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Friday, 5 of March of 2021

Dancing with the Stars – Week 5

“This is a crowning achievement in madness.”

Anna and Carson dancing as cheerleaders to Wham!

And somehow less flamboyant than the actual video for "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go."

My fondness for ’80s dance and music is limited. I’ve been known to enjoy Huey Lewis, his News, and the works of Mr Phil Collins but there isn’t much I enjoy from the oversynthed, factory-made one-hit wonders that more often define the decade than the masters that rose from it, most of whom are either dead, scandalized, or have aged into crazy. I’ll let you decide which one Madonna is.

But, when I say factory-made, I don’t just mean that it has that sheen of being mechanically-reproduced. It’s also specifically-formulated to move anyone to dance that isn’t cynically-precluded to stone-face its charm. So while I wasn’t especially looking forward to ’80s Night on Dancing with the Stars, its arrival in a dance competition was inevitable and, therefore, acceptable.

What a relief it is, though, for the contestants to step up their game this week. The dances last week were so rough, so sloppy, so UGH, that people limped their way into their highest scores of the competition (I’m looking at you, Bono). But this week the people came to play and everyone showed some improvement. Mostly everyone. I’m pretty sure Carson’s not going to get any better. He’s running on adorable fumes.

Let’s go through the contestants. Showtime, Synergy!

Hope Solo (“Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi): Is there some secret competition for Most Costumes that Make a Fit Girl Look Frumpy? Hope would totally win. After she stripped off the smock, her dance was fine. She is getting better, I think, but Len is totally right about her looking “willowy” (I imagine overcompensation for a competition of being told she’s too stiff). I think they’re close to nailing the competition if they stop nailing each other. Maks says the time they spend together is “productive.” Yeah. RE-productive. OH!

Carson Kressley (“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham!): When they mentioned Wham!, was there any doubt that this would be the song to which Carson would perform? The man knows how to bring the crowd to its feet and entertain but, unfortunately, this isn’t a hype man competition. (Note: there needs to be a hype man competition — judged by Flava-Flav!) The footwork, the technique, the actual dancing part needs to improve. The man’s dances are fun but, technically, he should be the one to go this week as possibly the only dancer that didn’t show at least a modicum of improvement throughout the competition. But that’s assuming this competition really had integrity and isn’t just a pretense to watch hot people in skimpy clothes and fat people shake those chins.

Nancy Grace (“True” by Spandau Ballet): The best part about this entire segment is the pre-dance video where Nancy’s partner dishes out as much as Nancy serves. Maybe I like that he doesn’t back down, maybe I like people being acerbic to Nancy Grace, but I liked it. Her dance, however, is just like all of her others: basic, no flourish, boring. She needs a nipple or to pass gas just to wake everyone up. I mean, when the nicest thing the judges have to say is that your dance isn’t slutty, that’s not a great sign. By the way, thank you for not trying to be slutty. I wouldn’t want to pull a neck muscle throwing up.

JR Martinez (“Conga” by Miami Sound Machine): Consider it brought. Not that I thought they ever lost it but this was the return to prominence for Team JR. Solid moves, impressive dancing. The thing about JR is that he doesn’t look like an actor or reality star struggling to dance. He moves like an upgraded DWTS troupe member. He has natural talent, willingness to the put in the work, and the ability to look impressive. This is his competition to lose.

Rob Kardashian (“Hello” by Lionel Richie): I hate to admit it but Shemp has grown up a little bit in this competition and gotten better over the last couple of weeks. He’s risen to from the bottom ranks (with Nancy and Chaz) and into the middle of the pack (with Hope and David). And, as we all know from our reality competition education, that’s a pretty solid strategy to keep moving on. You just don’t want to stand out as bad. Most disappointing thing: no busts of Rob made by a blind girl.

Chaz Bono (“Get Down On it” by Kool and the Gang): Much better from Chaz. Len even called it a “gallant effort.” Compliments from Len! Chazzy boy! You’re almost as good as everyone else was at Week 2! I wouldn’t take it as a good sign that people are still thinking about someone else’s dance (JR’s) when talking about your attempt. How long do the viewers at home let him limp through this gameshow out of the goodness of their hearts?

David Arquette (“Tainted Love” by Soft Cell): Better. It didn’t seem terribly impressive to me but the judges were really into it. The thing that strikes me is that he’s not wearing his effort on his face like he usually does. Part of the dance is performance and you usually can see him counting or grimacing throughout the number. But, like I said before, middle of the pack is an okay place to be.

Ricki Lake (“Easy Lover” by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins): Usually these two dancing is a no-brainer: they’re going to bring the house down. I didn’t feel that dance itself was all that bad but the judges really focused on their Roger Rabbit, saying that was ill-timed and off-beat. But, really, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Roger Rabbit done on-beat. Doesn’t matter. They’ll be fine.

One Thing I Liked: The development in Week 5 of low-scoring couples to shrug off the judges’ opinions and appeal to the audience. At once it obviously flies in the face of the integrity of the competition but, again, what integrity? Those that believe that the game at this stage is a meritocracy are a bunch of suckers.

One Thing I Didn’t Like: You have a 80s Night and there’s not even one Huey Lewis song? No Flock of Seagulls? But Kool and the Gang makes it? I don’t know about that.

And One Thing I Still Don’t Get: The amount of guest-stars on this show. The contestants’ loved ones in the audience (Courtney Cox, Billy Baldwin, the Kardashians) I understand. Even some of the bands I understand (The Bangles and Kelly Clarkson need stages to perform on just like anyone else). But then the people just attending the show (Richard Simmons?) or just pop into rehearsals (Lil’ Romeo? John Waters?) are some of the weirdest cameos I’ve ever seen. Is this show such a magnet for fame-whores that they’ll even sit in the audience in hopes that the spotlight shines on them?

Despite Chaz not even being fun to watch and Nancy being so, so easy to hate, it’s Carson that’s going home. He had the best attitude, was the most fun to watch, and honestly made me smile the way Carrie Ann tried to convince me Chaz does for people. This is the most-justified elimination they’ve had since Metta World Peace’s exit and, yet, still a little bittersweet. I was kind of hoping they’d hang on past Chaz and Nancy. I have jutty-out bottom lip. I will miss Carson. I will really miss his partner barely wearing clothes.

Next week is Broadway week so I won’t know anything about what’s going on. Except for Kristin Chenowith. She’s Olive Snook!

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