Apoloantonohno_juliannehough_dancinAnd so Sanjaya Malakar’s dominance of popular culture extends even beyond the FOX network. No one mentions him by name during Monday’s Dancing with the Stars, but his presence is everywhere from the band to one of the dancers’ hair.

Seriously, I could not take my eyes off Julianne Hough’s hair, which for some reason she decided to do up in quasi-ponyhawk style (it my have been a banana clip, actually, but the effect was similar) as she and Apolo Ohno danced a samba. Throw in her strange tiger-striped — what was that, a dress? unitard? — outfit, and it was as if we were watching Dance Fever and not Dancing with the Stars.

Which is a shame, because it distracted me from the first perfect score of the competition. She and Ohno knocked the dance out of the park, making the only question one of whether they can keep their game up for the remainder of the season. I couldn’t say for sure, but this feels like the earliest the judges have ever awarded a 30.

Joey Fatone’s rumba also contained a bit of that Malakar magic, choreographed as it was to "Besame Mucho." I have to say, too, that the Dancing band’s version of it wasn’t any worse than the one he did on J. Lo night last week. Oh, and Fatone stayed right near the top of the competition as well — he wasn’t quite as sharp as last week, but he scored a solid third place with 25 points. That’s one point ahead of Ian Ziering, who scored a 24 but faint praise from the judges, who couldn’t muster anything more than "competent" in speaking of his show-opening samba.

Lailaali_maksimchmerkovskiy_dancingI’d also like to welcome Laila Ali back to the competition after her tremendously sexy rumba — performed despite the comic objections of her fiance, former NFL receiver Curtis Conway. After a couple of flat weeks for her, it looks like she’s once again a real contender.

In fact, this week figures to be the first in which a woman is not eliminated, thanks to Ali and another pretty decent performance by Heather Mills and her freshly chest-waxed (it was funnier in The 40-Year-Old Virgin) partner Jonathan Roberts. She got a 21, which would have been a bit higher had she not taken a tumble right at the end.

Normally this might be burying the lead, but it wasn’t really clear if her artificial leg betrayed her or she just lost her balance (the camera wasn’t quite prepared for it, so it was hard to tell). Whether that inspires a little more sympathy or hoots of derision from you, the voters, remains to be seen, I guess.

But Mills still has a pretty big lead over the likes of Clyde Drexler and Billy Ray Cyrus, the week’s low scorers with 13 and 17, respectively. Both guys more or less stood around during their rumbas, letting their partners do pretty much all the work. I know, the Glide was in China and Cyrus was working on Hannah Montana during part of the week, but still.

John Ratzenberger wasn’t a lot better at 18, but at least the guy looked like he was enjoying himself. I say Cliffy deserves at least one more week.

What are your thoughts on this week’s show? Time for a guy to go, yes?

Posted by:Rick Porter