'Dancing With the Stars' semi-finals performances: We watch so you don't have to
Semi-finals night on "Dancing with the Stars" is also Solo Night and Back Story Night. So settle in for a long-ish story. Once upon a time ...
Brandy kicks things off with a super aggressive paso doble. Her dance partner Maks Chmerkovskiy channels his inner Maks with lots of aggressive moves. Brandy meets the requirement to dance a solo by pulling two and a half spins at the end with Maks off-camera. Brandy, who's wearing a modified Heidi/cocktail-waitress-in-a-gentlemen's-club outfit, says, "we dedicate our paso doble to anybody who's ever been bullied in their life." The judges don't totally buy it and give her 27 points out of a possible 30.
Producers drop the storyline of Jennifer Grey in pain for the time being and we see her talking about how "the best is yet to come," so that's a relief. Though, since this is Back Story Night, they may be just setting us up for a sucker punch. But her cha cha cha is really fun and uninhibited and Jennifer fulfills her solo requirement by massaging judges Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli from behind their chairs -- for which she receives a perfect score: 30 points.
Bristol Palin is "back again through the power of your votes," says show host Tom Bergeron -- and, my goodness, how frightened the producers seem to be of all this talk there's been since last week about the politicization of the show! Queue up Bristol's dance partner, Mark Ballas, telling Bristol in a taped bit that he's hearing a lot about people saying she's gotten this far in the competition because of who her mom is "and the tea party."
"I think I'm definitely relatable to the audience out there -- and untouched, and raw. And vulnerable," Bristol says back at him.
The taped bit of her rehearsing emphasizes how risky this dance is going to be as the producers work like little beavers to make it perfectly clear: It's not that she's got powerful people behind her -- she's vulnerable.
Bristol is dramatically dressed in black for her paso doble, and Mark has come up with a brilliant way to get her through her solo: She keeps waving her long black skirt around her legs so we can't really see/don't focus what's going on down there. But props to Bristol, too: It's her best performance to date and she hits her marks. She scores 27 points, her best score ever.
Samba-ing Disney star Kyle Massey starts off his solo with an attempted moonwalk but it's loaded down with gravity. He ends by bounding across the stage to the judges' desk to give a friendly little wave. The rest of his performance is his usual high-energy fun stuff. And, of course, he wears the Disney Cloak of Likability and nothing can harm him. He snares 29 out of a possible 30 points.
Round 2: Beat My Back Story:
Brandy's back story: She had two flop records and then was behind the wheel of a vehicle that set off a chain-reaction car accident on a Los Angeles freeway, leaving a 38-year-old mother of two dead from her injuries. Maybe the producers left nicer stuff on the cutting room floor, but what we get to see is all about Brandy's suffering, how she stayed at home for months and, she says, people calling her a killer and, "I felt like the world was against me" even though "it was proven it was not my fault."
Actually, what happened, according to press reports, is that the city attorney's office decided not to file misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges against Brandy because they felt they did not have enough to convince a jury "beyond a reasonable doubt."
And here's a bit of advice for future "Dancing with the Stars" competitors who plan to use the car accident they survived as their back story on the show: If the accident leaves you emotionally scarred but the other person, you know, dead -- and unless you have absolute control over the editing of that segment -- don't ever, under any circumstances, say to the camera that being on "Dancing with the Stars" has been a "rebirth" for you, because the other person is, to re-iterate, dead.
Contemplate that for a minute while Brandy and Maks do their competent if dull-ish tango in which Brandy mostly gets swept along by Maks and for which she nabs 30 more points.
And that, Brandy, is the way to handle it. Chew on that while Jennifer and Derek Hough dance their simple, elegant waltz, which judge Carrie Ann Inaba calls, "one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen" and for which the judges award Jennifer another perfect score.
Bristol's back story: Growing up, for Bristol, was a Garden of Eden experience. "I never had a problems or challenges until I started dating Levi," she says.
Not just dating, mind you -- dating Levi.
"Our little world kinda stopped spinning the day that Bristol came to us and told us she was pregnant," mama Sarah Palin adds. "Naïve us thought it couldn't happen to our family, you know."
Cue sad cello music.
"It wasn't long after that that I was tapped to be the vice presidential nominee," Sarah continues. "Here Bristol was, her little baby bump growing on national stage for all the world to see." We're skipping right along, aren't we? Right past the Levi-marriage bits.
And here's Bristol, sounding like a very unorthodox abstinence advocate: "For people to jump to assumptions, to think that I was some trashy, disgusting girl that was knocked up: 'Oh look she's 17 and pregnant!' No, I've slept with one guy in my life. I've had an on-and-off boyfriend for years on end. It was definitely a challenge to go through that."
Back to Sarah reminiscing about talking to Bristol about whether she should compete on "Dancing with the Stars":
"She told me, 'Mom, I'm going to get criticized anyway.' They may say mean things. They may try to bring ya down but -- doggone it -- you might as well dance!"
Have we all got the story line straight now? Plucky, plucky, plucky.
After that emotional build up, Bristol's dance is a bit of a throwback to her earlier outings, with the blank I'm-along-for-the-ride look. But she's certainly more limber and on-beat than her early days and the judges grant her an additional 26 points for a nightly total of 53.
Kyle's back story: Why is it always so hard to feel sympathetic for stage mothers who pull their kids out of school and move to Hollywood in the hopes of cashing in, even if they do take all the money out of their 401(k)s? Anyway, if you can get past that point, then Kyle suffered. Or suffered up to the point of driving to the airport when they got the call from his agent that he had landed a job on a Disney comedy. OK, so Kyle didn't really suffer but he's a likable kid so why do they keep trying to give him another back story? Why can't what you see be what you get with Kyle?
Kyle and dance partner Lacey Schwimmer do the Argentine tango. Most notable: He lifts her up successfully, and that can't be easy. Lacey looks like a lot of solid muscle. Lacey also gets to deliver the best back story line, in spite of all those produced taped bits, backstage: "He was like the little brother I never asked for and I got." Darn it, she's likeable, too! Kyle gets 29 more points for a total of 58.
Lisa de Moraes
| November 16, 2010; 12:06 AM ET
Categories: Dancing With the Stars
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