A Dose of Reality: Dancing With the Stars 2 - Episode 1
by Caroline Roberts
Published: January 6, 2006
This morning, Dancing With the Stars 2 promised to be exceptional in that the show would resurrect one of the Beatles from the dead. That news is straight from Netscape, whose writers mixed up "George Hamilton" with "George Harrison," suggesting that Harrison wanted to learn the foxtrot before he joined the afterlife for good. Needless to say, Netscape took the flub down when someone pointed out the error.
But Dancing With the Stars 2 brings celebrities back from the dead in other ways - just not if they are really dead. Judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Bruno Tonioli are back to take their pulses as the men try the cha cha and the women attempt the waltz. And if they don't like the celebs, the audience can provide celebrity CPR with their votes. Let's see how the celebrities who are enjoying a new lease on life are doing in this debut episode:
George Hamilton (Inaba, 7; Goodman, 5; Tonioli, 6 - 18)
Not George Harrison. George Hamilton's teeth are more blindingly white than ever, further enhancing his orange tan. He kicks off the cha cha as a proto James Bond with a plastic martini glass. He and Edyta Sliwinska dance to "Oya Como Va," and he is stiff in the torso, but his moves are correct. He even adds a little flair in the middle, and they provide a promising start to the whole show. The kittenish Edyta is a big help in making Hamilton look suave.
Before the judges, Hamilton jokes about being an old man, huffing, "Call 911!" But it's all an act. The suave Hamilton has still got it, although it is creepy that he hasn't aged since 1976. Len Goodman says Hamilton "carried it off very well." When Tonioli offers a critique, the audience boos him roundly.
Lisa Rinna (Inaba, 5; Goodman, 7; Tonioli, 7 - 19)
Lisa Rinna and her lips are ready to go, and her partner Louis van Amstel loves her. He loves her so much that the moment he saw her, "I knew right then that we would have a big bondage." Ahem. Adding to the naughtiness, Rinna and van Amstel decide to take advantage of Rinna's jaw-dropping flexibility. The woman could join the circus!
During their dance, which is to "Natural Woman" (except for maybe the lips), van Amstel twirls Rinna expertly across the floor. Goodman liked Rinna's "stand and spin," and Tonioli adores her "to die for legs," but he tut-tuts her for poor dance posture. Despite that, these two are clearly a good match.
Kenny Mayne (Inaba, 4; Goodman, 5; Tonioli, 4 - 13)
Mayne is just here to have fun - this is total Sportscenter fodder. When he practices, he strongly resembles the drunk guy at a wedding party. We've all seen these guys because everyone gives him a wide berth. His partner, Andrea Hale, calls him "raw" and tells him to cut the kidding around. Then again, he comes out wearing the black version of the Seinfeld puffy shirt.
The two dance to "Hot Stuff," and Mayne looks like he needs to remove the pencil that someone stuck up his fanny. His stiff moves have guaranteed him a spot on Sportscenter's "Not Top Ten." Not even a John Travolta Pulp Fiction dance move saves it, but kudos to Kenny for his sense of humor. When they're done, Inaba gasps, "I don't even know what to say!" Tonioli wails, "That was demented!" Goodman feels so bad for Mayne that he defends him before Tonioli, who is quickly becoming the audience's enemy. At least Mayne has a sense of humor.
Stacy Keibler (Inaba, 8; Goodman, 6; Tonioli, 8 - 22)
Online gambling sites love Keibler because she has danced before, and the WWE requires agility, even if it's an agility of a different sort. Perhaps she can find a way to incorporate her chokehold on Tony Dovolani, who calls himself "one of the bad boys of ballroom dancing."
At least Keibler displays some WWE style on the floor with her hot-pink-and-black dress, which includes a tummy peekaboo. However, her waltz isn't as steamy as Rinna's. Instead, she and Dovolani aim for graceful twists and turns, and audience members didn't try to beat her with folding chairs. She impresses Tonioli, who compares her poses to a ballerina, but Goodman found it tacky - "all sizzle, and no sausage." (Um, Goodman, keep your sausage comments to yourself.) Yet her high score of 22 proves the gamblers right.
Drew Lachey (Inaba, 8; Goodman, 8; Tonioli, 8 - 24) Winner of the Week
Something must have rubbed off on Drew "not Nick" Lachey because he is already bickering with his partner Cheryl Burke as if they were newlyweds. Seriously, their relationship is almost as dysfunctional as that of Nick and Jessica. She can't believe that a former boy-band member is so shleppy, and he bristles at her directions.
Of course, all the fighting is merely a setup for a good performance. Lachey keeps up with Burke, and his only weakness is in the details, in that his arm movements aren't crisp enough. But Nick Lachey is in the audience as a good-luck charm, and the judges say his dance was the best thusfar. Tonioli delivers yet another zinger, this time based on the song of choice: "She bangs, and you kick ass!"
Tia Carrere (Inaba, 6; Goodman, 7; Tonioli, 7 - 20)
Carrere just had a baby, and she sees the show as a way to lose her baby weight. So the theme is "Hot Mama Tia." Max Chmerkovskiy gives her a hard time, but she had the baby recently, so there are some physical limitations to overcome, and she won't be doing any Lisa-Rinna-style calisthenics anytime soon.
That said, even though Carrere doesn't try any wild moves, she pays close attention to the details. Their waltz is soothing to watch, and they are meticulous in their execution. Even though Carrere is a little bigger after the baby, she proves that grace is all about confidence and movement. Inaba says that Carrere captures the "fairy tale" element of the waltz, and the other judges approve.
Master P (Inaba, 4; Goodman, 4; Tonioli, 4 - 12)
Master P is the ultimate stage dad, filling in for his son, rapper Romeo, after Romeo was injured. He is also the last person anyone would have expected on the show, as he is one of the tougher gangsta rappers. He has mellowed his persona by calling himself "P. Miller" (P is for "Percy"), and he even jokes, "You're wondering what I'm doing here. Sometimes I wonder what I'm doing here."br>
Ashly Del Grosso, his partner, is nervous because she has a week to train him, and he dwarfs her in size. Master P - ahem, P. Miller - tells America to get ready for the "gangsta cha cha cha." Due to the time, and the man involved, Master P looks like the Jolly Thug Giant next to the sprightly Del Grosso. But, hey, Master P is doing it for his son and for his hometown of New Orleans, so it's hard for the judges to get too brutal. Tonioli wants Master P to cut the "emperor penguin" routine, and Goodman critiques P's duds, but they seem willing to give him another chance.
Giselle Fernandez (Inaba, 7; Goodman, 8; Tonioli, 8 - 23)
Journalist Giselle Fernandez has a personal connection to ballroom dance, as her father was a flamenco dancer. She clearly wants to do well at this, and Jonathan Roberts is encouraging. There is little tension in their relationship, although Roberts probably tried to discourage her from wearing a dress trimmed in white fur, which makes her look duckish.
Despite the dress, the dancing is in Fernandez' blood. What she calls her "type-A" personality translates into a fierceness on the floor. Her arm and leg movements are sharp instead of fluid like Carrere's, but that sharpness makes for a pleasant contrast. She jokes that her father is doing pirouettes in his grave. Tonioli believes Fernandez is the "queen of drama," and he should know. After they earn their high scores, Fernandez declares that she and Roberts have done the most training of all the couples - and it shows.
Jerry Rice (Inaba, 7; Goodman, 7; Tonioli, 7 - 21)
Ladies' man Jerry Rice is facing one tough customer - dancer Anna Trebunskaya, who couldn't give a crap who he is. She is going to kick his tail. After some time with Trebunskaya, Jerry wails, "Football is easy. This is hard!" Trebunskaya is absolutely merciless: "I've destroyed you so I can build you back."
When they hit the floor, Rice shows that he has learned from his strict taskmaster. He seems a little cautious at first because Trebunskaya is all fireworks, but he soon lets his hips do the talking. The judges can't get their mind off Rice's hips (Goodman calls them "buns"), and Rice has captured the passionate spirit of the cha cha. But Trebunskaya is not satisfied: "Never good enough! Always want better!"
Tatum O'Neal (Inaba, 7; Goodman, 8; Tonioli, 8 - 23)
Who cares what she's like on the floor? Audiences want to see how she behaves when she loses. Will she reveal what she's learned from ex-husband John McEnroe? But she's pretty entertaining while she practices because she's downright goofy (she translates her goofiness as "being childlike"). She also has trouble doing the turns with her partner, Nick Kosovich, because they make her dizzy. And no turns means no waltz.
Apparently O'Neal took some Dramamine before she and Kosovich engage in a slow, stately waltz. Their waltz is decidedly traditional, the kind that you might see at a formal ball. Kosovich chose wisely by keeping it simple and clean. O'Neal is a little out of breath when she's done, but the judges are impressed. Goodman admits that they did better than he expected. Kosovich admits that O'Neal was "tricky and difficult," and O'Neal is clearly the loose cannon of the crew and loads of fun to watch.
Tomorrow night is the results show, and I'll kick off next week's summary with the missing couple, followed by summaries of the remaining celebrity hoofers. Voting for Dancing With the Stars has been known to cause heartbreak (see the Monaco-O'Hurley Dance-Off), so choose wisely.
Keep in mind that the vote is split between the popular vote and the judges' vote. Think of the judges as an Electoral College that might frustrate the will of the people. But if you are the world's biggest Kenny Mayne or Master P fan, then start dialing away because you can boost their chances at making it for another week.
With a show like this, which balances judge evaluations and sheer popularity, you never know what can happen. With the exception of Drew Lachey, who slayed the competition, all the others could experience a reversal of fortune. This show is all about surprise. After all, who knew that J. Peterman was such a dazzling dancer?