Season 8 of "Dancing with the Stars" holds so much joy, laughter and promise, thanks in great measure to a very "level" playing field. Everyone seemed so new to the ballroom process and it wasn't until Gilles Marini's sexy Cha Cha and Shawn Johnsons' gorgeous waltz did the ballroom truly erupt into applause. Oh what fun it is to see everyone with their guard down, rhinestones flying and spandex stretching.
And then, the sky fell. There was "Bachelor" reject Melissa Rycroft who danced last and who proved that anyone with ballet and professional cheerleading in her background will leave the rest of the pack saying, HUH? Which leaves me asking, WHY? Is this ABC's way of making things right with the jilted bachelorette? This is the third reality show for the fetching brunette; seems you can make a career out of starring on reality shows.
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Until the end of hour two, it was night of goofs and gaffes and pretty much celebs being totally out of their comfort zones. And that's what made "DWTS" one of the most charming shows on television. Case in point, Steve-O, who proved even a Jackass can waltz, or at least attempt to waltz. Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson proved even an athlete trained to hide emotions in competition can emote beautifully while waltzing; she scored one of the night's biggest ovations with her gorgeous turn on the dance floor with partner Mark Ballas. The petite 17-year-old (the youngest competitor ever) might very well prove to be one of the season's biggest contenders.
Note to the judges, Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli: Listen to what you're saying. All three were guilty of some ridiculous scorings tonight, starting with their way-too-low 14 for rodeo champ Ty Murray. Good god, the cowboy is COMPLETELY in another world here and he was as charming and competitive as any of them. Later, the trio of judges couldn't help but rip into practically every move made by Playboy playmate Holly Madison (who signed on when Jewel bowed out) just a week ago, only to turn around and reward her silly Cha Cha with an 18. A little while later, it was Denise Richard's awkward Cha Cha that earned her all sorts of criticism (and most of it was not nice) from the judges, who promptly rewarded her with an 18. (She and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy have just about no chemistry, at least after the first week). There is no way that Holly and Denise were better than Ty or even NFL great Lawrence Taylor who snagged a mere 16 for his Cha Cha (that incidentally featuerd a whole lot more Cha than either Holly's or Denise's).
Chuck WIcks and his main real-life squeeze Juilanne Hough were saccharine sweet during their romantic waltz, earning a well-deserved 20, but there was a lot of bickering during the rehearsal stages judging from the video that rolled. Let's see if their relationship can take it.
Which brings us to Gilles Marini (whose adorable son watched ringside). Yes, he was naked in the feature film "Sex and the City," but he oozed more sexiness tonight ---- fully clothed and shaking his hips to beat the band --- than he did in any gratuitous nude scene from the film. Somebody get Carrie Ann Inaba a cold shower, btw!
Credit Denise Richards with the first tears shed of the season. The little darling just couldn't take mean old Maks' criticism/instruction during rehearsals. Boo hoo hoo. Credit Karina Smirnoff with wearing even less clothing than Edyta Sliwinska. Credit Belinda Carlisle with looking eerily like a younger Priscilla Presley. Credit Lil Kim with putting on a good face in the wake of all those stupid prison jokes that are likely to continue to surface as the season goes on. Credit David Alan Grier with exhibiting the greatest number of expressions possible during one waltz
The leaders at the end of the night? Gilles and Cheryl (who's looking quite slimmed down this season). The bottom of the leaderboard? Alas, it's Apple computer geek Steve Wozniak (score for the night, 13) who proved geeks really can dance. Not.