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No surprise on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

This week’s “Dancing With the Stars” performances inspired very different responses from last week’s performances. By Linda Holmes
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

This week’s “Dancing With the Stars” performances inspired very different responses from last week’s performances. Specifically, the judges disliked almost everything last week and complained about the work ethic, but this week, they highly praised several dances and started giving out 10s in a manner not quite so stingy.

This didn’t apply to everyone, though, meaning that somebody would go. Probably someone tall. Very tall. Maybe an athlete. Any ideas? How about NBA Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler!

Of course, it didn’t take a genius to know that the encore dance would be Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough’s samba, considering that it got a perfect score — the first perfect score of the season. As is often the case, the dance on second viewing was even more fun than it had been the first time, because it seemed so relaxed and comfortable without scoring to worry about.

Apolo and Julianne are well positioned to win the competition, as proved by the anticipatory screaming of the audience before judge Len Goodman could even get Apolo’s name out. His brand of self-deprecating, not-too-perfect male dancer is one of the most successful “types” in this competition, and Apolo is playing his part perfectly. Of course, their repeat of their samba was also good news in that it further ensured that none of us will ever get “I like to move it, move it” out of our heads any time in the next, say, three weeks.

The first exhibition dance of the evening was from the collection of pros who went on this year’s “Dancing” tour, doing a swing dance to “Zoot Suit Riot.” With all the musical crimes that have been committed on a show that thinks the “Star Wars” theme is a tango, it’s sometimes perfectly delightful to see people commit to a straight-up, totally conventional performance executed very well. Here, the pros put tremendous energy into the swing, with Cheryl Burke and Louis Van Amstel looking particularly marvelous in their fervor. As filler goes, this was of high quality, full of tricks and fun.

During a backstage chat with co-host Samantha Harris, Heather Mills explained that the reason she fell on Monday night was that she was supposed to raise her artificial leg and stand on her real leg, and instead, she tried to stand on the artificial leg. As we’ve learned in the past, she can’t balance on the artificial leg, so that’s how she wound up tumbling down.

Carol Brady stops by
This week’s audience response segment heavily featured Florence Henderson, who had apparently just dropped by on Monday night between nightclub shows. She called Apolo a “hot little number” and said that she almost cried when Heather fell down. (There are those classic Brady Mom instincts.)

Lance Bass, meanwhile, dismissed any suggestion that the judges were too hard on Joey Fatone by suggesting that he was “feminine,” and Lance insisted that sometimes, Joey just needs a “kick in the pants.” (But they’re always, always men’s pants, Joey promises.)

The first couple ushered to safety was Laila Ali and Maks Chmerkovskiy, which surprised no one. The second couple ushered to safety was John Ratzenberger and Edyta Sliwinska, which surprised everyone. John sat in the bottom two last week, and he didn’t dance all that much better this week, so it was clear that someone else was going to take a serious dive from previous scores.

More filler! Lisa Rinna, who charmed many during the show’s second season, returned for a special appearance in which she performed a number from “Chicago,” in which she’s about to appear on Broadway.

Lisa Rinna is going to be Roxie on Broadway, you ask? Yes, she is. And with that, she may be the “Dancing” contestant whose life has been most transformed by the experience. Her performance in the “Chicago” number looked a lot like many of her “Dancing” episodes: she wasn’t spectacularly good, but she was infectiously fun to watch. It was clear that she wanted nothing more than to put on a good show and please everyone.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a filler show without Jimmy Kimmel and “Guillermo” offering a demonstration of a dance planned for next week; in this case, it was the swing. After Jimmy was a little mean to Guillermo, Guillermo sought solace in the ladies’ room in the arms of Joey Fatone. If you are thinking that this could not possibly have happened, you are wrong. Host Tom Bergeron deftly remarked that this represented Joey’s “misguided attempt to prove his masculinity.”

Macy Gray felt the need to dedicate her performance to the victims of the recent shootings at Virginia Tech, a choice that was saved from utter inappropriateness by the generally sedate nature of the song and the fact that it was not accompanied by dancing. That is one fine line she was treading, though.

A segment on the show's makeup crew wasn’t as enlightening as one might expect, but there was certainly solid confirmation that there are just as many false eyelashes and fake tans as you think there are. It was a little bit of a facile cliché when Apolo started talking about how men don’t wear makeup in their day-to-day lives, given that it’s safe to say that women don’t wear this kind of makeup, either.

And then, with a few minutes of show left, we ran out of filler and moved on to the actual results referred to in the phrase “results show.” Joey and Apolo were both declared safe. This left Ian Ziering, Heather, Clyde, and Billy Ray Cyrus, none of whom had ever been in the bottom two before. And after a ho-hum segment inviting the contestants to complain about how stressful judging is, it was time to learn who was in the bottom two. Ian managed to stay safe, then Clyde was finally sent under the Red Light of Doom, after many weeks of being saved by the audience. He was joined in the bottom two by Heather, who was faced with the prospect of being the fourth consecutive woman to be eliminated since the beginning of the competition, which would leave Laila alone with six men.  

So who would be eliminated? Would the population of female contestants be instantly halved? It would not. Finally, after several weeks of deserving to go home, Clyde finally did, meaning that NBA fans aren’t quite as powerful as NFL fans, or that NBA fans have their limits as far as voting for people who are very, very bad dancers.

The bad news is that this leaves no one tall enough to change the light bulbs in the ballroom chandelier without standing on a ladder. The good news is that now, everyone who remains seems to be really trying his or her hardest in the competition, and that can only be a good thing.

Linda Holmes is a writer in Bloomington, Minn.