The show celebrates its 100th episode with a recap of the best dances, the return of some old favorites, and the dubious elimination of Mario
Mario, Dancing With the Stars

”Dancing With the Stars” recap: A milestone

Just turn around now, Mario — ’cause you’re not welcome anymore! Weren’t you the one who tried to break DANCMSTR by taking the high road and choosing to ignore his offensive comments? Did you think he’d just lay down and die? (Probably; he’s like 200.) Oh, no, not DANCMSTR! The crotchety judge got his way, and we’ve got a final four that doesn’t include the talented 21-year-old, who after Monday night’s Viennese waltz positively beamed, ”It’s official! I’m in love with the ballroom!” (It’s really too bad, since a Mario vs. Kristi final two could have been the most technically competitive face-off since Drew vs. Stacy in season 2.) But alas! As long as Mario knows how to love, I know he’ll stay alive. And at least he went out on a high note, thanking Len for all of his comments and sending a shout-out to the real role models, ”the young men and women fighting for our country.” He will only be remembered well.

Of course, Tom didn’t even announce the first safe couple (Marissa and Tony) until 9:50 p.m. because this wasn’t just any Dancing With the Stars results show — it was the 100th episode of what season 1 winner Kelly Monaco called ”the most unpredictable show on TV!” And she’s right, because on a night as star-studded and disco-tastic as this one, not even internationally renowned psychic Priscilla Presley could have predicted that Marie Osmond would not show up for an opportunity to be on live television. (Maybe she committed but then pulled out after being told she’d be relegated to the non-speaking-parts sidelines along with Joey Lawrence, Jane Seymour, Mark Cuban, et al.)

The results-show celebration of past (and better) seasons opened with a typically outlandish big pro dance, aptly set to the Black Crowes’ ”Hard to Handle.” Back in da hizzouse/bizzallroom: Ashly DelGrosso (really cute hair) and correspondent Maksim Chmerkovskiy! The dance, which, like many of the other pro exhibitions, could be described by just dangling a luscious ball of golden fringe over someone’s head while they sleep, had all the ingredients you’d expect for such a momentous occasion: an incredible Jonathan-to-Maks aerial handoff of Karina, Louis and Derek’s ”let’s take it down a notch and show our technical precision, and ability to do back flips!” break, and all the men diving through their partner’s legs in a ”wave” effect (Maks did a split!) to finish with a flourish.

NEXT: Apolo and Julianne still got it

Just a few minutes later, Apolo and Julianne’s sophisticated slow dance to Rascal Flatts’ ”Every Day” made me even more nostalgic for some of the more exciting past seasons — and dancers — than I’d been during the judges’ top-10 clip show. True, Apolo looked nowhere near as comfortable as his spring 2007 self, but it’s been a while, and he has Actual Other Stuff going on in his life, so I think he did great. Julianne distracted from any possible Apolo-induced hesitation with hearty doses of her signature whip-like series of embellishing twirls and a bevy of pretty, pretty lifts. The really playful partnerships like ”Apolianne” just aren’t as abundant this season. I loved the end of Apolo and Julianne’s dance, when they returned to their trademark ”lingering gaze,” which you know gets everyone watching to practically chant out loud, ”Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” They didn’t. But that’s okay….

Because Mel B. and Maks totally did! The Spice Girl attacked that lovely, bearded face like a rabid woodpecker as M&M closed their samba/cha-cha medley with a reverse-gendered throwback to the Maks-on-top ending to their season 5 mambo. I’m a little disappointed that Maks opted for a sequined vest instead of fringe, but hey, at least he didn’t wear a shirt, as I’d requested. M&M’s bag of tricks was obviously the highlight of my night — nay, week! Maks must be so glad he consulted with me on the choreo. I have no choice but to assume that he put in those three consecutive walking splits specifically because I asked him to. Yes! This ranks up there with that time Josh Schwartz gave the Cohen family’s bagel slicer its own scene in the O.C. series finale because I’d begged him over the phone to consider a more prominent story line for my favorite kitchen prop. Most people don’t know this, but I actually control most of what happens on TV. (Except all that Idol crap, which I leave to Slezak.) I just happen to be very modest about this superpower. (Usually!)

Seeing Mario Lopez with the cast of A Chorus Line was cool, but I think I expected more. (Considering the title of the play, I’m really not sure why). Astute 30 Rock fans may have noticed DeBorah (Deidre Goodwin, who played the MILF Island champion) dancing right next to A.C. Slater. I’d rather have seen a minute or two more devoted to hearing from all of the returning celebs. Why ask them to get all dressed up (and likely doused with a requisite base layer of spray tan before entering the ballroom) and then barely feature them at all? Oh, well — at least we got a good dose of Joey Lawrence’s best pouting. He definitely rivaled Karina for best b—- face of the night, but Karina clearly won as soon as she executed her first dramatic eye roll. Then again, I’m in the minority camp that thinks Karina’s eye rolls pretty much rule. This season, at least, they’ve been warranted.

NEXT: Catching up with Lisa Rinna

Tom was in top form tonight, referring to Mel and Maks as ”my favorite M&Ms” and acting warm and fatherly with Mama Samantha regarding all the ”kids” who had returned. (From college? War? Nope, just a tired-out tango called ”trying to remain relevant in Hollywood.”) I particularly loved Tom’s nod to Vivica A. Fox’s run on Curb Your Enthusiasm, because it was truly hilarious — and, I hope, not over. Tom could’ve said anything to Kenny Mayne, and Mr. DanceCenter would have responded with ”Certainly a more comprehensive answer can be found in my new book.” The MVP of all the returning celebs, though, had to be Lisa Rinna, for not letting us down in terms of our expectation that she’d be as ”Lisa Rinna” as possible. When she said, ”We all know, I’m a freak of this thing” (”this thing” meaning Dancing With the Stars), I just wanted to hug her. Had I been in the actual ballroom, I probably would have just poked at her lips with a 10-foot pole instead, and then run away screaming. But I wasn’t in the ballroom! So a hypothetical hug it is.

As for the evening’s first hour, which showed the judges’ top 10 dances to ever score a perfect 30, I thought it was fairly spot-on. Mario and Karina’s tango at first seemed like a surprising choice for the best dance ever, but then I watched it for the first time since…well, since it happened, and that thing was damn good. The 30-second block of just their footwork practically hypnotized me into a sequins-loving trance. Mel and Maks’ dominatrix-themed paso doble was an interesting choice for second place, seeing as their Viennese waltz could have been included instead, but I think the paso — specifically all that pleather — was more representative of their dynamic partnership. Not to mention, I got to hear the Harold Wheeler Ensemble change the lyrics of ”Free Your Mind” from ”That doesn’t mean that I’m out sellin’ dope” to ”That doesn’t mean my life is without hope” one more time. Worst TV-PG appropriation of En Vogue lyrics ever.

One common thread among the 10 best dances? The music didn’t suck! Anyway, I could go over the whole list, but since you probably saw it too, you tell me: Did you think the judges left anything out? Did Kelly Monaco’s freestyle belong in there? What about Helio’s quickstep? I’d have rather seen Tia Carrere’s season 2 waltz than either of those, myself.

There’ll be no DWTS Talk this week, so I leave you with a virtual magic-wand wave and the very unsettling Sequins vs. Fringe tally of 39-37. Let’s do this, fringe! Two weeks left!

What did you think about the elimination show? Are you happy with the four finalists? Are you like me and could you have watched a four-hour 100th-episode special of just M&M and A&J? And who do you think was really with Mario in the bottom two this week?

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