Kristi Yamaguchi gets the season's first 30; plus, Samantha goes showmance hunting with Shannon Elizabeth and Derek Hough

By Annie Barrett
Updated April 22, 2008 at 04:00 PM EDT
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”Dancing With the Stars” recap: Perfection

To borrow a metaphor from DANCMSTR (who’s been way more into metaphors this season than Bruno — what the hell?), last night’s episode of Dancing With the Stars was basically a buffet of ballroom and Latin. Seven couples performed six different dances — ones they hadn’t done before. A few buffet selections were sure things — Kristi and Mark’s jive, for example, was a dependably terrific, possibly dripping slice of prime rib that you may wish to eat with elbow-length gloves. Some were pleasant surprises — my enjoyment of Marissa and Tony’s waltz reminded me of the time I realized I really loved bacon-wrapped figs after eating them off a buffet to be polite. Who knew? Whereas poor Marlee’s samba was like the untouched platter of sliced beets hiding in the corner of the table — you want to like them because they have so much iron and they’re good for you, but in the end, they’re beets. (And Marlee’s probably beat tonight.)

According to this horrible dance-to-food formula that I refuse to let die, the wildly erratic, tepid mess of a group hoedown would have to be the buffet’s room-temperature dessert section. I’m thinking the hoedown was every flavor of cobbler, smushed together in a festering to-go container that’s been sitting in your bag since you got home five hours ago. But you heat it up anyway, because you’ve been looking forward to it all night. And then it’s gross. But it really, really meant well, and you know that, and everything is somehow okay.

Who’s not hungry anymore? Not me! Here’s how everyone did in the dances that counted:

Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark: 30 out of a possible 30 Their tasty buffet of a jive was the first perfect-30 dance of season 6! It seemed incredibly fast and complicated, and all the crazy spins worked to the former figure skater’s advantage. I can’t imagine any other nonpro woman from the whole series pulling off a dance like this one. Kristi’s three quick spins under Mark’s legs reminded me of a move Julianne performed with both Helio and Apolo, and Kristi’s rotations were just as fast. Bruno and Carrie Ann agreed that this jive was their favorite dance of the season — I’m pretty sure I agree with them, but it could be that I’m just really obsessed with the huge, polka-dotted bow in Kristi’s hair. With the bow, the white gloves, and the weird shoes, Kristi had a solid Minnie Mouse vibe goin’ on. Mark’s look, as Tom pointed out, was more ”Buddy Holly meets Steve Urkel,” and I must say the nerdy glasses definitely distracted from Mark’s open-mouth syndrome. These two win the award for most crap jammed into a rehearsal package — I’d have thought a Tiger Woods charity event and the story of Kristi’s childhood disability (clubbed feet) would’ve demanded at least two weeks’ worth of filler. Not so. To quote Carrie Ann for no reason, ”Hay-ul, yeah!”

NEXT: Mario and Karina get it on

Mario and Karina: 28/30 Mario dedicated a really raunchy dance to a 6-year-old boy who was then warned not to really watch it. ”Let’s Get It On,” children! How…cute? Actually, Mario’s little brother, Ray Dylan, was adorable, and he provided some swiveling hip action almost as convincing as his big brother’s. See, even that sounded inappropriate, even though it’s what happened on screen. What’s a girl to do? If you’re Karina, it’s ”wear a bedsheet to the ballroom.” This made sense, as the rumba is the ”bedroom dance,” but I didn’t think they’d take the theme so literally by costuming Karina in what was essentially a dysfunctional diaper. After the rumba, which Carrie Ann called ”better than good sex,” DANCMSTR got all crotchety, complaining that the dance is supposed to be about the development of a romance, ”not a strumpet and a gigolo.” This was pretty harsh. Does Len remember any other episodes of this show? Isn’t there at least one of those types on each night, two if you count Bruno? Speaking of that stallion, he was in top form after Mario and Karina’s rumba, calling DANCMSTR ”crusty and stiffy” (which caused Carrie Ann to blatantly scope out Len’s crotch) and saying the rumba was full of ”savage, primeval lust,” followed by something that was bleeped out. I’m 100 percent sure it was ”eating each other.” And duh, Mario and Karina are at a buffet. Why wouldn’t they?

Cristián and Cheryl: 27/30 Cristián’s fans are likely miffed that their guy scored only one point behind Mario (whom Bruno called out for doing a lift but then awarded a 10 anyway). If bottom-two dweller Cristián has fans, that is. I hope he does — he looked good last night! Did you see when he slid down the banister? Talent! No, seriously, Cristián finally buckled down and must have trained harder for the foxtrot than any other dance yet. He looked shocked when Bruno complimented his footwork as ”an unexpected treat.” (Buffet!) And he was so excited by Carrie Ann’s comment about his crossing over from Rigid to Refined that — somewhat invoking his old friend the Sea World sea lion — he executed a hilarious seal clap that accidentally encompassed Cheryl’s head. The tasty Chilean sea bass of a man is simply more comfortable in aquatic environments (like swimming pools) than on land. It’s who he is! And speaking of identity, Cristán’s knack for the ballroom dances over the Latin ones has him questioning whether his parents lied to him about his heritage. He’s in for a treat when he meets his real parents.

For those of you following my Sequins vs. Fringe tally on DWTS Talk, i.e., no one, just an FYI: Cheryl’s Ginger Rogers-inspired feather dress will count as double fringe this week. It has to.

Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony: 26/30 ”It’s 2008. Who curtsies?” Marissa does! Her Viennese waltz was my favorite dance of Tony and Marissa’s to date, if only because it’s the first one that did not end with an ”OH MY GOD I’M DANCING HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!!!” face from Marissa. Last night’s final pose contained actual drama, and I thought she and Tony pulled it off quite well. I appreciated her long gown and his indigo suit, the relative classiness of which helped offset the atrocious version of ”Delilah” that accompanied the waltz. The judges universally praised the pair, although Bruno could barely finish what he was saying because Tony had butted in with a complaint about how Bruno’s critique was ”all business.” (Quick, who has a history book? Mark that down in it.) Marissa just couldn’t contain her excitement about getting 9s, so she wandered back into the realm of her consciousness in which screeching every utterance is acceptable and encouraged. No one else lives there with her. It’s annoying, but she doesn’t seem able to help it, so it’s okay. Give me another week and I might actually call it endearing. Tom’s stern suggestion that Marissa ”cheer up” was hysterical.

Jason Taylor and Edyta: 24/30 What? They’ve never been this low ranked! Not even a cartwheel over the staircase’s railing could goad the judges into handing out 9s so early in the night. (Jason and Edyta have typically danced toward the end of the show, but they performed their cha-cha first last night.) I’ll bypass a lengthy explanation of Edyta’s costume (in brief: sequined strings dangling from…briefs) in favor of relaying Carrie Ann’s significant critique of Jason: He has Big Man Syndrome and is basically dancing ”too small” for his body. Honestly, it just seemed like the judges picked this week to not overscore Jason. His dancing looked the same as usual — competent and, well, huge. Jason opted for the sleeveless look last night, so of course Bruno had to say, ”I like to see you more exposed!” He also couldn’t resist calling Jason ”flamboyant.” (Bruno, don’t scare him; otherwise he’ll never unbutton that vest.) I loved how Jason promised his fans some sweet moves in the freestyle round (which happens on finals week) if they’d vote for him last night. He did show a certain flair while dancing with Sho-Tyme — who, as we learned when Edyta read it off a cue card, ”is a hip-hop choreographer who has worked with Gwen Stefani and many other artists.” Trivia!

NEXT: Shannon and Derek’s not-so-secret love

Shannon Elizabeth and Derek: 24/30 OMG did you guys see Shannon and Derek on the beach?! They were tumbling over each other and Derek took his shirt off and there were softcore porno background tunes, and according to reliable sources (Shannon and Derek), ”the beach at sunset is definitely a romantic place”! Ugh. After their rumba, Samantha was undoubtedly instructed to relentlessly question Shannon and Derek about their ”showmance” (ewwww), because the producers think showmances make the season more interesting. They absolutely don’t. Why would I want to watch two people, with not much in common, who happen to be paired up on a TV show, engage in a relationship I’ll always suspect is fake? Where is the draw in that? I thought we were supposed to care about their dancing. If Shannon and Derek had actually devoted solid time to working on Shannon’s lack of hip action rather than shooting multiple takes of oceanside hula hooping, they might have gotten somewhere with the judges. Instead, Carrie Ann delivered the blow: ”At week 6, we’re looking for beyond potential.” I’m surprised she didn’t add, ”You know, if you two made a sex tape, you could probs stick around.” I’m really interested to see if a ”Sherek” (again, ewwww) fan base mobilizes out of thin air because of this speculation about a fling. But not as interested as I’d be in watching Samantha actually grill inmates at Guantánamo Bay, as Tom suggested. ”You’ve certainly become close in this high-security detention cell. How close have you become?”

Marlee Matlin and Fabian: 21/30 I’ll start out this paragraph with a mercy comment typical of Carrie Ann and tonight’s special ballroom guest, Paula Abdul: Marlee really did look hot in that turquoise-tinged tiger number, whatever it was. It’s hard to disagree with the judges that Marlee and Fabian’s mambo was a total mess, but I have to say I didn’t think that song was conducive at all to any sort of dance, let alone one that other humans would actually be watching. I couldn’t find the beat for more than eight measures myself. It was almost as if Fabian intentionally chose a song with no discernible rhythm to distract from the fact that Marlee has none either. I honestly can’t imagine any couple dancing to that song and doing well. Am I just a huge Marlee fan who can’t accept reality? Probably. I keep thinking there must be a teaching method Fabian hasn’t uncovered yet, like a light-bulb moment that’ll make every dance in sync with the music, but that’s probably unrealistic. I suppose it’s time for Marlee to go, since her limitations are significant and two dances a week likely aren’t doable. Tonight will be the true test of her fan base. At least the Fonz (or, as I know him, Arrested Development‘s Barry Zuckerkorn) showed up for a motivational speech reminiscent of Richard Simmons’ to Jennie Garth last season, except Henry Winkler’s was less creepy and Henry Winkler and Marlee Matlin are actual good friends.

Okay, everybody but Marissa gimme a holler for the triple-whammy HGOTW!

Here’s one to print out and hang on the bedroom ceiling. E-mail me for an enlarged image! Wow, there’s no way I’m allowed to say any of that in a TV Watch, or in life. I’ll try again. Jason Taylor: What a loon!

What did you think of the week 6 buffet? Should the word ”showmance” be banned? Do the judges need to figure out a uniform point deduction when they notice a lift? And who’s going home tonight — Marlee or Shannon?

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Dancing With the Stars

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