Craig Sjodin/ABC
October 28, 2008 12:00 AM

Was there a full moon last night? There was something afoot on Monday’s Dancing with the Stars. Len Goodman was absent from the judges’ table. A mutual love affair blossomed between the dancers and special fill-in judge, Lord of the Dance’s Michael Flatley. Pro Julianne Hough announced she would undergo an appendectomy. And the remaining seven couples performed their first group dance–an old-school hip-hop routine that called to mind an equally old-skool adjective: wack.

The night began with Maurice Greene and pro partner Cheryl Burke hitting the parquet to perform their second ballroom dance of the season–the Viennese waltz. But the competition didn’t really kick into high gear until Lance Bass and Lacey Schwimmer, redeemed themselves from last week’s disastrous West Coast swing with an infectious jive. Maybe Bass and Schwimmer’s rehearsals in ‘N Sync’s old compound did the trick, or that surprise visit from Bass’s former boy band pals Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone made the difference. Whatever it was, Sir Dance-A-Lot came back with a routine that vaulted him to the top of the leader board. Speaking of redemption, Susan Lucci and partner Tony Dovolani took their near-elimination last week to heart and came out dancing with a purpose. While we’ll stop way short of anointing Lucci mambo queen, she pulled out one of Marlee Matlin’s signature claw moves at the end of her dance that “intoxicated” his lordship Flatley.

While Lucci and Bass improved their positions on the leader board, season 7’s seemingly unbeatable Brooke Burke and partner Derek Hough faltered this week. Both judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli felt Burke’s foot injury affected her movement in her rumba, but that didn’t stop Flatley from also calling Burke’s dance “intoxicating” and bestowing a 10. The judges also found fault with Warren Sapp and Kym Johnson‘s rumba, but Flatley gave the couple a high mark, leading Sapp to exclaim, “I like that new guy.” We sense a bromance brewing…

Then there was Cloris Leachman and Corky Ballas‘s outrageous cha-cha-cha which featured a jaw-dropping lift that had most of America fearing for Leachman and her 82-year-old hips. It certainly left the judges fumbling for words, with an exasperated Tonioli saying, “Cloris is the the only person in the world to sell such nonsense and buy it!” Inaba wasn’t quite so kind, stating, “We lost Toni Braxton for this and that kinda makes me sad. It’s unfortunate to watch a great dancer leave the competition for this” as a chorus of boos filled the ballroom.

Then it was more bad news. Following Cody Linley and Julianne Hough‘s so-so samba, Hough announced backstage she would be undergoing an appendectomy on Tuesday. While the pro recovers, fellow dancer Edyta Sliwinska will step in to dance with Linley.

But the night ended on a high note–or should we say a comedic one. The couples hit the dancefloor for the season’s first group dance: an old-school hip-hop routine. (Watch the clip.) Leachman, fronting as a hip-hop granny in an orange leotard and a blacked-out tooth, channeled Flavor Flav; Linley showcased Justin Timberlake-like beat-boxing; a mullet-wearing Bass busted out some break-dancing moves; and Lucci danced to her very own Erica Kane beat.

Here’s how the remaining seven contestants stacked up after Monday’s dance: •Maurice & Cheryl: 21 out of 30 for their Viennese waltz •Lance & Lacey: 27 out of 30 for their jive •Susan & Tony: 23 out of 30 for their mambo •Brooke & Derek: 26 out of 30 for their rumba •Cloris & Corky: 15 out of 30 for their cha-cha-cha •Cody & Julianne: 23 out of 30 for their samba •Warren & Kym: 25 out of 30 for their rumba

Tell us: Was Carrie Ann too mean to Cloris? What did you think of Michael Flatley as a fill-in for Len? And what was your favorite/least favorite part of the hip-hop group dance?

Craig Sjodin/ABC

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