On the many, many occasions when I've thought of what it must be like to be a celebrity contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" (so, you know, like once or twice), I've always thought the suckiest thing would be going home first. It's like the world telling you that they're not even interested in seeing you mildly humiliated or as the focus of an inspirational journey of self-discovery. You're demoted from the C-list and, since Kathy Griffin has claimed the D-list, you may be somewhere below that. Like, F-list. That's not even a thing.
But tonight someone will be going home, and let's hope it's someone who's tough enough to take it.
Elizabeth & Val
The Background: They wanted to work hard… oh, I really don't care. I think I'm happier watching Elizabeth dance than talk. She's just no fun. How can this be? She was on "Saved by the Bell"!
The Dance: And yes, she's amazingly good. Much more charismatic dancing than, say, talking. This looks like an episode of "So You Think You Can Dance." Definitely a ringer.
The Judges: Len loved it. Bruno thought it was incredible. Carrie Ann thinks Elizabeth is in her element.
The Scores: Carrie Ann - 8 Len - 9 Bruno - 8
The Verdict: She's good enough to win this -- but she's so serious and joyless off-stage, I'm not sure she's going to get the votes.
Brooke cuddles with the stars. Congrats to Derek for his Emmy! Amber is so happy she got nines last week. You know, Brooke seems to be having more fun with the casual setting, but it's still not all that interesting.
Last week, I didn't feel that I was really paying much attention to the fact that the dancers are now getting "real" songs instead of crap big band renditions.
Christina & Mark
The Background: They have a paso doble set to Lady Gaga "Applause." The way that Mark conveys sexy is by grabbing his enormous shorts and hiking them up until he looks like Urkel. Eeek! I'm not sure Mark should attempt to convey sexy ever again.
The Dance: Christina doesn't seem entirely sure what to do with the Gaga moves, but the rest of it is pretty fierce.
The Judges: Bruno thinks Christina is a little monster (a Lady Gaga reference and thus compliment), but Bruno thinks she missed a move. Carrie Ann thinks it was insane (also a compliment). Killed it! Len thought she maintained the character of the dance and thought it was terrific.
The Scores: Carrie Ann - 9 Len - 8 Bruno - 8
The Verdict: Loved the choreography, and even if Christina doesn't have the fan base, I'm remembering that Mark does.
Bill E. & Emma
The Background: He's fun, and they're dancing the jive, which will also be fun. Emma plans to steal all of Derek's stuff, which is probably a good idea.
The Dance: He's actually trying. This gets a little shuffly, but that's okay. He really does seem to not only be having fun, but genuinely working his butt off. This is like watching a dad dance at a wedding, but in a good way.
The Judges: Carrie Ann thought it was the most entertaining dance of the season, but the footwork sucked. Still, fantastic fun! Len thoroughly enjoyed watching it. Bruno thinks he hit the performance value big-time.
The Scores: Carrie Ann - 7 Len - 7 Bruno - 7
The Verdict: He might go further than we expect -- and when he does go, I'll be sad to see him leave. No kidding.
Jack & Cheryl
The Background: Jack thinks he's gotten a raw deal in life. "Fat, heart problems, MS, can't sing, can't act, what the bleep!" He's joking, although I would add, tiniest violin playing for you, Jack, given that your dad has millions and you've had opportunities the average person could only dream of having. So, um, very sorry for the challenges you've faced (and they have been sizable) but maybe remember your audience. He'll be dancing the rumba. His mom drops by and asks him not to look so scared about showing his sensual side.
The Dance: Hey, he doesn't look terrified! He doesn't look comfortable, either. He does seem to have a lot of the moves down, but I can't say he's infinitely watchable.
The Judges: Len thought he had great control and fluidity, though there were some weird hands going on. Bruno thinks he was sinuous. Carrie Ann felt transported to another time, like "Game of Thrones" time. So, what she's really saying is he'd be better with a claw hammer and a sword. I get that.
The Scores: Carrie Ann - 8 Len - 8 Bruno - 8
Keyshawn & Sharna
The Background: Samba! He doesn't want to go home first, because the guys at ESPN will totally make fun of him.
The Dance: Oh, this is bad. Bad, bad, bad. How can he be a pro football player and look this awkward?
The Judges: Bruno thinks he was overwhelmed. Carrie Ann thinks he was much more comfortable this week, but still rough around the edges. Len admires his effort.
The Scores: Carrie Ann - 6 Len - 6 Bruno - 6
The Verdict: I hate to say this, but I don't see him turning this around. Maybe it's best voters don't prolong his suffering.
Snooki & Sasha
The Background: Time for a rumba that oozes sex, though Snooki can't seem to stop teasing her partner. I'll hit you in the face! I blow snot on you! Ha!
The Dance: This is good. Yet again, I'm surprised by Snooki. This is graceful, even if it leaves me a little cold.
The Judges: Snooki explains that she did the face. The emotional face. Okay, that's funny. Carrie Ann thinks she made pretty pictures, but there wasn't fluidity. And her feet came off the floor. No lifts! Len thought it was pretty and neat and clear. But it didn't flow. Bruno thinks Snooki has great potential, but she needs to learn to act.
The Scores: Carrie Ann - 6 Len - 7 Bruno - 7
The Verdict: The judges are a little tough on her, but I think it's because they see talent. I think, if her fan base is tuning in, she might surprise us all.
Leah & Tony
The Background: Ooh, we're going to talk about leaving Scientology! This is awesome. She says Scientology pushes parishioners to internalize self-doubt and criticism. "Dancing with the Stars" is all about her growing out of that mindset and stopping bad habits. Good for you, Leah!
The Dance: This is pretty hot. I think she's over the self-doubt, really. That was quick!
The Judges: Len thought it was terrific and thought her hands were lovely. It was great! Bruno thought she was a saucy Latin beauty. Carrie Ann thought she unleashed her samba goddess.
The Scores: Carrie Ann - 8 Len - 8 Bruno - 8 and the crowd gives her a standing O.
The Verdict: The fact that she's started talking about leaving Scientology gives her a compelling story and an underdog status. That makes me think she might get a lot more votes based on that alone.
Bill N. & Tyne
The Background: Bill Nye the Science Guy is ready to come back and prove Len wrong. In a fierce pado doble. Oh, oh no.
The Dance: He dresses up as Beethoven and, yes, it's terrible, but you can tell he really worked this week. It's just not possible to overcome hardwired awkwardness. Still, the crowd goes wild.
The Judges: Bruno thinks he stepped it up. Carrie Ann loves that he worked with his assets but his feet were awful. Len thinks he was a little mean last week. It was fun! I suspect Len is worried that his dismissal of Bill Nye has led to him having a devoted fan base, and he is now very, very sorry for that.
The Scores: Carrie Ann - 6 Len - 5 Bruno - 6
The Verdict: As bad as his dancing is, he's now become the most beloved person on this show. He could make it to the final two at this rate.
Julianne Hough will be guest judging in two weeks. Yay, as long as she doesn't wear that awful Emmys dress. Woof.
Corbin & Katrina
The Background: They'll be dancing to One Direction's "Kiss You." So, he wants to do the "High School Musical" jump, which is what he's known for. I'm afraid Corbin is like one of those guys in high school who became obsessed with past accomplishments because they ended up working as a check-out guy at the local supermarket. Don't look back, Corbin!
The Dance: This is fun and fast. He got the jump in! Unfortunately, he can't stop with the "High School Musical" references. This is depressing me.
The Judges: Carrie Ann thought it was so much fun! She can't stop gushing. Len thinks he got to third base. Yikes. Bruno thought it was brilliant.
The Scores: Carrie Ann - 9 Len - 8 Bruno - 9
The Verdict: He's the best of the men, but I don't know if his fan base is too busy being all grown up to vote.
Valerie & Tristan
The Background: Valerie falls during rehearsal. Oh no! It's just her knee. It has nothing to do with her cancer. Phew. But hey, she's not going to let anything stop her. Bad knee, brain cancer, whatever! Tristan watches her dance and cries. She's so inspiring! They'll be doing a paso doble. Very slowly.
The Dance: Wow, this is a hot mess. Yikes. I think she actually forgot a lot of the routine, because there's some walking and waving of hands going on.
The Judges: Len liked that she was totally committed. It was a mess, but he thought she was very brave. Bruno thinks she captured the grandeur of a great lady of Spain. The footwork sucked, but he was amazed she did so much. Carrie Ann thought she forgot about a third of her routine. Kudos to Carrie Ann for being honest. I don't think admiring her for being upright is flattering after a certain point.
The Scores: Carrie Ann - 6 Len - 6 Bruno - 7
The Verdict: I hope she goes far, but I don't want to see her blowing out her joints to do it. I suspect no one else wants her to be ruined by this, either -- but she'll make it through a few weeks, I'm sure.
Brant & Peta
The Background: They need to generate the heat. Yeah, not a problem. I'm half expecting them to lick one another in rehearsal.
The Dance: This is hot, of course, but it's not great -- I think a lot of the focus is on what Peta can do because she's dancing around him.
The Judges: Bruno thinks ladies everywhere are feeling restless and fidgety now. He thought he did incredibly well, but he needs to work on his footwork. Carrie Ann loves the chemistry and she thinks Brant has great moves. Len thinks he's pigeon-toed.
The Scores: Carrie Ann - 8 Len - 7 Bruno - 8
The Verdict: He's definitely lasting until next week at the very least. Come on, look at him!
Amber & Derek
The Background: Amber is worried about the jive because she has breasts. Derek wonders if she's worried about knocking herself out. Yeah, maybe this isn't the conversation we needed to see in the walk-up.
The Dance: Again, I'm not entirely wowed by this. She seems to run out of steam in the middle of the dance.
The Judges: Carrie Ann thought she was a little flat-footed. Len thinks she's a a bundle of joy but her footwork wasn't great. Bruno thought she was irresistible but her footwork sucked.
The Scores: Carrie Ann - 8 Len - 8 Bruno - 8
The Verdict: For whatever reason, the judges love her -- so, she's fine for a while.
Time for the elimination. Let's hope this is quick -- there's not much time left in the show!
Corbin & Katrina are safe.
Leah & Tony are safe.
Bill N. & Tyne are safe.
Christina & Mark are safe.
Don't you love how much faster this is? None of this long, drawn out, bottom-three stuff.
Amber & Derek are safe.
Valerie & Tristan are safe.
Snooki & Sasha are safe.
Jack & Cheryl are safe.
Brant & Peta are safe.
Okay, so we're left with Elizabeth, Keyshawn and Bill Engvall as the bottom three. More after the commercial break!
The next couple safe is… Elizabeth & Val. I think someone screamed something obscene, because the sound cut out.
Oh, yay, we have the bottom two walk down the stairs to wait and wait and wait for a verdict. So, still the dragged out reveal.
Keyshawn & Sharna are going home. Oooh, he's gonna get crap when he goes back to ESPN! But really, he had no connection to the music. Keyshawn is just glad he had an opportunity to learn from Sharna, so he's able to see the upside. Farewell, Keyshawn. At least you were fun.