'Dancing with the Stars' Week 9 Recap: Trio Challenge
'Dancing with the Stars' Week 9 Recap: Trio Challenge
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
Dancing with the Stars is down to its Top 6 couples and tonight they will have to dance for their lives. For the first time all season, each couple will do two full individual routines, although one of those will be in a threeway with a second pro or dance troupe member. I'll try to keep my menage a trois jokes to a minimum, though I doubt Tom Bergeron will make that same promise.

I'm predicting that Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani will be eliminated, but I've been off for the past few weeks. At this point, with Bill "Bulletproof" Engvall in the mix, I wouldn't be surprised to see anyone go.


For the intros, we get to vote on who has the best opening move. My vote goes to Elizabeth Berkley in a wedding dress and Val Chmerkovskiy touching himself with a foam finger, Miley-style. UPDATE: Amber and Derek won the instant Twitter poll for best move.

Amber Riley and Derek Hough: Quickstep

She's still having knee problems, which is cutting into rehearsal time. The dance is fine, but Amber looks a bit sluggish in parts, especially compared to the frenetic Derek. Len Goodman is back and wastes no time criticizing Amber's weaknesses, pointing out how Derek's choreography tried to cover up the problems. In fact, all of the judges are harsh because the finale is in two weeks, so those happy-go-lucky judges who gave 9s like candy at Halloween are gone.

Judges' Scores: 8+8+8=24

A 24 at the quarterfinals (which this is) is not good.

Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani: Tango

The one thing I've learned watching this show is that Leah is a good actress. She's always able to capture the emotion of the performance. I find it a little dull and it doesn't seem to have the severity and precision of my kind of Tango. Carrie Ann Inaba wants more emotion in Leah's arms.

Judges' Scores: 9+9+9=27

Aww, in spite of predicting that she'll be eliminated, I really want to see her get a 10.

Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff: Waltz

Since their Game of Thrones Viennese Waltz was a mess, they're doing a technical, traditional Waltz to win over the judges. Much like their Paso Doble, I am in love with the simplicity of this performance. It's just a Waltz, and it showcases the fact that Corbin is a positively extraordinary and beautiful dancer. Carrie Ann says he wasn't on his center for two minor mistakes, but everything else was great. The judges are really focusing on the tiny details.

Judges' Scores: 9+9+10-28

Hooray, a 10! Somehow these judges are too generous and too stingy, because they've only handed out one 30.

Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke: Viennese Waltz

It was Jack's birthday, and Cheryl got him a tiny "Best Partner Ever" Mirror Ball. This might be Waltz Night, because it's another winner. You can see how hard he works with every movement and, despite the fact that he's not as naturally fluid as Corbin, I actually think it's a bit better. Carrie Ann loves that he's built a solid foundation of technique.

Judges' Scores: 10+10+9=29

The audience then boos Bruno Tonioli. How is Jack becoming a regular at the top of the leaderboard?

Bill Engvall and Emma Slater: Charleston

He's starting to believe he has a shot at the finale. Emma is wisely using Bill's comedic prowess by crafting a routine where he gets to play a character. They're a husband and his nagging wife fighting over the laundry. It's cheeky, but he just doesn't have the moves to do a Charleston. The judges are all finally calling Bill out for the badness.

Judges' Scores: 7+7+7=21

Even that's too high.

Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy: Viennese Waltz

Since Elizabeth changed the song last week and it caused trouble, this week the rule is that Elizabeth just shuts up and listens. They play a bride and groom whose smiles are hiding darker torment and it's a beautiful routine, though it seems more Contemporary than Viennese Waltz. But I'm not complaining because it was beautiful and, for me, perfect. Len, of course, doesn't like it because it's too different.

Judges' Scores: 9+8+9=26

C'mon, judges, that deserved a 10! It definitely wasn't the fourth best of the night.

Amber and Derek with Mark Ballas: Salsa

It's time for the trio dances, and Derek brings in his buddy Mark. Naturally, Amber is overshadowed during rehearsals as the two boys bicker over the choreography. In the end, however, it actually highlights Amber and the boys play back-up. She's good at shaking, but her knees are clearly causing some limitations because she's definitely not at 100 percent. But she shakes her rump like a pro.

Judges' Scores: 9+9+9=27

That's quite generous. Afterwards we see rehearsal footage of Derek and Mark hilariously speaking gibberish. The footage also provides our shirtless Derek quota for the evening.

Leah and Tony with Henry Byalikov: Jive

The routine has the three of them playing the roles of the judges. Wow, Leah is now just shamelessly and overtly sucking up to the judges by making them the stars. It's wonderfully funny and a great story. I'm not sure if the dancing is good, but it's so damn entertaining. The problem is that it doesn't emphasize Leah because Tony's Bruno is spot-on. I've never been a huge Tony fan, but I am now.

Judges' Scores: 9+9+9=27

Congratulations, Leah, on appealing to the judges' narcissism.

Corbin and Karina with Witney Carson: Jazz

Corbin has a lot of opinions about the choreography (including tap), and it seems like a threeway collaboration, only Karina is somehow left out as Corbin and Witney seem to get along quite well. The dance is wildly fun and really highlights how great he is as a leading man. It's an explosion of energy and excitement. Carrie Ann calls it the best routine in 17 seasons and declares Corbin the second coming of Bob Fosse. Wowsers, tell us how you really feel. The other judges agree. Also, since I objectify Derek a lot, allow me to say that Corbin is looking smoking hot.

Judges' Scores: 10+10+10=30

Finally, the second 30 of the season! And I feel like the judges would've given them a higher scores if possible.

Jack and Cheryl with Sharna Burgess: Samba

The premise is that Jack saves Cheryl from Sharna in the jungle. The fact that the audience laughs when Jack announces his intention to save Cheryl shows how unbelievable he is in this role. It's fun, but not that good. Latin is definitely Jack's Kryptonite. Carrie Ann seems to think he got overwhelmed by the two women and he lost the technical skill of his first dance.

Judges' Scores: 8+8+9=25

Based on the two scores, he's definitely the least consistent.

Bill and Emma with Peta Murgatroyd: Salsa

It's a Willy Wonka dance, a "sweet candy threesome" as Emma says. It's silly fun, but there isn't a lot of quality. He's definitely past his prime and should've gone home a week or two ago, because this is getting sad how bad he is compared to everyone else. The judges try to be as polite as possible in pointing out how much he doesn't deserve to be this deep in the competition.

Judges' Scores:7+7+7=21

He has to be going home now, right? He's nine points lower than Amber and 12 points below everyone else, with only Elizabeth left to go.

Elizabeth and Val with Gleb Savchenko: Salsa

I guess Elizabeth wanted to team with two guys whose names are impossible to spell. The routine makes her the meat in a hot Russian sandwich. It's fast. caliente and perfect. To Elizbaeth's credit, even when Val and Gleb rip off their shirts, I still watch her.

Judges' Scores: 10+10+10=30

Good for her, getting another 30. That almost makes up for those low scores from the first round.

The Results

Well, after two rounds, Corbin and Elizabeth are at the top, followed by Jack and Leah. Amber's 51 has her second-to-last, while Bill is way, way. WAY behind with 42. Surely being nine points behind Amber and at least 12 behind everyone else means Bill is going, right?

The first couple SAFE is...Corbin and Karina!
The second couple SAFE is...Jack and Cheryl!


Elizabeth and Val are...IN JEOPARDY!
Amber and Derek are...SAFE!
Leah and Tony are...SAFE!
Bill and Emma are...IN JEOPARDY!


OK, Elizabeth is 14 points ahead of Bill.

Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy are ELIMINATED!

No. No. A thousand times no. This is wrong. It's wrong on every level. Bill should just quit and let Elizabeth stick around, because it's preposterous. She was my pick to win the whole thing, and the fact that she's not even in the semifinals in a travesty.

Maybe it's the new one-night format, but this season is seriously messed up. Bill was 10 points behind Snooki and 14 points behind Elizabeth, yet he still got that many votes. I get it that he's a nice guy and he's fun to watch, but all of those people voting for Bill and Emma should be ashamed of themselves.

The Leaderboard

58: Corbin Bleu
56: Elizabeth Berkley
54
: Leah Remini, Jack Osbourne
51: Amber Riley
42: Bill Engvall


(Image courtesy of ABC)

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