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"Dancing With the Stars" - Season 8, Week 8
by Eric's Recap Journal (dork_wesley)
at April 30th, 2009 (03:03 pm)

It's time for Yet Another Gimmick Night! Sorry, Team Dance Night. Sorry, DWTS.

Samantha's in another one of those HDTV-burning red dresses, and in the audience is Corky Ballas. They do the couple introductions and... Oh, no. Tony comes down the stairs alone and looking really shaken. There's a rousing round of cursing from where we're watching, knowing what that implies. And yes, Tom confirms that Melissa has aggravated an injury and will not be dancing tonight.

Gilles & Cheryl: They've got Lindy Hop tonight, and considering the judges' comments on his Jive, they want to give his speed more control. Cheryl's instructions: "Good. Now cleaner, less hectic." Um... what? He needs a cortizone shot for his strained shoulder, and apparently it also makes his hair huge. It starts with a lot of hopping up and down the stairs. Good energy, nice speed, and yes it's less hectic. He's a little shaky on his own and there's a lot of syncopation that he rushes. It's solid, not bad. 8.5/10.0

Lil'Kim & Derek: Paso Doble for them. The judges want to see her character again, but the dance itself has a specific character, so I don't know how that'll work. She has a weird glittery appliqué on her face, but I'm happy they're wearing neither red nor leather. Excellent form, including some really gorgeous caping walks. Awesome attack and aggression with great lines and a very solid follow from her. Great choreography, perfect performance. 9.5/10.0

Chuck & Julianne: Looking to duplicate the success of their Samba with their Cha Cha, which has a similar enough vibe to work. They're going to work their fun, flirty chemistry. I don't get her weird strappy top, but with the shortness of her costumes lately, apparently the only just realized she has nice legs. Very solid footwork from him, and some good leg action. He's so much more comfortable and confident in performing, and it shows. Better arms, though they need work. I start to comment on his dancing just as he gets to a just-stand-and-pose part. 9.0/10.0

In the audience: Lance Bass. Bruno didn't care for it, and when he scores lower, he gets a weird look from Len for once.

Shawn & Mark: Samba's their dance. She's not getting the girl's part right from Mark, so he calls in his mom, champ Shirley Ballas who's awesome. Their routine is totally cute ad fun all the way through, just as you'd hope for them. There's lots of personality and they continue to show great connection and chemistry. Nice start to the difficult bounce action, very sharp spins and some improvement to her arms and softness. Very nice, though the choreography was a little simpler than usual for them. 9.0/10.0

Melissa & Tony: They drew Jive. We see in their week's video that she's feeling frustrated by the speed of the choreography. More importantly, she injured her ribs (microfractures) during the group dance and it's really doing her in, even though the doctor clears her. Just hours before showtime, she elected not to perform, so like Steve-O, the judges are bound to judge their rehearsal footage. They're just marking the routine, not even in costume (Melissa's in a sports bra and the lowest riding low rider jeans we've ever seen, no hiding the tattoo this week). It's got very little snap and she loses her energy about 2/3 of the way in. It's really fast music and she's nearly behind it, there's almost no technique and the pain is evident the whole time. Extra points though when she has to tug those jeans up and doesn't lose her place. 7.5/10.0

You've got to wonder what's going on here. The injuries have become a little bit expected, but this season is just off the charts. Is it just the professionals, pushing their students too hard? Is the show demanding that they practice too hard and too much? Or are the stars demanding too much of themselves? Tony is so upset for Melissa, it's disconcerting.

Ty & Chelsie: Salsa for them. Ty has to explain the "bride's nightie" comment to her, eliciting an "Ewww". When he demonstrates his "shimmy", it elicits a real spit take from the Roommate here. Dmitry comes in to help with the manly stuff, both in dancing and to advise a spray tan, at which Ty is unamused. It's really surprisingly groovy and sharp. A few nice moments of hip action, and he continues to show good strong lead. Some very nice tricks and a start to good movement. He's more comfortable. 8.0/10.0

And now for the team dances.

Team Mambo: Lacey is subbing for Melissa, since they needed someone who could learn the routine in a few hours. The judges will not take her & Tony's performance into account for scoring. There's a lot of cooperation going on in the rehearsals, where they want to spotlight strengths and do really good solos. Beyonce's "Single Ladies" is the song (which would be funnier if Melissa was actually there). It's an awesome routine, exactly what a formation should be. They're constantly changing partners and shapes on the floor, the transitions between solos involve the choreography and aren't just one-walks-off, one-walks-on. They are all solidly on the difficult Mambo timing, all of it is sharp and fast and hot. They incorporate just enough of the actual video's choreography to keep the whole thing feeling very showy, in a good way. And they end with the girls bare-legged doing their riff on the video and the guys on the judges table in leotards and tights, a la Justin Timberlake on SNL. Brilliant. The judges dislike it, so they're clearly smoking the worst kind of crack, especially Carrie Ann, who called the ending "distracting". 10.0/10.0

In the audience: Woz, Stana Katic & Nathan Fillion (who is dying laughing at the end of the routine).

Team Tango: In the rehearsal, the celebs are happy to be getting some extra same-gender help from the other pros. The tone is that they're hitting hard on the synchronization and on getting their solos done quickly. As usual, Cheryl seems to be directing a lot of the action. They're dancing to Britney Spears' "Womanizer" (the song with 12 words, max). It starts off with Gilles & Ty at the judges table, shirtless. Throughout the routine, there's great intense Tango character and attack, lots of intensity and decent technique. The solos are solid, but they don't connect to one another, there's no open work to speak of, and breaking what I consider to be one of the cardinal rules of formation dancing, there isn't a single partner switch. It's good, and certainly better than that trainwreck of last season's team Cha Cha, but not nearly as good in both technique and performance as the Mambo. I'm not surprised at all that the shirtlessness was Cheryl's idea. Apparently, Carrie Ann didn't feel that shirtlessness was distracting. We're really never going to get consistent judging on this show, are we? 9.0/10.0

Back in the Red Room, Chelsie & Lil'Kim hug... and get their hair snagged together, taking the entire length of Samantha's interview to get unhooked.

On the subject of judging, here's an interesting stat: of the 24 scores given, a full 12 were 9's. In fact, of the 8 scores Carrie Ann Inaba gave, 5 of them were 9's, implying she either feels that the competitors are nearly all equally that good, or her brain is an Etch-a-Sketch.

Results show.

Tom calls it the "tightest competition ever", and there's some truth to that. Of these six couples, there are four competitors of approximately equal technical ability in the 9's or better category (Gilles, Lil'Kim, Melissa & Shawn) and one dark horse who is hitting his stride (Chuck). Plus, there's Mr. Most Improved, Ty.

Encore performance: the team Tango. Generally tighter and more solid that last night, but still not the better of the two. Apparently, Gilles heard me yelling at him for his head position during his Viennese Cross because it's much better.

The general consensus online: 1) the Mambo routine was better and 2) Melissa is amazing for having danced at all in those jeans.

We've got some fun videos this time, all based on celebrity endorsements from the show. First up is "Ballroom Dancers of Genius", based on those Bud Light (I think? Some beer) commercials where they really earnest guy sings those awkward hooks.

Musical Guest: Robin Thicke, performing "When I Get You Alone". Is it just me, or is he just a little bit Rick Astley-ish? Dancing are Kym (and yes, Kym's Boobs, though they're low profile tonight), Cheryl, Edyta, Alec, Tony and Dmitry (who is a total fixture now). A nice Cha Cha routine, but honestly, nothing that spectacular. Alec looks like he's having a good time.

Melissa's there and in costume to give an update. They're doing some more treatment, and if she isn't eliminated, plans to be back next week. Tony continues to be so rattled about having to have been judged on the rehearsal footage that it's still weird.

Safe: Lil'Kim & Derek.

Video package: Another actually amusing one. The judges assemble a Frankenstein "perfect dancer" from pieces of the remaining competitors: Chuck's head (his attitude), Gilles' arms, Ty's core (strength), Melissa's legs, Shawn's feet and Lil'Kim's face (her expression). The assembled monster is really freaky.

Safe: Ty & Chelsie. This spurs a groan of dismay here, since we figure it means the scored-on-the-bottom Melissa is a goner.

Endorsement video: "DanceMatch" dating service with Melissa as the bespectacled spokesperson and Chuck & Julianne as the cute couple. They use 29 compatibility dance moves, including the rondé, the New Yorker and the Sprinkler. There's even an 800 number.

Robin Thicke again, with "Sidestep". Performing are Pasha & Anya, cementing the show as the only other thing that the SYTYCD ballroom people's agents can book them. She still has no personality, and she's wearing one of those odd body stocking style costumes with sleeves that go to gloves. Very unflattering, IMO. Also, Thicke's two backup girls never actually sing, despite standing behind mic stands.

Safe: Gilles & Cheryl, thus saving all of Team Tango.

Endorsement video: PETD ("People for the Ethical Treatment of Dancers"), with a number of the professionals insisting very seriously that they'd "rather go naked" than see more pro dancers hurt. They cover their bits with mirror balls. (Derek uses a huge one, but Tony's brave enough to use a small one. Edyta only needs one for her chest, but Cheryl's requires two)

Pro Competition: The results are in and the eliminated dancers were Snow (Yay!) and Brent (Aww...)

Genya & Afton: Quickstep for them. Since she's got more Standard experience, he lets her take the lead. He cleans up the scruff and says the pros' edge is their versatility and ability to give character to their dancing. As they go, he's either really enjoying himself or faking it well with that smile. She's snappy and light, his head and feet aren't perfect, but it's a very solid and bouncy routine. He's supposed to lift her onto the judges' table at the end, but misses the edge.

Mayo & Anna: Jive is their dance. They're both excited at the chance to surprise as tall people who can do Latin well, which doesn't often happen. The dance has fantastic speed and a lot of tick to it. His uber-long legs (he's 6'3") move super fast, and he's overall much tighter and crisper. She's not quite as sharp, but has lots of strength. He does a heel slide as long as some of Benji Schwimmer's.

One pro will be eliminated and next week, we'll see the remaining three dance with an amateur partner, an alum of the show (if I heard correctly).

Safe: Shawn & Mark.

They go to the judges for comments. Bruno calls out the voters as being idiots for Melissa being in the bottom 2 (which, apparently, the two remaining couples aren't, necessarily). Len calls it right: based on last night, Chuck should stay, based on the entire season, Melissa.

Samantha says she will announce the one couple eliminated "in no particular order". One. In no particular order. Brilliance.

Safe: Melissa & Tony. She is in tears.

Eliminated: Chuck Wicks & Julianne Hough. Tom calls him the kind of person the show is about, getting out of his comfort zone and trying something new (I'd give that trophy to Ty, frankly).

See you next week.


Posted by: Eric's Recap Journal (dork_wesley)
Posted at: May 4th, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)

That and the abuse of ellipses in the titles.

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