‘Dancing with the Stars’ Fall 2011 Week 4 Recap — Ricki Lake Goes ‘Psycho’, Chaz Bono Rises from the Leaderboard Basement

“Dancing with the Stars” 2011 shimmied closer to Mirrorball-time on October 10 with a fourth week of competitive hoofing. The nine remaining celebrity-professional couples entertained the crowd with dances inspired by a selection of famous movie soundtracks. Did Chaz Bono perfect the Paso and quiet critics? Did Ricki Lake stay on top of the heap or fall from grace? Here’s a peek at who flew with the eagles and who crashed to the cold, hard ground.

Following what can only be described as a truly cheeseball opening segment, the contestants descended into the ballroom and the amped-up “DWTS” band showed off their musical chops with a medley of movie music. And of course, the show Troupe joined them, with an assist by “Dancing” pros Louie van Amstel, Val Chmerkovskiy and Peta Murgatroyd. There were grand skirts, shirtless dudes with light sabers and backflips. For some reason, I felt like I was at Disneyland. Something about the pageantry of it all reminded me of the Mouse’s House.

And then the competition began with singer Chynna Phillips and her partner Tony Dovolani, who were charged with performing a Tango to the theme from “Mission Impossible”. The duo butted heads during rehearsals, with a nervous Chynna struggling to take Tony’s direction. But they ended their pre-taped segment in a good light, with Chynna promising him that she’d try her best to “show up” for the dance.

Their Tango began in exciting fashion, with Tony dangling Tom Cruise-style from the ceiling before joining the ravishing in red Chynna on the ballroom floor. Although she looked the part of the femme fatale, she struggled mightily with the dance. She seemed to overthink her movements, and at serveral points, completely lost her place. It was an uncharacteristically poor performance for Chynna.

Len Goodman began the critique by praising Tony for effectively capturing the essence of the movie and the dance style. But that’s where the praise ended. Addressing Chynna, he said “it all went up the Swanee River” and acknowledged that it was “bitterly disappointing” for her. Bruno Tonioli called her “slash and burn hot, but you lost the plot”. He hoped she’d return next week. Carrie Ann Inaba praised her for not “losing your composure” and hoped to see her come back from the disappointment. Chynna Phillips and Tony Dovolani’s “Dancing with the Stars” 2011 week 4 scores: 7, 7, 7 = 21.

Subpar scores, yes, but it’s also important to note that a) they went first, b) Chynna noted that the music sounded different when played by the big band, and c) Tony injured himself during rehearsals and limped to see Brooke backstage. Hardly an ideal set of circumstances.

Up next was “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” time with none other than actor David Arquette and his partner Kym Johnson. The pair was tasked with mastering the Paso Doble, and David struggled with keeping his form in shape. Kym gave him a pep talk, ensuring him that if they dance for themselves, “we can’t go wrong”. David promised to deliver “passion and life or death intensity”.

David began their Paso in true Indy-style, by swinging from a vine onto the ballroom floor and freeing Kym from a cage. I was impressed. Kym is an extremely strong dancer, but she really made David look like The Man throughout. He’s not the best celeb in the competition and he almost fell at the end of the routine, but it was a decent offering. And he looked confident! Oh, and the audience loved it –they got a standing O!

Bruno declared “I love the way you crack your whip” and noted his “tight muscles and tight pants ready to take us into a wild ride”, but told him to watch his “unsteady” turns. Carrie Ann cited his “incredible amount of bravado” and praised his “new strength and charisma” on the way to saying she loved it. Len said he liked the entry and his attitude, but called the rest “all temple of doom”. He criticized David for “stomping feet… like a farmer walking home through a field” and complained “I never saw the tight buttocks”. Then the judges tussled amongst themselves. David Arquette and Kym Johnson’s “Dancing with the Stars” week 4 scores: 8, 7, 8 = 23.

After a break, the troupe plus Val returned to the ballroom with another pro routine, this one set to “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”. Yep, filler. Nice, but well, filler.

The nearly unrecognizable fashion guru Carson Kressley, channelling the delectable Johnny Depp, was up next with a Viennese Waltz to “The Black Pearl” from “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Carson said he worried about having to be really manly at first, but then realized that pirates are “guys running around in tight pants… looking for jewelry… I think I can handle that”. His partner Anna Trebunskaya wanted to create an adventurous routine without abandoning technique, so the two brought in the sword fighting expert Storm for a lesson.

Say what you want about Carson’s dancing ability, but that boy can kick! Just like last week’s Tango, their Viennese Waltz was all about entertainment. He’s not a great dancer, but darn if he doesn’t have the best time out there strutting his stuff. And he tries so hard that it’s almost impossible to dislike him. Land ho indeed!

Carrie Ann said it was “kind of like being on the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ ride but weirder” and called it his “most butch performance” so far. Len called it “like childbirth: Terrible while it’s happening and a joy when it’s over”. He slammed it for a lack of technique, but called it “great fun” and confessed “if I was at home, I’d be phoning for you”. Bruno declared it was “Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Revenge of the Gay Blade” but criticized them for turning the sword fight into a “cat fight”. Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya’s “Dancing with the Stars” Fall 2011 week 4 results: 7, 6, 7 = 20.

The fourth celeb to shake it during week 4 was legal analyst Nancy Grace. She and partner Tristan MacManus were assigned the Paso Doble set to the tune of “Flash Gordon”. Tristan encouraged her to kick some patootie, and Nancy found her law school experience helpful in working toward style mastery. She asked Tristan if there was a chance that she could kill him in the end. Meh heh heh. Well, that’s the spirit.

Nancy looked pretty darn good out of the gates, swinging her red, gold and black cape around with the best of ‘em. She looked a little off-balance at times, particularly during turns and spins, but she certainly had the intensity down. The way she glared at Tristan was downright scary at times. But the ending? A little awkward. Not sure if it was an error or deliberate.

Len called her dancing “competent” but said it “lacked expression” and had no “real performance” value. Bruno told her to “become a ball-breaker out here” and to “go for it”. Carrie Ann disagreed with the men’s pointed criticisms, saying Nancy deserved credit for her “really solid technique” and for coming out and dancing as one of “DWTS” season 13’s older contestants. Carrie Ann did tell Nancy that she needed to “connect more with the audience” to reach a new level. Back stage, she told Brooke that she thought their Paso was “great”. Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus’ “Dancing with the Stars” 2011 week 4 scores: 7, 7, 7 = 21.

U.S. Women’s Soccer star Hope Solo followed with a Foxtrot set to the “Toy Story” tune “You’ve got a Friend in Me”. She and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who Hope described as “two fireballs”, butted heads during rehearsals over Hope’s need to overthink things. Although she said that his teaching style doesn’t always “gel” with her, she vowed to put her trust in Maks.

Big cute points for the Jessie and Woody get-ups and for the whimsical feel of the dance. Hope had good rhythm and it was really entertaining. She hasn’t been my fave this season, but it was my favorite dance of week 4 to this point.

Bruno called it “so lovely”, “Jessie and Woody, back together again, making sweet music”. Carrie Ann said “it made me smile the whole way through” and praised them for coming up with something viewers “weren’t expecting”. Len was the downer of the bunch. He declared “you could go all the way in the competition” and told the pair to “bond stronger, last longer”. In other words, he wanted them to spend more time “polishing” their routines during rehearsals. Hope Solo and Maks Chmerkovsky’s “Dancing with the Stars” week 4 scores: 8, 8, 8 = 24.

Paso Doble was the word for reality star Rob Kardashian and partner Cheryl Burke, who were assigned the “Superman” theme. Cheryl was very pleased with Rob’s progress over the season, and Rob was pleased with his music, since he identifies with Clark Kent’s unassuming character. Cheryl said that Rob’s hard work would be evident during their Paso. We shall see….

Rob looked confident and cucumber-cool out on the ballroom floor in his suit and glasses. It was a very cute number, but he’s no Gilles Marini.

Carrie Ann appreciated his “ease of motion” in the ballroom and enjoyed his “Superman flavor”. Len said “I didn’t mind it” but “I can’t go into raptures over it like Carrie Ann did” because he didn’t have the power needed to justify the glowing response. However, he liked it. Bruno said “it’s time to leave Smallville and take on the world”. He enjoyed his musicality, but told him to believe in himself and “become more assertive”. Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke’s “DWTS” week 4 scores: 8, 8, 8 = 24. Uh, overscore alert.

Leaderboard topper Ricki Lake and her partner Derek Hough kept things moving along with a Tango set to the theme from “Psycho”. Derek stressed with the “all over the place” nature of the music, and took longer than usual to finish his choreography. Ricki stressed badly during rehearsals, struggling with the technique and panicking, and going so far as saying that she wanted to quit.

They opened their routine in intriguing fashion via shadows. And Ricki looked really nice with her smooth updo and black gown. Very sophistocated, very Hitchcockian. They handled the changes in tempo beautifully and pulled off a really nicely done dramatic piece that ended with Derek stabbing Ricki in the shadows. It was really very well done! I’ve not been a huge Ricki fan, but that was one darn good dance. Derek gets great partners, but he’s the Man.

Len said “you’re like the US mail: You always deliver”. He told her to work on not dropping her chin, but declared “top of the leaderboard, I think so”. Bruno called it “worthy of three sequels” and “an immaculate tribute to the master of suspense”. Carrie Ann simply said “brilliance in the ballroom, done”. Following the dance, Ricki took back her comments about quitting, and said she was “relieved”. Ricki Lake and Derek Hough’s “Dancing with the Stars” week 4 scores: 10, 9, 10 = 29.

“DWTS” season 13’s most controversial contestant, activist Chaz Bono, was up next with a Paso Doble set to the theme from “Rocky”. Chaz said that he’d “loved Rocky” and “wanted to be just like him” as a youngster, and partner Lacey Schwimmer hoped to create a “fierce” routine. Lacey took Chaz to visit Richard Simmons for some extra conditioning. Yeah. So unlike the other contestants, they approached their rehearsal time as a joke. Nice. But anyway.

Boxer Chaz was surprisingly high-energy in the ballroom and showed quite a lot of swagger early on in the routine. He clearly tired as the dance wore on, but the enthusiasm that was absent from last week’s Rumba was back.

Bruno praised him for continuing to fight and get stronger. A tearful Carrie Ann said “somehow you get under my skin and make me root for you” and called him “magical”. Then she drew attention to Cher. Len said “it wasn’t exactly a knockout performance” but it was his best to date. Fair enough. Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer’s “DWTS” week 4 scores: 7, 7, 7 = 21.

With eight performances down, just one remained: A Foxtrot by soap star J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff. The two were assigned the theme from “The Pink Panther”, and Karina pushed him hard, sensing that he has to “potential to go all the way”. J.R. struggled with the formality of the style, so Karina brought pro Nick Kosovich in to show him how to carry himself and lead a Foxtrot.

J.R. was so cute in his pinky-pink suit, and opened the number with a lovely theatrical bit. I don’t know about the technical precision, but it was a fun, theatrical dance, and they made it come alive in admirable fashion.

Carrie Ann said she thought it was “okay” and liked the technique, but said the performance itself fell “a little flat”. She disliked the humor of the routine. Really? Come on! It’s the Pink Panther! The guys had a different take. Len called it “the best male dance of the night” and appreciated the “little tweak of humor” employed. Bruno called him “a dancer of great ability and versatility”. J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff’s “Dancing with the Stars” scores: 8, 9, 9 = 26.

With the show over, the big question remains: Who should get the boot? It’s a tough one. Chynna Phillips really blew it leading off the show, but she’s been good during previous weeks, so she should get a pass. If fairness were the sole guide, Chaz Bono should get the boot, but he won’t. So my near-clueless guess is Nancy Grace. She had a decent performance, but it wasn’t the best –or even nearly the best– of the bunch.

To see who is dismissed, watch the “Dancing with the Stars” week 4 results show tomorrow on ABC. Country crooner Blake Shelton, Britain’s Susan Boyle and former “DWTS” pro Julianne Hough will all perform! Of course, you could always just check in with me to see what happens. You know I’ll be watching.

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