In-progress notes after the jump. ...
Kristi and Mark lead off. Paso doble. Kristi vows "no more prim and proper." Not prim and proper, but not exactly passionate either. But she is so good at the precision side of the dance, who cannot be impressed? Len says she has great technique but that every dance has a slight sameness in the drama of it. Bruno says she really unleashed the harlot. Carrie Ann says they set the standard for everyone else. Samantha tells them they are the highest overall scorers ever at this point in a competition, and have never gotten less than a 9. Scores: 10s from CA and Bruno, 9 from Len. Now they just have to worry about whether that will keep people from voting for them. Going first is no favor.
Priscilla and Louis, second in judges' scores last week (which was excessively high). Viennese waltz. Well, crap. That's a gimme for her, since the judges can praise her elegance and class -- the Jane Seymour cop-out. Well, I've seen worse from her, but she's better at swaying than actually dancing. Bruno calls it a great interpretation but she has to watch her shoulder and neckline. CA says she creates such drama with her facial expressions (WHAT?) but thought she detected a lift and some other problems, but still called it fantastic. Len thought it has to look easy and it didn't -- and also noted a lift. (And wasn't it Jane Seymour who was also tagged for a lift?) Samantha says the judges were harsh to Priscilla -- I thought they were trying to be gentle. Scores: 7s from CA and Len, 8 from Bruno.
Adam and Julianne. Bergeron underscores Adam's ability to offend. Julianne also hopes that he focuses on the dancing and stops offending people. Paso doble. Carolla with fake mustache. Julianne solo in the middle of the floor, then he enters in a mask and on a unicycle. Which he rides competently. But his footwork in the dance is some of the worst I have seen -- flat and stompy -- and I rarely even notice the feet. Bergeron notes he has been up early. CA says he was fantastic -- "and then you got off the unicycle." Praises his creativity. Len calls him "a lovable character" but not much of a dancer. Adam says he's dressed like a silent porn star. Bruno says "the genius and insanity go hand in hand" -- but the insanity takes over when he dances. Scores: 6s from CA and Bruno, 7 from Len. But the show is really pushing him as comic relief, and laughing at some of his lamest jokes.
Marlee and Fabian, who got dogged by the judges a week ago. Viennese waltz. She is having problems with balance. The judges talk about Priscilla's drama, but Marlee's Oscar was no accident -- and she brings some real passion to the opening of the number. Some difficulty with steps -- the bride thought she spotted a lift, and I thought one break from Fabian looked a little awkward -- but she's still good. And second best of the night so far.
Len calls it very good and "poignant" but her posture could be better. Bruno says she is always totally immersed in the role but seconds Len on the posture issue. CA says "you made me cry. ... and for that I am grateful." I hope that they give her scores to make up for the shabby treatment they gave Marlee on the scorecards a week ago. Scores: Straight 8s. What does she have to do, give CA a coronary?
Mario and Karina. He says he slipped up last week but will show he deserves to be in the competition. Paso doble. Lots of cap action. Great steps for the most part, lots of intensity but his transitions are sometimes hesitant. Still pretty hot. Bruno calls him "Mario the Conqueror." CA says it was much better than last week but at times his movements were a little awkward. Len admires his spirit but again brought up the one-style issue, and called Mario's "sort of wild." Said he likes Mario but he needs to work on the styling more. Scores: 8 from CA, 7 from Len, 9 from Bruno. Second week that Mario has gotten three different scores -- the judges are rather divided about him. And I have to think that Bruno gave him a 9 because he figured Len was going to lowball.
Akron's own Jason Taylor and Edyta. Viennese waltz. Not sure about the swinging arms. But after that, he seemed very much in command. CA says it was beautiful, and seductive, and forgives a stumble. Len calls it a wow. Bruno says they made it sexy and erotic -- swans in a mating ritual. In the post interview, Edyta gets tense when he jokes about the stumble -- wants to emphasize that he is trying to do it right. Scores: CA and Bruno with 10s, Len with a 9. It was good, but I don't think it was quite that good. CA did mention a stumble, didn't she? She could forgive but she shouldn't forget.
Cristian and Cheryl. Lots of bickering in rehearsal. Paso doble. Major skin from Cheryl. Major skin from Cristian, too. But as they dance, he has more and more trouble keeping up with her and seems to be gasping for breath at the end. Too much yelling. Len liked the passion and drama but didn't think they conquered the music. Bruno says he had the pride and power of the biggest bull in the arena. CA disagrees with Len and says they were good with the music, but notes that Cristian's eyes glaze over at times.
Bergeron promises that next week offers "the best of the little tiny costumes." In other words, Latin night.
C/C's scores: 9's from CA and Bruno, 8 from Len.
The Derek Hough neck injury recap -- after the break.
Shannon and Derek. Video of the pain, then back in a neck brace. Jonathan takes over the dance rehearsals, with Derek kibitzing. Then Derek for the performance. Viennese waltz. I see no indication of him having trouble, and the dance itself is quite beautiful. She is a very serious contender. Bruno calls her a class act. CA thinks she's quite organic. Len calls it the best dance of the night. I wouldn't go that far. Scores: 9s from CA and Bruno, 10 from Len. Interesting since Len was the contrarian when CA and Bruno went double 10s on Kristi and on Jason.
Marissa and Tony to close. She better not stink. The closing spot is a terrible place to do that -- so is she good, or are the producers ready to send her home before Carolla? I am tired of her -- but even more weary of Adam. Tony says he is giving her steps that are normally reserved for the pros. Paso doble. She looks miserable at first -- although some viewers may have been impressed by the way her hand slid across the front of Tony's pants. Very awkward overall. I'm not impressed. CA thought it was fantastic and says it was what she has been waiting for. Len says "at last, the true Marissa is coming out." Bruno says "that's the way to go." This all feels like the judges trying to convince the audience that things didn't end on a down note. Scores: Straight 8's, so they didn't think it was quite as good as they made it sound.
Recap. Kristi/Jason tied at the top, Adam at the bottom. And I am out of here.