CLEVELAND - The first couple has been kicked off during week two of the 17th season of "Dancing with the Stars."
Remember, the show is now once a week, mashing together both the dance night and elimination in a two-hour bonanza. The couple that gets eliminated Monday night is the couple who got the least judge and viewer votes on last Monday's season premiere.
But before the elimination, we get the dances of week two, starting with actress Elizabeth Berkley and Val doing a samba. She looks the part of a Latin seductress and her footwork is sharp. There's a lot of content and fast moves, but Elizabeth doesn't miss a beat. Judge Len Goodman calls her Queen Elizabeth. (I see what you did there, limey.) Judge Bruno Tonioli says he's coming down with scarlet fever (cause she's wearing a red dress – get it?!). Judge Carrie Ann Inaba calls her a sensuous dancer in control of her body. Score: 25 out of 30.
Remember, the stars now sit on the dance floor next to the judges – what host Tom Bergeron calls the "glitter pit." Wait a second. He called it the "sexy bus stop" last week. Consistency, Tom!
I also see the show let co-host Brooke Burke on the dance floor this week, and not just relegated to the balcony like some brunette Rapunzel. And we get our first mention of pro dancer Derek Hough's new Emmy win for choreography.
Next, singer Christina Milian and Mark have a paso doble. Christina does a good job adapting to Mark's intense choreography, which fits well with Lady Gaga's "Applause." She also demonstrates great transition from sharp, hard moves to being slinky. Bruno says she put her stamp on the dance. Carrie Ann says she was on fire. Len says she maintained the character of the dance. Score: 25.
Comedian Bill Engvall and Emma get to jive. Her strategy is to out-jive golden boy Derek (Contain your laughter.) Their routine is lighthearted with plenty of moves, but not a lot of the quick kicks we expect in a jive. Bill simply does not look as fast as her. But they are fun to watch, like some sort of father-daughter jive. Carrie Ann calls it entertaining. Len jokes, "From a distance, I could have sworn you were Derek." Bruno says it had real performance value. Score: 21.
TV reality star Jack Osbourne and Cheryl have a rumba. He seems like a different person in the ballroom: very graceful and controlled. It's obvious he's pushing himself (especially doing the splits – ouch). Len says Jack had great control. Bruno says his progress in week two is unbelievable. Carrie Ann says his presence is otherworldly. Score: 24.
ESPN host Keyshawn Johnson and Sharna samba. It starts with that thing where the pro dances around the star, who does nothing. When Keyshawn starts moving, he has more confidence and fluidity than last week. But he still looks like he's dancing at rehearsal speed. Then he motorboats her. And almost drops her at the end. Bruno says Keyshawn went for it. Keyshawn calls the show experience amazing and nearly starts to cry. What a gentle giant. He credits Sharna with making him feel comfortable enough to do this. (Remember the magical effect she had on Andy Dick last season?) Carrie Ann says his confidence is up. Len says it's better than last week. Score: 18.
"Jersey Shore" resident Nicole "Hot Mess" Polizzi and Sasha do a rumba. She comes out strong, dancing several beats alone before he joins. Hot Mess just seems go to into a zone while dancing. She's very enchanting. Carrie Ann says it was pretty, but she didn't feel the emotion. Len also calls it pretty, but says it should have flowed more. Score: 20. Odd - felt higher.
Hot Mess tweeted, "Thank you all so much for your amazing comments and support !!! Love you all! Xoxoxo❤️❤️ @snooki ."
TV actress Leah Remini and Tony have a samba. She channels a wild animal for this one. Leah has a good performance with energy, but her hip movements are not as dramatic as Tony's. But Len says Leah was working her hips. Bruno asks, "Who is this saucy Latin beauty?" then clarifies he does not mean Tony. Carrie Ann says Leah unleashed her samba goddess. Will the world be safe? Score: 24.
Science Guy Bill Nye and Tyne have a paso doble. He's rocking some George Washington wig and pretends to compose Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. What a far out performance. Bill's control is good and his furious, jerky moves work well for his tortured composer character. Again, the crowd cheers his name. Bruno says Bill stepped up. Carrie Ann says Bill is working with what he's got. Len enjoyed the fun Bill put into it. Score: 17.
Ever scientific, Bill tweeted, "Heart rate is elevated, perspiration evident... it must be #DWTS ."
at this point we learn that Len will not be with us the whole season, due to his TV judging commitments across the pond. We'll get a couple guest judges, including former pro and Derek's sister, Julianne Hough, filling in. Derek bias, anyone? Julianne says, "I really wanna feel those paddles." What – no comment from Bruno? That's ripe for double entendres!
Disney star Corbin Bleu and Karina are up with a jive. He's a high school baseball player, she's a cheerleader… or maybe a stripper. It's a tossup. And, folks, we have our jive to beat. Corbin starts off fast and sure. His sense of fun and swagger continues to work well for him. Their speed and energy are a huge advantage. This dance is so fluid, fun and full of content, I now predict they will win the season. Carrie Ann wants them to do it again. Len says Corbin can dance. Bruno says Corbin eats the beat. Score: 26. I can't believe there wasn't a 10 – it was finale good.
TV icon Valerie Harper and Tristan have a paso doble. Tristan wants Valerie to rest her sore knee. "I'm 74 with terminal cancer," she says. "Give me the horse thing that makes them run." In rehearsal, he's in quiet tears watching her serenely practice. She starts off the dance with a very flamenco feel, and gives it a real go - it's obvious she's soldiering on through a limp. I can see the determination in her, which works well for the intense feel of the paso doble. Len says she didn't seem comfortable but gave a brave performance. Bruno says she went for it. Carrie Ann worries she got a little lost. Score: 19.
"Pretty Little Liars" actor Brant Daugherty and Peta rumba. They show good emotion, but the routine has too many stops for a fluid rumba. The moves are fine, but feel very stagey. The sensuality is decent, but the emotion doesn't come through. Bruno calls it good but asks for improved footwork. Carrie Ann says their chemistry is incredible. Len says they were just going through the motions. Score: 23.
"Glee" actress Amber Riley and golden boy Derek have a jive. It's fast and fun with a coy edge. Her feet are fast, but not sharp. Amber is constantly in motion and… Derek motorboats her, too. These pros are getting a little risqué. Carrie Ann says, after setting the bar last week, they continue to wow us. Len calls her a great big bundle of joy. Bruno says talent flows out of her. But all judges disliked Amber's footwork. Oh, and Tom references Derek's Emmy win. That makes twice. Score: 24.
Time for the results. Tom and Brooke take turns, announcing who's safe. Corbin is safe. Leah is safe. Bill Nye is safe. One after the other. Christina… Amber… Valerie… Nicole… Jack… Brant. It reminds me of Oprah Christmas giveaways: "You get a car! And you get a car! And you get a car!"
That leaves Elizabeth, Keyshawn and Bill Engvall in jeopardy. After the break, it's time for the elimination. Elizabeth is safe.
Between Keyshawn and Bill Engvall… it's Keyshawn going home. Poor Sharna - the darling managed to get troubled Andy past the halfway mark last season. Keyshawn says this show was all about the opportunity to learn from her.
So, Amber and Corbin are at the top. As for the next possible elimination, it's nearly impossible to guess. Lower-scoring stars Bill Nye and Valerie probably have a decent fan base voting for them, but Bill Engvall might not be so lucky.
The competition continues Monday night at 8 Eastern on ABC, and the theme for the dances is Hollywood. The performances never miss when they go old Hollywood, and I'm sure it should suit golden age actress Valerie well.
More information can be found at: http://abc.go.com/primetime/dancingwiththestars/index .