Um… OK. There’s clearly been a shift on Dancing With the Stars Season 17, Week 9 and the word “underdog” needs to be redefined.
Brooke Burke-Charvet even trotted out the three perceived "underdogs" who have the least previous dance experience — Bill Engvall, Jack Osbourne and Leah Remini — but they had some of the strongest routines of the week.
Except for Bill, who deserved those 7s for both dances, not that it mattered in the end.
We’ve loved Bill and expected to cheer him on tonight, but this week he really took a step back to go for the goofy/cutesy factor instead of upping the content like Leah and Jack. Credit has to be given where it’s due and he didn’t even seem to try to improve technique. Maybe he thought he was just coasting on entertainment value in the past few weeks, but he was legitimately improving before, which is why we were thrilled for him. Not this week, though. It’s disappointing, when he has shown himself to be capable of more than Willy Wonka pimp daddy joking.
Poor Elizabeth Berkley. Was she punished for her previous dance experience? Or maybe for the over intensity last week with their Cher routine? Tonight, Elizabeth was second from the top of the Leaderboard, but maybe her Jazz last week just wasn’t enough to push people to the phones. Or maybe the Bill movement is just too strong. He didn’t earn that support tonight, though, sorry to say.
It’s a shame to have another shocking elimination, especially since it overshadows some amazing routines. Elizabeth and Val Chmerkovskiy closed the night with a sexy double-shirtless Salsa sandwich. It got a perfect 30. If you have to go out, that’s a good note. Corbin Bleu also did a Jazz routine that Carrie Ann Inaba said might be the best routine she’d seen in 17 seasons.
So Corbin finally got a perfect score, and Elizabeth got her second perfect score. Meanwhile, Jack was at the top of the Leaderboard for a while there, and Leah also shot toward the top with straight 9s, while usual frontrunner Amber Riley had an off night and is now just above Bill on the leaderboard.
So who is the real “underdog” at this point? Can you even tell?
Here’s a quick rundown of where the couples stood on Week 9:
Corbin & Karina: 28 + 30 = 58
Elizabeth & Val: 26 + 30 = 56
Jack & Cheryl: 29 + 25 = 54
Leah & Tony: 27 + 27 =54
Amber & Derek: 24 + 27 = 51
Bill E. & Emma: 21 + 21 = 42
Read on for a full recap of the Week 9 action:
1. Amber Riley and Derek Hough — Quickstep — Amber’s confidence has soared due to DWTS and she’ll carry that with her. This week they have two high-energy dances and she’s hoping her knees hold out. Derek said he’s never in history rehearsed so little. Hmm. He starts the dance at the drums. Very fast, almost frenetic routine. Derek does a little flip thing, but it seems like he’s doing the bulk of the work. Short dance?
JUDGES: Len Goodman is back! He said it’s the beginning of the end. Len said Amber is injured, which isn’t great for Quickstep. Derek’s choreography was terrific, however choreography is like makeup, it can cover blemishes. She was loose in her top line tonight. It got a little wild on occasion, it needed to be cleaner. Bruno Tonioli said her performance level is always on full beam, she’s dazzling, but Len is right. We’re approaching the Semifinals and she made a couple of footwork errors and still needs to work on her topline. Carrie Ann Inaba said the good news is she’s set the standard for this competition so high, but she has to live up to that standard herself. Derek said he’s proud of Amber because she was barely even walking.
SCORES: 8, 8, 8 = 24 out of 30. Low, for them.
Vote for Amber & Derek: 1-800-868-3407
2. Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani — Tango — Tony said Leah is struggling a bit with her posture in rehearsals but she understands passion. Leah is ecstatic that she’s made it this far. Tony is pushing her because he believes she’s a contender and could make the Finals. Very cool song. She did pretty well. These dances feel shorter.
JUDGES: Bruno said it was a badass proper Tango. She danced like a red-hot diva. When she maintains focus she’s absolutely stunning. She has to maintain that. Carrie Ann said she's dancing like she's four-inches taller. She does need to work on her arms extending out through her fingertips. Len said she brought the flavor.
SCORES: 9, 9, 9 = 27 out of 30. Pretty high, for them. Role reversal night! Tom asked if Leah thinks she’s a contender. She said she does.
Vote for Leah & Tony: 1-800-868-3411
3. Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff — Waltz — They really want to cater to the judges with a traditional Slow Waltz (Len’s favorite dance) as opposed to their Game of Thrones Viennese Waltz, which gave them their lowest score. The band is back for this dance, when it sounded like Leah and Tony got to play the actual recording. How do they make those decisions? Just curious. Nice dance. Sweet. Love Karina’s dress.
JUDGES: Carrie Ann said it was so dreamy, she just fell in love… but, one thing he did, he wasn’t quite on his center. They always nitpick him. Every. Single. Week. Len said it was like poetry in motion. When he’s in hold he has terrific frame. He would’ve liked a bit more, and when he steps forward he should glide through on the heels for more rise and fall. They never get this technical with Leah, because of her lack of dance experience? Bruno said it had flawless musicality with a continuous changing of shapes. “For me, it was breathtaking.”
SCORES: 9, 9, 10 = 28 out of 30.
Vote for Corbin & Karina: 1-800-868-3406
4. Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke — Viennese Waltz — It was Jack’s birthday earlier this week. Cheryl got him a mini Mirror Ball trophy. It’s so cute. Smoke machine is back. Jack is seriously improving out there, and this is a good one for him. Cheryl gives him tons of content. Really beautiful.
JUDGES: Len said “it was a crackerjack, Jack!” Len said little things in life please him. He loves natural turns into pivots and reverse turns with wide elbows. He was thrilled. Bruno said ballroom just flows out of him, there’s so much improvement from the beginning. But watch his hands. Sometimes his hands go a bit like the Matrix. Keep them under control. His transformation is amazing. Carrie Ann said Jack’s built his whole journey on technique. It’s all compiling and now he has flair and flourish. She has loved him for a while now.
SCORES: 10, 10, 9 = 29 out of 30. Bruno got booed for not making it perfect. Can you believe how the scores are going so far tonight? So much for the “underdogs” — the stars with previous dance experience are the “underdogs” now.
Vote for Jack & Cheryl: 1-800-868-3402
5. Bill Engvall and Emma Slater — Charleston — Emma said they always do best when Bill plays a character so they’ll do that again. Wife and husband doing laundry? Bill is always fun, but he’s actually pretty good so he doesn’t really need the cartoon type routines. Put him to work with real content. There wasn’t enough this time.
JUDGES: Bruno said timing is the most important thing in the fast dances and he was off timing. Do another cycle and set the timing for part two. Carrie Ann said sometime she wishes she didn’t have a paddle to give a score. This is the Quarterfinals and he was better in the package. He said he has 56-year-old knees. Len said he needs to come out on his next dance and nail it because this one wasn’t good. The audience booed but he’s right. They’ve done better. You can’t just cater to the fans.
SCORES: 7, 7, 7 = 21 out of 30. Fair.
Vote for Bill & Emma: 1-800-868-3409
6. Elizabeth Berkley and Valentin Chmerkovskiy — Viennese Waltz — It sounds like last week’s low scores are being blamed, at least in part, on Elizabeth’s last-minute song change request. This week, Val wants to be the only one to speak, as Elizabeth just listens. Hmm. That’s not communication, though, communication goes both ways. Love the wedding theme and the song. They get the recording too, not the band. This is an intense, beautiful but somewhat untraditional VW. Will it be Len’s cup of tea?
JUDGES: Carrie Ann said she loved that Elizabeth took their notes last week. Elizabeth’s lines are breathtaking. Everything she hits is beautiful. There was a slight out of sync moment in the start. Len said if there was a leaderboard that was just his scores, Elizabeth is his top dancer. He’s a fan but this was dark and not his cup of tea. (Knew it.) Len told Val he’s a wind-up watch in a digital age. This isn’t up there with some of her performances for him. Bruno said she didn’t quite hit it last week but this week she did. Exquisite.
SCORES: 9, 8, 9 = 26 out of 30. They had to know Len wouldn’t go for a less-than-traditional VW. But this week it does seem like the judges are going out of their way to be more critical of the three with previous dance experience, even if it wasn’t ballroom dance experience.
Vote for Elizabeth & Val: 1-800-868-3405
1. Amber, Derek and Mark Ballas — Salsa — Kellie Pickler will be back to sing for us in two weeks, during Finale Week! Mark said Amber is a quick study and retains information well. Amber was confused by Mark and Derek’s talking back and forth, but this is so reminiscent of their Trio with Shawn Johnson last year. She was confused by them, too. Derek was aiming for them to be Amber’s back-up dancers this week. This is better than her earlier Quickstep. Maybe she had more time to work on this one.
JUDGES: Len said she was like a ray of sunshine on a gloomy day. It needed a bit more hip action here and there but he knows she has bad knees. Bruno said she can let it rip. He loves it when she lets it go. When she does her shimmy it’s fabulous to watch. She could’ve done a bit more hip work. Carrie Ann said they are like the dream team. She’s bummed for Amber that she’s injured. Carrie Ann is worried for her; Amber isn’t. She’s not a quitter.
SCORES: 9, 9, 9 = 27 out of 30. Total 51.
2. Leah, Tony and Henry Byalikov — Jive — Tony wants to recreate the magic of three 10s that he got with Henry in their Trio with Melissa Rycroft last year. Leah wanted to do something with the judges, like a parody. Leah plays Carrie Ann, Henry has silver hair as Len. It’s more flattering than anything. Brooke called it sucking up, but it’s funny. Tony does do a great Bruno! The judges do take a lot of crap, and some of it this season has been from Leah herself. It’s a memorable theme, though!
JUDGES: Bruno said it was uncanny, like watching a mirror. That was the most witty dance routine he has seen in along time. Leah was never a prop, but she did miss some kicks and flicks on the side. Carrie Ann said she loves a woman who takes control. Carrie Ann went down to illustrate a move and flashed someone? This is the time when strategy matters and they went for a good strategy. Len loved all the stiff and starchy moves from Henry. It was good fun. Sounds like they appreciated the flattery.
SCORES: 9, 9, 9 = 27 out of 30. Total 54. Very clever.
3. Corbin, Karina, Witney — Jazz — They are going for a very Fosse-esque avant garde routine. Corbin did Broadway for a while so this is kind of his style. The upside and downside was having three different minds collaborating, Corbin said. They do a special band version of Usher’s “Yeah!” They look like three pros out there, with Corbin out front. He’s amazing. Corbin is such a happy-go-lucky entertainer.
JUDGES: Carrie Ann had to compose herself. She said that might be the best routine she’s ever seen in 17 seasons. The choreography was insane. She said many people try to emulate Bob Fosse and he would’ve loved Corbin. It was Usher meets (bleeped). It was an amazing combination of so many styles. She didn’t even see the women, she was so focused on Corbin. Len said he was hoping for fireworks and there was none. (What?) He came out and exploded. Sometimes it all comes together into one fabulous whole and that was it. Bruno said grandmaster Corbin the magnificent. Is Corbin finally going to get a perfect score?
SCORES: 10, 10, 10 = 30. Total of 58. Yay! No more nitpicking! Guess it was worth it for Witney to get her butt patted, since they got the 10s!
4. Jack, Cheryl and Sharna Burgess — Samba — They are dancing to The Jungle Book. Cheryl said Jack is saving her from Sharna, who’s the bad girl. Cheryl and Sharna are pretty similar and “bossy,” Jack said. “I’ve never had so many women so focused on my pelvis.” Ha! He wasn’t sure about having them play the bongos on his ass. It’s not up to him! Bend over, pal. He needs to put a corny smile on his face and let his hips take over. This is like a Bill-worthy setup. Those costumes! Sharna’s is amazing. It’s fun but the women steal it away from him. But he went for the butt bongos and butt shaking. Hey, he admitted to partying with Paris Hilton, so don’t let him act like he stepped out of Downton Abbey.
JUDGES: Len said it was clever and fun and loved the interplay. If he’s honest, the technique wasn’t so good in places but the fun of it all was incredible. Bruno wanted to be saved, he has jungle fever. he has so much fun watching. The Samba is the party dance and he partied like no tomorrow. Carrie Ann said it’s great to see him go out of his shell. She was just bragging about his technique and it just went out the window. It wasn’t his best dance but it was fun.
SCORES: 8, 8, 9 = 25 out of 30. Total 54.
5. Bill, Emma and Peta Murgatroyd — Salsa — He looks like a pimp daddy Willy Wonka. Love the bright pink candy girl wigs. Bill is thrilled to dance with two gorgeous women. “Where was this when I was in college?” Ha! Everyone seemed to put more work into their Trios but once again he goes for the cute factor instead of even trying for dance moves. Bill was really improving there, he wasn’t just coasting on personality. Did he not know that? It seems like he’s doubled down on personality instead of upping the technique like Jack and Leah.
JUDGES: Bruno joked that he hoped Bill had a prenup. It could turn nasty. Rhythm and timing. Carrie Ann said “Um… that was so weird.” In one way he’s living every man’s fantasy but she’s looking for the rhythm. And yet she can forgive him for it. These three are nuts (the dancers, not the judges). Len said candy is dandy but liquor is quicker and maybe he should’ve had more martinis to loosen up. He needs to tighten up the performances.
SCORES: 7, 7, 7 = 21 out of 30. Total of 42. Fair. He took steps back this week. Try, Bill, try!
6. Elizabeth, Val and Gleb Savchenko — Salsa — “Two dudes from Eastern Europe killin’ the Salsa.” Val has a certain energy and Gleb has another energy and they really complement each other. Elizabeth is a people person who loves company and now she has more to look at. It’s a very fast dance, putting Elizabeth in the center. Love her dress! Double shirtless dancing! That is a good way to end a night. Sexy Salsa sandwich. But if the focus is supposed to be on her, they kinda took it away a bit. Zendaya in the house, too!
JUDGES: Carrie Ann said Elizabeth is a girl on fire, that was her favorite of Elizabeth’s routines, by far. She was so in control. Her spins were so tight. Salsa superstar! Len said she was like the human Frisbee. Len has a crush on… Gleb? Bruno said it takes two to get her going. She can handle those boys better than anyone else. It’s difficult to maintain equal interplay. He agrees with Carrie Ann, it was her best dance.
SCORES: 10, 10, 10 = 30. Total 56. Second perfect score of the night! Val didn’t want Gleb to go to the gym this week. Ab envy. Understandable, but Val doesn’t have anything to worry about.
Who Goes Home Seventh?
Who is safe for the Semifinals: Corbin & Karina, Jack & Cheryl, Amber & Derek, Leah & Tony
Not necessarily the bottom two: Elizabeth & Val, Bill & Emma
Who is going home on Week 9? Emma was already crying. But it was Elizabeth and Val who left. Wow! Blame Cher Week again?
Elizabeth said she’s sad, there’s more she wanted to do but she’s honestly beyond grateful for this gift and blessing in her life. She thanked everyone, especially Val. She’s learned so much as a person.
How are you feeling about this? Did you vote for Elizabeth and Val? Are you shocked that Elizabeth is gone before Bill, Leah, or Jack? What do you think about the five Semifinalists?