Live notes from the telecast, after the jump ...
Marie started basically with a quick-step musical comedy routine. She annoys me, but the judges loved her; 10s from CA and Len, 9 from Bruno.
Mel comes out next with a Viennese waltz that is also highly praised -- and more accomplished technically than Ms. Osmond's bit. Raves from judges, and triple 10's. Game on.
Jennie next. Tango. She has some fine footwork but her body language isn't always comfortable-seeming. And, since she's following two people full of personality, she needs to project more of one. And she's more focused on the steps. Carrie Ann has issues, but Len and Bruno are enthused. 9's from CA and Bruno, 10 from Len. So Len thinks everyone so far has been perfect?
Helio's next, and these high scores so far worry me, especially given the recurring notion that DWTS wants a woman to win this time. If that is in fact the case, Helio has repeatedly been the spoiler -- too good a dancer to be eliminated. So let's see what he's got tonight.
Foxtrot. With canes. And he is so smooth, so good. Definitely better than Jennie and Marie. Bruno says if Helio doesn't make the final, he will eat his book. (I think it was book. Earlier he talked about Ann Miller and it sounded like Anne Meara.) CA also praises. And he gets triple 10's. As I said, he is too good to be cast aside easily. But two points separate first from fourth so the judges are handing it to the audience.
Marie again. Mambo. She seems very clumsy in the opening parts (before she sheds some clothes) and pushing the comedic to the point of awkwardness. (Kind of Lucille Ball.) Uses her brothers a lot in the act. Bruno calls it "incredible entertaining" but says she lost her footing about five times; CA calls it wonderful but also notes errors; Len talks up her energy. Triple 9's, which is far more generous than I would have been.
Mel with a paso doble. Some confusion before the bit starts, apparently about the whip being used to drag her into the middle of the stage. A little trouble when she uses it during the act. Several spots where she and Maks look out of sync. Still, CA says Mel topped the perfection of the first number. Len says it was fantastic. Bruno cheers the precision of her footwork. Triple 10's again.
Jennie. Cha cha. Much better than her first number, even if there's still that emotional distance from Derek. Much praise. Bruno calls it brilliant. Triple 10's.
Helio to close. Cha cha. Working the staircase. Helio is letting Julianne do more of the work than usual. We'll see if the judges' night-long generosity continues. And it does in the comments. Len calls them the standout couple of the night. Which would suggest another 10. Yup, triple 10's.
So, in the judges' eyes, Mel B and Helio made no mistakes tonight. Jennie surged into third and Marie is last. But when the voters get into it, things can be completely crazy.