LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Singer Brandy Norwood and dance partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy pose at 'Dancing With The Stars' Season Premiere at CBS Studios on September 20, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
“Dancing With the Stars” celebrated its 200th episode Monday night, so the usual ballroom business took a break. Instead of fillerific clip segments, new routines and tough-talking judges, the dance floor featured familiar faces, somewhat familiar dances and sky-high scores.
Not that those scores had anything to do with the dances. As anyone who witnessed the paddle madness knows, the judges handed out 10s like leftover Halloween candy. Good moves, bad moves — it didn’t matter. It was “Dancing’s” big night, so everyone got a treat. Well, almost everyone.
The first 10 of the night served as the first clue that something wasn’t quite right. After delivering a poor imitation of the perfect paso doble Mel B performed with Maksim Chmerkovskiy in season five, Kyle Massey received raves from the judges, including guest judge Mel B. The Disney channel star landed two 8s, one 9 and one out-of-nowhere 10 from the group despite dancing on his tiptoes with his tush out.
If Massey’s numbers added up to a shocker, it was downright unbelievable to see last week’s last-place dancer, Kurt Warner, get his own 10. But he did, thanks to a good enough tango and his old and oh-so-generous NFL pal-turned-guest-judge Emmitt Smith. Heck, even Rick Fox, who took on the task of recreating Helio Castroneves’ unforgettable quickstep and zoot suit, grabbed his part of the perfect 10 action.
That marked the moment the lofty score lost all meaning.
No offense to the gents, but “Dancing” has a couple of unstoppable leading ladies this season. If whatever the fellas did suddenly passed for perfect, what would happen if Brandy or Jennifer Grey gave a genuinely perfect performance? There’s no 11 in ballroom. If there were, we would have seen it Monday night.
As it happened, leaderboard topper Brandy didn’t disappoint. Her version of Gilles Marini’s feverish foxtrot surpassed the original and fell just short of perfect. Too bad about that one tiny flub. Or not. See, Len Goodman, of grumpy nitpicker fame, saw the flawed footwork and decided Brandy earned a 10 anyway. (Sigh.) Of course he did.
It was much the same for early favorite Jennifer Grey. On the heels of two bad weeks, Grey needed a boost. Good thing she received her commemorative 200th episode perfect 10, along with a pack of 9s, following a respectable rendition of Drew Lachey’s season two tango.
Was it better than Fox’s quickstep? Sure! Could anyone tell that by looking at the scores? Nope!
By the end of the night, only one dancer failed to waltz away with her very own piece of perfection. Bristol Palin brought up the rear with her nod to Kelly Osbourne’s season nine Viennese waltz and had to settle on one 9 and three 8s. Still, a great score for a so-so dance.
Ree Hines gives the judges 5s and the guest judges 4s, but she fears she’s being a bit too generous. Follow @ReeHines on Twitter and share your scores.