— Television’s glittering guilty pleasure, “Dancing With the Stars,” celebrated the songs we love to pretend we hate on Monday night. But while the cheesy and all-too-catchy musical guilty pleasures set the tone, the now-routine, over-the-top scores soon took over the theme.
In a night where the strangest thing to happen on the “Dancing” stage should have been kid-band-turned-aging-artists Hanson delivering their abbreviated rendition of Quiet Riot’s “Cum On Feel the Noize,” or maybe even Kendra Wilkinson hitting the floor with a serious case of “Predator” hair, the judges once again stole the spotlight by selectively dishing out scores that didn’t fit the dances.
Worst case in point? Ralph Macchio’s botched paso doble.
The problems in Macchio’s paso started before the memorable mishap. In an effort to showcase the snap-to moves and intense persona of the matador’s dance, the ’80s actor broke out the old “spatula hands” and added a whole lot of “scary face” to the mix for good measure.
Then it happened.
After Macchio flourished his coattails a bit too far to C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat,” a professional hoofer hit the floor for the second time this season. The stumble, which was ultimately more Karina Smirnoff’s fault, threw the actor off. While he was quick to give his partner a lift, it took Macchio several moments to recover. And in this case, “recover” means getting back into the groove of a barely passable paso doble.
What sort of score would such a flawed routine earn? Well, when Kirstie Alley pulled off a much smoother save after her partner hit the decks in week three, she rumba-ed away with a set of 7s. Surely Macchio would be lucky to land 5s or 6s given his circumstances.
Instead, head judge Len Goodman and his fellow panelists raved about Macchio’s dance-saving moves and ignored all of the obvious problems.
Carrie Ann Inaba told the former “Karate Kid” that Mr. Miyagi would be proud of him. Bruno Tonioli raved about Macchio’s “throbbing virile intensity” (must have been that “scary face”). In fact, the judges decided the routine was worth 8s all around.
The what-the-foxtrot scores didn’t stop there. Another out-of-line number went to Romeo, who put on a competent, classic slow waltz to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” Despite good footwork (or at least what appeared to be good footwork through an overactive fog machine), Romeo still struggled with his frame. Goodman spotted that, as did Tonioli, but Inaba just saw “magic,” so she handed the actor-rapper a perfect 10.
Then Inaba put on a repeat performance and gave Chelsea Kane’s cheery “Walkin’ on Sunshine” quickstep an unexpected and not quite warranted 10, too. The only real surprise was that judge didn’t hand a 10 to her frequent favorite and former front-runner, Hines Ward. He settled for all 9s after swaying to Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road.”
Alley’s rump shaking samba suffered from slightly sloppy arms, but the “… Baby One More Time” routine marked a comeback for the rest of her body parts, so her 8 and 9s weren’t too far out of line. And while Wilkinson suffered from several sloppy parts, there was no denying she could samba-shimmy her way to 8s and a 9 when shimmying was almost all she had to do (and her other “Livin’ la Vida Loca” moves were ignored).
Oh, and the less said about Chris Jericho’s terrible tango, which somehow scraped by with a total of 22 points despite being set to the impossible “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” by Journey, the better.
So who’s going home Tuesday night? Normally this is the where the now weekly Wilkinson prediction goes, but heck, if voting viewers judge her on this dance alone, she might have just shimmied her way to yet another chance.
In that case, the likable — though not particularly tango-able — Jericho is in the danger zone.