Hips, hips, hooray for Latin Night on Week 7 of "Dancing With the Stars" as the remaining seven couples were ready to rumba, samba, salsa and paso doble to the max. I wonder, how is it that the lowest scoring male celebs -- Ingo Rademacher, Sean Lowe and Andy Dick -- "coincidentally" were given the rumba, the toughest dance for a beginner? Could the Powers That Be possibly be trying to weed out the three?
On the other hand, Zendaya got the paso doble, which she danced in last week's team dance; Kellie Pickler danced a super samba; Jacoby Jones took on the salsa and had the ballroom shaking; and even Aly Raisman, who had to practice all week with Henry Byalikov due to Mark Ballas' back injury, showed up with a sassy salsa.
The two-hour show Monday night was packed with dancing and entertainment, almost overflowing into "Castle" at 10 p.m. With Latin singing star Juanes filling every extra moment and commercial break with song, the competition progressed in a reasonably orderly fashion. But it was obvious that all of the celebs were out to do their best to win immunity from elimination, the reward to the couple who scored the highest. All the usual suspects did well --Kellie and Derek Hough danced a samba that was fast, furious and full of spirit. Judge Bruno Tonioli even told the pair, "You shook my bon-bons!" For a time, it was uncertain if Mark Ballas would be dancing after he suffered a back injury during rehearsal. But there he was, dancing up a storm with Aly, although there was a decided lack of lifts. Each couple scored one point short of a perfect 30.
Zendaya sizzled with her paso doble with Val Chmerkovskiy, but her youth may have worked against her when it came to showing depth of emotion in the dance. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba pointed out that Zendaya was "missing the strength to back up the intensity." Also grouped near the top of the scoring was Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff, who danced first and showed that they were very determined with a "gymnastic" salsa. Once more, Jacoby's mother started yelling at head judge Len Goodman when he failed to make the most wonderful comments about her boy. This was cute the first time, but it's become tiresome and a distraction. Leave the judging to the judges, Mom, or they just might mark Jacoby down a point.
As anticipated, the trio of rumbas failed to impress the judges, although they seemed to be out to get Andy and were harsher than ever with their comments and scores. After saying how hard he tried, Carrie Ann even gave a 5 to Andy and Sharna Burgess. Andy's fan base will really need to work to overcome his low, low score of 17. Sean actually broke out of his clunky funk after his fiancée came to rehearsal. He tried some sexy moves with her and he managed to pull off a romantic rumba with Peta Murgatroyd. As for Ingo, his rumba lost the languid flow that characterizes the dance and Len said, "You gave it your best shot but didn't deliver."
When all of the individual dances were done, Kellie and Aly were tied for the lead with 29, and co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet said words I'd never heard on the show: "According to the rulebook ..." Rulebook? What rulebook? Who knew there was a DWTS rulebook? But I guess there is and the rules say that if there is a tie, the couple with the "highest cumulative judges' score in the season" wins immunity. So just like that, Kellie and Derek can sit on the couch and do their nails, while the other six couples have a dance-off with each winning pair gaining three extra points. One couple in the dance-off picks the competitor, who then picks the dance.
First up was Aly and Mark who challenged Andy and Sharna. Why Andy and Sharna picked cha cha cha, I'll never know. They did that dance in Week 3 and got three 6s, but that's better than tonight's rumba (two 6s and a 5) so I guess they thought there was a chance. After each couple danced for 40 seconds, the judges picked their favorite, and Aly and Mark gained the three points.
Next were Zendaya and Val, and Jacoby and Karina, who were tied at 27. Again, according to the rulebook, the couple with the highest cumulative judges' score (Zendaya and Val) picked their competition. They picked Jacoby and Karina, who chose the jive. This was the best dance-off all night with the two couples going head to head for the win. Even after the dancing was done, Jacoby and Val were still trying to show who could do the better double splits. The judges loved it, but they unanimously gave the three points to Zendaya and Val.
Finally, Sean and Peta were left to pick Ingo and Kym Johnson, who had to choose the dreaded rumba. Incredibly, Ingo had listened to the judges' critiques and improved over his earlier dancing. The judges were split with Bruno picking Sean and Peta, and Carrie Ann and Len voting for Ingo and Kym, who received the extra points.
All of the twists and turns gave me a headache trying to figure it out, and I'll bet the dancers had a difficult time, especially reading the rulebook. Let's hope that next week, it will be a straight-out competition without the twists, turns and mathematical mishmash. Unless Andy's fan base can pull out a miraculous voting response, this will be his final week.
The results night Tuesday will be an hour packed with entertainment and encouragement. There will be a piece on dance teacher Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost her left foot and ankle in the Boston Marathon bombings, and her determination to continue dancing. Michael Bublé will be singing, and two favorites from "So You Think You Can Dance" -- Stephen "tWitch" Boss and Allison Holker -- will be doing a duet as the "Macy's Stars of Dance." And of course, someone will be going home.
The celebrities and their scores, plus team scores:
Kellie and Derek -- 29 (won immunity)
Aly and Mark -- 29 + 3 (in dance-off) = 32
Zendaya and Val -- 27 + 3 (in dance-off) = 30
Jacoby and Karina -- 27
Ingo and Kym -- 22 + 3 (in dance-off) = 25
Sean and Peta -- 24
Andy and Sharna -- 17