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Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 11/13/2012

‘Dancing With the Stars’: Trio dances throw in an added challenge


Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke. (Adam Taylor - ABC)

Space shuttles land at the beginning of “Dancing With the Stars”! Just kidding — maybe. We have no idea, since technical difficulties forced the producers to cut to commercial before the couples were introduced in the very beginning of the show. By the time we come back from the first ad break, the couples are all lined up and ready to go.

“That was the most amazing opening we ever had, when the space shuttle landed there!” co-host Tom Bergeron jokes (possibly), apologizing for the snafu. The theme of this week is dedicating dances to the military, in honor of Veterans Day.

Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas

Dance: Viennese Waltz

Shawn has reunited with Derek, who sat out last week with a neck injury. Derek acts miffed that Shawn scored her first perfect 30 with her replacement partner, Mark, instead of him -- and we can’t tell if he’s kidding. Even if he’s not, we don’t blame him, seeing as Len seems to have a chip on his shoulder when it comes to Derek.

However, after Derek and Shawn float through the dance, Len actually gives them a compliment, and adored the dance. Bruno calls it “heavenly perfection,” while Carrie Ann raves about the magical performance.

Scores: 10, 9.5, 10 for a total of 29.5 points. Shockingly, Len holds them back from a perfect score.

This week, since there are only seven couples, each duo must perform twice — though the second is a “trio round,” incorporating a third, eliminated pro dancer into the routine.

Shawn, Derek and Mark mix “tribal” elements into their samba, and Derek says they’re going to push the boundaries — “I like to do things differently and hopefully it will pay off,” he says, foreshadowing Len’s inevitable hatred of anything new and different. For the performance, they all dress up like cavemen/women), and Shawn throws in some fancy gymnastics tricks.

Naturally, it’s very entertaining, and of course, Len hates it. He calls it self-indulgent, and says there were very few elements of samba in the dance. “Shawn, if you go home tomorrow, don’t blame me — blame those two,” he snaps, glaring at his enemy (for some reason), Derek. Bruno calls it a piece of art...but even he has to admit it wasn’t really a samba. Carrie Ann loves it, and she and Len start screaming at each other.

Trio scores: 10, 7, 9 for a total of 26 points.

Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff

Dance: Tango

Apolo is gunning for a 10 after dancing well last week and getting all 9s. “I think judging is very subjective, and there’s nothing you can do,” says Karina, master of the obvious. Apolo decides the way to impress the judges involves ziplining across the studio to kick off the performance, even though he’s scared of heights, before getting his tango on.

The zipline pays off. “That was a daredevil of a tango!” Bruno roars. Carrie Ann loved it, and Len even calls Apolo “my hero,” calling it a great dance.

Scores: 10, 9.5, 10 for a total of 29.5 points.

For the trio dance, Karina and Apolo team up with Sasha for a jive — they chose another guy so Apolo can see what the dance is REALLY supposed to look like. Apolo is nervous about performing up to Sasha’s standards, but they attempt lots of fancy tricks to make up for Apolo’s shortcomings. The judges love it, and think Apolo held up very well next to Sasha.

Trio scores: 9.5, 9.5, 10 for a total of 29 points.

Actress Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Dance: Viennese Waltz

Kirstie’s dance last week was a disaster, but she and a toned-down Maks. “Kirstie’s more improved than any other person on this show,” Maks boasts, giving full credit to himself, naturally. Kirstie confides to the camera crew that sometimes, she has the crazy thought that she can win this whole competition.

Having a much easier time with a slow dance, Kirstie is much improved over last week. Carrie Ann is a fan, but says Kirstie needs to challenge herself more next time. “No!” Kirstie groans. Len declares it Kirstie’s best dance ever, and Bruno agrees.

Scores: 9, 9, 9 for a total of 27 points.

Kirstie requests Tristan for the trio dance, and makes both men wear angel wings for their paso doble, which neither seem too thrilled about — but the group seems to bve having the most fun out of any trio. “Dancing with two gorgeous men at the same time is an ego boost,” admits Kirstie.

The dance looks all over the place, and something tells us the judges won’t be happy. Sure enough, Carrie Ann loved the costumes, but thinks the dance was sloppy. Len says the dance lacked finesse but was still a fan, and Bruno goes with “surreal.” Talking with Brooke Burke Charvet in the Celebriquarium, Kirstie appears on the verge of losing her mind, collapsing into hysterical laughter. “Welcome to delirium with the stars!” Tom Bergeron chimes in.

Trio scores: 8, 8, 8 for a total of 24 points.

Actress Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy

Dance: Viennese Waltz

“Can I [expletive] get a smile, babe?” Val patiently asks Kelly, who generally has a sour expression on her face, but seems particularly perturbed about something in rehearsal. She later apologizes for being in a bad mood, but since this first part of the episode is moving at light speed and there’s no time, we never really find out why.

Kelly gets all the steps, though it’s not particularly memorable. Len starts to criticize the performance, saying the movements were a bit sharp, and Carrie Ann clamors that he’s wrong. “I have my standards, she has none,” sniffs Len, motioning toward Carrie Ann. Kelly looks like she’s on the verge of tears, but that’s not unusual. Bruno, the calming force this time around, nicely says that the dance was beautiful.

Scores: 9.5, 9, 9.5 for a total of 28 points.

For the trio jive, Kelly chooses Louis. “I think you’re the best dancer,” Kelly tells him, while Val tries not to look offended. Rehearsal looks challenging, but Louis predicts that Kelly is going to surprise America.

The three of them work well together, and Kelly ends the dance by giving Len a kiss on the cheek — he looks thrilled. The judges were all fans, and Carrie Anns the transitions going back and forth between the three dancers “amazing.”

Trio scores: 9.5, 9.5, 9.5 for a total of 28.5 points.

Actor Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd

Dance: Quickstep

Gilles is disturbed that he’s been getting lower and lower scores throughout the competition — even though he’s still been doing pretty well — so he jazzes things up with a quickstep. Peta is hopeful that Gilles’s frame will carry the dance, and Gilles is hoping for a perfect score.

The fast-paced dance is entertaining, but is a bit awkward at times and doesn’t seem perfect. Bruno calls him a “top gun,” while Carrie Ann says it was ALMOST top gun...but not quite, as he slipped a few times. Len, on the other hand, is thrilled with the results.

Scores: 9.5, 10, 10 for a total of 29.5 points.

Chelsie joins Gilles and Peta for a trio salsa, and they decide to make it as sexy and sensual as possible. “It’s a lot of entanglement” between two people Gilles says, and he has to concentrate to make sure he doesn’t cause the three of them to topple over.

Gilles goes for the fully unbuttoned shirt while Peta and Chelsie play two salsa dancers vying for his attention. The dance is pretty spastic. Bruno points out that they lost timing, and Carrie Ann agrees that the musicality was off — still, she loved the way Gilles “took control” over the dance floor. Len thinks that Gilles didn’t camoflauge himself between the two dancers, which apparently is a compliment.

Trio scores: 9.5, 10, 9.5 for a total of 29 points.

Former NFL player Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke

Dance: Viennese Waltz

Emmitt is nervous for the double elimination, and sits down with former teammate Daryl “Moose” Johnston to get some words of wisdom. Daryl reminds Emmitt that once he puts his mind to something, he’s very difficult to stop. Being reminded that he’s awesome puts Emmitt in much better spirits.

Emmitt smoothly moves through the slow dance, though Carrie Ann points out that he slipped again. Then she deals the ultimate blow, comparing him to Kirstie (!), saying that he needs to challenge himself at this point in the competition.

Scores: 9, 9.5, 9.5 for a total of 28 points.

Emmitt wisely stays mostly silent during rehearsal footage, in which Kym joins him and Cheryl for the salsa — he figures it’s best to just let the two women tell him what to do. Luckily, the fast-paced dance goes very smoothly.

“Boy, can you handle your women,” says Carrie Ann, impressed, while Len is a fan of the clever choreography.

Trio scores: 10, 10, 10 for a total of 30 points.

Reality star Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani

Dance: Quickstep

Melissa has proven unstoppable lately, so she knows the other couples are gunning for them. As she points out, being at the top of the leaderboard means they can only do worse from there.

They fly through the quickstep, and the judges love it — even Len is tongue-tied, and Carrie Ann practically bows down to them.

Scores: 10, 10 and 10 for a total of 30 points.

Melissa struggles with getting into character for her paso doble with Tony and troupe member Henry, because she’s playing a dominatrix for the dance. She must try to control both men during the dance, and while she dresses the part, it sounds a little silly when she lets out a scripted yell during the dance — to apparently assert her dominance.

Len says she moved seamlessly between the two dancers, and is impressed the most by Melissa. Bruno calls it “fabulous,” and Carrie Ann says Melissa OWNED that paso.

Trio scores: 10, 10, 10 for a total of 30 points.

Tomorrow: Double elimination night.

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 11/13/2012

 
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