Cher guest-judges the seven remaining couples on emotional connection and incorporation of feathers; another pair trudges home

By Annie Barrett
Updated November 05, 2013 at 09:13 AM EST
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Dancing With the Stars

S17 E8
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  • TV Show
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  • ABC
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Well, ya better! All was right in our favorite sparkly alternate universe as legendary pop star Cher seamlessly assimilated into the shimmery atmosphere of Planet Mirrorballus. She was there to sub in for absent head judge Len Goodman, perform twice so we could peer deeply into the medical marvel that is her 67-years-young face, and remind Tom Bergeron, with diva-esque authority, “As everyone knows, I don’t know how to call out for pizza.”

The most subdued of the three judges (which is really saying something, namely that Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba are cuckoo birds), Cher gave out mostly 9s and compliments. But she was highly amusing throughout the night — threatening to “knee” Tonioli if he flailed too hard, upping her game from a demure sequined shift to a ridiculous feathered headdress for her second performance, and dramatically delaying her score announcements as if conjuring up the paddles from the sleeves of her magical cloak. (Note that I do not doubt whether Cher’s cloak itself is magical. It obviously is. It’s Cher’s.)

Of course, one of the seven remaining pairs had to go, following a set of solo dances and a three-round Dance Off that gave three couples three extra points towards their nebulous clusterf*cks of Judges Scores/Viewer Votes. (Not even Bill Nye the Science Guy understands DWTS‘ wacky scoring system.) Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd have been eliminated. The Pretty Little Liars actor just never quite achieved Star power within the televised ballroom, despite a few dance efforts that were more technically sound than those of some others.

In what struck me as the most intense pre-elimination moment of the season (I guess I was all jacked up over my love-hate relationship with Leah Remini’s hilarious/gross fringed leggings a.k.a. “hairy tights”), Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke fell under the red “jeopardy” light but were not necessarily in the bottom two.

You guys. Cheryl Burke was named after Cher. Perhaps this explains her affinity for black lace, leather, and costumes precariously held together by a single thread? (Not necessarily true, as I’ve just described every female to ever appear on Dancing With the Stars.)

NEXT: Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhhh-ber!

Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke: 27/30 tango + 3 = 30 I apologize that my Judges’ Leaderboard is such a mess this week. I don’t know whether to list them according to total scores or solo scores. Those extra three points only mattered for a few minutes tonight, as far as I can tell. Who knows if they even mattered at all? It’s hard out there for three measly, low-wattage extra points making their way through the thick, goopy atmosphere of spray tan molecules and sweat that pervades the Glitter Galaxy. But anyway: Jack, Corbin, and Leah all earned three extra points after winning their legs of the Dance Off, and long story short (too late for that): I’m including these phantom up-votes in the ranking.

Jack is HERE TO WIN as of this week. He’s been present all along, but now he’s smiling without prompts and has decided he loves to dance. “I thought this would be the cheesiest experience of my life,” he admitted to Cheryl. Wait, it’s not? I want my no money back!

Jack’s tango to “The Beat Goes On” was perhaps his fiercest effort yet — “You’re a tango-dancing pimp!” raved Cher, and the pimp and the hooker are what the tango are all about. (Cheryl’s quizzical look toward Bruno after this comment was delicious.) But what really sold me on Jack’s staying power was his exuberance and energy in the pair’s disco Dance Off against Bill and Emma. I think he would have kept spinning Cheryl around on his thighs (way, way less sexual than it sounds) for days if Tom hadn’t rushed them off the floor.

Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff: 27/30 + 3 = 30 Karina gets my own meaningless extra three points for Cher-iest costume, which covered the four essential Ls of sexy dancing — legs, lace, leather, and lookatmyboobs. But my praise ends there. Their Argentine tango, set to “Welcome to Burlesque,” was sloppy! I think we viewers saw many more messed-up steps in one corner than the judges did.

Props to the rehearsal footage editors for making it seem like Corbin Bleu is the busiest man in Hollywood. I’m convinced he got, like, just the one call, and it was either an iPhone alarm he’d set himself or a real call from his publicist, who said “Hello, I’m calling because you asked me to.”

But a full slate of phone calls wasn’t the only thing distracting Corbin from the choreography:

Ha, Karina’s face!

Okay, okay. The movie he’s producing is about teen bullying and Corbin would like you to fund it here. I caved. I’m no bully.

NEXT: How dare Amber ease up on the knee that put her in the hospital? “We currently have a three-way tie. Maybe Amber and Derek can definitively take the lead….” OH, YOU THINK? Excellent guess, Tom. (Oh my God, I did not mean for it to sound like I was yelling at Tom Bergeron. Can you imagine? That’s the stuff of nightmares!) It was just soooo obvious that the last pair to dance would win the one extra fantasy point and immunity from the dreaded Dance Off.

Amber Riley and Derek Hough: 28/30 rumba + 1 = 29 Tristan MacManus in a sailor suit. End of description.

No, silly me. The real story is that Derek Hough, sailor in chief, went shirtless for the rumba! Ahoy! He gets one of these per season, which means he never seems quite comfortable with the decision. Cher-Der could stand to take some lessons from perpetually shirtless Val on how to refrain from repeatedly touching one’s nipples once they’re out in the open. We get it! You’re exposed! Live with your choices, man. Deal with the brutal temperature under the blazing spotlights.

Meanwhile, Amber, who was rocking some amazing Cher Hair this week, skipped the fringed belly chain and deep-V thong (it’s underwear and a shirt!) I fondly recall from the “Turn Back Time” video, though I suppose we don’t know what secrets rested under her tasteful knee-length leather skirt. Their rumba was pretty good — well, it must’ve been if Bruno awarded it the only “Tehhhhhhn!” of the night — but Carrie Ann called Amber and Derek out on not pushing herself a little bit further. This, after she’d been admitted to the hospital for her troublesome knee tendons. Girl can’t win! (Though she will probably win Dancing With the Stars.)

Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani: 25/30 Viennese waltz + 3 = 28 During rehearsal footage, Leah was really excited to have Cher in her corner despite having no real proof of this. But Leah was RIGHT! Sonny Dovolani made a brilliant move in choreographing their Viennese Waltz as the original meet-cute between Sonny and Cher at a coffee shop. As for the dance itself, it kind of seemed like Tony was dragging her around, but he was probably under strict orders to lead her into the Celebripocket at one edge of the stage, which housed Chaz Bono, J. Lo, and Casper the Friendly Dancer. Once Leah’s alliance with superstardom had been reaffirmed, we were free to zero in on those high-heeled boots she keeps wearing instead of regular dance heels. She must need the extra ankle support. Smart lady.

NEXT: Compliment rescinded due to hairy fringe-legs Oh, God, I spoke too soon because during their rumba Dance Off, against Brant and Peta, Leah opted for the Fringe Monster full bodysuit to go along with the special ankle boots. Now, you may already be aware that I LOVE FRINGE. But I cannot seem to get behind hairy fringe-legs when the fringe dangles directly from the limb as opposed to from structured pant. Fringe wrapped in a candy cane-like stripe around one leg is okay. A decorative whim, really. But hairy fringe-legs just make me shudder and want to personally run up and shave people, which is a) disgusting and b) certainly disruptive considering the Bedroom Dance is supposed to be a private affair.

No matter: Cher loves a crazy costume, and she was still high from reliving her own romance earlier in the night. Leah and Tony won the Dance Off, potentially stealing Brant and Peta’s spot in the competition. All’s fair in love and flattery.

At least Brant and Peta went out on a triple-9 foxtrot that had Carrie Ann raving about Brant’s “leading man” status. She then nit-picked something unclear involving his knees. Maybe she meant that Brant should get better TV roles. Was it just me or did Lucy Hale and Ashley Benson seem to barely recognize him during the two least lively high fives to ever take place on camera?

I still have no idea what the heck was on Peta’s head — note to self: when going with a full-length sparkly, backless orange robe, maybe nix the feathered mess on top — or what a huge pile of presents had to do with “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss).” But I loved their emphatic twirl-dips on the shoop-shoops and the couple’s final aggressive lip-lock — one last time, for good measure. And I knew exactly what Cher meant by their “two smiles that went together.” It’s what sold me on the dance, too, midway through.

I have something in common with Cher!

Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy: 25/30 Elizabeth annoyed her partner and her greatest enemy of all, herself, while struggling to learn a modified jazz routine after boldly switching songs late in the game. Cher’s “Bang Bang” is one of her favorites — mine too, plus I like anything that forces Val to fling his shirtless self against both a wall and the floor in mock-desperation. The problem, for Carrie Ann and Bruno, was that Elizabeth over-acted herself into a mode of only super-high intensity instead of allowing for the light and shade of the music to guide her along and remind her to breathe. Basically, she chewed up all that extra scenery she demanded.

Cher disagreed — she loved it — and endured one of the LONGEST BLEEPS EVER.

Damn that 10-second delay!

NEXT: ‘The rough part’ What’d she say? Investigate with me, gemshoes. The bleep occurred right after Cher enthused that she’d liked “the rough part” of Spiderweb Bodysuit and Zero Shirt’s adventures in burlesque. “I like it when…. [Bleeeeeeeeeeeep],” Cher continued. (The offending language begins at 2:26 below.)

Despite my years of watching TV on mute as my entire life passes me by, I have yet to become a lip-reading expert. But if I’m not mistaken, could Cher have said something as simple as “….when the woman’s in control”? (Or a different term for woman.) And ABC bleeped it out because the “rough” comment had implied a sexual situation, and you can’t show that on television?

Whatever Cher’s comment was, Elizabeth Berkley Lauren got super-serious, as Elizabeth Berkley Lauren does, and seized her opportunity to transmit direct communication to Cher. “I want to thank you for showing women they can create their own rules, and that resiliency is a powerful thing,” she told one of the original showgirls. Awww.

#SPARKLEBARF.

Bill Engvall and Emma Slater: 24/30 Sure, Bill may have had musicality issues and a bunch of missed steps during their “Strong Enough” disco. But I can honestly say I never, ever notice Bill Engvall’s technical mistakes. If there were a separate scoring column for GOING FOR IT, Bill would get a perfect 30 every week. His delighted madman cackles post-dance alone make me want to be a better person and take more pride in this crazy little thing I do called a job. I want to be insane!

Thanks to readers and hidden gem hunters Colleen, johoallen, and VexTheVixen, for spotting Bill’s wink toward disco heaven (and us)!

This disco fever-inspired dance-vomit is another one of those relentlessly absurd routines that signify what Dancing With the Stars is all about. (Hey, I should make an official list of those.) But you know what I mean. This dance had everything: boob feathers, an unnecessary second sparkly staircase, all-white after Labor Day, a crazy amount of lifts where the girl’s legs act as hooks around the guy’s neck thus creating an illusion of a feather boa scarf — you know, the works. I live for these routines. This show is barely about dancing, after all. It’s times like this I can really embrace that.

Cher performed “Believe” with her own backup dancers (decoys) and Our Pros in a vocally and physically wobbly yet life-affirming opening number. But I much preferred the pre-taped “I Hope You Find It,” featuring Tony and Tyne.

Tyne is like three pounds. I love it. Three extra points awarded to Tony and Tyne!

To sum up: FEATHERS. Feathers everywhere. And not a drop to drink.

Did you like Cher as a guest judge?

If not, did you at least appreciate all the crazy costumes she and her music inspired?

Discuss!

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Dancing With the Stars

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