it a brave attempt but she lost the footing so many times as poor Dorothy nodded. Carrie Ann said she sensed the fear in Dorothy this week more than her ankle and she had lots of mistakes. And Len said there was no bounce or flair. The ice skating legend was almost in tears and got straight 5s. Sad.
Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff: Jazz
What would we see after last week’s incredible dance from this wild football star? He was goofing off in rehearsal but once again, I couldn’t understand a thing he said. Some little girls were invited into the practice studio to teach Jacoby some discipline in the first gratuitious TV package of the season. Their dance started with Karina as a stiltwalker—no, she was actually on Jacoby’s shoulders! They were wearing cute yellow outfits and it looked very Charleston and he did excellent work in the side by side moves. He also lifted Karina a couple of times and ended the dance by rolling her into a somersault. I thought it was the best performance of the night so far! According to Carrie Ann, jazz incorporates from a lot of styles and lifts are allowed and she said Jacoby totally rocked it. Len said it was full of razzle dazzle but wants to see more refinement from Jacoby in future. Good luck with that! “All that jazz,” Bruno raved. He felt it had charm and energy; so did I!
Victor Ortiz and Lindsay Arnold: Jive
Lindsay gave her partner a preview of what they’d face this week, telling Victor jive would be high-energy and fun. But that’s where the fun ended. The boxer was yawning and getting upset in practice and Lindsay was being a tough taskmistress. He wanted to quit. The tension was high, but Victor hugged his partner and decided to continue. Their Monday night dance started with the couple on wanted posters. When they hit the floor, the routine looked pretty good, with Victor giving us some complicated kicks and a lot of smiles. He leaped over Lindsay’s entire body at one point and had good rythym. Sherri Shepherd enjoyed it in the audience. Len praised the fun but Victor interrupted and asked if he had knocked his socks off. Len said no; he thought it could be sharper. I thought that was unfair on week two! Bruno said it was a runaway train and it looked like a zumba dance, too undisciplined, basically. Carrie Ann said she was a mess; don’t know what was going on there but said he was on the right track despite the footwork problems.
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Wynonna Judd and Tony Dovolani: Quickstep
I already admit I’m biased because I love this couple and am rooting for them. Wy told Tony her problem this week would be not peeing in her pants. Ha. The country singer was worried about how fast the quickstep would be and started to cry (didn’t she cry last week, too?). “I’m falling apart,” she told her pro. Their quickstep started with the two playing police officers and driving cop scooters onto the ballroom floor and then going into a well-synchronized routine that wasn’t that quick, honestly. Still, Tony had put a lot of cute window dressing in this dance, including a lot of hopping in place that wouldn’t tire Wy out too much. The “Neutron Dance” number came to an end with Wynonna sitting on Tony’s lap and her husband clapping in the audience. Bruno loved the cop theme and said it started quite well but ended as a casual stroll. “You’re so on the right track,” Carrie Ann praised. She said Wynonna had played it safe, though. Len thought the dance was entertaining but it was all too slow.
Zendaya Coleman and Val Chmerkovskiy: Jive
The Disney star, who topped the leader board last week, couldn’t wait to joke about breaking an ankle this week. She was taller than Val when she put on her dance shoes. Well, as you know, Zendaya already dances hip hop on her show “Shake it Up,” so she basically killed this dance. I was looking at her the entire time, not the professional, Val, so that meant it was a superstar dance. She was super fast and hit every move with fire. What was there to critique? She was so pretty in that flapper outfit, too. Carrie Ann said she killed it, echoing me, and Len said she would definitely be back next week! Meanwhile, Bruno declared “a star is born big time!” Still, she reminded me a little of Sabrina Bryan, a great dancer that was eventually shown the door. Would Zendaya have enough fans to make it to the finale at just age 16? We all know the DWTS demographic. Tom Bergeron made a creepy joke about what would she do at 17? Yikes
Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess: Jazz
Last week’s Cinderella story, Andy, confided something like nothing had driven him to drink. Yet?! Ha. Couldn’t resist a bad joke there. Andy said he felt like he could take on anything. I hoped we’d see more of what he did last time. The number started with a kind of Alice and Wonderland theme and Andy was acting aggressive with Sharna, spinning her around. He put her on his back with a menacing look on his face and everyone backstage laughed. He did a funny bump and grind with his butt which the ABC cameraman caught and put his head between his partner’s legs later, my, my. He almost got caught in Sharna’s odd costume garter belts! All the reporters in the backstage media room applauded. Tom said it was “fun crazy” and I couldn’t agree more. Len was rendered speechless but recovered and cited Andy’s commitment to the dance and said it was fun to watch. Bruno enjoyed the “crackers” quality of it while Carrie Ann did some mugging to replicate Andy—and then said he had nailed it! Yay, Andy! Cinderella was still at the ball—er, the ballroom!
Sean Lowe and Peta Murgatroyd: Jive
The “Bachelor” was struggling with the speed of the jive in rehearsal. Peta was constantly yelling at him in practice but they still looked like they were getting along. The theme here was Sean playing a lifeguard who had to go rescue pretty Peta. He pounded on her chest and she got up and they went through their paces. Sean looked too muscle-bound in this dance; it’s hard to move fast when you’re that built up. But Mr. Bachelor Workout King, famed for pumping iron, threw in a smooth cartwheel at the end and I felt it was pretty fluid for week 2. My only major complaint was it looked too much like the jock slumming it at an aerobics class at the gym. Bruno joked about wanting Sean to save him and said he was light on his feet, which I didn’t see at all. Carrie Ann said it was a solid performance (no pun intended?) but she felt he didn’t do enough with the music. According to Len, there was no jive content in it and it was too theatrical. The cranky judge got a bit discombobulated when the crowd booed him and stood up from his chair. Anyway, nothing seemed to get Sean ruffled and he seemed satisfied with 20 points.
Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas: Quickstep
This couple puzzled me last week with a performance that didn’t equal her Olympics work. But it was a new week and they looked happy in rehearsal. Aly, who was so skilled in gymnastics floor exercises, should be able to phone this one in. But when the dance started, just like last week, I felt Aly was mugging a little too much. Her facial expressions seemed silly and forced. But of course the athlete could do all the complicated moves and they looked so well-matched physically and Mark leaped over her head with a lot of flair at the end. Still, again, I felt they underachieved slightly. What wasn’t gelling? I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. But Carrie Ann gushed that it was the best quickstep of the night. Len said it wasn’t an easy dance and her head was too far to the left. Still, it was teriffic, he intoned. Bruno called her a magic blue bird because of her blue outfit. Maybe it was just me who wasn’t feeling it.
Lisa Vanderpump and Gleb Savchenko: Jive
Okay, I was really mean to “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star last week because her head was rolling around like she had too much wine. Let the record show I have no idea if she is imbibing her favorite rose this season. Anyway, this time around, I hoped Lisa would show that she had actually had some dance lessons once upon a time long ago. Lisa and Gleb talked, with the reality star complaining the whole time that this was his job and basically he couldn’t expect her to catch on right away. Okay, so their jive showed Lisa as a flight attendant who hooked up with the sexy pilot played by Gleb. It was set to the song “One Way or Another” by Blondie and just like last week, Lisa seemed to flounder through the moves. She kicked very well but there was something about the upper part of her body which didn’t work the dance. Was there just one half of a good dancer in there? Hmm. Lisa admitted it after finishing the questionable routine that it was “a bumpy ride.” Len quipped it was wooden and she never “took off” in the flying- themed number. Again, Len started barking at the crowd but Bruno was the one who made reporters laugh by saying Lisa just wasn’t used to flying commercial! Ha. Carrie Ann became the lift police again, citing Gleb for picking Lisa up off the ground, which wasn’t allowed in jive (but WAS allowed in jazz this week. Are you following this?) To Carrie Ann, Lisa needed to let just loose. Straight 6s wasn’t terrible, considering.
D.L. Hughley and Cheryl Burke: Quickstep
Last week’s fun couple was commiserating in rehearsal about DL’s bad dance. D.L. was swearing and frustrated about the fast dance this week, too. His pro said, “welcome to the show,” sotto voiced. First couple meltdown of the season, people–Cheryl was trying not to get angry with him so she simply walked out of the room. The next day, Cheryl reappeared to help D.L. and it was cool the way the dancer spoke to him so nicely and smoothed things out. The comedian admitted he’d been so down about being laughed at last week that he had lost it. So what would the dance look like after all the drama? Not so good. D.L. looked very stiff and it seemed more like a waltz in spots instead of a quickstep. Still, D.L. kept up with the footwork in the middle of the dance and everyone agreed backstage that it was a vast improvement. He’ll never be a great dancer, but slight redemption for D.L. Bruno said he did the runs very well and although he was no Fred Astaire, it was okay. “This show is so hard,” Carrie Ann stressed. “You came back and put the work in.” Len declared that D.L.’s achievement was in improving. Four more points than last week, so D.L. won’t have to hide his face in shame!
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough: Jazz
Kellie and Derek were one of the happy surprises of last week, and this time, they’d take on jazz. They were working with a wooden stick in rehearsal, for some reason. The dance began with Kellie flexing her legs all over the place in the famous DWTS fog machine, which was distracting because I couldn’t see her feet much of the time. Oh, the prop stick was now lit up and used during the dance with Kellie being swirled around energetically by Derek. This was so good although strange to have this kind of ambitious dance on week two. “You are a dancer,” Carrie Ann said, stating the obvious. Len pointed out the wonderful mood the two had created. Oh, did I mention Derek had his shirt off, too? Bruno said it was visually arrested, like floating on cloud nine. I just thought it was so different from what the other dancers had to do tonight that maybe it was a bit unfair. It was so far above all those jives. Kellie tied Zendaya this week, so the dance battle was on!