Elizabeth Berkley and Val 'Zack Attack' Chmerkovskiy graciously provide the DWTS/Saved by the Bell mashup of my disco ball dreams
Credit: ABC

Have my 17 (SEVENTEEN!) seasons of watching Dancing With the Stars just been validated? On Week 5’s “Most Memorable Year of My Life” show, Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Val “Zack Attack” Chmerkovskiy paid homage to the finest and fiercest caffeine pill dance party in television history: Jessie Spano’s “I’m so excited! I’m so… scared!” breakdown in Saved by the Bell. (Compare the ballroom version to the original over on PopWatch!)

And they acted out the scene in Jessie’s bedroom, with Val urging Elizabeth to put down the deadly non-prescription medication (JIVE PILLS!) and just trust in her ability to dance. Rrrrrrrrrrrrring! clanged a school bell. And instead of sputtering out that she was “scared,” grown-up Jessie (with the same, unbelievably luminous curl-cloud of hair) was…. “Ready!”

It was over-the-top, smothered with extra cheese, and topped off with a hearty dollop of ridiculata. I’ve never been more satiated. I’m sure she just did it to get lunatic Saved by the Bell fans who were enamored by high school fashions and too young to realize they were watching a terrible show [awkwardly raises hand] to shut up already about re-living “I’m So Excited.”

But I don’t care. If that’s the case, then she’s a tremendously good sport. In a strange, pill-poppy sort of way, I feel like that absurd re-staging of Jessie Spano’s bedroom is what I’ve been waiting for in Dancing With the Stars all along.

Man, that is sort of depressing! And so is this, if you’re Christina Milian and Mark Ballas: The couple, who earned the first 10 of the season — and a “From Len, the 10!” at that (huh? no.) — for their neon-fringed cha cha cha earlier in the evening, were eliminated on Week 5. They looked truly shocked. This comes on the heels of last week’s guest judge Julianne Hough slamming Mark for his self-spotlighting choreographic tendencies. But I don’t think her comments had anything to do with them not getting enough votes. Right?

Christina’s elimination was more likely just a case of “No one is so excited.” That sound you didn’t just hear is a few random people across the country lazily typing “who is christina milian” into their phones and then not waiting for the answer to fully load because… ooh, look, Halloween candy on the side table.

Sorry, Paris Hilton! Do(n’t) come again.

NEXT: Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ber! Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff: 28/30 Here’s some more reality-TV-viewing validation for you: If you didn’t watch Dancing With the Stars, you might have lived your whole life without knowing that Corbin Bleu’s little sister suffers from scoliosis. That’s just not a world I wanna live in. Phoenix’s big bro encouraged the 12-year-old to keep her dreams big, via a lovely, frothy pink foxtrot that may or may not have included a lift at the beginning.

Carrie Ann just needs to give it up! The Lift Police is something only she cares about. There is no one else in that department. I think she just likes having an official title on the show other than Headbanging Loon, Fell Out of Chair.

Head ref Tom Bergeron requested an instant replay for the lift in question — and yes, duh, how is this not an option in this day and age? All the other official sports have instant replay; it’s time for Dancing With the Stars to get on board. Karina insisted her foot never left the ground, and Carrie Ann volunteered to up her score from a 9 to a 10 if the playback proved her wrong. She never got the chance: An edict from Lord Mirrorballus himself in the control room said all scores are FINAL.

Bruno complimented Corbin’s “incredible stylistic look,” calling him the love child of Fred Astaire and Ben Vereen. “It’s too bad Bill Nye the Science Guy isn’t here to explain how that would work,” quipped Tom.

Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd: 27/30 I agreed with Brant that Elton John’s “Your Song” was the perfect tune to which to honor pretty much anyone, and his sob story about his dad, who passed away from lymphoma in 2009, was very affecting — maybe more than Brant and Peta’s dance itself, which seemed a bit too paint-by-numbers contemporary to me. It was all a blur of desperate reaching and pained, almost angry looks that I believe were supposed to convey passion. Maybe I just had trouble grasping the dance’s intended effect due to the dim lighting. I wanted to feel more from the dance.

I probably just need to watch it again, so that like Carrie Ann, I can “wrap my heart around that routine.”


Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke: 27/30 Jack dedicated the waltz to his wife Lisa and literally gem-worthy baby daughter Pearl, without whom he never would have made it through the dark days following his diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. I liked how he and Cheryl were appealing to families, the diseased, and Romeo + Juliet fans all at once with that cover of Des’ree’s “Kissing You.” Len called out some peculiar hand movements and lack of musicality from Jack, but the judges agreed that the general quality of their waltz was tip-top. Carrie Ann, apparently in the process of writing a new tome on mindfulness in the ballroom, told Jack, “The grace of your being always manages to slip into the grace of your dancing.”

Cheryl’s waltz costume was basically what I consider to be that of the perfect DWTS Superhero: Two white silk boob panels converging on a gleaming, silver “illusion of underwear” codpiece. Of course it all starts and finishes with a single strand of beads — ostensibly tethered to the DWTS Superhero costume at the neck and butt, yet flopping around desperately in the air-conditioned breeze amidst splatter-paint lighting and starburst spotlights. Ballroom elegance at its finest.

NEXT: America runs on Jive Pills Snooki and Sasha Farber: 27/30 This is the most I’ve ever liked Snooki, who held her ground against Sasha’s ludicrous claim that “doing a 180” was only “turning yourself halfway.” Gotta admit that conversation tripped me up for a good 3.60 seconds. “Okay, so I made a new circle,” she conceded to 360-degree pusher Sasha, rather graciously I thought. Anyway, they were talking about Snooki’s recent priority shift from drunken exhibitionist to sober lover of laundry once she gave birth to her son, Lorenzo, in 2012. She likes folding, too.

Somehow, a feathered pantsuit, a fierce descent from the technicolor staircase, a back walkover, and Britney Spears’ “Work, Bitch” all perfectly combined to announce to the world that Snooki did turn out to be a good mom, so shut up. The final pose of the two of them heaving in the middle of the Glitter Pit was a nice touch, too. “Some of the moves don’t look like they come super naturally for you, but you BARREL on through them,” said Carrie Ann in what I think started out as a compliment but turned into a pretty good explanation of why I don’t love watching Snooki dance. But who cares what I think! She better work! Three 9s.

Freaking out freaking out freaking out.

Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Val Chmerkovskiy: 26/30 Like I said above, their “I’m So Excited” jive was a life-affirming gem a long time coming for me. Saved by the Bell is another show that’s kind of stupid, but truly lovable in its weird way, and I’ve seen ALL of them. It continues to comprise way too much of my pop culture awareness and I make no apologies for that. So mash it up with its sparkly, modern-day-yet-seemingly-set-in-the-’70s sister show Dancing With the Stars and this segment was just one giant hair explosion/geometric earring/NOSTALGIA OVERLOAD GUILTY PLEASURE. I could not get enough.

Once again I’m not doing a great job of expressing myself coherently. You know what I need?

No, I need them, Val — I need them to recap!

Anyway, perhaps my near-orgasmic reaction to this dance (and Val’s Emmy reel for Outstanding Actor in a Reality Series) is partly due to its technical sharpness! Sure, Elizabeth sort of fell out of her pirouette at the beginning, but in seemed in-character enough with Liz as Jessie Spano, so I thought it worked. Together, thanks to Val’s extensive, possibly caffeine-fueled studying of ’80s workout videos, the pair was sharp, fast, and clean on the 1990 throwback. “Tall people have trouble; they get loose,” Len said. “NOT YOU.”

But oof! Elizabeth and Val were deemed “in jeopardy” anyway, right as they were standing around post-scoring. “Thanks, Carrie Ann,” Val deadpanned. The laughter and booing rose up so I want to make sure everyone notes his clever followups: “I was so excited… Where are those pills?”

NEXT: Did you guys have any idea Leah Remini was not a trained dancer? Amber Riley and Derek Hough: 26/30 Only in the gilded world of a celebrity can getting turned down from American Idol signify “hitting rock bottom.” Did you see Amber wail on the pretend-karaoke moment at the end of their foxtrot? Idol had no idea what it was missing! But the real star of “Try a Little Tenderness” was our old friend and the original hidden gem herself: Carmen Carter a.k.a. Princess Sparkle!

Hell yeah! Nice headlight!

But Len, apparently not well-rested from his sojourn across the pond, decided to make this foxtrot one of his “examples.” He does this a lot with Derek’s dances — gives them low scores (tonight, a 7 compared to Carrie Ann’s 9 and Bruno’s 10) because he wants more traditional ballroom content. Obviously it’s a risk Derek is willing, and can afford, to take. His routines are flashy, but he does flash better than anyone. Len wanted more of the dance to be in hold. I’m such a dummy I never would’ve suspected that. Plenty of it was in hold. Not enough, I guess!

Bill Engvall and Emma Slater: 24/30 Bill, on the other hand, impressed Len after spending much of his Viennese waltz in hold, though the head judge also admitted the dance was “a little skimpy here and there” and a little rushed on occasion. Overall I found this Viennese waltz to be very gentle (even with some elaborate head-swirls from Emma!) and sweet, which coincided nicely with its dedication to Bill’s wife Gail.

“My whole career’s about me,” Bill told us. “Rarely does she get any credit or accolades.” So here, take a Viennese waltz and enjoy it, dammit! “She deserves all of ’em,” he said. Aww. Very cute.

Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani: 22/30 “He’s pulling the strings,” explained Leah of her contemporary with Tony, in which he manipulated her like a marionette. “Whatever that means. That could be anything.” IS IT MAYBE SCIENTOLOGY? How Leah managed to ramble on about overcoming victimhood and celebrating independence without mentioning her former Church was truly maddening. Not that I feel like I need to know more about her break from its “hold.” I think you know what I mean. Just…enough. Enough now.

Nothing screams “Katy Perry’s ‘Roar'” more than Katy Perry screaming “Roar” through the speakers instead of the dulcet tones of the Harold Wheeler Band, so Leah and Tony went with that. The dance featured a lot of Leah running up and down a stair-pyramid and declaring her independence, except for the time she scooched her butt onto her puppeteer’s shoulders and rode around for awhile.

Carrie Ann nailed it (the horror!) with her comment that this dance was trick after trick and “not one seamless storytelling moment.” “Well, I can’t do that because I’m not a dancer,” interrupted Leah. OMG. Stop it. We get it.

What did Leah think about her two 7s and an 8? “You don’t wanna know. It’s not for this audience.”

Whatever that means. That could mean anything.

Was Christina and Mark’s elimination shocking, or just par for the course at this point? Did you need caffeine pills to get through my attempts to express how SO EXCITED I was?



Fringe Fairy

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