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"Dancing" judges Bruno Tonioli, Carrie Ann Inaba and Len Goodman just couldn't agree on Monday night, which led to some spirited arguments.
TODAY contributor
updated 4/11/2011 11:46:20 PM ET 2011-04-12T03:46:20

Monday night kicked off classical week on “Dancing With the Stars” — allegedly. Sure, there was a 46-member orchestra on hand delivering tunes far more suited to the ballroom than the usual fare, but by the end of the evening, it was clear that another theme had taken over the show.

Forget classical week — this was judge week, where the biggest competition took place off the dance floor.

Head judge Len Goodman and his fellow experts Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Anne Inaba just couldn’t come to a consensus when it came to several of the show’s major movers, and that sparked a series of unexpected and at times nonsensical battles among the paddle-holders.

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Tensions first flared following a shake-up-making performance from the newest “Dancing” queen, Chelsea Kane. After the Disney Channel star finished a charming and near-perfect Viennese waltz set to “Hedwig’s Theme” from the “Harry Potter” movies, Goodman launched into a misplaced string of nitpicks.

“There is no doubt about it, you’re a fantastic dancer,” Goodman began deceptively. “So why is it that every time I see you, there’s something I don’t like that jars me?”

In this case, what jarred the venerable dance man was the fresh and whimsical take Kane and partner Mark Ballas brought to a routine still packed with traditional moves. It was an opinion that Tonioli wouldn’t let stand without a counterpoint.

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“What? Oh, come on!” the usually verbose judge sighed before getting out of his chair, whipping his pen around and working up a classic Potter charm to disarm his adversary. “Expelliarmus! Expelliarmus, Voldemort!”

Goodman suggested Tonioli jump on his “Nimbus 2000 and bugger off.” (Note to Len: Firebolts are way faster. Just FYI.)

Once the wizarding world putdowns were behind them and Kane had waltzed away with a high score of 26, the panel prepared for their next showdown — a face-off over the musicality of Chris Jericho.

The wrestler put on one of the best paso dobles of the night, as did top competitor Hines Ward. Despite that, Jericho’s score lumped his performance in with Romeo and Petra Nemcova’s lesser 23-point pasos.

While the ballroom has certainly seen superior paso dobles in the past (and far, far worse), no one could fault the wrestler’s spot-on link to the music as he moved to Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Well, no one but the game’s resident grump.

Inaba raved about Jericho’s connection to the tune. Tonioli followed suit. Goodman?

“The music conquered you,” he grumbled. You didn’t conquer the music.”

Boos erupted from the audience, and in accordance with the unofficial theme, Goodman’s counterparts sided with the crowd, gasped and shook their heads in disbelief.

Goodman was once again the odd man out when it came the night’s most unfortunate moment.

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When “Dancing’s” former leading lady Kirstie Alley took the stage, memories of last week’s unforgettable fall weren’t far behind her. While she wasn’t knocked off her feet this time around, Alley suffered the worst mid-waltz wardrobe malfunction possible when her foot came right out of her shoe. The mishap meant several moments in a not-so-graceful floor pose followed by one heck of a save.

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According to Inaba, Alley “didn’t miss a beat.” But she barely got the phrase out before Goodman shouted, “She DID miss a beat!”

OK, maybe Goodman was right about that one.

There were a few controversy-free routines. The judges found common ground in Ralph Macchio’s comeback waltz, Sugar Ray Leonard's light-on-dance, heavy-on-entertainment Viennese waltz and Kendra Wilkinson’s just plain awful effort.

As for the contestant destined to waltz away from the ballroom Tuesday night, boxing great Leonard appeared to be down for the count before Monday night’s show, but Wilkinson really gave him some stiff competition for the ballroom boot before it was over.

This one will come down to a popularity contest.

Ree Hines can’t believe how many lifts professional nitpicker Carrie Ann missed Monday night. Follow @ReeHines on Twitter and tell her your feet-off-the-floor count.

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Photos: 'Dancing With the Stars' cast

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  1. Time to dance

    "Dancing with the Stars" hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke announced the 11 celebrities heading to the dance floor this season during a live news conference. As always, the cast includes athletes, models, actors, and a few people whose names aren't recognizable to your average American. (Adam Larkey / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Sugar Ray Leonard

    Retired boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, who has a cameo in the Oscar-winning film "The Fighter," surely had fast feet in the boxing ring, but can he fit in to the ballroom?

    Leonard is paired with pro Anna Trebunskaya. (Bob D'amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Petra Nemcova

    Czech-born model Petra Nemcova is perhaps most famous for surviving the 2004 tsunami resulting from an earthquake in the Indian Ocean. Her then fiance died in the tsunami, while Nemcova broke her pelvis and managed to cling to a palm tree for hours before being rescued.

    Nemcova is paired with pro Dmitry Chaplin. (Bob D'amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Ralph Macchio

    Ralph Macchio came to fame as the star of "The Karate Kid" in 1984. He was a teen idol of the 1980s, but has played only minor roles in film and TV since.

    Macchio is paired with pro Karina Smirnoff. (Bob D'amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Kirstie Alley

    When Shelley Long left the hit sitcom "Cheers" in 1987, Kirstie Alley stepped in as bar manager Rebecca Howe. Recently her yo-yoing weight has become a public issue, as she was a spokesperson for Jenny Craig and starred in a show called "Fat Actress."

    Alley is paired with pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy. (Bob D'amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Hines Ward

    Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward was voted MVP of Super Bowl XL in 2006. He is half Korean and half African-American, and has worked as an advocate for biracial youths in South Korea.

    Ward is paired with pro Kym Johnson. (Bob D'amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Chris Jericho

    Chris Jericho has had plenty of success in the wrestling ring, but he's also served as a radio and television host as well as a rock musician.

    Jericho is paired with pro Cheryl Burke. (Bob D'amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Mike Catherwood

    Mike Catherwood, known as Psycho Mike, is assistant producer for the syndicated radio show "Kevin and Bean," and is also co-host of "Loveline" with Dr. Drew Pinsky. A former addict, he uses his own experiences to help callers.

    Catherwood is paired with pro Lacey Schwimmer. (Bob D'amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Romeo

    Rapper Romeo withdrew from the second season of "Dancing With the Stars" in 2006 and was replaced by his father, Master P, who is infamous in "Dancing" circles for barely moving his feet. He's now back for the 12th season.

    Romeo is paired with pro Chelsea Hightower. (Bob D'amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Chelsea Kane

    Chelsea Kane is an actress who is best known for playing Stella Malone in the Disney Channel sitcom "Jonas L.A.," and has also appeared in other Disney shows and original movies.

    Kane is paired with pro Mark Ballas. (Bob D'amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Wendy Williams

    Wendy Williams hosts her own syndicated talk show, "The Wendy Williams Show," and is a former New York radio DJ.

    Williams is paired with pro Tony Dovolani. (Bob D'amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Kendra Wilkinson

    Kendra Wilkinson is best known as a former girlfriend of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, and as such starred on the reality show "The Girls Next Door." She is now married to Minnesota Viking Hank Baskett and has her own reality show, "Kendra."

    Wilkinson is paired with pro Louis Van Amstel. (Bob D'amico / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
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