'Dancing With the Stars' Diatribe: Broadway Battle Focuses on Quips and Quicksteps

Week 6 brought jazz hands, near-perfect scores and unexpected rants -- all of which THR took in backstage, at a safe distance from the barb-slinging.
Adam Taylor/ABC

It was a display of jilted ego befitting a Broadway diva, so it only makes sense that it take place on a night devoted to classic show tunes.

I'm referring, of course, to pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy voicing his displeasure with the Dancing With the Stars judges. It only took up a minute of the two-hour broadcast, but it will surely be almost all anyone talks about when rehashing the episode.

So was it really that big of a deal? Definitely not. But fans of the show wait patiently for Maks to go off like a Ukrainian time bomb. He's always going to say something that electrifies the judges or take his shirt off. And on Monday he did both, something he admits was probably overdue this season.

Scorekeeping

Rob Kardashian faced his greatest motivator yet this week, with an imposing cameo from mama Kris during rehearsals. He and Cheryl Burke tackled a "manly" Cha Cha Cha, set to the nasally tones of Jersey Boys, but his technicality got lost in all the whimsy and rear shaking. They scored a modest 22, with a general lack of enthusiasm from the judges.

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If you ever told me I'd find Nancy Grace in full Renaissance Faire regalia a charming sight, I'd suggest you cut back on the peyote... but tonight I'd also stand corrected. Tristan MacManus presented a demanding Foxtrot to the TV judge and her gleeful execution and Monty Python-loving high kicks seemed to please everyone in the ballroom -- except Len Goodman. She earned a season high score of 24, thanks in no small part to a 9 from Carrie Ann Inaba.

It was good news and bad news for David Arquette and Kym Johnson. The good? Audience applause, including David's daughter Coco screaming her cute little brains out, drowned much of the judges' feedback. The bad? Their Quickstep was a tad too fast for them. They fell back to a 23, after a surplus of enthusiasm prompted David to lose his pace and Len's generally surly state prompted the judge to slap another contestant with a 7.

But not all Quicksteps are created equal. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of her florescent leg-warmers, Ricki Lake reclaimed her place atop (most) of the competition with her hyper-stylized Quickstep to Guys and Dolls. She gave as good of a Miss Adelaide as any DWTS contestant I can think of, and Carrie Ann even called it Tony worthy. (Sadly, the Broadway kudos have yet to introduce a category for Abridged Dance Routine While Pantomiming on a Reality Show.) Ricki and partner Derek Hough are back to 29 -- and robbed of the season's first 30 by grumpy Goodman.

Did anyone peg Chaz Bono as Carson Kressley's heir to cartoonish kitsch? Well, then you get a shiny nickle. Because his and Lacey Schwimmer's goofy Tango to Phanton of the Opera seemed to channel Kressley's dramatic flair and love of props. Unfortunately, it also channeled Kressley's poor reception from the judges. Chaz and Lacey fell back to a 19, putting them at the bottom of the leader board for week 6.

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As for Hope Solo and Maks' Rumba to "Seasons of Love," I had prepared this whole treatise on the the shrinking significance and charm of Rent since the '90s, but then Maks went sort of nuts. It was one of the better DWTS tantrums in recent memory, and though I agree with the pro's accusations of occasional unfair scoring, I don't necessarily think he was the recipient of any tonight. They're second to last with a mostly-deserved 20.

Rounding out the twosomes, J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff threw their own Quickstep into the ring. And it was very, very well-received. Once again it seemed like we were headed for our first perfect 30 of the season, but Len, unfazed by Maks, took a pass and gave them a 9 instead. Still, they end the show with a very respectable 29, tying them for the lead with Ricki and Derek.

And let's not forget that group dance. Though it's utterly inconsequential in the debate of who will stay and who will go on Tuesday, it was awfully fun to watch -- like the world's most ambitious community theater production of Cabaret.

STORY: Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 'I Didn't Mean it in a Selfish Way'

The bottom line

Maks' take-down of judges could be interpreted one of two ways by voters: they were either turned off or rallied by his cry for just scoring. I'm inclined to say they'll go the latter route -- but only because it's Maks. It doesn't really matter whether Hope Solo or anyone else is on his arm this week, because, to a certain extent, this is his show. His personality, whether you find it abrasive or charming, has come to define much of the Dancing With the Stars experience. He could easily be voted off next week, but not after such a grand display of utter Maks-ness.

That leaves Chaz. He's never done particularly well, and with the uncoordinated-but-endearing Carson Kressley now just a sequin-covered memory, he's also struggling the most with the technicality of the dances. His fans could rally behind him, but they're only holding off the inevitable. 

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