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'Dancing with the Stars' recap, Elimination on all-Latin night

By Amy Watts

For the Baltimore Sun

10:07 AM EDT, September 24, 2013

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First off, congratulations to Derek Hough for his Emmy win Sunday night in the choreography category. 

The show opens with a routine from the pros, and there's Derek front and center. I guess unlike football players he doesn't get the night off.

They appear to have done away with the grand staircase entrance for each couple, introducing them in groups of three as they stand on the dance floor.

There's a quick shot of the leaderboard with last week's scores and we're told it's all-Latin tonight and they immediately go to the first couple.

Elizabeth Berkley Lauren & Val Chmerkovskiy — Samba
Val calls Elizabeth "adorable" during rehearsals. It's cute. Elizabeth is wearing long sleeves on her dress and it's really cool because it highlights her long arms and graceful extensions. She's really getting into character for this dance and I think you really see her years of dance training coming out.

Len says it was "so close" and then says it was "absolutely fantastic." Which is it, Len? Bruno praises the speed and the accuracy, especially considering the number of steps and that it's only Week 2. He points out that there were a couple of stumbles in some of the passes and Val turns away from the judges and then turns back and admits that they were his fault. Carrie Ann says Elizabeth is in control of her movement throughout the dance.

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 9; Bruno: 8

Brooke congratulates Derek on his Emmy win and then has inane conversation with Derek & Amber and then Christina & Mark. Brooke congratulates the latter's costume choices, which confirms my suspicions about her taste level.

Christina Milian & Mark Ballas — Paso Doble
They're dancing to Lady Gaga's "Applause" and Mark has decided to take it Goth, with the costuming and thrones on the dance floor. It's kind of Glitterball Goth, though. Which really should be a thing.  I'm never really sure what a good paso doble should look like if it's not to a traditional paso doble song, so I'll have to defer to the judges.

Bruno liked the twists they gave the paso doble. He thinks they might have missed a step, but he was blinded by the spotlight and couldn't tell.  Thanks to the magic of DVR technology I can tell you that she appeared to MAYBE have an extra step in a turn, but it didn't look like a stumble. Christina says she carried Carrie Ann's admonition that she's better than she thinks she is all week. Carrie Ann replies that it showed. Len liked their paso doble with a modern twist.

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 8; Bruno: 8

Oh, wait. Tom tells their score combined with last week's score. I'm confused - last week's fan vote counts toward tonight's elimination but tonight's fan votes counts toward next week's. So does that mean next week's elimination will be fan votes on tonight's performances combined with judges' scores of next week's performances? If so, that's screwy. And only reinforces the idea that fans vote based on favorites and not the routines. Which I don't think is entirely true.

Bill Engvall & Emma Slater — Jive
Bill didn't feel like last week's scores correlated with the commentary from the judges. Emma's accent cracks me up - her "couples" sounds like "coo-pulls." 

Bill's feet may not always be turned exactly right, but he's quick on his feet, especially that he's no spring chicken. (Even if Emma is kind of dressed like one… She's also wearing more fabric on her arms than her torso.)

Carrie Ann calls it entertaining and filled with fun. She says it was jam-packed with steps but the footwork was a little "funky." Len says there were a lot of basic recognizable jive steps in there. Oooh, Len likes it when you go back to basics.

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 7

Well, that's a point up from each judge from last week.

Brooke is backstage with Jack and Cheryl. Jack's satin shirt is highlighting his manboobs. And then they show a clip of him berating himself in rehearsal footage. It's not as funny as the producers think it is.

Jack Osbourne & Cheryl Burke — Rumba
Jack keeps the bleeper/blurrer busy during rehearsal footage.  His mom Sharon shows up and cheers him on.

There's so much dry ice on the ballroom floor that I'm not sure Cheryl and Jack even HAVE feet much less what they might be doing. The lighting is also super dim. I think if Cheryl could get away with it, she'd put a screen in front of the judges' table. Jack attempts a very tortured descent into a split that makes me fear for his hips, knees, and ankles.

Len says it had great control, great lines and fluidity. Really, Len? But he adds that he did do some crazy things with his hands. I'm completely distracted by CHeryl's costume which is so sheer I can see her navel, which isn't in itself scandalous, but since I CAN see her bikini bottoms and not her bra, I'm now too concerned with what's shielding/supporting her bosoms.

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 8

Overscored. The judges must be light-headed from inhaling dry ice.

Keyshawn Johnson & Sharna Burgess — Samba
Keyshawn laments that he's flying back and forth every week to fulfill his duties on ESPN. I continue to maintain he has no personality. Especially after we got spoiled with the lovely and loquacious Jacoby Jones last season.

OK, Keyshawn is still a little stiff and awkward in some spots, but he's got some smooth glide when it comes to rolling his hips. He comes VERY near to dropping Sharna on the final pose. Eeep.

Bruno says he "went for it" and then wonders if some of the moves he did with Sharna are entirely legal. Keyshawn is enjoying getting some of those moves with Sharna. He then stops the judges' comments to talk about what a good teacher Sharna is. Bruno tells him to learn how to count music and he replies, "I don't even bob my head in the frickin' car."

Carrie Ann says he's still a little rough around the edges and Len says he's improved since last week.

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 6; Bruno: 6

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi & Sasha Farber — Rumba
Snooki is nervous about getting sexy sexy with Sasha because she's engaged. Snooki quips that she's worried some of these moves could get her pregnant.  And there's a question we need better sex ed in this country?

Nicole's wearing a sequined strapless leotard with a sash wound around it. AKA the Edyta ¿liwi¿ska. I still miss Edyta.

Carrie Ann says they made a lot of pretty pictures, but that it lacked fluidity. She also sounds the lift siren. Tom tries to defend Nicole, saying, "She's so little she comes off the floor by herself." Carrie Ann fires back, "He's little too, so he can keep her down.

Len says it was a little too sharp, but was still pretty. Bruno still thinks she has great potential and encourages her to learn how to sustain a character throughout a whole routine.

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 7; Bruno: 7

Carrie Ann clarifies that her score reflects a one point deduction for the lifts.

Leah Remini & Tony Dovolani — Samba
Leah talks about her split from the Church of Scientology and is afraid if she doesn't do well on the show, the Church will use it to preach to the parishioners, "See? That's what happens when you leave the church." I'd love to hear what two-time "DWTS" alum and noted Scientologist Kirstie Alley has to say about all this.

Tony has bias tape on the back of his pants that forms a contrasting hot pink vibe. It's tremendously distracting. It's a big routine and she really went for it. She's also working a real J-Lo vibe with her hair and facial expressions.

Len says it was terrific and that Leah had wonderful hands. He compliments Tony on the choreography. Bruno asks "Who is this saucy Latin beauty? Is it Tony Dovolani? No, it isn't." And then Tony vamps it up with some sultry Vogueing. Carrie Ann pulls a Bruno, popping out of her chair to fling some samba moves Leah & Tony's way.

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 8

Bill Nye & Tyne Stecklein — Paso Doble
Tom has members of Mensa in the audience who are there to cheer on Bill. They're all wearing lab coats. I guess geniuses can be attention seekers, too.

The routine starts with Bill and his powdered wig at the piano as "Beethoven's 5th Symphony" plays. And then OMG they're actually doing the routine to it.  This is not just one of my favorite pieces of music, I, no fooling, think it's one of the greatest things humankind has accomplished. If we were invaded by aliens I'd play them this symphony to demonstrate the pinnacle of our species.

All that being said, it's a passable paso. Passoble?

Bruno says Bill stepped it up from last week and exclaims incredulously that there was some actual paso doble in there. Carrie Ann liked that he made fun of himself with the routine. She does say he has to work on his feet. Len says looking back at last week, he may have slightly underscored Bill. No, Len, no! Stick to your guns! Len lists the parts of a dance and tells Bill that some of those parts were indeed missing from tonight's dance.

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 5; Bruno: 6

Tom breaks the news that due to Len and Bruno's commitments to the "mothership" "Strictly Come Dancing" we're going to have guest judges, including Julianne Hough, there in the ballroom.

Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff — Jive
Corbin, whose name sounds like a French-sounding chicken sandwich, explains to Ukrainian Karina that apple pie is "American." BRINGING CULTURES TOGETHER, THIS SHOW IS.

Corbin states in rehearsal that he wants to do the jump that was captured as his pose on the "High School Musical" poster. This is going to involve jumping off something! Fun!

The routine starts with Corbin climbing up onto the judges' table and showing off some really excellent jive moves. He's such a ringer, honestly. He leaps off the table and he and Karina do a jive that feels modern and not trapped in the '50s.

Ohmigosh, there's Toby from "Switched at Birth" in the audience. I love that show so much.

Carrie Ann loves his athleticism and says his musicality is "spot-on." Carrie Ann is explosive with her praise. Len tells Corbin, "You can dance." No shinola, Sherlock. Len says it wasn't quite a home run, but that Corbin made it to "third base." Oh, dear. Someone explain to Len what THAT means. Bruno says it was a performance of "dazzling brilliance." He adds that the way he hits the beat is like 3-D.

And then Corbin does some "High School Musical" related thing that I'm too old to understand. I love Zac Efron so I really tried to watch the movie once and, nope, too old.

Tom asks Corbin if he thinks he's had the luck of the draw given his background and the dance styles he's performed so far in the competition.

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 8; Bruno: 9

Valerie Harper & Tristan MacManus — Paso Doble
Valerie takes a tumble in rehearsal, due to a strained knee. Val asks if she wants to rest it and she's like, "OLD! TERMINAL CANCER! NO TIME TO REST!" She jokes that they should shoot her up with whatever they give horses. Heh.

Her walk down two stairs at the beginning of the routine is a little wobbly and I'm worried right off the bat. I admire her pluck and determination, but honestly this is worse than Bill Nye earlier. Way worse.

Len likes that she started the dance solo, but he says she seemed a bit nervous. He calls her brave. Which may be true, but brave does not always equal good. Bruno says he could see her trying to keep her shoulders down, following his advice. He did notice some mistakes in the footwork.

Carrie Ann tells Valerie straight up that she finds it hard to judge her because she's so in awe of her courage. But Carrie Ann knows Valerie wants to be judged on the merits of her dancing alone, so Carrie Ann's going to be honest with her. She says the beginning was good, but points out that Valerie seemed to forget about a third of the routine in the middle and looked lost.

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 6; Bruno: 7

Overscored. Bill Nye should be ticked.

Brant Daugherty & Peta Murgatroyd — Rumba
Peta has light socket hair in some of the rehearsal footage. How/why does she DO that? She tells Brant they're going to be undressing each other throughout the routine, but even as he's undressing Peta he should be looking at Carrie Ann as if she's the one he wants to be undressing.

Given that Peta is essentially already wearing only a lace bikini with a sheer robe over it, I'm unsure of her concept of "undressing." The ever-present dry ice is covering up more than that robe is.

Bruno says there's not a lady in the country that doesn't feel a bit restless and fidgety right now. Carrie Ann likes their chemistry and compliments Brant's movement. Len liked it, but "can't go into ecstasy over the thing." Len also points out that Brant's feet are pigeon-toed, and yes he could see it through all the smoke.

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 7; Bruno: 8
 
Amber Riley & Derek Hough — Jive
Amber says she's afraid of the jive "because [she] has breasts." Derek asks if she's afraid she's going to knock herself out and she hotly replies, "They're not THAT big." She concludes the rehearsal footage by saying she doesn't want people to say "That girl can move well for her size." She wants them to just say "She can dance!"

I'm a little bit worried about some of the faces she's pulling, but at the same time I like that she's getting into character. Also I really, really want her shoes" two-tone yellow and turquouise mary janes. Internet, if those are available retail, let me know where.

Amber CAN dance and she even ends the routine with a cartwheel! Love it!

Carrie Ann says she was a little flat-footed, but she's still a great dancer. Len says she was a bundle of joy to watch, but she does need to work on her footwork. He repeats that she was terrific. Bruno concurs with the flat-footedness, saying it looked more like a Lindy Hop.

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 8

Tonight's Scores

Corbin & Karina: 26
Elizabeth & Val:  25
Christina & Mark: 25
Amber & Derek: 24
Jack & Cheryl: 24
Leah & Tony:  24
Brant & Peta: 23
Bill Engvall & Emma: 21
Nicole & Sasha: 20
Valerie & Tristan: 19
Keyshawn & Sharna:  18
Bill Nye & Tyne: 17

Leaderboard for both nights:

Amber & Derek: 51
Corbin & Karina: 50
Elizabeth & Val: 49
Christina & Mark: 47
Jack & Cheryl: 47
Brant & Peta: 45
Leah & Tony: 45
Nicole & Sasha: 43
Valerie & Tristan: 40
Bill Engvall & Emma: 39
Keyshawn & Sharna: 35
Bill Nye & Tyne: 31

I'm still not sure how they're going to do scores next week. If tonight's scores and next week's scores will both count or just next week's or what. I need Tom to guide me and HE'S LETTING ME DOWN.

Elimination: Brooke says they've combined scores from last week and votes from last week. So why show a combined leaderboard? I'M SO CONFUSED.

Safe: Corbin & Karina, Leah & Tony. Bill Nye and Tyne are announced as safe! Shocker! Thought sure they'd be "in jeopardy." Christina & Mark are safe, as are Amber & Derek. Valerie & Tristan are safe too. Also safe: Nicole & Sasha and Jack & Cheryl.

I'm surprised they aren't putting someone in jeopardy sooner to sweat it out while everybody else gets results.

Brant & Peta are safe. We go to commercial before the elimination, with three couples, Bill Engvall & Emma, Keyshawn & Sharna, and Elizabeth & Val still yet to receive results. Elizabeth & Val have to be the red herring in that group, right? They announce Elizabeth & Val as safe right off the bat. Toldja. Whatever Elizabeth said in celebration got the whatever-second-silence delay.

Brooke points out that these two couples are not necessarily the bottom two. Tom finds out there's no time for Len to make a comment and cues the "scary music."

Going home are Keyshawn & Sharna. I'm disappointed to lose Sharna, but honestly, I think Bill Engvall has more room for improvement than Keyshawn.

Predictions: I think Bill Engvall is going to continue to improve and if he gets something like a waltz next week, he could push himself up the leaderboard. Bill Nye sticks around for as long as nerds are mobilized to vote for him and Valerie sticks around with the "Courage" vote, so I hope Engvall doesn't get pushed out before them.