It was Hollywood week at “Dancing with the Stars,” meaning our remaining couples would be dancing to movie theme songs. My hope was someone would do an aggressive number set to my favorite theme, “Gonna Fly Now” from Rocky, even though it didn’t seem too dance friendly!
After absorbing last week’s shocker, when a football player went home on week one for the first time in “DWTS” history, the major question was what would happen with Bill Nye. The Science Guy had announced he’d suffered a torn ligament after last week’s Beethoven-inspired Paso Doble. It would be a real shame if the season’s wackiest contestant had to pull out due to injury instead of having a genuine elimination.
The show began with a clever black-and-white clip of the competitors paying tribute to Hollywood a la The Artist.
Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani: Rumba
In rehearsal, this couple was quietly confident after receiving 8s last week. But the theme would be James Bond and Leah said it was much harder than it looked. At any rate, she didn’t slam Scientology this time! Tony started it all by sliding Leah under his legs. Leah did a lot of emoting and I was looking at her Bond girl game face instead of her body until she did a cool spin almost on her knees on the ballroom floor. The two wound up rolling around on top of each other at the end of the dance which made reporters laugh backstage. I was afraid the whole thing looked phony, hence the laughter. But Judge Len Goodman loved the chemistry and the sensual interplay between Tony and Leah. Bruno Tonioli said she was quite a seductress with that sexy face. Carrie Ann Inaba loved her arms and the way she went “full steam ahead.”
A special announcement: In the audience, Bill Nye’s partner Tye Stecklein said it wasn’t looking good for them as he had torn his tendon. Tyne said she overcompensated and she injured herself, too, but didn’t elaborate. Uh oh.
Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff: Quickstep
What can be said about this “professional” couple? Corbin said he’d never done any ballroom dance during their rehearsal. Oh, yeah, right, so difficult for the “High School Musical” star (eye roll). They started with black and white photography in a silent movie theme in which Corbin was the director and Karina his star. The entire routine was so great and their side-by-side jumps and flips were a whirlwind of energy. There was applause at the end in the pressroom as Corbin ended by giving the actress Karina her big close up. Bruno cited how incredibly fast the dance was and stylistically impressive. “Your footwork was so sharp and bright,” Carrie Ann exulted. But she claimed Corbin’s hip hop background seeped in too much. Len said it was too hectic for him—no wonder they were going to bring in a guest judge for him soon. Did he need his eyes checked? I would be surprised if there was a better number tonight. Luckily they got two 9s, though!
Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy: Foxtrot
The other pro dancer this season (ha), Elizabeth was working on letting go in rehearsal. Val blindfolded the former Showgirls star so she could feel where her partner was leading her. Elizabeth was in tears after the exercise. So the number involved Liz playing a flight attendant in a romance with her pilot, Val. For some reason, Elizabeth was reminding me of the model Jerry Hall with her long body and hair. Their foxtrot was utterly smooth and effortlessly romantic, but I felt this couple was sort of mismatched physically. Was she too tall for Val? Carrie Ann said the routine was elegant but there was a “boo boo” in the middle. Len called it “chicken soup for the eyes.” According to Bruno, Elizabeth was flying first class all the way although there was a bit of turbulence. Carrie Ann complained Bruno was spitting on her when he stood up as usual to deliver his critique.
Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd: Quickstep
The “Pretty Little Liars” hunk hurt his foot and was telling Peta that he was robbed at gunpoint. Scary! Expletives were flying in rehearsal and Peta looked exhausted and was showing major hair roots. Brant was dressed in a white suit and Peta in a wild flapper dress as they started their quickstep. I kept watching Peta’s tasseled dress instead of the dance, though; so distracting. Brant came across as too dull even though he was put through his paces pretty well in a challenging number that covered most of the floor. Len praised his speed and control and said it was painless to watch. Bruno predicted the nation would go crazy for Brant; I, however, thought Peta was the real star! “You are a fantastic dancer,” Carrie Ann said, adding she couldn’t believe he was dancing while hurt. They got a huge score which shocked me.
Valerie Harper and Tristan MacManus: Cha Cha
Our beloved terminally ill star was all smiles walking into rehearsal and they were going bring a weird concept to life–Grace Kelly and Freddie Mercury dancing together. Tristan said Valerie was moving like Frankenstein but after all, she’s 74! She looked so fun to be around. The two faux icons started the dance fighting over a microphone and Val looked like a lady in her lavender dress and pearls while Tristan vamped it up as the Queen frontman. Valerie moved tentatively through most of the dance and I wondered if she was getting dizzy. In the end, though, Valerie as Grace captured the microphone from Tristan’s Freddie. Such an odd concept for a dance, and yet…it put a smile on my face. Bruno praised her look but said she went wrong so many times. Carrie Ann sighed, “You lost your way,” but praised the TV legend for not giving up. Len said it was a bumpy flight but she got through it and gushed about the way Tristan took care of his partner. Reporters groaned backstage at the dismal scores.
Bill Engvall and Emma Slater: Paso Doble
The blue collar comedian narrowly avoided elimination last week, and Bill and his partner had to go on the road this week on his comedy tour. Bill got frustrated during rehearsal but surprisingly said, “I want to win this.” Wow. That was fun to hear someone so unlikely actually admit they wanted that dang mirror ball trophy! Bill played the Lone Ranger emerging from a saloon with Emma as his adorable sidekick Tonto. They pulled off a very stylized number with sharp arm movements; I laughed out loud at some of them, which meant it was totally entertaining. Bill tossed his hat in the air with joy at the end. He got such a kick out of it that he even kissed his wife in the audience, too. Carrie Ann said, “You nailed the Paso. All your arm movements were perfectly in sync.” Len said he loved the Lone Ranger as a kid and Bill had led all the spins expertly. According to Bruno, Bill went for it with a lot of attack. The judges were as tickled as Bill himself! I was feeling like he was the sleeper hit of season 17 so far.
Amber Riley and Derek Hough: Charleston
Derek told Amber the Charleston was like a cartoon. Amber was also recording songs for her album while learning this new dance with Derek. Shouldn’t she have cleared her schedule for “DWTS”? Just asking. So it was a Great Gatsby theme with Derek picking up his Daisy from a table and then going into a number that was half hip hop, half Charleston. I wish they had played it more straight; there was plenty of time for hip hop moves later. But I couldn’t take my eyes off Amber even though the postmodern quality bugged me. Len said it was well done; Bruno claimed she really sold it but needed to be sharper on the scissor action; and Carrie Ann agreed with Bruno that her legs weren’t perfect. The “Glee” stars in the audience booed. She got the same score as Bill Engvall! Never thought I’d see that.
Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke: Cha Cha
The Osbourne kid was going to play a ’70s pimp and Jack joked he felt like they were making a porno in rehearsal. Jack was feeling the time crunch in preparing the dance set to “Hollywood Swinging.” Jack made it down a big slide to hit the floor and seemed out of sync as they began the number. They were bumping up against each other and Jack seemed to be able to keep up with Cheryl’s energetic moves. Applause in the press room as Jack ended the dance well with the splits. Bruno loved the rock star opening and said he kept the timing well all the way through. But Carrie Ann said his arms in hold did strange amorphous things. “I love your commitment,” his fellow Brit, Len, said. He, too, thought there was too much movement. Tom did an interview with the Osbournes in the audience, who loved it.
Christina Milian and Mark Ballas: Charleston
Why wasn’t Christina on The Voice anymore? Did I miss something? Anyway, I had to admit I wasn’t terribly inspired by this couple. They were perfectly pleasant, though, and this week, Christina brought her adorable daughter Violet to rehearsal. Oh, dear, it was a clown theme and I don’t like clowns. Still, Mark’s white facial makeup was cool and I loved the music. It was a very simple number without any gimmicks, crisp and clean and unpretentious. Carrie Ann called it incredible and commented that Christina had great range of motion. Len liked the fact the dance mirrored the music and had some ’20s action. What about Bruno? He called it inventive. Yes, true, Mark’s choreography really did the job here. You didn’t have to like clowns to appreciate this number.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Sasha Farber: Quickstep
The Jersey Shore star felt like a loser after earning 6s last week. I personally thought she got robbed. The tough chick was back in rehearsal telling Sasha she was afraid to do a cartwheel as part of their quickstep. The dance featured her name Snooki in lights and the star walking down a red carpet into Sasha’s arms to the tune “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.” Okay, so this one was very fast and yet Nicole kept up with her partner so well. The tiny terror showed a high degree of grace and her cartwheel was the bomb! Everyone backstage went oooh! It was one of my favorite dances of the night. Len thought it was great for her first ballroom dance (she’d done Latin the past two weeks). “You were on fire,” Bruno said. Snooki was thrilled when even Carrie Ann liked it (though the rattled judge said she should be on the “Chinese walk,” meaning the Walk of Fame).
Bill Nye and Tyne Stecklein: Jazz
The Science Guy was okay to dance! How was he going to be able to pull this off? He explained he had plasma injected somewhere into his injured tendon from another part of his body. ABC kindly replayed last week’s footage of Bill tripping during his mad composer dance. Cut to—the first doctor’s visit of the season! The doctor was worried Bill would need surgery if he danced again. But Bill said, “People regret what they don’t do.” And he would immobilize his leg to hit the ballroom floor in true “show must go on” fashion! The number started with Bill playing a robot which was clever because it meant he didn’t have to move that much at all. Most of the movement was in his top half and he looked like a nerdy puppet dancing. Tye just twirled around him and put the robot to sleep at the end. The audience went nuts and we were convulsed with giggles in the media room. Bruno didn’t see any jazz moves at all but he was entertained. Carrie Ann said he had an incredible spirit (which meant the dance sucked!). Cranky judge Len thought he showed determination and bravery. Bad scores, but who cared?
Who would be eliminated this week? I was still getting used to saying goodbye to one of our stars on Monday; it seemed so abrupt, but here it went:
Brant, Christina, and Bill Nye were in the bottom three. Brant was then called safe.
So Christina Milian and Bill Nye would face the music.
The celeb going home was…Bill Nye! He was inspiring, but it wasn’t good enough. In my opinion, it was like a compassionate release for someone in pain. Brooke Burke asked if it was a blessing in disguise. Nye gave all the credit to Tye for even making it this far. He had blinded us with science!