With no results show this week, Dancing with the Stars turned its attention to matters in the outside world. There were a couple of cute bumper segments leading into commercial breaks which impersonated negative political ads about the contestants, and Tom Bergeron spent the evening hyping the issue of Sandy relief.
But the final seven, to their credit, worked hard to make the week’s fusion theme a relative success, even though no one will be going home based just on Monday night (scores this week will once again carry over to next week, when two will go home). No one was truly disappointing, not even Kirstie Alley, who is pretty overmatched at this point and seemed to spend much of her time in recent days collecting hurricane relief supplies.
Kirstie and Maksim Chmerkovskiy were tasked with fusing the quickstep and the samba, but while she’s been notoriously bad on quickstep in her two seasons, that part of the dance actually worked decently, probably because she practiced it more. The samba, however, looked like it was left by the wayside as she worked on her Sandy duties. To her credit, she admitted she hadn’t done well, even saying that her score of 24 was “generous” (the three 8s she received were the only scores that low given out all night to anybody).
Kelly Monaco and Valentin Chmerkovskiy are still lost in love, which might have hampered them with their foxtrot/cha cha fusion. There was a good foxtrot section at the beginning, but the rest of it seemed a little disorganized, and Kelly did a lot of spinning that didn’t seem to have much to do with either dance. The judges gave her three 9s, which made this one of the night’s lesser dances, but even so, it came across as a bit of an overscore.
It looks like Apolo Ohno and Karina Smirnoff have patched things up permanently, so hooray. They had to fuse the paso doble and cha cha, but despite dramatic bleep-filled rehearsal sections, the dance went well, with the pair getting three 9s that might have been a little better had they not performed first. The transition was not as seamless as with some of the better pairs, but there was plenty of flair, punctuated by Apolo taking his shirt off (we knew that was coming eventually). Every little bit helps with the voters – you could tell everyone remaining was spooked by Sabrina Bryan getting voted off.
No one helped himself this week more than Emmitt Smith, who had the good fortune of going back to what’s been his favorite dance, the samba. What was surprising, and probably surprised partner Cheryl Burke after some iffy rehearsal footage, was that he did so well transitioning in and out of the slower rumba. Carrie Ann Inaba had some issues with his upper body and gave him a 8.5, but the other two judges loved Emmitt, giving him 9.5s. He’s still going to have his work cut out from here on it – he has more obvious trouble spots than the other males remaining – but this week helped.
I’m not sure how the intensity of Gilles Marini is coming across with the voting public. Wanting to win this much isn’t always such an attractive quality. He and Peta Murgatroyd got to close the non-marathon portion of the evening with a combo Argentine tango/samba. Gilles is Mr. Tango, and arguably stressed that dance a little too much – the samba was about as minimal as you can get and still have it be a fusion. A trio of 9.5s kept him near the top, but he might be coasting on reputation a little bit.
Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani still have this way of fading into the background for me unless she’s battling a potentially crippling injury. The judges seem to be becoming bigger fans than ever, though, giving her a 29 this week (with a 10 from Carrie Ann) for a tango/cha cha that really didn’t come across as anything worthy of those numbers. The cha cha in particular looked very perfunctory, which is a surprise because it’s not like she can’t handle it athletically.
Would Shawn Johnson be hampered this week by Mark Ballas having to step in for the recuperating Derek Hough? Not in the least. After all, Mark was her partner in Season 8, and Derek sill handled all the choreography for the tango/paso doble fusion. She might have been lucky in that these two dances go together fairly seamlessly, but it was still an easy choice as the night’s best – the 30 from the judges shows they agreed. I’m still on board with Shawn as the favorite to win this season, if Derek (who says he will be back next week) doesn’t keep getting on Len Goodman’s bad side.
There was plenty of filler this week (two-hour show with just seven contestants yet), highlighted by a swing dance marathon at the end, with the finalist getting bonuses from 4 to 10 points depending on when they got tapped out. Kirstie getting bounced first was no surprise, but she was soon followed by Gilles (not necessarily a stellar freestyler) and Apolo. Emmitt and Shawn followed, leaving Kelly and Melissa. Lifts were allowed in the marathon, but even by those standards, Kelly seemed to be surviving based more on gimmicks than on genuine swing. The judges eventually saw it that way, giving Melissa the win and Kelly a very needed 9 points as a consolation prize.
What did you think of this week, especially the decision to go without results for the second time in three weeks?