This week, a “Dancing with the Stars” promo revealed there would be a “big announcement” on Monday night’s show. What could it be? Reporters were buzzing backstage about whether it would concern Judge Len Goodman leaving the show. After all, Julianne Hough subbed for him a couple of weeks ago, and so maybe the 69-year-old judge would tell viewers this season would be his last dance? Or—would “DWTS” announce another guest judge for this season, such as long lost (and much missed!) former pro Maksim Chmerkovsiky?
Anyway, the drama over the announcement—and the return of the always fun group dance numbers—could mean this would be one of the best episodes of Season 17.
Here was what happened on Week 7:
Host Tom Bergeron ended our suspense right after the big opening dance number, announcing that next week, the one and only Cher will be a guest judge and performer on the show! I was still thinking they were auditioning people for Len’s seat next year, but couldn’t imagine Cher actually doing this full time. Where was Maks? Ha.
Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy: Quickstep
This couple got the first perfect 30 of the competition last week. Val was being very strict with her in rehearsal. “Step, step up!” he told her. I got a Maks flashback watching Val’s tirade, but he was still not as tough as his brother. This started with a parody of some hokey old ’50s TV broadcast about the aliens landing and then went into a fast-paced romp all over the floor. Val was wearing some goofy glasses and Liz was his cool beautiful partner. For me, it was just okay and I expected more from Elizabeth at this point. A flying saucer soared away from the floor at the end in a skilled effect. “That was a UFO — Utterly Full On,” Len Goodman said. Bruno Tonioli joked with them that “the aliens aren’t coming, you’re safe!” “What a good job,” he added although also said they lost body contact. Carrie Ann Inaba said Elizabeth was finally grasping ballroom dancing (huh?) and she was so impressed with the growth.
Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd: Jive
Peta was calling Brant a rag doll in rehearsal and he was showing some major sweat on his grey tee shirt. The Pretty Little Liars actor was practicing at home as well as in the studio, so I was looking forward to a memorable number. The partners started their dance with Peta selling ie cream from a stand. They both did cartwheels early in the dance and Brant looked very lean and energetic in his red suspenders. Brant was a good dancer but I thought he needed a bit more bend in his waist. They ended by shoving ice cream in each other’s faces and he gave her a big kiss—did this signal the first showmance of the season? Bruno called him a frisky schoolboy and pointed out he made a mistake and lost timing. “Overall, it was very good,” he concluded. Carrie Ann said the routine was a hair too challenging for him but he didn’t lose one step. Len said he danced right on the edge, which was a great thing. “Good on you!” the Brit judge raved. Triple 9s! Dem judges are agreeing too much this season.
Watch the Shocking Elimination Below:
Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani: Salsa
Last week, Leah did really well and she was happy (for once) at the beginning of rehearsal. Tony had added some lifts into their Chelsea Handler was in the audience to support her friend Leah. I’m not that crazy about salsa but Leah pulled off Tonlifting her in a complicated way and everyone backstage went ooh. The former sitcom star seemed to be laboring a bit but she went through her paces amazingly well given her age. The ending flip got applause in the pres room and Tony looked thrilled. Carrie Ann was giddy and said “you were in the zone!” Len said the dance kept his interest throughout but one or two of the lifts weren’t clean enough. Bruno said, “Go for it, my dear,” but didn’t offer much else. Tom announced Leah had suffered a rib injury this week. Leah said she didn’t want the sympathy vote by talking about her injury before the show and I applauded her stoic stance.
Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke: Jive
Jack said he had the mid-season blues and wasn’t doing well in rehearsal this week. “I hit these walls,” he moaned, not knowing if it might be fatigue with MS; partner Cheryl got pissy with him, saying she knew he could do it. “There’s no reason you can’t win this competition,” she told the Osbourne kid. So, their jive began with Jack strumming on a guitar and then joining Cheryl for some cutesy moves that were standard issue bouncy swing. At this point, I gotta admit I was surprised Jack hadn’t lost more weight, but also admired how well he moved for a big guy. This routine had an amazingly amount of flow! Jack was utterly winning and they both ran to the top of the “DWTS” stairs at the end of the dance, proving he still had energy. Rocker dad Ozzy liked it so much in the audience that he kissed wife Sharon. Len praised Jack’s musicality but he wanted his jive to be crisper. “You’re always great to watch,” he said. Bruno told Jack he needed to dig deep but the performance flow was absolutely perfect. Meanwhile, Carrie Ann the dance he did “was perfectly suited to you,” and implied his jive was better than Brant’s. Carrie Ann gave him a lopsided ten paddle and apparently broke it! Sharon told hostess Brooke Burke-Charvet, “It’s a hell of a journey. He’s in for the long haul.”
Amber Riley and Derek Hough: Paso Doble
Len didn’t appreciate this couple’s dance last week but Derek didn’t care. He always had a positive attitude. Derek’s back was hurting this week and so was the Glee star. Both were writhing in pain in rehearsal. Amber looked fierce as she began on her own swirling her paso skirt and putting on a stern paso face. I was transfixed by this dance because Amber used the floor so well and stayed totally in character. There was some applause in the press room which was richly deserved. Bruno called the performance like vintage wine and had just one quibble—she needed to keep her shoulders back. Carrie Ann shouted that she slayed the beast and went into some of her own crazy gyrations. What does Carrie Ann do before the show to make her so hyper? As Amber adjusted her massive rack, ha, Len proclaimed that she was back in the game. But no one else ever thought she was out of the game! Len said Bruno was full of, um, something when he was the lone judge holding a nine paddle.
Bill Engvall and Emma Slater: Quickstep
The comedian traveled to Las Vegas with his partner this week so he could deliver a standup performance. He would be performing to Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas” this week, a song he loved, but was swearing up a storm in practice. This dance started with Bill trying to impersonate the king in a shiny silver jacket. He was in character when snapping his fingers but his traveling quickstep moves didn’t impress compared to the dancers who had gone before him. I thought Bill’s age was starting to show tonight, sadly. It was a slow labored romp and seemed to be off the beat much of the time. Carrie Ann commented that Bill didn’t break hold — but the hold wasn’t strong enough to support the dance. According to Len, it had speed and energy but also implied it wasn’t that great. Bruno said most of the steps were right and it was “a good try.” Yikes. Sounded like Bill had a target on his back this week! Still, he got a generous couple of 8s.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Sasha Farber: Samba
Chatting with Tom in the audience, Snooki compared herself to a monkey and a Chihuahua on the dance floor which didn’t make any sense and wasn’t very funny, either. The former Jersey Shore star also wanted to look like Beyonce but Sasha basically told her in rehearsal, half chance. Her baby had a fever and she was worried, which made the practice sessions even tougher. Snooki began her samba sitting on a red couch and then joining Sasha in the samba moves, which seemed tentative at first. But Snooki soon recovered in this one; I felt like this would be what she looked like in a club, just a girl having a good time. Her arm movements with Sasha were convincing and seemed to get stronger as the dance progressed. Len said she showed rhythm and control but got screwed up at the start. Bruno said she was fine once she got into the samba groove while Carrie Ann said sometimes she was ahead of the music. Snooki sighed to Tom she felt like a turtle, then was thrilled when she got triple 9s.
Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff: Cha cha cha
I loved this couple’s inventive Game of Thrones routine last week, and was perplexed when the judges didn’t agree, giving them the lowest score of the competition. So this time around, Karina was plotting that they would do a clean straightforward cha cha with nothing left to chance. The dance pro wasn’t happy with anything in practice and Corbin was freaking out. The routine started with Corbin in the rain but it stopped and he closed his umbrella to join Karina on the floor. Once again, Corbin looked like a crowd-pleasing professional; his body was just meant for this. They ended on top of the stage sitting down back to back which was very fun. This had to be a perfect 30, right? Bruno called Corbin’s moves crystal clear; Carrie Ann gave a big thumb’s up and gushed that it was the tightest cha cha she’d ever seen; and Len loved the crisp footwork but dissed their gyrating—as well as criticizing rap music. Another sign this would be Len’s last season? Ha. He gave Corbin his only 9 tonight.
So now it was time for the big group dance that everyone enjoys every season with Team Spooky BomBom going up against Team Foxing Awesome. Tom announced someone on the Spooky team had the lowest score and would be going home. Bill came up with the idea of a Halloween theme on his Spooky team.
Team Spooky Bon Bon: It started with Bill looking into a graveyard as the DWTS fog machine billowed around him –oh, it appeared the walking dead were there, including Sasha, who sommersalted over him. Then all the celebs had fun with zombie-style moves and Sasha and Snooki did a cool hip hop routine. Val and Elizabeth followed with a little more structured dance and Val leaped over her at the end. Tony and Leah took over and dressed in black, seemed to be fighting each other; he bit her on the neck to end their segment of the dance. Bill and Emma wound it all up with a funny but a little awkward routine; I was worried he was going to drop her in the lift. Bill was ravaged by zombies at the end and then fled the graveyard. The partners were all jubilant when they finished and rightly so; it was thoroughly entertaining and I vowed to watch the dance again when I got home. Len loved it. Bruno really wanted to join in with the walking dead and praised the comedy spirit of it. Carrie Ann considered Bill to be the glue that held the performance together.
Team Foxing Awesome: Dancing to “What Does The Fox Say,” this group hit the floor and the gals looked like they were dressed up as Playboy bunnies although I guess they were supposed to be foxes. There was no plot line to this dance like the first one. I thought Corbin and Karina were the most energetic and Karina’s gyrations were priceless. But then Jack took the cake in an actual fox outfit and all the other guys joined him after having quickly changed into fox outfits as well. I don’t know how they did it that fast. Someone said backstage that this number was based on an actual video that I was unaware of. Bruno said Corbin “killed it” and also praised Jack. Carrie Ann felt like she was on an acid trip while Len found it irresistible. I liked the wacky quality of both dances but felt the Halloween one had the most entertainment value; however, the foxes got the perfect 30.
Okay, folks, so it was elimination time after all that madness. The one going home was part of Team Spooky Bon Bon. It was ultimately between Snooki and Bill Engvall.
Tom announced the celebrity going home this week was… Snooki! Oh, wow. Another big shocking elimination. Bill’s wife was even shocked and was crying with relief in the audience.
The “Jersey Shore” cutie said she loved everybody and burst into tears upon getting the bad news. Everyone else looked so sad in their funny group dance makeup. I guess Snooki didn’t get enough fan votes to support her great dancing.
“Dancing with the Stars” airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.