In-progress notes after the jump ...
Sabrina to lead off. Much tension in her tape, since she's also working on some Cheetah Girls projects. (Plenty of promotion for the Cheetahs, a Disney-ABC project, though one that no longer includes Raven.)
Fox trot. A little stiff in spots, but she's still an incredibly classy act. I wonder if they had her lead off so the judges don't feel the need to give her nonstop 10's. And Len is ripping her for being "too powerful." Bruno agrees. This is obviously an attempt to bring her back into the competition, so it doesn't appear that Sabrina's running away with it. Carrie Ann disagrees with the other judges, says Sabrina did a great job. Still, CA just gives her a 9, while Bruno and Len gave 8's. Bunch of baloney.
Jennie From The Garth is next. Panicky in the tape. Mambo. Nice move at the opening, but a lot of hand-movement stunts instead of dancing. And she looks awkward in some of the dancing. Bruno praises "steam heat" in a couple that was gingerly touching. CA says she let it all hang out and it was a great job. Len calls it an exceptional performance. Again, I think the judges are trying to tighten the field, and her scores will be better than Sabrina's. Scores:Straight 9's. The crapola rises.
Jane Seymour. I think her griping about lifts and other issues may help explain her bottom-two standing a week ago. This week, she's visiting with troops. And doing the jive. Awkwardly. Doesn't seem to feel the dance, and she's out of sync with her partner a fair amount. More actual dancing than Jennie, though. CA says she "really enjoyed that" but "some dances don't bring out the best in people," but she did a great job, so she's waffling. Len recalls all his previous praise of her and says that the jive "wasn't down and dirty," but wants her back with a dance better suited to her. Bruno says it "wasn't your most comfortable dance." Pretty awkward dancing by the judges, trashing without trashing. Scores: 8 from CA, 7's from Len and Bruno. Post-interview seems very pro-Jane, even including an allusion to her having personal problems from the wildfires.
Cameron. Upbeat tape, mostly, including a trip to Little Brazil. Samba. Not at all sure about his opening moves. Edyta's carrying a lot of the heat. He has some grace but not all that interesting. Len said it was good in parts but it didn't capture the spirit of the samba. Bruno mocks it. CA says the other two judges misinterpreted and that she liked it, "very passionate and very primal."
Before the scores (and a break), hype for tonight's group dance. Isn't it a bad thing for the contestants who don't do their scored dance until after they've had to work it in the group thing?
Cameron scores: 9 from CA, 8 from Len and Bruno. Very generous considering that Bruno and Len had significant objections, but not surprising considering tonight's frequently odd scoring.
Mel B. She thinks the rumba suits her relationship with Maks, with taped scenes underscoring that. Slinky, kind of hot, but also a bit too deliberately paced. Bruno says it was excellent and beautifully paced. CA was mesmerized and truly sensual. Len calls it fantastic. Mel vamps Tom Bergeron. He is unmoved. Scores: Straight 10's.
Marie Osmond. (And, contrary to my earlier comment, it looks as if everyone gets to dance competitively before the group number.) Fainting recap. She says again she has a history of it; she even did it at a concert in this area some years ago. Vows to work harder this week to prove she can still compete. Paso doble. Amusing but hardly an exertion on her part. She's back to performing a bit instead of doing a dance. CA didn't like her going to the ground during the dance, and said she was trying to play it safe. Len liked the style but with a pause in the middle but overall "very dramatic and very passionate." Bruno was not pleased, though this is a night where even displeasure can get you an 8. Post-interview: More about the fainting and how grateful Marie is to America. Scores: 8's from CA and Len, 7 from Bruno. Boos at the 7.
Helio. Cha cha. Tape is about him getting back to what he's good at, basically being happy. And he is back in very good form. "Get Up Offa That Thang" doesn't hurt, either, even if the show band is more tepid than James. Good rouser to climax the competition. Len says Helio has come back to the one they all love. Bruno says he's back in the race. CA says "the Latin booty was working overtime." Scores: 10 from Len, 9's from Bruno and CA.
Samantha should never try to quote James Brown.
And on to the group dance, also known as padding the 90 minutes. It's like one of the lamer numbers from "Grease: You're the One That I Want." And painfully long. The judges without scoring still comment -- with Bruno calling it pure joy, CA giving a "whoooo" and Len praises the camaraderie.
Recap. Leaderboard, topped by Mel B, with Marie and Jane as the bottom two. And so we move on...