There was more than the usual excitement backstage at “Dancing with the Stars” because CHER was going to be a guest judge and performer on Monday. As XfinityTV.com has previously reported, the multitalented entertainer said she had no idea what she was doing in terms of judging. So I was honestly looking forward to some welcome chaos tonight! But I also hoped it didn’t become all about Cher, either.
After last week’s shocking elimination of Snooki (aka Nicole Polizzi), season 17 continued to be a joyously unpredictable stew. And going forward, my big questions were: Would underdog Bill Engvall dodge elimination again? Why does Leah Remini continue to stay on the show despite her downer of an attitude? And are Corbin Bleu and Elizabeth Berkley just too darn good to be believed?
Here was what happened on “DWTS’s” Cher night:
Oops, trouble in the press room as our feed isn’t working and it’s two minutes after and people are saying Cher is probably being lowered from the ceiling and we’re missing it! Aargh.
Okay, folks, so I missed the introduction to this show for the first time ever due to technical difficulties! I have no idea what happened, but our media room TV came on at five minutes after. Had someone been asleep at the switch after daylight savings time? I assume Cher performed to open the show.
Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff: Argentine Tango
Corbin would be dancing to Cher’s “Welcome to Burlesque” from her movie bomb (just being real, folks) and he feels under pressure to do the entertainer proud. Why? He doesn’t know her. Ha. Anyway, Corbin is the last competitor who should be worried. Cher got her standing ovation as a judge, and then Corbin and Karina hit the floor with the pro pulling off a sparkly wig. Then she tore off Corbin’s tie. I was watching Karina’s intricate footwork more than her partner’s and I felt the “High School Musical” star was a little lackluster tonight. But Corbin did move Karina overhead in an amazingly unusual lift. This music worked well for the number so Cher night got off to a good start. Carrie Ann Inaba said Corbin brought his A game to the tango but it wasn’t as smooth as it could have been. Judge Bruno Tonioli said he conquered the dance but some passes weren’t as clean as they should have been. Then Cher said they were amazing and beautiful. This was funny—when Cher was supposed to lift her paddle to show her score, she had to be prodded. Yikes. She flunked the paddle test!
Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani: Viennese Waltz
Leah and Tony can’t believe they made it to week 8 and the “King of Queens” star dissed Judge Len Goodman, saying she was glad it was going to be Cher this week instead. “Sonny and Cher met in a coffee shop in L.A.,” Leah said as she rehearsed her “I Got You Babe” number with Tony. Thank you, producers! There were some cute bits of business featuring Tony in the beginning but this didn’t seem like Leah’s best dance to me. The actress didn’t do enough; perhaps the ladylike, light as air quality of the dance threw the tough as nails beauty? She looked tired and ended it with a hug for Tony and the two strolling away. However, her friend Jennifer Lopez loved it in the audience. Bruno called it sweet and innocent and cherished the side-by-side action but thought she missed a lot of body contact. Carrie Ann said Leah looked like she was having the time of her life but her timing was off. Cher said she was enthralled Leah had recreated her coffee shop meeting with Sonny. Oh, so that was what they were trying to do? It was an actual homage? Cher just implied to her fans this week that Sonny Bono was in hell, so I was shocked she wanted to remember being picked up by him in a coffee shop.
Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd: Foxtrot
Brant was looking good as usual in his black tank top but then we cut to the Pretty Little Liars set where he was doing double duty this week. Going back on the ABC Family show meant the actor lost a lot of rehearsal time. He dropped the F bomb in practice and got bleeped as he couldn’t master the foxtrot steps. The routine started with Peta sitting amongst some Christimas presents, then joining Brant for “The Shoop Shoop Song,” sung by Cher, of course. Brant was a little too aggressive this time is his hold portions with Peta but did well with the side-by-side action and in shaking his booty by the judges’ table. And it ended with a kiss for the second straight week for this couple (who insist they’re not dating). Carrie Ann said Brant had star quality and he kept growing every week; she just wished his knees weren’t going in so much. According to Bruno, Brant’s content was flawless and “every arrangement is done beautifully,” but he needed to refine it. Cher thought he had the “it” quality because of his great smile but didn’t use the word “it.”
Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy: Jazz
The couple had chosen one song but switched to another because of Elizabeth. She wanted “Bang Bang” instead! She took some heavy tumbles in rehearsal and Val got a little testy because Elizabeth was getting too emotional. He finally told her to do her best. This jazz dance started with Elizabeth in full Showgirls mode in a sparkly dress and pounding some imaginary walls backstage. They were bathed in red light once they were on the floor and I loved her high kicks and her tall body in what was basically a black onesie. The theme of the routine was conflict with Elizabeth and Val fighting a lot. Of course, the actress was triumphant at the end and Val was on the ground. Cher said she was crying about this show too this week. “I liked the rough part of it,” Cher said. “I like it when somen our strong and don’t take s***.” Hello, censors! Bruno called in The Hunger Games while only one can survived. Bruno and Cher were convulsed in giggles but then he got serious and said she wasn’t always on the beat. Carrie Ann felt she was one-dimensional in her anger. Cher pulled her 9 paddle out again—was that the only one she had?
Bill Engvall and Emma Slater: Disco
The Blue Collar comedian had wanted to drop out last week rather than see Snooki go home. But big-hearted Bill was convinced to stay and he would be dancing to Cher’s “Strong Enough.” It seemed like the underdog and partner Emma had a problem-free rehearsal, so we would see if it translated into a great disco dance. At the start, Bill was doing side by side moves on a sparkly disco platform and then they climbed down its stairs to the floor and Bill did his best with the corny choreography (think disco pointing). The comic did a lot of emoting and then twirled Emma around on the floor in a number of extremely energetic spins and lifts. In one, she put her legs around his head and it was so funny that reporters backstage went into hysterics. Bill was beyond overjoyed afterwards at having pulled off the bizarre and thoroughly entertaining tribute to the ’70s (and I think he was the only one left on the show to remember Cher’s top decade). Anyway, total pandemonium applause and laughter ensued in the press room. “You really got the disco inferno going,” Bruno said, but then blasted him: “Like John Travolta — very faded.” Carrie Ann said Bill just made her happy even though he was off the beat. I hadn’t noticed that. Carrie Ann was torn because she still loved it. Cher was amazed he could get Emma up into those positions and he cracked, “It’s a little blue pill.” Viagra nation was going to love that. And then Bill slobbered over Cher, saying something like he was her biggest fan.
Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke: Tango
Cheryl revealed she was named after Cher, but it became Cher-yl instead. It looked like this pair got the best song with “The Beat Goes On” and in rehearsal, they talked about getting their first ten of the season last week. “I’m into this now,” Jack declared. He was stressed out about dancing in front of Cher. As they started walking to each other, both Jack and Cheryl looked fierce and I was watching the reality TV kid instead of his partner, good news. His kicks looked tango-riffc and he showed musicality. Loved the slow leg movements towards the end. In the crowd, Ozzy and Sharon were proud parents! Carrie Ann said “You are so confident. Everything looks refined when you do it.” Cher said he looked like a tango dancing pimp while Bruno said that was what tango was all about—”the pimp and the hooker.” Hey, how do you explain this to the kiddies on a family show? The judge thought it was a proper tango.
Amber Riley and Derek Hough: Rumba
Cher said if she could turn back time, she’d go back to the ’80s because she had so much fun then. Yeah, and I remember a certain young bagel boy was her boyfriend! Anyway, switching to our last couple, Amber had a tear in one of her knee tendons so she had it wrapped in rehearsal. Like the others, Amber was really nervous to dance to Cher’s song, but she wound up with a great one, “If I Could Turn Back Time.” She came down the stairs with a bunch of sailors, including Derek, and ripped his shirt off as the other Navy boys retreated into the night. This dance proved Amber was injured as she was moving slower than usual and posing more than actually dancing, if you know what I mean. It also ended kind of abruptly after Derek dragged her across the floor. Cher said the Glee star was sexy and she “owned it.” Bruno said she was the one in charge, leading the dance and selling it. Meanwhile, Carrie Ann said she undulated like nobody else but felt it wasn’t her best dance. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who was skeptical about this one, but I had no doubt she’d stay in the competition. Cher pulled out her 9 paddle again, but Bruno gave her a 10, meaning she had the top score of the night and was already safe, host Tom Bergeron announced.
Cher, 67, performed her new single in a typical demure outfit of a long fringed black dress and a feathered headdress. Producers shot to Chaz Bono applauding for mom in the audience.
The six celebs other than Amber would now have to compete in a “dance off.” Cha cha, disco, and rumba would be the dance styles.
Corbin chose Elizabeth as his dance off partner and she selected cha cha as their routine.
Corbin vs. Elizabeth: Cha cha
Corbin and Karina started with a flawless cha cha to “Woman’s World.” Again, the actor looked like Ben Vereen he was so skilled at this. Elizabeth took over and by comparison, I felt she suffered. I didn’t think cha cha was her best dance; Val put her through her paces admirably but it was clear to me who had won this one. Carrie Ann said both had nailed the routine; Bruno kind of said it was like comparing apples and oranges: Cher said it was sexy, fun, and tight, but which couple was she talking about?
The Winner: Corbin and Karina were chosen by all three judges.
Brant picked Leah to dance against and Leah chose rumba, naturally.
Brant and Peta vs. Leah and Tony: Rumba
Brant was emoting like crazy in his rumba with a lot of broad arm movements that I felt were overdone. Then Leah followed in her fringed gold dress, moving a bit unsteadily. I still felt she’d won the dance off. Bruno loved Brant’s impression of a Latin lover. Carrie Ann thought Leah nailed the dance of love while Brant could have had more hip action. Cher was enthralled with both of them. “It’s really hard for me,” the living legend said. Okay, so as far as being a judge, Cher wasn’t critical enough, in my opinion, so Len can rest easy.
Winner: Leah and Tony
Bill and Emma vs. Jack and Cheryl: Disco
Bill got another crack at disco and he was sure to crack us up again. Jack’s version of the dance was kind of nerdy for my taste and he seemed to be behind the beat a little bit. The Osbourne boy did better with more structured dances. Bill seemed to bobble Emma in one of those ballroom spins and then they did their famous legs around his neck move but it was a hot mess. Carrie Ann said Bill had the advantage because he’d already done disco and Cher commented the comic had tossed Emma and just left her. Bruno said Bill killed him with amusement.
Winner: Jack and Cheryl
So, Bill looked like he was toast again after losing the dance challenge — but wait, host Tom had him read the teleprompter and the Blue Collar comic was SAFE! Cher looked shocked and so were all the reporters backstage.
Who would go home this week?
Jack and Brant were in the bottom two.
The celeb leaving was…Brant Daugherty!
He was welling up in tears. The “Pretty Little Liars” hunk had done a great job but maybe not enough young female fans had watched “DWTS”?
“Dancing with the Stars” airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.