‘Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars’ review: Shawn Johnson and … Susan Boyle?

What a crazy week this was for “Dancing with the Stars.” There were trips across the country, injuries, drama behind the scenes, and even a guest judge in Paula Abdul who tended to embrace the R-rated nature of Bruno Tonioli’s criticisms in frightening ways that the other judges would have never even attempted. We also learned that Susan Boyle was going to duet with Donny Osmond during Tuesday night’s results show. Good times!

As for the actual performances this week, they were geared around styles that many of the contestants and the pros had never done before. This not only gave us some of the most innovative routines that we have ever seen, but also an opportunity to actually learn a little bit more about dance in the process. Think of it as a glitzy, sweaty educational video.

Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy -The Charleston is a hard dance, but it was something that suited Kirstie since she is such a natural entertainer. The bad news here was that this was not Kirstie’s best routine when it comes to actually dancing, even if it was pretty entertaining to watch from the mere standpoint of the entertainment value. Score: 30

Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas – No matter what happens, these two seem to be safe … so why didn’t they just headbang for two minutes for their rock n’ roll number? The dancing here was decent, but we actually think it was slightly overrated when it comes to the actual content of the dance. Score: 32

Sabrina Bryan and Louis van Amstel – For really the first time all season long, we really saw Sabrina have more fun than we have ever seen from her. This disco (in best Stefon vocie from “Saturday Night Live”) really had everything: flips, tricks, close scares, and some bright colors. It was everything we could have asked for from her. Score: 35.5

Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke – This is where things were pretty interesting for the show. Cheryl had never really taught the bolero before, and she had a limited amount of time to teach it. With that, it was a shock that they did so well at this dance. It was one of the first times that we have really seen Emmitt this emotional, and it worked for him. Score: 36

Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd – The only thing that was harder than a bolero? Bollywood. Neither one of them had any experience at all with the dance, and they struggled mightily even getting it on the floor. Somehow, though, they did manage to not only make this work, but have it be one of the most fantastic routines of the entire season. We also had our first … ten! Score: 39.5

Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani – What’s with the Tony love-fest during the criticism this week? We know that the guy is a great choreographer, but it was weird that so much of the critique was geared around what he did this season. Then again, it’s hard to really be too hard on Melissa because she is that good … and she showed it during this jitterbug. Score: 37

Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough – This really was the night of great dances somehow managing to get even greater. We weren’t quite sure that anyone would manage to top what Giles brought to the table, but this super-team (which was at the top of our rankings this week) did with a mambo that really fired off on all cylinders. There was literally so much content that we don’t even know how this was physically possible. Score: 39.5

Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff – This is one that we have a feeling that Karina is going to be hard on herself over for quite a while. For one of the first times in her countless seasons on the show, our pro had a mishap and she ended up throwing herself off the beat for a minute. She was clearly embarrassed about it, and the scores were unfortunately a little slower than some of the other dancers. Score: 33.5

Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy – The best way that we can describe this dance was that it was something that both Kelly and Val really wanted to work, but there were some problems that kept it from the summit. Kelly had just broken her toe earlier in the day, and this showed throughout the dance. It was still soft and emotional, and we’d love to see more contemporary on this show. Score: 37.5

Who was your favorite from the performance show this week, and did you like seeing some more of the innovative routines and styles?

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