LOS ANGELES - “I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so… SCARED!” is probably what every female contestant was thinking on ABC's “Dancing with the Stars” Monday night.
After Avicii sang “Wake Me Up,” host Tom Bergeron quickly informs us that, based on viewer votes, one of the female stars will be eliminated by the end of the night. The only thing that could change that star’s fate might be if the night’s judge scores.
The night’s theme is for the stars to pick the most memorable year of their lives.
First up, singer Christina Milian and Mark have a cha cha. In the recap, we see how guest judge Julianne Hough slammed Mark for overshadowing his partner. Christina picks 2010 as her year because her she had to find strength when her husband left her soon after she became a mother.
She opens the routine shaking her assets. I get that she’s trying to convey the “independent woman” thing, but the choreography looks forced while she’s solo. When she and Mark are together, they are much sharper and their synch is perfect. Judge Len Goodman calls her fantastic. Judge Bruno Tonioli says she painted a perfect picture of a hot Latina. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba says it was something special. Score: 28, including the first 10 of the season from Len.
Reality TV star Jack Osbourne and Cheryl have a Waltz. Jack picked last year, when he became a father but was also diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He looks so sure on his feet and is in perfect control of his body. He achieves a beautiful sweep with Cheryl. It shows that he dedicated this dance to his family, and gets a standing ovation for it. Bruno calls it wonderful. Carrie Ann says he had an exceptional quality to his movement. Score: 27.
Actress Leah Remini and Tony are up with a contemporary. She picks last year when she broke away from Scientology and wants her daughter to see her strength. Leah does much more of a performance than a dance, but she’s clearly just dancing out her emotions, which is kind of the point of a contemporary. It’s not as graceful as other contemporaries on this show, but she’s obviously all about it. Carrie Ann says she loved the concept and message, but it didn’t feel seamless. Len calls it good but not great. Bruno says it’s effective. Score: 22. Knowing a woman is going home, Tom asks what Leah’s thinking. She says she’s trying hard.
Leah tweeted, “Thank you all for your positive tweets! Wow! This is a tough show! Xoxo.”
Host Brooke Burke then chats with Paris Hilton, who’s in the audience to support Christina. Paris is polite and well-spoken.
Disney star Corbin Bleu and Karina have a Foxtrot. He dedicates the dance to his sister, who was diagnosed with scoliosis in 2011. Corbin somehow looks comfortable but stiff at the same time, and the routine does not seem to have much Foxtrot content. Corbin spins Karina around the floor so much, I’m worried he’s going to pull her arm from its socket. But his sister looks happy. Len calls him a terrific dancer. Bruno calls him the love child of Fred Astaire and Ben Vereen. Carrie Ann calls herself “Crazy Eye” looking for lifts, and spotted one. Score: 28.
Corbin tweeted, “SAFE! Let's keep Corbin and Karina Smirnoff in the game! Call now and vote 1800-868-3406. You can call toll free... http://fb.me/6vO4ibysy .”
Brooke then chats with actor Mario Lopez, who’s support “Saved by the Bell” costar Elizabeth Berkley. Mario tweeted, “Huge double win @Chargers & @Dodgers ! And my girl @ElizBerkley killin it on #DWTS .... #GreatMondayNight .”
Comedian Bill Engvall and Emma have a Viennese Waltz. It’s dedicated to his wife, who he married in 1982. The surprising gentleman is back, and Bill hits all the emotions. This dance screams, “I love my wife!” Bruno calls it honest and heartfelt. Carrie Ann says he touched our souls, but timing was off. Len liked the romance. Score: 24.
Bill tweeted, “Dancing with @EmmaSlaterDance reminds me of dancing with my wife.”
Reality star Nicole “Hot Mess” Polizzi and Sasha have jazz. She dedicates the dance to her son, who was born last year. Hot Mess dances to “Work Bitch.” Hot Mess kicks off this dance like a Madonna performance. She works her butt off. Simply put, Hot Mess is on fire. Carrie Ann says she surprises her every week. Len calls the dance vibrant and fun to watch. Bruno calls it a bundle of fun. Score: 27.
The show gives us a taped package about dancing. In it, Cheryl says the best dancer does not usually win DWTS. Instead, she says it’s about personality and the best story over the season. Hmm … wonder if that will play a part in who gets eliminated tonight.
Also, Jack tells Brooke he had a dancing background … dancing his butt off with Paris in nightclubs. Cut to Paris, who laughs. Oh, the lifestyles of the rich and famous kids.
“Pretty Little Liars” actor Brant Daugherty and Peta have contemporary. He dedicates the dance to his father, who died in 2009 -- the year Brant moved to Hollywood to pursue acting. This guy just gets contemporary. He knows how to move poetically with his partner. Len says he’s sure Brant’s father is looking down on him. Bruno says Brant throws himself in with dedication and passion. Carrie Ann says Brant’s movements were driven from a place of passion. He’s almost in tears. Score: 27.
Brant tweeted, “I'm so grateful for the opportunity to pay tribute to my dad tonight. That dance meant a lot to me. Thank you all so much for watching #DWTS .”
Actress Amber Riley and Derek have a foxtrot. She picks 2009 because it was when she auditioned for “Glee.” It’s a smooth routine, but Amber imbues this foxtrot with some welcomed soul and bounce, while still getting in foxtrot content. Bruno calls her a performing powerhouse. Carrie Ann says she danced the heck out of the routine. Len says she’s a star. Score: 26.
Amber tweeted, “Thank you guys for the immense support! A “10” woohoo! I’m climbing mountains and it feels great! Learning so much about myself :).”
And finally, Elizabeth and Val are up with a jive. She picks 2012 because it’s the year her son was born… but she picks a very special moment from “Saved by the Bell” for her performance.
The routine opens with a bedroom set right out of “Saved by the Bell.” Jessie Spano -- I mean, Elizabeth is about to take “jive pills” when Zack Morr -- I mean, Val comes in through her bedroom window. She is all over the place -- in a good way. It’s fun to watch her jive as Jessie Spano. I’m having early 90’s flashbacks watching it. And did I just see a Flashdance?! Carrie Ann says she loves her for doing it, but the kicks were soft. Len says the kicks were sharp, clean and fast. Bruno calls it incredible fun. Score: 26.
It’s at this point that Tom tells us Elizabeth is in jeopardy.
Bear in mind, we learned earlier a woman would be going home by the end of the night -- unless the judges scores for the night shifted the results.
Tom and Brooke announce the stars who are safe: Corbin, Amber, Bill, Jack, Brant, and Hot Mess.
It’s down to Christina, Leah, and Elizabeth (who looks fearless). Elizabeth is safe, and Val picks her up and carries her to safety.
It’s now down to Christina and Leah … and the star with the lowest combined judge scores and viewer votes… is Christina.
Cue the shocked expressions.
Even Paris is shocked. She tweeted, “You guys killed it tonight! Best dance of the night by far! ☺♡.”
Christina was the highest-scorer of the night and even landed the first 10 of the season. Her good scores and attitude should have saved her. But I wonder if Mark’s choreography did a disservice; his numbers are so over-choreographed that, while Christina might have nailed the moves, she did not have much room to connect with the emotions of the dances and convey it to the audience.
Christina says, “It’s true shock. Wasn’t expecting that. But I think we’ve had the best performance so far.”
I know Christina is a well-known singer, but I wondered if she had enough fanbase for this show. I figured she’d be safe based on her high judge scores. As for who could be eliminated on Monday, it’s likely down to Leah, who scores with the underdog vote, or Bill, who pulls the big country vote that pushed Kellie Pickler to the top last time.
Christina tweeted, “Well guys.. I guess you can stop doing all that voting I was asking y'all to do.. Sad but so happy I did this. Tonight was a great show.”
Otherwise, I would have worried if I was Elizabeth, who likely does not have a big fanbase, but she may have saved herself with that Jessie Spano routine.
And the very end of the show is plagued by peculiar technical glitches. I’m talking, crosscuts, bad live edits, graphics coming and going, and even an audio echo.
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