There was plenty of excitement in the ballroom on Week 2 of “Dancing with the Stars.” The best news: Both Mr. T and David Ross will live to dance another week.
Perhaps the two most anticipated dances of the night (for Chicagoans, no doubt) were those of actor/former pro wrestler Mr. T and retired Chicago Cubs catcher David Ross.
“Last week I wasn’t concentrating. The judges scored me right [her received a 20 in week one],” said Mr. T in his pre-dance video package before Monday night’s dance with pro partner Kym Herjavec. Reflecting on his life, Mr. T said, “I had to fight my way through so many things — getting out of the ghetto, cancer. I’m a fighter. I don’t run. [Tonight] I’m gonna OWN the dance floor,” Mr. T roared in his signature style. “Look at me now, sucker!”
The duo then danced a Paso Doble to “Eye of the Tiger” (by Survivor) the theme to the film “Rocky III,” Mr. T’s most famous film project to date. Staged and choreographed inside a boxing ring, the dance was full of fury. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba remarked: “Today you hit every step.” In her evaluation of the performance, judge Julianne Hough said, “I could see the intensity and the focus in every single step you did on that floor. I think you’re crushing it!.” The always excellence-demanding Judge Len Goodman praised Mr. T’s efforts, saying: “The spirit of this show, is all about someone who’s not danced coming out doing your best, having a go at it. I salute you. Well done!”
Their score: 22 out of 40. “I wanted to work hard. Kym was pushing it [in rehearsals]. She said come in and own the arena like you’re a matador. It’s better than last week. I feel it was fair. I’m not mad,” a smiling Mr. T said of his scores.
A somber Mr. T later tweeted:
If this is my last Dance, I Thank You on Behalf of "The Kids" Thank You!— Mr. T (@MrT) March 27, 2017
Ross and his pro partner Lindsay Arnold scored a 27 out of 40 for their ’90s-inspired Cha Cha to the strains of “Bust a Move” by Young MC. Ross busted more than a few moves during the routine, owning the dance floor with every step and spin, and rockin’ a very throwback pair of MC Hammer pants. (Last week “Grandpa” scored a 28).
In his pre-dance video package, a smiling Ross, decked out in a fluorescent tank top and shorts remarked: “I’m excited about this song! [in reference to “Bust a Move”] This [song] was all about 7th and 8th grade for me. I was just starting to date my wife. … This just screams give me this dance floor, baby!”
“David showed me some of his moves that he did when this song came out,” Arnold said jokingly, during one of their rehearsals. “It made me realize we had a lot of work to do!”
The celeb voted off the show tonight was former “SNL” star Chris Kattan, who scored a 22 out of 40.
Of Ross’ dancing tonight, judge Julianne said: “In general, you have such charisma. No matter what you do, we’re gonna be rooting for you! I would like to have seen a little more cha-cha.” A smiling Carrie Ann Inaba remarked: “I’m kind of on the fence [about the performance]. I’m thinking, ‘is he gonna be fly guy?’ But then you were not so fly. You came out with great energy but some of those moves were just fun and goofy and had a style we just didn’t get.” Len Goodman advised: You gotta work on your footwork. You’re a little pigeon-toed. You gotta get them out. But in baseball terms, I’m sure you’re past second base heading for third.”
Ross laughed and took it all in stride. He later tweeted:
Bust it! Took it back to the 90's. Need to keep getting better so please vote! 1-800-868-3404… https://t.co/v0zQrTMjAG— David Ross (@D_Ross3) March 28, 2017
Highlights and other happenings from the ballroom:
Nancy Kerrigan and her partner Artem Chigvinstev kicked things off with a cha-cha that did not exactly wow the judges, who pointed out a series of errors. Bruno blamed it on nerves, suggesting Kerrigan work on being more in control and crisp. Their score: 28 out of 40.
In a sad turn of events, pro and “DWTS” champ Maks Chmerkovskiy was out of the lineup tonight following a leg injury during rehearsals Friday with his celeb partner actress/dancer Heather Morris. Rehearsing the jive, Maks suddenly winced in pain as he jerked his leg upward. “It’s not one of those ‘ice it and come back tomorrow’ kind of injuries, he said on Monday night’s show, where he watched from the gallery. He would not elaborate further on the specifics of the injury, adding only that he was flying out of town to “get it looked at.” “DWTS” ensemble member Alan Bersten stepped in to partner with Morris. The score for their very contemporary spin on the jive: 3o out of 40. In his remarks, Judge Len was brutal: “The jive you did I enjoyed, [but] I know you’re a great at hip-hop because you’ve been a backup dancer with Beyonce. I don’t want to see that out here. If you come out … to jive, then jive.” The audience let loose a thunderous chorus of boos.
Erika Jayne and Gleb Savchenko danced a foxtrot that sizzled, according to the judges. Bruno referred to it as a “sextrot” while Len said it was “a Beverly Hills foxtrot, [full of] glitz,glamour and style. (Last week Len referred to her dancing as “too raunchy”.) Julianne remarked: “For me it was the perfect balance of being your true self and your authentic self and the balance of the authentic fox trot.” Their score: 28 out of 40. Adorable moment: Gleb was presented with a pink sequined Onesie from Erin Andrews, in celebration of the news that he and his wife Elena Samodanova are expecting their second child, a baby girl. Their score: 29 out of 40.
Charo and Keo Mostepe charged out of the gate with their fiery paso doble, dancing to one of Charo’s own songs “España Cani.” Judge Bruno called her “a tornado, while Carrie Ann gushed despite noting that Charo was a step ahead of Keo throughout the routine. Charo quickly commandeered Tom Bergeron’s hand mic, laughingly calling out Bruno for having “a terrible accent.” Though she refers to the judging panel as “los cuatro amigos,” the judges were not very friendly in their scores tonight. Charo and Keo earned only a 25 out of 40.
“Bachelor” Nick Viall and Peta Murgatroyd delivered a passable foxtrot, according to the judges’ panel. In their pre-dance video package, Nick remarked that he felt “incredibly dainty,” learning the elegant steps of the dance. During rehearsals, they were visited by Nick’s fiancee Vanessa Grimaldi, and Peta’s infant son Shia (proud papa is dancer Maks Chmerkovskiy; more on him below). The duo danced to ” Love Me Now” (by John Legend) but did not feel much love from the judge’s remarks or scores. Carrie Ann (and the other judges) encouraged Nick to remember to breathe during his routines. Bruno advised Nick to “relax and just let it go.The definition of foxtrot is effortless ease. This was like a rabbit being chased by a fox.” Len felt the dance was “too hectic; there was madness on the floor.” The audience booed loudly and even more so when the couple received a score of 25 out of 40.
Earlier in the evening, prior to what would be his final dance on the competition series, Chris Kattan explained to his partner Witney Carson that 14 years ago, he broke his neck and has since undergone several surgeries. He showed Carson a photo of his spinal x-ray which brought the pro dancer to tears, who then called her partner “fearless.” The injury, Kattan said, was the reason he could not perform many of the moves required in the dances, and that he could no longer do stand-up because of it.
“The reason I’m doing this [dancing] is because I can,” Kattan said in his pre-dance video package. “It’s a comeback, really.”
Injecting a bit of levity into the harsh comments from the judges about the Kattan-Carson film set-inspired jive that eventually ensued (to the strains of “Hey Ya!” by OutKast), judge Bruno said: “It was like watching Marilyn Monroe and Cecil B. DeMented out there.”