Dancing With the Stars is already on the fast track.
The pace quickened considerably tonight, with the 11 remaining contestants being tasked with the technique-showcasing (or flaw-magnifying) jive or quickstep, both reputedly two of the toughest dances they'll face all season.
Last week, Chynna Phillips and J.R. Martinez tied for first place after A-plus waltzes. Were they able to stay the course? Did Chaz Bono keep up the good work? And who took the eliminated Metta World Peace's place at the bottom of the leaderboard?
Well, J.R. sure maintained the momentum, jumpin' and jivin' to great effect in the last—but definitely not least—dance of the night. Unfortunately, Carrie Ann Inaba saw a lift (eek!) and Len Goodman saw too much Lindy hop and not enough jive.
Thanks to the blown-away Bruno Tonioli, however, J.R. only missed first place by a point.
Meanwhile, Chynna's "polite jive" came back to bite her, as she unimpressed with a dance that was technically precise but lacked any get-up-and-go. The judges were disappointed that she didn't come out firing, and she ended up sucked into the middle of the pack.
So, who's in first, you ask?
Derek Hough guided Ricki Lake right to the top with a 23, even though Len groused about wanting more jive content.
The graceful promise Hope Solo showed last week with the waltz did not translate into this week's jive. Her timing and footwork were way off—and can they please stop doing sport-themed jives and dressing in ugly outfits to match? (We blame Mark Ballas and Shawn Johnson for starting the trend.) Bruno nailed it when he said she was kicking instead of flicking!
Unfortunately, Kym Johnson appeared to have dumbed-down the jive for David Arquette because there was definitely a dearth of classic steps! And considering he didn't perform what was given to him that well...the otherwise superlikable actor could be in trouble.
"Any connection that had with the jive was a coincidence," grumbled Len, who, however, "liked the enthusiasm" and that David "gave it a go."
"It's official!" hooted Carrie Ann. "Rob Kardashian is a better dancer than Kim Kardashian! No offense to Kim!"
Hey, no one seemed to mind, including Kris and Bruce Jenner, who were cheering away in the audience. "She's not here tonight, so it's OK," Rob said of his big sis.
On the quickstep side of things, the fancy footwork proved pretty tough for Elisabetta Canalis and Carson Kressly, but Elisabetta's pretty lines worked to her advantage. Carson, who was so entertaining last week, was more awkward tonight. The costume-of-many-primary-colors probably didn't help, because it only emphasized the clown-on-a-banana-peel vibe.
The pretty picture that Kristin Cavallari cut during the quickstep had more of an effect on Bruno and Carrie Ann, while Len called out the former Hills star and Mark Ballas for breaking hold. "It was not as good as you look," he warned Kristin.
Lacey Schwimmer ended up having to scrap some of the more fleet-footed quickstep choreography she had planned because partner Chaz Bono was suffering from severe inflammation in his knee joints.
He neither passed out nor blew out his knees, as he feared he was going to, but he didn't dance as impressively as last week, either. All three judges were delighted with his attitude, but noted that the routine moved far too slowly.
The same went for Nancy Grace, who received better feedback but seemingly moved on the slow side. The HLN host's thoughts may have been wandering, however: Her rep confirmed to E! News that Grace's mother, who had been helping to watch her twins while she rehearsed, had flown back to New York to seek treatment after a series of mini strokes.
But Nancy ended up in the same boat with Elisabetta, Rob and Chynna, so not too shabby for her second time on the floor.
Another celeb is outta here tomorrow following an appearance by Demi Lovato, who will perform "Skyscraper" (and we bet the pros will be doing the rumba).
Here's how the leaderboard stacked up:
Ricki Lake & Derek Hough: 23
J.R. Martinez & Karina Smirnoff: 22
Kristin Cavallari & Mark Ballas: 22
Chynna Phillips & Tony Dovolani: 21
Elisabetta Canalis & Val Chmerkovskiy: 21
Nancy Grace & Tristan MacManus: 21
Rob Kardashian & Cheryl Burke: 21
Hope Solo & Maks Chmerkovskiy: 19
Carson Kressley & Anna Trebunskaya: 18
David Arquette & Kym Johnson: 18
Chaz Bono & Lacey Schwimmer: 17
Who do you think has danced his or her last step tonight? Who was your fave? Do you think Ricki was first-place material?! Share your thoughts in the comments section.
(Originally published Sept. 26, 2011, at 7:30 p.m. PT)