What happened: Monday night's scores had been so close, and so many of the performances reasonably capable, that it seemed like almost anyone might be heading home on Tuesday night. Unsurprisingly, the first three couples made safe were the only ones — the teams featuring Mya, Donny Osmond, and Aaron Carter — who distinguished themselves from the group on Monday.
After everyone else had been declared safe (sometimes to their substantial relief, as was the case with a shaken Kelly Osbourne), the bottom two turned out to be Debi Mazar and Kathy Ireland. Neither was a real surprise — neither character actresses nor former supermodels have distinguished histories on "Dancing," and neither woman has the kind of enthusiastic public that might prop up a weak dancer like Michael Irvin. When all was said and done, it was Kathy Ireland going home.
Leaders continue to shine: Even on a night without scores, there are sometimes signs of where the competition is going. Tuesday night, the encore dance went to Mya's jive with Dmitry Chaplin. If anything, it looked even better than it did on Monday, and she continues to be the strongest woman in the competition by a good margin. She also seems to be more mature as a dancer than Aaron Carter, who looks like her closest competition. Don't be surprised if they eventually face off in the finals.
Filler follies: As is often the case, the musical performances seemed poorly integrated with the show. Joss Stone showed up to sing, accompanied by a couple of largely irrelevant dancers. Disney Channel star Selena Gomez was there as well, while pros Karina Smirnoff and Derek Hough grabbed an opportunity to perform together.
In more lively entertainment, the show unveiled a snazzy new 12,000-square-foot training center where the teams get practice time in six separate studios. The close quarters seem to be leading to more socializing during practice, as well as more tension from those competitors and pros who don't really favor impromptu visits when they're trying to rehearse the tango. In another cute behind-the-scenes segment, the pros talked about the weaknesses they're working on with their stars — Melissa Joan Hart gets distracted, Mark Dacascos talks to himself too much, and Debi Mazar talks too much, period.
A step in the right direction: The highlight of the filler sections came, surprisingly, from the Macy's Stars Of Dance segment, where a group of USC dancers performed with the school's marching band. The entire throng started outside the studio and then marched in, which made for a nice presentation and a break from the unending mirror-ball aesthetic. The dancers included a small squad of breakdancers in sweatsuits followed by a step team. Unlike most of the performances the show brings in, the USC number was interesting, creative, lively, and relevant, but still something that a typical "Dancing" viewer wouldn't see often.
Linda Holmes is a frequent contributor to msnbc.com
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