DWTS 5th Judge: Fantastic Grease Night Soured by Outrageously Wrong Elimination

Even the judges couldn’t right this shocking wrong as America put two of the strongest dancers of the night — and season — in the Bottom 2!

“Dancing with the Stars” took on the iconic “Grease” and they did it in a brilliantly clever and delightful way. Too bad the final elimination soured the whole night as it was a travesty from top to bottom.

Ever since Bobby Bones won this whole thing, we’ve really been questioning the choices America makes when watching this show … as it seems half the time like they’re not watching this show.

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It was because of this, that we shifted to this Bottom 2, Judges’ Save format, but America proved they can still screw it up. This week was another fine example, as both couples who wound up in the Bottom 2 absolutely did not belong there.

At least we could enjoy everything up until that outrage-inducing reveal. Rather than just do dances inspired by “Grease,” the production actually recreated the beats of the film through dance in production order throughout the night.

In other words, we could relive the story of “Grease” through these dance interpretations, which added a whole new layer of quality entertainment. Even better, they got a couple of OG “Grease” stars to join in the fun.

Not only was Olivia Newton-John a part of the celebration with a video message sharing her enthusiasm — and more notes along the way — but the original Teen Angel was in the studio. What a fun treat for the show to score Frankie Avalon to bring “Beauty School Dropout” to life in the best way possible with live vocals, even if it did create a bit of a timing challenge for that couple.

The opening number was even a new interpretation and homage to the opening musical number of “Grease,” featuring a ton of fun and the return of Sharna Burgess to dance with the troupe.

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Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, Derek Hough and Bruno Tonioli. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.

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Olivia Jade & Valentin Chmerkovskiy

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(Foxtrot) We weren’t completely sold on Olivia standing as long as she did toward the end of the piece, but the spin and the overall performance was rock solid from someone who’s showing as much character in her performances as she is technical ability. This is a solid partnership, and you can see Val bringing out Olivia’s confidence week by week. Her footwork and frame were on point throughout this, and while her pivots could have been a little sharper, it was nevertheless a very entertaining piece.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9

My Score: 9

Melora Hardin & Artem Chigvintsev

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(Viennese Waltz) An incredibly cute piece, Melora had wonderful character throughout, playing off the lyrics and Artem beautifully while never losing the texture of the Viennese waltz. She actually had a lovely frame, a great gliding motion with the delicate footwork. Her feet lost the timing ever so slightly at one point as she neared the camera, but she recovered beautifully. She gets so into these dances, she probably doesn’t even realize how strong she is until she watches it back later.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9

My Score: 9

Iman Shumpert & Daniella Karagach

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(Viennese Waltz) A sweetly choreographed piece, but an absolute step backwards for Iman. Grace is not his thing, and he was clunky throughout this. Frankenstein arms and hands, a very flopsy frame in hold (as if he’s wilting into Daniella) and a lumbering cadence with no waltz rhythm and flow whatsoever. Every moment was stilted and uncomfortable. We’ve definitely seen him dance better than this before — it reminded us more of a Week 1 performance than Week 5.

Judges Scores: 7, 7, 7, 7

My Score: 4

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Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin & Witney Carson

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(Jive) “Greased Lightning” was the perfect choice for Mike and the jive, and both came together really well. A little reckless in his hops, and frantic in a couple of places as he missed the timing, he was nevertheless pretty solid throughout in keeping up with the pace of the dance and not losing his character. There was one point where he looked momentarily as if he lost his place in the choreography, but he found his way back quick enough. A very fun piece and further proof that among the guys, Mike is definitely rising toward the top.

Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8, 8

My Score: 7

Amanda Kloots & Alan Bersten

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(Viennese Waltz) What a beautifully realized vision. Amanda was so solid in this, we at times forgot we weren’t watching two pros bringing this piece to life. There was so much character, but even more important, there was so much Viennese waltz. Packed with quality content, Amanda was a vision in hold, gliding effortlessly across the dance floor, she even handled the timing shift toward the end effortlessly. Her frame, her lines, her feet, everything is so beautiful to watch.

Judges Scores: 10, 10, 9, 10

My Score: 10

Suni Lee & Sasha Farber

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(Charleston) We were hopeful that the technical challenges of the Charleston would suit Suni, but instead they seemed to trip her up. She did not follow through most of her movements, and wasn’t even on point hitting them consistently throughout this piece. Instead, she looked more uncertain than we’ve seen her in a while. Full props for nailing the hand jive performance of the piece — why didn’t they just do jive for this song? — but we can’t say the ankle twists and steps for Charleston were handled with nearly enough finesse.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9

My Score: 7

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Jimmie Allen & Emma Slater

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(Foxtrot) A very glaring trip-up early on (apparently on pie from Sasha’s face in the previous dance that wasn’t cleaned up) didn’t throw Jimmie too much. In fact, it improved the dance as he was much heavier on his feet prior to it. After, he had a much better flow and even looked more confident in frame. He has a lot of fun character work in the piece, but was definitely not light enough overall for the foxtrot style. Jimmie has been inconsistent throughout the competition, with a few bright moments, but this was not one of his best outings.

Judges Scores: 8, 8, 9, 9

My Score: 6

Kenya Moore & Brandon Armstrong

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(Rumba) Kenya should almost get eliminated more often. It was the best thing that could have ever happened to her as she went from someone consistently in the middle or bottom of the pack to a real contender with this sensual rumba. Her hips, her attitude, those legs! Everything was sizzling in exactly the right way on this one. This was a whole new Kenya, comfortable in her body, her sensuality and confident in her moves in a way we’ve never seen before. It was such a graceful and delicious treat to watch.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9

My Score: 9

JoJo Siwa & Jenna Johnson

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(Foxtrot) Stunningly beautiful from top to bottom, JoJo really sold the sadness of Sandy in this piece in a way that was palpable through the screen. Her technique actually continues to get stronger and stronger, even as she started at a very high level with her dance background. This was a gorgeous foxtrot with a ton of great content, executed flawlessly. The dancing was such perfection, we were able to lose ourselves in the story. This was almost beyond words, pure artistry.

Judges Scores: 10, 10, 10, 10

My Score: 10 (does this thing go up to 11?)

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Melanie C & Gleb Savchenko

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(Quickstep) What fun Melanie was having throughout this piece, and particularly in the opening measures. Once she hit the main floor, we were impressed with her footwork and how light she was on her feet for the hops and kicks. Her frame was pretty strong throughout and she really embodied the bold Sandy after her transformation in the story. There was a lot of great quickstep content and she managed to balance it well with character, aside from that slip the judges were noting.

Judges Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9

My Score: 8

Cody Rigsby & Cheryl Burke

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(Quickstep) This was a bit of a mess, if we’re being honest, as Cody had his butt sticking out and was too separated. He was a little all over the place except where he needed to be landing the steps for this quickstep. A lot of the stars have made this “dreaded” style look effortless this season, but Cody reminded us in one dance why it was the doom of so many before him. He looked uncomfortable, definitely was unsure of where he was in the choreography — and rightfully so, as he wasn’t always in the right place. This just felt like an early rehearsal with him still trying to get it all figured out.

Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8, 8

My Score: 5

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RESULTS & PREDICTIONS

For the first time all season, the leader board at the end of the night had a clear gender divide, with all seven remaining women at the top and all four remaining guys bringing up the rear. At this rate, it’s going to be all women in a matter of weeks if the guys don’t step it up dramatically. And we’re just not seeing it.

As such, it really should be another guy who goes home this week, with Iman the most likely candidate. He’s very likable, but that was a bit of a clunky mess. Cody wasn’t too much better, though the judges’ scores don’t accurately reflect that. That they don’t is bad news for the ladies.

After all, this show tends to skew female in its viewership, and we’ve definitely seen in recent seasons outsized support for male dancers, even when it’s unwarranted, while stronger female dancers fail to get voter’s support. It’s also because reasons that have nothing to do with dance can also bring in votes, like Bobby Bones’ outsized radio audience during the season he won.

We’ve already seen signs of ladies getting hit with less support than deserved this season prior to this week, and with the judges scores so even throughout the night, it could well happen again. It doesn’t help to put the “Judges’ Save” buffer in to help the integrity of the show when the judges are giving scores way too high in so many cases each week.

As such, we were sweating bullets a bit when it came time to reveal the safe couples, but we were thrilled for Kenya when she was first to be declared safe. Jimmie followed her, and dropped an s-bomb in shock. After Melora, Cody was declared safe, and we started to worry. That’s four people safe and half of the guys among them.

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Could it actually be two women in the Bottom 2 when they beat out every guy in the competition? Do we prepare to riot?

Witney seemed surprised to hear she and Mike were safe, with Iman saved for the bottom three alongside Melanie C and Olivia. Both ladies were part of that five-way tie in third place with the judges (see how those scores don’t help?), but both also deserved to be here.

And then Iman was declared safe, and it was a worst-case scenario for the show, much like when it was Christine Chiu and Kenya in Week 3 when there were far worse guys still in the competition. We can’t imagine this sustaining beyond the middle of the competition, but it has to be frustrating for these women who apparently have to work more than twice as hard as the guys to have a shot at staying.

After a week of controversy and outrage over last week’s results, Tyra again tried to explain that Len has extra weight to his vote as the head judge, so if there is a 2-2 tie at the end, his vote tips the scales toward his choice. Honestly, there should be outrage this week regardless, as both ladies should stay. But since they can’t, our pick to save was definitely Olivia.

Derek echoed our vote, followed by Carrie Ann throwing her support to Melanie. That made Bruno’s vote effectively pointless, as it was going to be again up to Len, regardless. Still, he also saved Melanie.

That put Len in a spot to recreate last week’s outrage, and he did just that. With his extra-weighted vote, he chose to save Olivia Jade and so it was. Despite the 2-2 split, Olivia continues in the competition and Melanie C has to say goodbye.

In truth, though, the judges were right and if America needs to be angry at anyone, they need to be angry at themselves for putting these women into this position when they were by no means the weakest dancers of the night. Get it right, next week, okay?

“Dancing with the Stars” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.


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