Paula’s in the house! I’m hoping Paula will actually give some concrete advice beyond, “You’re so great!” or “You make my heart smile!” After all, this is her wheelhouse — dancing, not singing, is where her true talent lies. But, let’s face it, she’s still Paula, so I’m expecting lots of love and those hands-splayed slow claps and blown kisses.
Hey, there she is! And because this show never has special guest judges, we’re going to get a montage. She was a Lakers girl, she choreographed for big stars, she had bad hair in the ’90s like everyone else. Sitting at the judges’ table, she announces that she’s ready for Len, because she’s already had to put up with a cranky Brit. Zing! Even after “The X Factor,” she’s still taking stabs at Simon Cowell. Well, I guess she did get fired, so why not? But wait! She has love to share! She thinks Carrie Ann and Bruno are pretty! But she wants the celebrities to go outside their comfort zones and try really, really hard. Yeah, I expect lots of kisses.
Kirstie & Maks
The Background: Wait, before we start, Tom says Sabrina looks like a cross between Cookie Monster and the Lion King. What? Okay, back to Kirstie & Maks. Kirstie tells Maks how happy she is that they do funny routines, because she’s a comedienne. Huh. I always think of her as the Vulcan chick from “Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan.” Maks tells Kirstie that, funny or not, they have to work on the Charleston, which looks fast and not all that fun. During rehearsal, Kirstie is freaked out by the cartwheel trick — she wanted to channel Shawn, but felt like the “girl from Psycho in the shower.” Um, that would be Janet Leigh.
The Dance: It’s funny, I guess. But Kirstie really can’t move that fast. Or that well. Again, I like Kirstie, but I like her for her between dance patter, not as an actual dancer. Maybe they can give her Brooke Burke Charvet’s job.
The Judges: Len tells her she turns a Monday into a fun day, which is nice but not really a critique. Paula thought she danced is wonderfully, and she’s a joy to watch. But she didn’t like Maks’ outfit. Bruno thinks Kirstie is a mad woman, and he loves it. She’s Shelly Winters in “The Poseidon Adventure”! I love that reference. Carrie Ann thought she looked stunning. Not the best Charleston, but okay.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 7.5, Len – 7.5, Paula – 7.5, Bruno – 7.5
Bristol & Mark
The Background: Mark reassures Bristol they won’t be dancing heavy metal, but Mark wants to dress up as a rabbit. Bristol doesn’t want to be a joke. She doesn’t want to dance with a rabbit. Look how badly the gorilla routine went! I thought that was actually a high point; am I remembering that wrong? She wants everything to be easier, but Mark feels she’s dumbing down the routine. So, yes, they’re getting along famously.
The Dance: No rabbit costume, so I guess Bristol won that argument. I’ll admit, she is getting better. She remembers to smile and emote pretty often. But this still looks like a rehearsal — as if she’s saving her really high energy version for another, better show.
The Judges: Paula sees improvement, but tells Bristol that Mark is just trying to push her boundaries. Bristol thought she was focused. Well done! Carrie Ann says she is truly blossoming. Len thought she gave it her all. Her best dance ever!
Scores: Carrie Ann – 8, Len – 8, Paula – 8, Bruno – 8. Honestly, that’s higher than I would have given it.
Sabrina & Louis
The Background: Disco! And they were in the bottom two last week, which means the clock is ticking. Louis has a staging consultation to create a Studio 54 look for the dance floor. Sabrina is worried that being even remotely safe will make this their last dance.
The Dance: So, so fun. Yeah, not even remotely safe, and I love it. Yes, there’s a gaffe in the middle, but she’s really doing a great job.
The Judges: Bruno thinks Sabrina is a disco diva. But she lost timing. Carrie Ann thought it was vibrant and beautiful — but she hit the floor twice.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 9, Len – 9, Paula – 8.5, Bruno – 9
Emmitt and Cheryl
The Background: Cheryl has never done the bolero before, so she needs help. How much help? FOUR other dancers come by rehearsal to give advice. Emmitt reveals that he’s a Ford F-150, which means he’s not a sleek little dancer. I think. I’m not up on my truck jargon. His daughter thinks he needs to smile more.
The Dance: This is, as usual, a good dance. Emmitt may be a Ford truck, but he genuinely seems to enjoy performing and this is remarkably graceful and, yes, sexy.
The Judges: Carrie Ann thought it was sexy and beautiful. Len thought it was fluid and lovely. Paula thought it was exquisite and declares Emmitt a sexy beast. Bruno thought Emmitt was remarkably smooth for a big guy.
Scores: My computer cut out, but Brooke says it’s the highest score of the night.
Gilles & Peta
The Background: They get just one Bollywood expert. Peta doesn’t have the same pull as Cheryl, I guess. Still, they take a look at real Bollywood and realize they’re way off. As Gilles says, 48 hours before showtime and they have no idea what they’re doing! The good thing is that fans who don’t know what Bollywood is (and if that’s you, Google it, watch some YouTube videos, you will have fun, promise) won’t either.
The Dance: Is this a true Bollywood routine through and through? Maybe more of a mash-up of styles, but who cares? It’s fun and Gilles is dancing his ass off. I just love this, really. Hey, Rachel Griffiths (his “Brothers & Sisters” co-star) is in the audience.
The Judges: Len doesn’t know Bollywood, but he loved it and thought it was hotter than a curry. Paula thought it was as spicy as a vindaloo (that’s a curry dish, for those of you who don’t eat Indian or know what Bollywood is), and she’s imitating Bruno. Imitating him quite well, actually. I am kinda liking Paula on the judges’ table! Is she really offering useful commentary? No, but hey, she’s fun, and useful is what we have Carrie Ann and Len for. Paula gives Bruno someone to play with. Bruno declares that a Bollywood star is born. Carrie Ann thought all the lines were correct and he showed a range of expressions, so she loved it.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 10, Len – 9.5, Paula – 10, Bruno – 10
WOW. Nice job!
Melissa & Tony
The Background: Melissa goes home to Dallas and holds her baby girl, who does not seem overly impressed with Mommy’s dancing. Or something. She’s just making raspberries, who knows. Tony bangs up Melissa a bit on the dance floor, but that’s just because she’s working so hard.
The Dance: They’re really working it, my Lord & Taylor, woof. Is it technically perfect? Well, no. There are a few missteps here and there, but they should get points for trying. This is pretty stellar.
The Judges: Paula thinks they fit like hand in glove. Bruno thought they were amazing, but she missed a bit on the dismount. Carrie Ann thought they blew a lift.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 9, Len – 9, Paula – 9.5, Bruno – 9.5 Good scores given what the judges said.
Shawn & Derek
The Background: They’re off to Des Moines, because there’s a tour of gymnastic superstars afoot. And there’s the Flying Squirrel! It’s three-fifths of the Fierce Five! Shawn is inspired! They’re going to be doing a mambo, and they’ll be doing it well, dammit!
The Dance: Shawn really is pretty remarkable. The judges give her a standing O, and I understand why. Perfect form. She absolutely nails this. It’s even a little sexy, which I never expect from Shawn. Not a lot sexy, but a bit.
The Judges: Bruno thought it was mesmerizing and sexy out of this world. Carrie Ann thinks the other contestants should be a little scared. Len says there’s good news from Goodman. Paula is going to stroke Bruno as she talks, because she thinks Shawn has become a sexy young lady and Derek’s choreography is outstanding.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 10, Len – 9.5, Paula – 10, Bruno – 10
Apolo & Karina
The Background: Karina hates hip hop. She hates the music. She can’t choreograph hip hop. So, they bring in a professional. But Karina still hates hip hop. Oh, this does not bode well.
The Dance: What happened in the middle? Did Karina stumble? The routine just kind of disappeared. And Karina is sobbing. There was a lot of walking in this, and I don’t think it was intentional.
The Judges: Carrie Ann tells Karina not to worry; the judges are applauding everyone for stepping out of their comfort zone, and she thought Apolo nailed it. Len tells Apolo he was fantastic and Karina shouldn’t worry — no one was looking at her anyway. And seriously, he means it in a nice way. You can tell everyone feels terrible for Karina. Paula tells Apolo everyone loves him and he’s a natural for hip hop. Bruno thinks Apolo did a great job and covered it well. Obviously, everyone feels terrible for Karina.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 8.5, Len – 9, Paula – 8.5, Bruno – 8.5 I think the judges may have let their fondness for Karina boost the scores, but really, Apolo shouldn’t be punished given that his professional botched the routine.
Kelly & Val
The Background: Val has never done contemporary before, so he tries to find inspiration in the music. Where’s the helpful expert? No, Val is doing this one on his own. Kelly says that Val is teaching her how to trust again. Yeah, there is something going on here beyond dancing, I think. Kelly will be dancing on a broken toe. Yeesh.
The Dance: Ooh, they go out of synch in the middle. But beautiful. And I swear I’ve seen this routine on “So You Think You Can Dance.” Is there a rule that says contemporary dance must be performed by women wearing underwear with a man’s oversized white button-down?
The Judges: Len thought they are the biggest revelation of all the couples. Paula is choked up. She thinks Kelly should be proud of herself. Bruno says contemporary takes years to nail, but they should be proud of themselves. It’s a great achievement. Carrie Ann thinks Kelly laid her heart out there and it was stunning. Even though some of the moves were beyond her, it took courage.
Kelly talks to Brooke about how the show has been meaningful. Val tells Brooke that the most important thing about the show for him has been meeting Kelly. Yeah, I really think this is a relationship, don’t you?
Scores: Carrie Ann – 9, Len – 9.5, Paula – 9.5, Bruno – 9.5
At the top, we have a tie between Gilles & Peta and Shawn & Derek, while at the bottom we have Kirstie & Maks. I’m also wondering when Paula will be joining the judges’ table, getting her own ABC show, or just wandering off to some other reality TV show, maybe “Antiques Roadshow” or “Pawn Stars.”
What did you think of Paula as a judge? Who was your favorite couple? Do you vote based on personality, dancing, or something else altogether?