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'Dancing with the Stars' Week 5: We watch so you don't have to

Humble guest blogger Ned Martel is substituting for Supreme Leader TV columnist Lisa de Moraes, who will return whenever she chooses:

[This post has been updated.]

This week on "Dancing With the Stars," no more theater in the round. Was that scrapped without acknowledgment? I may have missed this scenic retreat. We are back to the ballroom, and even though that suggests city-slicker elegance, the TV nostalgia theme of Monday's two-hour dance-off was a reverse commute to the burbs.

Last week, Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough were the highest vote-getters. This week, they were eclipsed by Brandy and Maksim. (ABC/Adam Larkey) | PHOTOS

Consider this: Brandy was a child star. Presumably she was supposed to turn into an adult superstar. But "Dancing" offers a different redemption. Brandy started out this season, lo these many weeks ago, a petulant, stalled celebrity who wouldn't be pushed around during rehearsal, even though she could really use some pointers. Ultimately, the producers have revealed her inner truth: She's lacking in confidence! That's why she has been so difficult. Of course! Thus, her backstory will now be bending toward Audience Sympathy.

(Video of Bristol Palin dancing in her monkey suit costume)

The extensive set-up segments suggested a rapprochement with Maksim, her excessively handsome, expressively conceited partner/punisher. The d├ętente was evident on the dance floor as they did a quick-step routine to the "Friends" theme song. He sported more hair on his head and less on his face than in recent weeks, plus a weird white suit with black piping. And she wore something flouncy that mixed black and pink and looked pretty good when she spun and bounced. Their number was really half-skit and half-dance, but it kinda worked, in part because of its fast pace that required something like a sprint from one end of the set to the other. It just looked difficult and fun at the same time.

Judges gave them a well-deserved 27.

Kurt Warner danced. We are supposed to feel sorry for him, for some reason related to what Judge Len called his having hands the size of frying pans. I don't remember what score he got. I can't imagine he's gonna win. Anyway, doesn't Michael Imperioli's show look good in the ads? And are you watching "Cougar Town" yet? The show has nada to do with cougars on the prowl.

Speaking of, Florence Henderson started out in something that Alice, the Brady family's jocular maid, would wear if someone startled her out of her pantry/bedroom. But it was yet another coverall ready to be ripped away to reveal something saucier; in Florence's case, below the red Lanz nightgown was a gauze-and-glitter gown. Her dance, staged to the strains of "The Brady Bunch" theme song, was a stilted disaster. At one point she let her pinstriped partner do something overly aggressive that started out a shimmy and ended up a seizure of sorts.

Backstory update: She was more energetic in the rehearsal montage, including in the goofy Greg Brady cameo that demonstrated how Mrs. Brady and her oldest stepson (or the actors who played them) have some muscle memory when it comes to pelvic swivels. In case you missed it, they did a wink-wink revival of their supposed interest in each other decades ago. Ew.

(Courtesy E! Online)

Anyway, Florence and Corky earned a 21.

Update on the backstory update: After the judges' score, but before we were directed to do our own dial-a-vote, Florence made a Very Special Admission to Brooke, by summoning the memory of Robert Reed, who played Mr. Brady, and died of AIDS. "I did it for him," she said. Reminder: Jennifer Grey dedicated an earlier dance to the memory of Patrick Swayze, her on-screen "Dirty Dancing" partner, who died of cancer. Celebrities can summon inspiration from dearly departed celebrities. But while you're dabbing your eyes, please be advised: This is a competition, people. Among actors.

Audrina began in her natural habitat of a lounge chair under a sunbrella, and she wore a spanglier version of a bikini, which she inhabited so vacantly in poolside sessions on "The Hills." Her bathing costume was augmented with some pink mosquito netting, apparently, which added to the sway and sweep of her moves. Producers set the dance to her MTV reality show's theme song, to jog any memory of what vehicle drove her to this point in the fame map. Her rumba, performed with the equally uninteresting Tony, was a little stripped-down and a little stripper-y.

And yet, the producers try to gin up interest in whatever can be known about her personality. She was a foil for the mean girls of the Speidi set, and now on her own, we're encouraged to consider her personal growth. And yet, there seems to be not much in her repertoire besides looking super-hot and super-surprised to have to actually transmit thoughts in real time.

Judges gave them a 23, which is a little high, given their low-blood-pressure languor.

Spinning his partner on her behind, Kyle mopped the floor with Lacey in a rump-shaking rendition of "Charlie's Angels." Their foxtrot emphasized funk over form. They donned orange and brown to evoke the olden days of flip curls and those little box speakerphone modules. But mainly, their silliness ignited no disco inferno. And Kyle's winning persona has shrunk on me. If his smile was once infectious, it now seems confected--a look-up-here distraction to flailing footwork.

Kyle's just a teenager called up from ABC's junior-varsity network, the Disney Channel, and he's already won just by showing up and getting America to hear his name each week, before he gets a gig on "Saturday Night Live" or a Touchstone flick. But on this night, he and his partner probably shouldn't have even shown up. They netted a mere 20 points, and confronted with a score that she clearly thought to be preposterous, Lacey overcompensated on air with a burst of crazy-pants laughter and some vamping and some winking that showed what a judge and jury and 22 million viewers would call "no remorse." Seriously, her pants were crazy.

Rick Fox summoned in his own character witnesses in the form of Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant, of the Lakers of Los Angeles. The pro baller had been encouraged to speed up his dancing, but they gave him the slow-as-a-slug theme song to "Hill Street Blues." His instructor Cheryl tells him not to stoop, and yet he's six-and-a-half-feet tall and she's two-and-a-half-feet tall, so what's a giant in a police uniform with sparkly trim supposed to do? Well, he did manage to be careful out there, never letting his Frankenstein frame to topple over the sprite who is charged with dancing at him. I find his smile endearing, and we were in the same class in college, so I think he's not half bad. Maybe a quarter bad.

The judges concurred. He got a 24.

In the rehearsal recap, in the dance, even in the painful moments in front of those judgey judges, Bristol and Mark continue to play up the pecking and the nuzzling and the body-draping. Remember, she is meant to use this media platform to advocate against teen promiscuity, and yet....

Anyway, here's a bad sign for Bristol's "Dancing" prospects: Her mom was not in the audience. Let's not read into it. I don't interpret from that any displeasure or fear that momma only likes winners. Hardly! There are a bunch of other winners that Mom needs to support before Election Day. We feel sure Bristol understands. After all, she hid for the first minute or so in a monkey suit, which she ripped away in the same number of tedious tugs that it takes to peel a banana. Her choreographer was jogging in place while she completed this one and only successful onstage task, which looked every bit an effort. In fact, Bristol didn't really do the dance her choreographer had planned at all; her jive dance was total jive. "I hate the jive," she admitted in her post-jive talk. Oh, it was her birthday and she appears to have received a spray tan for the occasion.

The judges' 20th birthday present to Bristol? 18 points. One suspects, without any reason to suspect otherwise, that her mother is very happy for her.

(Courtesy E! Online)

Jennifer and Derek demonstrated more Rehearsal Tension, and the montages suggested that this actress is getting really actress-y. She marched out for air, Birkin-bag in hand, and returned in a better humor. Dramatic transformation! All I can imagine is that she was absolutely, positively proper not to play into any televised escalation that would not be to her benefit, but might be to ABC's. Anyway, I get tired of thinking for a second that she's at any disadvantage. This woman is famous for a blockbuster movie that has the word "Dancing" in the title. There is no justice.

The duo danced to the theme song of "Married... With Children" [aka Sinatra's beloved "Love and Marriage" tune]. He in cardigan and tie, she in sleeveless, pleated dress, they evoked not Al and Peggy Bundy but Rob and Laura Petrie. As judges and questioners goaded her, she stuck to monosyllabic answers. "Thrilled," she said as judges bestowed a highly respectable 25.

By Lisa de Moraes  | October 18, 2010; 11:10 PM ET
Categories:  Dancing With the Stars  
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I can't concentrate on Audrina's "dancing" because of her wonky implants. One of them has a great big ole dent in it and it looks like it's going to get up and crawl into her collar bone or something.

Posted by: 2426 | October 19, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

I definitely could do a better job of recapping the show than this fellow did -- at least I paid attention! Kurt and Anna got a 24; Bristol and Mark got an 18, not a 20.

This is probably Bristol's last week of dancing.

Posted by: SportzNut21 | October 19, 2010 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Meet Local Single Friends and Let Us Do The Work - You Just Lunch and enjoy

Posted by: jeremyrenner18 | October 19, 2010 3:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad someone else's eyes got burned by the pathetic display of 'dancing' on this lame-and-getting-lamer-show.

I wish the show would go back to living up to its title "Dancing with the STARS", so it would actually be interesting again.

Posted by: momof20yo | October 19, 2010 6:42 AM | Report abuse

Anyone, ANYONE, watching this should have the TV removed from their house, as it obviously has compromised their taste of TV programs that are worth watching.

Posted by: password11 | October 19, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Interesting recap. I think I am glad that I am watching The Event on NBC instead of DWTS this season.

Posted by: msame | October 19, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Lighten up password11. This is junkfood TV. We know it's bad, but it's something to gnaw on at the end of the day when there is nothing else you want to put any effort into. Plus DWTS has just enough je ne sais quoi to keep us watching -- the where-are-they-now element lets us glimpse the last gasps of downtrodden entertainment careers, mild competition so you never know what the outcome will be from week to week, occasional hotties in skimpy outfits, occassional zingers from Tom B, occassional sputtering flamboyance from Bruno, and occassional British harumphing frumpery from Len. Plus there is the whole schadenfreude thing of watching washed-up, has-been "stars" with their trainwreck dance routines that we can laugh at again once we read the recap in the Post.

Posted by: MyPostEgo | October 19, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

And anyone, ANYONE, passwprd11, who comments on shows s/he doesn't watch should have the 'puter removed from her/his vicinity.

Posted by: kbockl | October 19, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

To all you lemmings watching this show: obviously, your time is not worth much to you. Fascination of "stars" is equivalent to fascination of watching grass grow. Get out and do something you sheep.

Posted by: password11 | October 19, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Pretty Bad show. Some of the contestants in the past were at least somewhat entertaining but these people offer nothing of merit.
I checked it out the other day and turned it off after I watched Rick Fox, Palin, and the guy from Jersey just make an ass of themselves on live TV. I am a dancing fan but not this kind of dancing.

Posted by: wrxman | October 19, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Dancing with the Stars? No thanks. I will watch, if nothing else to do, a dance competition, but watch this crap weekly - no way. I haven't seen it once and will not see it once.

Posted by: vickie105 | October 19, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

All in all it's a pretty STYLISH show with the exception of Palin's high school pregnant dropout spawn....

Posted by: dtroppy | October 19, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

"To all you lemmings watching this show: obviously, your time is not worth much to you. Fascination of "stars" is equivalent to fascination of watching grass grow. Get out and do something you sheep"

And yet, your time is so valuable that you use it to post not once, but TWICE to say how lame the show and the people watching it are.

Why don't you take your own advice and get out and do something. Though if your real life personality is anything like your online one I have a feeling that you have no friends to do anything with.

Really, all the people who post here and on Celebritology complaining that everyone is a sheep and/or lemming because they watch TV/follow celebrity news/watch anything other than PBS really need a life. We're not having a serious discussion about serious's a TV column for crying out loud. You want serious, read the rest of the newspaper and leave us alone.

Posted by: onlytheshadowknows1 | October 19, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

what a disaster this show has become, could not and will not watch...agree with most of the poster's...Palin..omg what were you people thinking...she is pathetic just like her mommy...

Posted by: janetmramos | October 19, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

You Ned Martel are an unmitigated stick up your a$$ snob. they couldn't have picked a worse replacement writer. Check the ratings, every week DWTS is at the top. people like to watch people try and improve. the costumes are interesting and the pros are amazing. YOU SHOULD NOT WATCH OR WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING YOU CARE SO LITTLE ABOUT. maybe if you are lucky you can get on the show and get a handle on what is actually going on. I give you a "0".

Posted by: lynnecatlover | October 20, 2010 3:10 AM | Report abuse

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