(LOS ANGELES) — For the second week in a row, there is a two-way tie atop the Dancing with the Stars leader board.
Gilles Marini and Shawn Johnson on Monday night each earned a near-perfect total score of 39.5/40. That’s not a misprint — the couples had the opportunity to earn up to 40 points, rather than the usual 30, due to the presence of a special guest judge: Paula Abdul. She joined regulars Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba at the judges’ table.
Kirstie Alley, who opened the broadcast, was the lowest-scoring celebrity of the night.
The couples performed dance styles rarely seen on Dancing with the Stars. The styles were assigned to them by their fellow competitors.
Here’s a rundown of Monday’s performances:
— Kirstie Alley kicked off the first dance of the night by jumping out of a fake, oversized wedding cake. She then joined her partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, for their version of the Charleston.
Maks cleaned up his look — he had a stubble-free face and a neatly-parted hairdo.
Goodman said Alley turned “Monday into a fun day” with her entertaining dance. Abdul admired the former Cheers star for adopting a new persona in the ballroom each week. Tonioli called Alley a “mad woman,” reasoning that she danced as if she was a combination of Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters. Total score: 30 out of a possible 40.
— Bristol Palin turned the clock back with a 1950s rock ‘n’ roll dance with Mark Ballas, set to “At the Hop” by Danny & the Juniors. Once again, her mom, Sarah Palin, was in the audience to cheer her on.
Abdul and Inaba both noted how much Palin has improved from the start of the season. Goodman praised her for giving it her all on the dance floor. Total score: 32/40.
— Sabrina Bryan donned a feathery blue outfit for the start of her disco routine with Louis Van Amstel. She quickly ditched it for the rest of the performance, with the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing” providing the soundtrack.
Tonioli shot out of his chair, did a few Bee Gees-style moves himself, and proclaimed Bryan to be a disco diva. However, he claimed she lost her timing in spots, a sentiment that Inaba disagreed with. Inaba said Bryan managed to demonstrate a different style effectively. Total score: 35.5/40.
— The fog machine was in full effect for Emmitt Smith’s bolero with Cheryl Burke. The song of choice was the Leona Lewis single “Better In Time.”
Inaba practically drooled as she said she enjoyed watching a burly man such as Smith dance so dramatically. Abdul was on the same wavelength as Inaba, describing Smith as a “sexy beast.” Goodman said he had been concerned that Smith was attempting the bolero, but he marveled at his fluidity. Total score: 36/40.
— Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd tackled the Bollywood genre with the help of the Oscar-winning song from Slumdog Millionaire, “Jai Ho.”
Goodman applauded Marini for committing himself 100 percent to the dance. Abdul imitated Tonioli’s exuberant tone in complimenting the actor on his spicy maneuvers. The real Tonioli was similarly enthusiastic. Inaba claimed Aladdin has nothing on Marini. Total score: 39.5/40.
— Melissa Rycroft teamed up with Tony Dovolani for a jitterbug to Brian Setzer’s “This Cat’s On A Hot Tin Roof.” Both wore green and white costumes that would have fit right in at a ’50s café.
Abdul said Rycroft and Dovolani fit together like a brother and sister. Inaba remarked that the couple’s work seemed effortless. Goodman told Rycroft that all of her dances, including what he termed her “glitterbug,” are clean. Total score: 37/40.
— Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough followed last week’s crowd-pleasing display with a mambo set to Santana music.
Tonioli raved that the Olympic gymnast keeps getting better and better. Goodman said he really liked what he saw from Johnson. Inaba declared that the other contestants should be scared of Johnson and Hough at this stage of the competition. Total score: 39.5/40.
— Apolo Anton Ohno struggled with his microphone pack during his hip-hop dance with Karina Smirnoff; at one point, it was swinging wildly in the air.
Even worse, Smirnoff slipped during the routine. She was so distraught that she cried once the music — Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” — ended.
Goodman said he didn’t even notice Smirnoff’s mishap, and told Ohno he was excellent. Abdul said hip-hop comes naturally to Ohno. Tonioli said the speed skater covered his own mistake beautifully.
As co-host Brooke Burke pointed out, Smirnoff’s performance did not factor into the judges’ scores. Total score: 34.5/40.
— Kelly Monaco showed a lot of leg for a steamy contemporary dance with Valentin Chmerkovskiy, as the band played Coldplay’s “Fix You.” It was inarguably one of the sexiest dances of the season.
Goodman mentioned the wide range of emotions displayed by Monaco — love, hate and more. Tonioli complimented her for ably handling the most difficult genre of dance of the night. Inaba said the dance was “stunning” because Monaco wore her heart on her sleeve. Total score: 37.5/40.
One of these celebrities will be eliminated on the Dancing with the Stars results show, airing on ABC at a special time of 8 p.m. Eastern time. Donny Osmond and Susan Boyle will be the musical guests.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Brandon Griggs, CNN
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN
Brett Crandall, BYU-Idaho Communications
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com