Len Goodman said the judges would score harshly on this week’s Dancing with the Stars, and he was serious. The scores ranged from 15 to 28, and quite a few of them were closer to 15.
Len gave a warning to the contestants before the dancing began. He pointed out that last season’s couples practiced an average of nineteen hours each week, while this season’s couples were only averaging thirteen hours of practice time.
"That six hours is the difference between good dancing and great dancing," said Len. And if he didn’t see great dancing tonight, he warned, "My marks will reflect it."
Tom Bergeron, who, week to week, is revealing himself as a closet Star Trek fan, joked that the judges’ paddles "are set on stun."
Laila Ali & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Paso Doble
Song: Georges Bizet, "Les Toreadors" (Done in the style of Semyon Bychkov & Orchestre de Paris)
Maks accepted responsibility for his rulebreaking choreography last week, and the pair made up once Laila flashed her "puppy eyes."
Maks’ outfit was…unusual. He wore a cummerbund and a jacket that was merely a short vest connected to sleeves by epaulets — so there was nothing covering his chest or armpits. Laila wasn’t herself during the performance; she appeared distracted or disinterested. Her technique didn’t seem to suffer, but the routine lacked passion.
All of the judges agreed, noting a lack of fire. Len appreached Laila’s "nice flamenco arms," but said there was "not enough content." Bruno said the performance was "like watching reruns." Carrie Ann said, "Your movements are still a little small. You’ve gotta work on your flexibility and opening up a little more."
Judges’ Scores: Carrie…7, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 21/30
Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough — Waltz
Song: Simply Red, "If You Don’t Know Me By Now"
Apolo was concerned about the Waltz: "It’s slow and older. I’m not sure we have the maturity for the Waltz, but we’re sure gonna fake it."
Apolo and Julianne looked stunning in a brown suit and ivory dress, respectively. They captured the romance of the dance, and I totally bought it. It was my favorite Waltz of the evening.
Bruno called them "the crown jewels of the competition." Carrie Ann called Apolo over for a high five, "That was so romantic. Woo!" Len wasn’t as enthusiastic as his cohorts: "Learning the routine is not the end of it. It was riddled with footwork. Your head when you’re in hold is supposed to be to the left. Yours was to the right."
Tom was forced to break up an argument between Len and Bruno by asking the former, "From a British perspective, are your knickers in a twist or something?"
Judges’ Scores: Carrie…9, Len…8, Bruno…9 = 26/30
Leeza Gibbons & Tony Dovolani — Paso Doble
Song: Bon Jovi, "You Give Love A Bad Name"
Leeza has taken Bruno’s "tramp" advice to heart. To prove what a bad girl she is, she and Tony trained with ultimate fighter Randy Coture. Samatha Harris (looking stunning in a midnight blue gown and shoulder-length ‘do), later asked Leeza what I really wanted to know: how the hell does she know Randy Coture? Leeza didn’t say.
Dancing to "You Give Love a Bad Name," Leeza was decked out in black leather, like she was going to a biker bar after the show. But for all of the surface badassery, the dance was ponderous. As much as she wants to do this, Leeza just isn’t making progress.
Carrie Ann tried to be constructive: "Not so good this week. You looked awkward on your heels. You’ve gotta start moving your body more." Len had one thing to say, three times: "Dull, dull, dull." Bruno said Leeza’s performance was the "diet version" of what should’ve been a "juicy steak."
Samantha always reminds the at-home audience to vote after each couple performs, and she had her most kick-ass moment ever after Leeza & Tony’s dance: "If you think they gave the Paso a good name, then don’t let them go down in a blaze of glory." A double dose of Bon Jovi references! Samantha, you are my hero… for now.
Judges’ Scores: Carrie…6, Len…5, Bruno…5 = 16/30
Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke — Waltz
Song: Shirley Bassey, "He Was Beautiful"
Despite the fact that he’s almost 20 years older than Apolo, Ian was having the same problem with the maturity of the Waltz. Cheryl complained, "I need more Fred Astaire and less Goofy."
Their performance was solid, but it wasn’t as romantic as Apolo & Julianne’s. Also, Cheryl’s nearly waist-length hair extensions were a bit distracting. Still, I don’t think that this couple has it in them to give a poor performance. Slow and steady wins the race.
Len called the performance "a really, really good Waltz." Carrie Ann said, "You’re not breathing, and that’s why you get stiff and you lose your balance and your footing so often." Bruno told Ian, "You started like Mr. McDreamy, but sometime you went to Mr. McStiffy." He then protested ignorance of any sexual connotations that could be read into that remark.
Judges’ Scores: Carrie…7, Len…9, Bruno…8 = 24/30
John Ratzenberger & Edyta Sliwinska — Paso Doble
Song: Queen, "A Kind of Magic"
In honor of thier song, John portrayed a wizard "taking someone out of the swamp and turning them into a beautiful bird." I would’ve been more impressed if they had paid tribute to Highlander — the movie from whence the song came — and John portrayed The Kurgan.
Edyta looked gorgeous, as she always does, and that was the only good thing about this performance. John’s dancing was sloppy and plodding, and the choreography was forgettable.
Bruno summed up the performance: "Obviously the magic backfired tonight, and it turned into a curse." Carrie Ann confessed, "I was confused. I couldn’t tell if you were being funny, or if you were really trying and it just wasn’t working out so well." Len said, "I think you were going for humor, because you made me laugh a lot."
Judges’ Scores: Carrie…6, Len…5, Bruno…5 = 16/30
Clyde Drexler & Elena Grinenko — Waltz
Song: Johnny Cash, "Foolish"
Apparently, Clyde isn’t very motivated to practice. He’s routinely late for training, and while he’s there, he spends most of his time yawning.
His lack of intensity was obvious in his performance. Everything was sloppy, and it wasn’t romantic at all. It looked more like a father dancing with his daughter — and the daughter danced circles around Dad.
Carrie Ann asked Clyde, "Are you aware that there are different styles for each dance? Because it’s not showing up on the floor." Len said, "Clyde, in my opinion, you’re not even giving it your best shot. He’s just walking through the dance." About the dance, Bruno quipped, "There’s more romance between Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell."
After taking that beating, Clyde offered to give Len a beating of his own after the show.
Judges’ Scores: Carrie…6, Len…4, Bruno…5 = 15/30
Billy Ray Cyrus & Karina Smirnoff — Paso Doble
Song: Ram Jam, "Black Betty"
At first, Billy Ray was almost as difficult in practice as Clyde. But when Karina finally broke down in tears (after Billy pretty much refused to bend his knees), it was just the motivation Billy Ray needed to buckle down and learn his moves.
Dancing to Ram Jam’s Southern rock hit "Black Betty," Billy Ray had a sort of clumsy Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse swagger in his performance. His technique will never be great — it may never even be good — but BRC is growing on me.
Len was appreciative of Billy Ray’s efforts: "You did the most practicing this week of all the couples…. I can see some improvement, and I can see that you’re giving it your all." Bruno said, "You really went for it, like a mad bull in Pamplona." Carrie Ann captured the spirit of the performance: "That was oddly awkward, and sexy, and hot, and strange all at once, but I loved it."
Judges’ Scores: Carrie…7, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 21/30
Heather Mills & Jonathan Roberts — Waltz
Song: Dolly Parton, "Sandy’s Song"
Heather admitted, "I’m absolutely rubbish at the Waltz." The dance’s slow, consistent pace actually makes it harder for her to balance on her prosthesis than during the faster dances like the Jive.
Heather’s white dress with green beaded bodice-work was beautiful. While she didn’t look as steady on her feet this week, the performance was still solid, with a few nice spins. Like Ian & Cheryl, I have a hard time imagining this couple giving a truly bad performance. Jonathan is great at coming up with choreography that doesn’t just work around Heather’s disability; it all but disguises the fact that she even has one.
Bruno gave Jonathan credit for crafting "such beautifully thought dances," and he complimented Heather for improving her posture and hand position. Carrie Ann disagreed and told Heather, "This week wasn’t as good. Your shoulders were up. Your neck was a little bit awkward. I think you can do better." Len was kinder, saying, "I thought overall you did a great job
Judges’ Scores: Carrie…7, Len…8, Bruno…8 = 23/30
Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson — Paso Doble
Song: James Horner & Simon Rhodes, "Collecting the Ballots"
After dancing to Star Wars last week, Joey vowed, "No gimmicks. Straight Paso Doble."
He and Kym did just that. Their costumes were more Medieval Times than mud-covered peasants, but the routine itself was very straight. By avoiding gimmicks, Joey was able to show off what a talented dancer he is — and the great relationship he has with his partner. Celebrity audience members Lance Bass, Alfonso Ribeiro, and Reggie Miller gave the performance a standing ovation. If it’s good enough for Carlton Banks, then it’s good enough for me.
The judges were equally enthusiastic. Carrie Ann shouted, "You were on fire tonight! That’s what a Paso Doble should be." Len said, "You really captured the flavor of that dance. It was the best Paso of the night by a mile." Bruno agreed, "You were right on it."
Judges’ Scores: Carrie…10, Len…9, Bruno…9 = 28/30
28 — Joey & Kym
26 — Apolo & Julianne
24 — Ian & Cheryl
23 — Heather & Jonathan
21 — Laila & Maks, Billy Ray & Karina
16 — Leeza & Tony, John & Edyta
15 — Clyde & Elena
My vote tonight went to Joey & Kym. They were, by far, the best. Although I may throw a couple of insurance votes toward Laila & Maks.
There’s a very good chance that Leeza & Tony will make a repeat visit to the Bottom Two, and if they’re not joined by Clyde & Elena, audience voters need to reexamine their voting criteria.