Dancing With the Stars Recap: Mad Maks

I’ve always harbored a secret dream of seeing SuperNanny Jo Frost cast on Dancing With the Stars, but never moreso than during this week’s blowout battle between Maksim Chmerkovskiy and our maddening panel of judges. The thing is, though, I’m not sure who was more in need of some stern British discipline.

Oh sure, Maks should’ve been sent directly to the Naughty Step — without passing go, and without collecting $200 — for freaking out over a not-unwarranted negative critique and suggesting Len Goodman was too old for primetime, but there was a legitimate point behind his temper tantrum: Some dancers get big gold stars from Carrie Ann, Len, and Bruno just for putting in the effort, while others get critiqued right down to their heel leads.

It’s a fair point, as is the fact that if you’re partnered with, say, Karina or Tony, you’re generally going to get far less effusive feedback than if you’re dancing with, say, Cheryl or Derek. But that’s the way the mirrorball refracts, as they say.

Let’s review how Broadway Week (aka the first week after Carson’s ouster) played out:

Dance of the Night: J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff (Quickstep)
Did we need the whole “he’s perusing the newspaper” and “she’s a famous songbird” setup? Probably as much as our contestants need Brooke Burke’s probing cue-card readings right before they get their scores. But why complain (or even consider a ‘9’ paddle, Len) when the duo’s lightning-fast footwork and undeniable exuberance (complete with J.R.’s freshly patented tongue wag) provided the telecast’s most joyous segment? Bruno, take it away…TEN!

Runner-Up: David Arquette and Kym Johnson (Quickstep)
If I had to use alliteration to describe David and Kym’s routine (set to Grease’s “We Go Together”), I’d choose fun, flirty, and flawed. But in a season where the overall quality of dance has been slightly below par, it’s contestants like David — who doesn’t have to remember to act like he’s having fun, because he actually is having fun — that ensure DWTS maintains its status as appointment television. Plus, dude seriously needs to adopt the pompadour as his signature hairstyle. I’m not even kidding.

Will Go Home: Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer (Tango)
Yes, Chaz is still getting the “everyone has their own journey on this show” critiques (um, thanks, Carrie Ann?) but at least everybody’s stopped pretending that Cher’s son is (to borrow a Randy Jackson-ism) in it to win it. Bruno said it best that Chaz’s “Phantom of the Opera” tango, complete with too-early-for-Halloween Phantom Mask, was akin to watching a “cute little penguin” try to play a menacing bird of prey. And at this point in the DWTS season, Lacey is bringing 100% of the “Dancing,” 90% of the “With,” and 95% of the “Stars.” Chaz is only responsible for the “The,” and alas, that’s not enough.

Should Go Home: Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus (Fox Trot)
Okay, so maybe Casey Anthony’s Enemy No. 1 outdanced Chaz and Hope this week (though her leaderboard position over David and Rob is Rated JP…for Judges, Please). But honestly, I don’t want to have to endure another week of this woman bitching and moaning about being displeased with Tristan’s jaunty choreography. And more importantly, I don’t want Tristan to have to endure another week of this woman bitching and moaning about being displeased with his jaunty choreography. (Choreography that, I might add, Nancy delivered competently, but without any joy.) I’d suggest Nancy study Carson’s old rehearsal montages for tips on humility, charm, and self-deprecating humor, but I’m guessing she’d probably just use them to point out flaws in Anna’s routines.

Biggest Music and Fashion Predicament: Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Rhumba)
Okay, so Maks flew off the handle this week, but I’d have been in a cranky mood too if I’d been forced to dance a rhumba to Rent‘s “Seasons of Love.” I mean, what next, a Viennese Waltz to House of Pain’s “Jump Around”? While the music was incongruous, though, I thought that Hope’s attitude was more open during rehearsals, and it was evident in her improved hairography. I just wish she’d worn some proper dancing shoes instead of clomping around in those heavy-duty snowboots.

Was That Really Worthy of the ’10’ Paddle?: Ricki Lake and Derek Hough (Quickstep)
You knew Ricki was going to deliver a solid performance when she got the patented “redemption edit” in rehearsals. But while the couple’s “Luck Be a Lady” routine was beautifully choreographed, I thought it lacked just a little of the luster of their Psycho tango, or some of their other greatest hits. Heck, Derek’s lipsynching alone was enough to knock it down a point. But then again, after Carrie Ann used the ‘9’ paddle on Nancy, where else could she go but ’10’ for Derek and Ricki?

Couple I Can’t Bring Myself to Get Excited About: Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke
The judges seem to think Rob is a legit Top 3 contender, but it always looks to me like the guy is in a step aerobics class and desperately counting in his head to keep up with the hot instructor. Plus, I just can’t deal with the “not a boy, not yet a man” theme being foisted on us by Rob’s own mother, unless of course “manhood” can be described as the tender age at which a youth proves he has enough of a public following to score his own reality spinoff and contribute accordingly to the family juggernaut.

Brooke’s Inappropriate Question of the Week (To Ricki)
“How much weight have you lost?”

Weirdest Personal DWTS Reverie
I don’t even know why I’m sharing this, but I got my biggest laugh of the night after Chaz’s low scores came in and our Robot Hostess asked how he was feeling. “There’s not much to say, is there?” said Chaz, and suddenly Brooke got all empathetic: “I can relate,” she said, as though she’d been some kind of midpack player, and not the eventual winner of DWTS‘ seventh season. At which point, I began imagining Brooke in LOLCats mode: “I can haz relate?” And suddenly, everything she said and did finally made sense.

Line of the Night
“We’re not dead yet. Liiiive!” –Tom Bergeron cueing up Nancy’s Spamalot-themed dance

And now, for this week’s scores

Judges’ Leaderboard (Carrie Ann, Len, Bruno: Total)
Ricki Lake and Derek Hough: 10, 9, 10: 29
J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff: 10, 9, 10: 29
Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus: 9, 7, 8: 24
David Arquette and Kym Johnson: 8, 7, 8: 23
Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke: 8, 7, 7: 22.
Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 7, 6, 7: 20
Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer: 7, 6, 6: 19

What did you think of this week’s DWTS? Who was your favorite couple? Where do you stand on Maksimgate? Who do you think will and should go home? Sound off below!