Dancing With the Stars: Do The Hustle!

It's week five of Dancing With the Stars, but I don't know how many are left. I don't have the commitment to count the couples and do the math, plus there could be special eps or extra fillers or reunion shows or who knows what all. Basically, I know there's an end in sight, I just don't know when it'll arrive.

Tom Bergeron's breathless intro revealed that some of the contestants have been dealing with the flu, which has knocked the blond guy dancing with Joanna out of commission, so she's got a new pro. He and Lady Co-Host also said that everyone has to dance two dances this week, which is another shameless way to stretch the running time. What's wrong with one dance, or settling it all with a bet?

Update: Ten couples remaining, per Tom. Tonight's ep will feature a group dance, where all the couples get out and do the Hustle. I am running out of jokes to make about this show and its situations, which are so inherently laughable and kind of pathetic there's not a lot to do.

Natalie was up first with a pasodoble set to a hokey cover of "American Woman" that actually made me miss Lenny Kravitz. Next up, with an Argentine tango, was the douchey and off-putting Aaron Carter, who wore what looked like a Marine dress blue coat during one of the confessional interviews and who could not possibly be less interesting. He did an okay job, scoring a 24, but WAIT A MINUTE that's LaToya Jackson in the audience cheering for him. I swear, this show is like being inside a free-associative nightmare. Turns out she's there because on this week's results show, the pros will dance to honor Michael Jackon. Please, please tell me they'll be saluting the artistry, songwriting, and epic vision of Captain EO.

Michael Irvin looked like a stripper dressed as a bullfighter, and unless someone else vomits on their partner or something, I don't see how he makes it. Mya's tango made her look like the one to beat, too.

YOU GUYS. Did you know Donny and Marie still perform in Las Vegas? How is that sad collision of shattered dreams and plastic surgery not its own reality show? Oh yeah, Donny also danced and it was fine, he got a 29 which is pretty impressive, whatever. But guys! Vegas!

Okay seriously, John has pimped the MJ tribute like four times, and now there's rehearsal footage of the tribute. It's starting to feel like CNN coverage of the hearse.

Tonight's vertical integration plug, courtesy of ABC: Castle stars Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic are courtside. It's still shameless (DWTS also-ran Debi Mazar is on this week's ep), but I'm okay with it because I have a crush on Captain Tightpants.

Melissa Joan Hart was fine, and Kelly Osbourne did a cute dance to "Crazy Train," but I think we're all here to talk about the Hustle. Everyone changed into over-the-top 1970s garb that made their usual costumes look tame and classy. (What is it with disco that makes people think it's okay?) But the most obvious parallel is the one between bad, dated dances and bad, dated-feeling reality shows meant to recall the cheeseball vibe of 30 years ago. The old shows were bad, and intentionally so, but this is a knowing rip-off of that, as if an added layer of self-reference can turn kitsch into something smarter. It doesn't. It feels just like what it is: recycled TV. Everything's come full circle, eating itself and serving up the waste as primetime entertainment.

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