In the latest results-night innovation on “Dancing With the Stars,” two contestants were eliminated tonight: Steve Wozniak, the jolly co-founder of Apple, and Holly Madison, best known as one of Hugh Hefner’s live-in girlfriends. For the first time this season, the contestants who the judges scored lowest remained at the bottom when the viewers’ votes were factored in. Holly and Steve were joined in the bottom three by Steve-O of “Jackass,” who stole the spotlight from them by talking openly about his experience getting through the competition show without drugs or alcohol.
Also for the first time this season, there was no results-night dance-off. This new feature has proven to be a non-issue so far, since in the first one Belinda Carlisle and Wozniak got a tie score (Belinda was eliminated) and in the second one Denise Richards outscored Holly and still went home.
Given the lack of surprises in the announcement of who was safe and who was in the bottom three (as usual, it was dragged out through the whole show and made “in no particular order”), the most memorable moment was Steve-O’s response to cohost Samantha Harris about his “emotional journey” so far this season. With a big smile on his face, Steve-O, who entered rehab last year after pleading guilty to cocaine possession, said, “I’m not used to dealing with high-pressure situations without the help of drugs and alcohol [big audience laugh], and this is a lot of pressure ... I’ve made it through, you know, so far without getting loaded, so I feel like a complete champion.”
Samantha, who, ironically for the cohost of a dancing program, has never been too quick on her feet, responded, “You say that almost in jest, but I know it’s true. Good work, seriously.” Host Tom Bergeron was a little more flip: “That may be the finest tribute to this show in eight seasons.”
Admittedly, it was a little hard to see whether Steve-O was joking. He’s been almost touchingly sincere about the competition. Commenting on his low judges’ score from Monday night, he said, “Screw it, man. I did my best.” Discussing the scary double elimination, he said, “Whatever happens, it’s gonna be what was supposed to happen,” upon which his dancing partner, Lacey Schwimmer, glanced ironically toward heaven and made a supernatural-sounding “whoo” noise. It turned out Steve-O was correct, and the right people went home. Why was tonight on “DWTS” different from all other nights on “DWTS”?
Given Steve-O’s charisma and newsworthiness, it’s surprising the show hasn’t played up the recovering-substance-abuser-fights-to-win angle. Imagine Tom intoning, “Can you master the quickstep when you’re doing the 12-step?” Then again, the show’s viewers probably appreciate it as a safe haven from the problems of the modern world.
Since this is the season of the walking wounded on “Dancing With the Stars,” we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Samantha Harris’ ongoing voice problems, which caused the producers to cut back her time on the microphone. (Would anyone have noticed if Tom hadn’t pointed that out?) Fortunately, other performers stepped in to keep the show’s quota of gaffes filled. Judge Bruno Tonioli was doing something strange on set just before a cut back to Tom, and Gilles Marini apparently took a bathroom break that lasted longer than the commercial break. Tom kindly pointed this out, saying, “Shouldn’t Gilles have done that before the show started?”
As for the customary results-night filler, Louis van Amstel, a big star in this world, returned to choreograph a lovely group waltz number. Kevin Rudolph sang his hit “Let It Rock” but was totally upstaged by the female pro dancers, who were performing in vampire-hottie getups reminiscent of Mel B’s dominatrix outfit from season 5. Boys II Men held their own with a Motown medley in which, oddly, they sounded better singing oldies than they did singing their own hit “End of the Road.” (That song was reprised for the departing celebrities’ “last dance”; last week Hall and Oates appeared, and the band played off Denise Richards with “She’s Gone.” Can you only get booked on “DWTS” if you have a hit that works as a bye-bye song?)
As usual, too much of the filler was interviews with the stars about stuff that had already happened or stuff that we don’t care about. Holly gave a hilarious reading of the arcane voting rules. (Turns out the couples are ranked based on the percentage of the total votes they received, with the judges’ votes and the viewers’ votes weighed equally.) Lawrence Taylor sounded a little bitter about the judges’ mean comments and low scores. Pleading for votes, Chuck Wicks, still dressed in his fast-food getup from Monday, said, “This outfit could become a reality: I could be flipping burgers if you send me home.” (Are we sure that’s a joke? Had anyone heard of him before this season started?)
It wouldn’t be a season of “DWTS” without hints of a showmance. Unfortunately, this year the producers seem to be pushing Cheryl Burke and her married partner, Gilles Marini. On tonight’s episode, not only were they chosen to reprise their perfect-score tango from Monday night, but we saw them kissing each other three times in the first 10 minutes. “I’ve never had so much chemistry with somebody dancing on the floor,” Cheryl told him. “I didn’t see even anybody else on the ballroom but you. You’re amazing.” “Thank you, babe,” Gilles replied, giving her a big kiss on the cheek—to a big “whoo” from the audience. Later, Cheryl told Samantha, “It’s not hard to have chemistry with someone like Gilles.” The shot of Gilles sliding across the floor in that dorky Supergilles shirt from a few weeks back was a good reminder that maybe he’s not all that and a bag of frites.