‘Dancing With the Stars’ recap: Tricks and treats

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Happy Halloween, ballroom fans! There were lots of terrifying tricks and tantalizing treats to be had in Week 7 of “Dancing With the Stars,” which happened to fall on All Hallows Eve. And leave it to the “DWTS” cast and crew to immerse themselves and the set fully in the spooky spirit, leaving no pumpkin uncarved and no gravestone unturned.

The ballroom was filled with all sorts of ghosts and devils and Kardashians in this celebration of “things that go bump and grind in the night.” As host Tom “Boo”-geron warned, “It’s gonna be one of those nights.” Brooke Burke-Charvet was dressed in something that resembled a spiderweb. The stars were in even scarier getups than usual. “Scarold” Wheeler conducted his zombie band with stiff and tattered outstretched arms.


Week 7 also introduced the team dances. Team Tango went first. J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff, David Arquette and Kym Johnson, and Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus stepped out of cages in straitjackets to Rihanna’s “Disturbia.” The judges liked their group effort but hated the individual performances. Skeletal Len even went so far to call them “a disaster.” Total: 23.

Team Paso (comprised of Ricki Lake and Derek Hough, Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke, and Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy) ended the night, which could only mean it was the stronger performance. And it was, even though Hope’s and Maks’ bickering during rehearsals had their teammates scared Shrekless and threatened to sink the entire ship. Best line of the segment (and possibly the night): “Derek and Maks help to increase my sexual confidence,” said gun-shy Rob, the only celebrity male on the team. Set to a rousing version of Evanescence’s “Bring Me To Life,” the team’s paso doble was ablaze with fancy moves and pyrotechnics. Bruno called it “powerful, moving, dramatic, building to a fantastic ending.” Kitten-eared Carrie Ann called it “poetic.” Len thought the “individual parts were fantastic.” Total: 26.

The scores for each group were added to each couple’s individual tallies and either boosted or brought down their standings. Herewith, the latest standings — “dead. From Hollywood!”

Reclaiming sole possession of the lead were Ricki Lake and Derek Hough. Ricki suffered an inflamed nerve to her rib sometime during rehearsals last week that required heavy bandaging and resulted in the unsightly side effect of hiked-up shoulders. But otherwise, the routine itself was a beauty to behold, with Ricki Red Riding Hood making her way through the woods and falling prey to Derek the wolfman. What big teeth he had. Bruno called the paso doble “a blizzard of passion and fear in the frozen woods.” Carrie Ann told Ricki to “be careful of those shoulders” but said her “shaping is so gorgeous.” Len concurred: “Those shapes that you make are fantastic,” he said. “Lovely, crisp, precise footwork.… Whip it and wait!” Ricki and Derek received a 27 for their individual dance. Added to the 26 for their team effort, that was a total of 53 out of 60. Derek would have howled with delight if it weren’t for those darn teeth.

Rob Kardashian continued on his road toward manhood by assuming the persona (and facial hair) of Gomez Addams for an ‘Addams Family’ tango. Scaredy cat Cheryl Burke oscillated between Morticia Addams and Cousin Itt with her invasive hairdo. And although he had just one look of grim on his face, Rob proved with his tango that he didn’t deserve an untimely exit. “I thought you did a terrific job,” said Len. Bruno called “Robby Addams” the “master of the house” but warned him to “keep your bum under you…. There’s nothing wrong with a bum as long as you know what to do with it.” Carrie Ann called the routine Rob’s “best dance so far.” Was it “so frightfully fantastic, it’s going to scare the living 10s out of the judges”? Not quite. Rob and Cheryl tied with J.R. and Karina with a 25 for their tango, but the 26 they received for their team dance bumped them up to second place. At least one Kardashian had a good day. Total: 51.

Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy performed a better routine this week, but the chills between them and between them and Len are still as frosty as ever. Perhaps the ballroom gods intervened when Maks stubbed his toe last Tuesday, which meant Hope had to rehearse the dance with less-baggage-laden Teddy from the Troupe (a distant cousin of Jenny from the Block). And their routine ended up a lot better with Teddy as a buffer. Maks was still a curmudgeon, but Hope and Teddy just laughed it off like teens snickering at a stern schoolmarm. But Maks is still down with the young ‘uns! See, he can wear a mask! Don’t you know WereMaks was nine-time howling champion? Respect him! Anyway, perhaps the additional players helped, because the resulting samba between Hope and “Wolverine” ended up a lot more relaxed (read: fun). Carrie Ann called it “better than the ‘Toy Story’ dance. There’s a newfound ease of motion with you.” Len said Hope and Maks “coped well with a very difficult dance,” and then threw props to hair and wardrobe as if to avoid any additional contact with them. Hope was “dancing as if your life depended on it,” Bruno said. “Better timing, better placement, better finish.” Hope and Maks received a generous 24 for their samba. Add that to their 26 for the team dance, and suddenly they’re looking at third place. Total: 50.

Hey, there are ghosts in the ballroom! Who you gonna call? J.R. Martinez! The actor and Army veteran and his pro partner Karina Smirnoff were tasked with the difficult job of dancing a serious tango to Ray Parker Jr.’s fun “Ghostbusters” title track. And although frustrations were flying fast and high out of their proton packs during rehearsals, I love how J.R. kept his head and drew Karina in for a hug to defuse them. Because heavens to Gozer, this routine was fun. J.R. played Ernie Hudson’s part, and Karina came out in a fascinating apparition outfit with a sparkly skeleton skin suit. Not sure where her wig ended and the cape began, which made the costume all the more mesmerizing. Bruno said he was “bewitched, conquered and swept away by the ghostly beauty” but said the routine’s difficulty had J.R. lose it a few times. Carrie Ann liked how they “captured the tone of this piece” but pointed out the “tiny little slip where you got out of sync with each other.” Len called the routine “substandard.” “You were concentrating so much on the razzmatazz of the performance that you forgot to focus on your feet,” he grumped. Someone give him a Stay Puft marshmallow! J.R. and Karina earned a 25 for the tango and a 23 for the team tango. Total: 48.

David Arquette and Kym Johnson wanted to recreate the magic in the ballroom with a cha-cha-cha that was part illusionist, part Dracula. I really didn’t see the bite to the routine (though Kym really looked skeeved out by David’s nibble on her neck during rehearsals, didn’t she? Maybe she had a bad run-in with vampires in her past). David took pointers from real-life illusionist (oxymoron alert!) Todd Karr, but the actor and producer said Kym would be the real magician if she could get his hips moving. And maybe Kym deserves an honorary membership to the Magic Castle, because their cha-cha was not bad at all, and his tangled web at the end of the routine ended up as a cute conclusion rather than a tragic end. Len said there were “lots o’ tricks and lots of treats.… Abracadabra, you turned yourself into a dancer!” Bruno said David’s “got the prestige, my darling” and then double entendred all over the place, proclaiming David “a natural at turning tricks!” and calling Carrie Ann a “naughty little … cat. Pussy cat!” Carrie Ann said David was still “all over the place,” but “your improvement is phenomenal.” It was enough to have David tangoing with a skeleton up at the sky box after Ricki and Derek received their scores. Kym, watch out. David and Kym received a 24 for the cha-cha, plus 23 for the team tango. Total: 47.

Nancy Grace had a devil of a time doing the jive with Tristan MacManus. Tristan wanted to bring out the fun in this routine, but Nancy seemed to think everyone was against her. She mentioned that the judges would be on the edge of their seats waiting for her to mess up her footwork. Then she accused Tristan of telling the camera that she’s not fun (to which he wryly replied, “See how much fun that was?”). And although Nancy conquered the devil by the end of the routine, not as much could be said about the jive. I thought it was fun enough, though Nancy did seem a little heavy on her feet. Carrie Ann liked how Nancy was “having the time of your life, but you sort of lost the choreography a couple of times.” Len shrugged it off, saying the jive just wasn’t her dance. “The kicks weren’t sharp. You were a little bit flat-footed,” he complained. “Either the devil got you, or your shoes are too small,” Bruno said. “You’re suitably devilish. But the footing was devilish as well.” Nancy and Tristan got a lowly 21 for their dance. “I don’t think our jive was that bad!” defended Nancy. Add that to the 23 for the team tango, for a total of 44.

That puts Nancy at the bottom of the pack and next in line to get the boot, unless viewer votes save her. I hope they will, because it seems the prosecutor has lightened her edges and because I wouldn’t mind having Tristan and his accent around a bit longer. Not to mention that Hope and Maks’ tensions have devolved from sort of uncomfortable to downright scary. Maybe the show should just put them out of their misery.

What do you think? Who deserves to get the booo-t this week? Did you enjoy all the Halloween hijinks?


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-- Allyssa Lee