A night of wild dances and yet another shocking elimination lead us into the semi-finals of "Dancing with the Stars."
Monday night brought us the trio challenge, in which couples must perform a second dance with another pro, after performing their individual dance.
First up, "Glee" actress Amber Riley and Derek with a quickstep. This is another big, brassy number with loud choreography. She may have double knee injuries, but is still fast on her feet, although she falls behind on some of the kicks, especially in hold with Derek. It has a coy vibe, but her prior dances looked better. Judge Len Goodman feels the choreography was great, but she was a bit loose. Judge Bruno Tonioli thinks her presence is dazzling, but she must watch her posture. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba says Amber has set the standard high, but her lines were off tonight. Score: 24.
Actress Leah Remini and Tony are up with a tango. Leah has strong movements, great posture, and smooth footwork. She maintains great character, as a stoic but sultry dancer. Bruno calls it a badass proper tango. Carrie Ann says Leah shows lots of growth, but misses passion in her arms. Len says Leah brought the flavor. Score: 27.
Disney star Corbin Bleu and Karina have a Viennese waltz. Their last Viennese waltz (the "Game of Thrones" debacle) was their lowest score all season. This time, he is light and fluid, making an effort at nice shapes. They project a gentle tone. Carrie Ann calls it dreamy, but says his turns were off balance. Len thinks they were terrific in hold, but need to watch their footwork. Bruno calls them breathtaking. Score: 28 (with Bruno breaking out the 10 paddle).
Reality star Jack Osbourne and Cheryl follow with… a Viennese waltz! Ahh, the variety. Oh, it's his birthday week, btw. This number has big, showy choreography, and Jack is still gallant doing ballroom moves. But the real scene stealer here… Holy pit stains! Cannot. Be. Unseen. Len loves the turns. Bruno says ballroom flows out of him (like sweat from his pits, Bruno? Ha!), but his hands are like "The Matrix." Carrie Ann says Jack is all flare and flourish. Score: 29 (with 10's from Carrie Ann and Len). I give his pit stains a 10.
Comedian Bill Engvall and Emma have the Charleston. It's a hilarious 1950's husband and wife skit. While his comic timing is great, the same cannot be said for his dancing; his footwork is a beat behind hers. Bruno and Carrie Ann harp on his timing. Len says it wasn't good. Faster than host Tom Bergeron can ask for the judges' scores, Bill says, "Let's just go to commercial." People chuckle, but Bill still gets a 21.
Actress Elizabeth Berkley and Val have… another Viennese waltz! She looks better out of hold than in her prior dances. In fact, she's graceful in hold, with perfectly timed pauses in the dance. It's a pretty routine. Carrie Ann says Elizabeth connected emotionally with the movement. Len calls her his top dancer, but this dance wasn't his cup of tea. Bruno says they hit it this week. Score: 26.
Hey, standing Mirrorball Trophy champ Kellie Pickler is here to say hi. She's coming back in two weeks to perform to the finale. Also, service members are in the audience because it's Veterans Day.
Amber and Derek have a salsa with Mark. Lots of popping and locking here. Nice bouncing, too. It's a fun number, but sometimes her footwork is not sharp. One amazingly coy choreography moment involves her booty and their heads. A lot happened in this thing. Len calls Amber a ray of sunshine, but wanted more hip action. Bruno calls her irresistible. Carrie Ann calls them a dream team. Score: 27, 51 overall.
Leah and Tony have a jive with Henry. Since their song is "We're Not Gonna Take It," they decide to impersonate the judges. Leah is Carrie Ann, Henry is Len, and Tony is a flamboyant Bruno. Full disclosure: I rewatched this three times. It is judge a ballsy routine with big choreography. All three are fluid together. While Leah dances with Henry… Tony is voguing! The judges eat it up. Bruno calls it uncanny, like watching a mirror. He says it was a witty routine and that Leah stole the focus and was never a prop. Carrie Ann loves Leah in control, and calls it good strategy. Len loved the concept and calls it fantastic entertainment. Score: 27, 54 overall.
Leah tweeted, "Thank you for the votes and once again keeping us in the game!!!!! #DWTS ."
Corbin and Karina have a jazz with Witney. Fosse style? Yes, please! They decide to get their Fosse-up this jazz to an Usher cover. This thing is unique. Just full of content and completely fluid. No one really misses a beat. It just has to be seen. Carrie Ann is beyond words, until blurting, "That may be the best routine I've ever seen in all 17 seasons!" She says, many have tried to emulate Bob Fosse, but what they did is what he would have done today. Len
says it came together as a fabulous whole. Bruno calls Corbin a grandmaster. Score: perfect 30, 58 overall.
Jack and Cheryl have a samba with Sharna. He is the oddest Tarzan ever. The tone is uneven, but it is amusing and Jack is as smooth as ever. He does a good job coping with samba moves that put him out of his comfort zone. Len calls it clever fun, with uneven technique. Bruno has a case of jungle fever. Carrie Ann says it was fun, but not his best. Score: 25, 54 overall.
Bill and Emma have a salsa with Peta. They decide on a Willy Wonka theme, which Emma calls a "sweet candy threesome." Oh, boy. Let me say upfront, I'm mesmerized by the girls' pink wigs and candy costumes. Frankly, I'd be worried if I were Mrs. Engvall. Bill says, "Dancing with the Stars will never be the same after this. I may never be the same after this." Me either. I tried to watch his technique, but these girls are a sweet distraction. This freewheeling salsa is all over the place, but entertaining and unforgettable. Bruno loved the lunacy, but the rhythm was off. Carrie Ann calls it weird, saying, "You just go places where no one has dared to go before." Score: 21, 42 overall.
Elizabeth and Val have a salsa with Gleb. Lots of content here. This looks like a real workout. Elizabeth nails some moments that showcase her ability. Carrie Ann calls Elizabeth a salsa superstar with one of her favorite routines ever. Len says the guys treated Elizabeth like a human Frisbee. Bruno calls it her best dance. Score: perfect 30, 56 overall. Elizabeth looks joyous.
Corbin and Jack are safe. Elizabeth is in jeopardy. Amber and Leah are safe. Bill is in jeopardy.
Between Elizabeth and Bill… it's Elizabeth. Shocker!
The judges have abhorred expressions. Bill and Emma look like they're about to cry bittersweet tears.
Bill tweeted, "So shocked and sorry to see Elizabeth get eliminated but gotta give credit to my fans who are the best in the world. Thanks for your votes."
Val says Elizabeth came in timid and uncertain but grew into an amazing woman. Elizabeth says this is an amazing gift in her life.
In recent weeks, I consistently wrote about my doubts regarding Elizabeth's fanbase, especially in light of other shocking high-scoring eliminations.
Since we head into the semi-finals next weeks, that means it's… prediction time!
I feel it's likely Corbin could win. He's charming and the best dancer (at least, the best dancer left, since fans saved all the mediocre dancers). Bill should go home next week. He's the weakest dancer and we don't want him to become the Marie Osmond of the finale. Amber should make it into the finale, but her improvement has plateaued, and I wonder if her novelty has worn off fans. Jack and Leah continue to be dark horses in this competition; their sheer likeability keeps them in the race. It's a tossup which one might make the finale.
Watch the semi-finals Monday night at 8:00 Eastern on ABC. The remaining five couples must perform two unlearned dances.
More information can be found at: http://abc.go.com/primetime/dancingwiththestars/index .