‘DWTS’ Recap: Does an Early Favorite Go Home?

Jaleel White and Kym Johnson on "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC)

Melissa Gilbert has been surprisingly resilient all season on “Dancing with the Stars,” but I wondered on Tuesday night if she would finally be sent back to her own Little House. The TV icon and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s Monday performance of the Argentine tango only scored 21, the low for the night. The dance was one of the weirdest I’ve ever seen on the show, too, with the 40-something star turned upside down and married off to a mannequin on classical music night. But Melissa’s fan base has been stronger than Disney kid Roshon Fegan, and I believed he would be in the dance duel again like last week.

Before the show, we saw some interesting action on the ballroom floor as Paula Abdul had a long chat with Judge Bruno Tonioli. In the past, Paula has said she’d like to compete on “DWTS” and now that she’s finished on “X Factor,” she has some time, so, I wondered if she was thinking it over.

Anyway, the official show began with Maria Menounos and Derek Hough performing the encore dance, their vampire/Prokofiev mash-up that got a perfect score of 30. I marveled again at its inventiveness; Maria and Derek had blown everybody else off the floor.

Watch Tuesday Night’s Elimination:

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Behind the scenes footage unfurled from last night. Peta Murgatroyd said “Well done, Donald!” to her football player Donald Driver after their dance. William Levy gave a thumbs-up to the girl singer for his Ave Maria number and told partner Cheryl Burke he wanted to say “hi” to her. Katherine, William, and Donald were all called safe.

Look who was back! This season’s alum Gavin DeGraw was in the ballroom to sing his new tune “Sweeter” for a pro dance featuring his partner Karina Smirnoff with Louis Van Amstel. It was great to see the that fanatic again and he’d benefited greatly from his time on the show, looking thin and fit.

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Later, Paula Abdul was shown clapping in the audience. She’s a big fan and has visited “DWTS” at least once before. I would love to see her do the show even though, technically she’s already a dancer. But, as she has pointed out, the former “American Idol” judge has never done ballroom partnered dancing before.

Host Tom Bergeron came back from the break and revealed that Mark Ballas had been convinced to go to an audience member’s prom–aww. Maybe Mark won’t have time if he’s in the finale like I suspect, though!

Then another bit of business—Cheryl Burke, Tony Dovolani and Louis Van Amstel had each coached young ballroom pairs who competed against each other in a dance off. Cheryl’s team won, Tony’s was second, and Louis’ pair got third place. The winners got a ballroom battle trophy, which looked like a round cage instead of a mirror ball. Good luck, kids!

"Just focus on you and I," Kym Johnson told Jaleel White in more backstage footage from last night. Bruno was yelling at Melissa to pay attention to her core during her Marriage of Figaro dance. In the kiss and cry area, Melissa seemed really pissed at Bruno's critique.

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As I had suspected, Roshon and Chelsie would have to do the dance duel. But, shocker, Melissa and Maks were SAFE, unleashing gasps in the press room. All the journalists had assumed she'd be in the bottom two. I wanted the "Little House on the Prairie" fans on MY team! It meant that Roshon and Jaleel would perform in the dance duel.

Cut to backstage footage of dance duel rehearsal and Roshon got mad at Chelsie for not giving him enough respect. She walked out of the practice room. I thought this pairing would favor Jaleel and Roshon would be sent packing.

On to the side-by-side action—I thought both looked good in their respective rumbas and I couldn’t decide which one was better. It seemed like Roshon had a little bobble but I felt either one could be chosen. Carrie Ann Inaba confirmed my thoughts that it was a tough decision. Len Goodman said both couples gave it their all and Bruno said Roshon was excellent and Jaleel very masculine. Carrie Ann said she’d save Roshon; Len chose Roshon and Bruno would have saved Roshon as well, though his vote no longer counted.

So the "Family Matters" star, Urkel/Jalel, ended his time on the show. I was very surprised as he was the early favorite. Jaleel was emotional in leaving and Kym rubbed his shoulder in consolation. They had an odd partnership with rumors that he yelled at her, but all seemed well on elimination night.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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