Monthly Archives: April 2007

DwtS 4, Week 6: A Second Opinion

The seven remaining couples treated this week’s viewers to a veritable smorgasbord of dance routines. However, the diverse mixture exerted little impact on the hierarchy of the leading pairs, who continued to sashay their way towards a rendezvous with the winner’s trophy. Here’s my two cents worth on the Week 6 Performance Show.

TAKE THE LEAD

Apolo & Julianne
Another golden performance from the front-running duo. Apolo’s Rumba was romantic, sensuous and wonderfully creative. Julianne’s innovative routine virtually wiped Tucker Carlson’s chair-dancing fiasco right off the map.

I love the fresh material that Julianne brings to the dance floor. And Apolo’s clean performance, competent execution and relaxed attitude are a real pleasure to watch. I particularly enjoyed their split leg lift.

This couple’s contagious chemistry and beautiful artistic rendition of the Rumba was mesmerizing. Whenever I watch this team I feel like I’m observing a dance couple and not the collaborative efforts of a celebrity and professional.

Although Apolo’s Rumba received the same score as Laila’s Cha Cha, I have to give this pair a marginal edge over their closest competitors. I loved the entire routine, its seamless transitions from a stationary chair position to forward footwork movement, and its total integration of the chair prop. This duo is definitely on an Olympic quest to bring home Apolo’s sixth gold.

Maks & Laila
A funky Cha Cha Cha from the Comeback Queen. Laila’s shimmering gold dress was a fitting statement for this pair’s golden performance. Their routine was cheeky, sharp, and fun. Laila did a great job in her execution of the Cha Cha. She was confident, polished, and totally commanded the floor.

However, I completely support Len in his recommendation that she leave the choreography to Maks. I did not enjoy Laila’s "funky" contribution to the number. While her personal touch may have introduced the "Laila" factor, I felt that it spoiled the fluidity and professionalism of their performance, and would have been more appropriate in a free dance routine.

Still, this duo’s Cha Cha was easily one of the top two routines of the evening and leaves this royal pair well positioned for occupying victory lane.

Joey & Kym
An exuberant, swashbuckling performance from the trimmed-down Fat One. Joey’s Samba was strong, manly, and entertaining (no thanks to Jerry Springer’s coaching). Even though the routine fell slightly short of the perfect 10s for which he was aiming, Joey’s number was well received by the judges.

While I applaud his swiveling hips, shimmying shoulders and intricate, floor-covering footwork, I was not a fan of Joey’s samba rolls, his one-legged swiveling or his short pants. I especially disliked him mouthing the words of the song while dancing.

Still, despite my criticisms, I readily admit that Joey’s routine was well executed and merited high marks — just not as high as those he was awarded. This duo’s dance was not my favourite, but it was clearly good enough to secure them a top three placement.

Joey’s competitive spirit and well-rehearsed performances should continue to ensure that this team remains in contention all the way to the final heat.

CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER

Ian & Cheryl
Another solid but uninspired performance. Ian’s lackluster Paso Doble contained some skillful technical elements, but lacked the showmanship zing that the judges have been begging him to bring to the dance floor.

While his polished footwork and well-synchronized steps draw a modicum of praise from the judging panel, Ian’s inability to channel some genuine intensity, passion, or joy into his performance is seriously compromising his continued presence on the show. His poor posture, unpopular arm movements, and lack of clean lines are merely accelerating Ian’s potential for a crash and burn exit.

The viewers (like the judges) want Ian to let loose and give us that breakout performance that we all believe he can achieve. Unfortunately there may not be enough laps left in this race for Ian to rev up his engine, overcome his inhibitions, and regain the inside track. So far, Ian’s dancing doesn’t exhibit the winning attitude that a top contender requires.

John & Edyta
An un-mambolicious performance from the resident Dark Horse. John’s Mambo may have been reasonably entertaining, shown good musicality and included some decent footwork, but it had virtually no hip action. For a dance that, according to Edyta, is all about hips and feet, this missing ingredient equates to almost half of the required dance elements. However, John effectively compensated for his mostly stationary hips with an energetic performance and good floor coverage.

John is enjoyable to watch and his infectious attitude goes a long way in selling his routine to the audience. Unfortunately, I’m doubtful that this pair will manage to repeat their escape from the curse of the Bottom Two.

Considering that John was a last minute entry in the competition, I think that he’s done a commendable job on the show. Should this pair be handed their pink slip on Tuesday night, I suspect that he will gracefully and Cheerfully bow out of the field (so long as he gets credit for being the originator of the "Ruptured Duck" dance step!) .

DEAD MAN WALKING

Heather & Jonathan
An unexciting routine from the Transatlantic Travelers. Heather’s Paso Doble visibly lacked the electrifying passion that I associate with Evita’s principal character, the vibrant Eva Perón.

This number contained few praiseworthy or enjoyable elements. Too many of the dance movements appeared awkward, jerky and artificial. Heather’s bland facial expression failed to communicate any drama, sensuality or fire, and I totally disagree with Bruno that she captured the spirit of the dance.

Heather was another one of tonight’s competitors who opted to mouth the words of the song, a practice that I found incredibly irritating. I was also unimpressed with her flamenco hand action and weak upper body movement.

The only drama I felt from this couple came from Jonathan’s performance, not Heather’s. I doubt that viewers were as enamored with this routine as the judges would have us believe. Heather may soon be able to set her watch back to London time, since I don’t expect she’ll be around for next week’s curtain call.

Billy Ray & Karina
An entertaining, albeit technically deficient, effort from Billy Ray. Since voters refuse to liberate Karina from the onerous task of coaching and choreographing this challenging celebrity, she has made the radical decision to free herself. In Monday’s Jive Billy Ray delivered a highly personalized, gimmick-laden number that included such groundbreaking moves as "Who’s your Daddy" and the "Bubba Chicken."

Although Len managed to identify a few legitimate dance steps in the mix, the judges’ overall consensus was that Billy Ray’s routine was heavy on performance and relatively light on conventional Jive moves.

In his defense, I have to agree that Billy Ray offered up an entertaining routine — much more pleasing that his past selections. However, he is not a dancer and his entertainment contribution and dance ability falls well below that of all the other remaining celebrities in this competition. Although Billy Ray deserves to permanently roll on down the road in his Chevy love mobile, I have an inkling that he’ll be around next week for another tune-up!

GROUP SWING DANCE

The celebrities’ swing dance practice footage was almost as entertaining as their live group number. But with all of the activity happening on the dance floor, I found it extremely difficult to evaluate the couples.

Some of the standout elements that I observed included the following: Apolo’s leapfrog jump over Julianne; John’s awkward upside-down lift/promenade with Edyta draped down his back; Laila’s lift of Maks and hilarious lift-spin of Apolo; Ian’s back-to-back somersault shoulder rollover of Cheryl; and Joey’s fabulous lift sequence with Kym.

The quality of the footwork sections of the routine varied wildly from couple to couple and the overall impression was, as Heather aptly described, "organized chaos". At least there were no embarrassing falls, collisions, or injuries (at least on-air). And the outfits, both male and female, were delightful!

 

Ox Notes: April 23, 2007

DwtS News
People caught up with Ian Ziering’s 90210 castmate Gabrielle Carteris after the Performance Show, and she raved about Ian’s taut backside. And Joey Fatone’s been keeping in touch with the guys from ‘N Sync. Justin Timberlake even held up one of his concerts so that he could watch Joey’s first performance.

Yesterday, on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show, Heather Mills said she won’t be surprised if this is the week she’s voted out.

According to last night’s TV ratings, the final half-hour of Dancing with the Stars didn’t seem to suffer from the return of Heroes.

Leno’s Big Catch
Sig & Edgar Hansen, stars of The Deadliest Catch, are scheduled to appear on tonight’s episode of The Tonight Show. I’m not sure how Jay Leno will handle it if (when) Sig & Edgar try to smoke during their interview.

Discovery’s Deadliest Catch fan page has a crab fishing game that looks a bit like a Bering Sea version of The Oregon Trail. Let’s see how the crew likes it when I put them on a grueling pace with "bare bones" rations.

Gooooooaaal!
Today and tomorrow are two of the rare days when European soccer makes an appearance on American basic cable, so I’m about to go park myself in front of the TV and watch AC Milan play Manchester United on ESPN2. The UEFA Champions League semi-final round continues tomorrow with Chelsea vs. Liverpool. I’m hoping to see big things from the super-tall Liverpool forward, Peter Crouch.

DwtS 4, Week 6: Performance Show

This week’s Performance Show was a solid offering that didn’t offer any major surprises. The top couples earned more high marks, and the bottom couples weren’t able to gain any ground. The highlight of the show was a lift involving Laila — and she was the one doing the lifting.

Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson — Samba
Song: Erasure, "A Little Respect"

After Judge Len Goodman called him "feminine" last week, Joey wanted to make sure he looked extra manly this week. Kym brought in the manliest guy she knows — Jerry Springer — to inspire Joey. Jerry’s motivational technique? Taking off his shirt and flexing his muscles.

Dancing to a Samba-fied version of the song, Joey displayed his manliness with a number of pelvic thrusts. Joey & Kym are really finding a nice balance in their performances, creating routines that are fun without being silly. This performance was very enjoyable.

Len told Joey, "You’re a beauty," and called him "swashbuckling," despite his "hoppy" voltas. Bruno said,"You went for it like a randy fighting cockerel," whatever that means. Carrie Ann said, "You’re insane, and that reads so well."

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

Heather Mills & Jonathan Roberts — Paso Doble
Song: Andrew Lloyd Webber, "Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina"

Heather & Jonathan have to commute to and from England, now that Heather’s daughter is back in school, forcing them to miss rehearsal for the Group Swing routine. To avoid jet lag, they practiced on L.A. time, which meant practicing in their London studio at 1 a.m.

The Paso-remixed version of this song wasn’t great, and Heather’s dramatic lipsyncing was a little silly. Heather must not have heeded Carrie Ann’s advice to take ballet lessons, because her upper body was still weak, making her moves look unfinished.

Bruno, in the show’s first reference to Heather’s tabloid troubles, said, "It was so dramatic. And I know you know a thing or two about drama." Carrie Ann told Heather, "I’m still missing something here from you," pointing to her shoulders. Len said, "I loved the opening. I thought you had great passion and fire."

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

John Ratzenberger & Edyta Sliwinska — Mambo
Song: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, "Mambo Swing"

In practice, John said he was proud to have lasted this long: "It’s nice to rise to Edyta’s challenge. She’s not giving me easy steps." Edyta promised, "Our Mambo is gonna be… Mambolicious."

For a guy who’s a bit top-heavy, John is surprisingly light on his feet. It may not have been a technically perfect routine, but it was nice to see him smiling at Edyta as they danced. It was my favorite performance from him yet, and John’s former Cheers castmate George Wendt was in the audience enjoying it, too.

Carrie Ann was complimentary, if a bit dismissive: "It was cute. You look a little like a little dancing teddy bear." Len appreciated that John’s finally having a good time, but said, "The actual routine was awful. He waddled out like a ruptured duck." Bruno told John,"You’ve been a great sport, but it was really like the owl and the pussycat tonight."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…6, Bruno…6 = 19/30

Laila Ali & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Cha Cha Cha
Song: Sam & Dave, "Hold On! I’m Comin’"

While they were creating this week’s routine, Maks was going for "cheeky," while Laila wanted something "funky." She said she’s done doing only what Maks wants, and she insisted on taking a more active role in the choreography.

They performed a fun Cha Cha with a funky breakdown at the end, including Laila’s favorite move, "The Butterfly." Laila’s contributions worked well enough, and her personality really came through in the dance. It was a step in the right direction.

Len said, "That was pure gold. Your bit at the end there that you choreographed wasn’t really my cup of tea. I didn’t want the funk part." Bruno was much more enthusiastic: "You are turning into a magnificent obsession. It was a little Tina Turner going there at the end." Carrie Ann said, "I thought that was fantastic," and reminded Laila, "Eyes up when you dance."

Samantha Harris interviewed the couple backstage while waiting for the judges to prepare their scores. Evidently, someone in production fed Samantha the scores too early, and she announced Laila’s score before the judges did. She quickly sent it out to the floor, where the judges just smiled and held up their paddles.

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

Billy Ray Cyrus & Karina Smirnoff — Jive
Song: T. Rex, "I Love to Boogie"

In response to harsh criticism from the judges last week, Karina gave up trying to make Billy Ray into a good dancer: "This week, I don’t want Billy Ray to worry about technique or doing it properly. I just want him to have fun and enjoy himself."

So she let him do some of his own choreography. "That’s funny. Let’s do that!" he shouted as he did some hip-thrusting-while-hopping maneuver. Karina admitted, "It’s hard for me to accept that I’ve made peace with the fact that our Jive is not going to score 10s this week for technique."

The result was hideous. The routine was supposed to be fun, but came off as foolish. Moves that were supposed to be cheeky became overtly sexual. At one point, Karina flipped upside down, and Billy Ray spread her legs and looked right at her crotch. If they wanted to look like they don’t care anymore, then they succeeded.

The judges were more forgiving than I was. Bruno said, "The crazy bear has been let loose at a cheerleading convention tonight." Carrie Ann joked, "If you can’t get the steps, make up your own dance." Len told Billy Ray, "Whatever you lack in dance ability, it is always entertaining, and I love to watch you."

After receiving their scores, Billy Ray said, "I want an 8 so I can go home." That’s a winning attitude.

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

Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough — Rumba
Song: Gwen Stefani, "Cool"

Because of Apolo & Julianne’s oft mentioned brother-sister relationship, he was having trouble taking such a sexy dance seriously. So Julianne brought in her brother and fellow dancer, Derek, who talked about having had to perform a romantic Rumba with Julianne himself. Apolo may have felt better after a Derek’s pep talk, but I sure didn’t. I was so creeped out, I almost refused to talk to my own brother when he called tonight.

Apolo began the performance seated in a chair (a move that doomed Tucker Carlson), but he and Julianne managed to incorporate the chair throughout the routine. It was probably the best example of prop integration ever on DwtS. Julianne never cheats on the choreography, and Apolo is always able to execute.

Carrie Ann said, "I thought that was beautiful. The choreography was fantastic." Len didn’t like how much they relied on the chair, but Julianne explained, "We didn’t want to just use the chair in the beginning and just leave it there." Bruno said, "That was a choreographed poem to me," while Len continued his protest: "It was theatrical. This is a ballroom. It’s not a theater."

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

(When the camera returned to the dance floor, Tom delivered his next intro while reclining in the chair.)

Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke — Paso Doble
Song: Jennifer Lopez, "Waiting For Tonight"

Ian was excited about the Paso because he "finally had a character to play with." Cheryl told him, "I want a bull fighter, not Beverly Hills." The 90210-alum Ian grumbled, "Oh, you didn’t do that!"

From now on, Cheryl needs create a story for each dance, because Ian seemed more confident in character. Overall, I really like Ian’s dancing, and he was a little looser tonight. But something’s missing in his connection with Cheryl. I worry that Ian’s self-consciousness is getting in the way of their on-floor partnership.

Len said, "I was a little bit disappointed. It lacked drama. I didn’t like your posture. I didn’t like your arms." Bruno agreed: "There’s still an element I’m not getting. I’m getting very frustrated" Carrie Ann told Ian, "You have what it takes to do really, really well in this competition… [But] you’re lacking a sense of joy and a sense of truth when you dance" She suggested Ian take his cues on how to dance with joy from…Billy Ray?

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…8, Bruno…8 = 24/30

Group Swing
Song: Stray Cats, "Rock This Town"

DwtS Tour Pros Christian Perry and Annette Nicole instructed the couples in rehearsal. When Christian asked which of the guys was the strongest, Laila raised her hand. The couples practiced their lifts and leaps with only a few minor injuries — mostly to Ian.

The performance was good, but the camera work made it hard to get a sense of what the dance looked like as a whole. There were lots of close ups of the couples’ faces, but few of their feet. There were plenty of tricks, but the highlight had to be Laila lifting Apolo and spinning with him in her arms — all while she wore high heels.

The group Swing wasn’t scored by the judges, but they all said they liked it.

Leaderboard:
28 — Laila & Maks, Apolo & Julianne
27 — Joey & Kym
24 — Ian & Cheryl
23 — Heather & Jonathan
21 — Billy Ray & Karina
19 — John & Edyta

This week, I split my votes between the two top couples: Laila & Maks and Apolo & Julianne. And I predict that Heather & Jonathan will be back in the Bottom Two, along with John & Edyta.

Apprentice L.A.: Finale

Trump hired Stefani as his latest Apprentice, largely because she was easy to get along with. Based on her competition, that’s pretty high marks.

But Stefani wasn’t the candidate most people were talking about in the days leading up to the finale. Kristine got naked for Playboy, and she will be the magazine’s cover girl for June.

Most of the live Apprentice: L.A. finale comprised cast introductions and recap footage. I’m sure the crowd at the open-air Hollywood Bowl appreciated that — especially once it started to rain, halfway through the program.

Frank and Nicole, neither of whom stood any chance of being hired, had to sit on stage for more than 30 minutes before they were both fired — Frank for being stupid enough to ask his arch enemy, Surya, to help with the final task, and Nicole for being distracted by her in-show romance with Tim.

Nobody pointed out that Trump didn’t seem to have a problem when last season’s winner, Sean, got involved with a fellow cast member.

Stefani and James were asked to say nice things about each other before Trump asked them, "Well, then why don’t I just hire him [or her]?" Stefani was quick to answer that Trump should hire her, and then she could hire James as her employee.

Then Trump introduced footage of Stefani and her "beautiful family." Apparently, she’s very close with a construction foreman she works with, as well as her karate instructor, because nobody else was featured in her video. That was followed by footage of James’ home life, which he shares with his wife and two cute daughters.

Trump traditionally asks the fired candidates for their opinion on who he should hire, and cast members have made passionate pleas on behalf of their favorites in seasons past. Not this time.

Angela, Trump’s favorite Olympian, wouldn’t answer the question. Frank told Trump, "You’re on your own." And Surya suggested Trump hire Sanjaya, since he was now available. Only Heidi (who supported Stefani) and Aaron (James) chose sides at all.

When it came time to hire someone and put the drenched live audience out of its misery, Trump told Stefani that, even though she’d never volunteered to serve as Project Manager, she’d at least been able to get along with everyone.

Then he turned to James and cryptically told him, "there were certain things and certain dialogue that you gave during the course — and you know what I’m talking about — and that bothered me very much."

Trump then fired James. It would’ve been nice if he’d used something that took place in an episode as a pretext for firing James, instead of some off-camera occurrence that viewers never got to see. In a post-show interview with Buddy TV, even Stefani didn’t know what Trump was referring to.

Trump hired Stefani. She’ll be working on the construction of a new Trump resort in the Caribbean — and no doubt appearing on the next season of The Apprentice. That’s assuming that NBC brings this sinking ship back.

TAR All-Stars: Episode 10

On The Amazing Race, karmic retribution sometimes comes disguised as a lousy cab driver. But when you keep that crappy cabbie for a whole leg, that’s not karma; it’s just a bad idea.

Teams left Hong Kong via the Turbo Jet Ferry to the city of Macau on mainland China. There, they needed to find the tallest structure in Macau: Macau Tower (which resembles Seattle’s Space Needle, Auckland’s Sky Tower, or Toronto’s CN Tower).

The building didn’t open until 10 a.m., and the first three teams — Oswald & Danny, Dustin & Kandice, and Charla & Mirna — all arrived ahead of time.

Ozzy & Danny were broke by the end of the last leg, and were only given $75 to complete this one. By the time they’d paid for ferry tickets and a taxi to the tower, they were already down to $16. The guys decided that prostituting themselves was probably forbidden on the race.

The clue warned that there was a Yield ahead, so Oswald & Danny decided to use their first place position to earn some cash from one of the other teams. When The Beauty Queens arrived at the tower, Ozzy & Danny said they’d Yield a team of the Beauty Queens’ choosing in exchange for cash.

The Queens, who had about $200, reasoned that it was a wise investment if it meant that someone else got Yielded besides them. They gave Ozzy & Danny $45 and told them to Yield Eric & Danielle, whom they believed to be better racers than Charla & Mirna.

Ozzy & Danny took the money, but Ozzy was immediately wracked with guilt. When Charla & Mirna arrived, he told them what he and Danny had done. Charla & Mirna said they would’ve given the Cha Cha Chas money without requiring them to Yield anyone.

Mirna was disappointed in Ozzy & Danny, but managed to let her hatred of the Beauty Queens warp the details of the transaction when she discussed it later with Charla. Mirna was certain that Dustin & Kandice had somehow tricked or forced the guys to use the Yield against their will.

At 10, the lead teams were let into the building, where they had to wait another hour before they could ride an elevator to the Observation Deck. There, Ozzy & Danny Yielded Eric & Danielle, as promised.

The Observation Deck was setting for this leg’s Roadblock. One team member had to walk around the Observation Deck’s outer rim before getting in a harness and jumping 61 stories to the ground below. Obviously, it was not a task for anyone squeamish about heights.

As Dustin, Danny, and Charla were taking the plunge, Eric & Danielle arrived. They’d been sure that they wouldn’t be Yielded for a second time, and unleashed a string of expletives about Ozzy & Danny when they saw their pictures on the Yield sign.

Eric tore the photograph of Ozzy & Danny off the Yield sign and stuck it to the seat of his pants, where it remained until the end of the episode. When their waiting period was up, Eric suited up and jumped off the building.

Meanwhile, the other teams were on their way to the beautiful Lou Lim Ioc Garden, where a Detour clue awaited them.

Teams had to choose between Dragon and Noodle. In Noodle, teams had to make two bundles of noodles in a traditional method, which involved flattening the dough with a long bamboo pole and slicing the noodles very thin.

In Dragon, teams grabbed a wooden drum and dragon head and carried them on foot almost one mile to the nearby harbor. There, they attached their dragon head to the prow of a rowboat and handed the drum off to the coxswain (I’m brushing up on my sailing terms in preparation for Pirate Master. Argh!).

Ozzy & Danny got to the garden first and decided to do the Dragon task. Their driver misread the clue and took them straight to the harbor, instead of the warehouse where the drum and dragon head were waiting.

As the driver turned around and drove them to the warehouse, Oswald muttered from the backseat, "God, grant me the patience to withstand the things I cannot change… and the intelligence to hide the body of this man once I’m done killing him."

Danny was certain he’d memorized the route the driver had taken from the harbor, so he led Ozzy through the streets of Macau with their trinkets. Only Danny’s sense of direction wasn’t that good, and none of the residents they asked seemed to know that Macau had a harbor.

Meanwhile, Dustin & Kandice headed to the noodle shop, followed by Mirna & Charla and, eventually, Eric & Danielle. Dustin & Kandice watched a noodle-making demo, in which one person straddled the horizontal bamboo pole and hopped up and down. Another person fed the dough under the pole as it was flattened. The whole thing worked like a giant primitive pasta machine, only more erotic.

Lanky Kandice hopped on the pole as Dustin fed the dough and chanted, "Ride the pony." They sliced their first batch of noodles too thick for the noodle-maker’s taste, and then had to start over from the beginning.

While they worked on their second batch, Charla & Mirna arrived. Mirna was obviously too short to work the pole, and she was even too short to reach the table. She had to stand on top of the table to help feed the dough, as Mirna struggled with the bamboo pole.

The cousins cut their first batch of noodles too thick as well, per Charla’s instructions, and they had to start over as well. Dustin & Kandice successfully sliced their noodles and left to find the next clue, just as Eric & Danielle arrived.

Eric & Danielle were the only team to get the noodles right on the first try and were able to finish before Charla & Mirna. Their clue told them to travel by taxi to find some Mini Mokes, which are small cars with no doors.

Dustin & Kandice were first to the vehicles, and they chose a pink "Barbie car." The clue on the windshield instructed them to drive themselves five miles to the island of Taipa.

The Beauty Queens found a guy on a motorbike to guide them to the Island, and they reached the Pit Stop in first place. For their victory, they won a pair of WaveRunners.

Eric & Danielle paid their cabbie to lead them to Taipa, and they reached the Pit Stop in second place. However, they weren’t able to check in, as they’d been "Marked for Elimination" for finishing last in the previous leg. They had to serve a 30 minute penalty for failing to arrive first.

As Eric & Danielle paced and prayed not to be eliminated, Dustin & Kandice explained to them why Ozzy & Danny Yielded them — and the Queens’ own responsibility in making it happen. Eric appreciated the explanation but promised retribution if he and Danielle survived to the next leg.

Charla & Mirna finished the noodle task not long after Eric & Danielle. But Mirna is probably the worst driver in Amazing Race history, and this task was no exception. She ran the car onto a curb and stopped traffic for several minutes, before some helpful pedestrians pushed her car to the side of the road.

The cousins hired a cabbie to lead them to the island, and, miraculously, Mirna was able to keep up with him. Eric & Danielle were only halfway through their penalty time when the cousins arrived at the Pit Stop. Charla & Mirna were awarded second place.

After turning in their dragon head and drum, Ozzy & Danny hopped in their Mini Moke. They also followed a cab driver to Taipa Island — the same cab driver who’d taken them to the harbor out of sequence on the earlier clue.

It should’ve been no surprise, then, when the cabbie drove them to the wrong side of the island and told them they should just walk to the Pit Stop. They finally got him to lead them to the right side of the island, but not before Eric & Danielle had already been awarded third place after their penalty had been served.

Ozzy & Danny reached the mat in last place, but were saved by another non-elimination leg. They’ll be Marked for Elimination on the next leg.

Next week, Danielle freaks out during a Roadblock.

DwtS 4, Week 5: Power Rankings

7. John Ratzenberger & Edyta Sliwinska
John & Edyta’s Samba was a lot of fun, but I’m afraid their reprieve may just be temporary. A vote for John & Edyta this week was probably as much a vote against Clyde & Elena as it was actual praise for this couple’s performance.

Their best hope for survival is to give another energetic routine — assuming that they haven’t been assigned a slow dance — and pray that either Billy Ray or Heather perform horribly. Otherwise, good old Cliffy the mailman might be returned to sender.

6. Heather Mills & Jonathan Roberts
Despite an impressive early showing, Heather’s descent to the Bottom Two was inevitable. The dancing amputee mystique (Who knew there was such a force?) has faded, and we’re seeing true size of Heather’s fanbase — and it ain’t that big. She and Jonathan are totally capable of pulling off a great routine, and they’re going to need it now more than ever.

5. Billy Ray Cyrus & Karina Smirnoff
Billy Ray isn’t that impressive as a dancer, but he seems like a nice enough guy. However, that shouldn’t be enough to keep him out of the Bottom Two week after week. I wouldn’t be surprised if his success is largely due to the Hannah Montana fans who get a kick out of seeing his daughter, Miley, in the audience.

Billy Ray is still his own biggest obstacle. The group Swing number could make him nervous if he’s worried about being compared directly to better dancers like Apolo or Joey. And seeing Clyde liberated and given the extra time for golf and family activities might sap some of Billy Ray’s enthusiasm for working a third full-time job that doesn’t come naturally to him. If he’s really had enough, he’ll have a hard time concealing it.

4. Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke
Ian & Cheryl have been consistent all season — which is the polite way of saying they haven’t done anything spectacular, yet. If they don’t perform an amazing routine in the next two weeks, I think Cheryl’s going to find herself in the Bottom Two for the first time in her storied DwtS career.

3. Laila Ali & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Laila & Maks have moved around in the Power Rankings since their first performance, although never out of the top four. They finished in second place with the judges this week, which is a real turnaround after a two not-so-great performances. To really ensure their safety, they’re going to have to score higher than Joey & Kym on a regular basis.

2. Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson
I wouldn’t be surprised if Joey & Kym and Apolo & Julianne trade Results Show encores for the most of the season. Joey & Kym have no problem choreographing entertaining routines, so they should continue to stay near the top of the leaderboard.

1. Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough
Their perfect-scoring Samba was the push that Apolo & Julianne needed to make them the favorites. So what gives them the edge over the competition? Cuteness. Sure, they can be sexy on the dance floor, but when they’re standing in front of the judges, they’re all cute.

That cuteness makes us want to protect them from harsh judges’ comments, and makes us hope for their success. MOIB reader Jenny K. has even compared Julianne’s charm to that of Doris Day. Having watched That Touch of Mink a couple weeks back, I can see the comparison. None of the other couples has exhibited the charm that Apolo & Julianne have.

Unless they screw up, it may already be too late for anyone to stop Apolo & Julianne’s date with the trophy.

Ox Notes: April 20, 2007

Earth Day on TV
USA Today has a comprehensive list of environmentally-themed shows airing this weekend, in honor of Earth Day on Sunday. And tonight, ABC gets into the act at 10 p.m. EDT, with a 20/20 special called Planet Earth 2007: Seven Ways to Help Save the World.

HGTV has announced some of the celebrity guests that will appear on the upcoming season of Living With Ed, including Bradley Whitford, Sharon Lawrence, and Daryl Hannah. The second season of Ed Begley Jr.’s comical chronicle of sustainable living returns on August 26.

Brian Regan Gets His Due
Stand-up comic Brian Regan has partnered with Comedy Central for a tour, TV specials, and a DVD release. Regan’s been doing stand-up for twenty years, and continues to sell out theaters without ever resorting to "blue" material.

I became a fan Brian Regan in the late ’80s, and when I saw him live last year, he was just as funny as ever. Check out Brian Regan’s Official Site for audio and video clips — his "Godzilla" bit on Opie & Anthony is hilarious.

This Marriage is "Dhoomed"
MOIB extends its congratulations to our favorite celebrity couple, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, on the day of their wedding. If you’ve never seen a Bollywood movie, Dhoom 2 is a great place to start. It’s an over-the-top action flick starring the happy couple, although they don’t play onscreen lovebirds in this film.