CLEVELAND - What does week eight translate to on "Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars?" A whole fourteen dances to critique. Gulp.
Each of the seven remaining couples had two dances to perform, at least, when the show finally got started, that is.
Monday night's episode was almost over before it got started. It looked like no one was in place, especially the cameras. Apparently, tonight's All-Star was Technical Difficulties. Did they not realize what time it was? Anyway, cut to commercial two minutes in. When we come back, host Tom Bergeron calls it the most amazing opening they've ever had.
Also, there were no eliminations last week, so those scores get precariously stacked onto this week's scores.
The first round pays tribute to Veterans Day with Olympian Shawn Johnson and Derek doing a Viennese waltz. They move together beautifully and give it some real emotion. Judge Bruno Tonioli calls it heavenly perfection. They get 29.5 out of 30.
This is where I first noticed that Monday night's performances seem clipped, closer to a minute than the normal 90 seconds.
Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina are next with a tango. It has a Special Forces beginning, with Apolo ziplining in to rescue Karina. Their tango is commanding and powerful. It's not the most polished, but it's the energy and charisma that people notice. Bruno says Apolo is like Tom Cruise in "Mission: Impossible." Not sure if that's a compliment. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba says she wants Apolo to save her like Karina. "You're my hero!" she shrieks. Score: 29.5.
Apolo tweeted, "What a fun night! My pops was in town, friends and family. Fun filled dances with lots of energy and I even ziplined down the stage."
Actress Kirstie Alley and Maks do a Viennese waltz. Kirstie is in USO garb. This dance is slow and beautiful, which suits her, because it's easier for her to spin than do demanding footwork. Judge Len Goodman calls it her best dance. Do they say that every week? Score: 27.
Actress Kelly Monaco and Val also do a Viennese waltz. It's softer than these two usually go for, rather than emphasizing their sultry chemistry as they usually do. Carrie Ann says Kelly is pushing herself. They get 28.
Actor Gilles Marini and Peta do a quickstep to "Danger Zone." Some parts seem to be a bit flat or awkward, but their momentum is great. Talk about a quickstep. The downside: their tailored Air Force dance jumpsuits look like pajamas. In fact, they finish the dance standing still like they want Scotty to beam them up. Bruno says he's definitely Top Gun. Carrie Ann says, "Almost!" and notes some wobbly feet. Score: 29.5.
NFL retiree Emmitt Smith and Cheryl also do a Viennese waltz. It simply looks like a great dance out of an old Hollywood musical. Their sweet vibe is wonderful. Carrie Ann says Emmitt needs to push himself more because he's riding in a comfort zone. Score: 28.
Last, TV host Melissa Rycroft and Tony do a quickstep. It seemed just a little off at first, but it looks cute and their attitude is great, especially the traditional quickstep parts, but Melissa simply does not seem as fast as Tony. Not that the judges mind. Len says, "It was quick, there was lots of steps," getting lots of laughs. Bruno says it was like watching Ann Miller and Gene Kelly. Carrie Ann salutes them. Perfect 30.
So, for the first round, all the All-Stars did a good job. But so what? Some of them were clean but boring dances. You're All-Stars, and you can't all win. Anger the judges and give us some never-before-seen routines, guys.
Onto round two. It's a trio dance, which means the existing couples must invite another pro into the routine.
First up, Shawn and Derek do a samba with Mark. They went for a wild tribal theme, complete with war paint, feathers and faux-hide outfits. It looks like "The Lion King" meets the dance sequence in "Coming to America." I can honestly say I have never seen anything like this on the show before. Also, are Shawn's abs painted on?
Len says, if he were in the audience, he would be cheering along, but as a judge he was letdown because there was hardly any samba content. "It was very self-indulgent," Len says of Derek and Mark. Well, that's what you get when you mix those two. Len tells Shawn, if she goes home tomorrow, to blame those two, not him. I wish all the dances were as fiery as Len's critique. Bruno says it gave him jungle fever. He adds, as a piece of art, it was fantastic. Of course, Derek and Mark applaud, hearing exactly what they want. Until Bruno adds, it wasn't really a samba. Carrie Ann says they executed what they did with perfection. Score: 26, 93.5 for both weeks.
Apolo and Karina jive with Sasha. It's a "Greased Lightning" theme and Karina looks like "bad" Sandy in a red stretch pants. Their footwork is good but their dancing does not seem completely synchronized. Props for Apolo for being the only star to pick a same-sex pro to trio with. Bruno says Apolo took a risk doing that but mirrored Sasha brilliantly, "Like watching twins."
Uhh, not quite. Carrie Ann calls it Apolo's most vibrant performance. Score: 29, 91.5 overall.
Kirstie and Maks are back to paso doble with Tristan. It's Kirstie's idea they all dress as angels. She also calls herself a manhater cause they suck the life out of her. There are a lot of segments to this routine and Kirstie tries to keep up with them. Entertainment value aside, it's really another wacky Kirstie train wreck, like a poorly-rehearsed interpretive dance. Kirstie's even barefoot for a paso… maybe she forgot her shoes? Carrie Ann loves the theme, costumes, presentation, but calls it sloppy. Len says it had attitude but lacked finesse. Bruno says it was right out of "Valley of the Dolls." Nembutal, anyone? Kirstie blurts out that she actually thought she would get a 10.5 from one judge. Sounds like Kirstie visited the Valley of the Dolls afterall. Score: 24, 79 overall.
In a moment of clarity, Kirstie tweeted, "We couldn't stop laughing after Bruno said our 3 way dance was Psychedelic !!! LMFAO ... oh Lord we need your votes!!!"
Kelly and Val do a jive with Louis. Kelly makes it look easy keeping up with these two commanding pros. She even leads them in a synchronized segment and looks sharp doing it. Kelly ends the routine, jumping on the table and kissing Len. This gives Bruno an opportunity to fulfill a fantasy and smack Val's behind. Len calls it fun, fast, flamboyant, and fabulous. Bruno says she did well when she was leading with the guys behind her. Carrie Ann says he transitions were fantastic. Score: 28.5, 92.5 overall.
Gilles and Peta salsa with Chelsie. Gilles starts off with a pretty passionate solo. This routine is fast and involved but somehow they all compliment each other. Instead of having to keep up with the pros, Gilles leads with his own commanding choreography. A very entertaining routine. Bruno says it was sensual but Gilles lost timing. Carrie Ann loves how Gilles took control of the floor, but his musicality was off. Len notes Gilles wasn't hiding behind the girls. Score: 29, 92 overall.
Gilles tweeted, "I love to dance with
@ PetaMurgatroyd . I hope Your vote will carry us to the next level."
Ugh, are these double critiques over yet? I'm more exhausted than Kirstie.
Anyway, Emmitt and Cheryl salsa with Kym. There's a lot going on, but Emmitt looks like he's having fun and that's why he wins and what people like most about him. I'm not even sure if he's doing that much dancing, but it's still fun to watch. Carrie Ann says that's the Emmitt we love. Len says Emmitt worked the girls like two yoyos. Score: 30, 92.5 overall. That 30 must be for the girls.
Kudos if you've stuck with my recap this long.
Last, Melissa and Tony paso doble with Henry. Sidenote: who's Henry? Melissa channels a dominatrix and attacks the role. She looks like she's in control of these two pros. She even barks out in the middle of her song. Len says she impresses him the most. Bruno calls her a fantastic dancer. Carrie Ann says Melissa owned the dance. Score: 30, 99 overall. Wow.
Melissa tweeted, "What an amazing night!!! We are having so much fun! But remember, ALL your votes count!! 1-800-868-3406!! Your support means so much!!"
Hmm, what will happen for the double elimination. Let's see. Kirstie is a good dozen points behind the next lowest-scoring star, but she's got lots of fan support, so don't doubt their votes can't bridge the judge-viewer vote gap. Melissa may be on top with a nearly perfect two-week score, but I'm not sure she has the viewer votes. Scores aside, I'd wager either Kelly or Apolo might get the boot.
Tuesday night's elimination episode airs at 8:00 on ABC with performances from Kylie Minogue, Ne-Yo, and the Broadway cast of "Newsies."
More information can be found at: beta.abc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars/index .