The final eight couples try to rumba or jive their way to safety for another week

By Annie Barrett
Updated April 14, 2009 at 04:00 PM EDT
DWTS Hightower Murray
Credit: Craig Sjodin/ABC

Last night’s Dancing With the Stars halftime show featured plenty of bizarre stunts. Namely: Frantic rumbas with liberty and whiplash for all. Somber, all-black jive costumes. A self-proclaimed ”man’s man” cloaked in a form-fitting sequined lace shirt. Tom Bergeron detecting, protecting, and correcting an exposed Lil’ Kim nipple guard. The long-lost Tasty Chilean Sea Bass of a Man winking his way back into our hearts because he’ll be on Brothers & Sisters this Sunday! It was all crazy and nonsensical, DANCMSTRs, which is to say it was business as usual on our favorite televised quest for a hardened knob of glitter. Here’s how the eight remaining couples ranked after dancing either the jive or the rumba on week 6….

Lil’ Kim and Derek: 28 out of possible 30 points Their jive, cheekily set to ”Jailhouse Rock,” easily could have served as the couple’s final-three freestyle routine instead. DANCMSTR complained about the excessive theatrics, while Bruno and Carrie Ann flipped the eff out over the jive’s brilliance. ”I am guilty of love in the first degree!” wailed a begging-to-be-handcuffed Bruno, while C.A. executed one of her trademark Standing Whoops. You know Carrie Ann truly thought a performance was amazing if the next sentence out of her mouth is ”Where’d my diamonds go?” Personally, I caught some mistakes by Lil’ Kim on my first watch and couldn’t understand the 10s, but on my second try, I was pretty much in awe of Derek’s clever choreography and completely ridiculous hair. Considering this was Lil’ Kim, the theme was ”prison,” and the rehearsal segment featured fried food, this couple’s ”jive” might be one of my favorite DWTS performances, ever. But was it worthy of 10s? Nah. Did anyone else nearly taste those chocolate shakes through their TVs and then die a little inside upon the realization that there’s about a 2% chance Lil’ Kim and Derek actually drank them?

Melissa Rycroft and Tony: 27/30 I love Easter (candy), but even I could not get behind this couple’s Easter Bunny pink-and-yellow ”gradient effect” costumes. I kept expecting them to ditch the rumba and hunt for eggs in the nooks and crannies of the judges’ desk. (In your dreams, Bruno!) Their rumba was technically precise, but DANCMSTR hit it on the head (bopped Little Bunny Foo Foo on the head? Okay, enough) with his suggestion that Melissa ”could be a bit more earthy.” Despite the progress in emotional depth that Tony insisted she’d made over the weeks, Melissa’s performance felt pretty flat to me. Maybe I was too focused on the half-baked Beyoncé impression assaulting my ears. ”If I Was a Boy” did seem lyrically appropriate for Melissa, at least. I kept imagining how she might improvise the lines: ”If I Was a Boy…they probably wouldn’t enhance my classy lower back tattoo with purple sparkles…” and so on. How funny was Tony with that engagement ring analogy during rehearsal? I also loved his quintessential Sappy Days compliment to Melissa: ”The beauty’s coming through you like a beam!” Awwwwww. That’s so Tony!

NEXT: A first date made for who?

Shawn Johnson and Mark: 26/30 Uh oh! The rumba’s the ”bedroom dance,” and Shawn’s a 17-year-old girl, so clearly a fabulous balloon-heavy prom-for-two to emphasize the fact that no one is taking her precious innocence lightly! was in order. I cracked up when Mark presented her with that sequined prom gown…what if it’d been fringed prom pants?! Shawn’s was easily my favorite rumba of the night, and DANCMSTR’s ”simplicity is the way to go” advice rang true again for Team Shark. Instead of thrashing around and simulating various sexual acts (ahem, Julianne), Shawn showed control and a slight, though restrained, sultriness throughout, and Mark really ramped it up with the light cheek grazing. (This gushing text message just in from’s Mandi Bierly: ”I love, love, love the way Mark kept putting his face right into Shawn’s. Such a good way to keep the connection. It’s the cold meds. I’m way too obsessed.”) No such thing, my dear colleague. DANCMSTR paid Team Shark a Goldilocks-inspired compliment: that the rumba can be warm or it can burn, but these two ”got it exactly right.” He probably just had porridge on the mind, because it goes well with his favorite snack of a cheese roll and a cup o’ tea. Ready for the least likely sentence of this recap? I didn’t even realize Mark was wearing a sheer shirt with clear sequins until the dance was nearly over, because Shawn looked so beautiful and I was watching her instead. Which is the point of this television program! Success!

Gilles Marini and Cheryl: 26/30 Is it just me, or would Gilles’ sporty soccer outfit (yellow knee socks, I’m looking at you) have made a much more appropriate jive costume than those strange leather getups? Neither the pair’s costumes nor their song choice — Fall Out Boy’s ”Dance, Dance” — jibed with the jive last night. The song, especially, was so frantic and unsettling that its dramatics may have worked for a paso doble, but even that’s a stretch. Gilles could definitely keep up with the beat, but it was almost like he and Cheryl were ”winning” the ”race” against the music, and as the song was imploring its live accompaniment to ”dance, dance” anyway, it made for a rather confusing conflict that never should have existed in the first place. At least the set designers didn’t decide this would be Astro Turf Week for the ballroom floor, because then Gilles would have been writhing around in delight the entire time. And then Steve-O’s dog Boogie would take a poop mid-field. And then Steve-O would fart in everyone’s face. (Only one of those three scenarios did not occur last night.) Season 6’s Latin Lover extraordinaire Cristián de la Fuente looked gorgeous, but my sister and I detected a slight air of defeat, as if he could feel his ”foreign deliciousness” status melting away as fast as papaya chutney might slide off of a tasty sea bass filet. Never, Cristián! Never. ”Zheeeeel” doesn’t even have a protein assigned to him yet!

Chuck Wicks and Julianne: 23/30 The couple with very little discernible chemistry got scared that no one would believe they had any chemistry. So they decided to recreate their first date at the Santa Monica Pier, which featured churros, the ferris wheel, and inexplicable dialogue like ”I’m so glad to be your girl right now.” (Who says that?) If they were aiming for consistency between what we saw during that segment and what we saw in the ballroom, perhaps Chuck and Julianne’s fabricated first date should have taken place on a run-down street corner at 2 a.m. Julianne’s thigh-high lace fishnets certainly distracted from whatever Chuck was doing during that dance. We shall never know exactly what that was. The jerks! The whipping spins! The thrashing of Julianne’s hooker hair! It was all way, way too frantic for a rumba. ”A bit too rawwwwwnchy,” said DANCMSTR.

NEXT: Ty tries to get his hips into it

Lawrence Taylor and Lady Legwarmer: 22/30 ”Where’s the NFL diva?” Why, he’s pouting right here, waiting for you, season 7 runner-up Warren Sapp! Warren swooped down on L.T.’s rehearsal, mostly to make him smile for once, and for some mild (to NFL divas, at least) physical contact. Watch Lady L.’s facial expressions throughout all of this, if you get the chance. She’s slightly amused, but you can tell her thoughts have meandered down a legwarmer-lined sparkly brick road and she’s really wondering, ”Can I pull off neon melon boot-cut legwarmers that are supposed to match my partner’s costume but will end up clashing with it instead?” The answer was obvious: Not really! Even so, LT was able to bring his groove back a bit for their week 6 jive. I do consider it an improvement that he smiled a few times and bent his knees and sort of swiveled a bit. But for such a large guy, I’m getting pretty fed up with his limited range of movement.

Ty Murray and Chelsie: 18/30 Seriously, what was with the weird trend of mostly black jive costumes last night? I can’t imagine anything less suited to complement a jive (or a sparkly American Flag tube top, for that matter) than a spooky witch skirt and a prince of darkness getup for our Cute Cowboy, Ty. He was kicking that hula hoop’s ass during rehearsal footage, but his hip action failed to move the judges to whoop through joyful tears (Weepy), grin smugly (Grumpy), or contort themselves into giant indiscriminate balloon animals (Dopey). Instead, they complimented Ty’s gentlemanly nature, said he wasn’t suited for the jive, and gave him straight 6s. I didn’t think he was that bad. He got that ”slide” part right! Ty may be as ”bewildered” as DANCMSTR thinks he is, but people think he’s adorable and I say he stays tonight over LT, Chuck, or Steve-O.

Steve-O and a Victoria’s Secret Angel: 16/30 Lacey decided to wear her negligible jammies to the ballroom last night, as if in defiant response to her partner’s treatment of the rehearsal studio like another shared room in their house, the bathroom. Dude would not stop farting, and it smelled like mildew. The segment did produce an invaluable and quintessential Dancing With the Stars mantra, though — ”The passion that you have with your dog right now? That’s exactly what you need with your rumba.” Timeless wisdom right there. After Steve-O and Lacey’s rudimentary rumba and a fun cut to Wee Man (no Wee Girl behind him this time), Weepy broke free of Grumpy and Dopey’s ”you’re no good!” vibe and claimed to have been ”totally taken in” by Steve-O’s ”oddly mesmerizing” performance. I see her point, but wonder if she caught one too many of Steve-O’s magical trance-inducing gas fumes. Still. A freakin’ 4, DANCMSTR? Really? Worse than Woz? I think not!

What do you think, DANCMSTRs? Predict who will head home tonight, and nominate your favorite Hidden Gems of the Week, in the comments!

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