It's been a day off for the most part, and I've occupied myself in family business and books (a couple of Kathy Reichs's Temperance Brennan novels). Am trying to get back into viewing, with some in-progress notes about "Dancing With the Stars" after the jump.
Jason Taylor and Edyta lead off. Foxtrot. Very solid, good posture, elegant. But that's just me. Len says that he glides across the dance floor "like a dolphin glides through the sea." (Get it, football fans?) Bruno says he's lucky to have Edyta driving him so hard -- and praises the dance. Carrie Ann calls it "really truly beautiful." Scores: 9s from Bruno and CA, 10 from Len. Kind of low considering the gushy comments.
Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony. Quick step. Cute, and she has gotten considerably better over the course of the competition. But even if she has a good fan base, I don't think she's in a league with Kristi and Jason. In some ways she's this year's Marie Osmond, gritty but getting by more on popularity than ability. Bruno says she missed a jete. CA says she's "the unlikely contender" and she did a great classic quick step. Len says she has a tougher dance than some of the others; since when did that matter -- unless you're trying to rationalize a better score? 9s from Len and CA, 8 from Bruno.
Cristian and Cheryl, who got a free ride last week. One of his dances will be the samba, the dance that led to his injury. But first, a Viennese waltz. There's a fair amount of one-arming but he seems to have much more mobility than a week ago, when the judges refused to acknowledge that he had some limitations. OK dance, nothing to write home about. CA he looks nervous at first but finds his way. Len says he was better than last week and predicts "better marks." Bruno talks about a "wow factor." Scores: Straight 9s.
Kristi and Mark. Tango. Once again, at the start, nobody in this competition moves as deftly and quickly as these two. But I don't feel the heat. Still, great technicians. Len says the drama was back, great moves but it was "hectic." Bruno pitches a fit, praises them with fist pounding. CA stands and cheers. Scores: 10s from CA and Bruno, 9 from Len.
So after round one it's Kristi, 29; Jason, 28; Cristian, 27; Marissa, 26. How conveniently close.
Len offers advice to contestants at practice.
Jason and Edyta. Paso doble. He's a little flatfooted. And his height may be making him more awkward this time. Intense face turns into scary face. Bruno compares him to Iron Man and "a true matador." CA says "way more choreography" than he has had in the past. Len also impressed. Says that like gas prices, Jason is going up. In the post-interview, Jason promises to lower gas prices. Scores: Straight 9s. Total for two rounds: 55.
Marissa and Tony. Rumba. Nice emotional connection but the dance isn't all that smooth, lots of start and stop, poses. Their costumes get tangled at the end. CA wasn't excited and that wasn't a semifinal dance. Len says the rumba is a precise dance, and they were very, very good; again, making apologies for them. Bruno thought it was sexy; CA begins arguing with Bruno. Scores: CA, 8; Bruno and Len, 9. Total: 52.
Cristian and Cheryl. Samba. Favoring and protecting the arm some. Letting Cheryl do a lot of the flashy work. Nor is his open shirt doing much. Fair. Len calls it "hotter than a chili pepper," and the arm has made him more focused; still found it a little flat-footed. Bruno says he made the samba exciting and fun. CA says she was reminded of Emmitt Smith. Scores: 10s from CA and Bruno (nonsense!) and 9 from Len. Total: 56.
Kristi and Mark. Jive. Does she have a piece of hair caught in her mouth? Such precision otherwise. They should have been declared the winners weeks ago. But let's see if the judges dog them (again) to keep things closer. Bruno calls it "a sweet, sweet, delicious jive." CA calls it extremely difficult -- going at Len's defenses of Marissa -- but has some criticism. Len thought it had a lovely balance but it was just a little stiff. Yes, the dogs are out. Scores: 9s from CA and Len, 10 from Bruno. Total for the night: 57, first by one point.
Final ranking: Kristi, 57; Cristian, 56; Jason, 55; Marissa, 52.
Recap. Leaderboard. And out.