Tia, Tia, Full of Grace (Episode 2-4)

Tonight’s episode of Dancing with the Stars was action packed. Zorro made an appearance, and the Paso Doble was danced to 80s hits by Michael Jackson and Europe. Were she alive today, my mom would’ve said it was a real “Thriller.” Actually, she is alive. I just haven’t called in a while.

It was bound to be an interesting night, as it was the first chance since last Friday for anyone on the show to react to Master P’s continued presence. He’s managed to outlast two good dancers in Tatum and Giselle, largely because voters have felt sorry for him. Samantha Harris had to do most of the dirty work for the show’s producers, addressing the P Problem in several of her backstage interviews. And the judges didn’t hold back, trying to make it crystal clear why pity votes do not make for a good dance competition.

Tonight’s featured dances were the Fox Trot and the Paso Doble. According to judge Len Goodman, the Fox Trot should be an elegant dance filled with gentle rises and falls. The Paso Doble is the most theatrical dance in ballroom, best known thanks to the fantastic film, Strictly Ballroom. In the Paso Doble, the man must portray the arrogant, macho matador and the woman acts as his cape.

George Hamilton and Edyta Sliwinska: During the training footage from earlier this week, George talked about wanting to focus more on his dance technique and less on gimmicks during the performance. He then proceeded to perform the Paso Doble dressed as Zorro. It was a nice nod to his most famous role as the lead in Zorro, the Gay Blade. Also, ABC’s parent company, Disney, will release The Legend of Zorro on DVD on Tuesday. But I’m sure that’s a coincidence.

Because he was holding a sword and wearing a mask, it was all but impossible to notice George’s attempts to execute his moves with better technique. Carrie Ann pointed out that the mask worked against George by hiding his facial expressions. But, Bruno noted, George and Edyta’s performances have been consistently entertaining. Hopefully it was entertaining enough to keep them from being the next victims of P’s misguided fans.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 7, Len – 7, Bruno – 7. Judges’ Total = 21/30

Tia Carrere and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Tia and Max took time out from their training in New York City to watch some of the students from Max’s studio. The talent of the teenaged students, one of whom looks like mini-Max, pushed Tia to train even harder for the Fox Trot. It’s easy to see how a strong background working with children has helped Max turn Tia into a beautiful dancer in a matter of weeks.

For the performance, Tia wore a beautiful sequined dress and Max donned a newsboy cap. Apparently, the Fox Trot is the most appropriate dance for portraying a class struggle. Early into the dance, Tia missed a step, causing her to curse and making Max laugh. When the judges pointed out the misstep, Tia joked, “I thought I covered it.” The rest of the dance was elegant, prompting Bruno to call her, “Tia, Tia, full of grace.”
Scores: Carrie Ann – 9, Len – 8, Bruno – 8. Judges’ Total = 25/30

Master P and Ashly DelGrosso: Any sympathy that voters had for Master P was misplaced, and Ashly confirmed it when she said he doesn’t understand how much you need to train to be a successful ballroom dancer. The Paso Doble is particularly difficult because of its acting component. Like the other couples, P and Ashly took a trip out of the studio. They went to Utah to meet Ashly’s huge family (insert polygamy joke here). P did get in a good jab when he said one of Ashly’s training methods was to make him wash her car, Mister Miyagi style.

The performance itself was more of what we’re used to. P made some efforts not to shuffle his feet, and he did wear shoes other than his black sneakers. But everytime Ashly rolled out of his arms, he jerked sideways with her, and he didn’t include any of the facial expressions needed to sell the dance. As always, he seemed so afraid of looking stupid that he didn’t go all the way with the moves, which looked worse than if he would’ve really tried.

Len deserves a lot of credit for not softening on his position from last week. He again called for P to go, saying that P dances like his heart isn’t in it. Len said that for the voters to keep P around amounts to torture for everyone involved, especially Ashly, who deserves better. Bruno described the dance as a nightmare that he couldn’t even judge properly, because, as Carrie Ann noted, there’s no Paso Doble without a matador.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 4, Len – 2, Bruno – 2. Judges’ Total = 8/30

Things got even worse for P and Ashly after they received their scores. Samantha questioned P’s commitment to the show, citing as evidence the fact that he’s only trained 20 hours since the show began, while everyone else has trained around 150 hours. P deflected the question, saying that the judges were hung up on his refusal to wear dance shoes and that “only God can judge me.” He then did the most despicable thing he could have done: he tried to promote his new album. If that doesn’t show his sympathizers why he’s really in this, I don’t know what will. Maybe it would help if God parted the clouds tomorrow and held up a card with a giant “2” on it.

Stacy Keibler and Tony Dovolani: Feeling exhausted after weeks of training, Stacy and Tony indulged in a spa day. The camera panned slowly across bubbles in a bathtub to reveal who lounged inside it. It was a smirking Tony, who quipped, “You thought you were getting Stacy.” Tony and Stacy’s Fox Trot was lovely and highlighted the details, like hand positions and extension, that put Stacy’s dancing well ahead of the other female celebrities. After a smoke machine malfunction caused smoke to billow after the dance ended, Len acknowledged that Stacy has talent that can’t be taught.

Backstage, Samantha asked the couple if they were worried about being eliminated, despite a great performance. Stacy asked viewers for their votes and pointed out that everyone in the room with her was working hard and deserved votes. Master P and Ashly were nowhere to be seen.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 8, Len – 9, Bruno – 9. Judges’ Total = 26/30

Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke: To help Drew train for his role in the Paso Doble, Cheryl brought in Matador Dennis Borba. Matador Borba cultivated the arrogance Drew would need to meet his biggest challenge yet: dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The song distracted from the great dancing, until Cheryl and Drew busted out some of the dance moves from the “Thriller” video. Doing the creepy hands from the video sent the audience, including Drew’s brother Nick, into a frenzy, and Carrie Ann appreciated the nod to the video. Bruno, who’s judged two American versions of DWTS and three British versions, said that this was the best Paso Doble he’d seen in five seasons. The only criticism came from Len, who said that Drew’s posture was “a bit queer,” although he meant it in the British way, not the American way.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 9, Len – 9, Bruno – 10. Judges’ Total = 28/30

Jerry Rice and Anna Trebunskaya: Anna was a little miffed at Len for calling Jerry “geriatric” last week. She said Len must’ve learned the word at his last doctor’s, visit since he’s probably 102 years old. Jerry was the only male celebrity to dance the Fox Trot, and to help him move more gracefully, Anna took him to a ballet class taught by Batman, judging by the size of his codpiece. Their performance was great, and Jerry looked like a gentleman in his grey suit. Bruno’s seemingly innocent critique that Jerry watch his posture provoked a furious backlash from Len and Carrie Ann, both of whom felt Jerry made dramatic improvements from last week.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 8, Len – 8, Bruno – 8. Judges’ Total = 24/30

Lisa Rinna and Louis van Amstel: Lisa’s busy schedule requires Louis to be available to train whenever there’s a free moment. Apparently, it also requires that Louis make lunch for Lisa’s kids before he helps drops them off at school. But Louis has become a member of the Rinna-Hamlin household, and the kids join in on rehearsals as Harry watches, spouting legalese and holding a Gorgon head.

As the only female celebrity to dance the Paso Doble, the pressure was on Lisa to execute her performance in the role as the matador’s cape. She did so beautifully, despite the fact that they danced to “The Final Countdown” by Europe. The judges unanimously praised her for going all out, and Bruno feared that she might actually eat Louis. The ever enthusiastic Lisa screamed and jumped for joy, alternately hugging Louis and Tom Bergeron.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 9, Len – 9, Bruno – 8. Judges’ Total = 26/30

1 – Drew and Cheryl
2 – Stacy and Tony, Lisa and Louis (tie)
4 – Tia and Max
5 – Jerry and Anna
6 – George and Edyta
7 – Master P and Ashly

The results show moves to its all live format tomorrow, complete with two performances by musical guests The Pussycat Dolls, and an extended interview with the eliminated team. Will voters finally come to their senses and stop rewarding Master P for not trying?

My vote tonight: George and Edyta. They seem most in danger of becoming P’s next victims, so a vote for George and Edyta is the closest we can get to a vote against Master P.