Two dances, the first perfect score of the season and another surprise elimination twist mark the halfway point of “Dancing with the Stars.”
The couples start off with their individual dances, and comedian Bill Engvall and Emma are up with a tango. I never expected to see a tango to “Cheeseburgers in Paradise.” And hopefully never will again. They do a serviceable job, but it’s not the ideal blend of song and dance. Bill is still amusing, but has shown more dancing ability before. Judge Len Goodman calls it sharp and tangy. Judge Bruno Tonioli says their pacing was off. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba likes the humor and passion. Score: 23 out of 30.
Actress Elizabeth Berkley and Val are next with a cha cha. Elizabeth starts with a sultry solo, and looks like she’s enjoying it. She and Val are very sharp together and continue to exude great chemistry. The routine has lots of content and busy footwork. Bruno says she’s still got it. Carrie Ann calls her a white panther. Meow. Len says they have a formidable partnership. Score: perfect 30 – the first of the season.
Elizabeth tweeted, “Tonight was so much fun!! So grateful for your votes!”
Actress Leah Remini and Tony have a quickstep. In rehearsal, Jennifer Lopez visits her cause, you know, Jenny from the block just casually pops in all our rehearsals like that. Leah’s performance is solid and she floats across the stage at times. In hold, they are very graceful while circling the dance floor, and her footwork is clean. Carrie Ann calls it a great turnaround from last week. Len says they are way up this week. Bruno says she revealed “another Leah.” Score: 27.
“Pretty Little Liars” actor Brant Daugherty and Peta have a tango. Their routine has great controlled movement, but it’s a tad slow-paced. Brant looks angry, which doesn’t match the slower pace. Also, he looks more jagged than smooth, and almost loses balance at the end. Len says it was sharp, crispy and tasty. Bruno says Brant danced like a leading man. Carrie Ann says his energy put him off beat. Score: 28.
Brant tweeted, “We got our first 10!! Couldn't be happier right now. Now it's up to you guys to keep @PetaMurgatroyd and I around by voting!!”
“Glee” actress Amber Riley and Derek have a samba. It is impressively fast-paced with smooth constant movement, broad sweeping moves, and nice samba rolls. But Amber loses steam near the very end. Bruno says she did everything perfect. Carrie Ann says all the elements were there. Len calls it fantastic but repetitive. Derek says that’s ironic because he did so much traditional choreography for Len. Score: 28.
Reality star Jack Osbourne and Cheryl have a paso doble. Jack nails the speed, energy, and passion. On the negative side, he slips up his balance a couple times and some of the moves look like a stretch for him. Carrie Ann says he put his heart and soul in it, but it was outside his character. Len calls it top notch. Bruno says the timing wasn’t as good as usual. Score: 25.
“Jersey Shore” vet Nicole “Hot Mess” Polizzi and Sasha have a foxtrot. They do a sugary sweet routine with hints of a foxtrot. Len calls it happy hour. Bruno says she’s never been so sweet and elegant. Carrie Ann calls her most improved. Score: 27.
Disney star Corbin Bleu and Karina have a Viennese waltz. Nerd alert! Corbin learns the “Game of Thrones” theme is their song and He. Geeks. Out. Does their routine start off with CGI dragons? Check. Is he loaded with guyliner? Check. Is that a furry loincloth? Check. This routine is otherworldly. I mean, this dance is literally from a different world, so I don’t know how to critique it. Except it looks good. And did they raid Cher’s closet for their wardrobe? Both of them? Likely check. Bruno says the Viennese waltz require flowing lines, but they lost the flow. Carrie Ann thinks it successfully sold a passionate story. Len says it lacks proper ballroom hold. Score: 23. Consolation prize: Corbin can keep the prop throne.
Time for the second dance of the night. It’s called the “switch-up challenge.” This is when the couples dance side by side at the same time – but they won’t know what the music will be until the dance starts. Oh, and the music will change throughout the dance, in both style and tempo.
The eight couples will dance in two groups of four. The first couple eliminated will get one judges’ point; the last couple dancing will get four extra points.
Mess. It starts with a Nelly song and the couples go into hip hop mode. The music switches to Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” and Corbin and Karina are killing it. Bill is out first. Maybe because he tore his shirt open. Marvin Gaye music starts, and Jack is out, followed by Hot Mess. Corbin gets four extra points.
The second group is Amber, Brant, Elizabeth, and Leah. LMFAO comes on and they all start to hip hop, before switching to classical. Leah is out, and the salsa music begins. Elizabeth is out. Cue the 50’s rock jive. Brant is out. Amber gets four extra points.
After the switch-up challenge points, Elizabeth and Amber now tie for top. Bill is in last place, followed by Corbin and Jack tied.
Time for results. We quickly learn the safe stars include Elizabeth, Amber, Brant, Leah, Corbin, and Hot Mess.
As I predicted, it’s between Jack and Bill. And the star going home is… no one. Both are safe.
Host Tom Bergeron explains, due to a technical problem last week, the wrong voting phone numbers were aired, which threw off the viewer votes, so the show disregarded the votes and kept all the couples. But the judges’ scores will carry onto next week.
So, yet again, I predict that Jack, Bill, or Leah could be most at risk for elimination. I feel like I’ve been saying that for weeks now.
Beside the elimination next week, host Brooke Burke says the couples will also have to work together in some mysterious challenge.
The competition continues Monday night at 8:00 on ABC.
More information can be found at: http://abc.go.com/primetime/dancingwiththestars/index .