Oh boy. Tonight's the night we get Paula Abdul as a guest judge. She always annoyed me on American Idol - will I find her less tiresome here? I don't doubt her credibility, she's arguably more a dancer than a singer.
During the staircase introductions: Val gets introduced by his full first name of "Valentin." I wonder if he asked for that or if Tom's having fun.
Brooke tells us lifts will be allowed tonight - get ready to meet the harsh reality that is gravity during rehearsals.
They introduce Paula with an interview clip and then back in the ballroom she says a lot of stuff that doesn't make a lot of sense. So… the usual.
Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Charleston, as chosen by Sabrina and Louis
Kirstie doesn't want to play this week's dance for laughs, she wants to do a challenging dance that shows off her skills.
They start with Kirstie popping out of a giant cake, which I'll take as a slight homage to "Singin' in the Rain" and Debbie Reynolds's classic number. It's a smart move because it takes up a lot of time at the beginning so Kirstie won't get worn out by the high energy Charleston. The routine has a lot of fun moves and even a sense of humor. Technically I don't know that it was good but it was charming.
Len talks about how fun it was. Paula talks about how Kirstie looks, just like she did Idol contestants. Bruno makes the "Singin' in the Rain" comparison, too! Carrie compliments her looks and then gives some actual dancing critique.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7.5; Len: 7.5; Bruno: 7.5; Paula: 7.5
For all the judges' talk about how good that was, those scores are lower than the eights she got last week.
Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas
Rock 'n' Roll, as chosen by no one (since they were the last and just got what was left)
Bristol thought the routine was going to be more [devil's horns] rock n roll, but Mark explains it going to be more "sock hop." They finally reuse the footage of Mark and Bristol dancing in the gorilla suits. I still can't believe that actually happened. Mark talks about "dumbing down" the routine because of Bristol's lack of confidence. See, right there - that's part of my problem with her - my favorite contestants on DWTS are the ones that just go for broke and aren't worried about being goofy or whatever.
As it is, even with a dumbed down routine it looks like Bristol misses a lot of steps and makes more than one wrong turn during the routine. This looks like the first day of rehearsals, not show time.
Paula sees improvement and congratulates Mark for trying to push Bristol to challenge herself. Bruno says she "hit every step" and SHE SO DID NOT. I mean, without rewinding I can tell you at least three times she screwed up. Carrie Ann gives her a high five. Len says it was her "best dance so far."
Can we nominate these judges for acting awards at the next Emmys? They've just done a darn good job of pretending that wasn't utterly awful.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8 Len: 8; Bruno: 8; Paula: 8
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That was NOT better than Kirstie's.
Sabrina Bryan & Louis van Amstel
Disco, as chosen by Kirstie and Maks
Sabrina comes out wearing a blue coat she stole from Phyllis Diller's estate. And Phyllis skinned a Muppet back in the 70s to make it.
This is high energy, like a disco should be, but I'm spoiled by the disco routines on So You Think You Can Dance and want to see more lifts. The lifts they do are impressive, except for when Louis almost drops her on the final pose.
Oh, so Bruno decides NOW to care if people miss steps (which I didn't see and neither did Carrie Ann). Carrie Ann didn't like one of Sabrina's "dismounts" though. Paula talks about how Sabrina looks. Because that's what her dance experience brings to the table. She also claims to have seen missteps. DID THEY SUDDENLY ALL GET LASIK AFTER BRISTOL'S ROUTINE???
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9; Paula: 8.5
Ha! During the interview with Brooke after the scores are announced, Tony, Karina, and Cheryl are in the back doing disco arm moves. I like when people are loose and having fun.
Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke
Bolero, as chosen by Kelly & Val
Tom describes bolero as "the Cuban dance of love." Cheryl admits after last week's show that bolero isn't one of the dance styles she's trained in. Cheryl's brought in other dancers to rehearse with them, which I'm glad they were allowed to do.
Southern speech from Emmitt this week: "Will" is two syllables. I had a gym teacher in middle school who could make the word "ten" stretch to at least four syllables.
Watching this routine, I'm still not sure I know exactly what a Bolero is supposed to be - maybe a faster rumba? That's what they seem to have ended up doing.
Carrie Ann calls Emmitt dramatic and sexy and says she liked his lines. Len was concerned about the bolero for Emmitt, but says Emmitt had fluidity and liked the lifts. Paula says it was "exquisite" and "sensual." And then she tells Cheryl she's beautiful. Gotta make sure to talk about appearance, our Paula. Bruno gesticulates wildly, which (in this instance) means he liked it.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9; Paula: 9
Gilles Marini & Peta Murgatroyd
Bollywood, as chosen by Bristol & Mark
Peta admits at the beginning of rehearsals that she's scared of Bollywood, so it makes sense when she brings in a Bollywood expert. Rehearsal doesn't look like it went smoothly. Let's hope they've pulled it together.
They start out backlit in front of a curtain, so their arm movements make them look like a Hindu statues—it's pretty cool. They do a kind of awkward lift and I wasn't aware Bollywood had a lot of lifts in hold. Oooh, I just noticed they're both shoeless - is this the first ever barefoot dance on DWTS? You just about can't get the kids at So You Think You Can Dance to put on shoes.
Len admits he knows nothing about Bollywood dancing but he liked the dance Gilles did. He praises Gilles' willingness to commit to any dance he's given. Paula does her best Bruno impression which is diminished somewhat by Bruno just being Bruno next to her and doing it better. Bruno says stylistically it was perfection. Carrie Ann starts with "Namaste" and then compares him to Aladdin. You know, Aladdin, the not-at-all Indian character? Kind of from a different continent, even?
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len 9.5; Bruno: 10; Paula: 10
I'm not sure it was THAT good, but I appreciate that they want to reward Gilles for tackling a difficult and never-done style with aplomb.
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani
Jitterbug, as chosen by Apolo & Karina
Melissa gets to go home and see her husband and daughter - her daughter is at that "I've just discovered how to blow raspberries" stage. It's cute. We can tell from rehearsal that they're going to put a lot of lifts into this routine.
They're going for a "soda shop" theme and it DELIGHTS me to see Tony in one of those pointy "food service" hats. Melissa almost hits the floor during one of her lifts, but Tony gets his hand under her neck just in time. Then a couple of lifts later, they obviously are meant to transition from one lift to another but biff the second one. This may be a record for most lifts attempted in a DWTS routine.
Paula says they look like brother and sister - which I've never seen before, but she's kinda right. Paula mentions the one lift they had trouble with. Bruno calls the lifts "ambitious" and says she was always on the beat. Carrie Ann compliments Tony on his choreography this season. She's not wrong - he's done much better, but then again, he's got a better partner than he usually gets. Len says he'd rather they "fail going for it" than playing everything safe. Len concludes his remarks with, "You've made Little Lenny very happy." That is more than I ever wanted to know.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9.5; Paula: 9.5
Carrie Ann and Len must've dinged them more for the botched dismount than Bruno and Paula did.
Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough
Mambo, as chosen by Helio & Chelsie (Helio, *sniff* my ma's pouring out some box wine for him.)
As expected this routine has tons of lifts and some gymnastic flourishes from Shawn. What's not explained is why Derek is wearing spats. Stop taking style advice from Mr. Ballas, you.
Bruno calls it mesmerizing. Carrie Ann talks about how Shawn finishes moves and her synchronization with Derek. Len was impressed with her speed and athletic movement, but also her ability to keep the rhythm. Paula paws Bruno during her criticism. I think those two want to lick each other in a non-sexual way.
Derek talks about how Shawn was terrified to put on her outfit tonight - maybe because it's cut below her PELVIC BONES? I can see being nervous about that.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 9.5; Bruno: 10; Paula: 10
I wonder what Len saw that he didn't think was 10-worthy?
Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff
Hip Hop, chosen by Melissa & Tony
While they have their couples massage, Apolo asks Karina if she thinks Tony knew she doesn't like hip hop, Karina says yes.
She swears A LOT during rehearsals. She doesn't love the song and says to the boom box, "I'd rather have disco than this [expletive deleted]." She brings in Tony Michaels to help with the moves and choreography.
Back in the ballroom, Tom reveals that Karina asked, "Why do they always have to show me cussing?" And Tom says, "Because if we didn't the segments would be so much shorter." This is the point when I get in my weekly I LOVE HIM SO MUCH declaration.
They're dancing to Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison."
True story: In high school, I was riding around with three friends when this song came on the radio and we pulled over so my friend Flip could get out and dance to it. We did things like that in the 90s.
I don't know about the routine, though. The moves they do seem to come off ok, although there's a torturously long set up to a lift where Karina climbs on Apolo's back. And then near the end of the routine, they run the length of the stage to get back to the steps and it feels like killing time. At the end of the routine, Karina sits on the stairs, covering her face, and crying. Tom's a pro and makes sure she's ok. She talks about falling, and on rewind I can see the fall better. Honestly, except for the look on her face, it almost could've passed as a planned part of the routine. But it DID look like it hurt. Tom also makes a comment about how during the routine, Apolo pulled off his mic pack and managed to do it in time to the routine. Which happened at the same time Karina fell. Impressive they both kept going after having separate problems at the same time.
Carrie Ann asks Karina if she's ok and Karina says she "messed up the whole routine" and Carrie Ann disagrees. Carrie Ann thought Apolo nailed the choreography. Len tells Karina he wasn't even looking at her because Apolo was so impressive. Bruno says, "You even make the running man look good."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8.5; Len: 9; Bruno: 8.5; Paula: 8.5
Brooke points out that the scores are for Apolo, so Karina's slip didn't count against them.
Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy
Contemporary, as chosen by Emmitt & Cheryl
Tom mentioned earlier that Kelly broke her toe this morning and she replied, "We're not talking about that." Hang tough, Monaco. I've grown to really like you this season.
Val says he's having trouble choreographing contemporary. From years of watching So You Think You Can Dance, I offer this advice: Reach for the thing you want, back away from the thing you want, curl in on yourself in sadness, then stick a leg straight in the air. Done. You're welcome.
Val did get the memo that contemporary is best danced in lingerie and sleepwear. And barefoot. That's two shoeless couples tonight. I'm getting the vapors.
For being a style neither of them danced before, it's pretty impressive. And there is some great lift work. Probably because Kelly is tiny and flexible.
Val carries her down the stairs they finished on, presumably because of her injury. As they stand in front of the judges, she's not putting ANY weight on her right foot. All the judges really praise the performance. Carrie Ann is about to break into tears during her critique. Although she does point out that some of the moves were beyond Kelly's ability, and it showed in the side-by-side moves.
Val carries her across the ballroom floor and up to the interview area. I'm really worried about her foot, y'all.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9.5; Bruno: 9.5; Paula: 9.5
(Remember this week the scores are out of 40, because of the 4 judges)
Gilles & Peta: 39.5
Shawn & Derek: 39.5
Melissa & Tony: 37
Emmitt & Cheryl: 36
Sabrina & Louis: 35.5
Apolo & Karina: 34.5
Bristol & Mark: 32
Kirstie & Maks: 30
I think we're likely to say goodbye to Kirstie tomorrow, but Apolo could be a surprise elimination, unless people are sympathetic to Karina's slip.