“Dancing with the Stars” was ready to show some serious rhythm this week in the first-ever Motown-themed episode.
And luckily, R&B icon Gladys Knight survived elimination last week so that she could fill everyone in on the good old days of the Berry Gordy empire, when the hits just kept on coming (but the artists’ residuals? Not so much!).
Who would make us want to be “Dancing in the Streets” and who would shed “The Tears of a Clown” on Motown night? Would it be Hitsville or Sh— well, you know!
Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves and The Temptations opened the show with a medley of hits and then the cavalcade of stars proceeded down the stairs. Everyone looked classier than usual, a bit more covered up to replicate the pulled-together Motown style, although Katherine Jenkins showed some amazing cleavage with more of a go-go dancer look. Gladys’ ’60s-style bouffant was perfect for the occasion. Wonder if she wore her hair exactly that way back in the day?
Watch the Highlights of Monday’s Performances:
Gladys Knight and Tristan MacManus: Rumba
In rehearsal, Tristan informed Gladys she would dance to “My Girl” by The Temptations and the singer recalled she and the Pips used to whip their butts in softball. It sounded like Motown was like the old movie studio system, where all the singers knew each other and fraternized even on their time off. Gladys’ brother visited the studio to give her a pep talk.
Oh, so here was the twist this week: The original Motown artists would be performing during everyone’s dances, which was something different on the show. So The Temptations performed live to the dance and Gladys and Tristan, who were as purple as Barney the dinosaur in their outfits, went through the paces of the rumba. It wasn’t horrible, but honestly the moves were too basic for Week Six.
She seemed to move so gingerly, like her feet hurt. Judge Len Goodman said if he voted with his heart … Uh, oh, this meant a “but” was coming. But the “but” never came! Instead, Bruno Tonioli took over and said she had star quality, but she needed more sizzle in the rumba. Carrie Ann Inaba said the night should belong to her but it looked like she forgot some of the moves. Only 21 — not good for this point in the competition and Gladys put herself in danger of being eliminated during Motown week, of all things. After the commercial break, Tom Bergeron interviewed Gordy, who was sitting in the audience to bask in Motown night. Score: 21
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough: Foxtrot
Maria said she grew up with a lot of boys so she wasn’t used to acting classy, which the foxtrot clearly demanded. She said she wanted to meet Derek’s expectations and the foxtrot was a huge challenge. Martha Reeves was back to sing “Jimmy Mack” and she was laboring as hard as Gladys on that last dance, sad to say.
Maria looked like “Mad Men” crossed with a fairy princess and flowed across the floor as usual — but suddenly, she bobbled a bit near the stairs. Also, the song didn’t seem to match the dance (“Jimmy Mack” repeated over and over again in foxtrot? Weird). Maria looked distracted (by Martha blaring in her ears?). Bruno said what a shame she lost her footing, but thought the movement was excellent. Carrie Ann said she was off the beat and Len said it was correct, fun, and free, and a joy to his eyes.
What was he watching? I thought it was Maria’s worst dance since Week One. It was looking like stars singing live to the dances behind the dancers was rattling them. Too many spotlights? The scoring was inexplicable — two nines with a big mistake in the middle?! Score: 26
Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower: Rumba
The Disney star was trying to be sensual (last week he was learning to be sexy and this didn’t seem too different) and the producers mined his youth and inexperience for laughs again. Chelsie said there was a strong, sensual man inside of him that she’d pull out during the dance but all I could see were his big ears. Smokey Robinson was back and the press room journalists gasped at the singer’s frozen face (“take a good look at my face, my forehead seems out of place”).
Anyway, Roshon and Chelsie did some slow rumba moves but I felt the bump and grind in the middle was a bit much with the teen star pushing up against his partner. A cameraman got in the way again, as he did during Maria’s dance (did you see that priceless live moment, N.Y. fans? They’ll cut that out during for L.A. version). Carrie Ann thought Roshon’s movements were too exaggerated and Chelsie argued with her, surprising for the young blonde, who almost never loses her cool. Len likened the dance to painting by numbers — too jerky. And Chelsie objected again that it was supposed to be slow. Bruno praised his fire, but said the rumba needed a different body type. And Chelsie chirped, sarcastically, “Thank you!” But it was faint praise, indeed, and a bad score inevitably followed. Score: 23
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas: Samba
The two professional dancers — er, I mean, Katherine and her pro — were exulting about last week’s great dance. In this week’s rehearsal, there was also no drama, as she seemed to be doing really well. To The Temptations “I Can’t Get Next to You,” the pair hit the floor and after a few moves, I said, “Just give her the mirror ball now!”
She strutted like a Vegas showgirl in her prime in her shiny gold dress and never put a foot wrong. Her blonde beehive even stayed in place through all the shaking. Len made a strange analogy, saying she was the midwife, delivering week after week. “Baby, you can bounce,” Bruno trilled, leaping to his feet. Carrie Ann felt she really let it loose. Would it earn a 30? It should, especially after Maria’s marred dance got a 29. Surprise, they got a 29, too. Score: 29
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd: Foxtrot
Last week, Donald was furious with his scores but he calmed down for Motown night, which he said took him back to his childhood. Peta twitted him in rehearsal for having bad frame which wouldn’t impress Len. She even brought in a picture of Len holding a 10 to inspire the football player to do his best.
The Temps were back, this time singing “The Way You Do the Things You Do.” Donald was singing along as he started the dance and he and Peta were in matching blue outfits (oh, I get it, now, Motown was always color-coordinated, too, which explained Gladys and Tristan’s all-purple look earlier). I thought the athlete looked nervous for the first time this season and wasn’t doing his best. Then when Donald held Peta in a dip, he almost dropped her and had to set his feet again as he grimaced at the audience. Awkward!
They did another drag move with Peta on her toes, which we’ve seen a lot this season and it seemed repetitive. What was new here? Bruno mentioned his pizzaz and power even though he came close to falling. Carrie Ann said she loved it and Len said he exploded on the dance floor. Where was the judging tonight? I thought that one deserved about a 24, but they got 27, triple 9s. Score: 27
Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Viennese waltz.
This couple has been stuck in a quagmire since the beginning and there was Mad Maks crabbing at Melissa in rehearsal. The pro shouted “unbelievable!” accompanied by expletives and walked out, telling her he’d see her tomorrow. More highlights? Maks said her dancing sucked. “It could be worse — you could have an ugly partner,” he told her in a rare moment of rehearsal humor.
The cool tones of Smokey started the dance with “Ooh Baby Baby” and producers gave Melissa an early overhead shot, for no reason. The line in the song “mistakes, I know I made a few” seemed appropriate for Melissa’s entire season — but this time, she seemed a bit better, graceful and in the moment instead of concentrating hard on every step. The move that left her sitting on the floor didn’t look that comfortable for the former whiplash victim, however.
They ended the dance in a hug, sweet after all their rehearsal problems. Carrie Ann said she’d worked so hard and it was finally paying off. Next, Len said he saw romance and control but she lost energy toward the end. Bruno liked her extended lines. Yay, Melissa! After putting up with all that verbal abuse, I hoped she’d get a decent score. Melissa defended Maks backstage, saying that 85 percent of her experience with him this week was positive. Imagine that, producers showing the drama and leaving the rest on the cutting room floor! Anyway, the pair were rightly pleased with their score. Score: 24
Jaleel White and Kym Johnson: Cha Cha
Last week, Jaleel had to do the dance duel with Gavin DeGraw and came out on top as the singer went home. In rehearsal, he told Kym that they should just get to work. The actor was very serious about doing well in the competition. I have always sensed Urkel wants to win the whole thing and that was proved by the former “Family Matters” star’s businesslike approach to “DWTS” this week.
Jaleel and Kym danced to The Temptations’ “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” and the actor was really pointing his toes in a stylized way. Jaleel’s arms seemed a bit much, though, and he needed to show a little more flair in his bends. Still, Jaleel’s side-by-side moves with Kym looked very polished and he ended it all by expertly dipping Kym. Everything had hung together well as a complete routine, sort of like what The Temptations have always done! He had replicated the strengths of Motown. Len said Jaleel was back as a contender again while Bruno lavished him with praise, saying it was the biggest sizzler of the season. Carrie Ann thought Jaleel brought his “A” game to the night. They tied for the highest score of the night! Score: 29
William Levy and Cheryl Burke: Rumba
Cheryl told William she wanted this to be the hottest rumba ever on the show and they sure looked sexy in rehearsal. Then, an interruption — smoke filled the rehearsal space and a couple of other couples came in with a fire extinguisher. Smokey appeared again and more titters in the press room by cynical journalists convinced the soul legend has had some plastic surgery.
But there was no question about William and Cheryl’s heat from the beginning of this rumba. They made love on the dance floor, yes they did! Take note, Roshon! This is what sensual was all about. William had his hands all over Cheryl’s body and directed her through a few spins, too, and she ended the performance on her back as the telenovela star crouched over her. Oh, my! Bruno said it was utter filth and he loved every minute of it. What did Carrie Ann think? Surprisingly, she would have liked to see more DANCING. And Len said it was on the raunchy side with too much hip action. Bruno gave him a 10 and I agreed. Who cared about the dancing? Score: 27
With all the individual dances done, it was time for the Motown dance marathon. These marathons have been a lot of fun every season and it should be exciting when set to the classic ‘60s music. I was expecting a lot.
The dancers found their spotlights and they focused on Gladys first, natch. Kat and Mark looked good from behind while Donald and Peta reflected Motown very well and Jaleel spun Kym high in the air. Gladys and Tristan were told to leave the floor first, despite her pedigree. Maria and Derek were kicked off by the judges next, then Roshon and Chelsie left the floor. Then Melissa and Maks got the boot. William dsplayed his abs to keep dancing and judges tossed off Donald and Peta, to the journalists disgust backstage. Who would go next? The judges said Jaleel and Kym needed to boogie on out. So Katherine and William were the celebs left marathoning.
William and Cheryl got eliminated, so Katherine and Mark were the marathon winners! Hooray for the Welsh wiggler!
Watch the DWTS Dance Marathon!