Surprises galore on "Dancing with the Stars" as we lose a promising star but get the consolation prize of Cher.
But not yet. The show revealed that its "big surprise" will be Cher filling in as guest judge for Len Goodman next week. I was right reporting yesterday that the announcement would involve Len, but fortunately it was not sad news after all.
Monday night also gave us two dances: the individual dance and group freestyles.
First up, actress Elizabeth Berkley and Val with a quickstep. They got a perfect score last week, and now the expectations seem to be looming over them. Their routine has a 1950's space invaders motif. They dance separate at the start, and she is just not as sharp. But, in hold, they are great. The routine is breezy and crisp with good posture and footwork. Elizabeth has great energy, but the dance does not seem to possess her as prior dances have. Len loves it. Judge Bruno Tonioli says Elizabeth lost a little due to speed. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba literally rambles on with some compliment for 52 seconds (I stopwatched it). Score: 27 out of 30.
Elizabeth tweeted, "Hope you loved our quickstep tonight!! @iamvalc and I are so grateful for your votes!"
"Pretty Little Liars" actor Brant Daugherty and Peta have a jive with an ice cream theme to "Tutti Frutti." Brant looks like a pro. His footwork and kicks are sharp; his movements match hers perfectly. If this were not a jive, it would have been over-choreographed. Brant tears Peta's skirt off – then almost slips and falls on it. It ends with them smashing ice cream cones in each other's faces – and he plants a huge kiss on her. Bruno calls Brant a frisky school boy on a sugar high. Carrie Ann thought it was too challenging for him, but he didn't miss a step. Len loved the enthusiasm. Score: 27.
Brant tweeted, "Just stopping by to thank you all for the love and support!! Please keep us around another week by voting! @PetaMurgatroyd ."
Actresss Leah Remini and Tony have a salsa. She tells Tony to dumb it down – so he looks worse than her. Ha! She also says, he choreographed a tough dance, so if she's bad – it's his fault. Double ha! Oh, Leah's friend comedian Chelsea Handler is in the audience, who tells host Tom Bergeron that she is sexually attracted to him. I love when live shows go off the rails.
Chelsea tweeted, "I'm at a dancing with the stars taping for my friend Leah Remini. Pls vote for her to help her lose more weight."
Oh, yeah – the dance. It starts with a big boatload of booty shaking and Leah nails a flip. She literally looks like a different person, in complete control of her sensuality. And, wow, did Tony ever step up the choreography. Last week's 9's clearly fired Tony up to show how good a dancer he is, and this week he dragged Leah along for the ride. They get a standing ovation and she slaps him. Twice. Whatever revs your engine, Tony. Carrie Ann says Leah's in the zone. Len loves all the steps. Bruno calls Leah "salsalicious." Score: 26.
She also has a rib injury she kept quiet about – and they still kept all the lifts. Leah says she loves sympathy, but did not want to milk the sympathy vote.
Reality star Jack Osbourne and Cheryl have a jive. But this jive has an odd tone to it. Jack has some graceful moves and keeps a good pace, but this dance does not seem to suit him. Len says he thought it should be crisper. Bruno liked Jack's ease of motion, but not his footwork. Carrie Ann would pick this jive over Brant's, though. Wuh?! She gives them a 10; overall score 27. I don't get it, but good for him.
"Glee" actress Amber Riley and Derek have a paso doble. They also have knee and back injuries. This is a demanding routine but Amber lands the steps. She just embodies the spirit of the dance and maintains wonderful tempo. No wonder these two are in pain – this dance looks brutal (but in that good paso way). Bruno says Amber danced like a demon (compliment). Carrie Ann grunts for part of her critique. (What is with her tonight?) Len says Amber captured the essence of the dance. Score: 29.
Amber tweeted, "The day started off shaky but we pulled it together! Had so much fun tonight!"
Comedian Bill Engvall and Emma are up with a quickstep. He channels Elvis. Half the viewers probably don't know who that is (sign of the times, folks). Bill is still charming, but he does not seem sharp at all. None of his normal smile is on display. In fact, he looks distracted. I'm actually worried something is wrong, but he gets through it. Carrie Ann says his hold wasn't strong. Len liked the energy, but they lost technique. Bruno calls it a good try. Score: 23.
"Jersey Shore" vet Nicole "Hot Mess" Polizzi and Sasha have a samba. She, also, does not seem into this dance. She stays on tempo the whole time, and hits all the moves, but there's not a whiff of passion to her performance. Len thought her control was terrific. Bruno liked her samba moves. Carrie Ann tells her to dance like a Great Dance and not a Chihuahua. Seriously, what is she talking about tonight? Score: 27. Hot Mess cannot believe the high score, but remember the judges vote on technique.
Disney Star Corbin Bleu and Karina have a cha cha. This routine has good, controlled choreography and Corbin makes it look easy. He throws in some freestyle, but not too much. Corbin simply floats through some moves like Gene Kelly. Bruno loved Corbin's timing, shapes and finish. Carrie Ann calls it the tightest cha cha she's ever seen (and then loses the ability to enunciate – again tonight). Len loves the crispy footwork; the gyrating not so much. Score: 29.
Group freestyle time, y'all.
The first team up is SpookyBomBom, consisting of Elizabeth, Bill, Leah and Hot Mess. It has a graveyard setting with the walking – or, dancing – dead. It is goofy fun and Bill does a great job as the character that holds the whole routine together. Hot Mess and Sasha have an energetic part, where she literally wraps her legs around his neck and swings around. She must have saved her passion for this dance. Elizabeth and Val attack their part. She looks hungry for this dance. Or maybe for brains (she is a zombie). Leah and Tony continue to increase their sultry factor. Bill and Emma's part is pure redemption for the comedian. He now displays the energy he was missing in his quickstep. He almost drops her on a flip, though. It is pure, wacky, great Halloween fun. The guy pros then throw Hot Mess into the air at the end.
Len thought the routine was tight and the individual dances were fun. Bruno wants to join in the fun with the walking dead. Carrie Ann says they showcased themselves brilliantly. Score: 27.
Next is team FoxingAwesome, with Amber, Brant, Corbin and Jack. The girls look like they're wearing Playboy Bunny outfits. Apparently, they're fox outfits, because they're dancing to that exhausting "The Fox" song. Song choice notwithstanding, I cannot take this choreography seriously. It's like a mix of "French Mistake" from "Blazing Saddles" and "Puttin' on the Ritz" from "Young Frankenstein." (No offense, Mel Brooks.) Corbin and Karina utterly decimate their unfathomable solo. Halfway through, the men changed from tuxedos to fox costumes. It's like "Sesame Street" on acid.
Bruno calls them sly little foxes with choreography that gave him goosebumps. Carrie Ann says, "If you wanted acid trip, you gave me acid trip!" So that explains her rambling all night. Len salutes both teams. Score: perfect 30.
Of course. Because golden boy Derek has never been on a team challenge that came in second. Does the show somehow stack these things in his favor?
Results! We know that someone from team SpookyBomBom is going home. Elizabeth and Leah are safe, so it's down to Bill and Hot Mess.
And it's Hot Mess who did not get enough viewer votes and is going home.
She is clearly devastated. Having gotten good scores and nice compliments from the judges, she may feel blindsided, but I'm not surprised. Bill is just so likable. In fact, that seems to be the biggest gauge of viewer votes this season; likable stars might just bump out higher-scoring stars, like Christina Milian a couple weeks ago.
Still in her decomposing getup from the freestyle, Hot Mess wails, "Why am I leaving a zombie?!"
Well, now that she's off the show, her week one request for Sasha to call her Hot Mess is also probably over, so I'll go back to calling her to Nicole.
Nicole tweeted, "Damn this sucks!! I had the best time on DWTS and I truly love EVERYONE on the show. You are all in my heart forever and I'm so proud of u❤️."
Will another high-scorer get eliminated next week? Will Carrie Ann regain the ability to speak? Will Leah keep slapping Tony? What will happen between Tom and his admirer Chelsea? Will Cher turn back time?
The competition continues Monday night at 8:00 Eastern on ABC with new dances and another elimination. The couples will perform two dances, including an individual dance and a dance-off. As for who could get voted off, I'm going to point out now that I wonder how big the fanbase is for high-scoring Elizabeth.
More information can be found at: http://abc.go.com/primetime/dancingwiththestars/index .