Dancing with the Stars – The Second Half Begins

So we’re off and running on the second half of the season tonight as the stars start filling in the gaps with dances they haven’t done yet. And we get the first group dance of the season (didn’t they only do one last season?) which has a Country theme this time. Those are always fun.

But the real question on everyone’s mind is, Will Kristi finally get a 30? There’s only one way to find out. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Jason Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska – Cha Cha – After the background with the trip to freestyle class, I was afraid I wouldn’t like this dance. But it seems better than last week to me. Jason is out there doing his part to make the routine great and having fun in the process. I could have done without all the hip rotation, but that’s a minor complaint in my mind. I didn’t even notice when he lost the timing, but all three of the judges commented on that. And Carrie Ann said he needs to dance “bigger.”

Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 8 Bruno – 8 Total – 24 Considering he got off count, I wasn’t expecting anything higher than this. In fact, I was expecting 7’s. I’m sure this isn’t as high as he wanted. Now comes the waiting to see how that stacks up with everyone else.

Shannon Elizabeth & Derek Hough – Rumba – After the disappointment last week, Shannon has bounced back well. This was a bit of a different Rumba in my mind with all the arm movement instead of constantly moving around the floor, but I really liked it. The judges agreed that they had great chemistry. Len liked it overall, but the others really jumped on the hip action or lack there of. I wasn’t looking for it this week, so I can’t quite comment on whether it was there or not.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 8 Bruno – 8 Total – 24 So far we’ve had two dancers and we have a tie. I really expected Len to be a point higher than the other two. They are just so hard to read sometimes.

Marlee Matlin & Fabian Sanchez – Mambo – Maybe I am being harder on her this week than I have in past weeks, but she seemed stiff and not nearly as good as in previous weeks. There were lots of little bits where it seemed they almost did one thing but did something else in stead. Of course, I’d still love to be able to dance as well as she does. But as Carrie Ann pointed out to Shannon, we are in the second half of the competition now. The judges to a man (and woman) agreed with me completely. It looked stiff and uncomfortable this week, but what she has done is amazing.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 7 Len – 7 Bruno – 7 Total – 21 If the first two got all 8’s, this is an appropriate score. Will this be the week my predictions about her being in the bottom two are right?

Cristian de la Fuente & Cheryl Burke – Foxtrot – It looked to me like he was slightly off at the beginning, but it was over so fast, I couldn’t tell for sure. But the rest of it was smooth and fun. I was smiling the whole time. (And Tom finally remembered to acknowledge the band and singers. I was wondering about that.) Len loved it enough to say if Cristian was back in the bottom two he’d show his bum in the supermarket. And if that’s not a reason to vote for Cristian, I don’t know what is! All three judges loved it and thought every detail was perfect. They seem agreed that this was his best dance to date.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 9 Bruno – 9 Total – 27 I really expected one 10, but as Samantha was quick to point out, this was is not only the best dance of the night so far but also his best score. He was certainly thrilled with it. And I think it should help keep us safe from Len’s threats. But just in case, I think I’ll avoid shopping for the next week.

Marissa Jaret Winokur & Tony Dovolani – Viennese Waltz – I was wondering if Marissa could pull off this dance or if her constant energy would be too much. But I am happy to say she did a great job with it. It was elegant and fun. The judges praised it as well. Not that this means anything when it comes to scores. But they should be good.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 8 Bruno – 9 Total – 26 And the scores were good. A couple weeks ago, I was ready for her to go. But if she can keep this great dancing up, I’ll join the Winokur Wave, too.

Kristi Yamaguchi & Mark Ballas – Jive – Of course, after I saw Mark’s costume, I knew what dance they were doing this week. If this isn’t Kristi’s week to get all 10’s, I don’t know what will be. Of course, she had great technique (at least to my eye) with plenty of complex stuff in there. And she was obviously having fun with it out there. Plus there was lots of emotion. That was absolutely wonderful. The judges couldn’t praise it highly enough. Carrie Ann and Bruno called it the best dance of the season so far.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 10 Len – 10 Bruno – 10 Total – 30 I almost pre-scored this one, and I would have been right. She finally got her perfect score. And it is appropriate that she was the one to get the first perfect score of the season since she’s been leading the way all season.

Mario & Karina Smirnoff – Rumba – It started off strong, but it lost something for me along the way. It lost the chemistry. And the part where they were dancing over in the corner and she was sliding down and he was pulling her up? It really didn’t do much for me. Len liked it, but thought it was too raunchy. Bruno, on the other hand, thought it was hot. And for a tie breaker, Carrie Ann also thought it was great. Well, expect for the lift.

Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 9 Bruno – 10 Total – 28 He continues to climb the leader board. And think about what Carrie Ann would have given them without the lift. Frankly, I thought it wasn’t nearly this good. At least one 8 would have made me happy.

Big Group Country Dance – You know what, these group dances are always too much fun. I’m not sure I ever get any real sense of the star’s dancing ability from it, but I love it anyway. And the idea of having the women be the sheriffs and the men be the outlaws is just plain fun. Okay, so the story of the sheriffs and the outlaws didn’t add a thing to the dance, but it was still lots of fun. As per usual, I don’t have a thing to say about it. Yes, there were some times they were off from each other, but I really don’t care about that here. It was crazy, but lots of fun.

Leader Board:
1. Kristi – 30
2. Mario – 28
3. Cristian – 27
4. Marissa – 26
5. Jason – 24
5. Shannon – 24
7. Marlee – 21

While 9 points separate Kristi and Marlee, only 5 points the top four stars.

Encore: If tradition holds, it will be the big group dance. I don’t see any reason for it not to happen again this season, so that’s what I expect to see again.

The Bottom Two:
I think my prediction of Marlee is finally going to come true, for better or worse. And I’m afraid someone I’ve been rooting to join Kristi in the finals will be joining her. My guess is it will be Shannon, but Jason might be there instead. Either way, I think it is Marlee’s week to leave. She does seem to be consistently the weakest dancer left in the competition. She has done much better then I ever thought she’d do, so that isn’t a criticism by far. But she does seem destined to leave soon.

Agree? Disagree? What did you think of tonight’s dances?