Dancing With the Stars Recap: Patriot Games

Patriotism can be expressed in many different ways: Hanging a flag from your front porch, singing along with the National Anthem at the start of a sporting event, exercising your right to vote. But Monday night’s installment of Dancing With the Stars showed us that national pride can also bloom with the glistening thrust of a sculpted male torso, in the rhythmic heaving of a woman’s overripe bosoms, and through the hypnotic undulation of Kym Johnson’s zero-gravity-loom dress (among other red/white/blue/insane garments). Amber waves of grain? They’re so two-thousand-and-late. As national treasure Tom Bergeron explained it at the top of the show, in 2011, “we pledge allegiance to the mirrorball!”

Yes, my fellow ballroom obsessives, if you missed the memo, ’twas American Night on DWTS, which meant Robo Brooke Burke had to recite a line about “red, white and blue” and wonder why the show’s cryptic teleprompter programmers wanted her to talk about her favorite flavor of snow cone. Without further ado, let’s recap the action in chronological order.

Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff: Samba
Calling Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” an appropriate musical companion to the samba makes about as much sense as, say, booking Insane Clown Posse for a guest spot on Sesame Street. But that’s exactly the ditty Ralph and Karina got saddled with, and even though former Karate Kid’s got lower-body action that resembles the Tin Man during monsoon season, there’s also no denying that he’s one of the most entertaining hoofers in the competition. Here’s a 49-year-old who fills the floor with boyish enthusiasm — his every arm extension fully committed, his every smile completely genuine, his every attempt to infuse the Latin party dance with an added boost of “cowboy” charm utterly “aw shucks, ma’am.” Carrie Ann was right that the routine was vivacious, but I couldn’t disagree with Bruno that it needed “fire down below.” The highlight of judging arrived when the wacky Italian cried, “Give me sex, man!” (much to Len’s exaggerated horror). Later, when Karina suggester her partner take Bruno out for a meal, Tom countered “I don’t know if you were listening, Ralph, but Bruno doesn’t just want dinner!” Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 7; Bruno, 7. Total: 22.

Chris Jericho and Cheryl Burke: Viennese Waltz
Chris’ comic timing may not have come in handy during the couple’s elegant routine this week, but it sure didn’t hurt their pre- and post-performance moments. He donned Cheryl’s scarf on his head, babushka-style, gave us a hilarious impersonation of Len rambling about the importance of staying true to a “300-year-old dance,” and recounted how he reacted to meeting Cheryl like a 13-year-old child at a Justin Bieber concert. Chris seemed determined this week to prove himself a true contender for the mirrorball trophy, and while I felt like he let his partner do a lot of the heavy lifting, there’s no denying the bad-boy wrestler tamed his inner beast and floated over the floor like an elegant military officer. The neckline of Cheryl’s dress, which was cut down to the southern tip of Texas, brought an unfortunate comment from Len about his delight in seeing her “rocky mountains,” so if the couple was perhaps a bit overscored, then maybe it was just restitution. Scores: Carrie Ann, 9; Len, 8; Bruno, 9. Total: 26.

Petra Nemcova and Dmitry Chaplin: Quickstep
Petra grew up in the Czech Republic — with no exposure to Elvis — but whether it’s the fact that English is her second language or that inside her chest beats the highly polished heart of a professional pageant contestant, every one of her on-camera statements makes her sound like she’s wandered in off the set of the direct-to-DVD Miss Congeniality 3, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt. (This film does not yet exist, but do you really want to bet that someday it won’t?) Petra is most definitely a sweetie, but much like her personality, her dancing is as stiff as a pair of jeans coming off the clothesline, and that puts her at risk of following Sugar Ray Leonard in the season 12 exit order. Still, while it has to be said that Petra seemed to occasionally fall behind during this quickstep, and that Len is right about her head and neck getting a little “cranky,” it’s also worth pointing out that Dmitry’s choreography was lightning-paced and fairly complicated, and that Petra’s Far From Heaven-meets-Goldfinger gown was the prettiest of the night. In my scorebook, that frock alone should buy her at least one more week in the competition. Scores: Carrie Ann, 7; Len, 7; Bruno, 8. Total: 22.

Romeo and Chelsie Hightower: Fox Trot
There have been a couple weeks this season where I felt like the judges scored Romeo a little higher than he deserved, but from where I was sitting, his fun-yet-refined Fox Trot to “New York, New York” was the best of the evening. Romeo’s posture in hold was tremendous, and he brought a little added flair to his solo spins and extensions, without ever abandoning the character of the dance. The tux, tails, and top hat didn’t hurt, either, but more important was the fact that the rapper-actor has realized that it is useless to resist the siren lure of the ballroom. I’m not sure what about this performance warranted a lower score from Len than Hines’ subsequent rhumba, but looking for consistency in the judges’ scores would be harder than keeping a running tally of sequins to hit the floor this season. Scores: Carrie Ann, 9; Len, 8; Bruno, 9. Total: 26.

Hines Ward and Kym Johnson: Rhumba
Speaking of judging discrepancies, while last week, I complained that Hines and Kym were underscored for their Paso Doble, this week I felt like Carrie Ann, Len, and Bruno were a little too generous with their paddles after the couple’s Rhumba. Don’t get me wrong, there was a sweet sensuality to Hines’ performance, and Kym’s dress brought together magically floating patterns of long, luscious white threads, but the routine itself felt a little too simplistic to snag a trio of 9s. When Hines revealed to Brooke that he spent a lot of his rehearsal time away from Kym this week, I wasn’t at all surprised: Aside from that final move where Hines lifted Kym and she donned his hat, the routine was more about competence than excellence, right down to the overly loose fit of Hines’ white military garb. Then again, maybe the judges automatically upgraded their scores from 8s to 9s to reward Hines for somehow managing to merge the raunchiest dance in the Latin repertoire with the almost absurdly star-spangled “Proud to Be an American” “God Bless the U.S.A.” Scores: Carrie Ann, 9; Len, 9; Bruno, 9. Total: 27.

Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Fox Trot
Regardless of where they end up on the leaderboard week in and week out, Kirstie and Maks are without a doubt the glittering centerpiece of season 12. Kirstie somehow manages to play it irreverent (the way she reacts with stunned horror to Robo Brooke’s inane questions is a thing of beauty) while still being completely serious about her desire to capture the mirrorball trophy. What’s more, this pairing has brought Maks’ playful, nurturing qualities to the forefront, while obliterating the egotistical taskmaster persona he once worked so hard to maintain. I loved the pair’s rehearsal footage this week, with Kirstie announcing, “I want to be the front-runner,” and Maks replying, “you’re my front-runner.” Even the “wacky” segment with John Travolta as the pair’s “dance doctor” had me laughing, with the actor asking Maks, “do you tell her you love her enough?” and the DWTS pro answering yes, but only in Russian.

Okay, okay…I’m burying the headline: The couple’s fox trot to “American Woman” began with Kirstie writhing sexily on the dais and Maks tearing off his skimpy shirt to and performing in nothing more than a pair of black leather pants (along with a makeshift “tattoo” of the American flag across the right side of his ribcage). Not since Betsy Ross has one person done so much good for Old Glory. There was a lot of bumping and grinding going on during the routine — perhaps more than would normally be tolerated during a fox trot — but Kirstie continued to prove exceptionally light of foot, even if her electric blue pantsuit with sheer, sparkly center panel was not her most flattering wardrobe choice this season. Carrie Ann called the dance “bold, ambitious, and borderline crazy,” while Bruno couldn’t resist the urge to proposition Maksim: “Are you taking direct bookings by the way, or do I have to go through an agent?” he barked, to which Maks leaned into the mic and growled, “I’m expensive.” From his perch above the stage, Ralph Macchio appeared positively dumbfounded by all the exposed flesh, but Kirstie explained that it was all ’60s-era appropriate. “Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix — none of them wore shirts,” she reasoned. “Rightfully so.” Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 7; Bruno, 8. Total: 23.

Kendra Wilkinson and Louis Van Amstel: Fox Trot
My sister Kathy called me at the end of the episode to insist that Kendra is the “poop in the punch bowl” of an otherwise awesome DWTS season, and I can’t say I disagree. The Playboy star spent her entire pre-performance package griping how she was made to feel like “trash” by Carrie Ann’s Classical Week feedback that she seemed “afraid of elegance,” which makes me wonder what Kendra would do if she got one of Ralph’s “monster hands” critiques or if Louis had ever choreographed her crawling out of a doghouse. (Maybe next week?) Speaking of Louis, I’m not sure why he didn’t make use of ABC cross-promotional synergy to call in SuperNanny and give Kendra a time-out on the naughty step, but perhaps forcing his “star” to doff her hat and march around like a parade pony to the tune of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” — while clad in a skirt that looked like “grand-opening bunting over trollop-y thigh-high socks” — was punishment enough. Carrie Ann called it the “most patriotic dance of the night,” which seemed like feeble praise for a routine that caused her to break out the ‘8’ paddle. Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 7; Bruno, 7. Total: 22.

Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas: Samba
The minute Mark started polishing his gas pump (less dirty than it sounds) while sporting an open denim vest (and no shirt), my mind was transported back to Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” video. But nope, it was time for Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” (the polar musical opposite of The Boss’ “Born in the U.S.A.,” according to many respected musicologists). Chelsea was energetic and precise in her moves, but as is always the case in Mark’s routines, he often added a little extra flair to his own steps (particularly in the side-by-side hip thrusts), which made his partner’s spins and shimmys seem somewhat muted by comparison. I’m not sure who Len was referring to when he shouted “yum yum what a bum!” but he’s right that the overall effect was party (and not a Tupperwear one, either). Still, anyone wonder if Chelsea joking to her seven competitors ,”I love everyone and I hate you all at the same time,” might work against her in terms of the viewer vote? Scores: Carrie Ann, 9; Len, 8; Bruno, 9. Total: 26.

What did you think of this week’s DWTS? Which contestant improved the most? Did you vote for any of the dancers this week? And who do you think will go home on Tuesday night’s results show? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Kim R says:

    Proud to Be an American was the weirdest coupling of dance and song, for me. I wasn’t feeling it, dawg! (oops…wrong show) :)
    I love Kirstie & Max and Mark & Chelsea. I would say Kendra & Louis are the least favorite for me. It is a great season though. Totally enjoyable! :)

    • STARDIVA says:

      did anybody notice that Mak’s and Kirsti’s song “American Woman” was written by Canadians, and originally performed by the Guess Who – a Canadian band? It is extremely anti-war ” I don’t need your ghetto scenes, I don’t need your war machines”. When they performed at the White House, Pat Nixon specifically asked that they not sing that song.

      Also was Maks wearing a dance belt? sure didn’t look like it at the beginning when they were posing!!!!!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I didn’t take Chelsea’s “I love you all and hate you all at the same time” comment that seriously… she’s got a good sense of humor and I’m sure she needs it being assigned to Mark Ballas.

  3. For whatever reason, ABC/DWTS has decided to BURY Kendra. She must have ticked someone off behind the scenes or something. No way would they show all that negative footage of her if she was a “fav.” For whatever reason, TPTB want her gone.

  4. sneakin says:

    Your sister was right on about Kendra. She has talked more about her period on two weeks of DWTS than I experienced in four years of roomates in college! The only thing worth mentioning about last night’s show is Maks and his leather pants. MMMMMMMM me likey!

  5. Georgia Girl says:

    I am SO ready for Kendra to go. Does she not realize that all her whining and cursing was actually proving Carrie Ann’s point? And by the way, I do NOT need to hear about her “time of the month!” TMI!

  6. AJ says:

    Might be a little nitpicky, but the song is called “God Bless the U.S.A.,” not “Proud To Be An American.”

    Love the recaps, but as a music fan, I couldn’t hold back from correcting that error.

  7. JayK says:

    Okay, I’m a SYTYCD obsessive and haven’t actually watched DwtS since Apolo Anton Ohno’s season (had an hour and a half to kill last night so I tuned in), so I don’t have an informed opinion or anything, but I was confused by Kendra’s foxtrot. It looked to me like there was about 10 seconds of actual foxtrot and the rest was marching. Is that allowed?? I also thought the scores seemed high – no one was really that great. My favourite part of the show was Maks and Mark and watching my old SYTYCD friends.

    • funkycoldmedina says:

      @JayK I am with you…SYTYCD is SUCH an amazing showcase for dance talent…can’t wait for the new season! Loved Apolo during his season but GILLES MARINI was the epitome of sex on fire with his dance routines! Hot, hot, hot times a million! He worked much harder to get all 9’s and all 10’s than this current crop, so I totally agree that the scoring this current season is WAYYY too generous. Not a single competitor this season has the flair, the suave charm or fire that Gilles Marini displayed. This season’s group are so mediocre I can’t even watch the scoring. And so I must content myself with Gilles reruns on youtube to get my drool on. This season is boring as far as actual dance and progressive improvement go. Comedic, yes. But, boring (Zzzzz) as far as actually producing any great dancers.

  8. CDoga says:

    I love Kirtie and Maks. They are one of my favorite couples and I think they are the most entertaining but this was probably their weakest dance to date. Kirstie wasn’t bringing the character she usually does.

    One of the judges or show producers really need to sit Mark down, have a heart to heart, and tell him to STOP outdancing his celebrities. He needs to COMPLIMENT his partner, not overshadow them. This is not the “Dancing with the Mark Ballas” show.

    If DWTS had AI type voting, where you have to wait to the end of the show to vote, Ralph, who went first, would probably be packing his bags this week. Since you can vote throughout the show, I’m sure we’ll see Petra or Kendra leaving…

    • jaime says:

      i agree with you, however, have a hard time criticizing him too much. he’s won the MBT twice, so he must be doing something right. :)

      • The Wheeze says:

        Yes, but when he won his two MBT’s alot had to do with who his partners were and how beloved they are. And, I do not think he ever went “against” the standard routines with Kristi or Shawn (Sp) except for their freestyles and he certainly did not make he the star of the dances.

  9. LKO says:

    I definitely want Kendra and Kirstie gone. They both annoy me for different reasons. Ralph and Karina for the win.

  10. j. says:

    Michael, I do not appreciate your use of the term “overripe bosoms”.

  11. Padncmsttr says:


    Please Please Please stop praising Kirsty…she is NO BETTER than Chloris Leachman or Kate Gosslet…don’t be a sellout….who tries to push her along for ratings.

    Hynes and Chelsea are by far the best out there and Kim…and Chelsea are smoking hot!

    • stardiva says:

      are you out of your mind? You’re comparing “totem pole Kate Gossdlin” to Kirstie??? Did you watch Kate “dance” – she is by far the worst dancer I have EVER seen, and that’s not just on the show

  12. alice says:

    If Maks will keep performing shirtless, I will vote for Kristie until the end. Not her best dance, but the show has progressed to the point where I vote for the pros as much as the celebrities (wrong, I know, but…you saw Maks, right? :) )

  13. Megslin says:

    love love love Hines:) he is by far the best of the bunch…so consistent, so great. I’ll admit, my first watch through, I thought Hines didn’t have a ton of crazy footwork like he normally does, and I too wondered if they were upgrading his score based on last week (though I still thought he did an amazing job). But when I let myself forget about that and watched it a second (and third and fourth because it was sooo good) time…I saw why they gave him a 27. So elegant, poised, great hip movement, so fluid, he really carried himself well and controlled the dance as it should be. it may not have been flashy but once again, he and kym put forth the most complete and fluid dance of the night!! It’s not just about fancy footwork, or hitting every step. It’s about having fun with it, making it look easy, and not letting the audience see you sweat! Sure, being technical and controlled helps as well.

    • jaime says:

      ya, as i was watching hines, i was thinking he was doing a lot of standing around and kym did a lot of the work. i actually wasn’t that impressed last night but have loved him every other week and he deserves the praise! also love chelsea!

  14. joanie says:

    I am so GREATLY enjoying a season without a ringer or a Hyped-Hough that I truly enjoyed everyone’s dances immensely. As non-ballroom folks, they are all doing very well . . . better than I would. Chelsea has skills but flat personality, Hines is adorable, and so is Chris. Ralph is annoyingly gawky to watch (sorry but true) and sweet Romeo is not being well served by Chelsie this season. Petra is gorgeous, except when she moves. Kendra offends with her mouth so badly that it’s hard to begrudgingly admit she marches very prettily. (She shaped up, but too late methinks.) Maks was “on fire!” but kirstie’s outfit truly worsened her weight. Amazing that she dances lightly! Yeah, all about equal: Voting for Maks!

  15. SuperStarSmile says:

    Pros = Drama Drama = Ratings No one at ABC cares if it is positive drama or negative drama. You gotta have a good love affair going on in this vertical lovemaking thing called dance. Kendra is not a Pro – she is a simple girl thrown into Hollywood by random forks in the road. She courted Hank by talking about her bodily functions – or has no one seen her reality show. ANYway – the season is FABulous – one of the best ever with lots of terrific and unique personalities. I celebrate the show, as Sugar Ray said. The premise is fun to watch — and that is just PERFECT for a Monday night – something FUN !!

  16. Red in Denver says:

    Kendra’s the ‘POOP IN THE PUNCH BOWL’! I love it!

    Her bad drama-queen attitude and self-absorbed whining/complaining are getting pretty annoying. Time for her to go.

  17. GleekAmy says:

    I totally agree about Mark deliberately outshining his partner, Chelsea. He’s supposed to make her look good, not pale in comparison. Mark has just been bugging me this season.

  18. AZ HOT says:

    …I tuned in this season just to see Kirstie Alley! win or not she is F.U.N.! I like that she is REAL REAL REAL! that’s nice to see and hear on TV! I hope someday she shares her beauty secrets and products (book/show/website) with all us around HER age! I know she’d be open and honest AND I’ll be listening! We Need someone like her to help us! Enjoying DWTS so far..and good luck to everyone and their feetzeez!

  19. Amber says:

    Poop in the punchbowl indeed. I hope Kendra goes. Also, I sort of raised an eyebrow at Louis’ comment about how “there’s nothing fake about her.” I bet there’s at least one thing fake about her. =D Sorry, that was very catty of me.

    Not a fan of Romeo, but he did improve last night. I’m more interested in guessing who they’ll ask to do the repeat dance (Chris Jericho or Romeo?) then who will get kicked off, because that is way too hard too hard to figure out with a fickle voting audience. Though I do agree, I think Chelsea’s I hate you comment might hurt her, and I thought the exact same thing the moment she said it.

    Overall, I thought American night = fail. Some of the music choices were just way too bizarre to be trying to dance a samba to or whatever. Maybe Ralph could have loosened/sexied himself up to a song with a better Latin beat.

  20. Anella says:

    I love Kirstie and Maks, but I could barely focus on the actual dance. Halfway through I said to a friend I was watching with, “I can’t take my eyes off of Maks’ but in those leather pants. Had to watch it again the next day on hulu. I’ve been a fan of Maks since the beginning, but he is an absolute joy to watch this season and it’s because of Kirstie. Sparks, magic, chemistry…they’ve got it all.