In a night of tangos and jives, the celebrities learn the importance of acting, and the musical choices revert to their usual wackiness
Priscilla Louis

”DWTS” recap: Acting good

As you know, on Dancing With the Stars, once the votes are read, the decision is final. I’ll go tally the votes.

No! Wrong show, Annie. Survivor host Jeff Probst was confused, too, having strolled off the island and into the giant speck of hallucinogenic fairy dust that constitutes the Dancing With the Stars universe. His ”emergency” bit in which he covered for a coughing Tom Bergeron was funny, but nothing compared to the Probster’s defining career achievement: listing his favorite Hall and Oates videos on But I’ll take him over some ABC seat filler, there to represent a show no one cares about, any night.

Why am I giving so much attention to Tom’s rival for Best Reality Show Host when there are so many horrible week 3 song choices to discuss? I got at least a minute into Kristi and Mark’s tango thinking, ”These laughable lyrics sound really familiar,” before realizing the music was intended to resemble Duran Duran’s ”Rio.” The season 6 song-dance pairings have been on the whole a lot less bizarre than in the past, so way to go, show: This episodewas a true return to form. Not to mention the vicious butchering of ”Goody Two Shoes” and ”You May Be Right” and a woeful interpretation of ”El Tango de Roxanne,” from Moulin Rouge, that was only effective in that it provided a fun lightbulb moment as I realized that was why Karina was wearing hooker boots. (Oh, lighten up, I have similar shoes, too.)

But let’s get down to business. Here’s how our bedazzled bravehearts fared in last night’s tangos and jives:

Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark: 27 out of a possible 30 The judges dissed the Kris, then stuck her on top again. Huh? We already know Kristi’s a good dancer; that passionless tango could have been a good chance for the judges to not give her three 9’s. Just sayin’. I’ll trust Bruno that Kristi and Mark’s dance was technically spot-on as usual, because to be honest I couldn’t stop fixating on Kristi’s glued-on curlicue bangs and Mark’s intermittent open-mouth gapes the whole time. Maybe Mark was confused and thought he was supposed to be playing a guppy, or this chick from the ”Rio” video. (Or the guy who’s snorkeling, I guess. My linked example just seemed more in the DWTS spirit.) When their segment was over, I had no desire to rewatch the dance. Instead, I worried about what next week’s rehearsal-package field trip will be, since Kristi and Mark already used their Useless Acting Coach card this week.

Priscilla Presley and Louis: 26/30 Priscilla continues to shock us by establishing herself as a serious contender. Her tango was nowhere near as quick as Kristi’s, but the judges raved about the chemistry between Priscilla and Louis and how convincing P.P. was at playing her role in the tango, ”the actor’s dance.” Indeed, they found her and Louis’ face groping right at the beginning of their dance especially convincing. I thought it was hilarious that after all three judges praised her acting skills, Priscilla said to Sam, ”I’m not a performer.” Also loved Len’s comment to Louis, ”Don’t touch what you can’t afford, sunshine,” but I’m hoping the judges won’t use the word ”cougar” every week. (Boo, Bruno.) They’re otherwise doing a great job of not making Priscilla’s arc in the show solely about her age.

Cristián de la Fuente and Cheryl: 25/30 The tasty Chilean sea bass of a man may have been scored highly this week to make up for his near-bottom placement after the premiere, but I thought his jive was fun, if a bit crazy and off balance. Cheryl’s turquoise fringe and Cristián’s zebra-printed collar helped, as did what I thought was a funny song choice for them, Queen’s ”Don’t Stop Me Now.” Lines like ”I’m having a ball” and ”I’m jiving at the speed of light” (cute, improvised from ”trav’ling”) were, like, totally appropriate for this dance! If the end of that sentence sounded annoying, I was typing it while making Cristián’s crazy-eyed mid-dance facial expression, which may need to be toned down a bit. Cristián seemed much more at ease in his natural aquatic habitat with that sea lion named Clyde (who, for the record, was a much-better-dancing Clyde than season 3’s Drexler), so next week the tasty Chilean sea bass should just imagine himself back at Sea World/home.

NEXT: Heavy breathing

Shannon Elizabeth and Derek: 24/30 Some of you probably think Shannon was overscored, but I say she deserved 8s just for doing a cartwheel in heels. (But I’m kind of an idiot like that. I also tend to mark up for fringe.) So for me, Shannon’s jive was very good. Derek choreographed a difficult one, and though Shannon seemed a bit sluggish on some of the footwork, all her tricks (such as kicks) were impressive. It shocked me when she decided she was simply too winded after the dance and just plopped down on the floor, mostly because how has anyone in DWTS history not taken that step before? Major props for Shannon’s quick thinking (likely fueled by the fringe) and Tom’s off-the-cuff comment about how her breathing was so heavy he thought he was sitting next to a 900 number. Shannon’s a good candidate for the ”most improved” story line this season. Oh, and Derek’s shout-out to Floyd Mayweather in the boxing ring was cute. ”Remember December 8th, y’all!”

Jason Taylor and Edyta: 23/30 I liked Jason’s jive much more than the judges — I’m surprised he received lower scores than Cristián this week, but at least they’re keeping the race on the men’s side interesting. Carrie Ann and Bruno raved about Jason’s unexpected, beautiful lines, while I’d like to use this time to rave about Jason’s unexpected, beautiful butt. Hello! Len wasn’t as kind, calling Jason a ”feather duster” — as opposed to the object we should all aspire to be, a rooster? — in yet another of his bizarre season 6 metaphors. The judges didn’t think the pair’s dance had enough jive in it, so Edyta needs to crawl her way out of the (awesome) silver-fringed spiderweb encasing her chicken-nugget-colored body and get to work on choreographing proper dances.

Adam Carolla and Julianne: 21/30 I’m starting to very much enjoy Adam on the dance floor, mostly because of his smarmy facial expressions — somehow his making fun of typical ballroom faces is less obnoxious than if he actually attempted them, if that makes sense — and willingness to don a shirt with tiered orange ruffles for his tango. Julianne’s costume was a different story; she looked more ridiculous than Jane Seymour did when she wore a similar dress-wig combo last season. Adam carefully took the time out of this show’s busy schedule to point out how heinous the styling was and deliver us the juicy scoop that the people who work in wardrobe are gay. (We’ve silently known that for six seasons.) Adam’s backstage humor started out promising — ”My grandfather always told me, if you wanna learn about an Argentinian dance that’s about prostitutes, speak to a Mormon” — but soon became a disaster as he was allowed even more airtime to question whether Julianne was Mormon at all. Jewish, perhaps? That whole segment was a disaster. I’ll go ahead and blame Samantha. Just kidding: I actually thought this was Sam’s best week yet.

NEXT: Guttenberg the pothead

Steve Guttenberg and Anna: 21/30 The ballroom’s resident pothead — so said Tom when Steve put on safety goggles and a metal bowl to face the judging panel — fared alarmingly well for what was a fairly forgettable tango with a partner who’d been sick all week. The Gute seems to prefer dancing with Anna’s hairy husband and Anna’s subtitled mother to dancing with Anna, which makes me wonder if she should ease up a bit on his training. He’s obviously not going to become the best dancer, and he’s clearly in the mood to have SO! MUCH! FUN! with his time here. Then again, more fun might translate to more amped-up facial expressions from Steve. Tonight’s tango expression, at least, was ”serious,” as in he seriously looked like he was munching on something citrus and not allowed to open his mouth for air. Now, if he had been partnered with Marky Mark Ballas, this never would have happened.

Mario and Karina: 21/30 Mario’s entire segment, including the judges’ criticism, was centered around Mario’s mistake of not making ample time between prior commitments to train for this very important reality TV show about ballroom dancing. He’ll correct that, he insists. Well, that was easy. The former front-runner’s tango with Karina was sort of a harried mess, and they did screw up ”over in the corner,” even though I had to replay the dance to notice it. Still, even based on this tango, Mario was technically better than Adam or Steve, so his equal scoring with them was more of a slap on the wrist than anything else. After all, would Len have told someone he didn’t truly believe in, dance-wise, ”You bitterly disappointed me tonight?” No way. Look for Mario to make a thrilling (or not) comeback, and Len to do an infomercial for fiber supplements, in week 4.

Marlee Matlin and Fabian: 21/30 I hate that Marlee’s stuck in a four-way tie with Adam (!), Steve (!!) and Mario, because I thought her jive was really, really good. Call it the curse of going first — maybe the judges are hesitant to toss out 8s right away, not knowing how the rest of the night will go. Compared with the other jivers’, I thought Marlee’s footwork was the sharpest. It wasn’t the most extravagant — obviously, she can’t kick as high as Shannon, but her performance was strong and grounded. Carrie Ann called her hands ”pancake-y” (to which I say, ”Yum”) and Bruno said the pair’s under-arm passes could have been smoother (to which I say, ”I thought they looked cool!”). Fine, I may be biased because as gross as bright magenta can be, it was perfect with Marlee’s coloring. And if the show’s hair and makeup crew insist on making pretty women look like painted clowns, then Marlee looked like a really gorgeous painted clown. Also, her dress featured my fave costume accessory: fringe composed of giant sequins. I almost fainted upon my first glimpse of such beauty. I hardly know how to classify it for this week’s video tally, coming Thursday! (Just kidding. It’s fringe.)

Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony: 19/30 Poor Marissa looked about to burst into stage tears after the judges ho-hummed over what Marissa clearly assumed was a fantastic jive. Len called her dancing ”careful,” Bruno said the jive looked like a rehearsal, and Carrie Ann delivered the biggest blow: ”I’m gonna be hard on you. That was boring.” Prefacing something in that nasty tone does not make it okay, Fly Girl! After that, Marissa barely made it backstage, at which point she relaxed enough to screech, ”Call, vote, I wanna come back, please” roughly seven times. The whole awkward segment was nowhere near as painful as Marissa’s outfit.

God, who am I kidding? This is a conundrum, readers: How can I think Marlee’s magenta mess and Tony’s sequined argyle vest are ”awesome” at the same time I think Marissa’s sparkly blue sweater and plaid everything else are ”unforgivable”? It all makes total sense in my mind. Someone, anyone…help!

What do you think? Who besides Marlee got a raw scoring deal this week? Will Marissa’s sympathy vote keep her from going home? And how many times has Bruno been joke-outed before on this show — is it just a few or closer to my educated guess of 67?

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