Rock Week was very, well, rocky on Dancing with the Stars. Some of the top contenders floundered, flailed or went floppy at the site of KISS frontman Gene Simmons’ infamous tongue. That means that as we head into elimination, it’s anyone’s game. Green Bay Packer Donald Driver topped the leaderboard with Disney star Roshon Fegan hot on his heels. But is that enough for America to keep them safe? Does the Dancing with the Stars audience care about upstart second-tier Disney stars? Let’s find out:
The Results: The Viewhost Sherri Shepherd is going home. While reality television in general — and this show in particular — abuse the word “shocking,” the popular performer’s early dismissal was quite a surprise, especially to Shepherd, who burst into tears upon hearing her name.
Most Inspirational Speech: Sherri must have been wearing professional grade waterproof mascara because her tears left her eye make up intact. This allowed her to not look completely like someone you’d avoid on public transit when she she made her farewell speech. She left with grace and class, encouraging everyone to run towards their dreams: “That thing that scares you the most, that makes you say ‘I don’t know if I can do it, I’m scared’” The judges used her departure as a cautionary tale to the other performers.
The Biggest Drama: During her performance last night, Melissa Gilbert hit her head on her partner Maks Chmerkovskiy’s leg, knocking him over like an extremely handsome bowling pin. While she initially apologized for the error, she soon realized she could elicit sympathy votes for the injury and promptly started to feel woozy. She was carried downstairs by Gavin DeGraw (who undoubtedly earned a few hearts and votes for the effort) while Gene Simmons in full KISS regalia watched over the proceedings. Remember, if you don’t watch DWTS, you miss magical moments like that!
Least Sympathetic Contestant: Tom Bergeron informs us that Melissa is taking a rest day on doctor’s orders to recuperate from the mild concussion. This announcement made Maria Menounos with her cracked ribs and actual broken bones in her foot snort laugh. Maria is too nice (and her laugh too distinctive) to laugh out loud, but she did laugh really loudly in her head. Both Melissa and Maria will return next week to fight it out on the dance floor.
Biggest Surprise: After making a comfortable home in the bottom three for the last few weeks, singer Gavin DeGraw and his partner, reigning champion Katrina Smirnoff, were announced safe in the first few minutes of the program. They looked as shocked as anyone.
Repeat Performance: The judges chose Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd to give an encore of their dance to “Purple Haze.” Tom said out loud what everyone was thinking, “You gotta hate them just a little” for being “two people with a grand total of three percent body fat.” They ended on the top of the leaderboard yesterday and are safe this week.
Strangest Pairing: Then the camera manages to capture soul legend Gladys Knight canoodling with KISS frontman Gene Simmons, which was an image that had to be rewound several times to fully process. (Be right back, have to go write some fan fiction!) They look like they are having a good time, despite the fact that Gladys was once again on the bottom of the leaderboard.
Biggest Warning: After pronouncing Gladys Knight, Jaleel White and Maria Menounos safe, Tom Bergeron ominously points out that the lowest scorer was safe and the only couples left had never been in the bottom three before. Tom looks truly troubled as he wonders aloud if it was going to be one of those nights where one bad dance sends a performer home. Oh Tom, it is, it really is.
Most Cutthroat Montage: Lest we ever think dance is fun and that the pros have a desirable job, we are treated to a montage of the pros explaining the pressures of being a professional dancer on a competitive reality show. Tristan McManus tells us that all friendships go out the window on the dance floor, and Chelsie Hightower reminds us that to get where they are in life they’ve been competing since birth and, I’m guessing, have all been either a Shark or a Jet from West Side Story at some point in their career. Snap fight!
(LIST: The All-TIME 100 TV Shows)
Best Performance of the Season: The Gotan Project accompanies Karina Smirnoff as she performs an updated Argentine tango along with retired Cuban ballet dancer José Manuel Carreño. In a week of sloppy pasos and tortured tangos, it’s nice to see dance as it was meant to be done: By gorgeous, talented performers with genre appropriate music.
Best Indentured Audience Member: In tonight’s edition of forced cross-promotion, James Van Der Beek a.k.a. Dawson a.k.a. the guy from ABC’s new show Don’t Trust the B—- In Apt. 23 (which sounds like a fab Sesame Street sketch) is watching from the sidelines.
Most Telling Moment: Tom’s deepest fear came to pass when it became clear that one of the top scoring couples was going to be in the bottom three, because clearly America has once again confused this talent contest with a popularity contest. Despite the fact that Carrie Ann Inaba declared that Disney star Roshon Fegan was the best male dancer in the competition, he’s still in the bottom. Because the old folk demographic of this show has no idea who he is. Tom is very disappointed in you, Demographic.
Least Subtle Cross Promotion: Dancing with the Stars Live in Las Vegas is a thing and the producers are trying to make it happen by showing off their star spangled and sequined moves. Apparently there were “stars” dancing, but they were so far down the alphabet (J-List? Q-List?), that they were unrecognizable except perhaps to the keen eye of photo interns at gossip rags. Ugh, whatever happened to what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?
Funniest Technical Difficulties: When Tom was trying to tell Katherine Jenkins that she was safe, her partner Mark Ballas heard and collapsed to the floor in relief. Katherine couldn’t hear the result, though, and thought he had fallen in sorrow. When she finally figured it out, she leapt at him, almost knocking him over, again. It was like Romeo and Juliet, but much more dramatic.
Biggest Disappointment: Tom is very unhappy to have to tell either Roshon or Sherri that they are going home, especially because Sherri is in tears and can’t finish a sentence. Tom and the judges express their disappointment in the voting process, as Val Chmerkovskiy holds Sherri tight. For his part, Roshon looks hopeful that maybe he can just go home to play Grand Theft Auto while his mom brings him juice boxes. Alas it is Sherri who is leaving. As Sherri cries and the tears roll down, everyone tut tuts at the early dismissal. How do you feel about yourself, America? Go to your room and think about what you’ve done.