Tonight, all 12 couples on Dancing With the Stars get to hit the dance floor, and then tomorrow night, two celebs will be heading home (in the first! double! elimination!).
The couples that did ballroom last week will do Latin tonight and vice versa. The night's dances are the mambo and the quickstep, and hometown boy Mario will be among those taking on the quickstep.
The first couple of the night is Steve Guttenberg and Anna Trebunskaya, who will be doing the mambo. Anna's mom Irina comes to help train him and reveals her love for Police Academy and yoga and that they also share a fear of Anna. Nice! So they perform, and Steve takes Irina's advice to have fun with it (not that he wasn't already doing that -- he seems to have an almost cultish devotion to having fun on the show), and it seems OK, but soooo cheesy. Judge Len Goodman compares his dancing to Len's cooking -- "I can see you're trying so hard, but it didn't work for me." Bruno Tonioli says all the effort went into the facial expressions and not the dance performance. He calls him out for his footwork and his posture and pretty much everything else. Carrie Ann Inaba says he was off musically, and it never really went anywhere. Scores: 6-5-5, for a 16/30, for a 34/60 with last week's scores. Speaking of cultish devotion, Steve says the show "makes the world a better place." Mmmmkay, Pollyanna.
Cristian de la Fuente and Cheryl Burke take on the quickstep, and he is working hard on his posture in the footage from their preparations. It seems to have worked, too -- he's standing up straight and keeps up with Cheryl during their performance, which ends with him doing a somersault and landing in a split. Carrie Ann says his shoulders "were like a whole new person." She adds, though, that his footwork could be just a hair sharper. Len says they "flew round that floor," and he agrees that the posture improved but says it wasn't a classic quickstep, and "it lacked control." Bruno says he captured the character, but he needs to work on the footwork. Scores: 7-6-7, 20/30, and a 41/60 with last week's scores.
Monica Seles and Jonathan Roberts got pretty bad scores last week, but hope to do better with the mambo. I give her props for taking on something so far outside her comfort zone, but she looks somehow really gangly on stage. Maybe she needs the posture lecture, too? Bruno says she is running "an alternating current," that sometimes she is on and sometimes she is off. Carrie Ann says she attacked it and really went for it, even though she can see it's really hard for her. Len says she needs to bring her speed and coordination from the tennis court onto the stage. Scores: 5-5-5, for a 15/30, giving them a 30/60.
Penn Jillette and Kym Johnson try to work on his posture while they prepare for the quickstep, but they have a problem with finding a posture bar that fits him. They put on quite a performance, but ... it's about the slowest quickstep I've ever seen. Len says he convinced him he was "having a go at a proper quickstep," but his feet "are terrible." Bruno: "The footwork was really, really, really bad." Carrie Ann says even if the footwork is bad, she still liked it, even though it was really odd. Then, on the way backstage, Penn slips on the stairs, though of course it could be a joke. Scores: 6-6-5, for a 17/30, and a 33/60 with last week's scores.
Priscilla Presley and Louis van Amstel prepare for the dance. She wants to be perfect during the mambo, but Louis wants her to let go. During the performance, she seems pretty spot on, maybe a little stiff here and there, but overall, she does a really nice job. (Though the crawling toward the camera at the end was a little bit creepy.) Carrie Ann says she has a "special alluring quality" that draws people into it. Len says she came out and performed, but it was perhaps a little "too precise." Bruno says it was technically very accomplished, but she should "go for the sexuality." Carrie Ann, however, thinks it's good she didn't overdo it in that respect. (Me too.) Scores: 7-7-7, for a 21/30, and a 45/60 total.
Shannon Elizabeth and Derek Hough get ready for the quickstep. Shannon says she thinks she deserved lower scores last week, and Derek thinks she's crazy. I really like the choreography of the dance -- they have some nice turns that use their legs (OK, especially hers) to their advantage. And a cute ending never hurt anyone. Bruno: "That's a performance! That's what dancing is all about! ... This. Is. What. We. Want. You're in the game!" Carrie Ann thanks Shannon because it was looking like a rough night. Len says their movement was great, and "best dance so far tonight." Scores: 8-8-8, for a 24/30, and a 45/60 with last week.
Jason Taylor and Edyta Sliwinska work on the mambo, though he hates it because of the speed. For her part, Edyta says she has seen his potential, so she is giving him the craziest routine she's ever given anyone. After watching these shows for a few seasons, it's funny. The first time someone has to do the really hippy movements or shoulder shimmies when Latin comes up, there's always a moment of, "Will this person be able to pull this off?" (I sure couldn't.) Jason does, and he seems to have adapted to all the crazy moves the Edyta threw at him. Len: "You're a winner." Bruno: "You are the mambo king tonight! Strong and gentle, sharp and smooth, always musical, always in control." Carrie Ann: "You're a real contender. I can only see you going up from here. This was up." Scores: 9-9-9, for a 27/30, and a 49/60 with last week's scores.
Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony Dovolani had a hard time last week. She's really upset about messing up during the cha-cha, but she gets over it. Tonight, it's the quickstep. They are aiming for a classic dance, but still with a lot of fun. I think they pull it off. Carrie Ann says she's so much fun and she loves watching her, but she's so frustrated because she wanted more and wanted their synchronicity to be better. Len loved their bubbly attitude, and that they did the right thing by coming out and performing. Bruno says she lost her footwork here and there, but she did a great, classic quickstep and was much improved from last week. Scores: 7-7-7, for a 21/30 and a total of 39/60.
Adam Carolla and Julianne Hough prepare for the mambo. Remember what I said earlier about hip action? Well ... Adam does not quite have the same moves as Jason. He does appear to be having more fun than last week, but it's still pretty awkward and terrible. Bruno says Adam has reinterpreted the mambo in a way he's never ever seen, but he at least made him laugh. Carrie Ann says he is entertaining, but it was not quite a mambo. (There is also some back and forth about whether Adam was calling out for his publicist "Mitch" after Carrie Ann's score last week, but, uh, let's not go there.) Len: "I thought it was brilliant." WHAT? "I loved it. ... I think part of the show is to be entertained, and that's what you came out and did." Scores: 6-7-6, for a 19/30, and a 34/60 total. (I was so shocked by that 7 that I swallowed a huge gulp of air along with some food -- hey, we're always multitasking around here. Seriously? A 19?)
Marlee Matlin and Fabian Sanchez get ready for the quickstep, which is a little more complicated because they can't make eye contact like during the cha-cha, but they work on their cues. And the cues seem to work, because during the performance she is right on beat, as far as I could tell, despite the really intricate footwork that Fabian has her doing. Len: "I think you've got good potential to go a long way in this competition." He praises her musicality, though he thinks part of the dance wasn't truly quickstep. Bruno says she has incredible stage presence, and "you really are a contender," though he agrees that it was a mambo-ish quickstep. Carrie Ann also praises her musicality, but says she does need to work on her hold just a bit. Scores: 8-8-8, for a 24/30, and a total 46/60.
Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas got seriously high scores last week (the highest ever for a first round), but during practice, she's having trouble getting used to shaking it for the mambo. However, though she doesn't look quite as comfy with the shimmying as some of the other contestants, she's still pretty darned good, so I think she's going to have to stop with the "I don't know if I can do it" interviews pretty soon or it's going to start to look a little disingenuous. Carrie Ann: "I think the other couples are going to have a hard time catching up with your scores." She says Kristi is so precise, it's hard to believe she's never done this before. "You just nail it." Len says she set herself a high standard last week, but, "You've done it again, fantastic." Bruno: "Fast, sharp, exuberant." Scores: 9-9-9, for a 27/30, and a 54/60.
Baltimore's Mario is last tonight, along with his partner Karina Smirnoff. They are doing the quickstep, as he mentioned in an interview with The Sun last week. During last week's show, Len told him he needed to work on his footwork, so they practice in the sand. On stage, it seems to have paid off -- their dance (to Amy Winehouse's "Valerie") seems quite precise, very speedy and entertaining. I worry that the last move might count as a lift (which is banned), but I never know how they are going to interpret these moves. Bruno: "It was Mario and the Queen of Sheba. I mean, that was so charismatic, you were so determined. You were focused in this performance, you did a fantastic job, I think you could be a winner in this competition." Len calls him out on his hold and says he needs to work on his finesse in the ballroom style. Carrie Ann says he is very charming on the dance floor -- "You just have this, like, you ... it's hot. It's hot. ... And the technique was good, the hold was a little off, but the muscles were good." Scores: 9-8-9, for a 26/30, and a 50/60 across the two weeks.
So who do you think is at risk? I can't imagine anyone but Adam or Penn going home from among the men. For the women, I think it's between Monica and Marissa (though I really hope that Marissa is safe because I think she could get a lot better).
But, as we've learned on this show, you never know how people's fan bases will play into the voting.
Tomorrow: double elimination, plus a performance by the Jonas Brothers.
(Photo of Mario courtesy of ABC)