Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff (Cha Cha): 22/30
If DWTS were a network procedural, these two would enjoy six seasons of bantering and sexual tension, after which they’d move in together but continue to critique each other’s eyebrows.
Apolo and Karina want this, and they’re not messing around. Except that they also are, because their bracelets have little strobe lights in them. America, now you know that bedazzled pink leopard-print suspenders exist. Buy them for the hipster 8-year-old girls and sassy grandpas in your life.
Apolo’s upper body is stiff at times, but the routine is energetic, and Karina turns herself into a human clock a la Big Comfy Couch, so I’m on board. Len says he wanted more hips, but Carrie Ann liked the hips. Apolo is now 3000 times more sexy! (This is actually the advertising slogan for the pink leopard suspenders.)
Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy (Cha Cha): 21.5/30
Do you think Val has looked Kelly in the eyes yet? He probably wouldn’t see the point. She’s got other assets working in her favor, and she knows how to use them. Kelly is fiery. Her moves are crisp, and everyone loves her chemistry with Val. Carrie Ann is actually giggly. Even Val blushes when Brooke points out the spark between them. I say they give in to the sexual tension halfway through season two.
Helio Castroneves and Chelsie Hightower (Foxtrot): 21.5/30
Helio really must have read up on Chelsie, because when they met, the first thing out of his mouth was, “They gave me another blonde! I liiiiike this!”
Helio wants to be an all-star so his adorable spinning daughter doesn’t decide to drive cars at 200 mph for a living. That’s about as good a reason as any. I imagine watching him dance is the equivalent of watching Maxwell Smart dance (the Don Adams version, obviously). He’s got a cheeky charm that overshadows the flaws in his technique. The best part of this routine is when Helio and Chelsie let go and prance (flail artfully?) across the floor. Helio’s diggin’ it, and it’s impossible not to dig it along with him. Len tells him to stop sickling his feet but says that he is a joy to watch, and Bruno praises the brightness in Helio’s face. Carrie Ann loves his charisma but wants more body contact. Mmmmm. Helio liiiikes this.
Drew Lachey and Anna Trebunskaya (Foxtrot): 21.5/30
If Helio’s in this for the safety of his daughter, Drew is in it for the season two haters. To prove himself, he’s adopted the winning philosophy, “It’s painful, so I must be doing it right.” Pain and sparkles: the DWTS battle cry. Despite Drew’s can-do attitude, his foxtrot is a series of awkward hops and crazy eyes. If he doesn’t use that as his memoir title, I’m calling it. Len tells Drew to soften his lines, but Bruno calls their routine dynamic and sporty.
Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani (Foxtrot): 21/30
Reunited and it feels so good. Now that Melissa has “smelled the trophy,” she won’t settle for anything less. Let’s all take a minute to consider what the mirror ball smells like, and then let’s watch this routine on repeat. Melissa’s dance background is obvious, from the rehearsal footage through to the performance. Her leg extension is impressive, every move she makes looks effortless and graceful, and she’s clearly enjoying herself. Everybody loves Fosse (except Len, who thought it was theatrical. It’s Fosse, Len). The judges compliment her lines, but Carrie Ann still wants them to touch more. MORE BODY CONTACT can be Carrie Ann’s memoir title.
Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson (Cha Cha): 20.5/30
Joey really hams it up for the camera. You’d think after so many years in a wildly popular boy band that, you know, some people know him from, he wouldn’t be so preoccupied with the camera lens. Personally, I was more distracted by Kym’s leg fringe, which looked a bit too much like sparkly gold leg hair. Fix this, Joey. Use your boy band know-how to stage a style intervention.
Joey’s *NSYNC days are much more obvious in his stage presence. He needs to loosen up in the hips, and the judges remind him to clean up his footwork and posture, but they also praise his showmanship. Bruno “like(s) a man that gives it large.”
Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas (Cha Cha): 19.5/30
Bristol is worried that she’s the joke of the competition, so Mark flies all the way up to Alaska to hang out with her. Oh Shawn, I know you miss your ex, but this looks serious. Mark wants Bristol’s best. MARK WANTS SEX APPEAL. (Meek nod.) He works so much on Bristol’s hip movement that it’s actually where she seems most confident. Her arms and face sometimes don’t know what to do, but her hips sure do. Carrie Ann names Bristol the most improved contestant—she just wants a little more pop. Tripp covers his ears while his mom gets critiqued.
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Foxtrot): 19/30
Kirstie was runner up in season twelve. McKayla is not impressed. Neither is Kirstie. She and Maks want to go all the way this time, but the only thing anyone with ears could possibly take away from their rehearsal package is that her boob is constantly on him. Maks was wise to keep this foxtrot slow and simmering; Kirstie isn’t necessarily fast or sharp, but she can do sultry eyes. All of the judges want Kirstie to lift her rib cage more, but they agree that she’s sensual. Bruno goes The Birdcage on everyone: “Abandon me! Take me again! I’m yours! On the floor, Twyla Tharp, Twyla Tharp!” Kirstie should probably kiss him for that, but she kisses Tom instead. Tom got a lot of sugar tonight.
Pamela Anderson and Tristan MacManus (Cha Cha): 17/30
In the Dancing with the Stars crowd, Pamela and Tristan are the edgy ones. She likes his tattoos, and he likes the fact that she’s Pamela Anderson. I say they give in to the sexual tension by the end of this sentence. Despite that, Pamela looks hesitant onstage. Facially, as Carrie Ann points out, she’s “living the drama,” but her moves don’t carry through. The judges gently remind her to work harder and tell Pamela/ America that she can do it, but her fate might already be sealed. She looks like she’s going to cry, and it’s upsetting. Now that we know Cheryl’s hair is next to get married, maybe an invite to the wedding will make Pamela feel better.
So goes the first round of all-star competition! There are so many questions to ask. Do the original partnerships have an advantage? Can the leg fringe be justified? Who are your frontrunners? And what DOES the mirror ball smell like?