Hope Scares up a Decent Dance on "DWTS"

Strange things happen on Halloween -- even a “Dancing” dud can deliver a decent dance.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    In this Oct. 17, 2011 photo, soccer player Hope Solo, left, and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy perform in the celebrity dance competition series "Dancing with the Stars," in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/ABC, Adam Taylor)

    Strange things happen on Halloween. All of a sudden there’s a spooky vibe in the air. Ghosts and goblins go door to door looking for sweet treats. And somehow, even a “Dancing With the Stars” dud like Hope Solo can deliver a decent dance.

    Really!

    Coming off the heels of last week’s moody meltdown for Solo’s partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, the soccer star and the pro first hit the floor with a scary samba set to “Werewolves of London.” WereMaks presented fine form, as usual, and while Solo battled some of her typical “Dancing” demons — like arm lines and precision moves — she showed big improvements when it came to timing and basic footwork.

     

    Solo earned a set of matching 8s for her effort. That shows just what a good night it was for her, because not only did she deserve the solid score for that first routine, that wasn’t even the aforementioned nice number.

    No that came later in the night, when Solo and Chmerkovskiy joined Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke, along with frontrunners Ricki Lake and Derek Hough, for a Team Paso group dance. That’s when Solo — and heck, even Kardashian — shined.

    Gone were the athlete’s unsure steps, sloppy lines and not-so-sexy moves. In the paso doble, she suddenly danced with confidence and heaps of sex appeal. Maybe it was just a case of the dancer finally finding the right routine, or maybe it was just because Chmerkovskiy knows how to lead a paso like no one else. Whatever it was, it worked. And not just for Solo.

    While Kardashian’s first effort was an “Addams Family” themed tango that lacked the Cara Mia-driven passion of Gomez, not to mention some of the snappy tango basics, his role in the group dance also impressed.

     

    As for Lake, well, she aced both her routines, but no one would have expected anything less from the ballroom’s reigning leading lady.

    Of course, Lake typically shares the top spot with another hoofer hopeful, J.R. Martinez. Not so this week. While Halloween saw Solo scare up a surprise success, it saw a different sort of scare from the war hero.

    Martinez left his winning ways behind when he hit the floor for an ill-timed tango. Part of the problem could be chalked up to a song that’s nearly impossible to tango to (“Ghostbusters”), and part to clunky choreography. But as was evident when he later took the stage for the Team Tango, Martinez himself was simply having an off night.

     

     

    Oh, well, it happens to everyone. Just ask Nancy Grace. It happens to her all the time.

    In fairness, Grace wasn’t too bad last week. Alas, it seems that was the fluke, though. On Monday night, she went from a low and slow kicking jive to adding her moves to that doomed group tango.

    Rounding out terrible tango action was David Arquette. His contribution to the team effort brought out his worst footwork of the night, not that his earlier cha-cha-cha was really that much better.

     

    By the end of the night, the leaderboard hardly looked recognizable, save the top and bottom spots. Just trailing Lake was Kardashian and Solo, while Martinez barely beat out Arquette and Grace.

    With a shake up like that, one has to wonder what Tuesday night might hold. The season’s been full of shockers, but surely Martinez’s supporters won’t let him down after one bad night. That leaves Arquette and Grace as the most likely two to stand in the red spotlight, and if footwork counts for anything — and it doesn’t always— Grace will go home.

     

    Were you surprised by Hope's improvement and J.R.'s stumble? Share your thoughts on the Facebook page for our TV blog, The Clicker!

    Not surprisingly, Ree Hines preferred WereMaks to WereDerek in the battle of the ballroom wolves. Join Ree and her fellow “Dancing” expert, Anna Chan, for their weekly post-performance live chat Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. ET.