The fun and games are over, people. Last week's premiere episode was all about getting to know the new cast of Dancing with the Stars. This week is all about the bloodletting!
We had our first elimination of the season, a painful reminder that beneath all the confetti, gyrating and Bruno's horny talk, this is a competition with 11 losers! And there's not really any consolation prize to going out first. Five minutes in two primetime hours is hardly enough time to polish up a star's brand and make this Dancing stint worth the trouble, so whoever went home tonight really got the shaft.
Am I being too negative? Am I focusing on the bad? Fine. There was also some good dancing, and this season is shaping up to be one of the most competitive ever. Of course we (and ABC) say that every year, but come on, I dare you to pick a favorite. Rashad? Simone? Heather? Normani? Nancy? Mr. T? OK, maybe there are some who won't be winning.
Let's review the dances and find out who got the boot.
The dance: Girl Scout Nancy was replaced with sultry Nancy this week, as the former Olympian melted her squeaky clean look and worked on expanding her image and showing a little versatility. That's what the judges like, and in these early rounds where people like Chris and Mr. T will be obviously eliminated early on, this is like playing with house money. Nancy could have fallen on her face or bit Artem's ear off and she'd still make it to next week. As for the dance itself, Nancy had a few missteps and there was nothing special about the routine or the staging, but that's OK. She's taking her time getting used to being on the show, but if she doesn't start showing improvement in the next few weeks, she'll remain in the middle tier of the competition.
What the judges said: "Nothing fancy, Nancy!" said Len. Bruno noticed some balance issues, and Carrie Ann said Nancy clearly had a case of nerves early on but found herself through dance as the routine progressed. Everyone won't stop telling Nancy how great she is, and as we saw in the video package, Nancy doesn't take compliments well. Please, for her sake, let's focus on being really mean to her. Oh, who am I kidding? NANCY IS THE BEST, an American treasure.
The score: 28/40. Sure, that's fine.
The dance: Millions of women plotted crimes as Gleb dressed up as a sexy police officer and pretended to pull over Erika for a speeding violation. Take that, Bonner! Gleb is here to remind everyone he is the show's sexpot. The dance itself was a great next step for Erika, who was really taken aback by Len's "raunchy" comment from last week and countered with a routine that was both sexy and classy. Classexxy! That is almost certainly going to be the title of her next single. Erika's image may be of a rich, spoiled brat, but you don't get to be a self-branded pop star and reality staple without having a great sense of image, and the decisions that went into this routine proved that.
What the judges said: Julianne said Erika exuded confidence. "It was a sex trot!" Bruno spewed. Len said the dance went a little past romantic, because Len expects everyone to wear chastity belts and only have sex through full nightgowns with strategically placed holes and only for procreative purposes. C'mon, Len! Live a little!
The score: 28/40! And Erika actually smiled when Len's score was posted!
The dance: Well, of course Charo was brought to the dancefloor hoisted by two shirtless hunks. I'm not totally sure if the dance was technically good or not, but I'm ready to give Charo the trophy right now. How do you even give this shrieking whirlwind a score? Keo, just hang in there and try not to get spun off into orbit by Charo's energy. Random thought: Could you imagine Charo drunk or after a double espresso?
What the judges said: Who cares what the judges said? Let's just watch Charo listen to the judges forever, because she is absolutely amazing. Carrie Ann said Charo was a step ahead of Keo the whole dance but she didn't care, and none of us did either. Len said she was a little overexcited. Charo continued her feud with Bruno by saying his English sucked, and this is basically the thing I look forward to most all week.
The score: 25/40. Charo was not pleased.
The dance: I honestly can't think of a better way to describe Nick's dancing than "it's Nick Viall dancing." I've spent many hours of my life watching this man on television, so I think I have an idea of who he is (or at least the guy ABC wants us to think he is). He doesn't dance poorly but he certainly doesn't do it with any energy or embellishment, which pretty much sums up everything Nick does. He's just there. He also sort of looks creepy when he's chasing Peta on the floor.
What the judges said: Carrie Ann and Len basically said "meh." Julianne found a way to sugarcoat things and said she liked the partnership.
The score: 25/40, with varied scores. A couple 7s, a 6 and a 5 (from Len). That doesn't normally happen!
The dance: KABLAMMO! This is the Heather we all thought we'd get when she was announced. This was a big improvement over the first week, with Heather really taking the feedback to heart and incorporating it this week by showing off more personality. She threw in a killer breakdown with two other female dancers, which was right in her wheelhouse. Was it the best move to do, considering that Dancing with the Stars is about pair dancing? Maybe not, and you can bet some curmudgeons out there had a problem with it (AHEM, Len). However, with Maks out with a calf injury, I think this was fair game. There's an argument to be made that her background as a backup dancer actually isn't that unfair since she was doing such different styles, but she's going to adapt. Plus: Does anyone else spin like she does? Girl can twirl!
What the judges said: Len said he doesn't want to see Heather doing hip-hop, and everyone rightfully booed him. Carrie Ann said she came out and was like GAUNTLET. THROWN. DOWN.
The score: 30/40. Len gave her a 6, ha ha. I'm pretty sure Len's tea was a degree too cold this morning.
The dance: The big news here is that in the intro video, the two were holding hands and caressing fingers so it is on, guys! Woohoo! What are we going with, Sharner or Bonna? How long before they go public? Will I get invited to the wedding? Oh right, the dance. After the chicken-wire bar scene they pulled out last week, these two went romantic and simple in Week 2, which is a good idea. Bonner isn't as good as James Hinchcliffe from last season, but he showed great framing (is that what it's called? Why am I reviewing dancing, again?), posture and composure.
What the judges said: Julianne said, "I think we're watching something unfolding..." MMM-HMM. Bruno made a sexual innuendo and didn't even realize it. Carrie Ann called it "Poetry in motion." Len said something about how he didn't like it, but at this point, does Len have any other goal other than to bring everyone down a peg?
The score: 29/40, Len with another 6.
The dance: How stoked is Sasha to have Simone? This guy is one of the best choreographers on the show, and with Simone, he can throw any limitations out the window. Case in point, they somersalted on their heads and then sprung to their feet halfway through the routine! There were some syncing issues, but they were only noticeable because the routine demanded so much of it - more than other routines. It's obvious that Simone doesn't feel totally comfortable being "sexy hot mama," but on the bright side, that gives her plenty of room to improve over the course of the season.
What the judges said: Carrie Ann called it a "clean sexy" but a bit out of sync. Julianne and Len also said don't worry about being sexy because it's a dance and her body makes it work.
The score: 29/40, Bruno gave the 8. Less than last week (32), but still near the top.
The dance: Well, now I feel like a jerk after seeing the X-rays of Chris' back, which looked like he had a railroad track going down his spine after all the poles put in there. Chris' back is in terrible shape, looking like something that would challenge someone to get out of bed, let alone dance on national television. And so what was a pity performance last week became a work of inspiration this week. Helping things out was that it was so much better than his "What Is Love?" routine and it felt like it was actually a dance number rather than the rotting corpse of an old Saturday Night Live skit.
What the judges said: Carrie Ann said it was a miracle he can move like that. Julianne thanked Chris for sharing his story, because they didn't know either.
The score: 22/40.
The dance: I haven't seen this before: The stage was set up like they were performing at a concert, with fans up really close and cheering them on. The problem is no one could see their feet! Silly setups aside, Normani was my sleeper pick before the show started and I think the secret's out now, cuz she was on fire. Her strength is something that can't be taught: presence. She's having so much fun out there and looks great doing it. LOOK OUT.
What the judges said: Len said it was amazing! Carrie Ann said it was big burst of "star." Okay! Everyone really liked it, basically, and really, really liked her.
The score: 32/40, that's tops for the night so far!
The dance: Did you see Rashad with his shirt off? It's like our heavenly maker was putting him together and ran out of skin, so he just stretched it over his body. Rashad continued to impress tonight, with this smooth sultry dance, and even though he says he's been scared of dancing, it looks like he's been doing this a long time. I've been wondering who this season's James Hinchcliffe is this season, and I think we've found him in Rashad. The relative unknown who has natural dancing ability? Yep. Also, I'm starting to realize that I'm obsessed with James. Send help!
What the judges said: Carrie Ann said Rashad held Emma the way women want to be held, and pointed out his control. Julianne said she loved the way he led Emma, and Len said, "I liked it."
The score: 32/40, 8s all around.
The dance: This was some bad boxing! And only slightly better dancing. Mr. T and Kym came out in a makeshift boxing ring and spent so much time on theatrical introductions that there was barely any time left for dancing. But to be fair, that's about all the "dancing" Mr. T can handle. He dances with such earnestness, though, that you hate to see him go. But go he will. Will it be this week or next week? "A Team Theme" last week, "Eye of the Tiger" this week, is "Bad to the Bone" next?
What the judges said: Carrie Ann said he hit every step this week, but he could chill out on the air punching.
The score: 22/40. Mr. T said the scores were fair. Whatever Mr. T says, I ain't arguing with him.
The dance: Cool, goofy dad came out again, and what a treat he is. I mean, he owns it. The important thing is he's having a blast out there, and in Lindsay he has the perfect partner. He'll also impress you by being your stereotypically non-dancing older white guy and then all of a sudden pulling something out that's actually good, which is basically how he was as a ballplayer. Love the energy and the complete lack of shame from David, but this was a lateral step at best from last week's surprising routine.
What the judges said: Carrie Ann said she wants David to be bigger, and Len said the footwork was off. Julianne talked about herself. Bruno said he was MC Gramps, so point to Bruno. Bruno, wanna swap jobs next week?
The score: 27/40. Not bad!
Who got eliminated? It came down to Charo and Chris, but in the end, it was Chris who was sent home. Pretty much what we all thought.
Dancing with the Stars airs Monday nights at 8/7c on ABC.