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This week’s recap is going to be full of happiness and joy. Why, you ask? Is it because Tom says it’s tiny costume week? Nah…and if you haven’t seen it, don’t bother rushing to check the Tivo, because the costumes aren’t any teenier than any other week (that Tom, such a tease). Because the dancers are so much improved and the entertainment value of the show has jumped a couple of notches? Not a chance. Because the constant, close proximity of some of the better-looking couples – and in skimpy, sweaty practice clothes – are bringing some hot, sexual tension to the show? Puh-leeze. No, I’m giddy with delight because we are halfway through the season! And although we’re that much closer to group disco night, we still have a few rumbas & sambas to get through first. Care to know anything about the technicalities of these dances? Well, too damn bad, because I’m far too lazy to rewind the tape all the way to the beginning and write all that boring crap down. I’ll tell you that the rumba is the sensual dance of love, and the samba is a fun, energetic party dance, and we’ll have to leave it at that, because we’re still running at 90 minutes for the performance shows. Maybe next week Brandy can discuss the subtleties of the Disco Duck. Or not.

This dance is definitely for samba-dy else

Up first this week is shiny-noggin’d Joey Lawrence and partner Edyta. They’ll be doing the samba. Joey’s apparently not the party dude we all thought he was, because he’s not comfortable with this week’s dance. He complains that he can’t get what he refers to as the “chicken move” down pat. It’s not exactly the same as the Chicken Dance (at least, I don’t think it is – I’m pretty sure I’ve never watched anyone do the Chicken Dance while sober). Joey & Edyta are samba’ing to George Michael’s “Freedom”. Joey even has a leather jacket with the word “Freedom” stitched across the back, and yes, it looks every bit as lame as it sounds. He slips off the jacket almost immediately, though, and….ooooooohh. Sorry. It’s hard not to be distracted by his smooth, shiny biceps. Zowie. It’s almost enough to distract me from the sad truth that Joey does, in fact, move like a demented chicken several times during this dance. The judges for the most part are less than impressed by Joey & Edyta’s samba – head judge Len complains that it lacks spontaneity, Carrie Ann says she’s not completely impressed, but Bruno thinks it’s a novel interpretation – like George Michael meets the Village People on a cruise to Brazil. Well, if anyone would know what that looks like, it would be Bruno. The scores are a little better than the judges’ comments would indicate – 8’s from Carrie Ann and Len, and a 9 from Bruno give the first couple a decent 25 out of 30 points.

Move over, Bad Girl of Pop, The Mistress of Tease has arrived

Willa Ford and partner Maksim are next with their rumba. Max decides to take Willa to the beach to learn this week’s dance…suuuure you did, Max. There’s a bit of dancing, and a lotta hand-holding and gazing out into the sunset. You can’t keep your mind on your homework with such distractions, can you? But it seems Willa & Max managed to squeeze in some actual dancing this week, because they perform a top-notch rumba to the strains of Every Breath You Take. The only thing I don’t like about this performance (besides Willa’s eye makeup, but I don’t want to nitpick) is the fact that Willa has an enormous toothy grin plastered on her face for much of this supposedly sensual dance. Yes, we can all guess why Willa is smiling so much, but must she be quite so transparent? The judges either don’t notice or are sympathetic – Carrie Ann notes there is some chemistry going on (thank you, Mistress of Obvious), Len raves that Willa has gone from strength to strength, and Bruno gasps that The Mistress of Tease (though I’m guessing she didn’t fight Max off too hard) did an incredible job. Backstage, Samantha needles them about the relationship, and the audience whoops when Willa admits that she & Max have great chemistry. The lovebirds are rewarded with three 9’s from the judges, and are in the lead with 27 out of 30.

And she can pat her head and rub her belly at the same time, too

Country crooner Sara Evans and partner Tony take on the samba, obviously because Sara seems to be such a fun-loving, party kind of girl. Sara decides to get into her dancing by singing, and performs the national anthem at a Anaheim (formerly Mighty) Ducks game. I don’t know which game it was, but I’m assuming it was Saturday’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes. The Ducks beat the Coyotes 2-1, for anyone who’s in the office hockey pool. During practice at the studio, Tony expresses amazement that Sara is singing while dancing! Maybe she can channel a little Ginger Rogers for tonight’s performance? Decked out in a very cute green ruffled dress, Sara does indeed appear to be actually having fun and dances much better than usual. The judges enthuse over Sara’s transformation – Bruno is delighted to finally see a sexy Sara, Carrie Ann thinks she did a good job tonight, and Len –ever the British gentleman – tells Sara he bought one of her CDs in a second-hand shop (I suppose it’s slightly better than telling her that he downloaded it for free from Kazaa), but also says that she did a great job of interpreting the dance. Backstage, Sam snarkily expresses surprise that Sara & Tony have never been in the bottom three, and Sara, with a complete lack of guile, says that she has spent so much time touring and meeting fans, she figures they must all be supporting her by voting for her every week. So for anyone out there who wasn’t sure this was a popularity contest - rather than a dancing contest - your doubts have now been answered. Those of you who have been voting for Jerry every week need not feel guilty any longer. The judges give Sara & Tony 8’s all around, for a respectable 24 out of 30.

When phallic references run amok

Resident hot guy Mario Lopez and dominatrix partner Karina, to no one’s surprise, will be performing the sexy rumba. They take a page out of Willa & Max’s homework book and decide to go to Mario’s “friend’s” pool. The pool is decked out like the stage setting for a Tarzan movie, and I’m thinking the “friend” is Hugh Hefner. There’s much cavorting and splashing, and – gasp! – even a little making out. Mario admits that he & Karina have a great connection on AND off the dance floor. Well, once the camera catches you sucking face with each other, there’s no point in trying to deny it, right? And can this smoldering couple bring the heat to the dance floor? Holy smokes. Their rumba is so erotic, I had to send my kids out of the room. The judges are practically fanning themselves after the performance – Len likens Mario to a tightrope walker, Bruno puts the censors on guard by gushing that it was intense, throbbing, and masterful – what a package! Karina ducks her head and says she’s blushing – no kidding, sweetie, even I’m blushing. Carrie Ann kills the buzz by complaining that Mario is a little short and stiff – hey, that’s his dance moves she’s talking about, what did you think she was talking about? Hmmmm? Or maybe she meant it as a good thing, because it’s 9’s from all the judges for a 27 out of 30. Sam presents Mario with a birthday cake backstage, and Tom jokes that Mario would prefer a cake that someone jumps out of. Way to ruin Karina’s birthday surprise for Mario later on, Tom.

More fun that transsexual midget trailer-park weddings

It’s almost like Jerry Springer and partner Kym are a comedy team – maybe like George & Gracie, except Jerry’s got most of the good lines. The samba, Kym says, is everything Jerry isn’t. We do thank the producers for not making him dance the rumba with a girl who’s probably young enough to be his granddaughter, though. In order to get Jerry samba-ready, Kym makes him don ugly swim trunks, various headgear, and ends with giving him a spray tan. All the better to show off his sunken old-man chest in a ruffled black shirt that makes him look like an aging bullfighter on that same Brazilian cruise Joey Lawrence is on. With Kym resembling a leggy, blonde chicken in a feathered headdress and tail, they turn in a comic performance that inspires the fans to take up the Springer audience chant. Jerry garners more laughs when he says he turned on the sex appeal this week. The judges continue to take it easy on the criticism – Carrie Ann says the dance was exuberant and fun, Len tells Jerry that from one old guy to another, he looks forward to Jerry’s performances the most each week, and Bruno exclaims that it was worthy of the best of Lucille Ball. Jerry’s backstage plea to the prison wardens of America to allow the convicts (his target audience) to vote may not be needed, as the judges generously bestow 8’s to give the pair a solid 24 out of 30, their highest point total yet.

The Louis Lama

Dance champ Louis continues his slightly sinister tutelage of Monique Coleman, and it sounds like Monique is finally starting to get a little creeped out. She complains that Louis speaks in abstract metaphors that she calls “Louis-isms”. Really? I would just call them BS, personally. Louis intones that his method of teaching dancing is holistic – body, mind, etc., etc. I think he’s just bitter that he can’t get into Monique’s leotard. Instead, they promise to fog up the television screen with their rumba. Can they out-sex the couples who are actually having sex? It turns out Monique may be a better actress than her resume might indicate, because she looks like she’s really into the whole rumba-as-sensual-experience thing, and the dance ends with a move that would make Michelle Kwan proud. The judges buy it – Bruno tells Monique she is a tempting siren, Carrie Ann agrees that the “shapes” were sensuous (I’m sure that all three of the straight guys watching this show would agree that Monique’s shape is fine indeed), and Len thinks it was really, really great. Another trio of 9’s give them a 27 out of 30, and there’s a three-way tie for first place.

Soccer dad shakes his samba

If Jerry Springer can play the devoted dad card, then so can Emmitt Smith. Emmitt bids adieu to partner Cheryl and hops aboard a plane to Dallas, so he can hang out with his family and attend the kiddies’ soccer games. Back to practicing, and when Emmitt complains of sore muscles, we are dragged along to a visit with his chiropractor and there is a collective shudder when we hear the quack doctor cracking Emm’s body parts. It works for Emm, as he & Cheryl hit the floor to perform an exuberant samba. Emmitt, I notice, is again wearing what’s becoming his trademark dance costume – shiny jewel-toned shirt, with a black vest and pants. I’m not complaining or anything – it’s cute, the kind of thing you’d expect to see Shaft wear to Studio 54. The judges are pumped after the performance – Len declares it the best samba of the night, Bruno calls Emmitt a party legend, and Carrie Ann simply rises to her feet and swivels her hips in excitement. Yet another round of 9’s, and Emm & Cheryl are restored to their former glory with a 27 out of 30.

There’s still some time to kill – six minutes by my clock anyway, but I figure if the show had been trimmed down to an hour we would have missed all the behind-the-scenes nooky action. Yeah, I know what you mean, I would have been sorry to have missed that too. We need filler, so Tom is going to do a little math for us and display the leaderboard results after the judges voting, so for those of you who are math-impaired, here are the tallies:

Willa & Maksim
Mario & Karina
Monique & Louis
Emmitt & Cheryl – a 4-way tie for 1st with 27 out of 30 points each
Joey & Edyta – next with 25 out of 30
Sara & Tony
Jerry & Kym – in final spot with 24 out of 30

I guess Rod Stewart liked his American Idol experience, because he’s back on the reality show circuit and will be guest-starring on Wednesday’s results show. That, or he really likes Monique’s shape as well. Speaking of Monique, will she & Louis end up back in the bottom two? Or will it finally be samba la vista for Jerry & Kym? Don’t forget to tune in and rumba your way back here for the results recap!

I’m off to go catch a cruise ship to Brazil. ajane@fansofrealitytv.com