After last week's tepid episodes and the disappointing departure of UFC fighter Chuck Liddell, "Dancing with the Stars" bounced back this week with a tremendous one-two punch. Monday (October 19) night's run through the dances was action-packed (and featured Kelly Osbourne's injury; she is expected to bounce back next week), while last night's episode featured an impressive tribute to Michael Jackson. The dance world certainly owes a lot to Jackson's influence, and the three-song salute ("I Want You Back," "Man in the Mirror" and "Thriller") introduced by sister La Toya not only let the professional dancers throw themselves deeply into some of Jackson's signature moves, but also showed just how much the King of Pop changed the dance world forever.
After that wildly entertaining sequence, it was more than a little bit of a comedown when Norah Jones showed up to coo a bit while two seemingly comatose dancers swayed in the foreground. If you've got a show that is going to feature a tribute to one of the most beloved pop stars and dance innovators in the history of music, why would you also book Jones? Though her performance only took a quarter of the time that the MJ tribute did, that portion of the show seemed to stretch on for an actual infinity. Even when "Dancing with the Stars" books something well, they still can't get over the idea that the results show is supposed to be boring.
But that's nitpicking, because the dances this week were pretty thrilling. Mya killed it again, Melissa Joan Hart continues to improve and Aaron Carter was also impressive (though not impressive enough to keep him out of the bottom two). He got a stay of execution, however, because Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin got the boot this week. While the departure of Liddell was disappointing because he was so entertaining, Couglin's exit is a genuine miscarriage of justice, as she was way, way better overall than many of the people left over. Clearly, the fan voting is weighted way too much (which is why the somewhat unpopular Carter keeps dancing well but continues to sit near the bottom every week). Also, the judges continue to overrate Donny Osmond. Sure, he can move, but he certainly wasn't as good as a 29 this week.
Just about anybody can still win this thing (except Michael Irvin), so the next few weeks should be pretty cutthroat. Dance on!