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Don’t you just hate when stuff like mid-term election results interfere with your regularly scheduled programming? You always end up missing bits and pieces of your favorite programs. The networks are never content to just run the results ticker along the bottom of the screen, oh nooooo. Instead, we need to see local correspondents at campaign headquarters and concession speeches live. It eats up time that could be better spent watching, say, a rerun of Two and A Half Men. And you know that no one wants to miss a moment of Charlie Sheen’s comedy gold.

But this season, Dancing With The Stars is breaking new ground – they have decided to embrace the election coverage, and instead of giving up their 90-minute timeslot, they actually incorporate the results coverage into the show! First, the show is delayed a couple of minutes – then, hosts Tom & Samantha tell us that we’re going to waste the first, oh, 20 minutes or so and watch some tapes of our “favorite” performances of this season. So for everyone who was wondering how the hell they were going to kill an hour & a half this evening – we’re invited to sit back and enjoy repeats of Rod Stewart’s Hot Legs, Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s students’ group cha-cha to Billie Jean, Lionel Ritchie’s All Night Long, the group jive to Rebel Yell, Tom Jones’ It’s Not Unusual, and the “swop” demonstration. And in case you’re tempted to switch the channel and actually seek out election results – no need, because at the end of this deadly dull rehash of past performances, we’re treated to a few minutes more of mid-term mania. I’m watching – no, really, I am watching, I swear – a feed from Massachusetts. So in case you’re keeping score, it looks like the Dems have kicked serious GOP butt in that state.

And finally, it’s on to the actual show and the semi-finals, which Tom Bergeron dubs, “Three Men and A Trophy”. The first half of the program will be ballroom, the second Latin. Tom announces that the voting window has been extended tonight, which gives us all more time to call in and vote for our favorite stars – in case anyone was busy earlier on voting for their congressman or some such frivolous thing.

Mark it on your calendar – today is Mario Lopez Day

Mario Lopez & Karina Smirnoff are first up tonight. Our stars are “hitting the campaign trail” this week, and Mario has decided he’s going back to his old high school. No, silly, not Bayside High. You were just hoping to catch a glimpse of what Screech looks like these days, weren’t you? Mario’s real alma mater is Chula Vista High, and everyone is so excited to see him, the principal declares it to be Mario Lopez Day. No mention if he got handed the key to the girls’ locker room.
After exhorting the kids to vote, vote, vote for him (smart move, Mario, going after the kids too young to vote in the mid-term election), Mario & Karina head back to the practice studio to work on their tango, a dance that got them in trouble a few weeks back with the judges. The pair was roundly scolded for breaking their hold in their previous tango, and Mario vows to do better this time around. Mario is resplendent tonight in a Republican red shirt under his black tux, and there are no broken holds in this evening’s tango. Head judge Len Goodman calls the effort “brave”, and says it’s the couple’s best dance ever. Bruno cries that it was gutsy & intense, and Carrie Ann claims it as the best dance all season. And it looks like it really is Mario Lopez Day, because the twosome nabs 10’s from all judges, giving them 30 out of 30, the first perfect score all season.

Emm goes after the red(neck) vote

The president of Zambia is in the audience tonight, and the only reason I can figure is that he missed a connecting flight somewhere and somebody gave him a free ticket to the show. Because I read the Wikipedia article on Zambia and there’s no mention of ballroom dancing being super-popular in that neck of the woods.
He’s probably also wondering why Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke have elected to take their campaign to a NASCAR race. Possibly they’re going after a new audience, because I’m guessing that NASCAR fans probably aren’t the same demographic as DWTS viewers. They get lots of cheers from the crowd anyway, who may not understand why Emm is pursuing a glittery ball trophy but can respect those Super Bowl victories.
Emmitt & Cheryl have chosen the waltz for their ballroom dance tonight. Emm is wearing a non-partisan gray suit, and Cheryl is wearing a pale mauve creation that is hanging for dear life onto her rear end. Their waltz is nice, but it’s not as much fun for me as their faster numbers. The judges, however, are enchanted – Carrie Ann loves their chemistry, Len likens them to music-box figures, and Bruno inexplicably tells Emm that he’s like the Grand Canyon – even more inexplicably, Emm doesn’t beat the crap out of him for saying that. Good thing too, because both Bruno & Len see fit to give the pair 10’s, while Carrie Ann dares to be different and only doles out a 9. It’s still a better-than-respectable 29 out of 30, and lands them one point behind Mario & Karina.

Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy

Joey Lawrence calls the final three stars “two bald heads and a pair of dimples”. Not to mention 3 hot chicks, including partner Edyta Sliwinska. Joey & Edyta are heading off to Disneyland to garner votes, and show off a little of their fancy footwork on a stage set up in front of Cinderella’s castle. Joey, the little boy in a man’s body (and a very nice man’s body it is), not surprisingly, loves Disneyland. In fact, he even met and married his wife at Disneyland. Again, is anyone surprised? He probably got his picture taken with Mickey Mouse at the ceremony, and had Goofy give the bride away.
There’s a back-story to Joey’s first dance tonight – he’s going to wear a costume inspired by the naval uniform his granddad wore in World War II. There’s some touching footage of Joey’s grandma and pop-pop – either Grandpa is too moved by Joey’s tribute to comment, or he’s speechless that his Navy career is being immortalized by a quick-step. But Joey & Edyta deliver an energetic, ‘40’s-style dance number that Grandma probably liked. Joey’s decked out in a sailor scarf and Dem blue middy blouse, and Edyta – well, I don’t know how to describe what the hell she’s wearing, but if she wore that outfit in public in 1941 she’d be arrested for indecent exposure. The judges love it all – it’s anchors away! squeals Bruno. Carrie Ann admonishes them for breaking a hold, but Len claims that the broken hold was in keeping with the dance, and the pair deserves to go to the finals. He backs it up with a 10, which Bruno matches, but Carrie Ann is stingy once again and only awards a 9. It still adds up to 29 out of 30, and ties Joey & Edyta with Emm & Cheryl for second place as we head into the Latin round.

Who’s Bad?

After dawdling through the first hour-plus of the show, we race right into Mario & Karina’s Latin dance, the cha-cha-cha. They’ve chosen Michael Jackson’s Bad, and Mario makes good on the song title by grabbing his crotch a few seconds into the number. Way to alienate the conservative right, Mario. Karina is either letting her inner dominatrix out or channeling Michael’s sister Janet, as she’s in skintight black leather pants and a sequined bra. The pair deliver their usual strong performance, but Carrie Ann says that she docked Mario a point for the Michael Jackson move (I assume she means the crotch-grab) but is giving the point back for the number’s “hotness” (I assume she means the crotch-grab). Len admits the performance was very good, but there wasn’t enough cha-cha-cha for him. Bruno simpers that when Mario is good, he’s very good, but when he’s bad, he’s better – and if that’s not enough cliché for you, he adds a few adjectives, calling the dance sharp, hot, and saucy. Backstage, Sam costs Mario a few viewer votes by getting him to admit that he’s a Michael Jackson fan, but the judges don’t hold it against him – Carrie Ann & Bruno award 10’s, but Len holds back and only gives out a 9, for 29 out of 30, and an overall score of 59 out of 60.

Ride, Emmitt, ride

Emm & Cheryl are going to Dance To The Music of the cha-cha-cha for their Latin number, and notwithstanding the cheetah-patterned bands around Emmitt’s substantial biceps, the pair kick everyone’s butts with an exuberant, fun performance. Emm’s having such a great time during the number, he’s even singing along while he dances. It’s far and away my favorite dance of the night, and the judges are on my Emmitt train – Bruno exclaims that the pair have a license to thrill, Carrie Ann simply leaps to her feet and shouts, “Ride, Emmitt, ride!” Len loves it ten times more than the couple’s original cha-cha-cha, and 10’s are what the judges are giving out – Emm & Cheryl land the second perfect score of the night, and are tied for first with an overall 59 out of 60.

More awesome than Disneyland

Joey & Edyta are the final dancers tonight, and will be rumba-ing to the ‘80’s hit by the Bangles, Eternal Flame. Maybe next week for freestyle they’ll do Walk Like An Egyptian. This pair has never exuded any kind of real heat, but tonight, with Edyta in a stylized hula outfit and Joey’s shirt open to his navel, their dance is sexier than usual. Len starts the judges’ comments by complimenting the band – usually a bad sign of things to come, but as it turns out, he’s impressed. He always considered Joey more of a ballroom dancer than a Latin dancer – but this rumba has proved him wrong. Bruno smirks that Joey has become a smoldering hipster, and Carrie Ann actually compliments Edyta on the good work she’s done with Joey. The judges don’t seem that overwhelmed, but they like Joey enough to bestow him with 10’s all around, a perfect score that puts Joey’s usual extreme enthusiasm right over the edge. He’s so excited, his voice actually cracks when he excitedly exclaims that the 30 out of 30 is awesome, and the coolest thing ever.

Know what else is really cool? Well, for one thing, it’s an unprecedented 3-way tie for first place with 59 out of 60 scores for all three finalists in tonight’s semi-final round, so it’s anyone’s game. Sort of like the senate race, actually. So it’s really important to vote. And you don’t even have to drag yourself out to the local church basement or public school gymnasium like you do for these pesky mid-term elections. So exercise your rights, and tune in to the results show for those stars of yesteryear, the Pet Shop Boys, and some favorite DWTS performers from the past two seasons. I’ll be back with the results recap, and remember – you can’t complain about the results if you don’t vote!

Don’t you love to see democracy in action? ajane@fansofrealitytv.com