It was Week 8 of "Dancing With the Stars" All-Star Season 15, and going by the trend set last season, it was time for the infamous trio dances, or menage a trios, Latin-style. But first, the seven remaining couples each performed a ballroom routine done to a song honoring military personnel in keeping with Veterans Day. With two couples destined to leave the dance floor Tuesday night, they were doing all they could to sway the judges and voting viewers.
It was a strange start with host Tom Bergeron and co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet announcing that there were "technical problems" and quickly cutting to a commercial. When they returned, the seven celebs and their partners were already lined up on the dance floor, with Tom joking that it was "an amazing opening" with the space shuttle landing in the ballroom. Perhaps the DWTS stairway had feathers and sequins stuck in it so it wouldn't move.
Like cream rising to the top of a bottle of milk, Melissa Rycroft and partner Tony Dovolani sprinted to the top of the leaderboard, out-distancing all others. A snappy quickstep to "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" was greeted by a huge grin on the face of head judge Len Goodman, who called it "the bee's knees." Judge Bruno Tonioli likened the routine to "watching Ann Miller and Gene Kelly in 'On the Town.'" The reward for Melissa and Tony? A trio of 10's for a perfect 30. Later in the show, Henry Byalikov of the DWTS Troupe joined the couple for the
The 10's were popping up like popcorn at the local theater, along with a load of 9.5's and 9's going out to most of the dancers. For a time, it looked like Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough, apparently recovered from his neck injury, would be the ones to beat after a poignant Viennese waltz received accolades from the judges. Len commented that "sometimes a whisper is louder than a shout," and Carrie Ann called it "magical." Only Len denied them a 10 with his 9.5. But in a case of deja vu, Derek, with help from pal Mark Ballas, sabotaged the trio dance, a samba, by pushing the boundaries and making it a "jungle rhythm" samba. He did the same thing last season when his trio samba with Maria Menounos and Henry became "Bollywood-ed." Just as then, Len gave them a low, low 7 for lack of actual samba, contrasting sharply with Carrie Ann's 10 and Bruno's 9. Shawn and Derek's overall total was a second-place 93.5.
Many of the dancers are aching to hold that Mirror Ball Trophy in their hands and are determined to be one of the five couples in next week's semi-finals. And the scores reflected that extra effort. Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff gathered two 10's with their "daredevil of a tango," as Bruno described the dance that started with Apolo's entrance on a zip line across the hall. And the total for their trio jive with Sasha Farber of the DWTS Troupe was close to a 30 with 29. Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd did a quickstep that Len said "wasn't cupcakes and ice cream -- THAT was quickstep!" Two of their scores were 10's, and later, their hot and complex salsa with Chelsie Hightower garnered another 10. At my house, that salsa was so hot it set off all the smoke alarms.
Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy did a Viennese waltz that started some bickering between Len and Carrie Ann that carried on throughout the show. After Len criticized the waltz as "a little bit sharp," Carrie disagreed, causing Len to remark, "I have my standards. She (indicating Carrie Ann) has none," as the audience gasped. The judges were more in agreement about the couple's trio jive with Louis Van Amstel, which Len called an example of the "F Factor -- fun, fast, flamboyant and fabulous." And showing off his sophisticated side, Emmitt Smith danced a flowing Viennese waltz with partner Cheryl Burke that Len said "put the 'oo' in smooth." Their trio salsa with Kym Johnson had enough hip action to generate an earthquake, and Emmitt was said to be in the "red-hot, spicy, Jalapeno salsa zone" by Carrie Ann. The dancers received a trio of 10's for their efforts.
At the bottom of the leaderboard was Kirstie Alley and Maks Chmerkovskiy, who did a Viennese waltz that the judges agreed was one of her best dances and scored with all 9's. But their trio paso doble with Tristan MacManus was sloppy, silly and was called "surreal" by Bruno. I know that Kirstie has a huge fan base and I was really in her corner in her previous season and at the beginning of this one, but it seems that she has totally given up any attempt to win and dissolves in giggles and gasps when the judges give their scores. It simply will not be fair to the others who are trying their hardest if Kirstie is not eliminated Tuesday night and two strong dancers are sent home, instead. I hope the viewers reached for their phones to support the better dancers. That said, who do you think should be packing up their fluff and finery for a tearful departure Tuesday night?
Appropriately, there was no mention of Brooke's announcement last week that she has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and will have surgery when DWTS is over. She said that her doctors are optimistic and one called it a "happily ever after" situation. She also said that she had received a lot of support and love "from friends, family, #DWTS, tweeties, fans."
Celebrities and combined scores (individual dance + trio + last week's total score = total):
Melissa & Tony (quickstep) -- Carrie Ann, 10; Len, 10; Bruno, 10 = 30; (trio paso doble) 10; 10; 10 = 30; + 39 (last week) = 99
Shawn & Derek (Viennese waltz) -- 10; 9.5; 10 = 29.5; (trio samba) 10; 7; 9 = 26; + 38 = 93.5
Kelly & Val (Viennese waltz) -- 9.5; 9; 9.5 = 28; (trio jive) 9.5; 9.5; 9.5 = 28.5; + 36 = 92.5
Emmitt & Cheryl (Viennese waltz) -- 9; 9.5; 9.5 = 28; (trio salsa) 10; 10; 10 = 30; + 34.5 = 92.5
Gilles & Peta (quickstep) -- 9.5; 10; 10 = 29.5; (trio salsa) 9.5; 10; 9.5 = 29; + 33.5 = 92
Apolo & Karina (tango) -- 10; 9.5; 10 = 29.5; (trio jive) 9.5; 9.5; 10 = 29; + 33 = 91.5
Kirstie & Maks (Viennese waltz)-- 9; 9; 9 = 27; (trio paso doble) 8; 8; 8 = 24; + 28 = 79