What ratings-hungry new rule or revelation does Dancing With The Stars have up its sleeve this week? Well, first off, this week will feature the first ever double elimination, which I suspect means a dance-off between more than just two couples! (Tom sells it: "This means double the drama!). And top of it, we get two dances never before seen on Dancing With The Stars! The dances are called the Argentine tango and the Lindy-hop, and we learn the former is "all about sensuality" (aw, Denise Richards, you missed your big shot by a week), and the latter, similar to the jitterbug, is "all about fun." Let's judge for ourselves:
[All the performances recapped after the break...]
David Alan Grier & Kym Johnson
David & Kym head out to something called "Lindy Groove" to watch "lindy dancers." David, speaking in the third person as "DAG" (which just brings to mind images of Delta Burke and that horrible, quickly cancelled sitcom that bears his initials) wants "connect with the essence" of the Linde hop. He seems pretty enthusiastic about what he sees, though I can't get over the idea that there's an organization devoted entirely to "lindy dancing." DAG brings his enthusiasm to the dance floor, and the dance seems to be the first one to actually suits his personality. Animated and energetic, he even manages some really athletic moves for someone who does at all seem athletic. Carrie gives him the highest props, noting David "is not the youngest cookie in the bunch" and rightfully congratulates him on his flexibility.
Score: 22 (down from 24 last week)
Lil' Kim & Derek Hough
It's the first EVER Argentine tango on "Dancing With The Stars"! Its 15 minutes in, and Tom must have announced this six times. And finally it's here... Derek admits he doesn't know much about the dance, so him and Kim are on equal footing. Their rehearsals are totally endearing, and its evident they are really giving 'er. And while I don't know much about the dance either, if it involves some pretty astounding symmetry, sensual elegance and some crazy-assleg movements, I suspect Lil' Kim & Derek might have really nailed this. An audience-wide standing ovation from the audience seconds this (and, aw, Lil' Kim is crying). As expected, horny-for-Kim Bruno freaks right out, calling it a dozen intense superlatives. But while he certainly liked it overall, Len had some really ill-considered issues with the sensuality. Bruno, Carrie, the audience, and myself, all boo Len down.
Score: 27 (including a 10 - the first of the season - from Bruno!)
Chuck Wicks & Julianne Hough
Ugh. This boring married couple again. What married life-drama will they get into this week? Uh-oh! Chuck has a fear of landing on his head derived from a childhood injury! He gets over it in an edited down minute or two, and they show up on the dance floor dressed in matching 50s waiter and waitress outfits. Their lindyhop is pretty decent (and they didn't even have to go to Lindy Groove), though Chuck's jumps and flips do pail a bit in comparison to his dancer wife, and even DAG, despite Chuck actually being one of the "youngest cookies in the bunch." All the judges want them to "push it further." I'd agree, if I didn't want them to get voted off.
Lawrence Taylor & Edyta Silwinska
Determined-as-hell Lawrence Taylor wants to finally get some 8s this week. And he's gonna use the Argentine tango to get there. But first, he needs to "find the character of tango," and he is really is not looking like he's getting there. So they bring in a male dancer familiar with the dance to give him an example. And the resulting is performance is fine, but it'll probably be hard not to find every Argentine tango a bit on the dull side after what Lil' Kim & Derek brought to it. Lawrence seems a little frightened by Edyta's sensuality (even asking: "will I still be married after this" in the rehearsals), and as cute as it is sometimes, he takes this all ultra-seriously, and sometimes that leaves him a little stiff.
Score: 19 (including a low of a 5 from Len)
Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower
Jewel's husband had his best score ever last week (despite Chelsie taking a bit of a stumble), and he's rearin' to up to ante. Their rehearsals suggests that, with the lindy hop, Ty's upper body strength might be a considerable secret weapon. And is it ever. Their energy blows away DAG and Chuckianne. Chelsie essentially spends half the performance flying up in the air, and Ty's own leaps and bounds are pretty impressive in themselves. "That was so beyond my expectations," Len screams out in a Southern accent. "I gave you a 4 in the first week." He doubles that this week.
Steve Wozniak & Karina Smirnoff
Despite a horrific, horrific 10 (overall!) last week, Steve & Karina didn't even make the bottom four. This was obviously due to some serious fan-love, and Steve doesn't want to let his fans down this week. I wouldn't necessarily call myself a "fan," but I do usually find the man charming in this bizarre way. But their dance this week is exceptionally really weak, with Steve not even trying to keep up with Karina half the time. I was actually kinda bored throughout. The judges hate it, but preface their comments wit their usual "we think you're cute" spiel. I still suspect he's got a few weeks left in him.
Score: 12 (that's actually a 2 point rise)
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani
After being told by Carrie Ann last week that she needed to push herself more, ex-Bachelor dumpee Melissa is determined to do so this week. Her and Tony rehearse their asses off, and she's obviously working really hard, but her all-American-girl-next-door schtick isn't working on me the way it seems to be working on the entire country. Dancing in the linde-hop in a horrible pink and white spotted dress, Melissa brings it, as it expected, flipping all around with considerable ease. But it didn't blow my mind or anything, especially given her Dallas Cowboy cheerleader past. After seeing three other linde-hops, I actually was more impressed with Ty & Chelsie. They get a standing ovation, so I suspect this time I might be in the minority. The judges spew compliment after compliment to a teary eyed Melissa, and give her a crazy-high score.
Score: 29 (officially the highest score of the competition thus far.. I don't get it)
Holly Madison & Dmitry Chaplin
Last week's dance off survivor has injured her ribs, and is whining and bitching her way through the rehearsals for her and Dmitry's Argentine tango. So she goes to the doctor, who tells her its fine and she can keep going (my guess is she did this just to have an excuse when she sucks during performance). She's already wasted half her rehearsal time, and this is a challenging dance. So as per usual, Holly looks dazed and confused on the dance floor, falling off a stool at the start and dragging herself through the rest of it. Len somehow calls it "a good effort," but this is probably just as bad as Steve Wozniak's performance. And Holly doesn't have his fanbase, so I suspect this might be her week to go.
Steve-O & Lacey Schwimmer
Steve-O is overloaded by the complexities of the Linde Hop, and Lacey is worried he's stressing himself out too much. So Lacey buys him a clown costume to help him "lighten up." Somehow they lead us to believe this tactic is totally effective. But on the dance floor, it's clear Steve-O is still being hindered by his injuries. He's really stiff, and while he certainly tries to step it up on a few occasions, he struggles to keep up with Lacey. They remain one of the weaker couples still around, though I'll admit Steve-O's earnestness has won me over. It's clear he REALLY wants to do a good job, and you can't help but feel sorry for him. But, still.. There's only room for one Steve that can't dance and gets by completely on charm. And I feel like Wozniak has the bigger fan base.
Score: 15 (the same as last week)
Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke
The highest scoring team three weeks in a row, Gilles & Cheryl have a lot of work to do if they want to manage a score as high as Melissa & Tony (or Lil' Kim & Derek for that matter). And it appears that Gilles is - like Lawrence before him - struggling to find "the character" of the Argentine tango, and is really worried he's bucking under the pressure. But it's quickly clear his fears were ridiculously unwarranted. They somehow manage to step up Lil' Kim & Derek's tango with an intimate, passionate, sexy tango. Their intensely impressive finale results in the night's third standing ovation, and like Lil' Kim, Gilles gets really choked up by the intense show of approval. Carrie Ann, attempting to catch her breath and drooling all over Gilles (but, hey, you can't blame her), admits she couldn't tell "who was the star and who was the professional." I agree.
Score: 30!! (first perfect score of the season)
Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas
Ending off the night for us is another judge's favorite (and recent newsmaker for having an alleged crazy stalker), Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, who REALLY must feeling the pressure after Gilles' big hot show. Their rehearsals involved the inevitable - Shawn taking Mark to try gymnastics, and Mark coming to "a new level of appreciation" for Shawn after seeing her in her comfort zone. But if there's ever a dance that's going to suit Shawn's gymnast skills, its the Lindy hop. Dressed in matching gym outfits, their performance is full of remarkable flips through the air, certainly putting any of the other lindy-hoppers tonight to shame. However, it does comes across a wee bit excessive, and the actual dancing part seems to suffer. The judges agree.
My predictions for tomorrow night? Holly, Lawrence, Steve-O and Chuck are the bottom four "stars." Holly's gone for sure, but given the special second elimination, I'm less confident about who else. I'm going with Steve-O, only because he made the bottom two the first time around.
What do you think?