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'Dancing With the Stars': The final five

November 10, 2008 | 10:42 pm

Dwts_7_8_1“Dancing With the Stars” fans, we’re down to the final five contestants, which means that we have only three weeks of the show to go.  That’s right -- the seminfinals are next week.  Where did the time go?  And what innovations will they introduce to keep our attention and challenge our participants?  Well, this week, one innovation was the 15-second solo –- namely, the requirement that each star perform one during the Latin dance of the evening.  Another apparent innovation was co-host Samantha Harris’ hair, which was braided into a lopsided structure that grabbed one’s attention in the manner of a car crash.  (I should say that, overall, I think the costume, hair and makeup people have done an excellent job with Samantha this season -– until tonight.)

First up were the ballroom dances, and first among the performers were last week’s laggards, Cody Linley and his substitute partner, Edyta. Cody’s youthful, high-voiced pals visited him in rehearsal to show their support and comment upon Edyta’s hotness.  Cody and Edyta were assigned the foxtrot, and while Cody started out flat-footed, I thought the dance improved as it went along. I do think Julianne is a better match for Cody than Edyta, though that may just be because I’m used to seeing him with Julianne. But her youth and size seem better matched to Cody’s. After the foxtrot, Len expressed pleasant surprise and Bruno complimented the dance’s elegance. Carrie Ann liked it, but she could not abdicate her responsibility as Chief of the Lift Police and flagged them for an illegal lift.  Score: 24/30. 

Brooke Burke and Derek –- coming off of their remarkable 59/60 combined score last week –- danced the tango first. 

They had the benefit of traditional tango music and dramatic red-and-black tango garb, and their performance, as always, was strong. Bruno called it an “epic drama played on a grand scale.”  Carrie Ann said Brooke was “beyond phenomenal.”  But while Len called them the Dream Team, he saw a lack of heel leads and several other technical issues; he was judging her as a professional, he said, and the dance was “riddled with mistakes.” Well! That meant an 8 from Len and 10s from Carrie Ann and Bruno.  Score: 28/30. 

I was delighted to see that Maurice Greene and Cheryl were given the quickstep, since any quickstep makes me a little bit breathless with enjoyment and vicarious exhaustion at the athleticism required for the dance. And that sort of ephemeral enjoyment is all we have left here in Great Depression 2.0.  Anyway, the quickstep was the first dance they had to do entirely in hold. They danced to “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” and Cheryl in particular conveyed a good bit of whimsy.  Carrie Ann loved Maurice’s improved postures, and Len was pleased with their footwork. Score: 24/30.

Also doing the foxtrot were Lance Bass and Lacey, who set out to impress Len with their technical skills –- and no gimmicks. Of all of the stars, Lance seems to me as if he’d be the most at home in a musical: He’s spry and exhibits very animated facial expressions. As promised, their foxtrot hewed to the traditional. And Len?  He loved the approach, despite some footwork errors. Bruno thought it was classic but still quirky; Carrie Ann concurred. Score: 26/30.

Warren Sapp and Kym were assigned the tango, which would seem to be up Warren’s alley: He does intensity well. And indeed their tango –- danced to the James Bond theme song –- was intense, at least as gauged by the quantity of sweat on Warren’s forehead. The judges liked it, lauding Warren for coming back from his mediocre foxtrot last week, and Carrie Ann even coughed up a 10.  Score: 28/30.

So it was on to the Latin round … and the much-heralded solos. Edyta and Cody led off with the mambo. Edyta wore a flower in her hair and a shredded cocktail napkin on her body. Cody’s solo was hilarious –- he’s really a performer –- and culminated in his diving upon the judges’ desk.  Carrie Ann gave it an “A for effort” and energy, but thought it was a bit erratic. Len said both dances were good, though the mambo was a bit stiff. Bruno also appreciated the effort. You know that when everyone’s applauding you for trying so hard, the scores aren’t going to be quite what you want. Score: 24/30, for a total of 48/60. And if Cody gets the votes to stay, Julianne will be back next week. 

Brooke and Derek also danced the mambo.  Brooke wore a wig that made her look more like Cheryl.  Brooke’s solo took place right up against the judges’ desk, and Bruno said it was “so exuberant it could revive the dead.” Carrie Ann thought the solo worked as part of the dance, but she thought Brooke’s posture was a little awkward sometimes, perhaps because the mambo was so ambitious. Score: 27/30, for a total of 55/60.

Dancing the paso doble were Maurice and Cheryl, which may have been a little bit unfair since they were on Team Paso Doble last week. Maurice’s solo involved standing and swooshing around a cape under rapidly flashing lights. It was all very intense, and the crowd loved it. Carrie Ann lauded the focus but wanted to see more of a bridge between intensity and grace. Score: 24/30, for a total of 48/60.

Lance and Lacey danced the samba to a modern song, and I thought this didn’t serve the dance or Lance’s solo particularly well –- somehow, it just seemed a bit less fun than “real” samba music.  Carrie Ann said the samba is very difficult and she found Lance’s spot to be distracting during his solo. Len thought the solo didn’t really have samba flavor to it, and he thought Lance’s footwork was “atrocious.”  Bruno, however, thought the solo held the audience’s attention, and he appreciated the fact that they included samba rolls in the choreography. Score: 24/30, for a total of 50/60.

Finally, Warren and Kym were assigned the jive, which is another dance that’s always entertaining, and the prospect of Warren doing it was especially appealing. His solo was very enjoyable, even if he looked as if he were concentrating fairly hard during the first part of it. Len loved Warren’s joy but said “words couldn’t describe” Warren’s footwork –- meaning it was poor.  Bruno and Carrie Ann concurred.  Score: 26/30, which is more than I was expecting after the comments. Total score: 54/60. 

So we ended Monday night with Brooke in first, followed closely by Warren. Lance was slightly ahead of Maurice and Cody, who were tied for last place. But the spread was relatively tight this week -– 55 for first place to 48 for last. 

I really don’t know who will get the ax this week. Going in, I would have said Maurice, but he performed well Monday night. Still, I’m guessing that Cody’s fans are more rabid and numerous than Maurice’s, so Maurice may still be in the most precarious position. What do you think?

-- Sarah Rogers