Tomorrow night, somebody's going to go home because of their samba or rumba. But first, the contestants have to hit the floor on Dancing With the Stars tonight.
The first thing we learn, as the stars descend the stairs, is that the wardrobe folks have gone a little crazy for Latin night. Chuck Liddell in ruffles! Aaron Carter in what looks like a blue satin wrap top! Debi Mazar in more feathers than you'd find at Big Bird's family reunion.
Co-host Samantha Harris starts things off with an announcement that Tom DeLay's pre-stress fracture has developed into a full-blown stress fracture, so it's still unclear whether he'll be dancing. Oh, I'm sure the producers know, but they need to build some suspense here, so it's going to remain unclear to us.
First up are Mark Dacascos and Lacey Schwimmer, who are doing the rumba. In rehearsal, Lacey's on Mark to calm down and slow things down, but he is very energetic, so it's tough. In the performance, they do slow things down -- and have a little story about how he's flirting with other girls and lying about it -- but it feels like they slow so much that they only dance on a tiny fraction of the floor. Seems a bit static. Head judge Len Goodman says the rumba is tough for the male celebrities. He felt it was too "hard," and lacked chemistry and warmth, but he loved Lacey's one-leg turn. Bruno Tonioli says it was an "anticlimax." He adds that it lacked fluidity. Carrie Ann Inaba says his quality of movement is up there with Mya and Aaron, but he's lacking confidence, which made it "kind of uncomfortable to watch." Scores: 6-6-6, for an 18/30. (Oh, it turns out the woman Mark was being flirty with at the beginning is his wife.)
Joanna Krupa and Derek Hough want to get back to the top of the pack with their samba. She wants to step it up in particular because she doesn't have as large of a fan base as some of the other competitors. These two are all over the floor and having a grand old time, but Joanna needs to stop mouthing the words to the songs. She also seems a tad tentative and not super fluid at times. Bruno says, "The good times are back." He says it was full of excitement and life, but that there was some unsteady footwork, but it was otherwise very good. Carrie Ann calls her fearless and says it was super-sexy. Len says, "It had quality stamped all over it. ... Great dancing, well done." Scores: 7-8-8, for a 23/30.
Mya and Dmitry Chaplin are hoping to bring a romantic air to the dance floor. In rehearsal, they aren't feeling it, so Mya brings in candles and rose petals to the studio to help them find their characters. The performance itself is sexy and sweet. (Also, I totally hear Carrie Ann yelling "LIFT!" in my head when Dmitry lifts Mya's feet off the floor at one point.) (Hey, random, Paula Abdul is there!) Carrie Ann says she has chills it was so good, but "There was what I'm not sure was a lift, but the honest truth is I was so mesmerized, I can't call it." (Guess that really was just in my head.) Len says they had chemistry and momentum, but there was so much going on that sometimes you need a little simplicity to make it sparkle. Bruno tells him to take a Valium. He says she was the epitome of a seductress, and, "No price is too high for you; I'd pay!" Scores: 10-7-10, for a 27/30. OK, wait, so last time Len gave them a lower number it was because they had too little content, and this time it was because there was too much? I don't get it.
Melissa Joan Hart and Mark Ballas have trouble in rehearsal because Melissa is just not getting the steps, and she's been criticized for her footwork, so she has to push it. She says she is determined to embody the samba. In the performance, they give it their best effort, and you can really tell that Melissa is trying, but the pieces just aren't coming together. Her footwork still seems pretty messy, and things just feel off-kilter. Len says parts were really excellent and that she came out and performed. He adds that she had strong legs, but her legs were kind of divorced from the top and needed more rhythm. Bruno says she lost timing a couple of times, but her foot placement was a lot better, and that overall, it was an improvement from last week. Carrie Ann says she is coming out of her shell a little more every week, but that she doesn't "believe it when you dance," adding that some moments, she shows her wild abandon and then others, her fear is evident. Scores: 6-6-7, for a 19/30.
Louie Vito and Chelsie Hightower have the rumba this week, and Chelsie is surprised that he knows all about the sexy and romantic dance. In rehearsal it seems like they have a little crush working. And they work this to their advantage in the performance -- their chemistry is evident, which takes away a lot of the potential awkwardness from the dance. Bruno: "That's chemistry! That's how to play a girl! But ... you have to work on the fluidity." Carrie Ann says they are so cute, and that "in the rumba, the chemistry takes you far. ... You give you good frame." Len says he so much wanted to be nice, but it was wild and had no finesse, so it became hectic and he was disappointed. Scores: 8-5-7, for a 21/30.
Debi Mazar and Maksim Chmerkovskiy want to bounce back from last week's bottom-two experience. He invites Mel B in to give her a pep talk, and in rehearsal, she's a lot more focused. They dance the samba, and it's OK, but it seems a lot slower than the other couples' sambas. (They're dancing to "Love is in the Air," which isn't exactly a party song.) Carrie Ann says it was cute, but a hair safe, especially since she's a "fiery chick." Len says what she did she did well and precisely, but it lacked some flavor. Bruno says she has a fiery personality and there was a disconnect, but also, she had two missteps. She says he is right. Scores: 6-5-6, a 17/30.
Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson are doing the rumba, and they're having trouble bringing the romance to the dance floor. In the performance, though, not so much. It's a tad awkward at the very beginning, when Kym is just standing there, and Donny has to do all this hip action solo, but once they're dancing together, it's great. Len says his foot action was a little off, but that overall, he did a great job. Bruno says it looked pretty, like Swan Lake, and a little "airy fairy" at times, which strangely prompts Donny to run over to him and give him a kiss. Bruno tells him to "come to the dark side," and the Donny dips him like he's giving him a big kiss, then dips him again. Well, OK, then. "I don't think they're going to let me back in Utah anymore," Donny says. "Let's all go to Bora Bora!" Bruno says. Carrie Ann: "That was a bit awkward. What was I thinking? The rumba! Very daring to do a solo in the rumba ... there was a genuine vulnerability that I saw." Scores: 7-7-7, for a 21/30.
Michael Irvin and Anna Demidova are pushing hard in preparation for the week's samba. At first, they're just frustrated with each other, but eventually, they make a checklist of goals and work everything out. In the performance, Michael finally looks comfortable and like he's having fun, which is a major improvement. The dance itself, though, seems a little safe again, more like the first week. Bruno says they are going in reverse, that he has charm, but he was dancing like a tank and was on the wrong foot pretty much the whole time. Carrie Ann says he is a big man with a gigantic spirit and he's dancing too small. Len says it's a tough dance, and this was a little disappointment. (Michael is feeling the effects of all the time used up by the Donny-Bruno antics -- very little actual feedback.) Scores: 5-4-5, for a 14/30.
Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazo prepare for the rumba, but the closeness and the attempts at acting sexy make Natalie feel uncomfortable, so she turns red and gets embarrassed. To help work that out, Alec brings in his wife, Edyta (!), to show what an impact eye contact has on chemistry. Natalie says she's going to try to make it work. Edyta gives her "permission to go all out with my husband." In the performance (to "Tonight" by Genesis), Natalie mostly manages to keep the eye contact. Their movement is nice and fluid and the chemistry is a bit better. I do notice Natalie kind of pausing and taking a breath to get her nerve up before she does this backbend move, but I can't really blame her for that one. It is a momentary break in character, though. Carrie Ann: "I knew you had it in you!" She loved it the intensity and the gorgeousness. Len says it was expressive and good leg action and hips. "I thought it was an excellent performance." Bruno: "I knew you could fly, but you've gone stratospheric tonight!" Scores: 9-8-9, for a 26/30.
Chuck Liddell and Anna Trebunskaya get ready for the party dance, the samba. Chuck is awash in ruffles for the performance, but he quickly tears them off. So Chuck+the party dance could have equaled disaster, and it doesn't, exactly. Anna definitely gives him content to work with, so he does a lot of dance technique, and his face looks like he's having fun, but he's still kind of stalking around the floor. Len congratulates Anna for doing a great job with Chuck and giving them a thoroughly entertaining performance. Bruno says you can see the huge amount of work, but it's still like "a samba from Zombietown." Carrie Ann says he has the right attitude, with the ruffles and the kick to Len, and that it was fun. Scores: 6-5-6, for 17/30.
Aaron Carter and Karina Smirnoff prepare for the rumba, but Aaron keeps overdoing the movements. In the performance, this is definitely an issue -- he just looks kind of clunky and like he's trying too hard. Also, why is he wearing a blue satin wrap shirt? I can't get past it. Bruno says he had plenty of attack and determination, but it lacked fluidity and needed more light and stage. Carrie Ann says he is over-exaggerating everything, but he did a great job. Len says it lacked musicality and that he was flinging his arms around. Scores: 8-6-7, for a 21/30.
Tom DeLay has been promoted all night as the big drama: Will he or won't he be dancing? That pre-stress fracture is a stress fracture now. His doctors and the producers have told him to withdraw from the competition, and he's got pain in his other foot now, too. Tom Bergeron talks with Tom and Cheryl Burke, and he shares that he has stress fractures in both feet now. Tom B. asks if he's dropping out, and he says, "What's a little pain when you can party?" So they will be doing the samba after the break. They dance to "Why Can't We Be Friends," and I finally notice that he has the Republican elephant on his back and Cheryl has a Democratic donkey on her dress. That gets a little chuckle. The whole thing is pretty OK, all things considered, except for when Tom has to do solo hip action. I'm sorry, it's just wrong, and I didn't need to see that. Carrie Ann says he is easy on the eyes when he dances and he has good entertainment value, but it could have been more exciting. Len says he's a hero, that if he had a stress fracture in both feet, he wouldn't even be judging. Bruno says he's a super trouper, but yes, the performance suffered, and they have to judge what they saw. Scores: 6-4-5, for a 15/30.
Kelly Osbourne wants to fight back after her mistakes in last week's tango. She and Louis Van Amstel prepare for the samba, determined to do better. In the performance, she definitely has some of her effervescence from week one back, and it seems like she's trying to have fun, too, even when she does stumble a bit. At the beginning of the song, there is a line about a kiss when their faces are right by each other, and she sticks her tongue out and licks his face? (That sounds way more extreme than it was, but it was still surprising.) At the end, she gives him a big kiss, and speaking of surprising, Louis looks like that was not expected. Anyway, she has her mojo back. Len says that her problem is confidence and that her performance level will rise when she believes in herself. Bruno says she's back and had some beautiful sections. He advises her to forget about doubt. Carrie Ann says when she gets it right, her technique is great, and she just needs to listen to the other two. Scores: 7-6-7, for a 20/30.
So what did you think about the evening of dance? I felt like it was pretty uneven (and clearly the judges thought so, too).
One last thing: Anybody else notice at when they were giving the numbers, the voices listed Tom and Cheryl's name and number second, while Joanna and Derek's info and video were on screen, and Joanna and Derek's name and number second to last, while Tom and Cheryl's info and video were on screen. Sounds like they delayed Tom and Cheryl for maximum ratings impact, but didn't take everything into account. Yikes! At least the numbers and names lined up, even if the voices didn't. Hopefully this doesn't cause voting problems.