Welcome to season 8 of Dancing with the Stars, the Little Reality Show That Could…add a Playboy Bunny and a Bachelor Dumpee at the very last minute and somehow play out rather normally. The Girls Next Door‘s Holly Madison and recent ABC darling Melissa Rycroft replaced former contestants Jewel and Nancy O’Dell, both of whom withdrew last week due to injuries. Apparently, Dancing With the Stars‘ primary goal for season 8 is to support the flailing industry of general surgery. All Cheryl has to do is fling Gilles Marini and his troubled groin into a spin fast enough, and she’ll keep the dream alive! Don’t you dare do it, Cheryl. Here’s how the 13 couples — let’s call ’em The Top 13, for Steve Wozniak’s sake — ranked after either the waltz or the cha cha cha….
Gilles Marini and Cheryl: 24/30 Might as well face it: I’m addicted to Gilles’ early adoption of DWTS‘ famed ”buttons ruin a shirt” policy. Who cares if this guy was in Sex and the City? I’d be rooting for him if he was just some vagrant Cheryl found sleeping under the bleachers at her favorite theme park, Sea World. Usually the not-so-famous model type gets sent home first, but Gilles and Cheryl should clearly stick around after that bangin’ red and black cha cha cha. Their shared slow, full-body wave was as sexy as an oversize dollop of Nutella smeared over the tip of a giant baguette. Plus, Gilles is already comfortable enough with his partner to not only grope her face, but trace one finger downward from her clavicle…and if you know anything about Dancing With the Stars, you know that’s final-three material right there. Let’s hope Gilles’ bizarre rosary tee makes another appearance during rehearsals, and that he and Cheryl engage in more masculinity jokes, because it’s annoying when the men in this competish get all hung up on how manly they look. Get a clue: We want you to dress like Gilles and the smarmy Russians who are hot, know it, and clap their hands. Embrace the character, y’all!
Shawn Johnson and Mark: 23/30 I was an Olympics fanatic this summer, so hearing Shawn’s adorably squeaky, optimistic rambling on a reality show about ballroom dancing was a bit surreal after that voice had been etched into my brain from Shawn’s post-gold medal-winning sofa chat in Beijing. (Was Samantha the Béla Károlyi or the Bob Costas in this analogy? Totes Béla.) Shawn surprised the judges with an elegant waltz — the only complaint Bruno and DANCMSTR had was with her gymnastics-esque arm extensions. It’s true, I thought she was saluting for her second vault as she and Mark drifted into one corner. Carrie Ann was so moved by Shawn’s dynamism that she teared up a little. She is so the Denise Richards of the judging panel. Side note: Scruffy rehearsal Mark was super hot. Who knew? I hereby restrict Mark Ballas’ shaving privileges to once per week. He’s definitely reading this and will eagerly obey.
NEXT: Lil’ Kim breaks out…of her comfort zone