Since the bride is away on a business trip, I watched "Dancing With the Stars" solo tonight, which was not nearly the fun it is when you have someone to exchante comments with. Also, because of some earlier obligations and because I wanted to watch "HIMYM," I ended up speed-watching "DWTS," zipping through most of the judges comments but noting scores...
As usual, I have some issues with the scoring. Lil' Kim was at the top of my list. And I think a partner falling should cause a larger score drop than Ty Murray got -- especially since Murray closed the show, which means the producers expected grand things. And as bad as the Woz was, I think the comments and the scoring were also punishment for his bad behavior off-camera last week -- attacking the show's integrity and then recanting.
At the same time, though, it has become increasingly clear, from the dancing and the judges (I don't know about the viewer voting) that there is no single, runaway contender this time. Instead, there are four closely matched celebs -- Shawn Johnson, Melissa Rycroft, Lil' Kim and Gilles Marini -- and a serious potential contender in Murray. Nor have I written off David Alan Grier or Lawrence Taylor, and the judges are building a crush on Chuck Wicks. It was odd, then, to see the show front-loaded with so many weak dancers. But I have a theory about that. So let's go to the performances, in their order on the show; scores are from, respectively, Carrie Ann, Len and Bruno ...
Denise Richards. Samba. As I said over on Facebook, Richards's dancing reminds me of Jennifer Grey in "Dirty Dancing." Awkward posture, often clumsy moves, and a smile that seems painted on. She wasn't the worst of the night, but I will be happy to see her go. Scores: 5, 6, 5 (total 16).
Julianne Hough's boyfriend, also known as Chuck Wicks. Foxtrot. With the show starting with Richards, Wicks, Holly and Steve-O, I have to think that Wicks was supposed to be the good one in the sequence, and the judges scored him gently because of that. He's OK and benefits from being paired with Julianne but he's still awkward and stiff. 8, 7, 8 (23).
Holly Madison. Samba. She's bad. She's really bad. She's hoping that her "Playboy" pedigree will forgive a lot of flaws. Nope. As least as bad as Richards, though the score was a tad higher: 5, 6, 6 (17).
Steve-O. Foxtrot. The bowtie and hair made him a little too Pee-Wee Herman, there were a couple of clunkers and he seems to end up in pain without trying. But still better than Richards or Madison. Still: Straight 5s (15).
Lawrence Taylor. Samba. I really believe that LT is determined to do well. He was pretty good -- and I find him more entertaining than Wicks. But I also think the judges are mentally comparing him to the football stars who have gone before, and he is not yet in that league. 7,6,7 (23).
Shawn Johnson. Foxtrot. Now, this is what "DWTS" is supposed to be: very good dancing from an engaging personality -- and a weird costume to complete the package. Straight 9s (27).
Gilles Marini. Samba. Another of the big contenders, and I liked his samba a bit better than the Clark Kent stunt last week. Still, there's a lack of passion in his performances, although I suspect many people in the audience don't care. And a routine like his butt-shaking samba seems aimed not only at women but at the gay following he gained from the "Sex and the City" movie. Also straight 9s (27).
David Alan Grier. Foxtrot. Like LT, DAG is putting in the practice time. Flatfooted in places but terrific in some others. I think the judges dogged him last week and are now having to recognize that he's serious, and getting seriously better. Straight 8s (24).
Steve Wozniak. Even if he danced well, he was in for trouble because of his comments a week ago. As it is, he is the worst dancer on the show. Even if he didn't have an aching hamstring, he would be the worst dancer on the show. That may not mean he is going home, but when your total score is 10 -- 4,3,3 -- you should be getting ready.
Melissa Rycroft. Foxtrot. I am so done with the whole lovefest she got after "The Bachelor." OK, she got dumped, it was shameful, she seems fine now. Could we move on? Trouble is, she is a good dancer, with stunning legs, and she had a lot of bright spots tonight. I'd put Johnson ahead of her, but I can live with her in a tie ... with yet another set of 9s (27).
Lil' Kim. The judges gave her a 25 (8,8,9) but I would have at the least put her in a tie with the three 27s and probably ahead of them. It's not just that she's good, she's dramatic. It's a total performance, and the most exciting of the night.
Ty Murray. Flatfooted in spots, looked uncomfortable about when to get rid of the top hat, his shoulders looked funny, and his partner fell. Under those conditions, a 23 (8,8,7) was more than generous. If he had been somewhere in the middle of the show, I suspect his scores would have been lower -- and that, if that made Kim the closer, she would have gotten a higher score.