With a Dance Duel looming and Brooke Burke-Charvet finding new ways to look almost-lifelike, the nine remaining celebrities got their Latin on last night. And after an evening full of snappy cha-chas, a fiery Sheila E. and a somewhat less fiery Selena Gomez, the two bottom teams would shimmy for their lives in the first-ever duel. So how did it go down?
Repeat Performance: Maria and Derek were called back to reprise their salsa. It looked sloppier this time around — and what was with Derek singing along to the Ricky Martin song? Isn’t that an amateur move? Still, Derek dutifully removed his shirt, to the delight of…fine, everybody. I suppose it’s time to get over any ickiness about Derek Hough as a sexual being. He is starting to look like an actual grown-up man and not a very tall boy.
Sexiest Response to Criticism: This time, instead of Derek kissing Maria at the high point of the dance, Derek takes a trip to the judges’ table and plants a (pre-planned) kiss on Carrie Ann. Whatever problems she had with the kiss last night, Carrie Ann is no longer complaining. And Maria shares the wealth by kissing Bruno. It’s the kind of shameless showmanship that gives the show its charm. And kudos to Menounos for discreetly adjusting her underboob as it was threatening to break free of her costume.
What We Missed Last Night: Totally forgot to mention this in last night’s recap, but Bruno officially propositioned Derek and Maria for a threesome. Better news: Maria’s into it! At least insofar as Bruno is a judge. Also, was that Lanie Kazan watching the show with Florence Henderson and Martina Navratilova last night? Where is HER invite to join the cast?
Naughtiest Mouth: After Melissa and Maks were declared safe, Melissa burst out with something that made the censors jump. Sounded like it could have been a celebratory “God damn it!” but who knows what followed that?
Second-Naughtiest Mouth: Gladys and Tristan were also declared safe, but not before Tristan playfully nibbled on the Motown legend’s ear. That’s not a great look on every dancer — you can imagine how skeevy Mark Ballas would look smoothing on an older lady — but Tristan is, objectively speaking, THE CUTEST with Gladys, and she certainly doesn’t seem to mind.
Hottest Coming Attraction: With tonight’s Dance Duel being a brand-new phenomenon for the show, we got a little clip package explaining the ins and outs: the two bottom pairs, dancing the same style at the same time, and subsequently judged ONLY on the merits of that performance. Len, Bruno and Carrie Ann take turns explaining how the point is to keep the talented but overlooked dancers from getting “lost in the middle.” Such horrifying oversights as Sabrina Bryan, Chynna Phillips and Kristen Cavillari are cited as examples. The whole thing plays like a movie trailer, all dramatic music and suspense. Coming to a TV screen near you!
Best Way to Experience Train: For one thing, they played something new instead of re-planting any of their old earworms. For another, we got Cheryl Burke and Louis Van Amstel dancing a superfast cha-cha that basically prevented us from being able to pay attention to anything else.
Most Shameless Example of “Gotcha” Journalism: The highlights (such as they were) of Gavin and Karina’s routine from last night included a caught-on-mic admission from the lovely Karina: “I farted,” she whispered. “Aw, man!” lamented the show’s thousands of straight make viewers. “Fantasy OVER!”
Smartest Person in the World: Not to brag or anything, but in the performance-show recap, I may have mentioned that while Gavin and Gladys had the lowest scores, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jaleel wound up in the bottom two. So after both Gavin and Jaleel were announced as the two Stars in danger, and with apologies to Jaleel and his proud television history, I have to ask: “Did I call that??” (Answer: YEAH, I did.)
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Best Post-Show Contingency Planning: Before taking the stage for the Duel, Jaleel began to channel Dreamgirls: “And I’m telling you…” before trailing off. Well you know the words!
The Dance Duel: With simultaneous cha-chas to Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory,” Jaleel’s clear talent advantage shined through. Poor Gavin seems like a nice guy (and popular with his cast-mates), but as he finger-quoted to Tom about how he “learned” the cha-cha, it became clear that he was already checked out of the competition. Jaleel, quite simply, wanted it more, and all three judges agreed. But it was nice to see Gavin go out on a happy note, with his hat firmly in place.