DwtS 4, Week 7: Performance Show

Billy Ray had two chances to impress the judges and fans tonight on Dancing with the Stars, with both a ballroom dance and a Latin dance. But doubling the workload just made it that much harder for him to get even one dance right.

BALLROOM ROUND

Laila Ali & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Quickstep
Song: Stevie Wonder, "Part-Time Lover"

Laila put so much effort into holding the Quickstep’s exaggerated posture that it sapped all of the fun from the performance. It was well-executed, but more mechanical than I’d expect from her.

The judges were much more impressed than I was. Len declared: "The heat’s on tonight, and you’ve turned the gas up." Bruno said, "You have opened the door to ballroom heaven." And Carrie Ann quoted the poet, L.L. Cool J: "Momma said knock you out, and she knocked me out."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…9, Bruno…10 = 29/30

John Ratzenberger & Edyta Sliwinska — Fox Trot
Song: Frank Sinatra, "That’s Life"

John deserves a lot of credit for not relying on Edyta to sell this dance. He used a lot of the floor, but, more importantly, he smiled throughout the dance.

Bruno told John, "You’ve obviously been to dance rehab, because the difference in a week is unbelievable." Carrie Ann said, "I think was your best dance thus far." Len remarked to John, "If I’d have had to take on what you’ve taken on, I would now be in a hospital."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…7, Bruno…8 = 23/30

Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough — Fox Trot
Song: Irving Berlin, "Steppin’ Out"

The performance was smooth, classy, light and fun, and Julianne’s dress was fabulous.

Carrie Ann told Apolo, "Your musicality is what always amazes me." Len, for some reason, was not as impressed as Carrie Ann: "From you, I don’t want good. I want great. And that was in no way great." Bruno objected to Len’s comments: "I don’t see where the badness was."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…8, Bruno…9 = 26/30

Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke — Tango
Song: Bonnie Tyler, "Holding Out For A Hero"

Ian looked uncharacteristically confident in his best performance yet. His former Beverly Hills 90210 castmates Jason Priestley, Jennie Garth, and Tori Spelling were in the studio audience and gave him a standing ovation. I’m sure Shannon Doherty was standing somewhere, as well.

Len said, "It had fire, it had passion, it had drama." Bruno called the performance "the revenge of Ian." Carrie Ann said, "You were smiling. You had the drama. Having fun doesn’t mean you don’t have drama."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…9, Bruno…9 = 27/30

Billy Ray Cyrus & Karina Smirnoff — Waltz
Song: Neil Diamond, "Play Me"

In an attempt to show off his lovely partner, Billy Ray let Karina do all the work and barely moved. He gave the minimum effort possible.

Bruno said, "Most of the time it was like Vanna White at the Wheel of Fortune. You’ve have to put out as much work as she does." Carrie said, "There wasn’t enough content." Len noted, "The trouble was there was only one recognizable step…and it’s a Samba step. But I love you, and I hope you’re back, ’cause I think you’re great."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…5, Len…6, Bruno…6 = 17/30

Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson — Fox Trot
Song: Michael Jackson, "The Way You Make Me Feel"

The remixed version of the Michael Jackson song was strange, but not as strange as the magic tricks Joey performed during the routine. But somehow, the fun, energetic performance worked.

Carrie Ann — "Someone’s finally pulling the stops out." Len liked Joey’s ABC’s: "Attitude, Belief, Confidence," but felt the routine had "a little too much razzle-dazzle." Bruno accused Len of "being difficult for the sake of being difficult," and called the performance "dazzling."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…9, Bruno…10 = 29/30

LATIN ROUND

Laila & Maksim — Samba
Song: Frank Sinatra, "Brazil"

Laila is always at her best in the Latin dances, and tonight was no different. She looked much more joyful than during her first dance — despite her unattractive ruffled lime green dress. The routine ended with a solo by Laila, which allowed the audience to see her ability, without being distracted by Maks.

Bruno said simply, "All the right buttons were pressed." Carrie Ann shouted, "Finally! That was amazing!" Len said, "I just hope your dad’s at home watching this, because he should be so proud of you. Best dance so far tonight."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…10, Bruno…10 = 30/30

John Ratzenberger & Edyta Sliwinska –Rumba
Song: Queen and David Bowie, "Under Pressure"

Because John is old enough to be Edyta’s dad, they tried to play down the sexiness of the Rumba. The resultant performance was slow, and Edyta’s skimpy outfit provided the only excitement.

Carrie Ann told John: "Out of all of the older older gentlemen we’ve had on the show, you are the best mover." Len noted, "The dance is a seductive dance, and you’re not the first older gentleman to try to seduce a younger girl." Bruno said, "Your footwork is improving incredibly."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…8, Bruno…7 = 22/30

Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough — Mambo
Song: Gloria Estefan, "Dr. Beat"

There were plenty of tricks in this routine, but most of them were cautiously executed — another day of practice would have helped. The choreography was good enough that they should revisit this routine in one of the later weeks.

Len said, "It was a very, very good performance. But again, I can’t call that great." Bruno disagreed, and said of Apolo, "He’s selling it with such an ease and aplomb." Carrie Ann told Apolo, "You were a little off this time, and it wasn’t your best. But you are still fantastic."

While waiting for his scores backstage, Apolo told Samantha Harris, "I just wanna see more consistency in the judging."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…9, Bruno…10 = 28/30

Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke — Mambo
Song: Sean Paul, "Gimme The Light"

Ian played up his best attributes tonight. His face was clean-shaven and he wore a shirt with no sleeves for the Mambo. He’s deliberately dancing with a bit more abandon — acting like he just doesn’t give a crap anymore (even though he obviously does) — and it’s really helping his performances.

Bruno told Ian, "This is your night for a breakthrough." Carrie Ann — "Nice attitude shift. It seemed really authentic tonight." Len — "You’ve got great rhythm. You’ve got great hip action. There was a great chemistry between you."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…9, Bruno…9 = 27/30

Billy Ray Cyrus & Karina Smirnoff– Samba
Song: James Brown, "Living in America"

As a throwback to last week, Billy Ray engaged in yet more uncouth pelvic thrusting. And his shoes looked more like motorcycle boots than dances shoes, making his tendency to stomp even more noticeable.

Carrie Ann said, "Somehow you managed to pull it out and get the steps done." Len asked Billy Ray, "You didn’t get those shoes off Master P, did you?" A barely lucid Bruno said, "You managed somehow to pull yourself through the dance without respect of anything."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 21/30

Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson — Jive
Song: Little Richard, "Slippin’ and Slidin’"

Joey Fatone was made for the Jive. It’s the perfect venue for his manic energy, and he got to show off some wicked high kicks. His dweeby sweater vest was a nice touch, too. This was my favorite dance of the evening.

Len quipped, "It was totally ‘N Sync." Bruno called the performance "a smashing showcase of talent." Carrie Ann shouted at Joey, "You’re flexible!"

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…10, Bruno…10 = 30/30

Leaderboard (scores out of 60 possible points):
59 — Laila & Maks, Joey & Kym
54 — Apolo & Julianne, Ian & Cheryl
45 — John & Edyta
38 — Billy Ray & Karina

My vote has to go to Joey & Kym, since they gave my favorite performances in each round. The judges’ scores should make it very hard for Billy Ray & Karina to avoid the Bottom Two, where they’ll be joined by John & Edyta.

If ABC decides to stick with the same show format next season, they need to hold off on having the couples learn two dances per week until there are only five couples left. The nearly two hour long episode felt ponderous by the end — and, frankly, there were only four couples I cared to see dance more than once.