Ever since Sara Evans quit the show last year while in the midst of a public divorce, "Dancing With the Stars" and "controversy" weren't words that were uttered together terribly often.
This week, all that changed.
I'm talking, of course, about the fact that Carrie Ann Inaba obsessed over whether the couples were breaking the rules by doing lifts so much that it completely distracted from the entire show.
I'm not saying it's not satisfying to have reality show contestants called out when they break the rules (I still get a thrill when I recall Keith's dramatic eviction from "Project Runway 3" for using design books.) And I love Carrie Ann and applaud her for being such a rigorous rule follower.
But since Len and Bruno seemed thoroughly uninterested in whether or not it was going on and because it became a sort of she-said, they-said quibble match, the entire discussion only distracted us from the dancing and left us primarily flummoxed about how much this rule matters. (Len addressed it during the results show, but even his "we'll knock a couple points off your score if you do it" speech didn't elucidate much for me.)
When we weren't focusing on Liftgate or getting various and sundry details about the personal lives of our stars — Scary Spice meditates! Jane Seymour paints! Jennie Garth has a hot husband who cooks bacon for their perfect-looking kids! — we were privy to some truly amazing paso dobles and Viennese Waltzes.
Sabrina scored the first perfect score of the season, Mel continued to display her surprising grace, Helio's performance managed to make Carrie Ann cry, Jennie continued to bounce back from her fall two weeks ago and Cameron wowed the judges so thoroughly that they asked him to perform again on Thursday.
But I was most impressed with Marie Osmond, who left the I'm-going-to-make-you-laugh-to-distract-you-from-my-dancing routine at home and waltzed oh so sweetly and prettily.
Other highlights included season two winners Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke's dance to Wayne Newton's performance of signature song "Danke Schoen," and Wade Robson's spectacular circus dance.
Lowlights: the hype given to Robson's performance (we heard that it was the first time he would be dancing on television in four years ad infinitum, as if viewers had been doing nothing but staying home staring blankly at their screens and pulling their hair out over the lack of Robson dancing in their lives), the Jimmy Kimmel routine (watching his parking lot attendant get a fake tan was a yawn) and the bit where the contestants all talked about their fears (can anyone say filler?)
Despite all that, this season's dancing has been truly spectacular. The contestants keep raising the bar higher and then meeting it. Whether they can continue to do that while keeping both feet on the ground remains to be seen.
And who was sent home Tuesday night, you ask? Undefeated welterweight boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. was voted off the show.
Anna David is a freelance writer. Her novel, "Party Girl," is in stores now.