No, seriously. That was more or less the night’s theme. It even started with a reprise of the opening number first allowing Carrie-Ann and Bruno to come out and show their own dancing ability, then ending with the entrance of Julianne. An interview in which of course Tom cues her in to plug her upcoming movie, a short fluff about her intentions to be a good and fair judge, and now it is time for the couples to be judged by Julianne Hough. To give her credit, she was fairly good as a judge, all things considered, but still, the emphasis on her being there really was to the point it got annoying.
Jack Osbourne & Cheryl Burke: Quickstep to “Man Like That” by Gin Wingmore. The fluff piece consists mostly of them arguing, while she worries about his frame and presumably drills him hard on the footwork, because he then goes out to perform lots of hard footwork with no flaws technically, though maybe his bounce comes and goes a little. Julianne comments ballroom is definitely his strength, and all three judges love the footwork. They argue how much his frame and/or ambiance needed improvement, but are united in giving them straight 8s for 24.
Elizabeth Berkley Laurent & Valentin Chmerkovskiy: Argentine Tango to “Symphony 6: Fair Thee Well & the Requiem Mix” by Emily Wells. To get into character, she spends a large part of time in the practice room just looking into a very confused Val’s eyes. Weird, but one cannot deny the effect; from the time she lures Valentin away from his violin to the end she’s kind of spellbinding, not to mention technically flawless: the judges even say she’s gotten sharper and broken through technically. After they all rave I’m actually kind of disappointed there are no 10s given out(yeah, this was my favorite of the night); instead it’s straight 9s for 27.
Brant Daugherty & Peta Murgatroyd: Salsa to Pitbull’s version of “Shake Senora.” A week after dancing no problem through an injured foot, Brant has more trouble with an old shoulder injury which keeps him from doing all the hard lifts Peta wants to include. She finally gives in and waters down the lifts, while for extra spice Brant takes off his shirt instead. But amid all this, during all the actual dancing he doesn’t seem to be able to keep up with her, really, and the judges all say they loved the lifts but have considerable criticisms of his technique. It results in straight 7s for 21.
Valerie Harper & Tristan McManus: Viennese Waltz to Fun’s “Carry On.” Valerie thinks the song is appropriate for her. Unfortunately it’s a repeat of last week: she starts missing steps, which makes her go stiff, and in moments when she relaxes she actually shows tragically good waltzing technique; this was the dance that would suit her if she could just get it right. Bruno tells her to try to cover up the mistakes, and the judges give them straight 6s for 18.
Leah Remini & Tony Dovolani: Cha cha to “Papi” by Jennifer Lopez. In the fluff piece Leah says she wants a 9, and suggests she come down on a pole for the sex appeal. He declines that, though she does ended up in a gold catsuit, and instead gives her a lot of hard content, somewhat to her chagrin. Perhaps it makes her a little more trepid at the beginning of the dance, but she gets more into it as it goes on. She still lacks some sharpness, though; Bruno after praising her for “channeling J-Lo” advises her how to get it, though Julianne doesn’t think it was that bad. She doesn’t get her 9s; it’s straight 8s again, for 24.
Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff: Paso Doble to “Zorongo” by Paco Pena. With the criticisms he’s gotten more mixing hip-hop into his ballroom dancing and the accusations lingering on his supposed advantage, they want a very traditional paso doble, “no bells and whistles,” he says. For the most part, they do just that, and his intensity is now funneled into that, to strong effect. And the judges like it, though they do note that while he lost much of the hip-hop, he didn’t get rid of it in his movements entirely. They give him straight 9s for 27, tied for first.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi & Sasha Faber: Jive to “Mickey” by Toni Basil. They go for a cheerleading theme, while in the fluff piece she talks about cheerleading in high school and how she struggled with anorexia because of it and wants to make better cheerleading memories now. She also gets sick and has trouble practicing. But jive suits her: she’s bright and energetic and Bruno even does a new version of “Mickey” called “Snooki.” Except the judges do all have technical quibbles, and it’s more straight 8s, for 24.
Christina Milian & Mark Ballas: Foxtrot to “Sexy Silk” by Jessie J. It starts with them behind bars, though loses that gimmick quickly enough. The fluff mostly shows her getting frustrated in rehearsal, but the actual dance is pretty spunky and nice to watch. Bruno says Fosse would’ve loved it. Yet more straight 8s and another 24.
Amber Riley & Derek Hough: Tango to “Love Lockdown” by Kanye West. Derek is quick to declare at the beginning of the fluff that Julianne’s never gone nice on him and won’t now. Like Snooki. Amber’s ability to rehearse was hindered by knee issues; she wasn’t able to get onto the floor until Friday. But like Snooki, she shows no indication of that tonight; during the judging Derek even tries to bribe his sister but he doesn’t have too; it’s straight nines and they join Elizabeth & Val and Corbin & Karina at the top.
Bill Engvall & Emma Slater: Samba to “Cuban Pete” by José Norman. In the fluff piece, he’s traumatized from accidentally banging her head against the floor during last week’s dress rehearsal, even though she seems okay, and thinks he’s too old for the kind of buttshaking required for the dance. Nonetheless he goes out there and does it, showing off his fun personality until Bruno, having acquired a maraca from somwhere, sums it up as “everything you want in a samba, except timing and rhythm. That means, straight 7s, and the judges have managed to agree on every score for every couple tonight(has that ever happened at a time there were ten couples on the show?)
With the scores in and the computer determines who’s out, the elimination starts quickly; moments after theirs are given Bill & Emma and are told by Tom straight from his earpiece: they’re safe. By the time the other nine couples are all lined up, there’s only about five minutes left, though Tom and Brooke rapidly call six more couples safe, until only Brant & Peta, Valerie & Trisan, and Snooki & Sasha are left standing. At that point you sadly realize that Snooki has a higher score and probably more votes than the other two, and sure enough she and Sasha are called safe. The remaining two couples wait as the viewers all think: Valerie Harper of the two of them might get more votes, but enough more?
Answer: nope. Valerie & Tristan are gone. They both take it philosophically; she’s glad to have had the chance to be on the show, he’s grateful to have known her.
There will still be plenty of sentiment next week; it’s personal stories year in the life week. Everyone brace yourselves for that.