‘Dancing With the Stars’: Everybody hurts

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The second night of competition promised to be a quick-stepping salsa fest. Unfortunately, in what has become par for the course in this already-plagued ‘DWTS’ season, with another episode came another wounded contestant.

Hopes for an injury-free episode were quickly dashed during the intro, when Lacey Schwimmer sadly descended the steps of the glittery new staircase without partner Steve-O. Turns out the ‘Jackass’ star messed up his back just hours before during dress rehearsal, when he did a front flip at the end of his salsa routine and ended up on his ... mike pack. Ouch. Lacey reported that nothing was broken, but Steve-O’s full diagnosis has yet to be revealed. It’s unfortunate, because Steve-O had really emerged as a fan favorite last week. (At right, the two cut a rug during the March 9 show.) And also because the judges then proceeded to grade his rough dress-rehearsal performance instead. So Steve-O’s slip resulted in a slip in his scores as well: a dismal total of 14 for the week, for a combined two-week total of 31. Which was just one point up from ...


The other Steve, Wozniak. Who may have resembled an ewok in the last episode but kind of reminded me of a woodsy owl with his nerdy glasses tonight (hoot hoot!). And though he also had to tend to his own injury (all that hoofing caused a slight fracture in his foot), he still remained as amiable and upbeat as ever. Even after his performance, the Woz claimed he felt fine, boasting that he only took just one aspirin in five days. His quickstep was not so lucky, however. Despite Karina’s flowery bosoms and Len’s mark-up for using a Buddy Holly song, the Woz still scored a measly 17 (which, to be fair, is four points up from what he got last week), for a combined total of 30.

On the other end of the spectrum were ‘SATC’ hottie Gilles Marini (who himself is suffering from a shoulder injury) and ‘The Bachelor’ ex Melissa (who has no injuries, save her pride when she was so unceremoniously dumped on national television), who topped the leader board and received combined totals of 51 and 49, respectively. Sure, Gilles’ quickstep was fun, and Cheryl Burke definitely knows how to bust some booty and choreograph a routine. And their continued success will no doubt do wonders for French-American relations and boost the sale of rosary T-shirts everywhere. I also really enjoyed Melissa’s walk on the wild side with her “slamming” salsa (though Tony Dovolani kind of reminded me of a feral trapeze artist/UPS guy with his faux hawk and tight brown outfit). But I have to take issue with the judges’ scores. Nines? Already? No wonder the French are so cocky — we give them straight nines in just their second week! It all seems like too much, too soon.

Not everyone on the show was injured, however: Moppet Shawn Johnson showed she can move it with the best of them, pulling off a “charming” salsa routine and earning a combined total score of 47. I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to shake her stuff when a Latin dance called for it, but she was able to break out of her gymnastics reserve and shimmy up a little storm in her ruffly fruit salad of an outfit. And that spray tan really helps accentuate her Pepsodent smile, doesn’t it? On clear days, I bet it can be seen from outer space. And I’m not sure who revealed more skin tonight: Shawn or her partner, Mark Ballas. His chest may have been as smooth as a just-waxed dance floor, but it was offset nicely by the scruff on his chin.

Dancing his way into my heart is rodeo champ Ty Murray. He’s already charmed me with his aw-shucks demeanor: “My cha cha was really just a cha, because I forgot half of it.” But he won me over with his excellent quickstep this week. Yee haw to pardner Chelsie Hightower for encouraging him to show his pearly whites, and to Ty for being less deer-in-headlights and really letting his lasso fly. His combined score was just a 34, but he’s got my vote for most improved. And if that standing ovation meant anything, methinks he’s quickly shuffling into Steve-O’s slot as fan favorite.

Also improved was Denise Richards, who still gave off a fem-bot vibe but loosened up enough to smooth out last week’s awkward kinks for a combined total of 39, and football giant Lawrence Taylor, who displayed some appealing swagger and groove after a tenuous first-week performance for a two-week total of 36. I’m not going to count Lawrence Taylor out just yet. I feel like he could be a real contender with his quiet strength and natural ability. Plus, I really like Edyta. And didn’t her outfit remind you of Halle Berry’s when she won that best actress Oscar?

Less improved were David Alan Grier, who ended up with a combined total of 36 but just can’t seem to get a break from the judges. All sizzle and no sausage, Len? Not really sure what that means, but it may be a strike against Davy G’s masculinity — and his standing in this series. Another who can’t get a break: Belinda Carlisle. I love her, but I’m afraid she’s getting lost among the injuries and the flashier contestants (she ended up with 35). Chuck Wicks suffered the same fate: The judges were disappointed with his performance (but still gave him a more-than-solid 40), saying it was a “wasted opportunity” that served only to showcase his partner. To be fair, Julianne’s orangey-lemon outfit was absolutely mesmerizing, and there was no way that Chuck was going to compete with that. It was as if she was wearing a citrusy pipe cleaner. Or I was going through a car wash. I wonder if the crew will use it later to dust off the blinds.


And let’s see, is that everyone? Oh, no: I’ve saved the breasts for last. ‘Girl Next Door’ Holly Madison and rapper Lil’ Kim both danced the quickstep, and both were busted for their chest areas: Lil’ Kim made sure not to get hers in the way, and put what could be seen as an abyss between herself and partner Derek Hough. Still, the rapstress continued to impress the judges (and me), first by breaking it down all nasty-like in rehearsals, and then by cleaning it up and matching partner Derek Hough step for step with a very strong routine, earning her a fourth-place finish with a combined total of 44. And Holly performed a serviceable dance with partner Dmitry Chaplin that gave her a combined 36 score, though Len commented that there was a divorce between the upper and lower parts of her body because “your bust is a little bit forward.” To which Holly kind of shrugged off in an ‘um, yeah, no duh’ way.

Though the Woz is still in danger of having to force quit this week, methinks Belinda Carlisle, Steve-O and DAG are also in the running for the big dance-off (which is apparently so complicated that you have to go to the ABC website for a full explanation). Who do you think will end up in the bottom two? And how about those fancy new score paddles?

-- Allyssa Lee