To mark the halfway mark of this season's "Dancing With The Stars," our eight remaining contestants are taking on the jive and romba on Monday (April 13). I'm not exactly sure what these dances are, but I do they involve chest-exposing, figure skater-esque clothing.

Full recap after the break...

Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower

"King of the cowboys" Ty announces, after last week's heavily criticized performance, that "when you get bucked off you gotta get back on." And one would think the jive - which I learn is very country-influenced - would very much suit Ty's limited abilities. But while he does his very best to flip and dip Chelsie all over the dance floor, when it comes his turn to make a move or two, he looks like a shy hillbilly forced by his girlfriend to dance at a bar. He spends more time trying to figure out what his partner's doing than anything else. The judges all appreciate that he's trying, but it's a little late in the game to get by on that alone. Cue shots of Jewel trying to look proud in the audience as millions of Americans learn once again that her husband can't dance.

Score: 18 (down 2 from last week)

 

Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas

Shawn & Mark exemplify what a fine line there is between cute and annoying. Both a bit too bubbly for my tastes, but obviously both quite good-natured, it's hard to decide whether I'm rooting for them or not. Tonight's point against: Mark over-excitedly puts together a fake prom to get Shawn in character for the rumba. Apparently, this really helps Shawn and she goes on about how she's 17 and hasn't had her own prom yet. Point for: The actual performance (and an additional half-point for Mark, working his see-through, open shirt), possesses an innocence only these two could pull off.  It still comes across a bit sloppy around the edges, but it manages a standing ovation and some pretty nice notices from the judges.

Score: 26 (same as last week)

 

Lawrence Taylor & Edyta Silwinska

Lucky to still be here after coming in the bottom two against David Alan Grier (who had a much higher score from the judges), NFL "legend" Lawrence is starting to wear on me. Week after week, he struggles to find his character and get into the groove. The producers try and shake up their storyline this week by bringing in some football player friend of his to cheer him up. I don't find any more entertaining, but it seems to make Lawrence really ethusiastic for this week's jive. And, I'll give him this: It was probably the most fluid I've ever seen the man, and for once, he actually looked like he was having fun. The judges all agree, with Bruno calling it his best performance to date.

Score: 22 (up 2 from last week, and their best score yet)

 

Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani

As we are reminded by Tom, last week Melissa ripped her skirt and tripped on it, giving her and Tony their worst score yet (which, mind you, was still a fairly high 25). Tony thinks the rumba is the "perfect" dance for Melissa to make a comeback, and - dressed like tacky figure skaters - the pair certainly manage that. It's an interesting and sensual performance that, as far as I can judge, is the best rumba so far tonight. I've never really been a fan of Melissa (on this show or the twenty minutes I once watched of "The Bachelor"), but I'll admit I was impressed tonight. So was Bruno, who goes on pervertedly about how effortless Melissa's bendiness is. 

Score: 27 

 

Lil' Kim & Derek Hough

Dressed as a sexy cop to Derek's jailbird, Lil' Kim takes clever advantage of her criminal past by turning out a stellar jive set to "Jailhouse Rock" (get it?). They fly around the dance floor with impossible energy, and Kim looks like she is having a blast doing so.

Queen Latifah's in the audience and jumps to her feet in approval, as does everyone else. The judges make a couple obvious, lame jokes playing on the jailhouse theme, but in the end most of them are as enthusiastic as the audience. Carrie Ann basically gets up on the desk, going on about how "mind-blowing" it was, but Len thinks its a tad theatrical (cue a shot of Queen Latifah booing). Certainly my favorite performance of the night so far, and one of the best this season.

Score: 28 (with two 10's from Bruno and Carrie Ann)

 

Steve-O & Lacey Schwimmer

Steve-O, remarkably still here despite never having a score over 18, is giving it a sixth attempt at finding some decent marks.  To do that, Lacey tells him they need to find some romantic chemistry. But Steve-O keeps picking his nose, scratching his ass, and farting ("it smells like mildew," Lacey whines), and this pisses Lacey right off. Their performance might have been more interesting if he'd done any of that on the dance floor. Instead he tries to make up for basically just standing there by making intense, romantic stares at Lacey. Somehow, he gets a standing ovation (which suggests his appeal, also evident in the fact that home voters have kept him here this long), but the judges - rightfully - tear him apart. 

Score: 16 

 

Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke

Last week's shirtless "dance of the bull" further cemented sexpot Gilles' status as the front runner in this competition. But uh-oh, this week Cheryl says Gilles is not "going to be the sexy Gilles." Instead, she wants him to be more goofy. But can't he remain sexy while doing so? He certainly makes an argument he can by coming out in a very exposing leather vest. These two must be drinking whatever Kim & Derek are drinking, because its exhausting just watching their jive. In perfect union, they flip, they kick, and give us some incredible choreography. And while I didn't notice, apparently he screwed up one or two of the moves, leading the judges to actually criticize him this time around, and Gilles does not place in first for the very first time this season.

Score: 26 

 

Chuck Wicks & Julianne Hough

Chuck thinks Julianne's being mean. Julianne's struggling to be both wife and teacher to Chuck. I'm struggling to pay attention. This quickly changes when the two hit the dance floor and Chuck is weating the gayest, most sparkly and sequined opened chest shirt I've ever seen a straight man wear.  Oddly enough, its in this outfit that Chuck comes out as quite the dancer, and the couple finally actually exhibit some sensuality. Grumpy old Len says "it was more suitable for the bedroom than the ballroom," but I actually found myself enjoying Chuck & Julianne for the first time ever in this competition.

Score: 23 (same as last week, and a few points too low in my opinion)

Lil' Kim, Gilles, Shawn & Melissa once again seem like the obvious top four. But who's heading home? I'm saying Ty. Steve-O obviously has a fanbase, even if he's the worst dancer around, but Ty probably doesn't.

 

 

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