TV Recap

Down by Laws

On ''Dancing With the Stars,'' the judges penalize Mario, Joey, and Emmitt after their routines break the strict ballroom rules

Willa Ford, Dancing With the Stars, ... | LOVE IS IN THE PAIR? Everyone is hinting that Willa and Maksim are partnering
LOVE IS IN THE PAIR? Everyone is hinting that Willa and Maksim are partnering

''Dancing With the Stars'': Breakin' all the rules

Hey, everyone! Great week. I'm so happy they fixed the music!

Ha! You wish. There was no time to focus on song selections this week because we had a controversy! It seems that in ballroom dancing, there are rules. These rules must be followed. Some of them are a given. Avoid eye contact with your partner, dress partially to completely in feathers, and if you're Vivica A. Fox, do a cartwheel. Others are more technical: According to judge Len Goodman, the dancers must not execute lifts or release their holds in the middle of certain routines. Disgusting stunts like these should only occur at the very beginning or very end of the dance, if they must. [British-accented scoff.]

In past seasons, the judges have gently penalized dancers for coloring outside the lines. But this week, they were particularly relentless, and mostly against the men. Joey Lawrence, Mario Lopez, and Emmitt Smith — three of the stars with the highest scoring potential — lost major points for deviating from traditional dance elements in their routines. Joey did a handstand. Mario writhed around on the floor and shot a lot of ''I could be looking at myself in the mirror from different angles!'' glances out into the audience, so I guess I can understand their low-ish scores. But Emmitt's offense — a brief lift in the middle of his tango — was neglible. Having received the lowest score of the pack (19), Emmitt told host/bobblehead Samantha Harris that he and partner Cheryl had been ''robbed at gunpoint.''

I know where I'm supposed to stand on this controversy. I should say that in order to be fair, everyone should stick to the rules and only showboat for a few seconds during each routine. But I can't help it: I enjoy the stunts. Mario's show-kid smile may be annoying as hell, but if it's between focusing on that face during repetitive dance steps or watching him and Karina whip their limbs around each other like folding chairs, I'll choose the folding chairs. If the pros think their stars can pull cool tricks off, why shouldn't they include them in the choreography? They're fabulously glamorous!

But I do get it. Following the rules will level the playing field for everyone else and, hopefully, get viewers to vote based on technical skill and not how creative the pros were with the choreo. It makes sense. I just don't think the result will be as enjoyable to watch.

While the men got slammed for breaking the rules, the women dominated the scoreboard. Monique's jive was probably the best dance on Tuesday night, but the judges opted to ask Vivica and her '50s-style bathing cap made of hair to perform Wednesday night's encore. I think it was that gymnast's finishing pose Viv struck at the end of her tango that sealed the deal. (Did anyone else notice that? I was like, where's the vault?)

Sara Evans performed a somewhat lethargic line dance in cowgirl attire and got rave reviews for her ''jive.'' (I missed the part that made it a jive. Was it the log roll? Maybe the boobs.) And Willa Ford, who everyone assumed would be going home this week because she's been in the bottom two twice, suddenly got lucky. Oh look, Willa gets to stay just as a possible romance between her and hot partner Maksim surfaces. How convenient....Oh, whatever, I'm so into it. With the right star treatment, Willa could go all the way. We just need footage of her imitating Valerie Cherish: ''I'm Willa Ford, and this is my comeback.''

Since I haven't acknowledged the week's elimination, the next logical sentence is ''Poor Harry,'' but to be honest, I'm not sure Mr. Hamlin was ever digging the show at all. I mean, he knew he wouldn't make it as far as Lisa Rinna did, so what would be the point? General discomfort? Cringe-worthy pans to Lisa in the audience? Don't get me wrong: I love both of them (in a ha-ha, you exist sort of way), but it was Harry's time to go. So: Poor Ashly.

Jerry's final thought: ''You idiots!''

What do you think? Were the judges too harsh on Emmitt? Do mid-dance tricks make the performances better or worse? And where did they find that weirdo in the studio audience who said, ''America is based on rules?''

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Originally posted Sep 28, 2006
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