Notes after the jump.
Summary: Hines tops the judges' scores (27), followed by Chris/Romeo/Chelsea at 26, Kirstie at 23, and then Kendra, Petra and Ralph all at 22. Ralph has to be asking himself what he has to do to satisfy the judges. After leading off, he looked pretty glum while watching other performances.
Three performances in, we have already seen batso judging, with Len's ongoing meanness about Ralph and favoring of Petra, and a bizarre theme of songs about America: samba to "Sweet Home Alabama," waltz to "America the Beautiful," and so on. Here are the individual notes:
Leading off is Ralph, samba, "Sweet Home Alabama." He's a little gawky at first but his footwork is quite good. But the judges are not enthusiastic, lowballing him with two 7s and an 8 from Carrie Ann. Yes, the show wants to keep the competition close, but it feels increasingly as if they don't want Ralph around at all.
Chris Jericho, waltz, "America the Beautiful." This may be his best dance of the competition to date, nicely elegant, good posture -- although you can see him at times bending his knees a little extra to match up better with Cheryl height-wise. (Cheryl, by the way, is formidably cleavaged, which Len comments on.) Two 9s and an 8 from Len.
Petra, quickstep, "Viva Las Vegas." Dreadful. Slow start, clumsy steps, generally bleh. But Len keeps boosting her even though the scores aren't great: two 7s plus an 8 from Bruno. Still, probably the worst dance of the night.
Romeo, foxtrot, "New York New York." His gestures are so exaggerated that it's almost comical, and his top hat looks ill-fitting. Some good parts, but Chelsie is working very hard to sell the performance and perhaps draw eyes away from Romeo. But the judges are being extra kind, with two 9s and an 8 from Len.
Hines, rumba, "God Bless the USA" (which people keep referring to as "Proud To Be an American"). I still think he looks odd at times, but he is the smoothest dancer in the competition right now, most adept at transitions. There were some glitches here but -- as much as the show tries to act as if there's no favorite -- Hines is clearly the favorite at this point. And he gets the top score of the night, with triple 9s.
Kirstie, foxtrot, "American Woman." Not at all good. Awkward beginning, weird changes in dance tempo, but the show for reasons beyond all understanding loves her. OK, not just the show -- I was talking on Saturday night with a guy who would like her to win. But she is not a good dancer. Still, the judges gave her two 8s with a 7 from Len.
Kendra, foxtrot, "Yankee Doodle Dandy." One of her better performances -- although did we have to hear again about her hormonal issues q week ago? -- and she got a big fanfare for being part of the 1,000 competitive dance on the show. But she's flat-footed still and slips out of time with the music. But her two 7s and an 8 from Carrie Ann put her in a tie with Ralph, who was better, and Petra, who was worse.
Chelsea to close, samba, "Party in the USA." The Disney kid dances to a song by another Disney kid. And it's lively, fun and, to me, the best of the night -- which the closing performance should be. For once the judges are somewhat kindly, with two 9s and an 8 from Len.