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LOS ANGELES - Week four of the All-Star season of "Dancing with the Stars" offered their biggest challenge yet, and they met it by scoring several 10s.
It's one of those curveball weeks where they did not get familiar dances they've done before.
This week, every couple picked a dance for another couple. And every dance was either never-before-done or rarely-done in the show's history.
But the real Twilight Zone factor came from having Paula Abdul as a guest judge. Host Tom Bergeron asks her what she's looking for.
"I'm looking for Simon and Randy," she joked. Apparently, she found her coherence.
An interesting observation: In the pan of the stars at the top of the show, actress Kelly Monaco and Val were humorless and not even applauding. What happened to their frisky chemistry? Did the soap opera actress have soap opera drama? Can't wait for that routine.
First up, actress Kirstie Alley and Maks tackle the Charleston they got stuck with. It opens with Kirstie coming out of giant cake. (Insert obvious joke here.) It's awkward for her getting out and I worry she'll fall on Maks. (Worried = secretly hoping.) But Kirstie and her bruised calves look great at first. Turns out, the Charleston suits her: it's big and brash and overdramatic. She does a cartwheel, revealing her bloomers to the world. They even top it with a hilariously awkward ending, where Maks acts like picking her up is the hardest thing in the world, only for him to push her across the floor, which somehow ends with Kirstie mock-swimming across the floor while straddling Maks.
The crowd loves it. The judges all say they love it. Judge Bruno Tonioli calls her a madwoman, ending up like Shelley Winters in "The Poseidon Adventure." From him, that's a compliment. They get 30 out of 40 (remember, extra judge this week).
Kirstie tweeted, "I've said it before
@ MaksimC ...u are like oxygen to me...... when ur not strangling me...lol...sleep well... u were amazing..xxo."
Next up, dark horse Bristol Palin and Mark with rock and roll. She tells him she wants to keep it simple. That might have been Bristol's brilliant mastermind move, to trick Mark out of his score-sabotaging, over-the-top choreography. The dance is fun, lighthearted, free-flowing. Bristol looks pretty light on her feet and their moves are pretty clean. And she's never looked better. Bruno says Bristol is finally focused and doing every step right. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba gives Bristol a double high-five and says she's blossoming. Judge Len Goodman calls it their best dance so far. Score: 32.
Singer Sabrina Bryan and Louis hustled their way into a disco. Sabrina channels Cookie Monster in some furry blue bodybag before Louis strips it off her to reveal a gold dress. Louis looks built to disco and Sabrina is relishing this routine. Wow – was disco this much fun to watch? I know we've all made fun of it for 30 years, but this routine is like a workout you'd pay $200 dollars for an hour of at the gym. Sabrina even does a flip that lands in a split. And she does it all with an ever-present lunatic smile on her face that puts the Cheshire Cat to shame. Maybe she needs to hit up Paula's medicine cabinet. The judges are complimentary and give them 35.5 out of 40.
NFL retiree Emmitt Smith and Cheryl are up with a bolero. What's a bolero? I'm not sure this dance has the answer. The routine kind of looks like an interpretive dance. It's slow and sultry and they give it some good emotion. Emmitt is trying, but he's a bit too lumbering for the elegant parts. But Carrie Ann feels he nailed that. Paula calls Emmitt a sexy beast. Score: 36.
Actor Gilles Marini and Peta go Bollywood. It's got some neat footwork and it's fun to watch. Gilles seems in a trance, he's so focused on nailing this dance. It's got a weird, campy breakdown in the middle and some moments look remarkably surreal. Len calls it hotter than curry. Bruno says a Bollywood superstar is born. Carrie Ann says Aladdin has nothing on Gilles. Cue the first 10s of the season, and they get the highest score: 39.5.
Gilles tweeted, "Now I wanna go to India and shoot a movie.May happen,you Never know. I can't tell you how much I love you all and your support is incredible."
TV host Melissa Rycroft and Tony jitterbug. This looks suspiciously like a jive. They're pretty fleet of foot at the start, then Tony starts to flip Melissa around. This woman is game for dangerous tricks. They both lose a little steam at the end, but top it with a scary flip. Paula says they fit like hand to glove. Bruno calls it near perfection. Score: 37.
Melissa tweeted, "Craziest routine I think we've ever done!!
@ TonyDovolani and I are having so much fun! Do your magic!"
Olympian Shawn Johnson and Derek mambo. They start with a flip, that freezes, and then reverses. Their footwork is so fast. This is a bold and violent dance. Some of her flips simply blow the competition away. It is fearless choreography and they nail it. Bruno calls it out of this world. Carrie Ann says other contestants should
be scared of them. Paula calls it her favorite dance. Their score ties Gilles and Peta: 39.5.
Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina break out their hip hop. It's ambitious but doesn't really live up to the ambition. They lose synch slightly, but get it back. Apolo's microphone pack even flies loose. When it's over, Karina buries her face in her hands and cries over some slip I didn't notice. Call me cynical, but is it manufactured for a sympathy vote? The judges say Apolo did good. They get 34.5.
So why did Kelly and Val look so serious? They were keeping in character! (That and Kelly has a broken toe and the flu.) Their dance style is contemporary, and Val has to choreograph a dance that conveys emotion. It's a perfect dance for a couple who has such chemistry. Apparently, dancing in their underwear works for them, too. Their synch is off at one point, but it's like watching a hidden camera into their bedroom. Paula calls it beautiful. Bruno says they nailed what takes years of training. Carrie Ann calls Kelly courageous. They get 37.5.
Kelly tweeted, "Thank you so much for supporting
@ iamValC and I. Tonight was worth all the blood, sweat, and tears."
Bristol's not lowest, so if her fan base pulls through, she should be safe again. In last place, Kirstie may be most in jeopardy, but she often gets a lot of fan support. I'd say look for a surprise elimination, like Melissa or Apolo. Their routines don't seem to make as big an impression as the others.
We'll find out who gets eliminated Tuesday night at 8 on ABC. Donny Osmond and Susan Boyle will also perform.
More information can be found at: beta.abc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars/index .
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