After the jump, my thoughts on the performances of the night. But I can tell you, spoiler-free, that the judges are up to their usual tricks . . .
Let me put it this way: Ralph Macchio was by far the best dancer of the night. Chelsea Kane was also very good. Neither placed very high in the judges' estimation. Macchio's score for the night was behind, among others, Chris Jericho's, thanks to Jericho's getting very kind treatment from the judges and what appeared to be an eagerness to award improvement over consistent accomplishment. (Macchio did top the two-night leaderboard because of his placing first last week.) There's that doggone journey that the judges and, the show assumes, voters love. And a need not to let this look like a runaway two weeks in. And, I think, stubbornness. Once Len declared Romeo's performance the best of the night, he was not going to let anyone following Romeo (Wendy, Ralph and Hines) change his mind.
On the down side, Wendy and Psycho, the lowest scorers a week ago, showed improvement but were still bad. Go-home bad. Petra was also disappointing, and I don't know what sort of voter base she has.
And Brooke Burke remains a robot; you could see a look of near-incomprehension on her face whenever an answer was longer or more complicated than she anticipated.
Here are my notes on the individual performances, in the order they were given:
Ray Leonard (with Anna). Jive. He had seemed a bit stiff and uneasy last week. Much improvement this time, although he still looked tight in the backside, and had trouble at times matching Anna's pace. Score 17 (2 6's, 1 5), Two-night total: 34.
Kendra Wilkinson (with Louis). Quick step. Talked a lot in rehearsals about her difficulties with this because of her tomboyish side, and it showed. Wasn't that great a week ago, but seemed even more ill-at-ease this time. Kicks were awkward. Score a kind 19 (2 6s, 1 7) for a total of 37.
Chelsea Kane/Mark. Jive. Odd costumes but a very good dance, although there were times she was a half-step behind Mark when they were side-by-side. Judges downgrade her for what they think isn't enough jive; Mark spends part of his post-dance talk with robo-Brooke detailing all the jive moves they did. Score 18 (6, 5, 7), total 39.
Chris/Cheryl. Quick step. Awkward at the beginning and, in spite of some improvement, overall. Made me look up when was the last time Cheryl had a really good partner. Answer: Season 8, with Gilles Marini. Judges incomprehensibly positive, for a score of 23 (2 8s! and a 7) and total of 42. A major case of score inflation to keep someone competitive.
Petra Nemcova/Dmitry. Jive. She's not only dealing with height and long legs, she's got condor-span arms. Not great, abd the judges grope for balanced comments; Len refers both to bad technique and it being beautiful. Score 18 (straight 6s), total 36.
Kirstie Alley/Maks. Quick step. Runners-up to Ralph a week ago, but not so impressive this week. Kirstie faked the footwork a lot, and one camera closeup of her feet caught it. Scored 20 (2 7s and a 6), total 43.
Psycho Mike Catherwood/Lacey. Jive. Really bogus jump to start. Improved from last week, but still klutzy. Scores 17 (2 6s and a 5) for a total of 30 and serious risk of elimination.
Romeo/Chelsie. Quick step. Slow transition at the beginning, some grace here and there but needs work. Len calls it best dance of the night. Scores 23 (2 8s and a 7) and 42 total.
Wendy Williams/Tony. Quick step. Very hesitant in places. On my card, worst of the night up to this point (and would prove to be worst of night, period). Scores 17 (2 6s and a 5) for 31 total.
Ralph/Karina. You look at how Ralph moves, and his transitions from one set of steps to another, and he's miles ahead of the other dancers. Lighting obscured a jump at the beginning. Judges saw too much frenzy. Scored 21 (straight 7s), which is ridiculous in the context of other scores on the night; total 45.
Hines Ward/Kym to close. I found it a bit awkward, with some messy spots. But the big thing I found it was unmemorable -- even before it was done. Gets a big pass from the judges by virtue of being the night's closer; 23 (2 8s and a 7) and a 44 total.
We'll see how the results look -- and what Chris Brown may have to say -- tomorrow night. I will be posting a bit late because I have a screening.