April 29, 2014 7:30am PT by Annie Barrett, Billboard
'Dancing With the Stars' Recap: No Shirts, Full Service
This story first appeared on Billboard.com
What a night to be on Planet Mirrorballus (again)! The liiiiiiive peep show Team Loca gave the studio audience on Latin Night has to be the best thing I've ever seen on Dancing With the Stars. And I have seen it ALL! (Except Bruno's dignity.)
Let me back up (buttfirst, Maks-style). Since Derek Hough's partner Amy Purdy endured a back spasm and rushed off to the hospital mid-show, the judges had to score and critique the dress rehearsal footage of their eight-person team's Ricky Martin Fireball Explosion final number instead of the incomplete dance itself. Theoretically, the contestants would just need to stand around onstage while the tape played in front of the judges' table like some sad diorama of how we get all our information from our DVRs now instead of from real life. But NO. They danced! Oh, how they throttled. One by one, they disobeyed the former script and removed their shirts: Val, Maks, Derek, Mark. I am not sure if that order is correct, as my memory is a blur of abs, spray tan and Danica McKellar's teased hair. And tragically, there's no way to play it back on the TV. 'Twas a dazzling mirrorball mirage.
I am pretty sure at some point during Derek's dramatic solo of dancing with nobody, one or both of the Chmerkovskiys playfully ran up from behind to toy with him up front. I didn't even mean for that to sound dirty; it's just how life on Planet Mirrorballus works. "Where is the dirtiest place?" Maks had wondered during rehearsal, as he'd urged Meryl to get nasty in their salsa. He was only being rhetorical. He knew. We know.
It's times like this, Bruno Tonioli lamented, that he really regrets we don't have a results show anymore, in which the complete Team Loca could reprise this shirtless wonder. "Maybe we can do it during Agents of SHIELD!" Tom Bergeron piped up. (This was a treat only TV viewers could enjoy. If Tom thought I was delighted by his wit during our post-show chat, he should have seen me after hearing this comment hours later! Just perfect.)
The night's sadness was not limited to this missing piece of your ballroom soul. You see, our sparkly hoofers are basically falling apart. Candace Cameron Bure is now undergoing televised therapy to treat her raging perfectionism (once a Deej, always a Deej). Meryl Davis' right wrist may no longer be with us. Danica broke a freakin' rib. Some of guest judge Ricky Martin's fingers almost melted off because the dances were so piping caliente. Oh, and Nene Leakes and Tony Dovolani have been eliminated on this spicy Week 7 following an Argentine Tango (believe me, I'm as surprised as you are that this was supposed to be their dance style) that appeared to have been filmed in slow motion. We can rest assured that Nene is very proud of herself.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhhh-ba!
Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 39/40 salsa + 39 = 78/80 Maks' breakthrough season continued as he whipped off his pesky racerback hooded tank top (will wonders never cease?!) and hurled it in Bruno Tonioli's direction for safekeeping. Can you imagine the giant lost and found of men's clothing that has accumulated under Bruno's section of the desk? Let's just pretend no one ever cleans the set and it's a total gem mine in there. Anyway, I sort of agreed with Len at the time that their salsa was a little hectic -- what's with the Troupe getting involved in so many dances? -- but when I watched it back on TV, I appreciated how much Meryl totally commanded the stage even while flanked by five professional dancers. I did not expect that from her in the salsa. Somehow she rocked one of the trashiest costumes I've ever seen and made it seem like not too much of a costume after all. That in itself is a true ballroom talent.
During my discussion with Tom, our host agreed with me that this could be Maks' best partnership ever. YES! Let's not jinx it, but yes. Be sure and check THR.com before next Monday's show for my Q&A with Tom!
Amy Purdy and Derek Hough: 36/40 rumba + 39 = 75/80 "Everything's really painful right now," whispered Amy to Erin Andrews backstage moments after her back spasm. "It's hard to breathe." She had pretty much summed up the stressful night for everyone. But before this extra drama, Amy and Derek performed a sweet little rumba on the top of the stage, set to an acoustic version of the Doors' "Light My Fire." I thought this played out much better on TV; we couldn't sense their intimacy from our seats as they only used the top part of the stage. Can you believe Carrie Ann knocked them a point for Amy's feet coming off the floor, yet she STILL gave them a 9? Didn't she say previously that mistakes didn't matter where Amy was concerned because she is just that darn inspiring? Pick a lane, Officerwoman Inaba! Not even the Lift Police has the right to straddle like that in heavy traffic. It's unbecoming.
Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas: 35/40 Argentine tango + 39 = 74/80 Candace can do some legit push-ups and showed off some strong, crisp and sexy legs during tonight's Argentine tango, so I applaud her for that. That whole sports therapy storyline and her accompanying tears, though, were 1-800-TOO-MUCH. I mean, they were amazing in a reality TV producer's dreamscape sort of way, but the intensity of all of it just made me impatient for a real turnaround from Candace. She could be the improvement darling of the season, but only if she fully wards off the despair. I do want her to figure things out, and it sounds like she knows what she needs to do: breathe deeply, trust that she knows the choreography and be confident. The clock is ticking, though, Deej! Get it together! I talked to God, and she says "Yo, wassup?" And she wants you to lose the nerves. (Ten points -- "from Len, the Ten" even -- to anyone who gets this mid-'90s reference.)
Danica McKellar and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 33/40 salsa + 39 = 72/80 "Just, everything hurts right now," sniffed Danica. "IT HURTS WHEN I'M CRYING." Aggggghhhh! It hurts when I'm crying! So too said the Coveted Mirrorball Trophy -- if, that is, it had secretly wanted someone with no dance experience to win it this season, which I suspect it did. My bedazzled heart broke for these two (#sparklebarf) as they bravely decided to soldier on after Danica fractured a rib while practicing some challenging lifts. Their salsa lost whatever steam it had midway through as Danica's injury limited her movement. Len called it "pop video-ish," Bruno called it "ghetto fabulous" and Ricky Martin shocked everyone by channeling former co-host Brooke Burke. "How do you feel?" he innocently wondered. And we really had all been wondering that very thing. Maybe Brooke had the right idea all along.
Danica's response: "Okay -- but you fight through it, you rest." Am I nuts or did she just describe three wildly different modes of being? "It's a fine line between toughing it out and being stupid," she'd elaborated during the rehearsal segment. "I don't know where the balance is." These poor, broken creatures! Where is the damn elixir? I thought this planet was supposed to include magic!
Speaking of shattered perceptions: I also thought I smelled a dog in the ballroom, but it turned out I was just sitting ten feet away from Juan Pablo. Out, out, damn Bachelor!
Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: 36/40 paso doble + 35 = 71/80 I was just a teensy bit annoyed at the way Charlie insisted on scoring all 10s this week due to his Olympian's sense of impatience, but even more annoyed that Len ragged on Charlie for taking his shirt off (HELLO? Doesn't he know what night it is? Monday.) and dismissed him with this vague mess: "To get a 10, you have to do something special, and for me this wasn't special." Lame. Carrie Ann and Bruno were more specific, citing Charlie's need for more sharpness in this dubsteppy paso doble (I just lost some brain cells; par for the course). Ricky, however, was just livin' in the loca moment, man! He was "flying with you guys" and just blown away! Charlie shouldn't be that disillusioned by all those 9s, though. He's being set up as the underdog now. Plus, he got a fresh wax and a chest rub from Maks out of this week. As far as salaries go, this one isn't bad. I sure could use it. And Charlie White is forever my hero for his good-natured reaction to a 10 from Ricky: "I think we all look up to Ricky Martin… especially when it comes to Latin Night."
James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: 35/40 + 35 = 70/80 I tend to forget about James, but must admit he really stood out to me on Team Vida (which consisted of all three of this week's "in jeopardy" contestants: Nene, James and Charlie). Well, I actually thought he was a pro in that dance until I realized who it was. That seems both good and bad. I'm still surprised he's at the bottom of the leaderboard. The four-point disparity between the Team scores really benefited Candace and Danica and could hurt James. I'm not sure what else they could have done in this week's high-energy samba, which featured a full-on Victoria's Secret Valentine's Day getup on Peta and not one ounce of fat on the dance floor from the two of them combined. James -- shirtless, as Latin Week law decreed -- had turned down his coveralls at the waist, which offered the illusion of a dark-gray diaper on the dance floor and then a wetsuit up in the Celebriquarium. Also appropriate: Bruno claimed to need a "full service appointment"… at the gas-pumping station. We all need to fuel up sometimes.
Your thoughts on Latin Night, DANCMSTRs? Are you buying Candace's transformation? Are you mad at me for not breaking the law and filming the liiiiiiive sex show for YouTube? Are you going to keep your #ShirtOn all day? Why or why not?
Annie is answering DWTS fans' questions on YouTube — ask her anything on Twitter @AnnieBarrett