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Ricki runs herself right out of the lead on 'Dancing'

In a foxtrot set to “Easy Lover” and heavily infused with Running Man (or sort of Jogging Man) moves, Lake and pro partner Derek Hough for the first time failed to wow the judges.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Bad fashion? Wacky hairstyles? An odd mix of music? While that sounds like just about any night in the “Dancing With the Stars” ballroom, on Monday it marked the start of '80s week.

It also marked the start of added-filler week. When the stars weren’t moving to the retro music, pre-taped advice from the judges filled the gaps, as did repeated performances from way-back band the Bangles.

In other words, those inevitable filler-free double dance nights just can’t come soon enough — well, for the viewers.

Some of the celebs, on the other hand, might not be as eager. Take Ricki Lake, for instance. Coming off her best week yet wherein she earned the first 10s of the season, Lake followed up her hit with a big miss.

In a foxtrot set to “Easy Lover” and heavily infused with Running Man (or sort of Jogging Man) moves, Lake and pro partner Derek Hough for the first time failed to wow the judges.

Still, despite plenty of complaints about the lackluster effort to funkify the foxtrot, a generous Len Goodman and the rest of the judging gang handed out 8s. Not bad — the score, not the dance.

“I’ll take it,” Lake said of the score. “I did mess up a little bit, so I’m grateful to have a good score.”

As she should be. And Lake wasn’t the only one happy with those marks.

“I’m just glad that we survived that,” a relieved Hough added. “The foxtrot and that song didn’t blend. It wasn’t a good match up, so we’re done with that.”

There’s just one problem with the pro’s post-dance assessment — it was totally wrong.

While Hough can debate the merits of Phil Collins’ “Easy Lover” all he wants — let’s face it, '80s music was a mixed bag — it wasn’t exactly a stretch for the foxtrot. Heck, this is a man who was able to choreograph a near-perfect tango to the rhythmless theme from “Psycho” last week, so he knows how to work around the music. Besides, the judges didn’t criticize the foxtrot portion of the routine. It was the poorly performed Running Man maneuvers they rightly had a problem with.

Some things are, after all, better left in the '80s.

With Lake and Hough out of the lead, that left a vacancy at the top of the leaderboard. It should come as no surprise to “Dancing” fans which star filled it.

After delivering a sexy, hip-swaying samba, this season’s sentimental favorite, J.R. Martinez, left the dance floor just two points shy of a perfect score. If it hadn’t been for his Ralph Macchio-esque frying-pan-hand display, he might just have swept the first 30. There’s always next week. With Chynna Phillips out of the way, it’s obvious that he and Lake are in a race for the perfect-score honor anyway.

Two other hoofer hopefuls filled the unexpected gap between Martinez and Lake this time around. The oft-improving and significantly less nervous looking David Arquette earned a couple of 8s and a 9 for his “Tainted Love” tango. It was a score he shared with Rob Kardashian,whose manhandling rumba moves to Lionel Richie’s “Hello” somehow convinced the judges the routine was worth a tie for second place. (It was not.)

From there on, the standings shaped up much as they have in weeks past.

Hope Solo, decked out in black and purple gothish finery, tangoed a bit better than Nancy Grace, who was sporting black and magenta gothish finery, rumbaed. And Chaz Bono and Carson Kressley battled it out for last place, as they have done before.

At least for Bono, earning the second-to-the-last place spot was a huge improvement. Sure, the set of 7s he raked in for his samba matched what he earned last week for his sloppy “Rocky” routine, but the moves were miles better. In fact, while his lines could use some work and his footwork is far from flawless, there was actually more dancing in the “Get Down On It” number than he’s showcased since week one.

As for Kressley, his mess of a jive couldn’t be saved by his winning personality and usual fun factor. He missed steps, lost the rhythm and lacked finesse. While judge Bruno Tonioli said the performance was “loopier than a ‘Looney Tune,’ ” the truth is, it wasn’t nearly as entertaining.

So who goes home? Who knows? One off week was enough to send Phillips packing last time, but the top contenders are likely safe this time around. Instead, expect Grace, Kressley or even Kardashian (despite his respectable score) to face a final ballroom farewell.

Why not Bono? Oh, it has nothing to do with his improvements, which frankly, aren’t enough to save him. It’s just that he has a formidable voting bloc. No matter how bad his ballroom efforts have been over the last few weeks, his supporters have stayed loyal. And at the end of his routine on Monday night, he said he hoped they’d continue to “carry (him) through like they’ve done all along.”

He’ll find out Tuesday night.

Which contestant had the most embarrassing '80s-inspired outfit? Share your thoughts on the Facebook page for our TV blog, The Clicker.

Ree Hines was slightly disappointed by the lack of 80s requisite day-glow makeup, “Frankie say” T-shirts and even one Duran Duran song. Join Ree and her fellow “Dancing” expert Anna Chan as they relive the ballroom highs on lows during t.