Dancing With the Stars Recap: '80s-Legged Freaks

The eternal flame of the 1980s burned brightly on this week’s Dancing With the Stars.

Chaz Bono shook what his legendary mama gave him. Nancy Grace scored higher than two of her rivals despite lugging 26 lbs. of false eyelashes around the floor. And as for J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff, the couple the judges typically treat with all the respect you’d reserve for a Ziploc bag full of moldy casserole that’s fallen behind the vegetable drawer, you’ll be shocked to discover that A) they ended the evening atop the leaderboard, and B) they still managed to get dissed by Len and Carrie Ann.

Let’s review how it all played out:

Dance of the Night: J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff (Samba)
It was clear we were in for a treat when their intro package featured concert footage of the legendary Sheila E, and the fun factor soared even higher when J.R. kicked off the routine on the bongos as Karina shook her maracas (not a euphemism). The booty bouncin’, the samba rolls, the hip action was so fast and furious, I expected cameos from Paul Walker and Vin Diesel. With bonus points for Karina’s flirty, orange tulle tiger-flower skirt and the use of Gloria Estefan’s “Conga,” I’m not sure how they didn’t wind up with 10s across the board. (Maybe because it the judges don’t seem to want Karina to get her mitts on the mirrorball?)

Runner-Up: Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya (Jive)
“You are the heart and entertainment” of Season 13, Anna told Carson, and it’s true: If the Queer Eye star goes home Tuesday (cue me, biting my tongue), who’s going to embody the turquoise-and-pink sequined spirit that everyone (except for the judges) knows is half the reason DWTS is appointment television. (Okay, maybe Bruno gets it, seeing how he called the routine “a crowning achievement in madness.”) And while it’s true Carson’s technique is dubious — his kicks and flicks looked more like flails and stumbles, to be honest — it’s also clear he’s truly and enthusiastically trying to get his steps right. Just like that yellow, pink, and aqua checked floor, Carson and Anna are the treat you didn’t even realize you wanted, but now you can’t imagine living without.

Should Go Home: Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus (Rumba)
At this point in the season, it seems as though Nancy is so singularly ready for a weekly drubbing from the judges, that her performances end up having a decidedly joyless vibe to them. This week, though, the dourness extended to her rehearsal package and all the way through to Brooke’s post-dance interview. Word of warning to the justice-minded TV host: If you want to wrangle viewer votes, don’t be abusive to Tristan and His Carefully Groomed Chest Hair.

Most Likely to Go Home: Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Tango)
The pre-season anticipation that Maks might have a real chance at the mirrorball trophy has faded with each week of his joyless partnership with Hope. Yes, she’s athletic and competitive. Yes he’s Maks and he bared his chest in a buttonless black tapestry jacket. But their tango had all the sex appeal of two orangutans riding the teacups at the county fair: The whole thing was nothing more than flying limbs and hair and grimaces around a red vinyl obstacle course. Factor in Hope and Maks’ extremely generous scores from the judges, and it’s possible their fanbase will get complacent, leading to another “shock boot” that doesn’t go to Chaz or Nancy.

Biggest Scoring Discepancy: Carrie Ann giving the same score (9) to J.R. and Rob Kardashian; Len giving the same score (9) to J.R. and David
Hang on, Carrie Ann. You actually thought Rob and Cheryl’s competent Rumba was equal to J.R. and Karina’s scintillating samba? Maybe on Planet Karina-phobia. Yes, Rob was more fluid this week than ever before, and yes he captured some of the dance’s sensuality — especially when he dragged a swooning Cheryl the entire length of the floor — but that “blows out candle/takes off shades” maneuver at the start of the routine actually made me guffaw, and he still managed to grab his partner’s thigh like he was checking the ripeness of a supermarket canteloupe. And don’t even get me started on his stalled split. If that was a nine, Karina and J.R. earned at least an 11, no?

As for Len putting David’s stuttery, unprecise tango on the same level as J.R.’s routine, I’m a little less perturbed. After all, the judges have underscored Mr. Arquette for two or three weeks running now, so one swerve in the opposite direction merely balances out the past injustices, as far as I’m concerned.

Most Disappointing: Ricki Lake and Derek Hough
The couple’s Fox Trot was so lacking in fire and finesse, I half-wondered if the season-long front-runnres decided to throw in a clunker this week just to avoid a “peaked too soon” viewer backlash. The judges, not surprisingly, took the bait, harping on Ricki’s botched Roger Rabbit dance with such relentlessness, you’d have thought it was a required move for a technically sound Fox Trot.

Most Improved: Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer (Samba)
The last two weeks, I’ve argued Chaz should’ve been the one submitting to Brooke’s non-interview exit Q&A before dancing off into that good night of Jimmy Kimmel. But this week, he showed a heretofore unseen sense of joy and vigor that was actually kind of fun to watch. From the waist down, Chaz was like a paint-mixing machine at your local hardware store — all shake and bounce and unstoppable energy. At least partial credit must also go to Chaz’s sparkly turquoise tuxedo shirt, which managed to bring out a playfulness that he’s never quite achieved during his rather listless pre-performance interviews. Now, question of the month: Hasn’t Chaz (or Lacey) realized a Cher in the rehearsal room is worth two in the audience? Make it happen, ABC!

Most Startling Image
Kym’s sheer black negligee over lacey black undies was one samba roll away from an FCC violation. Thank heavens she and David were tackling the tango! (Or not, depending on where you’re sitting, cosmically and sexually speaking.)

Lines of the Night
3) This doozy of an exchange that revealed Chaz may not have actually figured out what show he’s signed up for.
Chaz: I feel nervous to get up and make a spectacle.
Lacey (incredulously): Good job of doing Dancing With the Stars!

2) “You’re totally in control of the woman, Cheryl,” said Carrie Ann to Rob, adding that invisible comma to her statement to clarify which of the partners was a woman, and which was in control.

1) Len: (starting his critique): I like you. You know I like you…
Carson: I’ve been getting your letters.

And now, for this week’s scores

Judges’ Leaderboard (Carrie Ann, Len, Bruno: Total)
J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff: 9, 9, 10: 28
Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke: 9, 8, 8: 25
David Arquette and Kym Johnson: 8, 9, 8: 25
Ricki Lake and Derek Hough: 8, 8, 8: 24
Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 8, 8, 8: 24
Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus: 7, 7, 8: 22
Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer: 7, 7, 7: 21
Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya: 6, 6, 7: 19

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!

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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27 Comments
  1. Tom says:

    Some brief thoughts about tonight:

    J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff: Best dance of the night! Then again, there wasn’t much of a competition, was there?
    Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke: Fine, fine, but still a tad overpraised, no? Granted, he’s improved vastly from that awful Viennese Waltz of the first week.
    David Arquette and Kym Johnson: One of his better efforts, but I found Kym’s choreography a tad lacking. Maybe it was the song.
    Ricki Lake and Derek Hough: Whatever those ’80s moves that were included were definitely unnecessary. They seemed fine in hold, but the awful song choice totally ruined what could have been an excellent dance.
    Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Too much tugging and pulling going on. The routine seemed too forceful for me. Could’ve done with a more tempered routine, in my opinion.
    Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus: Just adequate. That’s about as far as it goes with Nancy. It was sort of bland, and not much to write home about.
    Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer: Decent effort. Clearly a far cry from J.R., but an oddly endearing routine. Not bad, but far from great.
    Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya: Love Carson’s enthusiasm and camp. Sure, it was hardly a Jive, but he’s definitely the most entertaining personality this season.

    I’d like to add that these themed weeks are definitely a detriment if the songs do not match with the dances (i.e. Ricki and Derek). I wish they could just scrap them and have the most appropriate music possible to help, rather than hinder, the couples.

  2. Nicole says:

    Poor Chaz his fly was down his whole performance

  3. robinepowell says:

    First let me say, I’m glad to see that this columnist knows how to spell, ’80s, unlike ABC. It makes me cringe, everytime the network uses a number format for past decades and I see on my TV screen. I mean really? Does no one at ABC know how to spell? It’s ’80s, as in the apostraphe goes before the number, not after. :(

    Second, I really enjoyed seeing and hearing stuff from that decade. It’s always fun when the stars talk about the time frame, if they’re old enough to know something from it and incorporate some moves into the dance. If I know the songs, I like to sing along too, from what I can remember, since I was a kid in the ’80s. :)

    • Amanda says:

      Agreed. Another big apostrophe error is the word “y’all.” It’s not “ya’ll.” The apostrophe always goes in place of the missing part of the word or number in the case of ’80s.

      I’m an 80s child and love the decade. However, I cringe hearing the music played in muzak form.

      • robinepowell says:

        I’m glad I’m not the only one know notices how ABC cannot spell ’80s (or anyother decade) in numbers to save their life, lol! :p Don’t they have people on staff to check these things? ;)

  4. Tess says:

    I thought before Rob even danced that if any judge gives him a 9 it would be a sign they are worried he will be gone next (before others they feel are lesser dancers).
    Seeing how every week (except the first of course)the couple going home was not at the bottom of the leaderboard but rather in the middle, I think we likely will see that happen again this week. The judges are trying to send an obvious signal to us viewers that we should not be voting for Carson, Chaz, or Nancy and we should be voting more for Hope, Rob, and David. I do think David has improved over the last two weeks but I think they have overscored Rob and Hope this week (I feel they’ve overscored Rob just about every week). Overscoring Chynna lost her sympathy votes last week, and overscoring Kristen and Elisabetta cost them ambivalent fans who figured they’d be ok so I think it will likely happen again this week and whatever fanbase Rob and Hope have may feel they’re safely tied or above front runner Ricki so they’ll be safe. At this rate, I’d rather see the two of them go than to see Chaz or Carson, both of whom I like, or even Nancy because I like Tristan.
    I love me some JR though – are Len and Carrie Ann’s 10 paddles reserved for Ricki only or will they ever show him some love? Never thought I’d want Karina to win a mirrorball trophy (especially not before Maks) but these two deserve it.

  5. Sophie says:

    Your comments about Maks and Hope were funny, but true. They have zero chemistry, and their dances are painful to watch. They pull and tug on each other too much as if they want to wrestle and not dance. Len needs to stop lying when he says Hope can win it all. She can’t.

    • Kim R says:

      I agree. They just don’t have chemistry….at all. One thing I disagreed with was Carrie Anne’s assessment of Nancy & Tristan’s dance. I am not a fan of Nancy by any stretch but if she would have gone for the heat I think it would have felt really off. I agreed with Len & Bruno on that point.
      I thought Chaz gave it his all…was really happy for Rob, who did a great job…JR was awesome….felt disappointed with Derek & Ricki. It was a choreography issue for me..I didn’t like the actual dance. Carson cracks me up. I wish he could do Brooke’s job…he’d be great. He’s so quick. I think it may be Hope to go tonight. I hope not because I’ll miss Maks. We’ll see. :)

  6. Soccerfan says:

    Soccer fans are very loyal and will vote like crazy for Hope who is an American sports hero NOT a cheesy entertainer. The scoring, judges and show are so obviously BIAS! They made her go 1st 2x already, give her little air time, and portray them as fighting. They don’t want her to stay on the show. Fine with us soccer fans who LOVE and worship Hope cause she has a game in November, a shoulder to rehab and an Olympic Gold Medal to win. DWTS is a stupid bias lame show that won’t b on my tv when Hope is done. Too bad ABC obviously has an agenda!

    • dan says:

      Just curious: how do the producers decide the order in which the couples dance? I haven’t watched every season and I’ve only watched sporadically this season, but each time I tune in it seems that Chaz and David are both near the end of the show. Anybody know how the lineup is determined?

  7. air says:

    i agree, hope and max are really boring and the whole love/hate thing is really annoying. i have voted for maks the last 3 seasons and i think he is the best pro, but there is no hope with hope.

  8. Jenks says:

    All you need to know about Hope and Maks is what you see on his face when they dance. Compare that to the genuine joy he showed from the first minute he danced with Kirstie Alley last season. Kirstie have been older and overweight, but she worked hard and really tried. Hope seems to think it should be good enough that she’s athletic. It’s not.

  9. diana says:

    Hope Solo is a sport hero? Seems to me she cost her team the world cup not blocking the penalty kicks. The soccer world can have her back. She is arrogant devoid of personality and a really ungraceful akward dancer. She is not scoring points with anyone except her soccer fans.

    • Ash says:

      Seems to me you know nothing about soccer. Losing is a team effort Diana, understand something before you critique it.

    • SP says:

      Really? I don’t think she was the one who made her teammates miss all but one of the penalty kicks so losing the world cup was a team thing.

  10. Jennifer says:

    I want J.R. to win!

  11. Sam says:

    ummm, I’m not a soccer fan. I thought Hope did find last night with that crappy song..Not a tango. I “hope” she stays til the finals. JR had the dance of the night for sure. Loved Chaz’s “Get Down On It”..one of my favs from the 80’s. Carson was his usual hilarious entertaining self. Rob,Nancy,David, and Rikki bore me. Thank goodness for Monday Night Football.

    • duranmom says:

      “Livin’ on a Prayer” a CRAPPY SONG? Uh, no. Hope seems to be too busy fighting in practice instead of listening. If Nancy Grace can listen and be critiqued by a KID (I mean, seriously, how old is Tristian? 19?) Hope can listen and learn. I had high hopes for Maks winning this year but no more. JR all the way!

  12. elysheba says:

    This article is so funny and spot-on! And yes, Cher in the rehearsal room, please!

    • cheryl says:

      If you thought this article is funny, please read Annie Barret’s recap for ew.com. She is HILARIOUS. I have always liked Slezak and totally respect his opinion, but Annie is laugh-out-loud funny without seeming to have too many conspiracy theories.

  13. karen says:

    carson summed it up – a big part of the package is enjoying what you are watching. i still think that ricki is the most talented but i love me some chaz – who i hope will win and who i always vote for – and carson. they make the show fun – and you need chemistry with your partner which is so lacking with hope and nancy.

  14. duranmom says:

    Even though they came in first, JR and Karina were robbed of a perfect score last night. It was a crime!

  15. hs in SF says:

    Great recap as always. I agree that Nancy must go this week, even though we would lose Tristan. It is just really painful to watch her, as she doesn’t appear to be improving performance-wise, although technically fine and better than Carson, but she does not show any joy in dancing like Carson does – and Chaz did this week.

  16. Amber says:

    I felt really underwhelmed by all the performances last night. Even JR I thought I was nothing special and was overscored. I wasn’t crazy about the choreography. But it’s hard for me to like anybody’s samba after Gilles Marini and Cheryl’s red-hot samba a few years back. Though to be clear, I am still rooting for JR to take it all.

    I would not even try to guess who’s going home tonight. The last two weeks have been way too surprising to me, and at this point, I don’t hold a lot of hope for a very exciting final. If Ricki or JR is sent home tonight, I may be finished with the season.