Oct. 8, 2012 at 11:51 PM ET
It was a night of dance-floor déjà vu on Monday's "Dancing With the Stars," as all-star acts took on routines from seasons past and even acted as creative directors for the numbers. But the do-over dances weren't the only thing that seemed familiar.
Last week, Bristol Palinrode roughshod over the ballroom rules in a quickstep that broke hold mid-dance and had the judges shaking their heads. And this week? It happened again.
This time it wasn't Bristol, but rather "Dancing" queen Shawn Johnson who broke the rules -- something she warned us she just might do. And this time, the dance wasn't made worse by doing the so-called wrong thing. In fact, unlike Bristol's flub-filled quickstep, Shawn put on a fast-paced reinterpretation of Helio Castroneves' season-five fan-favorite routine, and in addition to breaking hold (for even more impressive maneuvers), the gold-medal-winning gymnast worked in a couple gravity-defying moves (also rule-breaking), lifts and a stair-falling finish.
The judges all agreed on one point: It was their favorite dance. And not just their favorite dance of the night -- their favorite in all 15 seasons of "Dancing With the Stars"
"You broke the rules, but my god, I'm never going to forget this," Bruno Tonioli boasted.
"That was, by far, the best dance we have ever seen," Carrie Ann Inaba added. "I do have to slam you for the breakage of the rulage, but you kind of blewage my mindage."
And while head judge agreed Len Goodman agreed, he warned the pair, just as Bristol lost a point for violating the rules last week, Shawn and Derek would too.
Yes, the dance dubbed the best ever on the show actually lost points. So rather than a perfect 30, Shawn quickstepped away with a score of 26.5.
In fact, the routine didn't even top the leaderboard for night. That honor was shared by two others. Soap star Kelly Monaco, who continues to outdance her season-one self with every performance, delivered an impressive and powerful paso doble alongside Val Chmerkovskiy. In a major reworking of a dance first done by Laila Ali (and Val's big bro, Maksim Chmerkovskiy) in season four, the couple proved they were worthy of 27 points (and then some). And Val proved that when he said, "There's a new matador in town." Those may have been (bull-) fighting words, but he out-Maks'ed Maks.
The top spot was also occupied by Melissa Rycroft, who took on the samba J.R. Martinez made famous in season 13. But unlike J.R.'s effort, Melissa's samba just didn't have the high-energy hip shaking or the precision. Not that the judges seemed to notice when they handed out those 27 points and plenty of praise.
As for Bristol, she made a memorable impression on Monday night, but it had little to do with her routine. Rehearsal footage revealed a rift in her partnership with pro hoofer Mark Ballas. The duo evidently felt down after their last routine was deemed lacking, and rather than putting it behind them, Bristol played a bit of the blame game with Mark, faulting him for preferring past partners and not making it to every rehearsal. She even accused him of wanting to go home -- right before she walked out the door.
But before show time, they put their problems behind them and offered up their version of Joanna Krupa's season-nine paso. The dance was a marked improvement over last week, but it wasn't enough to pull the pair out of the last-place spot with only 22.5 points.
The rest of the acts gathered together in the middle of the lot. Four stars took a score of 25.5 for the night, including Gilles Marini, who failed to dominate this week with his high-flying, Erin Andrews-inspired tango. Former Cheetah Girl Sabrina Bryan matched that number when she attempted to take on one of the ballroom's most memorable routines -- the paso made famous by Mel B. Helio also nabbed that score for a quickstep (previously performed by fellow all-star Apolo Anton Ohno) that saw him get his feet caught up in his partner's dress. And Apolo rounded out the 25.5 gang with his Gilles-channeling foxtrot.
Former frontrunner Emmitt Smith trailed that group after his classic take on Mario Lopez's season-three paso doble failed to deliver some of the dance's expected snap-to moves and general intensity. Still, some of the 25 points he earned had to be chalked up to his excellent cape work at the beginning of the bullish routine.
Just behind Emmitt was the underscored Kirstie Alley. Her fun, pivot-packed sendup of Carson Kresley's Jaggerish cha-cha-cha certainly deserved more than a 24 (though if she had anything to do with that awful wig partner Maks wore, then she deserved a demerit or two). And Drew Lachey tied her for the night with his energetic but not completely polished treatment of Joey McIntyre's season one cha-cha.
After an evening like that, figuring out who goes home next could be tricky -- especially since Tuesday night will mean curtains for more than one pair. Sure, it would be easy to say that one of the two acts to get the boot would be Bristol and Mark at the back of the pack, but it would have been easy to say that for the last two weeks. Easy and wrong.
Will Bristol's devoted fan base keep her dancing (and bickering with Mark) for another week? We'll find out soon enough, but if she is still in it to win it next week, she and her fellow stars will have a lot to look forward to. Host Tom Bergeron announced two "bombshells" for the week ahead. Firstly, they'll all have an extra judge to impress with guest panelist Paula Abdul around. Secondly, they'll all have an interesting decision to make, as the celebs will pick out the routines their fellow competitors will groove to -- including some dances that have never been done on the show before.
Who do you think put on the very best performance Monday night? Take our poll below and then share your thoughts about the show on our Facebook page.
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