Week six was billed as “shirtless” week and viewers weren’t disappointed as pro hunks Val Chmerkovskiy and Artem Chigvintsev went topless during their routines. Alas, Tommy Chong went shirtless too in his pre-dance video package so it just goes to show that the dance gods giveth and taketh away, but they did more giving than taking tonight with a special guest star and audience cameos in terms of past contestants. (More on that later.)
The big winner (for the most part) tonight was Leah Remini, who was filling in as regular host Erin Andrews is wearing her other hat as a sports announcer for the World Series this week.
The chemistry between host Tom and Leah got off swimmingly. Being height appropriate isn’t just good for dance pros and their celeb partners, it’s also nice to see hosts evenly matched. And Tom quoting Billy Crystal’s Fernando Lamas was pretty funny.
Less funny was guest judge Pitbull. I know the pros are great about keeping their emotions in check especially in front of the judges, but I’m sure some of them are so over a celebrity coming on and proclaiming they have no ballroom or dance experience or expertise and then giving 7’s to pro dancers, especially since those pros have trained their whole lives in the art of dance.
Jonathan Bennett and Allison Holker: 28/40 (Jazz)
After scoring poorly the past two weeks, Jonathan came out strong with a well-rehearsed jazz routine. Allison wisely used his height to their advantage in this number, and it scored well with the judges. I figured Jonathan would dance better this week because that’s what celebs usually do after having a lousy week (or two). But I was honestly more interested in how Leah was going to handle the post-dance interview. Why’s she bugging her eyes out, I wondered? Then, I quickly realized: duh, that’s what Jonathan does. He played along. Good for him. He has a sense of humor, but will that and this dance save him for next week? I’m guessing no, but it was a two hour wait for confirmation.
Janel Parrish and Valentin Chmerkvoskiy: 33/40 (Samba)
Their pre-dance video package is perfect. Val shows just enough adorable vulnerability over Janel’s sexy dance with Artem last week to make him and his rock hard abs seem slightly insecure. (Hey, look what being vulnerable did for his brother Maks last season.) Val should really get the mirror ball trophy for controlling his emotions, however. After guest judge Pitbull, who admitted he had no ballroom education or training, gave the couple a 7, it seemed as if Val had to use every ounce of self-restraint not to say anything negative. “I didn’t feel it,” Pitbull said. That’s like when Tom Hanks said to John Heard in Big about his important presentation at the toy company: “I don’t get it.” Julianne Hough defused the tension when she said she wasn’t the mean judge anymore. I wonder if Julianne and Bruno Tonioli were exercising “judge nullification” on Pitbull by giving the duo 9’s to offset his 7. (Don’t let it get you down, Val. I still think this is your year to win.)
NEXT: Special guest star: Cloris Leachman