Dancing With the Stars celebrated its 200th episode Monday and as promised, the ballroom was crammed with more sequins and former celebrity contestants than ever to mark the momentous occasion. The excitement of the milestone anniversary only enhanced the performances of season 11’s remaining six couples.
Each pair performed one solo dance and one cha cha as a team (the two teams were led by former champs Kristi Yamaguchi and Apolo Anton Ohno). Team Apolo’s hip-hop inspired cha cha with Kurt Warner, Brandy and Jennifer Grey earned 27 out of 30 points, outdoing Bristol Palin, Rick Fox and Kyle Massey, who received 24 points as Team Kristi.
For the past two weeks, Brandy has found herself all alone at the top of the leader board. But former frontrunner Jennifer Grey bounced back Monday, tying the singer by earning 64 out of a possible 70 points for her tango and cha cha.
The two women received high marks and much praise from the judges for their solo routines. Bruno Tonioli drooled over Brandy and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s foxtrot, saying every step was driven by “relentless eroticism.” Grey and partner Derek Hough’s tantalizing tango displayed “tension and passion,” according to Len Goodman. Tonioli felt Grey had her game face on, giving her the potential to “go all the way” to the finals.
The higher point totals were because – thanks to the big anniversary – six former contestants who had memorable dances on the show returned to see a couple perform elements of their iconic routines and to sit in as a guest judge for that dance. Mel B., Drew Lachey, Emmitt Smith, Grey fan Gilles Marini, Helio Castroneves and Kelly Osbourne took their shot and judging Monday night.
Tying for second place were Fox and Warner, with 61 points each. Fox’s quickstep with partner Cheryl Burke had the judges gushing that the former NBA champ, who sported an emerald green suit that earned him the nickname “Cucumber,” had made a huge breakthrough. “Best performance ever!” Tonioli exclaimed. Warner and partner Anna Trebunskaya’s tango was also well received. “Well done,” Goodman said simply.
The affable, crowd-pleasing Massey and partner Lacey Schwimmer landed in third place with 59 points. Their respectable paso doble, which was guest-judged by Mel B., had the former Spice Girl gushing, “You blew me away – and you were sexy!”
Palin and partner Mark Ballas landed in the cellar with just 57 points for the night. The pair’s Viennese waltz had elements of grace, but was overshadowed by Palin’s expressionless face. “You’re still slightly detached,” Carrie Ann Inaba observed, while Goodman felt the duo still lacked chemistry at this stage in the competition.
What You Didn’t See
• Before the show, pro Karina Smirnoff, who was on hand for the elaborate dance number that opened the special episode, chatted with her boyfriend, major league pitcher Brad Penny, by the pressroom.
• Which former contestants were in the house for episode 200? To name a few: Lance Bass, Warren Sapp, Evan Lysacek, Jane Seymour, mom-to-be Melissa Rycroft, Cameron Mathison, Florence Henderson, Jake Pavelka, Kathy Ireland, Stacey Keibler, John O’Hurley, Joey Lawrence, Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin.
• Two minutes before the show went live, season 9 champ Donny Osmond bolted out of his front-row seat, across the ballroom and up onto the judges’ podium to embrace Tonioli, Goodman and Inaba.
• In fact, there was plenty of love going around during commercial breaks as all of the celebrities caught up with their former fellow contestants. When season 11’s first casualty, David Hasselhoff, arrived and was escorted to his seat during the first commercial break, fans waved and blew him kisses. The Hoff looked dashing in an open collar pinstripe suit and purple velvet loafers. Sharon Osbourne arrived shortly afterward and upon seeing her former America’s Got Talent judge, she squealed, “Oh my God!” The two fondly embraced and chatted before taking their seats.
• Kyle Massey may have brought the sexy on for his Mel B.-inspired paso doble but moments after the dance, he lost it. As he and Schwimmer made their way to the celeb-aquarium during the commercial break, Massey tripped over a light and tumbled to the floor. “I’m okay,” he said with a laugh. “I can’t be sexy for more than five minutes.”