The ghosts of “Dancing with the Stars” past returned Monday night to participate in trio dances and, to be honest, they looked better than most of the folks who’ve been competing for eight weeks. Filled with plenty of pep and personality, they had the ability to overshadow even the pros.
At this stage of the game, numbers shouldn’t need smoke, lights and mistake-hiding costumes. Still, Monday was filled with plenty of bells and whistles that merely pointed up the obvious.
1. Competitors rely on “signature” moves – things they can do well – and they drop them in to just about every dance, never mind if they’re appropriate.
2. Fake humility is rampant. A bad dance can be excused if the person continues to insist, “I’m not a dancer.” Eight weeks of training? I’d want my money back if I didn’t have some kind of swagger.
3. Injuries are always attention getters. A torn this, a sprained that and immediately the sympathy pours out. I don’t think, however, a visit to Urgent Care is as life-threatening as being hauled away in an ambulance. And, yet, it’s given the same level of concern.
4. When in doubt, praise the pro. Perhaps Vanessa Lachey was too obvious in her dislike for partner Maks Chmerkovskiy, but at least she wasn’t comparing him to Moses and Baryshnikov. I haven’t seen this much praise since a dance teacher handed out candy bars after the kids got their number right.
At week eight, we also got a good chance of seeing who’s going to win. Jordan Fisher seems a lock (he got a perfect 60 Monday night – what more do you need?) and could be a dandy addition to whatever tour “Dancing” has lined up. The only way he can lose this is by pulling up sick (which has happened).
Terrell Owens went home with the best scores of his run – which is a familiar trope. Just when you think they’re moving up, they move out.
The façade started to crack for Victoria Arlen, too, who was told some of the moves were too intricate for her abilities. Never mind that she’s a Paralympian who doesn’t have the same control of her legs as the other dancers. She’s remarkable and, judges aside, quite good. That kind of criticism suggests she’s not going to be in the final three.
YouTube star Lindsey Stirling will be. She has a solid sense of rhythm and, now, is showing great personality on the stage.
Left to challenge: Drew Scott and Frankie Muniz.
How Scott has gotten this far is anyone’s guess. He looks like Ralph Macchio in various scenes from “The Karate Kid.” He’s also highly uncomfortable in most situations, which means he’s getting points from fans of “Property Brothers.”
Muniz, the star of “Malcolm in the Middle,” is more difficult to peg. He’s good – if he doesn’t overthink a routine – but he exudes nervousness. If he could find a comfort zone, he might be a threat.
To really see how they’re all doing, each couple was given a former “DWTS” competitor/winner. Kristi Yamaguchi was golden with Stirling; Corbin Bleu was spectacular with Fisher; Alfonso Ribeiro looked sharp with Muniz. Laurie Hernandez overshadowed Arlen; but Rashad Jennings and Kelly Monoco didn’t do anything to help (or hurt) Scott and Owens.
It was fun to see the veterans. What we learned is all contestants – and seasons – aren’t equal.
Give this year’s trophy to Jordan Fisher and move on. The talent pool this year has been fairly shallow.