In this super-concentrated “Dancing With the Stars” format, this jam-packed parade of fringe and sparkles, paddles, the Troupe, a glimpse of the Harold Wheeler band and the dreaded elimination can seem like quite the bedazzled swirl.
But on Monday night, Season 17 sent its first star out of the glitterverse, a casualty of having the lowest combined total of judges’ scores and viewer votes.
Turns out the latest entrant into the Losers’ Club were Keyshawn Johnson and Sharna Burgess. Surprising to see a sports figure reach the “DWTS” end zone so quickly, as the athletes usually have great Gatorade buckets of voting support.
And though Keyshawn was short on votes and scores, this commentator was not short on words. “For a guy who’s never even bobbed his head in the car, the fact that I can have the experience to dance and learn what dancing is all about, and Sharna teaching me, is something amazing to me,” he said.
“Don’t let them give you too hard of a time on ESPN,” host Tom Bergeron cautioned.
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Val Chmerkovskiy were saved from having to walk down the green mile grand staircase, and Bill Engvall and Emma Slater was the other couple in jeopardy (though not necessarily in the bottom two).
Before the elimination, we got an eyeful of Latin Night performances. Here’s how Week 2 played out:
Coming up on top of this week’s leaderboard (though second in total points) were Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff. Though let’s be honest: This routine was right in the “High School Musical” alum’s wheelhouse. Corbin really hearkened back to his Wildcat roots in his jive. Corbin’s the baseball star who jives straight into nerdy-hot Karina’s heart. To say Corbin’s jive wasn’t all sorts of fun would be to call apple pie un-American. “Do it again!” Carrie Ann squealed (too bad encore dances are out in this one-day-a-week format!). “I love your athleticism, your musicality is spot on. You turned every movement out, but there’s this raw edge to it … exciting!” Len said there was no doubt Corbin can dance, “for me not quite a home run, but you got to third base,” the head judge announced without a hint of irony. “A little sharper near the end on the footwork.” “This was a performance of dazzling brilliance,” Bruno announced. “The way you hit the beat like HD 3-D.” What team? Wildcats! Jive: 26. Total: 50 out of 60.
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Val Chmerkovskiy had the unenviable task of going first in the competition. Their second dance was the samba, which Val described as a lot of “booty-shaking” and Elizabeth immediately translated to Twitter-speak: #thrustit. And the whip fast routine, impressive turns, and Val’s open-chested lace ensemble gave Lizzie a leg up at the end. Steven Tyler liked it. “That was so close,” Len beamed. “Just a tiny little thing, but … it was absolutely fantastic.” “I think I’m coming down with scarlet fever!” Bruno swooned. “You are in your element,” Carrie Ann approved. “You are just this strong sensuous dancer who’s so in charge of your body.” The routine had Val all hot and bothered as well. “Around such a gem like Elizabeth, I have to do my best,” the media-friendly Chmerkovskiy demurred. All together now: Aw! That just about made up for last week’s Kapowski kerfuffle. Samba: 25. Total: 49.
Christina Milian and Mark Ballas were tasked with a paso doble by way of Lady Gaga. Mark, while not hiking up his shorts to terrifying levels, crafted a fierce sexy cool “Game of Thrones-y” smoke monster of a paso for his multihyphenate partner, whose confidence has grown about as bright as the glowing red of her hair. “I love a paso with a twist and plenty of quirks,” Bruno approved. “There is no more problems with confidence,” Carrie Ann confirmed. “The stylization is remarkable.” “You were focused, you were fierce, and I tell you, that was terrific,” Len agreed. Paso doble: 25. Total: 47.
Jack Osbourne can be his own worst critic. “I got the worst genes in the family. Fat, heart problem, MS, can’t sing, can’t act. Doomed,” he said, shaking his fist at the sky. To which partner Cheryl Burke countered, “But you can dance.” And dance he did in his gothic rumba, surrounded by smoke and chandeliers and the Gary Jules “Donnie Darko” version of “Mad World” (fitting because he is the son of the Prince of Darkness). He also took a note from mom Sharon to “get that terrified look off your face.” And when he nearly did the splits the crowd just about went crazy. Len liked how it was “quite controlled, there was a style about it,” he said. But “you do some weird things with your hands on occasion.” “You were doing the splits!” Bruno bellowed. “I thought you were never going to get up.” Carrie Ann felt “transported to another time,” like “Game of Thrones.” Rumba: 24. Total: 47.
Leah Remini has been plagued with a slew of negative thoughts since her exodus from Scientology. “I’m going through a personal big change for me and my family,” and she’s taking a lot of negativity on herself. The actress hopes “DWTS” “will get me out, out of my head, out of beating myself up, out of these bad habits.” And the glitterverse is nothing if not all-embracing. From Tony Dovolani saying “Ooh, you hot!” to the great big pink ruffle on her bustle, everyone and everything under the glitterdome seems to have Leah’s back. This includes the judges. “Lovely hands,” Len approved. “You were working your hips, full of content.” “Who is this saucy Latin beauty?” Bruno wondered. “Tonight, you were resplendent.... No more doubts!” “You unleashed your samba goddess,” Carrie Ann remarked. “This is what we’ve been waiting for!” No wonder Leah wants to stay, even just to give people water. Samba: 24. Total: 45.
Amber Riley’s fascinating array of headgear is quickly establishing the “Glee” star as the Gavin DeGraw of the season. And even though scoring three 9s off the bat “definitely made me want to work harder” the triple-threat doesn’t just want people to say she can move for her size. She wants people to say she can dance. But the jive made Amber and her ample bosom nervous. So naturally, pro partner (and newly minted Emmy winner) Derek Hough used the cleavage to good effect, pulling a motorboat alongside his signature crotch bob. And then Amber did a cartwheel at the end. Sure, the jive didn’t fly quite as high as Amber’s debut routine — all three judges pointed out her flat footwork — but Carrie Ann said “you continue to wow us” and Bruno remarked Amber’s talent and performance value “flows out of you like a raging torrent.” Jive: 24. Total: 51.
Brant Daugherty + Peta Murgatroyed + rumba = CHEMISTRY. Talk about “being connected with one another.” The “Pretty Little Liars” actor performed a scorching routine in front of his mom and “PLL” costars to Shakira’s “Underneath Your Clothes” that got so up close and personal, one [almost] had to look away. And it ended up, as rumbas do, in the horizontal position. “Why stop at the jacket?” Bruno complained after the only item of clothing Peta stripped from her partner. Other than that, Bruno credited Brant for doing “the hardest dances incredibly well.” “The chemistry that you guys have is fun to watch,” Carrie Ann the voyeur said. “But you can move! When you hit it, you hit it.” Len liked it, but refused to “go into ecstasy about it.” “Your feet are pigeon-toed, I can see through that fog,” he harrumphed. Rumba: 23. Total: 45.
Bill Engvall took issue with the judges’ scores last week: He didn’t think the comments correlated with his and Emma Slater’s scores. The comments and the scores took a step closer to each other with their jive, however. The comedian tried not to let the other two couples doing the jive psych him out, despite the fact “that they’re 30 years younger than me and have flexibility of rubber bands.” And turned out doing his own thing (or whatever it was that Emma “nicked” from Derek Hough) and keeping it character and age-appropriate was the best thing for him. Set to Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock,” Bill had a suspender-snapping knee-knocking performance that was a hit with the crowd and the judges. “That was the most entertaining routine so far this evening … jam-packed with steps,” Carrie Ann praised, though “the footwork was a little bit spunky.” Len liked the plethora of basic steps: “From a distance I could have sworn you were Derek.” Bruno commended Bill E. for throwing in “everything but the kitchen sink … the performance value was incredible.” Jive: 21. Total: 39.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s sure got a lot of great sound bites. And she really does want to get into character. When Sasha explained his rumba character had made a mistake: “Did you kill someone? Did you go to jail? So you cheated on me … with multiple women,” she decided. The engaged Nicole also powered through all the sensual touching (“I’m gonna get pregnant with these moves,” she announced) to deliver what she thought was an affecting performance. “I did the face, right?” Nicole asked Sasha. “I did the face.” “It kind of didn’t go past that,” Carrie Ann poo-poohed. “There wasn’t a lot of fluidity.” And the lift Nazi carded them for both feet off the floor. “She’s too little, she comes off the floor by herself!” Tom defended. The other judges didn’t dock her for lifts but encouraged Nicole to flow through the movement. “It was neat, and it was clear,” Len said, but “it became a little bit sharp and a little bit placed.” Bruno told her to “caress” the “perpetual motions” and “sustain a character through a performance.” Rumba: 20 (and a big Snooki raspberry). Total: 43.
Valerie Harper seemed a little bit out of her element with her paso doble. But it was all worth it to see her working through her steps, and watching Tristan “watching her work through her mistakes … it’s very inspiring for me.” How do you not love this man, America? So his “marchings” sound like Martian. He is a joy and a delight, and his partnership with Valerie Harper is nothing short of a ballroom miracle. “You’re an amazing person, Valerie Harper, do you know that?” Tristan admired. Valerie started the routine strong with flamenco, but the dance lost some steam as it went on. Len liked that Valerie “came out with total commitment” but thought she was a bit nervous “about getting into the character of it.” Bruno, also, loved “the way you captured the grandeur of the great lady of Spain” but said she lost timing a couple of times. Carrie Ann thought the beginning was “fantastic” but felt she forgot about a third of her routine in the middle. Paso doble: 19. Total: 40.
Former NFL star and ESPN commentator Keyshawn Johnson is not going to start to cry. He’s not like that. But in a revealing moment at the judges’ table on Monday, the NFL star revealed that his partner Sharna Burgess helped him feel confident to do this. “I don’t even bop my head in the ... car,” he confessed. And credit Sharna for a vast improvement during a shimmylicious samba on the ballroom floor. “Some of the things you did with her -- I don’t think they’re actually legal,” Bruno said. But he cautioned Keyshawn to “please count .... that keeps you in time.” Carrie Ann “definitely saw the confidence go way up” but said he was “still a little rough around the edges.” Len gave Keyshawn points for effort: “You were working your assets,” he said. “For me that was better than last week.” Samba: 18. Total: 35.
The chemical reaction that Bill Nye inspires in “DWTS” fans is kind of crazy, no? The judges all seemed to agree that last week’s routine, kind of, as the kids say, “sucked.” But that didn’t stop him from returning with a vengeance, embracing his mad scientist and applying it to music. So in his paso doble, Bill turned his “Bill Nye the Science Guy” and made himself “Bill Nye the Ferocious Guy” and played a mad Beethoven at the piano, with Tyne Stecklein as his immortal beloved in purple. “You stepped it up definitely,” Bruno said. “The ferocious and fearsome maestro in an exhilarating mix of genius and insanity.” Carrie Ann called this concoction “a weird bizarre masterpiece of insanity.” Len admitted he underscored Bill last week but defended that “there is a formula to dancing” and Bill’s paso this week showed “some of those parts were actually missing from that performance.” Paso doble: 17. Total: 31.
What do you think, ballroom fans? Agree with the first elimination of the season? Are you as mad about Bill Nye as those Mensa members in lab coats?