After a night of erratic judging (not to mention wacky costumes and tattoos) on ''Dancing With the Stars,'' we set the record straight

By Annie Barrett
Updated April 04, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: James Sorensen
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”Dancing With the Stars”: Judges gone wild

Dancing With the Stars often leaves me in a haze of confusion, but last night’s haze had more to do with the judges’ wonky scoring system than with the visual effects. Actually, maybe that’s not true. I should give Joey Fatone and Kym’s Star Wars laser show some more credit, because that abomination really messed with my head. At the time, I considered texting all sorts of people who would totally hate something like this, just to get them to flip the channel from basketball to ‘N Sync + A Light Saber, but I restrained myself. What was that? Has anyone recovered? I already feel like I’m in outer space when I watch this show — there was really no need to make it worse.

No, I’m mostly hazy as to how Joey, Ian Ziering, Leeza Gibbons, and Heather Mills all shared the night’s top spot, while better performances, like Laila Ali‘s and Apolo Anton Ohno‘s, were underscored. The judges blasted Laila and Maksim for breaking their hold in the middle of their tango — something Maks probably should have known better than to choreograph, considering how Karina came under fire for a similar offense with Mario Lopez last season. Still, Laila’s energy and theatrics were way more convincing than Heather’s or Leeza’s, and aside from her ”pancake hands,” which sound downright yummy to me, I didn’t see much wrong with her performance. Was it just me, or did she look really good on all those solo spins? It might be just me. That’s okay. I can’t dance.

It was pretty hilarious — and, if you weren’t in a good mood, frustrating — that no TV watchers got to see Ian’s apparently really offensive mess-up at the end of his jive with Cheryl. All of a sudden we saw a twinkling backdrop (the ceiling?) where Ian’s big finish should have been. Tough break for viewers, but I was more concerned with the camera guy’s safety than whether Ian had done something wrong. I thought his routine was the quickest and the most fun and precise of the evening.

As eerily endearing as Tony and Leeza’s high-intensity relationship can be, their dance was not good. It was way too slow, and she doesn’t seem to show any emotion — such as joy (but I’d even accept pain) — while dancing. It’s probably because she’s concentrating so hard, so I should maybe cut her some slack. But what. Was with. The tattoo? Please, sear it out of my memory! I’ll give you a million dollars!

Oh wait, I can’t, because I’m not Heather and therefore that’s not how I typically bargain for things. Okay, let’s review the things we’ve learned about Heather Mills so far. Fake leg. Ability to do walkovers. Makes the same idiotic face for any situation. We get it! Enough with the gymnastics, and the sooner they can refrain from making her rehearsal footage a PSA for advancements in prosthetics, the better. No way did that horrible, sloppy jive warrant more than a 20. She’s getting special treatment, and unless the show starts acknowledging that, people are gonna get annoyed really fast.

Shandi Finnessey and Billy Ray Cyrus shared mid-bottom-of-the-pack distinction with Laila this week. Shandi and Brian’s jive was…well, actually, the only thing I wrote down about it was that her costume was fringed instead of sequined. (For those keeping score, this week’s Fringe vs. Sequins tally was 3-7. Damn it, Fringe!) Shandi tried hard but has little natural ability, and I’m guessing she’ll be the one to go home tomorrow. Billy Ray clearly struggles the most out of anyone there with the choreography, but he also tried hard, was self-deprecating in that ”Awww, look at the self-deprecator! I wanna vote for him!” type of way, and prompted Carrie Ann to say ”balls.” I’d call that a pretty solid week for him!

Stuck at the bottom? A lackluster Clyde Drexler, who could have done a lot more with his jive, since it didn’t require a constant hold with his vertically challenged partner, Elena, and John Ratzenberger, whose tango with Edyta was a little safe and skimpy on the technique, but certainly a very good showing from Cliff. In fact, both men’s scores were appropriate for their performances — which is why it really grinds my gears that the unimpressive Leeza and Heather earned triple 8s seemingly at random. Could this be a conspiracy to shepherd more women into the finals? (’s top 10 ranking put four men and only one woman in the top five.)

Favorite moments, just because:

Bruno, to Clyde: ”We want to see the beef!…What?”

That part in Apolo and Julianne’s jive during the line ”rock, rhythm, and jazz” when they did a whirly outstretched-arms move. (I’m sorry, but I told you I can’t dance.) Rewound it three times. Synchronized! Hot!

Edyta, in her best Eastern European snarl, saying, ”Tango Leg Ratzenberger.” Can she just have own reality show already? Daily Life With the Edyta? One guaranteed viewer right here.

What do you think — or rather, what were the judges thinking last night? Whose dance would you want to see again, besides the last few seconds of Ian’s, which you’d be seeing for the first time, so trick question? And who’s in the most danger of going home tonight?

Episode Recaps

Dancing With the Stars

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