The sitcom star joins the judging panel with a fiery and combative attitude that immediately causes friction and almost erupts into a full-blown brawl.
It was a night of highs and lows and nearly a brawl at the judges table on "Dancing with the Stars."
James Van Der Beek, who has been a front-runner since the first week, got the exciting news that he's going to be a dad ... again ... for the sixth time! Meanwhile, the gap between the top performers and the Bottom 3 continued to widen, proving that last week's reprieve probably won't make much of a difference.
This competition is proving too much for Sean Spicer, Lamar Odom and Karamo Brown, though at least one of them is showing some signs of improvement. The other two? Yeah, it's still not very pretty.
And while Lamar struggled again, he definitely had a fan in Leah Remini, who not only shouted down her fellow judges for their lower marks, she threatened to walk over them, with Tom Bergeron telling her "it's only a dance show" over and over in an effort to calm her.
Leah stayed fired up throughout the night, talking over Len Goodman constantly and trying to argue that just because you're not a dance, you should get higher marks. It got so bad that Bruno Tonioli actually had to interject to urge Tom to give Len his chance to speak, considering he is head judge and an expert in what they're supposed to be judged on.
In other words, we're not so sure Leah was a great choice as a guest judge -- she had no real dance criticism to offer -- and we're pretty sure she won't be invited back.
Who do I think I am? you ask. Well, I spent nearly a decade of my life sweating and bleeding to the music as a dancer. From a young boy learning a shuffle-ball-change to performing with the St. Louis Ballet Company, I experienced the ups and downs of one of the most difficult physically demanding sports on the planet. During this time, I was also a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as a gymnast, writer and cartoonist. I had a lot more energy in my younger years. And I've spent the last sixteen years analyzing and critiquing reality competition shows for various media publications. I've got this.
(Paso Doble) With it's more militaristic posture and style, this was easily Sean's strongest dance. And yet, he hasn't yet mastered how to look like he's dancing across the floor; rather he always looks like he's marching or stomping. Still, his timing was better and had the steps down, so this is a tremendous improvement from what we've seen before. He just still needs to loosen up and be less militant.
Judges Scores: 5, 6, 5, 5
My Score: 4
Ally Brooke & Sasha Farber
(Jive) Sasha put her through the works on this one, with plenty of tough and fast jive content once they got past the Tina Turner tribute at the top. Ally was mostly on top of it, but she did spend a lot of the dance chasing both the rhythm and Sasha, as if she was struggling to keep up. Her footwork, as such, lacked in sharpness and finesse at times, but this was nevertheless a confident performance and a competent jive. Ally continues to improve week after week just as we like to see.
Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8, 8
My Score: 7
Kel Mitchell & Witney Carson
(Cha Cha) Where did this guy come from? Kel has been improving all season, but he took four or five steps up that ladder with this impressive cha cha. From the moment he sashayed the length of the dance floor like a dancer it was on. He was in control, he had great rhythm and musicality throughout his body. He used every bit of himself and had such swagger, this was just a blast to watch from top to bottom. He just made himself a contender.
(Argentine Tango) Pasha may be one of the best professional partners they've ever discovered, and the work that he is doing with Kate is nothing but magical. Once again, she hit this floor with a grace, poise and confidence you might expect of someone half her age. She did have a little trouble digging into the emotion and acting of such a sultry piece, and wasn't quite as fluid as the format might like, but she really is a mesmerizing dancer to watch and growing each week just the way we want to see.
Judges Scores: 7, 7, 6, 6
My Score: 7
James Van Der Beek & Emma Slater
(Quickstep) James played it a little too broad, especially at the beginning, but was otherwise very confident in a very tough dance style. You could feel the joy exuding off of his body, but more importantly, you could see the quickstep throughout his footwork. The problem was with that big, broad approach, he struggled a bit in those more controlled hold moments moving across the floor, as the judges also noted.
Judges Scores: 7, 7, 7, 7
My Score: 7
Hannah Brown & Alan Bersten
(Paso Doble) We absolutely loved Hannah's attack on this, and she mostly avoided smiling. But she did lack a bit in strength and command. This is a powerful style that requires the woman to stand equal to the man in presence, strength and aggression. Hannah was right there at times, but there was a lack of certainty that betrayed her at others. Still, she really brought commitment to the steps, the moves and the staccato holds, which she hit very hard.
(Viennese Waltz) With all of his height and length, it's remarkable how timid and small Lamar was with his movements. We get he's trying not to outstretch Peta's capabilities in gait and walk, but he overcorrected. Also, while he looked more confident with the steps this week, the concentration it took to get them better took its toll on him looking graceful in a style that is supposed to be all grace and gentle movement.
Judges Scores: 5, 7, 4, 4
My Score: 4
Sailor Brinkley-Cook & Val Chmerkovskiy
(Cha Cha) The piece could have used a little more energy from Sailor in the top half, but she really found her groove as it went along. There was lots of hard striking hits and great lines throughout the piece, though her arms did miss the full extension a few times. Also, she needs to watch singing the lyrics as it's a distraction to her body, which is what's supposed to be telling the story. And her body is doing everything right, with solid hip work and sinuous flexibility.
After her performance, the country singer revealed she had missed a few rehearsals after a "crazy, crazy week." She explained that her cousin, Holly, "had a brain bleed and she slipped into a coma." Because of her trip home, she didn't has as much rehearsal time for her foxtrot. "I was like really stressed and my family told me to come here and I want to dedicate the dance to you, Holly," she added.
As for the dance itself, Lauren needs to watch that she doesn't stop between moves; she needs to keep the dance moving and flowing. She did a great job of selling the emotion of the story Gleb chose to tell through body language, facial expression and even the way she attacked this foxtrot. She only seemed to stutter step one time that was noticeable, mostly offering a lovely presentation with Gleb slipping in increasingly complex moves and spins.
Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8, 8
My Score: 8
Karamo Brown & Jenna Johson
(Tango) Karamo needs to dig into the ground, loosen up his hips and sink his body down a bit more to get more into the heat of the tango. This was all too tall, upright and stiff throughout a lot of it. It was lacking in the intensity that it needed to really sell the attitude of the piece. That said, credit where it's due, he seemed to have the dance down pretty well and you could tell that he was fighting for it; he just hasn't fully committed to just throwing caution to the wind and going for it He dances like a reserved person trying to get out of their headspace and dance with abandon, but it's not coming easy.
The bottom three isn't changing, but the most important thing to note is that the bottom two aren't really improving. Meanwhile, Karamo stepped up his game this week and is showing the drive and the potential to really find his footing in this competition.
All of that is to say that we were rooting -- that can't be the right word -- for Lamar and Sean to fall to the bottom two. From that point, we're okay with either one going, because the other one should be right behind them next week, barring some miraculous improvement.
And yet, once again Sean managed to escape the Bottom 2, leaving Karamo to battle it out with Lamar to see which one the judges would save. And while we were feeling pretty confident they would reward Karamo's work and improvement with a chance to continue, we're a little concerned that Sean keeps skating by.
Weren't the tweaks in format supposed to prevent this sort of thing? All he has to do, though, is fall into the Bottom 2 and he's done, and he's so far behind the leaders of this competition it has to happen eventually, right?
In the end, Lamar Odom's luck finally ran out, as did his journey on this show.
"Dancing With the Stars" airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.