The irrepressible ''Hairspray'' star Marissa Jaret Winokur is repressed, and everyone gets shown up by the talent and fashion sense of the kid competitors
Marissa Jaret Winokur, Dancing With the Stars

”Dancing With the Stars” recap: Down to three

Farewells, congrats, and bushels full of sparkly confetti to Marissa Jaret Winokur, the bubbly contestant nobody ever expected to make it to the final four. The Broadway star’s unrelenting enthusiasm for all things Dancing With the Stars kind of unnerved me at first, but overall she’s been a positive force on the show and the chief conspirator behind the Triumphant Return of Tony (and Tony’s Teeth). Bottom line: Marissa’s nice, and it’s cute that dancing made her feel sexy, but the final four is much better off without her. Remember when Marissa promised that she and Tony would show up in the audience next week if they got eliminated? She said it like a threat, followed by a resounding ”Ha ha ha!” But really, most of the people watching (except the thousands of Lucy Lawless/Xena fans who kept voting for Marissa) were thinking, ”No, it’s not funny! Please be in the audience next week. Thanks.” You know Marissa will have a ball in the audience — just being involved with the show in any way still seems like a dream to her, which is pretty endearing.

DANCMSTR chose Kristi and Mark’s tango for this week’s encore. I liked it a lot better this time because she (obviously) seemed more relaxed, and Mark limited his mouth-pop count to an extremely respectable 1.5. My little guppy’s made so much progress this season! When he finished on the floor, red socks a-blazin’ and with a completely closed mouth, I got almost as choked up as Tom did after Sam asked Jason and Cristián about their ”budding bromance” backstage. The host with the most also called Kristi and Mark out on their adorably random nose bump at the end of the encore.

God, I love Tom. Sometimes, like right now, he deserves his own one-line paragraph…

…and then continued adoration in the next! One of my favorite parts in the Ballroom Kids segments this season has been Tom’s kneeling interviews at the end of the wee ones’ dances. Last night he even waddled backstage on his knees. Aaron and Rashell’s cha-cha segment was very sharp, the only negative being Aaron’s innocent but disarming desire to be on television and DANCMSTR’s lingering visual of the children: ”Your little bums were flying everywhere.” Jaryd and Cara danced a cheeky samba, before which I let out a delighted gasp at the same time as those two little ”gremlins” when Maks strode into their practice room. (Maks is all about the fashion hats in 2008, huh?)

NEXT: The ”Phantom” menace

The older kids, the 13-and-under couple Brandon and Brittany, completely blew the viewership’s collective mind (it’s about time!) with their incredible paso doble set to ”Phantom of the Opera.” I’d take a B&B performance — even if it was that one, repeated — over the increasingly lame Macy’s Stars of Dance segments, every Tuesday if I could. The end of that dance, with the extended final note and all the whirling and bending and about seven new tricks in two seconds, left the judges with mouths as wide open as Marky Mark’s. Loved Brandon’s ready-to-go quip about wanting to be paired with a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader.

Looking back, the overall impression I have of the kids’ segments (which took up the majority of the hour — fine by me) is a visual one, as well as this stunning realization: All of these kids were dressed way better than their grownup counterparts. They all looked beautiful, nothing like the spangly hot messes we’re so used to (and in my case, oddly affectionate toward) at this point. Funny that unlike one’s typical fashion progression (make mistakes when you’re young, grow up to be classy), the sartorial journey in the ballroom world is all downhill from age 8. Fear not, children: You may look great now, but you’ll have to embody a just-lit sparkler soon enough in your careers. It’s almost like a badge of honor.

What the fringe was up with that crazy final-four package that took place in a random, colorfully lit warehouse? We had Jason pounding against the chain-link doors of a dance dungeon, Cristián sporting some hot, fluffed-out hair while looking thirsty (does he always? whoa), and Marissa twirling/tottering around in a huge, dirty room with, surprisingly, no visible rats. (Ha, who am I kidding? It’s totally obvious I’m just jealous and wish that I lived there. Did you see all that exposed brick and natural light?) But my favorite WTF moment had to be Kristi Yamaguchi writhing against some possibly fake graffiti as if posing for her glamour shots. Here’s a visual, just because.

Okay, everyone, I’m off to take Marissa’s advice and go do something that makes me feel sexy while shaking what my mama gave me. (Languidly shifting my weight while surveying the contents of my fridge had better count.) See you next week…liiiiiiiive!

What do you think? Can Kristi pick up some new votes from Marissa’s fans? Who will rock next week’s freestyle round? And which has been the best fake couple of the season: Derek and Shannon, Cristián and Jason, or Annie and Maks?

Episode Recaps

Dancing With the Stars
  • TV Show
  • 31