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Pretty good is the new perfect on ‘Dancing’

Sabrina Bryan and Mark Ballas score a 30 for a sloppy paso doble, and Mark Cuban and Floyd Mayweather battle it out for bottom of the pack. By Ree Hines
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

In a repeat of last week, it was another evening of big scores on “Dancing with the Stars.” Only this time, the highs were even higher as the celebs took on the ambitious Viennese waltz and paso doble. There’s no doubt the talent is big this season, but whether it matches the numbers handed out by Len Goodman and his cronies is another question all together.

The Viennese waltz is the graceful, twirling ballroom routine, filled with almost constant clockwise and counterclockwise turns. At least in theory — not so much when Mark Cuban got a hold of it. Admittedly, the Mavericks man and partner Kym Johnson put on their best dance of the season, but that’s still not saying much. No matter how hard Mark tries, he just doesn’t have the lines or the fluidity of a dancer.

Bruno Tonioli called Mark “Bigfoot in a suit,” and that sounds about right. And while Carrie Ann Inaba complimented Mark for finally putting an end to the lip-synching, she failed to notice he had not. At least returning co-host Samantha Harris added some unintentional levity, greeting Mark with a full-on Porky Pig impression: “Abada-abada-abada.” (Welcome back to live TV, Sam!) Decidedly less funny, the 16-at-best dance earned Mark and Kym a 22.

Pretty good is the new perfectSabrina Bryan spent the last two weeks proving that she could take on fast, intense numbers, but this week she promised to show some contrast. Performing the paso doble, the Cheetah Girl had plenty of opportunity to show her softer side with the role as the cape in the bullfighting drama. But she didn’t. Sure, she slowed things down in the appropriate moments, and still showed her many strengths, but her moves lacked smoothness or subtlety.

Did the judges knock off any points for that? Quite the contrary. Somehow this dance earned the first perfect score of the season. Carrie Ann declared it “perfection,” and Len could find no fault in it.

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Next up, Jane Seymour and Tony Dovolani followed last week’s remarkable tango with another dance that seemed tailor-made for Jane. Her perfect posture and natural grace ooze waltz, and that early ballet training showed in her lines. But this wasn’t as big of a hit with the judges.

In fact, Carrie Ann seemed downright cranky about a rule-violating lift she was sure she witnessed, despite Tony’s protests. Len decided not to worry about it, and dubbed the night a “lift-free zone.”

“Since when does a head judge go so soft?” Carrie Ann interrupted.

There was even a replay of the controversial move before scoring, which revealed that it was no more or less of a lift than everyone else was doing. The 26 the pair received would have been about right, if other scores weren’t so inflated.

Are they watching the same show?Floyd Mayweather, Jr. didn’t take last week’s criticisms lightly. “My scores better change, and I mean it,” he said.

He growled it really, in a way that implied the judges needed to improve, not him. Maybe the scare tactics worked, as his barely passable paso earned two eights and a seven.

The seven came from Carrie Ann, who this time laid into pro Karina Smirnoff for another lift infraction. Carrie Ann was like a dog with a bone about the lifts all night. Otherwise, all the feedback was positive for lumbering Floyd. Len even told the boxing champ that it was a “bloody good job!”

The Viennese waltz proved another good pick for Mel B and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy. One strong point the judges fail to bring up with Mel and Maks is their sweeping use of the floor. No one else uses the full space the way they do, and rarely to such effect.

The routine was devoid of any standout moves, but it was sweetly smooth and, overall, well done. Without a lift to attack, Carrie Ann started in on the turns, but Bruno cut her off before she could turn the feel-good dance competition into a real fight. M&M earned the second fair score of the night with a 26.

The most impressive aspect of Cameron Mathison and Edyta Sliwinska’s otherwise lackluster paso doble wasn’t Cam’s slow but steady improvement, but rather that the two could dance at all to their music selection. Trying to keep time to the rhythmless “Superman Theme,” had to be a challenge, but somehow they mostly managed, though Cameron did look a bit dorky with the big, glittery “C” on his chest. The judges loved it, again a little more than they should have, giving the pair all nines.

When Marie Osmond took the floor, in possibly her least animated performance yet, she and Jonathan Roberts performed a fine waltz. Nothing spectacular, but at least she didn’t camp it up with winks and hammy gestures. A good choice given the nature of the waltz, but for Bruno that was disappointing. He’s the king of hams, so it’s understandable. Carrie Ann loosened up and gave Marie props for her “stripper” neck whips. Again, the fine-but-unremarkable number ranked a 26 from the judges.

What the heck, have a 10Last week, Jennie Garth’s tango showed how much she’d improved in three weeks time. For their paso doble, she and Derek Hough put on a decent showing. Overall, it didn’t equal their tango for lines or flow, but it was nothing to be ashamed of.

According to Bruno, the couple continues to improve every week, and while Carrie Ann noticed a lift, she didn’t say much about it. The biggest surprise from the panel wasn’t the overall score of 27, but Len handing out a 10. Their dance was not a perfect 10 by any stretch of the imagination.

After slipping from first to sixth place last week, Helio Castroneves needed a comeback, and after Julianne Hough cracked the whip in rehearsals, he delivered. While no better than his first two performances, Helio certainly improved from the quickstep effort. The only visible weakness from the racer, which Len later pointed out, was a new tendency to keep his head forward in almost a step-watching stance. But other than that small posture issue, he was back in form and the pair continued to display more chemistry than any others in the contest. And the 27 from the judges? That was within a point or two of fairness, so no complaints.

Who’s going home on Tuesday night? The obvious picks are Floyd and Mark. Despite his dance floor shortcomings, Mark has had elimination-night luck so far. With only a point separating the two, Floyd could be down for the count.