You have to give it up for the celebrities on Dancing with the Stars -- learning two new dances can not be easy (the folks over at American Idol don't even have to sing two songs until the Top 5 -- or in this year's case, the Top 4). I would have expected the quality to plummet considering the extra workload, but all in all they acquited themselves quite nicely. On to the performances...
Laila and Max
First off, love Laila's hair. Love it!
It just doesn't seem right that Laila is the only female left in the competition, although considering some of the ladies she was competing with (Leeza? Shandi?) I guess it's not really that surprising (although I do miss Heather a bit). But thank goodness Laila has stuck around, because she is really pretty dazzling to watch. Her quickstep is simply fantastic, and her samba is even better -- sexy, sultry, and sassy, simply a thrill to watch. Two knockouts for Laila.
My Grades: 9 and 10
John and Edyta
I guess if we have to be stuck with a guy who is around more for his personality than for his dance skills, we could do worse than John Ratzenberger (better than Clyde Drexler, at least). While I'm guessing this is his last week in the competition, his waltz really was quite charming, and his rumba was totally passable (even if it was a bit strange to see John and Edyta trying to be "sexy"). I never would have imagined Cliff Clavin would be half as good as John has proven to be.
My Grades: 8 and 6
Apolo and Julianne
Ya know, they do a really good job of matching the professional partners with the celebrities -- I can't imagine a better partner for Apolo than Julianne. I'm also constantly shocked by Apolo's ability to sell the performance -- I mean, lest we forget, he is an athlete, not a performer.
I don't know what Len was smoking tonight, but that fox trot was so entertaining and endearing, I had a smile from ear-to-ear the entire 90 seconds. While I enjoyed his Latin number, however, I thought it was a bit rushed and had a few too many tricks. Having said that, though, and at the risk of sounding redundant, Apolo is dreeeeeeeeeeeeamy.
My Grades: 9 and 8
Ian and Cheryl
Oh my god, Kelly Taylor, Donna Martin, and Brandon Walsh are here to cheer on Steve Sanders? I'm not gonna lie, I'm freaking out a little bit with excitement.
I feel a little badly for Ian -- he so desperately wants to do well, but he just doesn't have the musicality or the charm of Apolo or Joey. And compared to Cheryl's previous partners Drew and Emmitt, he's a bit of a disappointment (you can kind of tell Cheryl thinks so too). His tango was smily and energetic, but I can't say it was exactly good (certainly not worthy of the 9's the judges generously gave him). His Latin dance was a little better (and he seems to have embraced the shimmy, which he was resisting a few weeks ago), but I agree with Len -- I'm just not feelin' the chemistry. I'd be shocked if Cheryl finds herself a three-time winner of this competition.
My Grades: 8 and 8
Billy Ray and Karina
There's no denying Billy Ray is charming, and, to be honest, I'd rather Billy Ray stick around another week than John Ratzenberger. However, I think "showcasing" Karina is a bit of an understatement -- did Billy Ray even dance during the waltz? He made up for it in the Latin round, however, attacking the dance with a vigor and passion we have yet to see from Billy Ray. Sure, he's no Mario, but I'm kind of falling for the guy.
My Grades: 5 and 7
Joey and Kym
Ooh, Joey whipping out an Ian Ziering crack -- that wasn't very nice. All is forgiven after the fox trot, however, which has so much charisma they must have had to come and sweep up the extra charisma off of the dance floor after the dance. Is there a doubt in anyone's mind Joey is going to find himself back on Broadway by the end of the year? (Although I must say Ricky Miner and the band managed to make that Michael Jackson song nearly unrecognizable) The jive was even better and, if possible, more charming -- as Bruno said, a "smashing showcase of talent." Joey also looks like the pounds are flying off -- FatOne no more!
My Grades: 9 and 10
Overall, a shockingly good night of dancing, with Laila & Max and Joey & Kym tying for best of the evening in my book. While I actually gave Billy Ray lower scores than John Ratzenberger, I'm guessing it'll be John who gets the boot tomorrow night. Guess we'll see...