This week, we would learn who would be leaving us on “Dancing with the Stars” as for the first time, we’d have a performance and elimination night combined. Would we say bye bye to Bill Nye the Science Guy? That was my guess after he premiered as the lowest judged celebrity. As usual, a combination of viewer votes and judges’ scores would determine the outcome.
It would be hard to live up to last week, which featured the best “DWTS” debut dancing ever. But I was worried all the professional dancers in the cast this season would mean curtains for anyone who was actually learning!
Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy: Samba
The Showgirls star seemed to be connecting with Val in rehearsal, and when they hit the floor, it was like looking at two professionals. She clearly knew how to dance, so it was hard to critique. I thought Elizabeth looked a bit better in contemporary last week, but her red dress and big hoop earrings couldn’t be beat. She totally looked the part and her timing was spot on. All three judges—Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Bruno Tonioli–raved.
Christina Milian and Mark Ballas: Paso Doble
Christina channeled “DWTS” alum Mel B. tonight, looking fierce in a bad ass black costume. I could particularly appreciate how well the former Voice commentator and her partner blended physically; they were the perfect height for each other. Their silver chairs were distracting props, though, and there was nothing particularly memorable about the routine. Still, Bruno said Christina put her own stamp on the Paso while Carrie Ann cried that the dance was “insane! You nailed every quirky line.” Len gushed that they had maintained the character of the dance. I didn’t know what the character was supposed to be, though.
Watch the First Elimination of “DWTS” Season 17:
Bill Engvall and Emma Slater: Jive
Hey, I thought it was all Latin dances this week, but Bill was doing the jive. The comedian was a pleasure last time, but he was emoting too much at the beginning of this jive. Happily, though, the dance got much better from there. Bill’s little suspender move was cute and so were the side-by-side slides with Emma. He easily led her through a pop up move. Like last week, Bill was an expert lead! Carrie Ann said it was the most entertaining routine so far this season although the footwork was funky. Len said there were a lot of good basic steps in the number. Bruno said he offered performance value. Bill was my favorite celebrity this season because of his underdog status and appealing personality.
Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke: Rumba
The Osbourne kid was putting himself down during the rehearsal package. It was a major whine. Mom Sharon visited her son in rehearsal and tried to judge him, some help she was! Jack was dressed in black again, like last week, and he was in the “DWTS” smoke machine, big time, as the number started. The crowd rose to its feet when he extended Cheryl on the floor — and again when he steered her around. I couldn’t see their feet much of the time, though. Oh, and there was his sister Kelly Osbourne in the house this week! Len thought Jack’s hands got a bit bizarre but overall liked it. Bruno said it was smooth and romantic and marveled that he could do the splits. Carrie Ann raved that she was transported to another time, like the TV show Game of Thrones, with Jack’s style. I kind of knew what she meant; Jack had a timeless quality.
Keyshawn Johnson and Sharna Burgess: Samba
The ESPN commentator needed to get better after last week’s awkward performance. The football player ripped off his jacket and was dancing to James Brown, but again, there was something about his body that looked stiff. Keyshawn slipped and bobbled Sharna as he tried to dip her at the end. Yikes. A mess even though Sharna shrieked with apparent delight when their samba came to an ned. Bruno said some of the moves didn’t look legal. Keyshawn said the experience was amazing—that was the first time I’d ever seen a star interrupt a judge and hold the floor! Bruno told him he needed to stay on time. Carrie Ann said she saw his confidence go up but he was rough around the edges. I’ll say! Len explained that the key to the show was improvement and he was better than last week. Kind comments, but the score told the real story.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Sasha Farber: Rumba
Snooki had good leg extension when getting off a prop bench at the start of the dance. She beautifully twirled under Sasha’s legs and her arm extensions looked graceful. She might be tiny, but Snooki was a big force on the dance floor this Monday. Carrie Ann said she made pretty pictures but there was not enough fluidity and she played “lift police” again, claiming Snooki’s feet came off the floor. Len thought it was neat and clear but too sharp. And Bruno said she had to sustain a character throughout the dance more. Oh oh. Carrie Ann gave her a 6. Harsh.
Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani: Samba
Leah was referring to her break from Scientology in rehearsal, which has been controversial. “The church is waiting for me to fail,” she told Tony. Leah was in a pink spotlight and smoke machine tonight, then tried gamely to keep up with Tony’s samba shaking. Leah emoted a lot and appeared to be trying hard, but it seemed labored to me. They did end it, well, though, with Leah on her bum. “That was terrific,” Len praised. “Full of content!” According to Bruno, Leah had so much flair and fun. Carrie Ann said she unleashed her samba goddess. After getting her generous score, Leah gave Tom Bergeron a kiss!
Bill Nye and Tyne Stecklein: Paso Dobe
Bill was talking in the parking lot last week about his poor performance. He was sad about all the negative comments he got—welcome to “DWTS”! I was thinking he was truly the Andy Dick of this season except, whoops, Andy could actually dance. Members of Mensa were sitting in the audience to cheer the Science Guy on in a fun stunt. Bill was playing Mozart in a grey wig at a phony piano when Emma approached to be the composer’s partner. The Science guy looked dorky in the side-by-side moves with Tyne and there were mild groans in the press room. He also slipped during the Paso. Still, his “DWTS” co-stars chanted his name from the crowd. Bruno said he stepped it up and there was content there. “You work with what you got,” Carrie Ann said, being kind. Len regretted that he had undermarked Bill last week. Huh? “I liked your commitment…and the fact you’re on this show,” Len said. But this week, the grouchy judge still gave him a 5!
A special announcement: Host Tom appeared with “DWTS” alum and movie star Julianne Hough to announce she would be a guest judge on the show, subbing for Len for one week. “I know how it feels to be on the floor,” Julianne said. “I really wanted to feel those paddles.” Tom said we’ll see Julianne at the judges’ table in two weeks. Wow, there sure are a lot of changes this season.
Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff: JIve
Corbin wanted to pay tribute to his jump in High School Musical and I didn’t know what he was talking about because I’d never seen the show. Anyway, it was a high school baseball sports theme and like Elizabeth Berkley, there was nothing to knock here. Corbin used all his athleticism in the dance, jumping all over the floor with Karina matching his every energetic step. “I love your musicality,” Carrie Ann said. Len, in the understatement of the night, added, “You can dance.” Bruno stood up and said Corbin was extraordinary about staying on the beat. The star yelled at the audience, leading them in a cheer.
Valerie Harper and Tristan MacManus: Paso Doble
Valerie’s knees have been giving her problems but of course that was the least of her worries as the whole world knows she has terminal cancer. Tristan was in tears in rehearsal about his star’s bravery. Would the dance reflect their emotion? To start, Valerie was clapping in her red and black Paso outfit and she went into some amazingly energetic moves considering not only her illness but her age. “What?!” someone said backstage as she twirled her skirt with energy and heart. Judge Len liked the fact she started the dance entirely on her own but said she looked nervous. “You worked very hard,” Bruno said, but cited a couple of mistakes in the footwork. Carrie Ann was so in awe of her courage but felt she forgot her routine’s moves towards the end. Valerie will be a winner no matter what.
Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd: Rumba
Peta had her wild curly rehearsal hair, which is all I could say about that package. Again, “DWTS” used the smoke machine, which was getting old tonight. The Pretty Little Liars hunk worked a lot of long arm moves and tried to create sexy chemistry with Peta, which wasn’t that hard. Their rumba didn’t make me jump up and down; it was just acceptable. But Bruno was on his feet as usual and saying how much Brant pleased the ladies. According to Carrie Ann, the actor could really move and Peta said yay. Len praised their presence on the floor but pointed out his feet were pigeon toed. How could he tell in the smoke? Len had found Brant’s Achilles heel.
Amber Riley and Derek Hough: Jive
The Glee star was worried about her big breasts in having to dance the jive. But she needn’t have worried as their jive had irrepressible energy from the get go. Derek slid under her legs and leaped to his feet and the number really made me want to dance along. For the first time tonight, a dance felt really free and fun with no mistakes. Amber even threw in a cartwheel at the end. But Carrie Ann burst my bubble by saying she was flat-footed and Len chimed in about the bad feet too. I didn’t see that at all. Bruno loved it but also slammed de feet, de feet. I was going to ignore the judges comments–it was my favorite dance of the night.
To no one’s surprise,t Amber and Corbin were the top scorers for the two weeks. Bill Nye the Science Guy was at the bottom.
Who would go home?
Surprisingly, Bill Nye was called safe! Keyshawn and Bill Engvall took the walk of shame as the bottom two.
So the first celebrity to be eliminated from “DWTS” season 17 was … Keyshawn Johnson!
Whew. I have to admit I was glad because Keyshawn clearly had not been cutting it in the ballroom, especially after seeing all the great “DWTS” football players who had come before (Donald Driver in particular). Keyshawn was a nice guy but now my hopes for comedian Bill Engvall lived on!