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'Dancing With the Stars' results: Shock and awe

October 21, 2009 |  6:44 am
117792_0148_pre Nooo!!! In what was the first truly shocking elimination of the season, Olympic swimmer and personal favorite Natalie Coughlin was revealed to have the lowest total judges’ and viewers’ votes and was eliminated from the competition. And while her paso doble with partner Alec Mazo this week was not her strongest, one so-so dance performance certainly did not warrant this million-dollar mermaid’s premature exit from the season. I mean, come on — as an Olympian, Natalie should have at least made it to the medal round! And I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that the much-decorated swimmer — who, as Carrie Ann said, showed great amounts of flexibility, strength and grace — was ousted so early in the program, or that she was ushered off with a blaringly tactless version of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame.” Oh, it hurts, America. It really hurts.

Natalie’s exit definitely put a sour note on an otherwise upbeat week. Even the filler-heavy results show was somewhat entertaining (well, at least until that unbelievable wah-wah downer at the end). We got an encore performance of Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson's Argentine tango. Kelly Osbourne revealed that she suffered a sprained foot after Monday night's performance, but she should be fine to perform next week. We got two performances by Grammy-winner Norah Jones. The first was her grooving single “It’s Gonna Be,” accompanied by two hipster dancers in black and their corpse brides. Next, Jones sang a pared-down version of her favorite “Come Away With Me,” accompanied by real-life marrieds Anna Trebunskaya and Jonathan Roberts (who, incidentally, used the single as their wedding song — sweet!).

Then there was the highly touted, rousing tribute to Michael Jackson, performed by our pros and sanctioned by siblings La Toya and Jermaine and mother Katherine Jackson (who were in attendance). Loved how all the pro guys wore shortish black pants, white socks and black loafers in honor of the King of Pop, though I would have preferred to hear Michael’s original music rather than the Harold Wheeler band. And just when I thought this performance was going to be limited to largely ballroom interpretations, the group got together to enact the famous “Thriller” dance at the end – by far the best part of the night. Anyone else get chills during this part of the routine? It was so fun that I rewound and watched it again and again.

117792_9429_pre But with the high of the tribute performance came the inevitable letdown, and with only eight points separating first and last place, someone was bound to get the short end of the dancing stick. There was even a clip that showed the stars talking about the stress of not knowing who would be the next to go. Only Michael Irvin seemed confident that he would make it through to the next week, which in my mind made him a surefire candidate for elimination. But the ex-NFL player and his newly brunette partner Anna Demidova were quickly ushered into the safety zone (maybe he should hold onto that nickel after all) – as were fellow low-scorers Louie Vito and Chelsie Hightower — leaving Melissa Joan Hart and Mark Ballas, Joanna Krupa and Derek Hough (back after his flu bout), Aaron Carter and Karina Smirnoff, and Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazo in jeopardy.

And then it was down to just Aaron and Natalie. And while neither couple deserved to be there — “I’m not only surprised, I’m heartbroken,” said Len of the remaining two — I was sure that the younger Carter was going to be served his walking papers, given Aaron’s spotty voting record and prior stints under those deathly red lights (Karina even brought out her poopy face in anticipation). But alas, the dimpled Chlorine Queen was unceremoniously dropped into the elimination pool, and she appeared as though she was fighting back tears of disappointment at the announcement. Which is really a shame, because you could tell that she really wanted to remain in the competition. But to honk out a Fats Domino song about it? Please.

What did you think, dear reader? Were you as shocked as I was with the ouster, or did you think it was a fitting exit? What did you think of the Michael Jackson tribute?

—Allyssa Lee


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Photo: Kym Johnson and Donny Osmond; Credit: ABC / Adam Larkey; Photo Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazo; Credit: ABC / Craig Sjodin