And they had a famous face on board to assess them this week.
Paula Abdul joined the judges panel alongside Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba for the night. Naturally, she brought her characteristic good cheer to the ABC show – and she notably awarded one of the season’s first perfect 10s to Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd for their Bollywood-themed routine.
The couple also received 10s from Bruno and Carrie Ann, who told them, “Aladdin has nothing on you, Gilles Marini.” Only Len was a holdout, though he gave the pair an impressive 9.5.
Later in the show, Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough became the second couple of the season to get 10s from the judges – tallying up the same score as Gilles and Peta for their crowd-pleasing mambo. The sexy dance also delighted Abdul, who again proffered a perfect score, telling the pair it was her “favorite dance” of the night. (Len liked it too, but he gave them a 9.5, just as he did with Gilles.)
Still, Carrie Ann argued Shawn and Derek were the couple to beat. “If I were the other contestants, I’d be a little scared of you guys right now,” she told them.
Abdul showed a sunny disposition from the get-go, announcing to the night’s first dancing couple, Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, “You’re a joy to watch,” and bestowing upon them a 7.5 for their Charleston. (The couple ended up scoring a 7.5 from each of the judges.)
Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas were up next, and they earned their personal highest score of the season: 8s from each judge, even nabbing a high-five from Carrie Ann. Abdul offered a bit of criticism though, telling them, “It looks like you’re starting to have fun … [But] if you don’t push [boundaries], they’ll push you.”
Abdul praised Sabrina Bryan and Louis Van Amstel’s disco turn, telling the pair their dance was an “homage to Studio 54,” and awarding them an 8.5 (slightly lower than the other three judges, who gave them straight 9s.).
Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke got 9s across the board for their bolero – an exceptional performance that Paula called “exquisite” and “sensual.” And Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani earned a 9.5 from both Paula and Bruno and 9s from Carrie Ann and Len for their jitterbug.
Abdul found something to praise even as Karina Smirnoff burst into tears after her hip-hop dance with Apolo Ohno. (She apologized and said she slipped and fell.) “You’ve got the swagger,” she told the Olympian, before giving him an 8.5, while the other judges were equally effusive with their praise.
And Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy closed out the evening on a winning note, earning high marks for their contemporary dance to Coldplay’s “Fix You.” Said Abdul: “You did a beautiful, amazing job.”