Craig Sjodin/ABC

Raphael Saadiq crooned the night away as the final three couples were set

May 13, 2009 at 04:00 PM EDT

‘Dancing With the Stars’ recap: And then there were three

”Cute Cowboy” Ty Murray eagerly rode away last night on Dancing With the Stars, leaving Shawn Johnson, Gilles Marini, and Melissa Rycroft to out-sparkle each other during next week’s season 8 finals. Apologetic ’til the end, Ty attempted to explain his dancing deficiency: ”I don’t understand what makes it look better…I can see I’m not doing it as good as the other people!” Tom, the Voice of Reason, stepped in to assure Ty that it’s not just about the steps, that he was truly the Total Package. I love how Tom’s had the ”final word” for the past few weeks — it’s always spot-on, comforting, and ultimately ends up saving time. He’s hosting as fast as he can! Adorable Ty Moment of the Season: Almost immediately after he and Chelsie had ambled onto the floor for their last dance, crouching Tyger hidden dragon assumed the bent-knee pre-lift position and had to remain down there a second while waiting for Chelsie to catch on to his master plan. He couldn’t wait to pick her up and swing her around. Something he’s good at! I’ll forever remember him in this exact pose. Thank God he was wearing his samba shirt, as I prefer my DWTS memories to be as bedazzled as possible.

Did anyone else catch Ty on Jimmy Kimmel Live later on? He and Chelsie went on and on about his hilariously disproportionate hands — the right one has expanded demonstrably due to increased bone calcification from bull riding. He said doctors have put his hand in books! How the heck did Dancing With the Stars not capitalize on this oddity that they wouldn’t even need to script?! I’m guessing they could have eked at least two filler segments about Ty’s deadly alien hand. I’m astounded.

Raphael Saadiq set just the right tone for the results show — and I’m loving how Tom and Samantha don’t waste any time anymore before introducing the first act on Tuesday nights. Even within the first few seconds of ”100 Yard Dash,” Saadiq’s backup singers were fully engaged in spirited salsa routines with their mic stands. Saadiq and his enormous feet took center stage early on, jumping around with his four dancers who also seemed right at home on Planet Mirrorballius with their fringed upper bodies. This guy needs to be a contestant — he clearly ”gets it.” Hidden Gem of Tuesday: Shawn’s grandma boppin’ harder than anyone else in the front row.

The New Pro competition took up much of the hour — it was really tough having to deal with two of my favorite returning pros instead of the quack psychologists and ”media experts” that usually populate the Tuesday night filler, but I somehow suffered through it. The judges showed a clear bias against Mayo Alanen and Kym after their Latin round, verbally reinforcing for our ”benefit” how much better Mayo is at the standard dances than the Latin ones. During their ballroom round, my eyes were too busy darting from the incredible edible Kym to Mayo’s uncanny imitation of the Mark Ballas Fish Face. The MBFF usually ‘pops’ up during transition moments during the tango, and displays generous range in both the size of the ‘O’ produced by the offender’s mouth and its accompanying eyebrow raise. The boys can’t help it. (To be fair, Mark has considerably toned down the MBFF since season 6.) Coincidentally, Carrie Ann brought up Mark after Mayo and Kym’s cha cha — she has trouble picturing Mayo in Mark’s tiny gym shorts or any other ridiculously campy costume. This is obviously a huge problem. The ability to resemble an American Gladiator’s worst nightmare is a major requirement for potential new pros. Sorry, Mayo! Still loving the name.

NEXT: Hidden Gen

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