Another One Bites the Dust (Episode 2-4A)

Master P and Ashly were finally eliminated. Now, there’s no more controversy to distract from the talented dancers that remain on Dancing with the Stars. But will the dancing be enough to sustain viewers’ attention?

As the results show took on its new, all-live format, there was plenty to do before the eliminated couple could be announced. After a brief look at the previous night’s dances, the judges asked the couple who gave, in their opinion, the most entertaining performance to dance again. We were treated to a reprise of Drew and Cheryl’s Paso Doble. Those “Thriller” hands never get old.

Backstage, Samantha asked Tia, Stacy, and Lisa to critique their performances. It was hard to concentrate on what the women said as George lurked in the background, drawn to Stacy — or, perhaps, to the chance for more airtime. When the camera went back to Tom on the dance floor, he remarked that he thought George was supposed to stay at least 100 feet away from Stacy at all times.

Special guests The Pussycat Dolls performed a lackluster version of their single, “Don’t Cha.” Apart from being currently popular, the Dolls were a strange choice for musical guests. Their act looks like a group of NBA cheerleaders who happen to sing while they gyrate. As Tom said, “I’m guessing they don’t play many weddings.”

Samantha then talked with George, P, and Jerry about their performances. Apparently, George ad libbed several of his dance moves, not because he’d forgotten the routine, just because he felt like it. Jerry said that George lent him butt pads for his performance; whether they were supposed to provide cushioning or merely enhance his behind, only Jerry and George will ever know. When P spoke, he affect an awful Scarface voice, which he persisted in using for much of the evening.

In order to fill the hour, the show augmented the performances and interviews with a couple of interesting pretaped segments. In the first segment, the dancers talked about their pre-show rituals. Athletes are notoriously superstitious, and Jerry has a particular order in which he gets dressed. Like a couple on their wedding day, Tia and Max don’t see each other until the show begins. Others just try to relax. Lisa does yoga. George meditates in his underwear. And Tony and Stacy hold hands while Tony prays; most likely he’s thanking God for the chance to hold Stacy’s hand.

To drag out the suspense of the elimination, Drew & Cheryl and Lisa & Louis were revealed as the first two couples who’d be back next week. Then, professionals Yesenia Adame and Rodrigo Guzman gave an excellent Salsa demonstration. It was fast paced and exciting, as Guzman flipped and spun Adame about while looking like he wouldn’t even break a sweat.

For The Pussycat Dolls’ second performance, eliminated professional Jonathan returned to dance with Anna. The Dolls’ second performance was better than their first, and the song, “Sway,” sounded like a James Bond theme.

After the song and dance number, Samantha was again backstage to ask some of the celebrities how sad they’d be if it was their time to go. George described the experience as the best gift of his life, and P said, in his wretched Tony Montana voice, that he was just happy he got to hang out with his new buddy, George.

In the second pretaped segment, viewers learned how the judges score the performances. Bruno expects high entertainment value, while Carrie Ann wants to feel an emotional connection with the dance. Being more traditional, Len values good technique and a pleasing visual interpretation of the music. He also said he tries to score only on that night’s performance, although Carrie Ann admitted it’s hard to ignore all of the preparation the couples put into each dance.

Bruno tried to break down what the numeric values of his scores mean: 1 is the living dead, 5 or 6 is a slow simmer, and 8 is the boiling point. The rest are varying degrees of hotness. According to Len, to earn a 10, a couple must make no mistakes, have great musicality and technique, and give a “marvelous” performance. All of the judges stressed that their criticism is only meant to help the celebrities improve, not to tear them down. But Len compared dances to Brussels sprouts. Whether you love them or hate them, it’s just a matter of taste.

As the show neared its end, the next three couples safe from elimination were Stacy & Tony, Jerry & Anna, and George & Edyta. That left Tia & Max in the bottom two with P & Ashly.

As Tom dramatically waited to announce who had lost, Max looked at the ceiling, as if he was preparing for an inevitable disappointment. When P and Ashly were eliminated, Max gave the mother of all celebratory fist pumps. Later, Tia said that Max nearly had a coronary, despite the fact that he’s only 26.

There were several video tributes prepared for P and Ashly’s departure, with footage of them dancing and rehearsing, and even a montage of the innumerable times P talked about “the ‘hood.” He gave Ashly credit for being a great teacher, but said they might wind up on Desperate Housewives because of the drama they caused. P even gave Ashly her own pair of P Miller shoes, which she described as very comfortable. Tom took a great jab at P’s tendency to self-promote, telling him, “That’s the longest you’ve gone without a plug.”

This controversial chapter of Dancing with the Stars came to a close when the credits rolled, and P and Ashly danced to the tasteful Queen tune, “Another One Bites the Dust.”

Next week, with only six teams left, all of them will be judged on the same dance: the Samba. Additionally, all of the teams will take the floor at the same time to Salsa. But the highlight of next week may be Friday night’s results show. Bigger than Burt Bachrach and sexier than The Pussycat Dolls (if you’re a 60-year-old woman), it’s special musical guest Barry Manilow! Please, oh please, let him sing “Copacabana!”