‘DWTS’ Gone Country: Two Couples Nab Perfect Scores

APOLO ANTON OHNO & KARINA SMIRNOFF on "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC)

There was a subdued mood at “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars” on Monday night, as the monster storm bearing down on the East coast made everyone worry about friends and family. But maybe the All-Stars could provide a little entertainment for folks huddled indoors tonight? We could only hope our celebrities and pro dance partners would bring some joy by performing to country songs.

Coming off last week, which featured the Gangnam Style routine - which was THE best "DWTS" group dance of all time - and a no-elimination situation, I was eager to see our celebrities get back their ultra-competitive spirit on performance night. This Tuesday, one star couple would be going home, so they all needed to be as strong as rodeo cowboys.

So here was what happened when the stars tried to be a little bit country:

Little Big Town opened the show performing their hit “Pontoon.” Tom Bergeron reminded us that the scores from last week would be added to this week.

Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd: Cha Cha
The show reprised Carrie Ann Inaba falling down after critiquing Gilles and Peta last Monday; producers couldn’t resist. The front running couple was to dance to “I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain but lamented the fact he was from France and Peta was born in New Zealand. What was country about that? In addition, Gilles was busy working on his ABC Family show Switched at Birth so they had little time to rehearse. So the dance started with the two clapping on stage and then Gilles took Peta into hold. He had on plastic pants and a weird sheer shirt; I was watching the costume more than the dance, unfortunately. What was country about those pants? They looked more like Santa Monica Blvd.! Gilles did a solo in the middle of the dance which came off as a stiff version of Evan Lysacek, complete with the ice skating costume! Len Goodman said he was a little bit loose in the legs tonight but “well done.” Bruno Tonioli liked the latex and thought it was sexy and kinky (for him, that was a compliment!) but dissed the footwork jt a little. Carrie Ann settled herself in her chair this time and told Gilles he was doing something odd with his wrists that looked like “T. Rex hands.” This was a low score for the usually 29-ish couple and I totally thought they were off their game this week.
Score: 27.5

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Sabrina Bryan and Louis Van Amstel: Rumba
This pair seemed to be chatting on the rooftop of the rehearsal studio. The Cheetah Girl had chosen the tune "Wanted" by Hunter Hayes, a song that reflected something bad in her life-she confided her former boyfriend was addicted to drugs and she had been helpless to assist him. Sabrina broke down in tears as she told the story to Louis. They hugged and hit practice again. As the dance itselfbegan, they walked slowly onto the ballroom floor and Sabrina did a little gyrating alone in the center of the stage. Then she joined Louis and they did some smooth turns and Sabrina did the splits but did she seem to get a twee tangled in Louis' legs? Anyway, they covered it well. And ended with Louis dipping her in a deep bend. She had succeeded in showing a lot of emotion. Bruno called it intriguing and stunning and Louis was the one crying, not Sabrina. Then she started to cry, too. Carrie Ann hugged Sabrina and Bruno hugged Len! Lovefest in the ballroom! Carrie Ann said she was dancing from her heart and it was beautiful. Len loved the fact the music was so soft but the dancing was strong. Sabrina said she was now in a great relationship with lots of support. On that note, they got a perfect 30! OMG!
Score: 30

Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: Tango
Kelly was disappointed about her individual dance last week and knew she had to stop it up this week. She added a couple of hours to her practice schedule and Val admitted they were both exhausted. So their tango began with Kelly getting out of a country style buggy and twirling to Carrie Underwood's "Good Girl." But she looked like a country madam with the boa around her neck. She and Val did some complicated footwork and a neat drag move along the floor. These two continued to look so good together, completely connected. It was a lot better than last week but still not their best-maybe too fast of a tango and the sound of the song didn't match the theme. The ending was the strongest part, when Kelly slapped Val and ran away-and he pursued her for a big kiss. Carrie Ann welcomed her back and called it an ambitious routine. Then Len thought it was too hectic and her neck bothered him but he praised her attack. According to Bruno, it was intense and pretty and Kelly reminded him of Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind. Oh, yeah, remember Scarlet O'Hara n her buggy? Triple 9s for the chemistry rich couple.
Score: 27

Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: Viennese Waltz
The former Bachelor beauty, who injured her neck last week, would attempt a country style Viennese waltz (whoa) to Janna Kramer's "Why Ya Wanna." So how was the pain in her neck? She told Tony in rehearsal that it hurt to do anything. Tony asked her if she wanted to drop out and she said no. Doctors told the dance pro she was still cleared to dance, but honestly, Melissa was more than worried about disappointing her partner if she couldn't perform. She looked like too much of a people pleaser! I said, Melissa, drop out if you have to! But she didn't. As the dance began, Melissa and Tony were at a camp fire and then she walked away to do a pretty solo. Melissa then did her signature big leg lifts, a couple of them. Tony kept her in hold the rest of the dance to protect her neck. I loved her fluidity in her low-heeled shoes, which made her look like a barefoot country girl. It was a swell quiet dance, not flashy but very solid ans showed her grace. Len stood and clapped for Melissa which hardly ever happened. Bruno called her solo exquisite, like in the movie Brigadoon (I loved his classic film notes this week). Carrie Ann noticed her beautiful lines but she felt Melissa wasn't dancing out to the people enough. Bruno started to argue with Carrie Ann and it got heated. I agreed with Bruno-why would everything on the show have to be so broad and show-offy? For once, I thought Melissa struck just the right note on the All-Stars. Melissa told Brooke Burke-Charvet the lifts and tricks were out 'cause of the neck but she was still okay to dance. Carrie Ann took off a measley half point, so they were good to go.
Score: 29.5

Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: Cha cha
Shawn thought their Titanic dance last week could have gotten better scores and I agreed. The ex-gymnast then re-injured the knee that had taken her out of the Olympics this summer. Shawn had messed it up while rehearsing for the group dance last week. The former athlete actually cried because she was in such pain with the bum knee. Dancing to "She Think My Tractor's Sexy" to Kenny Chesney, you would have never known this girl was hurtin.' She had just as much fluidity in her legs as usual and in their side-by side moves, who looked like the pro? Shawn strutted around, really cute in her little red skirt and Derek's hat flew off perfectly at the end. Bruno said Shawn was sexy and "it was so beautifully done." Carrie Ann said it was truly a blend of country and cha cha though she thought the solo was a little stiff. Len gushed about the choreography but also thought there were too many gimmicks, which was a total contradiction. Derek promised Len he would plan a more streamlined routine for next week. They got a ten from Bruno.
Score: 28

Kirstie Alley and Maks Chmerkovskiy: Rumba
Kirstie had a breakdown last week and thought she might have to go to the hospital, she told Maks in rehearsal. The Cheers star was confident she could pull off the hip movements in the rumba. Next thing you know, ABC plugged Kirstie’s upcoming interview with Barbara Walters. Then back to “DWTS”–she told Maks “I want to win this thing.” The couple started out in the DWTS fog machine, moving to Blake Shelton’s song “Home.” I found it a little slow and ho hum after Melissa and Tony’s lyrical soft dance, to be honest. There were no big or memorable moves, just a whole lot of moving like molasses. Kirstie and Maks lacked the edge and sense of humor they usually possessed; I was disappointed. Carrie Ann called her the queen of sexy; she was floored by it. Len loved her expressive arms but would have liked more hip action while Bruno said the dance showed the gorgeousness of a real woman. Sadly, I thought the dance would be forgotten the next day. But who cared what I thought? They got their highest score so far. Backstage, Kirstie was so overcome with emotion that she broke down in tears. At this rate, they’ll be in the finale!
Score: 27.5

Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff: Viennese Waltz
Carrie Ann dissed the couple's chemistry last week and now we had Apolo confiding they had had a fight before last Monday's show. Now it all made sense. They were kissing and making up this week during lunch and in rehearsal, Karina gave Apolo her take on the song "Skin" by Rascal Flatts, which would support a waltz about cancer. Apolo walked slowly to a prone Karina on the floor, circled his partner, and then picked her up. Then the dancers showed a great flow with some dazzling waltz spins. He held her close in all the spins and there was some clapping in the press room at the end, always a good sign. I have liked this couple all season and always think they've been underscored and this was another polished performance. Len called Apolo the son of Zeus and said he loved their perfect harmony. Apolo was a leading man, Bruno asserted. And Carrie Ann saw poetry in motion and got lost in their dance. Big comeback for the troubled couple! Carrie Ann said it was their "breakthrough number." They said backstage they'd had family members who had suffered from cancer so it meant a lot to them. The icing on the cake was a perfect 30.
Score: 30

Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke: Foxtrot
To me, this couple has been a little under the radar lately, and really bust loose for the Gangnam Style group dance last week. They would be dancing to "Islands in the Stream," by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton on Monday. Emmitt kept his sense of humor in practice with Cheryl even though they were both tired and he was sweating like a pig. I loved this song and Emmitt and Cheryl looked so cute in their traditional style country garb. They looked as comfortable as an old shoe together, which is a good thing. This one made me smile and Emmitt did a really funny ride 'em cowboy solo before offering Cheryl a flower at the end. Bruno said he loved him for his rodeo shuffle on his own but Carrie Ann thought they seemed out of sync this week. Len called them easy like Sunday morning but thought it was great to watch. The football great seemed a little disappointed after those reviews! Uh oh. A low score and Cheryl looked worried.
Score: 26.5

With the individual dances done, it was time for the country group dance. Producers showed, again, Shawn injuring her knee while goofing around with Sabrina. With Big and Rich performing "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy." It started as a line dance and I felt like I was in a bad country club. Even the pros looked awkward. It couldn't hold a candle to Gangnam Style although the solo part with Cowboy Troy was much better-Gilles got into the spirit of it during his solo and Kelly and Val and Apolo were the best as couples. All three judges loved it and Kirstie got singled out for praise. Two bonus points would be awarded this week to the best country couple-which was….Kirstie and Maks!

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

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