'Dancing with the Stars: All Stars' recap, Michael Jackson night

  • This is what dancers like to see from the "Dancing with the Stars: All Stars" judges.
This is what dancers like to see from the "Dancing with… (Adam Taylor, ABC )
November 20, 2012|By Amy Watts

Tonight is a tribute to Michael Jackson's "Bad" and the show starts with pros and the troupe performing to two of the album's "monster hits" — "Smooth Criminal" and "The Way You Make Me Feel." I wish we were getting a "Thriller? tribute instead of a "Bad" tribute, but "Bad's" the one that's turning 25 and getting a Spike Lee-directed special on this same network later this week.

We're calling the remaining couples "semi-finalists." Whatever. The first round is going to be those weirdo made-up themes/styles and the second round is going to be the Michael Jackson music.

Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani

"Caveman Hustle"

Based on the theme/style, I'm guessing their music is going to be Was (Not Was)'s "Walk the Dinosaur. Melissa reminds us this is not a "traditional ballroom dance." Then they're trying to work out the motivations of the cavemen doing the hustle. I am not making one bit of this up. I love it when they parody themselves.

Sunday during "camera blocking" Tony fell to the floor with a back injury, but the doctors have cleared him to dance tonight.

This routine starts with a terribly bad CGI dinosaur in the ballroom. Because this show has completely gone off the rails this season. Shoe watch: they're both barefoot. Because cavemen didn't have shoes, don't you know? But apparently they did have false eyelashes, spray tan, and tooth bleach.

Oh, hey! Look at that, I was right about the song. I'm so smrt, sometimes. Since this routine is weird and lame, let's talk about how this album, What Up, Dog?, turns 25 next year. If you haven't heard it in a while give it a re-listen - it holds up well. If you've never heard it, remedy that immediately.

Len says Melissa never disappoints. Bruno points out that she lost her footing in a couple of the turns. Melissa liked the "caveman" sections better than the "Hustle" sections.

Tom quips, "You gotta love the prehistoric dental work." I LOVE HIM SO MUCH.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9.5; Bruno: 9

Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough

"Knight Rider Bhangra"

So, it's an "Indian folk dance" - go ask the kids from "So You Think You Can Dance" how well those "folk dances" tend to go over.

Does Shawn know what Knight Rider is any more than she knows what "banghra" is? Given that it went off the air six years before she was born? Yeah, take a moment if you need to realize how old that makes you.

I'm not sure I see what the difference is between Bhangra and Bollywood, at least the way it's being presented here.  There are a couple of great lifts - not sure whether they're forbidden.  Oh, and shoe watch: Derek gets to wear them, Shawn doesn't. Wimmen don't need shoes.

Carrie's impressed that Shawn is actually out of breath. Len says, "Shut up. Close the door. Call me Mary." All of that apparently adds up to, "he liked it."

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Bruno: 10

Tomorrow night Paula Abdul will perform "four of her biggest hits" - if there's no MC Skat Kat I'm leading a revolt.

Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff

"Big Top Jazz"

Before the rehearsal footage, Karina and Apolo are on the ballroom floor with one of those big rings you can dance with (a "Cyr wheel"). If you've never seen such a thing, here's a good example.

So the ring seems mostly to be just for Karina to pose on/around at the beginning of the routine. Apolo is dressed reminiscent of a mime. You know how some people get freaked out by clowns? That's me and mimes. So I'm only watching this with one eye to avoid nightmares later. ¿¿But even with just one eye I can see Karina lose her footing a couple of times. And some really weird "jazz" moves.

Carrie Ann loved the concept, but says it was disjointed and out of sync a lot. She also thought the "dismounts were sloppy." Len says there were a couple of "awkward moments" but then calls Apolo a "fighter." Bruno calls it edgy and surreal, a blend of Cirque du Soleil and A Clockwork Orange - see? the stuff of nightmares. And then they replay Apolo slipping during his entrance as Bruno references it.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8.5; Len: 9; Bruno: 9.5

Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke

"Espionage Lindy Hop"

The story is that Emmitt's going to be the good guy and Cheryl is the bad guy. They're going for a "cartoon style," which they claim is difficult for Emmitt. I don't understand that, given how genial he is. Their song is "Secret Agent Man" which I heard for a good part of my life as "Secret Asian Man." I never understood why he had to keep being Asian a secret.

There are a lot of lifts in this routine, most of which come off ok, but a couple look a little wobbly.

Len, while liking the concept, lifts, fun, and energy, would have liked a little more Lindy but "the whole package was fantastic." Bruno calls it a "Looney Tunes version of James Bond." And adds, "I don't know what it was, but it was a lot of fun." Carrie Ann gets tongue tied and does a credible Porky Pig without realizing it.

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