It’s a night of tears on “Dancing With the Stars,” as each celeb shares a story of the most memorable year of their lives — and in the majority of cases, break down into sobs as the camera zooms in to thoughtfully capture every emotional moment.
Actor Jack Wagner and Anna Trebunskaya
His memorable year: 2011, when a woman approached him as he was about to go onstage at one of his concerts. Turns out it was his long-lost daughter. Instead of calling security, Jack bonded with her, and he starts crying as he talks about how he immediately accepted her into his family and how close they have grown. He decides to dance to one of his own songs, one that he sang at the same concert where he met her.
Jack beams as he kicks off the dance with a guitar, sporting a goofy grin and looking like a dorky dad as he shimmies. Not sure if he planned that, but it certainly fits the theme! He gives his daughter a big hug afterward. Len — who boasts he had a couple of happy pills before the show — liked his rhythm, and it’s Jack’s best dance yet. Bruno also loved the rhythm, and Carrie Ann has stopped crying long enough from Jack’s story to tell him that she wants to see more. Score: 8, 8, 8 for a total of 24 points.
‘Extra’ co-host Maria Menounos and Derek Hough
Her memorable year: 1988, when she was 10 and her parents came to America from Greece, and she used to go to work with them when they worked as janitors in nightclubs around Boston. Crying alert #2 as Maria talks about how hard her family worked and how whenever she found loose change on the ground, she would put it in the jukebox and play “Material Girl.”
That’s the tune that she and Derek are dancing to tonight, and the DWTS band manages to turn it into a truly terrible slowed-down version of the song.
However, they sweep along gracefully, and even Tom Bergeron gets so distracted he almost forgets to bring them over to the judges. “There was no rhythm in the song — it’s incredibly difficult to do,” Bruno says, and he means it as a compliment, though Maria looks extremely confused. Carrie Ann loves it, and Len thinks it’s a tremendous performance. Score: 9, 9, 9 for a total of 27 points.Then we get to see some footage of Maria’s night job as a wrestler, but the less said about that the better.
Singer Gladys Knight and Tristan MacManus
Dance: Fox trot
Her memorable year: 1957, the first tour for Gladys Knight and the Pips. She was 13 at the time and met lots of super-artists, such as Sam Cooke, who taught Gladys how to act onstage and treat an audience. It changed her life, Gladys says, so she and Tristan are dancing to a Sam Cooke song as a tribute.
She and Tristan go along to the fox trot, looking more comfortable than she has in the past two weeks. Carrie Ann thinks there was huge improvement this week. “You dance like you sing — sensuous and soulful and rich and divine,” Carrie Ann gushes. Len says he appreciates how much work Gladys is putting into this show, given how old she is — but it’s OK and not insulting, since he points out they’re the same age. Bruno goes with “absolutely gorgeous.” Score: 8, 8, 8 for a total of 24 points.
Disney star Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower
His memorable year: 1996, the first time Roshon saw Michael Jackson on stage. Roshon is a huge MJ fan, so he’s chosen “I Want You Back” to celebrate his idol. As a treat, Chelsie brings in MJ’s choreographer, Travis Payne, to help choreograph the dance and help Roshon with the moves.
It’s a Michael Jackson song with a samba twist, which works surprisingly well, with Roshon decked out in a very ’70s outfit. Len, however, wishes there was some traditional samba in the dance, but he likes the fact that Roshon gives 100 percent effort. “Michael Jackson would love it, and so do I!” Bruno exclaims, saying the resemblance between Roshon and MJ is “uncanny.” Carrie Ann, on the other hand, agrees with Len and wasn’t quite as impressed. Score: 8, 8, 9 for a total of 25 points.
Pop singer Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff
His memorable year: 1998, when Gavin moved to New York City to pursue his dream of becoming a singer. Crying alert #3? He tears up talking about his dad, who came to NYC with him and would go door to door trying to get Gavin singing gigs. As a tribute, Gavin will dance to Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.”
Gavin was in the bottom two last week, but he seems to have much better rhythm this time as he sways to the music. “My heart’s going all fluttery for you, Gavin!” Carrie says, noting she couldn’t even tell Gavin was struggling to dance. “There was this beautiful, sensual tenderness.” Len sees more musicality and thinks that there’s been progression week after week. Gavin becomes too choked up to speak when Brooke Burke Charvet asks about dancing in front of his family. Oh, Brooke and her probing questions. Scores: 8, 8, 8 for a total of 24 points.
Opera singer Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas
Her memorable year: 1996, when she found out her father had lung cancer. She cries and tells a devastating story about being 15 years old at the time, being pulled out of class at school only to find out that her father had slipped into a coma; he died the next day. Katherine chooses a Josh Groban song that sums up the way she feels about her dad, though she could have trouble, because the song makes her cry every time.
Katherine holds it together as she glides effortlessly with Mark — there’s a reason she’s consistently been the leader so far this season. She starts crying as she ends the dance, and even Carrie Ann is sobbing. “Your dad is definitely smiling down upon you,” Carrie Ann says tearfully. “That was magic. ... It was like your father’s arms were around you through the dance.” Len manages to be the Grinch as he explains he wasn’t too impressed, but he still thinks Katherine is a wonderful dancer. Bruno, meanwhile, has no qualms. “Sensational!” he roars. Scores: 10, 9,10 for a total of 29, and the first 10s of the season.
‘The View’ talk show co-host Sherri Shepherd and Val Chmerkovskiy
Instead of her most memorable year, her most memorable moment: When her son Jeffrey was born at 25 weeks, and there was a question about whether he would live. We see some pictures from him in the hospital, and Sherri breaks down talking about how he grew up healthy and is her “miracle baby.” Sherri has trouble mastering the steps to the rumba during rehearsal, though she lights up during a tough rehearsal as soon as adorable Jeffrey comes running in to say hi.
Sherri is super serious this time around, as she focuses intently on getting the steps. At the end, the camera pans to little Jeffrey jumping up and down, and it’s possibly the cutest thing that’s ever happened. Len thinks Sherri did a great job with the triple spins. “Mama can move!” exclaims Bruno, who thinks the dance was very well expressed. Carrie Ann loves that Sherri stayed true to herself. Sherri sobs all the way to the Celebriquarium to get her scores: 8, 8, 8 for a total of 24 points.
Actress Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Her memorable year: 2010, when she broke her back while touring in the “Little House on the Prairie” musical and went into surgery not knowing if she would be able to walk when she woke up. But she recovered, and now she’s up and dancing — which means it’s time for her to break down crying. Maks can’t take all the tears. “Oh my God, she’s crying again,” Maks groans. “I did not say a word, and I didn’t even do anything!”
The dance starts out slow, and then they kick it up a notch as Melissa smoothly whirls her hair around. Bruno adores the opening sequence with drops and shakes. Carrie Ann loves it. “A story that has a happy ending, and comments that are going to give you a happy ending,” says Len, who’s very pleased. (Is he contractually obligated to say that considering two members of ABC sitcom “Happy Endings” are in the “DWTS” audience tonight?) Score: 8, 8, 8 for a total of 24 points.
Actor Jaleel White & Kym Johnson
His memorable year: The one where he played Stefan Urquelle, the alter ego of “Family Matters” character Steve Urkel. “I was very apprehensive about playing Stefan Urquelle, but our executive producers saw in me the man I hadn’t become yet,” Jaleel explains, saying that people started treating him differently after that. “So you started getting lucky with the ladies, huh?” Kym teases him. “We don’t have to get into details,” he jokes, as Kym laughs. The pair is awfully chummy on tape, which is in marked contrast to tabloid reports that the two got in an huge fight during rehearsal, causing producers to send Jaleel home for the day after other dancers got involved.
Jaleel moves swiftly through the dance, but he’s also a bit stiff at times. “You are back in the game,” Carrie Ann declares, comparing him to Gregory Hines. Len calls it “competent” but thinks he needs to display the melody of the song through his upper body. Bruno agrees with Len and thinks he played it cool.
In the Celebriquarium, Jaleel says “Kym’s been strong for me all week,” and as he starts talking about playing Steve Urkel/Stefan Urquelle, he breaks down crying, and the camera zooms in. “I love entertaining people,” he sobs. “I’ve been doing it since I was three. ... I just wanted to complete this week. I just wanted to complete this week.” Brooke assures him, “That was a great dance.” Score: 9, 8, 8 for a total of 25 points.
Actor William Levy and Cheryl Burke
His memorable year: 1995, the year he came to the United States. “You have no future in Cuba. ... We grew up very poor,” William explains to Cheryl, describing his joy coming to America with his family.
He starts the dance on the drums and tears his shirt open almost at the outset (very shrewd, William) as the crowd screams. Will William’s abs equal the other contestant’s tears? He grooves on the dance floor and thrills the judges. “You conquered the salsa,” Len says. Bruno orders William to come closer to the table and screams, “That was amazing!” Carrie Ann can barely collect herself. “I want to go to Cuba!” she exclaims, clearly missing the point of his earlier story. Score: 9, 9, 10 for a total of 28 points.
“Clark Kent doesn’t get that reaction when he rips off his jacket,” Tom Bergeron remarks.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd
His memorable year: 2010, when his his best friend died of cancer. Donald gets emotional talking about the tragic story of his friend dying in his arms. He’s honoring his friend with Mariah Carey’s “One Sweet Day.” “My eyes are watering already,” Donald tells Peta.
Donald sways to the rumba through a smoke-covered floor, matching Peta step for step. Carrie Ann has to pull herself together and says she was mesmerized by Donald’s passion for the dance, and she ignored the small technical errors because of the touching performance. Len didn’t expect that a football player would be able to dance with such warmth and emotion, but Donald did. Bruno thinks Donald pushed himself to the limit, and it paid off. Score: 9, 8, 9 for a total of 26 points.
Last week: Judges get harsh in Week 2