The Agony of the Feet
Know how much I love Dancing With the Stars? It actually made me like Britney Spears again.
Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration. After all, on Tuesday, I completed my third consecutive week of writing the TV Watch on Britney and Kevin: Chaotic, and the idea of hearing from the Louisiana pop tart right now is about as appealing as competing in a Fear Factor ''milk a goat with your mouth'' contest. (Yeah, I've actually seen that happen on TV, too.)
Yet in the midst of ABC's D-list-celebrity ballroom-dancing competition last night, I found myself totally grooving to Britney's undeniably catchy ''Toxic.'' Granted, Britney wasn't actually the one singing it — the honors instead went to the insanely cheesy Dancing With the Stars house band — but as supermodel Rachel Hunter and her professional dancer partner, Jonathan Roberts, tangoed to the tune, I could barely contain my urge to entwine my body with an innocent floor lamp, then try to clear a side table with a jaunty high kick. Call me daft, but I bet if you were watching DWTS, you felt the same way, too.
And why not get caught up in such a feel-good slice of entertainment? No teenage songbirds are reduced to tears in the making of DWTS. No fameo***uals pile into hot tubs in the quest for an engagement ring — or another meaningful week with a camera and a mike pack. And there's no Donald Trump, either. Indeed, DWTS is the official cool breeze of the summer TV schedule, and I'm lovin' it.
Which of said stars ends up taking home the crown is secondary to the enjoyment, although at the moment it looks like a two-horse race between Seinfeld alum John O'Hurley and supermodel Rachel ''Stacy's Mom'' Hunter.
O'Hurley is the show's cosmopolitan oddball, combining aristocratic aloofness with winking self-deprecation: He's in on the goofiness of the whole DWTS spectacle, but he's also a terrific hoofer. His tango with Charlotte Jorgensen to ''Dance With Me'' was an exhilarating display of quick turns, cocked heads, and (most important) raw chemistry. Sure, O'Hurley's not above the occasional raised eyebrow or exaggerated grimace, but his connection with Jorgensen is the type that can only be found on the dance floor, or perhaps in the bedroom. J. Peterman, *** symbol? Uh-huh. You've got to see it to believe it!
And speaking of *** symbols, how about that Rachel Hunter? Her ex, Rod Stewart, may be about to become a dad again at age 60, but Hunter's getting the last laugh by using DWTS as a weekly highlight reel showcasing her toned and limber physique. Case in point: The leg extension that kicked off the muy passionate ''Toxic'' tango nearly came through my TV screen. Holy gams, Batman! Now if Hunter could stop approaching the pre- and post-dance interviews as if they were some kind of unsavory eating challenge on Survivor, she might draw enough public support to land the top prize.
The remaining two teams seem to be in a battle for third at best, and to get there, they're working distinctly different angles that play to their respective strengths. Former New Kid on the Block Joey McIntyre (and partner Ashly DelGrosso) have chosen the firecracker route, all smiles, quick steps, and bubbly energy. But while McIntyre has the advantage of some dance experience with NKOTB, and certainly attempts moves with a higher degree of difficulty than his foes (like that flying leap over DelGrosso's head), judge Carrie Ann Inaba was correct in pointing out his flailing feet and occasional sloppiness while doing the jive. The competition isn't only about athleticism and exuberance — it also requires grace and panache, and that's probably why McIntyre ended up in the bottom two this week.
Soap star Kelly Monaco, meanwhile, doesn't exactly have grace or athleticism in her corner, but she's not afraid to flaunt her two biggest assets — by which, of course, I mean her raw ***uality and competitive drive. Say what they want, the judges can't deny her chemistry with Alec Mazo, or her never-quit attitude in the face of their critiques. Monaco's two other assets, her barely contained bazooms, seem ready for a wardrobe malfunction at any minute, but since this is a family show and not a Cinemax special, I'm guessing her costumes are more a liability than an asset.
Still, Monaco's improved effort on the jive this week deservedly kept her ahead of the show's weakest stepper, boxing champ Evander Holyfield, who seems like a charming cat but, based on performance alone, really should've gone home before even last week's castoff, the insufferable Trista Sutter. I'll give Holyfield and partner Edyta Sliwinska this much, however: Their daring canary-yellow costumes win the week's fashion prize, and their leaden steps elicited the week's best judging comment. ''The jive is a crisp, sharp dance, like a pickled onion,'' snapped Len Goodman. ''This was like a bowl of custard.''
Don't sweat it, Evander. It still beats milk straight from the goat.
Who's your pick to win Dancing With the Stars? Which of the remaining four teams is most at risk next week? What did you think of G.I. Joey's costume? And do you think J. Peterman will wear that red Speedo if he loses another seven pounds? http://www.ew.com/ew/aol/article/latest/0,11892,3113