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'Dancing With the Stars': Cloris Leachman's time runs out

October 28, 2008 | 10:47 pm

Well, this week, Cloris Leachman's legion of fans couldn't save her to perform another week on "Dancing With the Stars." She was gracious, if characteristically Cloris, in defeat, and if you think that either Tom Bergeron or Samantha Harris managed to get a post-elimination interview out of her, then you haven't been paying attention this season.

Tonight's show led off with the longest summary segment I can remember. But my memory isn’t very good. The stars were all decked out in their hip-hop get-ups, which meant, to my delight, that the group hip-hop routine was the encore dance. Oh, but poor Susan Lucci -– nothing improved for her between last night and tonight. She may even have gotten worse. Her performance was reminiscent of what I look like in aerobics classes –- I’m always the person who’s moving the wrong direction and is noticeably off-tempo. And the choreographer did Susan no favors by placing her beside Lacey, who was flashy and excellent in true Fly Girl fashion.

This week also brought another installment of Ballroom Kids. First up were Craig and Samantha, 13 and 11, who have been dancing together five years and are brother and sister. I thought they looked familiar, and then we found out that their sister, Cara, was on “DWTS” last season –- she was one of the particularly cute and tiny ones. Craig and Samantha’s cha-cha was very fast and sassy. Cloris, take note. Guest judge Michael said that their parents must be so proud and that dancing will teach you everything important in life (perhaps I stretched that a bit, but you know that’s what he meant). Bruno cited its vibrancy and precision, and Carrie Ann called it “poetry in motion.”

The other couple, Simon and Lucy, both 13, have been dancing together for a year and a half. Simon revealed that no one at school knew he danced –- despite the fact that these two won Nationals this year –- but I suspect the secret is out now. Their samba was clean and precise, but, to me, it perhaps lacked a bit of zip. Carrie Ann complimented their charisma. Michael said they should follow their dreams and sort of telegraphed that they might lose. Bruno said they seemed to be having fun.

The verdict? It was unanimous: Craig and Samantha will compete in the finals. I had been operating under the assumption that the judges usually managed their choices so that at least one judge voted for every Ballroom Kids pair, but I guess not. I felt bad for Simon and Lucy. I mean, if you’re going to be outed as a 13-year-old ballroom dancer, you want to win.

Tonight’s musical guests, Missy Elliott and the Pussycat Dolls, performed “Whatcha Think About That.” And guest judge Michael Flatley danced amid flames in a bit from his “Celtic Tiger” show. Sometimes I wish I could tap-dance. But, wow, that looked tiring.

In tonight’s taped filler, several experts –- a Marine, a psychologist and a coach –- talked about building mental and emotional toughness on top of physical toughness. Every single thing they said was a cliche -- kind of remarkable.

Next week, there will be a “team dance,” which seems to be a little bit of “Survivor” injected into “DWTS”: The remaining competitors will be divided into two teams to dance against one another and be judged on their performances.

And if you, like me, were wondering how “DWTS” was going to handle the inconvenience of election-night coverage, well, it’s simple: The competition show will be on Monday, as usual, but the results show will be on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. On Tuesday, you can stay up till all hours to see if Alaskans reelect the recently convicted Ted Stevens to the Senate.

Oh, and Julianne’s surgery went well, but Edyta will be substituting for her for at least a week.

So, weigh in, fans -- pro- and anti-Cloris alike. What did you think? Are you relieved Cloris is gone? Sad? Conflicted? And can Susan Lucci wow us all next week, or is she destined to be the next to go?

-- Sarah Rogers