Immunity is Up for Grabs in Newest ‘DWTS’ Twist

Kellie Pickler (ABC)

It was Latin night on “Dancing with the Stars” but this time, producers planned a twist on the theme. The top-scoring couple on Monday would be granted immunity from elimination, and then the remaining six couples would perform for an extra three points in a “dance off.” The whole thing sounded a little complicated to me, but we would see how it all played out and I was going to be shocked if Zendaya Coleman or Kellie Pickler wasn’t one of the stars getting the immunity idol (sorry, that’s “Survivor.” Well, maybe the saved couple would get a mini mirror ball immunity symbol?). And Grammy winning Latin singer Juanes would be performing, which was a letdown after Stevie Wonder last week, sorry “DWTS”! They should have hired Jennifer Lopez; she was in the ballroom not long ago.

Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff: Salsa
The football player was yes, you guessed it, mumbling again in rehearsal so I couldn’t understand everything. I hope Karina did! Jacoby called his partner one day and said he couldn’t make it to practice and she was a little pissed. Jacoby was pounding in a big drum when the dance began and then they hit the floor and this one seemed to suit Jacoby pretty well though his body looked kind of gawky strange in some of the slow turns. At one point, he pulled off a weird maneuver involving Karina’s head and it looked like she was going to get seriously hurt–but the dancer yelled at the crowd in what, exhilaration? So we knew she was okay; at least that was what I thought happened! We all had gasped in the press room when Jacoby’s move went a little wild. Judge Len Goodman said the samba was first rate but didn’t like the lifts and he got into it with Jacoby’s mother who strongly objected in the audience. Bruno Tonioli got up and started samba-ing himself and said he loved it. According to Carrie Ann Inaba, he had salsa in his body but it came out a little wrong and she compared him to a fart. Old home week as former “DWTS” competitors J.R. Martinez and Roshon Fegan were in the audience.
Score: 27

Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson: Rumba
Ingo and Kym relived the joy of their breakthrough tango from last week, then the actor talked about his "General Hospital" character, Jax. Nice way to milk some soap opera fan votes! Ingo thought the hip action of rumba was very embarrassing in rehearsals; most white people do. Ha! Their rumba started at a flower store then moved onto the floor where Ingo wore a Panama hat that was naturally flung off by Kym in short order. The partial split move by Ingo worked in the middle of the dance, the rest of it was a tad uninspiring. I was trying to put my finger on why Ingo couldn't get to the next level; was he just too tall? Bruno said the hip action staccato and he had lost the timing. "I'm sad," Carrie Ann said, praising Ingo's form but dissing his lack of fluidity. Len said he didn't quite deliver but the routine boasted a lot of content. Bruno fumbled his paddle but the real surprise was Len giving them an 8, which I thought was more than generous.
Score: 22

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Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough: Samba
Len called their dance last week the best one of season 16 but this week was tough for the country cutie and her golden boy. Kellie and Derek were on the road practicing because she had to do some concerts (couldn't she put her other career on the back burner while doing "DWTS"? Just asking!). Derek did Jacoby proud by leaping over Kellie's head to begin the dance and he was shirtless and Kellie's body looked amazing, too, in a floral halter and sarong-style skirt. And a highlight was a kind of a weird dreamlike interlude in the middle of this dance where they seemed in slow motion. The rest was fast, furious, and very entertaining and some people finally woke up in the press area for the first time tonight. Carrie Ann told Kellie to listen - and said she was an incredible student but objected that she didn't feel the emotion. What? Carrie Ann, that was just wrong! "It was crisp, clean, hot, spicy," Len said. "I thought it was brilliant." Bruno said it was a perfect balance of technique and performance. Tens from Len and Bruno made their night a huge success and Derek gave a shout out to his grandparents who were in the audience.
Score: 29

Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess: Rumba
We saw Lisa Vanderpump in the audience with her husband Ken and then cut to Andy and Sharna prepping for rumba. The pro was wearing a "Team Dick" tee shirt and Andy was trying to channel the dance and be sexy, which was an enormous challenge. Could he really play a Latin lover? As they hit the floor, Andy scooted over to his sexy senorita, Sharna. Andy slid his lips over her leg which got a lot of laughs in the press room but then the content kind off slowed down. This was more a comic rumba with Andy reaching for a necklace and winding up with the jewels in his hand at the end (hey, didn't we see a similar dance before this season?). Len said he loved Andy's enthusiasm but it was more erratic than erotic while Bruno cited the Gene Kelly/Cyd Charisse inspiration for the dance. (But I was thinking more of one of those Pink Panther movies where Inspector Clouseau chases down jewel thieves). "You touch us," Carrie Ann said, but noted he needed to improve at this point in the competition. C'mon Carrie Ann, this was hopeless! If Andy didn't leave this week, he would the next. According to Carrie Ann, this dance deserved a 5. Ouch, even though I agreed with her!
Score: 17

Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas: Salsa
This couple has kind of been under the radar all season but this week, in practice, lifting Aly on his shoulders sent Mark straight to the doctor's office. It appeared he had injured lower disc in his back. Mark enlisted pro Henry, who pops up every once in awhile, to practice with the gymnast. But on show night, there was Mark pumping his fists on the floor; the show must go on. This one involved Aly carrying some fruit and doing a cartwheel over Mark's arm. Mark bumped her head around on his leg and Aly appeared to play a dog walking along the floor at one point. To me it wasn't bad but not great, either. Mark pointed his finger in the air in triumph at the end; I wouldn't have known he was hurt. "You spice up my life!" Bruno raved. Carrie Ann loved it and Len offered his usual corny lines, saying it was some tropical drink. Mark was moving slowly up the stairs and he said he was fine but didn't look it. They got two 10s which I wasn't quite expecting. Was it that good?
Score: 29

Sean Lowe and Peta Murgatroyd: Rumba
The Bachelor was devastated after being in the bottom two last week and the rumba seemed just as difficult for him. In practice, Sean’s fiancĂ© Catherine stopped by to give Sean some romantic inspiration and she did some giggling and pseudo dance moves with him. When their rumba commenced, Sean and Peta danced in the wind machine and he twirled her around off the floor. This one seemed a lot better than last week so maybe having Catherine visit helped after all. Peta looked very happy at the end, a sure sign they did well. Carrie Ann was very impressed and enjoyed the chemistry. Oh, Catherine was sitting next to Lisa in the audience, how cute. “You were a bit wooden,” Len objected, and when Carrie Ann tried to interrupt he got mad. Bruno said his musicality was so much better although he looked like he was going to the toilet during the dance with his butt sticking out. Yikes. Didn’t need that bizarre critique!
Score: 24

Zendaya Coleman and Val Chmerkovskiy: Paso Doble
Val told the teen he was proud of her after last week's incredible dance but she would have to work really hard again. It was fun to see Zendaya looking like a normal girl without her makeup in rehearsal. The two began dancing on opposite sides of the floor, strode towards each other and then were pure fire, aggression, and high kicks. Loved the strumming guitar music and Zendaya's white dress, so sweet and innocent despite the aggressive Paso theme. This had to be a perfect 30, right, because then there would be a tie and no immunity for anyone? "Plenty of attack!" Len shouted, but didn't like the look of Zendaya's chin. Bruno also told her to keep her chin up but otherwise, she was magnificent. According to Carrie Ann, there were some minor problems but who was going to argue that wasn't one of the two best dances of the night?! The judges did and I was wrong-the pair only got a 27.
Score: 27

It was a tie in scoring but Kellie and Derek were named the best over Aly and Mark so they got immunity and didn't have to dance again tonight. Didn't quite understand that decision (shouldn't the two top couples have had to dance off to avoid the dance off-or flip a coin?) but whatever.

Aly and Mark got to pick who they would dance against so she chose Andy and Sharna. As the picked couple was allowed to select the dance. Andy took cha cha; my press room friend thought he should have picked jive to make injured Mark have to dance his ass off.

Aly and Mark/Andy and Sharna: Cha Cha
The gymnast flailed her arms kind of wildly here, but it was okay. Then Andy and Sharna started and the funnyman looked like he was still in dance class. I liked it when she almost kicked him in the face. Still, not as bad as his first dance tonight. Len admired Andy's pluck; Bruno said someone was technically stronger but both were good: Carrie Ann said Andy got off on the wrong foot but didn't give up.
Winner of extra three points (to be added to their total night’s score): Aly and Mark

Zendaya and Val/Jacoby and Karina: Jive
The kid looked like a winner in flying white sneakers; there was nothing to criticize about her! Jacoby, on the other hand, still couldn't control his pigeon toes and his signature splits and leaping over Karina's head move were getting old. Bruno said it was like watching two champions; Carrie Ann babbled and used Randy Jackson's American Idol line "in it to win it." Len said it was a tough call between the two and Karina asked if they could split the points.
Winner of extra three points: Zendaya and Val

Sean and Peta/Ingo and Kym: Rumba
Sean seems to do better in the slower dances, so this one was perfect for him and the all-black outfit worked. Then Ingo was all in black, too but I'd give this one to Sean. The soap star seemed to be concentrating too much although he ended it well and guided Kym through a cool spin. The verdict? Carrie Ann loved Ingo's lines; Len said there was a clear winner; and Bruno said it was a battle of the hunks. They gave it to Ingo.
Winner of extra three points: Ingo and Kym

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

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