Double the scoring means double the scrutiny on Dancing With the Stars.
The remaining nine contestants were judged separately on technique and performance tonight, creating twice the opportunity to be raked over the coals by three extra persnickety judges.
And most of them made the most of that opportunity, turning in rumbas and tangos that lacked either poise, precision, or personality—and, sometimes, all three!
It made you wonder what made everyone so on edge during rehearsal this week. Aside from Kate Gosselin, whose partner encouraged her to get a grip by saying, "If you fail this week, he wins."
So we know what was bothering her.
Erin Andrews & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Aside from the unnecessary purring at Len Goodman at the beginning, Maks led Erin in a very proper tango, keeping her in hold throughout until letting her loose to shoot daggers at Len at the finale. Since we couldn't really see any footwork under all the red ruffles, it's a good thing the judges were watching closely: Carrie Ann Inaba noticed that Erin kept the "death grip" going even in underhand, while Bruno Tonioli thought she started off as fierce as a murderess but then "went wrong" and never quite caught up. Len thought "the start was brilliant" and appreciated the "full-on tango" content, but again insisted that Erin needs to quit taking so many steps with her toes.
Score: 39 (Technical: 18; Performance: 21)
Evan Lysacek & Anna Trebunskaya: Despite the fact that he looked as if he could have been dancing with a hat stand, Evan danced a great tango. He doesn't exude Latin sensuality, but his footwork was excellent and Anna choreographed what would have been a steamy tango. Apparently you had to be really up close to see the intensity, because it was there, according to the judges. "Strong, powerful, with a hint of catlike arrogance," Bruno growled. "You have those details spot-on...You worked on those feet and it paid off." Carrie Ann found his technique "amazing" and thought they gave a "perfect blend of artistry and technique."
Score: 52 (Technique: 26; Performance: 26)
Niecy Nash & Louis van Amstel: As far as performance, the Clean House host was 100 percent, as always. And her technique on the rumba really rocked. Best of all, it was a rumba and not a pseudo makeout sesh—then again, it was danced as a tribute to her beloved late brother, so that's also a relief. So you wouldn't believe our surprise when the judges trashed both her technique and her performance. "It didn't jell," Bruno complained, while Len thought it was "a bit boring."
Score: 36 (Technique: 18; Performance: 18)
Aiden Turner & Edyta Sliwinska: Edyta was more scantily clad than ever, so it would have taken a tremendous effort on Aiden's part to make their rumba not sexy. And he rightly didn't put in that much effort, instead going for the obliging partner role (which was almost as important tonight as the doublesided tape). If not particularly graceful, he at least looked strong and supportive. "Stop-motion animation," Bruno called his movements. "Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, you come out and do that," Len said.
Score: 33 (Technique: 15; Performance: 18)
Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough: Their rumba was lovely from start to finish…below the neck. Nicole looked terrified, maybe thinking a little too much about the lashing they got from the judges for doing an untraditional quickstep last week. Sure enough, Carrie Ann sensed that Nicole was nervous. "Your angles were quivering all over the place," she noted. Len thought she got the "balance correct between the technique and performance" (translation: not too sexy) but Bruno quipped that she shouldn't try to please Len that much. "Give me a little more sex," he implored.
Score: 50 (Technique: 25; Performance: 25)
Jake Pavelka & Chelsie Hightower: Jake doesn't have the swivel in his body that makes for an exceptionally adept tango, but he sure looked dashing in the black suit-red tie combo. Chelsie choreographed a great number, though, at one point taking them in hold up and down the steps of the bandstand—and they made it look easy! Which, however, made Jake tripping over his shoe at one point all the more noticeable. Len appreciated how Jake "attacked the dance," but "because of that aggression, [he] had a couple of incidents." Bruno called it "very, very, very messy. You went wrong so many times, you lost your posture, your footwork was questionable…It's got to be clean."
Score: 38 (Technique: 19; Performance: 19)
Kate Gosselin & Tony Dovolani: Kate dances as if she's trying her best not to touch Tony. This was the tango, but she was craning her neck away from him like he was breathing fire (or onions). But because the dance has such a close hold, she pretty much had no choice but to go along with it. And she did, albeit in robotic slo-mo and with a look of haughty disgust on her face. The judges saw signs of life, though, with Bruno going so far as to call it "a mini-breakthrough." "At moments, I actually believed you were dancing!" he exclaimed. "You may not have artistry in your movements, but you have determination," Carrie Ann offered. And Len complimented Tony on "bringing Kate to produce her best dance so far."
Score: 32 (Technique: 14; Performance: 18)
Chad Ochocinco & Cheryl Burke: No fumbles this time. Chad was on his game more than ever before with their rumba, starting off a bit stiffly but ultimately melting into a mass of fluid movement. "This is your best dance by miles!" raved Carrie Ann. "When you were looking at Carrie Ann, I thought you were looking at me. I was so flattered!" jested Len, who also praised Chad for his all-over improvement. "Cheryl, what have you been doing this week?" teased Bruno. "The hunk is smoldering tonight!" Backstage, Brooke Burke also had Cheryl show off the hunk of bling Chad bought her as a thank-you gift for all her help. (And Cheryl made clear the ring was for her partnership on the dance floor, and nowhere else.)
Score: 44 (Technique: 21; Performance: 23)
Pamela Anderson & Damien Whitewood: All eyes were on the Pam Anderson finale as she took the floor in a carefully draped white gown that not-so-unintentionally suggested a glitter-edged bed sheet. But while everyone seemed to be expecting some sort of Tommy & Pam Part 2, her rumba wasn't rowdy at all. "Quiet, understated, it had sophistication...Perhaps a little bit overdressed for me, but well-done," Len praised her. Carrie saw "magic happening." And Bruno raved that "Pamela Anderson can do refinement and elegance and still do drop-dead sexy!"
Score: 47 (Technique: 23; Performance: 24)
One of these nine will be eliminated tomorrow. And you know darn well who, based on dancing ability, should finally be in the bottom two.
Here's a rundown of tonight's leaderboard:
Evan & Anna: 52
Nicole & Derek: 50
Pamela & Damien: 47
Chad & Cheryl: 44
Erin & Maks: 39
Jake & Chelsie: 38
Niecy & Louis: 36
Aiden & Edyta: 33
Kate & Tony: 32
Were the judges being particularly harsh tonight, or was the dancing really that so-so? What was eating Nicole? Why wasn't Chad's score better? And is Kate so bad that any sign of life out there is a cause for celebration? Do share in the comments section.
(Originally published April 12, 2010, at 7:15 p.m. PT)
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