''It's time to separate the good from the really good,'' promised Tom Bergeron, and as far as I'm concerned, he may as well have been talking about Monday night's Dancing With the Stars episode itself. The heavily promoted Latin Night turned out be pretty mild this season. The majority of the final 8's sambas and rumbas were just ''good,'' which is to say no one completely bombed. I'm pretty sure Samantha kicked off the night's ''mediocrity'' theme when she barely attempted to infuse a Spanish accent into one of her first scripted clauses: ''seasoned with the Latin flavor.'' So misguided! I laughed, but it was more of a pity laugh. You know, like the pity 8s the judges keep flinging at Marissa. I dare say the spiciest part of the rest of the evening was when Tom referred to musical director Harold Wheeler as ''zesty.'' Which he's clearly not.
Obviously, I still dug the hell out of last night's show, because (1) the costumes and song selections were ridiculous, (2) nearly every woman sported fringe, and (3) I just have really low standards. When do I not get a kick out of a relatively uninspired installment of DWTS? The answer is ''never.'' Alternate, three-word answer channeling DANCMSTR: ''Fab. U. Lous.'' Here's how the Crazy 8 fared with their sambas and rumbas....
Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark: 29 out of possible 30 Excuse me. Better make that Kristianna and Markutio, their alter-egos for the week. Kristi didn't feel comfortable playing the role of herself during the rumba, especially with her husband and kids around to show off for the camera how adorable they all are. At first, I thought ''get over it'' when Kristi insisted on pretending to be someone else. But you know what? More power to her for finding a way to get into the character of the most sensual dance — a character who only comes alive when she's sheathed in sequined light purple fabric. Although Marissa/Tony and the C&C Ballroom Factory certainly gave them a run for their money in the matchy-matchy department, Kristi and Mark take the ''Yummylicious'' cake, chiefly due to Mark's lilac shoes. I almost want the show to sell those kicks on eBay, just so I'll never have to see them on TV again. (Because they'll have a new home, sitting on top of my DVR.)
Mario and Karina: 27/30 Mario and Karina's samba was easily my favorite dance of the night. His effortless sense of rhythm really helped here — he could hit the moves smoothly instead of too sharply, while keeping on the beat of an atrocious version of ''A-Tisket, A-Tasket.'' With her 37 layers of spray tan and Big Bird-esque bouffant of a ''skirt,'' Karina truly was the perfect ''brown and yellow basket'' for Mario to hunt down...and then hump six times in succession. I think that's exactly what Mario's good friend Stevie Wonder wanted him to do when he told Mario, ''Let your spirit dance...let your soul dance.'' Seriously, though, I thought Mario rocked this one, and showed more hip action than any other two celebs combined. He's got his swagger back! I predict this'll be tonight's encore dance. Oh, and Mario's tight tuxedo pants? So hot.
NEXT PAGE: Who's getting a bounce?