“It’s a really great thing to get out and dance.”
Ah, Valerie Harper. The inspirational actress and her bonny Irish lad of a pro partner, Tristan MacManus, were the latest couple eliminated from the “Dancing With the Stars” glitterverse this week. Sure, she was plagued with low scores and struggled with keeping up with the steps. But the 74-year-old’s indomitable spirit stood out most of all.
“It’s been absolutely wonderful, completely unique -- like nothing else in the world that you would ever do,” Valerie said. Plus, it was “an opportunity for me to carry a message to folks -- not just with cancer, whatever they have. Whatever challenge, like our song tonight, keep on keeping on.”
Tristan, a.k.a. Best Partner Ever, only had love for his celebrity partner. “Sometimes you get very lucky in your life to meet someone who can affect them more than this could at all,” he said. “And I think maybe life’s a little bit better since I met Valerie Harper.”
Also in jeopardy (though not necessarily in the bottom two) were last week’s high scorers Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd.
We’ve come upon the middle of the competition, and this fourth week saw contestants hitting the breaking point mentally and physically. It was almost as if having a knee injury was the cool thing to do.
The scores also seemed stuck in a lower gear, with lots of 24s and no couple scoring higher than a 27.
But Julianne Hough was in the house! The two-time Mirrorball champ came back to take the place of Len Goodman, who’s off judging “Strictly Come Dancing” across the Pond. And she fit right in between Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, and right into what Tom Bergeron called “our spray-tan warehouse”
Here’s how the remaining couples stacked up:
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren has a process. She wants to get into character, and in order to do that she has had to stare her partner Val Chmerkovskiy down to his essence -- for like, an uncomfortably long time. “It’s a really human moment of taking someone in,” she explained.
God bless Val for going along with it. Though it turned out that all that absorption helped, as their Argentine tango was sultry and sleek (and showed Val’s violin skills!). Bruno called her a “bewitching fantasy creature fueled by desire.” Carrie Ann thought that staredown process worked: “Every movement has meaning.” Julianne agreed. “You took control,” the guest judge said. “You weren’t waiting for him to control you.” Total: 27.
Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff performed a pure paso doble stripped of any Wildcat hip-hop that tied with “Glee” actress Amber Riley’s tango as my favorite routine of the night. “This is cool,” Corbin said during rehearsals while striking a pose. “It hurts but it’s cool.”
Their performance was a real tour de force: no bells and whistles, just pure passion and movement. And all that Karina red!
“Absolutely stunning,” Carrie Ann said, though she thought Corbin’s arms were “a little bit low.” “Thank you, thank you for doing no gimmicks because you didn’t need it,” Julianne said, before telling Corbin to get his hips under. “Powerful as a young bull,” Bruno appraised, adding that the “The Spanish line comes from under the hips.” Total: 27.
Amber was also plagued with knee problems, and worried that she wouldn’t be able to perform to the best of her abilities. To make matters worse, she had to get the fluid drained from her knee and couldn’t start rehearsing until Friday.
Derek Hough tried to convince Amber that he was a shoo-in with the judges because of his “in” with sister Julianne (not). Turned out Amber and Derek didn’t need any special favors or extra rehearsal time because they performed an awesome tango to “Love Lockdown.” Amber was all sleek moves and tight control.
“You were in a fine form tonight,” Carrie Ann said. “So crisp and clean and passionate.” Derek jokingly bribed his little sister with $10 (which Bruno then asked for), but he didn’t need to. Bruno called it a “pure unmistakably classic amazing tango” and then pocketed the $10. Total: 27.
Jack Osbourne (who celebrated his wedding anniversary on Monday) and Cheryl Burke had a contentious week, sparring about posture and marionettes and Jackeroo’s rampant Corbin envy.
Still, the judges liked Jack’s quickstep (as did sis Kelly and her pro partner Louis Van Amstel). “Ballroom is very much your strong suit,” Julianne said, but she added that she wanted Jackeroo to show he was having fun. Bruno said he’s “never seen so many tricks in my life, not even in Vegas,” but he cautioned Jack not to move his frame. Carrie Ann thought Jack was “way more animated this week.” Total: 24.
Now that she’s had a couple of weeks to get used to it, Leah Remini’s not as scared about performing or putting on form-fitting outfits. Though to get her and Tony Dovolani’s scores up, the actress suggested that the Albanian stallion “dress skimpy and come down on a pole.”