Guilty Pleasures Week blew into Dancing With the Stars on Monday night, which provided reasonable excuses for a ribald display of Kendra Wilkinson’s “information” to our esteemed judges, a romantic getaway for Hines Ward and a very sexy throw pillow, and a blast of Quiet Riot music funneled through the dark portal of Hanson. Other ridiculata ensued, too, including the introduction of a mutant bubble machine, an unfortunate tumble for yet another pro, and a person with unimpaired vision accusing Ralph Macchio of being a year older than he actually is. Let’s recap the action in chronological order, but before we do, I’ve got to ask a question: If the finale were held next week, which three couples would you want to see compete?
I know, I know…it’s a tough one to ponder, especially seeing how there really isn’t a single dancer left who hasn’t displayed a pretty solid combination of raw talent, performance ability, and good old-fashioned work ethic. (Yes, to my surprise, I can’t even leave Kendra off that list.) Personally, I’d go with Hines and Kym, Kirstie and Maks, and Ralph and Karina. Which isn’t a knock on this week’s co-leaderboard-toppers Chelsea and Romeo; it’s just that when I mathematically calculate skill-to-body-deterioration levels, I’ve got to root for the (relative) oldies.
Hey now, no looking at me like that! There’s no judgment during Guilty Pleasures Week! And now, on to our happy hoofers…
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Samba
I know it’s an absurd proposal, but sometimes when I’m watching Kirstie and Maks rehearse, I wish the judges would give out a second set of scores for “Behind the Scenes Interplay.” I loved how Maks cheered on his panicking partner by noting she’d pulled off the “hardest step in samba… without knowing what the f*** you were doing,” and then later lazily played with her belt while she rested her head in his lap. Who else would like a sitcom called Maks & Kirstie added to ABC’s Wednesday lineup, like a zesty garlic aioli to the respective honeyed ham and pickles of Modern Family and Cougar Town. As for the actual samba in question, there were a few moments where Kirstie’s energy got a little scattered, but her unbridled rump-shaking and her sexy samba rolls had me clapping delightedly from my couch. Bonus points for matching chocolate brown ensembles — Kirstie’s in wanton fringe, Maks’s unbuttoned down to Brazil (thank you) — that provided a sinful substitute to actual dessert. To echo Carrie Ann: I wanna see these cats in the finals! Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 9; Bruno, 9. Total: 26.
Chris Jericho and Cheryl Burke: Tango
It was tough to see the professional wrestler — another contestant so charming that ABC might want to consider snatching him up for a possible pilot deal — struggle this week, especially after he correctly pooh-poohed the notion that there’s anything guilty about the pleasures of “Don’t Stop Believin'” or Journey frontman Steve Perry’s voice. [We pause this recap to insert a link to Perry’s 1984 video for “Oh, Sherrie.” You are most welcome.] There was nothing authoritative or connected about Chris and Cheryl’s dance this week, despite the fact that the open front of her gown gave the occasional visual effect that they were welded together in one whirling eddy of black trashbag material. As Bruno noted, “everybody has an off night,” but if voters remember Chris’ potent prior efforts, could the guy slip into the Top 6 over Kendra? Maybe? Scores: Carrie Ann, 7; Len, 8; Bruno, 7. Total: 22.
Romeo and Chelsie Hightower: Waltz
Call me crazy, but if I was going to give Romeo a perfect 10 for any of his dances this season, it would’ve been for last week’s Fox Trot, not this week’s Waltz. Yes, the judges were right that the Titanic-themed performance to an iceberg-damaged rendition of “My Heart Will Go On” was romantic and mature, but I felt as though the rapper-actor was a little loosey goosey with some of his follow-through, especially some arm extensions that caused me to jot down this very technical critique: “un-waltz-like.” But to Romeo’s credit, he’s probably Season 12’s most improved hoofer, even though I suspect he’s not going to convert any new voters by demanding spontaneous post-performance kisses from robots who are hard-wired for teleprompter reading, not affection. Scores: Carrie Ann, 10; Len, 9; Bruno, 9. Total: 28.
Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas: Quick Step
I know I’ve been fairly tough on the Disney Star and her spotlight-loving pro partner this season, and I kind of grimaced at their “wacky hijinks ensue” water fight. But not even a Dementor could resist tapping a foot as the youthful duo zipped their way through a dizzying routine to the always welcome strains of “Walking on Sunshine.” That opening sequence of steps as the “art-gallery nerds” clutched their notebooks was breathtaking, and the fluffy bottom of Chelsea’s sweet yellow dress only served to accentuate her lightness of motion. I agreed with The Lady Inaba that Bruno may have imagined an instance of “wobble wobble” in the number, and I thought her “10” would’ve been on point even if Mark hadn’t twisted his ankle in dress rehearsal. Scores: Carrie Ann, 10; Len, 9; Bruno, 9. Total: 28.
Kendra Wilkinson and Louis Van Amstel: Samba
It’s Guilty Pleasures Week, so you’ll forgive me for setting my Kendra paragraph to the tune of Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” won’t you?
She’s paired with Lou van Amstel, her attitude’s been snide
This week she’s going Latin, wants to swivel her backside
She’s on the judges’ table, Carrie Ann can’t look uphill
Len’s heart is palpatatin’, Bruno waves a dollar bill
She used to take her clothes off in the pages of Playboy
But now her booty-shaking makes Len Goodman say “Ahoy!”
I’m not so sure she’s a tomboy! Come on!
Clad in all gold fringe, she’s pullin’ off one mean samba
For weeks she’s made me cringe, but she’s pullin’ off one mean samba
Now Bruno’s come unhinged, oh Kendra’s one hot banana
The judges’ table singed, she’s pullin’ off one mean samba
Pullin’ off one mean samba!
Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 8; Bruno, 9. Total: 25.
Hines Ward and Kym Johnson: Viennese Waltz
Has there been anything as adorable this season of DWTS as the sight of Hines getting in touch with the amorous mood of the Viennese Waltz by sketching out the moves like football plays, then practicing with his exceptionally stylish throw pillows? I’m pretty confident in answering “no.” And while Len may have had a point that there were moments where Hines’ footwork wasn’t absolutely perfect, I was too busy basking in Hines and Kym’s delightful chemistry to really notice. Bruno was right: The duo moved like “two birds in love chasing each other across a spring sky.” In particular, I loved that maneuver where Hines held Kym’s face in his hands as they swept across the floor. Who says the dude doesn’t have a romantic side? Scores: Carrie Ann, 9; Len, 9; Bruno, 9. Total: 27.
Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff, Paso Doble
I had to chuckle during Ralph’s rehearsal package when Karina tried to pay him a compliment that “no other 50-year-old man on the planet” would be able to pull off her choreography, and all Ralph could do was remind his pro partner that — hey! — he’s still a tender 49. But in all seriousness, Ralph is proof positive that on DWTS, self-deprecating humor can be almost as important a skill as fancy footwork or proper posture. I howled at the former Karate Kid explaining to the audience not to expect him to follow Maks’ lead and rip off his shirt during his performance.
Who’d have thunk, though, that Ralph would end up emulating the Russian sex stick by helping his partner to her feet, then helping her find her way back into the dance, after a nasty stumble during their Paso to “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”? I’m glad ABC rolled slo-mo tape on Karina’s fall, as we got to see that the wacky cape of Ralph’s marching-band uniform was the culprit in the dancefloor disaster. And I’ve got to credit both Ralph and Karina for attacking the remainder of the dance with a fire and gusto that no other couple matched tonight. Their side-by-side spins were tremendous, and I practically gave a Standing O from my couch to the final move of the dance — a slide-and-slay combo that ended with Ralph on his knees and Karina hurtling backward into his arms. YES! Karina looked absolutely crestfallen over the slip-trip-fall incident, but as Len pointed out, the couple deserved congratulations, not castigation. And yet, as if Karina hadn’t been through enough, that robot in the sparkly purple dress cut her off before she could finish thanking Ralph for his grace under ballroom fire. Hey, sometimes there’s no time for final-couple chatter, not when Hanson is interjecting little snippets of Now That’s What I Call Guilty Pleasure Music: Vol. 1 coming out of every commercial break.Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 8; Bruno, 8. Total: 24.
What did you think of tonight’s episode? How hard did you laugh at Tom taking the perfect opportunity to remind viewers of Bruno’s previous work as a scantily clad backup dancer in Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” video? And what about Bruno countering by calling Tom a bitch? Who was your favorite couple tonight? Who do you think will and should go home? And what about Ralph and Karina’s mishap? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!