Dancing With the Stars: Boys' night out
Well, hello Rob Kardashian.
I'd assumed going into Monday night's Dancing With the Stars finale that Tuesday's results were a foregone conclusion: J.R. Martinez in first place, Ricki Lake in second, Rob in third.
I still think J.R. will win, but Rob did his very best to snatch that mirror ball trophy away from the Iraq War vet. And it could end up clinching him second place, depending how the voting and Tuesday's final dances go.
I'm glad for him, truly. It's nice to see an element of surprise in these things. Ricki and J.R. had finale written all over them from the beginning of the season. Rob did not. He had to fight his way to this position and good on him.
In fact, the so-called reality TV star topped the leader board Monday, thanks to a perfect score for his freestyle and J.R.'s less than stellar marks for his cha cha.
J.R. got his share of 10's later for a freestyle that set the ballroom on fire, but there were none for Ricki, which must have been disappointing no matter how much she was smiling and congratulating the other two.
Here's how it all shook out for me, with the celebs ranked from most to least favourite:
J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff: Had J.R. messed up his freestyle I might have been speculating on a Kardashian victory, but instead J.R. turned in the best dance of the night. The lifts alone were worth the price of admission, with J.R. flipping Karina onto his back then around front again, flipping her by pulling her arms through her legs and then leaping on her and turning her over between his legs. In between the tricks, Karina and J.R. did the most energetic dancing we've seen all season, side by side, to the infectious "Whine Up." The perfect score was well deserved and sweet redemption for J.R. after his disappointing cha cha score, which included a 7 from Len Goodman (ouch). As for the cha cha, I wasn't seeing what the judges were seeing (Carrie Ann Inaba said J.R.'s musicality was a bit off; Len said the timing was off and Bruno Tonioli said his hands looked out of place at the beginning). Any problems with timing seemed very minor, J.R.'s hip action and shoulder shimmies were good, and the dance had a nice relaxed vibe to it. J.R. is obviously a huge fan favourite (people in the ballroom were cheering so loudly, Carrie Ann could barely be heard as she started her critique of his freestyle), so I don't think a couple of 8's and a 7 are going to deter them from voting for him.
Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke: Ok, Rob will never be mistaken for Fred Astaire, but that was a nice waltz he started out with. There were some excellent lines and good footwork (except, I guess, for the messed-up crossovers, which once again escaped my notice). As Len put it, "you had more rise and fall than Pam Anderson jogging." And host Tom Bergeron dubbed Rob "Cinderfella" after Carrie Ann described him as "the male version of Cinderella who made it to the ball." This Cinderfella was determined to excel on that dance floor before the clock struck midnight, turning in a slick and inventive freestyle. There was lots to enjoy here: Rob's and Cheryl's 1920s-style costumes (the song was "Minnie the Moocher"); Cheryl falling backwards against Rob's back then falling forward while he raced around to catch her; Rob swinging Cheryl around by her arm; the kicks; the bum wiggle; and the last difficult sequence, with Rob spinning Cheryl horizontally behind his neck, then around the front, then ending with a low dip. You just knew Rob was about to join the perfect score club after Bruno called it brilliant and Carrie Ann said, "to get a 10 you have to blow us away; consider me blown."
Score: Waltz, 27; freestyle, 30; total, 57
Ricki Lake and Derek Hough: Carrie Ann visited Ricki and Derek during cha cha rehearsals to help Ricki unleash her sexiness and overcome her self-consciousness about her body, but I didn't see quite as much confidence in the routine as the judges did. Maybe it was the occasional lack of fluidity that Len pointed out. That's not to say Ricki didn't do a very good job. It just wasn't my favourite. She and Derek kicked things up a notch with their freestyle, which combined salsa with quickstep. Kudos to Ricki for the more difficult moves, including allowing herself to be supported by her neck while bending over backwards parallel to the ground and that lift at the end with Derek spinning her like a plank. I would have been a bit wobbly too coming out of that one. The judges praised the lifts and the extreme difficulty of putting the salsa and quickstep together, but those remarks didn't translate into 10s. I know some of you will say that's because they were giving a boost to their Cinderfella.
Score: Cha cha, 27; freestyle, 27; total, 54
It's far from over, dance fans. Tuesday is the two-hour finale (9 p.m. on CTV) when the finalists will perform their favourite routines from the season, then the two couples with the higest score and vote totals will face off in an instant samba. And of course we'll get to see all of the contestants return (Elisabetta who?), see the troupe and some of the pros perform (Tristan MacManus, please) and hear from Lady Antebellum. I'll be watching and recapping it right here.
Feel free to let me know who you're rooting for, either here, on Twitter @realityeo or on my Facebook page.
(The photos of J.R. and Karina, and Rob and Cheryl are by Adam Taylor for ABC.)