May 7, 2012 at 11:42 PM ET
Two routines, three dancers at a time and twice the usual risk for elimination? "Dancing With the Stars" took a turn for the extreme on Monday night, and for most of the celebrity hoofers, it paid off.
With all the usual ballroom bets off, this week's twist required each star to put on one typical performance and then to follow it up by inviting an extra pro to the floor for a tricky trio. Viewers might have expected that to cause a dance-floor traffic jam -- or at least a minor distraction -- but somehow the hopefuls navigated the first-ever "threesome" routines with ease.
Well, there was one notable exception.
Last week, "Dancing" star Maria Menounos paso'ed her way to the very first perfect score of the season, but she failed to follow that up with another standout performance this time.
In her first effort of the night, a traditional Viennese waltz, Menounos wowed two-thirds of the panel with the swirling routine, but not head grump Len Goodman. He felt the dance lacked the required holds and spins, and despite 10s from his fellow judges, he only gave it an 8. And that was generous compared to what was still to come.
For her trio act, Maria and usual partner Derek Hough were joined by Dance Troupe star Henry Byalikov, but there was just one problem -- at least for Len. They were supposed to perform a samba, but instead put on a routine with Indian flair.
"If I was judging a Bollywood number, this was a 10," Len said before dubbing the dance "false advertising." Which is why he pulled his 7 paddle, and the other judges adjusted their scores one point down as well.
But Maria's trio trouble was by far the exception.
The top trio of the night came from Green Bay Packer Donald Driver -- debatably. Sure, this season's "Dancing" queen Katherine Jenkins outscored Donald with her 29-point cha-cha-cha, but his 28-point jive (alongside Peta Murgatroyd and Karina Smirnoff) featured some show-stopping moves, including a leap that had him clearing both women at once. And no matter how he scored with judges, he was a hit with the audience who booed the panel for daring to give him anything less than all 10s.
William Levy gave both Donald and Katherine a run for their "three-ways" (as judge Carrie Ann Inaba called the dances) with his 27-point paso doble, but fell short as he suffered from slight synch problems. Not that the actor was too worried about that. After all, he took the season's second perfect score with his earlier foxtrot.
But it wasn't just the usual leaderboard toppers that impressed.
Both Roshon Fegan and Melissa Gilbert traded their usual low scores for matching sets of 9s after their spins with multiple partners.
With such big scores and fan-pleasing routines, which stars are most likely to waltz out of the ballroom for good on Tuesday? It's a tough call, but two of them are definitely goners with a looming double elimination.
At the end of the performance night, the usual suspects -- aka William, Katherine, and Donald -- took the top spots, but they were joined by frequent back-of-the-pack star Roshon (thanks to a high-scoring standard routine from the Disney star early in the show). Maria, who's usually near the top of the leader board, trailed, landing just one spot above Melissa overall. And only six points separate the best from the worst.
Looks like it's going to come down to battle of the fan bases.
Which couples deserve to stay and which ones should get the ballroom boot after Monday night's performances? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page. And be sure to join me and Anna Chan for our weekly "DWTS" live chat Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
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