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Denise Richards kicked off ‘Dancing’

Denise Richards and Holly Madison faced off in the final dance-off. While Denise improved her score with the judges more than Holly did, it didn't save the former Bond girl.
/ Source: contributor

The dance-off: The last four celebrities in peril were Ty Murray, Steve-O, Denise Richards, and Holly Madison — not surprising, except for Ty. Of those four, it seemed appropriate for Holly and Denise to be sent to the dance-off, and indeed they were. They’re both bad dancers, and they both have dull personalities, so it was guaranteed to be a satisfying elimination at that point. Holly’s samba was the same stumble-fest as last night, and she improved her score only one point. Denise’s samba was also weak, but not quite as weak, and she bumped up her score by a surprising 4 points. This pushed her past Holly in the judges’ scoring.

The send-off: Despite Denise’s improved scores, she apparently was soundly beaten in viewer votes, because she was booted anyway — a little bit sad, that, after she worked so hard to improve that terrible samba. She wasn’t going far, but Holly is no better. At least Denise got a little praise on her way out the door. It’s a noteworthy weakness of the “dance-off” format that, very often, upping your game winds up having no effect on the results.

Who’s in; who’s out?: The first four celebrities sent to safety were Melissa Rycroft, Gilles Marini, Shawn Johnson, and Steve Wozniak. Yes, that’s right — Steve Wozniak. It is one of the show’s favorite tricks to save a likely bootee early, and this was a doozy of an example. Steve, in fact, was so stunned he could barely move, but partner Karina Smirnoff rejoiced right away. For them not to even land in the bottom two was genuinely shocking, given their extremely low scores. Steve, in fact, said it was the most surprising thing to happen to him since he was “served with divorce papers.” Uncomfortable!

You were missed, crazy lady: The show brought back Cloris Leachman, as well as her partner from last season, Corky Ballas, to demonstrate next week’s dances: the Lindy Hop and the Argentine tango. Cloris is a bad dancer but a good comedian, and this setting flattered her substantially more than when she actually had to compete. Small doses are important with her brand of tomfoolery, and a couple of minutes were just right.

Musical interludes: Can the second-most popular show on television land a more ratings-grabbing musical guest than Hall & Oates? Apparently not, because the ‘80s duo appeared, singing their long-ago hit “Maneater.” Haven’t you always wanted to see that song accompanied by trained ballroom dancers imitating an ‘80s music video, complete with legwarmers? Sure you have. Later in the show, we also saw Grammy winner Adele, whose “Chasing Pavements” was an opportunity for the show to bring back dancer Alec Mazo, a pro who’s not playing this season but is delightful for reasons both substantive and purely aesthetic.

Next week’s challenge: Tom Bergeron announced that next week, two couples will be eliminated. Can Woz dodge two bullets? Could we have two Steves booted on the same night? Or will Holly be in the dance-off again?

Linda Holmes is a frequent contributor to