Dancing With the Stars Recap: Jive Balkin'

Nancy Grace suffered a wardrobe malfunction. David Arquette had his dance moves compared to a train derailment. And Chaz Bono’s knee impersonated a door in a haunted mansion from a Scooby-Doo mystery. But the most important thing to remember from the Week 2 performance telecast of of Dancing With the Stars‘ 13th season is this : The judges will always find a way to reward their favorite pros — spoiler alert: their names rhyme with Airwick Puff and Dark Palace — while doing everything short of sending teams of flying monkeys from stopping others (particularly Karina Smirnoff and Tony Dovolani) from getting too close to the finale. Let’s take a deep-dive look at the night, in which couples performed either the Jive or the Quickstep:

Dance of the Night: J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff (Jive)
Len griped that the routine contained too much Lindy Hop and not enough Jive, and Carrie Ann continued her tired, tired tradition of docking a point for performing a lift, but that’s like biting into an undeniably delicious slice of apple pie, then nitpicking that the baker used Cortlands instead of Galas. Who cares? Dressed as jaunty newsboys — complete with caps and suspenders — J.R. and Karina brought speed, precision, and an unwavering sense of joy to their dance. Here’s hoping the judges didn’t sneak into J.R.’s dressing room and clean out his wallet while they were robbing him of his spot atop the leaderboard.

Co-Runner-Ups: Chynna Phillips and Tony Dovolani (Jive)
Speaking of robberies, did anyone else find it preposterous that the judges held Chynna to a higher standard than her competitors based solely on the fact that she scored highest in Week 1? I mean, it’s not as if the woman’s been dominating for weeks on end, or that Wilson Phillips’ video oeuvre contains a lot of complex choreography. So how come Len was babbling about how the show is all about expectations? Chynna took her sensational fortysomething legs out on the floor, worked her hair and hips harder than a Kardashian works a red-carpet interview line, and delivered fleet, clean footwork — all while wearing a rhinestone-string torso cage and dazzling fringe skirt. And for that she’s in a tie with Nancy Grace? Why the face?

Co-Runner-Ups: Ricki Lake and Derek Hough (Jive)
Okay, yeah, the judges favor Derek, but damn that man knows how to choreograph to his partners’ strengths. Ricki’s kicks and flicks made her feet look like a pair of Tasmanian devils (Bugs Bunny variety), and it was the move of the night when she bent over backward into Derek’s similarly positioned midsection to shake it (sh-sh-shake it, shake it) shake it like a Polaroid picture, then pull the boy up by his belt strap. I’m not ashamed to say the entire spectacle made me clap like a ridiculous seal from my couch.

Should Go Home: Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer (Quickstep)
No, this is not a political commentary on Chaz being DWTS‘ first transgender contestant. (I’m genuinely stoked, in fact, that ABC wasn’t afraid to represent a community that’s almost invisible on primetime TV.) And yes, I realize that we haven’t even had our first Cher-in-the-Ballroom sighting, and therefore putting Chaz’s name after the words “Should Go Home” is illegal. But Chaz’s quickstep was as sluggish — and as enjoyable — as the last glob of ketchup slowly making its way down the neck of a glass bottle. And if Chaz is already in “ouch, that was my knee!” mode in Week 2, then it’s not likely to get better.(Even if it gets better. And yes, it most indubitably gets better.)

Most Likely to Go Home: Elisabetta Canalis and Val Chmerkovskiy; Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya; or Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
I still think Elisabetta is vulnerable, especially if voters haven’t forgotten her pitiful Week 1 showing. And while her Quickstep tonight was flowing and elegant, her rehearsal-footage squabbling with Val may not endear her to folks who already think having dated George Clooney is enough reward for one lifetime. Carson, meanwhile, may be the funniest celebrity of Season 13, but his camp sensibility was oddly muted during this week’s Quickstep — or as muted as it can be for a guy in green pants, blue sweater with rainbow-colored buttons, and blue sparkly spectacles. And finally, while it’d pain me to see Maks’ go home so early on a year where he’s got a potential winning partner, I’m worried that a perfect storm of negatives — hideous costumes; an Avril Lavigne track; critiques suggesting Hope’s not practicing enough; a fairly gawky performance from our soccer star; and voter complacency due to the perception of Maks and Hope as a power couple — could lead to a shock elimination. Then again, Maks wore a red Henley in rehearsal, which ought to be enough to save the day, no?

Most Overscored: Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke (Jive)
Seriously, judges? Rob’s “Surfin Safari” number had all the lightness and charisma of a three-toed sloth nibbling on a leaf. Rob actually seems like a nice kid, but he also spent half the routine staring nervously at Cheryl’s moves like they were cribnotes smudged across his sweaty palm. No frakin’ way he deserved the same scores as Elisabetta or Chynna, or just one fewer than J.R.

Most Disappointing: David Arquette and Kym Johnson (Jive)
Hope and Maks bummed me out, but I was even more let down by David, who in my opinion looked like a legit contender after Week 1. No, a gold suit with silver lapels isn’t really the right look for any man on any occasion, but David’s “enthusiastic wedding dancing” isn’t going to be enough to crack the Top 3, much less survive till Halloween.

Most Jarring Intro
“TV Star Kristin Cavallari…” (Um, that’s “Reality Star” to the rest of us, ABC.)

Most Jarring Reveal
Nancy Grace’s breast peeking out to get a better listen to the judges’ critiques. Did Bruno really need to use the phrase “top heavy”? And was Len being ironic when he commented on the lack of “flash”?

Most Jarring Reaction Shot
That entire section of audience members (the Casey Anthony Fan Club, perhaps?) who sat glumly, refusing to even give a polite golf clap, as Nancy Grace finished her decent-but0unworthy-of-Len’s-eight routine.

The So Close But Yet So Far Trophy
Mark Ballas made it all the way to the end of his Quickstep with Kristin Cavallari without trying to dance her into the floorboards, but he just couldn’t resist outshining her on the final maneuver — that saucy aerial/splat that ended the dance.

Lines of the Night
3) “For Ron, it was Meta World, Peace out.” –Tom Bergeron, describing Week 1’s ouster of Ron Artest (aka Meta World Peace)
2) “I bet Chynna Phillips doesn’t have a headband like this.” –Carson Kressley, psyching out the competition
1) “Sorry, Jesus, I have to curse.” –Chynna Phillips, succumbing to profanity’s temptation on only her second week of rehearsal

And finally…

Judges’ Leaderboard (Carrie Ann, Len, Bruno: Total)
Ricki Lake and Derek Hough: 8, 7, 8: 23
Kristen Cavallari and Mark Ballas: 8, 7, 7: 22
J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff: 7, 7, 8: 22
Elisabetta Canalis and Val Chmerkovskiy: 7, 7, 7: 21
Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke: 7, 7, 7: 21
Chynna Phillips and Tony Dovolani: 7, 7, 7: 21
Nancy Grace and Tristan McManus: 6, 8, 7: 21
Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 6, 7, 6: 19
David Arquette and Kym Johnson: 6, 6, 6: 18
Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya: 6, 6, 6: 18
Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer: 6, 5, 6: 17

What did you think of this week’s DWTS? Who was your favorite couple? Who do you think will and should go home? Sound off below, 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. Marc says:

    I think Nancy had a genuine wardrobe malfunction and being a live show producers added a still of an audience shot while she got herself together, hence they weren’t clapping. That’s what it seemed like to me. Great recap

  2. Tess says:

    I cannot fathom what Len was thinking giving Nancy Grace a higher score than JR. The scores tonight seemed to reflect the judges/producers trying to help the “stars” with lesser fan bases and knock down some that probably are getting larger numbers of votes (Surely Chaz, Carson, and David are pulling in higher voting totals than Rob, Nancy, and Elisabetta). It is the only explanation for calling out Chaz’s pace but not Rob (his Jive was slower than Hope’s and David’s…but he got higher scores than both of them? Hmmm). And why was Ricki rewarded for her pro dancing around her while she stood there catching her breath a couple of times while JR gets docked points for his pro’s choreography being too lindy hop like – which has nothing to do with how well he actually danced. This is why people get frustrated with this show – clearly the judges are showing favortism and are not scoring based on merit.

  3. CA says:

    The judges scores were all over the place last night. And Carrie Ann continues who inexplicable lift complaint but only when it suits her. It’s ok for Mark Ballas to flip around on the floor but it isn’t ok for Karina to be do a similar flip and spin? So here is my question — are the judges judging the celebrity effort or the pairs effort? Because if it is the celebrity effort, then you can hold the choreography (jive vs lindy) against the celebrity — but if it’s the totality of the pair, then the pros should know better.
    — JR wins the night hands do for performance alone — I honestly don’t know the difference between the jive and lindy, but much of what I saw with JR matched a lot of the other Jives in the evening. His was just 5X’s better.
    –I feel bad for Chaz — his body is just sort of giving out. This is a lot of stress to be putting on it considering, by his own admission, his weight and lack of exercise (up until now). If he gets voted off tonight, I truly believe it will be because of the dance effort and NOT because of any controversy surrounding his transgendered status.

  4. pattywilla says:

    Great recap! I hated the music last night – is it me or those singers worse than ever this year?

    • Scott MacDonough says:

      Thank you, Pattywilla, for pointing out a serious flaw which no one else has mentioned. The singers this year have been atrocious. And the choice of songs generally abysmal or inappropriate. The musical accompaniment should compliment the dancers, not sabotage them! Who on earth could be inspired to dance their best while the off-camera accompaniment is the off-key racket-rendition of the theme from the Mary Tyler Moore sitcom? Thank God Derrick Hough has returned for this otherwise dreadful season. His brilliant choreography brings the best out of his partners, and his dazzling footwork evokes the magic of Astaire and Kelly at their peak. He is the only saving grace of an otherwise abysmal show, and is the only true “star” of “Dancing with the Stars”.

  5. Pam Rothfuss says:

    JR was the star of DWTS hands down. No one elae was even close. I think the judges favor Derek and they always give Karina a hard time. JR will win DWTS because the fans love his dancing. He is very entertaining and a very nice guy. Get with it judges!

  6. Chelle says:

    Agree with most of the posts. JR And Karina were by far the best. But remember Mario Lopez & Karina?? The judges are getting ridiculous, but in all fairness the pros know about NO LIFTS. Mark & Derek out danced their partners…so who gets the marks the Pros or the Contestants??? It is really up to the fans to vote, so vote for who you think is the best and send home the least favorite.

  7. Elvira says:

    In my opinion, all of the previous comments are right on. It really does seem that the judges are giving much too low scores for some, and WAY to high for others. Len looked very perplexed last night. [Have the Judges already chosen their favorites??] JR’s dance was extremely good … Hope shows hope … sorry, but to me it looked as if Tristan was herding a buffalo … and where does the show come up with some of the awful music? Many of those songs I have never heard before. Don’t know if it is the singers or the style of music, but this year’s singing is not as good either. CA is correct with the comment about Chaz.

  8. Corky says:

    Not my idea but…DWTS should boot Brooke and put Carson in her place. Imagine the fun the after the dance interviews would be!

  9. Kim R says:

    First….I’m surprised Brooke’s hair-do was not mentioned in the recap! :) Okay…the “lift” issue with Carrie Ann confused me. What is the difference between lifting up the girl & flinging her under the legs compared with what Karina & JR did?
    I felt for Chaz, having knee problems myself, I don’t know how he even did what he did but I was wincing the whole time. I hope for the sake of his joints he goes home. I’m hurting for him. George Clooney’s X was nasty. I don’t think that will bode well for her. I too was disappointed with David, was glad Mark didn’t over dance his partner this time & totally enjoyed Derek & Ricki.
    For me, I think JR is the best dancer thus far. :)

  10. eliizabeth says:

    This article was hilarious!

  11. Lauren says:

    What was up with the costumes last night? Most of them were hideous, especially Hope and Max! God her shoes were awful. I was too distracted by what they were wearing to focus on the dancing. And why did half of them go with a “nerd” theme? That was weird.

    • April says:

      I honestly wondered if the wardrobe dept ran out of material and they had to dress Nancy Grace like a mudslide because there wasn’t anything else left.
      I have no clue what the judges were drinking last night. But I actually stopped what I was doing to watch JR finish his dance. I was sitting there telling my husband that it was the best jive, look at those kicks, he’s so in synch with Karina and then the judges started talking. What in the hell is a lindy hop anyway? I could not believe it. I honestly have never thought that the judges had their favorite pros, but I do this week. That was so sad to see and I hope that JR and Karina call them out. That was absolute crap.

  12. Amy says:

    “Why the face?” HAhahaaa…best use ever! I find myself saying that very thing, often. Thank you Phil Dunphy!

    Also, agreed w/all your reviews.

  13. topsyturvy says:

    Can we please have a spin-off where Tristan McManus talks for a little while and then dances and then talks for a little while and then dances.

  14. Dana says:

    Yes! He is yummy.

  15. Amber says:

    I can totally see where Len was coming from on thinking it was more of a Lindy Hop for JR then a jive, but it was still my favorite dance of the night. Despite my hatred for Karina and her choreography (and I do think she screwed him by choreographing a Lindy Hop instead of a Jive), I still hope he wins. I predict the other two in the finals will be Ricky and Chynna. Kristen is a pretty good dancer, but if viewers wanted to vote for “actresses” from The Hills, then the very graceful space cadet Audrina Partridge would have gone a lot farther in the competition then she did. I am a little disappointed Carson Kressley isn’t doing better, I had high hopes there, though he is hilarious. I’m not crazy about Hope Solo. Her body is so incredibly athletic that she looks kind of mannish on the floor. And I do hope it’s Chaz that goes home tonight. I really liked his performance on the 1st week, but I agree with you here, injuries on this show usually don’t get better, and it feels awkward to watch someone dance that’s in obvious pain. However, I think it’s gonna be Elisabetta who goes home tonight. I’m very curious to see who the judges pick to dance their favorite dance tonight.

  16. Nancy Grace should be out. 2b honestly with u, I like her as a reporter better than a dancer. Forgive me, Miss Grace!

  17. MK204 says:

    “he judges will always find a way to reward their favorite pros — spoiler alert: their names rhyme with Airwick Puff and Dark Palace — while doing everything short of sending teams of flying monkeys from stopping others (particularly Karina Smirnoff and Tony Dovolani) from getting too close to the finale.”

    Michael I agree with you about rhymes with Airwick Puff, but I get the impression and have been getting it that Dark Palace is more on the rhymes with Kist Mist with thejudges…especially Len. He’s always blasting that guy.

    I have always thought Derek is the favored son. He’s always on either last or next to last. He always gets the more accomplished dancers or bigger stars…whereas Mark gets the most unpopular or unheard of celebs and he’s always on second or third which is in reality land, strategically the voted off position.

    I like Derek, but I’m tired of the deck being stacked for him. The problem with Tony as I see it, is that Tony is not a very creative choreographer which is why he never wins. And that’s too bad because Chyna Phillips is really good and I’d like her to be in the finals.

  18. MK 204 says:

    OOps…in my post above…”kist mist” should be “kit mist”. As in Dark Palace is always on Len’s (rhymes with) kit mist.

  19. VM says:

    J.R. and Katrina owned it and I don’t like Karina that much. His story and his dancing ensure he will be the winner. Hope Solo cannot dance is arrogant and has no personality yet ESPN and nike are raving about her. I so wanted Mak’s to win but this is just a disaster!

  20. micki says:

    The “judges” made the show completely unwatchable. The whole purpose of this show is to entertain and watching it just makes me angry. Their comments are inconsistent and their scores made absolutely no sense. I believe they actually decide the scores before any of the dancing takes place to ensure their favorite pros (not stars) get ahead. This was my last time. Replace Bruno and Carrie Ann and I’ll be back.

  21. marisol rosado says:

    oooooo waooo, great,fabulosooooooooooooo nice I LOVETTT JR, MARTINES

  22. John K. says:

    Michael Slezak- I don’t even watch this show, and yet I was thoroughly interested in and entertained by this article. You are a very engaging writer and clearly chose the right profession. Thank you for existing.