'Dancing With the Stars' Recap: Don't You Wanna Danica?

5:05 AM PST 04/22/2014 by Annie Barrett, Billboard
ABC
"Dancing With the Stars"

Drew Carey and partner Cheryl Burke are bid adieu on Party Anthem Night, while Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy score perfect 40s.

Party Anthem Night turned out to be the perfect Dancing With the Stars episode to attend liiiiiive, as this is pretty much the flagship theme of the show (People Gone Wild), just as much as last week’s Disney motif. At the time, I’d regretted delaying my visit to Planet Mirrorballus because I’d missed out on the chance to party alongside my favorite classic animated characters. But that’s nonsense. Those characters can be conjured up at any time. Poof! Ursula just bellowed at me from across my bed to never underestimate the important of BODY LANGUAGE. HA! And I never would! Pipe down, Urs. You weren’t invited.

Anyway, Week 6 was fantastic in person — a rippling tidal wave of glow sticks, non-drawn abs, sweat, and balloons. What more do you need on a Monday? And this way, I got to party alongside real, live crazy people. This is much more my speed. I felt like I truly belonged.

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I eventually warmed up to guest judge Redfoo because what else could I do (this isn’t my show; I’m not Maks), but not right away. It’s one thing for a member of LMFAO to show up, offer up commentary on ballroom dancing, and force our beloved disembodied British voice to shout out “Redfoo!” before each given score. Frankly, I could use the laughs. Always. But to reinvent Planet Mirrorballus’ glamorous dress code so that it suddenly suited Redfoo’s deep-V’ed, red leopard-print vest, thus allowing Bruno Tonioli to think it was okay to wear a RED TEE under his suit jacket and at one point on its own?! Preposterous, I say! Carrie Ann looked crazy, too. At least Len Goodman kept things classy with a royal purple tie and a clean white pocket square ready to absorb the tears of being seated next to clowns.

It came as no surprise to Drew Carey that he and his ever-optimistic partner Cheryl Burke were eliminated following a generously scored 32-out-of-40 tango in which Drew played the part of a pimp. He did try hard during his intergalactic voyage; it’s just that the magic wasn’t there. He’s entertaining, just not captivating in the way that some other DWTS “crowd-pleaser” types — Bill Engvall, Andy Dick, Carson Kressley, heck even Ty Murray — have been. He was never obsessed, even in a tongue-and-cheek manner, with doing well on this show. So naturally, we weren’t as invested, either. Cheers to Drew! Let’s hope he gets some…. oh, look, he already fell asleep. Rest.

Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ba!  

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Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 40/40 I am loving this partnership — usually Maks is the one driving the psychological terror plot within the rehearsal studio walls, but this time Meryl has taken the wheel, and all she needed to do was hold his hand and tell him he was scared. Former Maks would never have stood for this! But Present Maks: “I’m terrified. I’m not scared.” Watching this play out in the telecast was a rich post-show reward, as audience members can’t really hear anything that happens within the packages. 

Maks admitted he thinks he could finally win the mirrorball in this, his 13th season — and the nature of this show, well, it’s gotten to him. “I used to be too proud to admit it, and now I’m too proud not to admit it,” he confessed. THIS IS LIKE THE BEST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED, MAKS-WISE. I love how Meryl’s influence is helping him elevate himself. They are the total dream team right now. But will they be able to improve on a red-hot (to match the streaks in her hair) perfect-40 tango? Fire up the cauldron of bubbling-over uncertainty and expectation again, guys! It is so working for you. 

More profound liiiiiive in the ballroom: Maks’ mid-dance intensity (as always), and the swell of audience members’ gasps as Maks admitted during rehearsal footage that he felt like the weakest member of the cast. (Right then would’ve been a good time for Carrie Ann’s new turquoise hair-animal to scurry away in shame.)

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Amy Purdy and Derek Hough: 38/40 Amy continues to be the no-legged definition of inspiration in everything she’s doing here, but I found myself more moved by last week’s waltz — probably because, as she admitted, it was so much more difficult for her. As a production, though, their “wedding jive” was a total blast, made extra special by crasher Derek’s fake wailing, the Troupe’s crowd-rallying flailing, and a final-dance energy in the ballroom that can only be described as “WE ALL WANT COCKTAILS!” Seriously, give me three cranberry-vodkas and this dance on repeat and I’d gladly stick around for hours. Maybe even days. Perhaps we should check in with Redfoo for some more insight. “I was like woooooooooooooooot!” said Redfoo. I’m glad we did that.

More profound liiiiiive in the ballroom: The unnecessary “prove we can do it” set of dip-tricks Derek insisted on pulling off — based on our varying vantage points and dance-party enthusiasm, I don’t think most of us had even noticed the flub!

Danica McKellar and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 36/40 I don’t buy for a second that these two perfectly matched ballroom beauties were anywhere near the bottom. The idea of Danica and Val “in jeopardy” was an even bigger travesty than Val refusing to remove his leather jacket in the midst of their “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” cha cha cha. I think this was my favorite dance of the night! You could not get any more picturesque and thematically on point than TV’s Winnie Cooper and Everyone’s Fantasy Valentine wiggling their way through what to my eyes was a damn near perfect and effortlessly sexy dance to this classic Whitney Houston tune. It’s one of those routines that will come to embody the entire series for me. And out of nowhere: Is there ANY jewel tone in which Danica does not look flawless? It’s like she was the sparkling, turquoise-fringed mermaid in a “DWTS” fever dream I’d been having for years but only just remembered tonight. 

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More profound liiiiiive in the ballroom: Both Val and Danica’s abs. And oh my God, her HAIR.

Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: 36/40 They may never let Charlie forget that one time he dropped the cane and was tragically fallible, but it won’t matter if he keeps “easing out like toothpaste” — according to Len, of all people — with his “brilliant musicality.” This week’s cha cha cha could have struck us all as an over-conceptualized pile of leaking glow sticks, but Sharna’s tight choreography and Charlie’s ability to keep up prevented any of that. I liked how their orchestrated refusal to stop moving even after the final notes illustrated the sage advice of the C+C Music Factory: “Dance ’til you can’t dance ’til you can’t dance no more.” Try to wrap your head around the chronology of that lyric and you’ll be grasping in the dark harder than the jaunty rainbow stripes down the sides of Charlie’s absurd white track pants.

More profound liiiiiive in the ballroom: Sharna’s glow-in-the-dark makeup

James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: 35/40 I was more transfixed by Aussie Peta in all her Olivia Newton-John glory (Kym Johnson flashbacks!) than James throughout much of their “Grease”-y quickstep, but to be fair, there were four other dancers out there competing for his attention. I am not really digging their “Jeta” nickname, but I suppose it’s better than “Pames.” Maybe we could go with something beyond their first names, like “Chiseled Features” or “Doin’ It.” Redfoo, clearly still warming up, compared their quickstep to “two crabs in the sand, just stepping all over,” then inexplicably kept rambling, “She kicks it between your legs, and that’s, boom, dangerous.” Agggghhh! Amazing setup for Our Host! 

“LIKE CRABS.” Tom Bergeron, ladies and gentlemen. This is exactly the type of quip better served in the telecast. (At the time, far away across the planet, my fellow gem-hunters and I heard a gentle rush of laughter from behind the judges’ table and simply had to make the safe bet that Tom had just said something funny.)

More profound liiiiiive in the ballroom: The whip-like nature of Charlie and Sharna’s final spin out and back

Nene Leakes and Tony Dovolani: 33/40 Nene definitely commanded the stage in person during their opening salsa, but the fact that she was writhing atop a platform in a sea of people as if emerging from a purple cloud as the Life of the Party personified probably didn’t hurt. She really does have a strong sense of rhythm and her own body, and sometimes that is half the battle. Sadly, I didn’t get to zero in on either Bruno or Tony’s “popped nipples,” so I’ll just have to trust Tom and Erin on those cold fronts. Shirtless Tony remains a mirrorball marvel. As soon as we saw his hideous yellow shirt so tenuously “closed” in the front by a solitary slice of Velcro, we knew that thing was coming right off. Is Nene making all these partial nudity calls? Perhaps she is more worthy of reverence than I thought.

More profound liiiiiive in the ballroom: Bruno thinking he could get away with starting a sentence, “Seriously, though…” while clad in a red tee and matching pants

Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas: 32/40 “The sexy thing is hard work,” whined Candace — so even before Mark got to bellow his first “ah-ooh-ga” in appraisal of his partner’s new-and-sort-of-improved hip action, we could tell they were doomed. According to partners in casualwear Redfoo and the Red Fool, Candace kept switching her confidence on and off like a light switch during their cha cha cha. She can’t just DO that. That’s not how electricity works! Actually, it is, pointed out Tom, but a greater point had already been made. And it was about to get even more mind-blowing. “Two words for that outfit,” continued Redfoo in approval of TV’s D.J. Tanner. “Bling. Bling. You are so cute.”

More profound liiiiiive in the ballroom: Three particular facets of Candace’s COVETED MIRRORBALL FROCK, beaming like self-generating spotlights into the shallow depth of my soul.

Team dances next week! Let the party rage on!

Your thoughts on Party Anthem Night? Should Candace have gone home instead of Drew? Should all of Our Pros be required to share scenes from their bathtubs like Super Mario figurine-loving Mark? And is the new, vulnerable Maks endearing or what? 

Annie is answering DWTS fans’ questions on YouTube — ask her anything on Twitter @AnnieBarrett  

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