They pulled out all the stops for week three of "Dancing with the Stars." Want to see some iconic routines from the past 14 seasons "re-interpreted" by this new crop of performers? Done! Want to see what happens when the celebrities are put in charge of the "artistic vision" of the routines? Done! Those are a couple ways the producers can choreograph some drama.
But oh no, that's not all; two couples will be eliminated on Tuesday! And I'm burying the lead! The really big news of the night: four words. Guest. Judge. Paula. Abdul.
Here's a recap of the routines, from highest to lowest score:
Kelly Monaco and Valentin Chmerkovskiy - 27 out of 30
"Where did THAT come from?" Head judge Len Goodman said what everyone was thinking. Kelly's been really good this season, but her paso doble was spectacular. The iconic dance she chose to emulate was first performed before by Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Laila Ali - now she'll sub in Maks' younger brother, Val, and put a different spin on the bullfighter story.
Bruno Tonioli called this Kelly's defining performance, and Carrie Ann Inaba said they were the couple to watch.
Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani - 27 out of 30
Melissa had me holding my breath a few times during her sensational samba. Len Goodman told everyone to push the boundaries this week and Melissa took him quite literally. She was fearless in rehearsal (and we saw many stumbles) but she and Tony Dovolani perfected their routine for the big show.
She wanted some "what the heck?" moments and delivered. Upside down and backwards, they delivered. Bruno called the choreography imaginative, and Len said the dance was simply a knockout.
Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough - 26.5 out of 30
Talk about rule breakers! Who knew the little Olympian could be such a rebel! Shawn and Derek Hough decided to focus on the part of Len's direction where he said to "push boundaries." This cheeky duo knew they'd get dinged by the judges on their scores, but went for it anyway, including lifts, and breaking hold, and throwing in a little (a lotta) gymnastics to boot.
The iconic dance they chose was Helio Castroneves and Derek's sister Julianne Hough's quickstep. Fortunately, they abandoned the idea of the banana yellow zoot suit and instead the focus was on pure entertainment.
Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff - 25.5 out of 30
Apolo and Karina Smirnoff slowed things down a bit with their foxtrot. Their inspiration? Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke's hot routine to "Fever." Apolo said he was determined to show his sexier side; apparently he doesn't know how cute he is! They come up with a clever concept that has Karina as a sexy statute coming to life.
Carrie Ann called it a memorable dance that no one will forget, and Bruno said they were sensual AND classy. And that's not easy.
Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd - 25.5 out of 30
The Frenchman is not thrilled with the "iconic dances" concept. At all. He says he was always taught to be an original. "You don't repaint a Picasso." But he has to play along, so Gilles "iconic" choice is a tango done by Maks and Erin Andrews. (He purposely chose a celebrity who is not dancing on the all-star season).
Gilles had a high-flying concept - literally, he flew around the ballroom via a harness. And the song was "Sweet Dreams" and that really works when you're thinking about Gilles! Bruno's comment of the night: "50 Shades of Gilles!"
Sabrina Bryan and Louis Van Amstel - 25.5 out of 30
Another Maks inspired dance tribute! This time, it's the paso doble he performed with Mel B. right after Sabrina got eliminated. Sabrina tells Louis van Amstel she wants to stay away from tricks and play by the rules.
That makes for a great routine, but nothing memorable! Carrie Ann hit the nail on the head when she said the technique was all there but there was no surprise. Take risks, take risks!
Helio Castroneves and Chelsie Hightower - 25.5 out of 30
The race car champ seems a bit blinded by his all-star competition. He'd never been at the bottom, so last week really through him for a loop. Helio needs to shift into another gear (sorry) in order to keep up. He and Chelsie Hightower choose to do the quickstep first performed by Apolo and Julianne Hough. And Apolo shows how classy he is by dropping by their rehearsal and telling them he's honored that they selected his dance.
For the performance, the steps are all there, the energy is all there and too much of Chelsie's dress was there too. Helio stepped on it and the two had a tangled moment that threw him off his game.
Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke - 25 out of 30
Like Helio, I think Emmitt was a little taken aback by the level of competition and jumped into this week's challenge with a bit more gumption. They're doing the paso doble first presented by Mario Lopez and Karina Smirnoff, and the paso is a great dance for a guy with this much power. Truthfully, he looked a little lost with the "creative director" assignment, but I'm sure Cheryl Burke whispered a few things in his ear.
The grand finale of this dance was all Emmitt, though. So much so, that Cheryl was actually scared. Imagine this football champ bearing down on you from across the dance floor, only to slide between your legs. Carrie Ann described it well; he looked like a human torpedo.
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy - 24 out of 30
I don't know that I'll be able to get the thought of Maksim Chmerkovskiy in that bad Mick Jagger wig out of my head. But then again, he did have those uber-tight pants. These two look like they are having so much fun. Kirstie wanted to do the cha cha that Carson Kressley strutted out during his season, to the tune of "Moves Like Jagger."
Of course creative Kirstie had a fun concept, with rock star and groupies, and again, Maks in those pants. The judges agreed this was the couple's best dance so far.
Drew Lachey and Anna Trebunskaya - 24 out of 30
Drew really stepped in to the way-back machine for his iconic routine - he chose a cha cha to "Crazy in Love" from season one that Joey McIntyre performed with Ashley Del Grosso. (Remember them?) Since Drew's the one driving the bus this week, he wants the theme to be like a concert, complete with pyrotechnics and a wind machine. He also wants Anna Trebunskaya to sex it up a little bit; she seems coy and uncomfortable in rehearsal but that had to be an act.
She rocked it out in the performance. And Drew certainly likes to show off those guns every week doesn't he? The judges are thrilled with the concept and the moves and they received eight's across the board. Drew and Anna had the misfortune of dancing first, though, and I think their scores might have been a bit low because of it.
Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas - 22.5 out of 30
Bristol the drama queen, who knew? She had what she and partner Mark Ballas called their first fight ever. I'm guessing this has been brewing for quite a few weeks and she finally got it off her chest.
Follow me on this one: Bristol thinks Mark feels like he drew the short straw by getting paired with her again instead of Shawn or Sabrina. She thinks he wants to go home. Mark seemed to veer between being hurt and being angry at the charge and said he has been nothing but supportive of her. Tears. More tears. And no more rehearsal video.
We're right back to the ballroom and watching the performance. And it came from that iconic performer (?) Joanna Krupa and her paso doble with Derek Hough. Although they forgot to mention that until Brooke slipped it in ever so casually during the post dance chat. The judges are very kind to Bristol, who seemed a little fragile, and told her that, like Kirstie, this was her best dance to date. That's all well and good, but in a season like this ... oh what am I saying, her fan base will vote her through again.
DOUBLE ELIMINATION on Tuesday!!