Although the dancers' scores keep rising (and Sabrina gets a 30!), the show is suddenly all about Carrie Ann's obsession with one rule

By Annie Barrett
Updated October 16, 2007 at 04:00 PM EDT
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”Dancing With the Stars” recap: The great lift scandal

The general consensus among DWTS fans after last night’s musically challenged paso doble and Viennese-waltz extravaganza was probably ”WTF, Carrie Ann?” Whether the judge’s hissy fits regarding lifts were totally scripted or a desperate ploy for attention, they didn’t make much sense. According to the rules, said Carrie Ann, at least one of both dancers’ feet must be touching the floor during a trick. If that’s true, though, nearly every couple would have been disqualified already. Why bring it up now?

So the ”lift” drama came a little too late, but another major event came way too early. The judges awarded the first perfect 30 of the season (on week 4!) to Sabrina Bryan and her partner Mark. First, I must give props to PopWatch commenter Welles for wondering whether Mark reminded anyone else of the Marc from Ugly Betty. Yes! Right after ballroom Mark told Sabrina, ”You can’t laugh,” he contorted his face into super-faux-serious mode, just like Mode magazine Marc. Good call, Sir or Madam Welles.

Now, while I don’t possess a prickly disposition, a DANCMSTR vanity plate, or a proclivity toward nonsensical imagery uttered in a highly stylized accent, I wouldn’t have given Sabrina and Mark a 10 for their paso doble. It was good, just not perfect. Their choreography was difficult, but Sabrina seemed a bit behind the music the whole time, and they missed their final flourish by more than a whole beat. Sabrina did power through her moves, and you know I always love ”a little minx on the prowl” (Bruno’s words), but something was off with their performance. Was it Mark’s insistence on showing off his own tricks? Was it the unfortunate rendition of ”You Spin Me Round”? Was it that Sabrina resembled Grimace in that big purple dress and I kept wanting her to turn into a cartoon and offer me McDonald’s fries? We shall never know, DANCMSTRS-in-training. Moving on….

Jennie Garth, Cameron Mathison, and Helio Castroneves all tied for second with 27 out of a possible 30 points. Jennie was the clear standout here, if only because her partner, Derek, worked wonders choreographing a respectable paso doble to a slowed-down version of Fatboy Slim’s ”Because We Can.” I should point out here that while I’m sure the horrible song choices infuriate most of you, I find them hilarious and at this point essential to the show. It’s not a challenge unless your song is the worst choice on the planet — and the DWTS producers keep redefining the term ”the worst choice on the planet” into realms far beyond my expectations, season after season. You kind of have to hand it to them. ”It,” in your case, could be a steaming pile of fringe stewed in the excessive neck sweat of Wayne Newton. But you should at least hand them something.

Like Jennie, Cameron finally got into the full character of his paso doble with Edyta. They had to dance to an improvised (and really slow) Superman theme (sorry readers, complete 3 a.m. brain fart on my part and yes — duh!), a song choice so ridiculous that I think it actually helped Cameron loosen up. The Superman gimmick was already tired by last week, but the giant C on Cameron’s shirt did seem to lend him some weird electricity and charisma that would have played out horribly in any other musical setting than the laughable one he was in. (You see? Sometimes it’s essential!) Not to be outdone, Edyta contributed to the general spectacle in the only way she knew how: by cutting up a one-piece bathing suit and strategically gluing its shreds over her nipples. I’m liking the teamwork, you two!

Helio and Julianne danced a Viennese waltz to a song that was not absolutely atrocious, so I won’t bother mentioning its name. The couple had a rough week in the studio as they argued over how best to learn the dance. The segment made Helio seem like a bit of a control freak, but I have a feeling he’s just nervous about remembering steps. Julianne really does seem to move quickly and throw very difficult moves into each dance. Helio got over it, Julianne reminded him who was boss, and they turned out a romantic routine. ”You’re like sunlight — you can never have enough!” exclaimed Bruno to a man named Helio. Good one, Brunes!

NEXT: Waltz going on?

The trio of remaining ladies all danced the waltz and tied for fifth with 26 points. We had to endure a whole segment of Mel B. and Maks fake-meditating, but their polished dance more than made up for that crap. The judges continue to be surprised that Mel can hold it together in the ballroom without trashing it up — according to Carrie Ann, when Mel opens her mouth, she resembles a truck driver. Can you imagine if she really was? I would have to join the truck-driving community immediately so Scary and I could hang out at rest stops together, snack on Cheetos, and continue to be untalented at ”focusing.”

What? Oh, right, Jane Seymour and her enormous painting of multicolored footprints. What the hell? I loved how Jane surveyed this ”masterpiece” after she and Tony were done traipsing all over the surface and declared, ”It’s extraordinary.” No. It’s really not. It’s a dirty piece of paper. Anyway, Jane and Tony bore the brunt of Liftgate 2007. Carrie Ann insisted that Jane’s feet both left the ground during their first spin, and like, duh, of course they did. But a lot of the couples pull the same move, or similar ones, so why ya gotta get up in Dr. Quinn’s grill, C.A.? This whole idea of a lift as a trick that one dancer could not perform without the other irks me a little. Isn’t that arguably, like, half the total moves of this show? Jane also couldn’t balance like a music-box ballerina and twirl around without Tony’s support. Should that mesmerizing move be illegal too? Also: Ewwww, ”Piano Man.”

Based on the judges’ comments, Tom Bergeron labeled Marie Osmond ”the Sleepy Stripper,” which pretty much sums up her night. Bruno complained that Marie didn’t add her usual strong sense of character to her waltz with Jonathan, but considering that Marie’s intended character seemed to be a narcoleptic wood nymph who found her scraggly weave so kinky she just had to shake it out of her exotic nightmares, I’d argue that Marie played this role beautifully. This waltz definitely contained less substance and difficulty than those of Scary and Jane, and was probably a bit overscored. (”Scary and Jane” would be a fun children’s book series. Look into it, gals!)

Pro boxer Floyd Mayweather proved that contrary to popular belief, donning a suit containing red doily fringe does not make one a better dancer. To be fair, the Harold Wheeler Orchestra sounded way out of whack for at least the first 30 seconds of Floyd and Karina’s paso doble — and now that we know how the dancers aren’t even sure what the song will sound like until the day they perform it, Floyd might deserve some slack there. The judges all commented on Floyd’s improvement, but to be honest I thought that dance was the hottest mess since Samantha Harris’ first welcome-back screw-up of the evening. Since he was in the bottom two last week, Floyd could be poised to mention his December 8 fight for the last time tomorrow night.

Finally, there’s Mark Cuban and Kym, who scored 22 points for a Viennese waltz set to a painful(ly awesome) rendition of ”Mr. Bojangles.” I’ll admit I found Mark’s furious note taking more endearing the second time around. There are no attitude kinks to work out with this couple, and Mark clearly has no problem waddling around the ballroom floor like an impeccably dressed Mary Poppins penguin, since that’s basically all he can do with his bum hip. If DANCMSTR keeps closing his eyes while judging him, Mark could win this thing!

What do you think? Did you find the lift controversy as pointless as I did? Who else is excited for Wade Robson and whatever the hell kind of hippies-in-chains dance he’s gonna pull off tonight? And would you rather see Mark or Floyd go home?

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Dancing With the Stars

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