One of the nicest things about Dancing with the Stars
is how pleasant everyone is to each other: while plucked-from-obscurity talent competitions typically invite brutal, often personal criticism, everyone on Dancing with the Stars
is treated with respect and courtesy on account of their celebrity status -- that won't stop me
from calling D.L. Hughley's Cha-Cha-Cha the most cringe-worthy two minutes I've ever seen on the show, but I do appreciate that the judges and hosts are at least a bit more tactful.ABC Announces Season Finale Dates for Spring 2013 >>>
It's in that spirit of friendliness that we enter the second week, as every single contestant is given a second chance to prove their merit. The best can showcase their talents, and the worst can try to do better before tomorrow's elimination.
Our live blog starts now:
Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson
Ingo leads the night's proceedings, and he's just as divisive as he was last week. Coming off of a somewhat controversial contemporary routine, he and Kym perform an old-school quickstep that leaves the judges divided over his frame: Kym tells him to maintain posture by looking stuck-up, Len is nothing but complimentary, but Carrie Ann isn't so sure.
Len: "Overall, I think it was an improvement."
Bruno: "That really was a bonanza of tricky steps."
Carrie Ann: "I think your frame was a little off."
Dorothy Hamill and Tristan MacManus
Olympic skater Dorothy Hamill was struggling with an injury this week, and it clearly took a toll on her rehearsal time. After last week's second-place performance, she this time hits the floor in heel-less shoes, endures a number of flubs and missteps and appears to be on the edge of tears by the end of the judging.
Bruno: "At the moment, it seems like you're pushing through it."
Carrie Ann: "What I sense in you is fear this week, and you cannot let fear in."
Len: "It had promise, but it didn't quite deliver."
Scores: 5+5+5= 15
Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff
Jacoby has one of the sweeter backstage videos this week, as Karina brings in a dance class of elementary school girls to keep him motivated -- and, it seems, to take her side in disagreements. Their work pays off in a spirited jazz number: while Karina tends to upstage Jacoby on leg work, he does get to play to his strengths as a lifter and performer.
Carrie Ann: "That, my friend, was rocking!"
Len: "Great entertainment and I loved it."
Bruno: "You're a performer, man!"
Victor Ortiz and Lindsay Arnold
One thing Victor has going for him is a very affable ballroom presence: whether he's on or not, he has a 1,000-watt grin that makes it look like everything's going according to plan. Unfortunately for him, his routine is cut from wide shots rather than close-ups, and his Jazzercisey kicks don't do him any favors.
Len: "It could have been sharper, it could have been cleaner."
Bruno: "At one point, it looked like a Zumba dance."
Carrie Ann: "Get your feet working."
Wynonna Judd and Tony Dovolani
Though Wynonna doesn't make any big mistakes this week, she doesn't offer much in the way of energy either. It's a shame, because Tony's completely insane quickstepping fashion mall cop idea only works if you go all the way over the top with it. It might just be that the quickstep is a little too demanding for her; we'll see how she does next week.
Bruno: "It ended up in kind of a casual stroll."
Carrie Ann: "Your frame is beautiful!"
Len: "The engine was running, but you never got out of first gear."
Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy
After last week's bar-setting contemporary routine, 16-year-old Zendaya has officially cemented herself as a season frontrunner. While other dancers seem to be imploding under their own morale, Zendaya is energetic and disciplined.
Carrie Ann: "You killed, killed, killed that number."
Len: "You were fantastic, well done."
Bruno: "A star is born, big time!"
Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess
Where "entertaining" is usually a slight consolation comment on this show, Andy Dick has set a new standard for the word that won't soon be matched. With one serious routine out of the way, Andy offers a spectacularly demented take on Alice in Wonderland set to Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." The result is ... well, it defies easy description. It certainly left me smiling, though.
Len: "It was fun to watch."
Bruno: "The mad hatter has gone Gaga!"
Carrie Ann: "You are so lucky that jazz was your category."
Sean Lowe and Peta Murgatroyd
Sean and Peta really decide to play up the attractive blonde people angle tonight, in a lifeguard routine saturated with all the campiness of an Old Navy commercial. Though he has the odd rhythmic issue, Sean is a solid middle-of-the-packer.
Bruno: "I tell you, you have such a wonderful presence."
Carrie Ann: "When you're not in sync with Peta, you're out of step with the music."
Len: "I'm here to judge dancing, not clever things and theatricals."
Alexandra Raisman and Mark Ballas
Where one Olympian stumbled tonight, the other steps up. The normally stoic gymnast cuts loose in her performance, but doesn't lack for discipline, either -- her quickstep feels like something from much farther along in the season.
Carrie Ann: "Best quickstep of the night!"
Len: "It was terrific, well done!"
Bruno: "It was like watching a magic little bluebird in full flight!"
Lisa Vanderpump and Gleb Savchenko
The real housewife of Beverly Hills had a bit of a rough start last week, and she seems to be stuck there. It seems as though she's still figuring out where she stands on the physicality of dance partnership, and honestly, so is newcomer Gleb. They'll have to find a way to fix that opposing chemistry before they can relax and start dancing.
Len: "It was neat and precise, so I'll give you that."
Bruno: "You've got to finish it cleanly."
Carrie Ann: "You hold yourself with such refinement."
D.L. Hughley and Cheryl Burke
First thing's first, this is an improvement: if last week's Cha Cha Cha looked like a drunken wedding spectacle, this week's quickstep at least looks like a sober one. D.L.'s backstage footage betrays him tonight: he clearly wasn't prepared to work very hard on this -- according to Cheryl's blog, he hasn't taken any time off from his stand-up appearances to rehearse -- and he doesn't have a very good attitude backstage.
Bruno: "I can see that you worked really hard on that."
Carrie Ann: "You know what? You came back."
Len: "Tonight, you've improved over last week, well done."
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough
Jazz is proving to be an incredibly broad category, ranging from Andy Dick's psychotic fantasy world to this modern, Tron-inspired art project. It's an ambitious routine, and Kellie ties the evening's top score -- if Derek can maintain this level of ambition going forward, they have a good shot at facing off against Zendaya in the finale.
Carrie Ann: "Can't wait for next week."
Len: "Last week was a spark, this week is a fire."
Bruno: "That was modern jazz at its most effective."
That does it for this week's dances. The season is definitely starting to take shape, as contenders are already getting comfortable in their top, middle and bottom brackets: Kellie Pickler got a chance to shine, Andy Dick got a chance to cut loose and D.L. Hughley got a chance to say goodbye. Join us Tuesday night for the first elimination.
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(Image courtesy of ABC)