Two Couples Leave on "Dancing With the Stars"

By By Linda Holmes
|  Wednesday, Oct 28, 2009  |  Updated 1:30 AM EDT
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Two Couples Leave on "Dancing With the Stars"

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Melissa Joan Hart got the boot on "Dancing."

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What happened: The hosts reminded the audience early that, as always, the couple with the lowest combination of judges' scores and audience votes would go home. In addition to that, however, those with the second- and third-lowest totals would be part of a dance-off that would be decided by the judges, and whoever lost would also go home.

First, it was revealed that the celebrities in the bottom three were Louie Vito, Michael Irvin, and Melissa Joan Hart — not a surprise, based on Monday's performances. This meant that one of them would flat-out go home, while the other two would perform against each other in the dance-off. We then learned that the lowest-scoring couple, going home without even a dance-off, was Melissa Joan Hart and Mark Ballas, leaving Louie and Michael to face each other to stay in it.

Dance-off!: Michael Irvin and Anna Demidova went first in the dance-off, and their enthusiastic samba was undoubtedly one of his strongest and most relaxed dances. Michael did seem to be working hard to stay in the competition, and while the judges weren't entirely sold on the technical side of his dance, they praised the way he delivered the routine and sold it to the audience.

Louie Vito and Chelsie Hightower went with a jive. Louie gamely tried to stay in it, but his timing fell apart a few times. He also had a stumble or two, which the judges couldn't help noticing. In the end, Bruno Tonioli favored Louie and Chelsie, but Len Goodman and Carrie Ann Inaba went with Michael and Anna, meaning that Louie and Chelsie were the second couple eliminated. 

With a song, Swiftly: Taylor Swift, who does not really benefit from being heard live, opened the show, befitting her status as one of the better-known musical guests they've ever landed for the filler show. When she returned for her second song, her performance wasn't any better. Swift may be a very popular artist, but she is not a strong live singer — the rare moment in which an appearance on "Dancing With The Stars" may actually be a negative.

There was also a visit from Tiempo Libre, a Miami-based Latin band that offered up an energetic number that had the advantage of being music actually designed for dancing. As often happens, that made the accompanying dances seem a little less grafted on.

The final piece of filler involved the celebrities working on designing costumes for themselves and their partners. Joanna Krupa wanted to make Derek Hough wear a rhinestone-studded Speedo, while Aaron Carter just wanted to show off Karina Smirnoff's body as much as possible. Naturally, Donny Osmond played the ham, appearing to Kym Johnson in feathers just to make her a little nervous. If you don't have a silly note on which to end a silly piece, you can generally count on "cut to Donny" as a strategy.

Linda Holmes is a frequent contributor to msnbc.com

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