It’s Paula Abdul Night on “Dancing With the Stars,” because — well, actually we’re not sure, because there seems to be no real reason why the former “Idol” judge is in attendance. She doesn’t even have anything to promote.
Regardless, Tom Bergeron introduces Paula, who runs down her resume — from Laker Girl to choreographer, before she modestly tells us she “made history” with her judging stint on “American Idol.”
After a few cracks about how Len is going to pull a Simon Cowell and break out a tight, dark t-shirt later in the show, it’s time for the dancing. This week, the couples chose random dance styles for their fellow competitors — and if they were smart about it, they chose dances that they knew would be difficult for their opponents.
Actress Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Kirstie wants to have a “funny” dance, since she’s a comedian, but also is determined to be the best. This presents an interesting challenge, as she tries to conquer a fancy cartwheel move in rehearsal, but breaks down crying. Surprisingly, Maks is rather understanding — has someone finally tamed Maks?
To start the dance, Kirstie pops out of a cake, while Maks plays a baker who happens to be wearing knee socks and loves the Charleston. The actual dancing is a little clunky, but they seem to have fun. Len says that Kirstie turns Monday in Funday. Paula gushes over Kirstie’s look, though not so much her dance moves: “You’re just a vision,” she says. Carrie Ann agrees. “This is the best I have ever seen you look, you look fabulous!” Notice no one really says anything about dancing technique, and it shows in the scores: 7.5, 7.5, 7.5, 7.5 for a total of 30 points.
Reality star Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas
Dance: Rock and Roll
Bristol and Mark have a heart-to-heart about last week’s fight. “I love you, we’re great friends,” Mark says, and Bristol agrees it’s time to move on. However, she does have an issue with Mark’s idea to dance in a rabbit costume. “Last time we danced in animal costumes, it didn’t go well, and I don’t want to be the joke this week,” Bristol admits, as we get a flashback to her and Mark dancing around in a gorilla suit in Season 11. In fact, every idea Mark has to spice up the dance, Bristol shoots down — she wants it to be as straightforward and non-gimmicky as possible. Mark agrees to “dumb down” the dance for her.
The dance is pretty straightforward, though Mark does leapfrog over Bristol’s head at one point. Paula gently tells her that she improved, but she should let Mark help her push her out of her comfort zone. (Cut to the Palin family in the audience, vigorously applauding.) Carrie Ann gives Bristol and high five, and says Bristol is truly blossoming — and even though she lost steam at the end, it was a huge improvement. Len agrees it’s her best dance yet.
Scores: 8, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 32 points.
Singer Sabrina Bryan and Louis Vam Amstel
Sabrina is shaken after criticism over last week’s dance, especially when Louis points out that even though Bristol and Kirstie have low scores, they have huge fanbases, so aren’t likely to go home anytime soon. They are determined to shake up the disco dance, not resorting to “Saturday Night Fever,” but rather the edgier “Studio 54” theme.
Sabrina emerges wrapped in a giant blue coat that she quickly sheds for a super-sparkly outfit, and though the couple does some fancy lifts, they stick to traditional disco moves as well. Bruno says Sabrina lost timing twice, even though it was her most “vibrant” performance ever. The audience boos, and Carrie Ann vehemently disagrees. “Maybe you were off, Bruno,” Carrie Ann suggests, adding that she loved the dance.
Scores: 9, 9, 8.5, 9 for a total of 35.5 points.
Former NFL player Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke
Cheryl enlists a whole crew of dancers, since she wasn’t trained in Bolero, which is a type of slowed-down Latin dancing. Emmitt, however, feels like having multiple coaches is a “too many cooks in the kitchen” kind of thing. Still, he has his adorable young daughter on hand to help him during rehearsal. “Dad, when you perform, you need to smile,” she tells him.
Emmitt sweeps Cheryl around on a smoke-filled floor, and even performs a lift in which he spins her around repeatedly. “There is nothing better than watching a big burly man get all dramatic and sexy,” Carrie Ann tells him dreamily. Len admits he was concerned about the performance, but ultimately thinks it was lovely. Paula and Bruno are bickering, but stop long enough for Paula to call Emmitt a “sexy beast.”
Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9 for a total of 36 points.
Actor Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd
Gilles is frightened that his scores dropped last week, and Peta is concerned because she knows nothing about Bollywood dancing. So, their respective fears results in them working with a trained Bollywood expert. It also means that there’s lots of bleeping during rehearsal, as they both become frustrated that they don’t know what they’re doing and Peta struggles to hold back tears.
However, the dance comes together well as Gilles is in an Aladdin-themed outfit, and jumps around the stage in perfect sync with Peta. Paula breaks out her best Bruno impression, complete with his patented “lean over the desk and growl something that sounds like a double entendre.” The gist: She loves it. Bruno manages to outdo her impression. “A Bollywood superstar is born!” he bellows. “Stylistically, that was perfection.”
Scores: 10, 9.5, 10, 10 for a total of 39.5 points. Len holds them back from a perfect 40.
Reality star Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani
Melissa and Tony head to Dallas, where Melissa lives, and we get some scenes of her unbearably cute baby daughter. Afterwards, Melissa says she wants to go head to head with Shawn in terms of fancy lifts and flips, and we see her and Tony practicing some very complex moves — and especially painful, when Melissa falls on the hard floor several times.
So while Shawn and Derek may have an edge in complexity of moves, Melissa and Tony outdo them in terms of sheer numbers, completing about nine different flips during the course of their dance that makes everyone dizzy. Paula calls Melissa’s footwork “impeccable,” and is impressed with Tony’s choreogrpahy. Bruno also admires the ambitious lifts, and Carrie Ann says she made it look effortless, though she points out that Melissa had trouble landing some of the complicated flips.
Scores: 9, 9, 9.5 and 9.5, for a total of 37 points.
Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough
Shawn and Derek head to Des Moines, Iowa, where they have a somewhat random visit with the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team, also known as the Fierce Five. The visit doesn’t serve a real purpose except for a call-out to the team’s sass (specifically, McKayla’s), which Derek wants to channel to this week’s performance.
The duo moves quickly for the dance, though nowhere near as many cool tricks as last were — still, it’s rather flawless. Bruno says they keep getting better. “If I were the other contestants, I’d be a little scared of you guys right now,” Carrie Ann says, which seems unnecessary, since the other teams already seem terrified of Shawn’s ability. Paula rambles on for awhile, reminding us fondly of “Idol,” but eventually concludes that the dance was amazing.
Scores: 10, 9.5, 10, 10 for a total of 39.5 points. Len again, ruining everything.
Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff
Dance: Hip Hop
Karina panics during rehearsals, because she can choreograph anything — except hip-hop. She brings in Tony Michaels, who she says is the best hip-hop choreography out there. Tony is excited that Paula Abdul will be a guest judge, and thinks she’ll appreciate a 90s hip-hop routine.
Before it begins, however, we get a very strange shot of Karina and Apolo, looking cheerful but a bit nervous in their hip-hop gear, and Kelly and Val, standing on the other side of Tom Bergeron, looking absolutely miserable. Tom Bergeron remarks that they’ll be dancing next, and with a broken toe, and Kelly is not pleased. “We’ll try not to think about that,” she says sternly.
Apolo and Karina may not have known that they were doing with hip-hop, but their dance is riveting to watch. Unfortunately, Karina slips and falls at one point, and bursts into tears at the end of the dance, burying her head in her hands, saying that she feels she messed up the whole routine.
“You did not mess up the whole routine,” Carrie Ann assures her, saying that everyone has been outside of their comfort zone tonight. Len, sensitive man that he is, tells Karina he wasn’t even looking at her, since Apolo was so good. Paula thinks Apolo has the swagger to pull of the dance, and Bruno thinks they did a great job.
Scores: 8.5, 9, 8.5, 8.5 for a total of 34.5 out of 40. Len looks annoyed that he gave the highest score.
Actress Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy
We see some of that famous Chmerkovskiy family charm when there’s a flashback to last week, and Emmitt says that Cheryl told him to choose contemporary dance for Kelly and Val. “Cheryl is such a (bleep),” he mumbles, but the microphones pick up everything.
“Cheryl’s known me for a long time, and she knows that I’ve never done contemporary,” he complains to Kelly. Val decides the storyline will be that Kelly doesn’t want to forgive him for some misdeed, but she doesn’t want to let him go, either.
Kelly and Val appear to be in serious pain when they dance to a Coldplay song, though that’s all part of the drama — or Kelly’s injury. Paula calls it a beautiful routine, as Kelly starts to cry. Carrie Ann seems very emotional as well. “You laid your heart out there...it was stunning,” she says, though adding that some of the moves were beyond Kelly’s ability. Scores: 9, 9.5, 9.5, 9.5 for a total of 37.5 points.
Tuesday night: Results show at the new time of 8 p.m., before the second presidential debate.