First the knee abandoned him, then the judges.
Then the knee got better. And the judges got worse.
But in the end, there was no avoiding the arithmetic. Ralph Macchio landed in fourth place Monday night on "Dancing with the Stars" and all the viewer support in the world -- or at least all that ultimately materialized -- couldn't save him.
Long Island's own is out.
Judging was overly harsh on Monday, leading to a reasonable assumption that they were protecting their favorites, Chelsea Kane and Hines Ward. "I was confused by the judges,” said Macchio, “but we’ve performed for the fans since day one."
Even so, he had joked about the vicissitudes of "Stars" and his aging limbs long before day one began, saying in interview in January that " it would be nice to be 15 years younger. No matter how young I look on the outside, all the working parts are feeling it big time. My lower back and knees are crying, and Advil and ice are my best friends."
Nevertheless, Kirstie Alley -- who continues -- is 60 and seemed to have more trouble with lost shoes, a bad hip, stumbles, and simple stamina than even the fifth season's Marie Osmond, who fainted at one point.
Was Ralph a better hoofer? To a certain extent, ballroom dancing is a subjective art but it's also clear that Maksim Chmerkovskiy drilled into her brain the objective values of learning the correct routine and technique. Judges will overlook lost shoes if the feather step is perfectly executed.
Macchio's departure leaves current favorites Chelsea Kane and Hines Ward to battle for the lead. For the moment at least, they can do no wrong. But judges can turn like Long Island weather. Ralph knows that all too well, but he ended with a warm and gracious farewell -- one of his best moments this season.