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TV Column
Posted at 01:16 PM ET, 04/11/2012

Melissa Gilbert’s injury threatens to eclipse surprise elimination; plus, “dance duel” confusion explained


Sherri Shepherd said goodbye this week, but “DWTS” viewers had other things on their minds. (Adam Taylor - ABC)
The biggest surprise on this week’s “Dancing With the Stars” — the elimination of Sherri Shepherd, a judge favorite — was somewhat eclipsed by news of Melissa Gilbert, who was sent to the hospital after a performance night injury. Gilbert became the story of the week when she wound up with a concussion and whiplash after a paso doble with Maskim Chmerkovskiy, and she seemed to want it to stay that way, even while she skipped Tuesday night’s results show on doctor’s advice.

“Truly stunned that @SherriEShepherd & @iamValC r eliminated. “If they can go any of us is fair game! “ she wrote on Twitter on Tuesday, also re-tweeting an outraged, profanity-laced tweet from former “DWTS” star Kirstie Alley. Though Gilbert quickly brought it back to herself: “This makes my head hurt even more...”

Gilbert continued the tweets on Sherri’s behalf (”I just watched my tivo’d #DWTS and I’m weeping. @SherriEShepherd I will miss you so much”), and host Tom Bergeron assured the “Dancing” audience that Gilbert will be back next week to dance again.

And on the subject of next week’s show, another question that emerged: What happened to the new “dance duel”?

Tom Bergeron introduced the twist into the competition last week: The bottom two couples will dance for the judges one last time, and allow the judges to decide who goes home. However, there was zero mention of the twist this week.

Turns out, the twist was always supposed to start in the fifth week of competition (beginning April 17), but the vague explanation on last week’s results show confused many.

It all started on last Tuesday’s results night, Tom Bergeron explained the rules and said: “After next week, and then for the subsequent three weeks, the bottom two couples will dance simultaneously for the judges, who will then decide who goes.”

Many weren’t sure whether that meant “after next week’s performance show” or “after next week in general,” and Twitter lit up with questions when the twist went unmentioned during Rock Week.

“I wonder why @DancingABC decided to postpone Dance Duel and if it will be scrubbed just like ill-fated Ballroom Battle of S13? #whatchanged” wondered @Nazrin_L.

“@SherriEShepherd I thought they start the dance off duel tonite. Why next week and what’s the theme for next week?” pondered @RealityTVWill.

“Seems everyone was under the impression that the dance duel would start this week, me included,” said @serenity384.

While even media outlets wondered what happened (the LA Times speculated that maybe the duel was nixed this week in case Melissa and Maks were in the bottom two and couldn’t participate), Tom Bergeron cleared up the confusion on his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.

“what happened to the freakin dance off!!!” Twitter user @spack5 challenged Bergeron.

“”what happened to the freakin dance off?” Bergeron replied rhetorically. “What happened was that no one was freakin listening to me when I said “AFTER next week..”

“The “Dance Duel” was always scheduled to start in Week 5. When I announced it I said, “AFTER next week” but not all heard that,” Bergeron added.

Note to ABC: Perhaps clarify such rules when a show airs twice a week.

By  |  01:16 PM ET, 04/11/2012

 
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