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Mel and Maks spice it up on ‘Dancing’

The duo earns a perfect 30, but it looks like a lady will be going home next. By Ree Hines
/ Source: contributor

Marie Osmond’s unrehearsed drop stole the “Dancing With the Stars” spotlight last week, but given the lackluster performances that followed, it’s just as well the focus wasn’t on the dancing. That left nearly everyone in need of a comeback routine Monday night. Unfortunately, only a few delivered.

With the deadweight thoroughly cut (so long, Mark Cuban!), the competition should be down to the best of the best. But instead, the loss of the glaring losers (you, too, Wayne Newton!) only highlighted the flaws in some of the remaining pairs. 

After head-judge Len Goodman practically proclaimed Sabrina Bryan flawless last week, she and Mark Ballas delivered a foxtrot to showcase just how wrong he was. The normally in-synch Sabrina battled timing problems throughout her routine, and failed to match the form of her partner. But luckily for her, that part sailed by the officials. Instead it was her repeat offense of maximum intensity that drew the nays.

“The one thing you have to have in dance is light and shade. It was all too hard — too aggressive,” Len pointed out. Of course he’s somehow managed to ignore this in almost all of her other routines. Bruno Tonioli backed Len up, but Carrie Ann Inaba wouldn’t hear it. Still, for a criticized dance, the couple earned a good score: 25 out of 30.

Sabrina blamed her busy “Cheetah Girl” obligations for a lack of rehearsal time that led to the so-so presentation. Honestly, the “busy” card needs to be put away. Cameron Matheson’s already worn it out this season with his moans about the jet-setting soap star lifestyle.

The excuses just kept comingJennie Garth made her excuses before she even hit the floor. In rehearsal footage the actress oddly claimed, “I’m not a performer.” The stage lights gave her the worst of the willies, so Derek Hough suggested she image Len in his underpants. Then they actually cut to a scene of Len in his underpants. Shouldn’t there be some kind of viewer warning for that?

As it turned out, in Jennie’s case the excuses were hardly necessary. Once again, she listened to last week’s comments and incorporated the need for more “puff” in her dance. The only real drawback in the routine was a flubbed hand grasp, and compared to past efforts, that should hardly count. And apparently it didn’t, as they raked in all nines.

Jane Seymour and Tony Dovolani’s unexpected bottom two result last Tuesday should have inspired a spectacular number, but instead it confirmed what many already suspected. Jane can take an elegant dance like the Viennese waltz or the tango and play to her strengths, but give her a bouncing Jive, and she can’t groove to it.

Her miniskirt and ponytail looked the part, but Jane’s holding-a-tea-napkin hand poses and slow-bop didn’t. Carrie Ann tried to give it a pleasant spin, “Some dances don’t bring out the best in people. You’re better than this dance.” Even Len and Bruno blamed the dance, but ultimately this one showed a lack of range. The 22 from the judges put the pair in the back of the pack.

But things looked up for Cameron, as he continues to improve. He’s no longer the stiff-limbed, distracted dancer that started the season. But he and partner Edyta Sliwinska didn’t use that upward momentum to best effect Monday night. Prancing around in Native American-themed costumes, which in Edyta’s case consisted of a couple of well-adhesed bands of fabric, they performed a competent but unsamba-like samba.

A confused Bruno said he’d “never seen Captain Smith and Pocahontas do the samba,” but Carrie Ann insisted he, and everyone else, just didn’t get the jungle, primal idea behind the dance. Overall it wasn’t so bad, landing the pair with a middle-worthy 25.

A rousing rumbaAfter Mel B. and Maksim Chmerkovskiy thoroughly explained the love/hate vibe of the rumba, it seemed like an obvious choice for the bickering couple. On the dance floor, they proved it really was a perfect match.

Eschewing the power moves that all the couples have employed so liberally this season, M&M performed a stunning, straightforward rumba with just the right amount of emotion. (And take note Sabrina, they only squeezed in six hours of rehearsal time!) Finally, the pair had a chance to showcase their odd chemistry, and it worked. After ending the number with a judge-perched flirting finish, they scored 10s across the board.

The second perfect score of the season also merited an odd bit of gibberish from Len. “It was perfected, inspected, dissected, and as far as I’m concerned, it won’t be rejected.” Co-host Samantha Harris wouldn’t be outdone, adding, “I knew you should have sat on the judges earlier in the season!”

After yet the second obligatory screening of Marie fainting last Monday, she and Jonathan Roberts performed the paso doble. Or at least tried. They held back, and who can blame them? Jonathan even made a point of incorporating breathing into the number, lest Marie forget about that part again. But a dour-faced Marie suspiring on cue didn’t make for a passionate paso.

The most exciting moments for Johnny and Marie awkwardly came from two choreographed drops that looked a little too faint-like for comfort. When it was over, Len, still a little word-loopy, compared Marie to “a gypsy around a campfire cooking (her) sausages.” And evidently embodying that was worth 23 points.

Back on trackFollowing his first roundly panned performance last week, Helio Castroneves ditched the idea of playing a character, and instead embraced his grinning, goofy self. That made for a big stride in this week’s cha-cha-cha. Helio’s footwork was impeccable — well, what could be seen of it from under the hems of his appalling beige flairs.

The audience went wild for the dance, and Len was wild for the pants. “When you’re done with your trousers, I’d look gorgeous in them!” But the panel thought the Helio’s moves were even better than the flairs, scoring him and Julianne Hough 28 points.

The show ended with a rock ’n’ roll group dance that went like all group dances do. There was so much going on at the same time, it was impossible to tell the good from the bad. Everyone just looked out of time and jumbled — not to mention, hard to recognize in their “Greasers vs. the Jocks” getups. Jane Seymour decked out as Sandy in the last act of “Grease”? Distracting!

At least there’s one big change in store for Tuesday night’s results show. It’s highly unlikely a guy will leave this week. In fact, if voting shapes up around scoring lines, Marie or Jane will waltz off the stage. But surprises happen, so look out Jennie!