Nov. 13, 2012 at 10:06 PM ET
Much of the fun and laughter was sucked out of the "Dancing With the Stars" ballroom on Tuesday night after the combined judges' scores and viewer votes from this week and last led to the elimination of two fan favorites: Kirstie Alley and Gilles Marini.
The upbeat actress' cut was no huge surprise. This season, surrounded by some of the best contestants from previous years, Kirstie's weaknesses were highlighted, though she still managed to bring joy to her performances, perhaps more than any other contestant.
She may have received high praise for Monday's 27-point Viennese waltz, which the judges declared to be one of her best dances, but her trio performance may have doomed her. Dancing the paso doble alongside pro partner Maks Chmerkovskiy and eliminated pro Tristan MacManus, Kirstie was called out for her lack of finesse and sloppy moves, earning a 24 for the problematic performance.
Her total score of 79 points for the two weeks of dancing left her 12.5 points behind her closest competitor, Apolo Anton Ohno. Despite a large fan base that carried her to second place in season 12, she just couldn't make up the huge difference in scoring this time.
"The second time around, it was very special to me. To do it once was special, to be asked back was an honor," Kirstie said after her elimination. "I just love dancing. I want to thank Maks because he's so patient with me, he's so helpful to me. I want to thank the judges because your critiques really helped me."
But it seemed her pal Maks didn't quite agree with that last sentiment. The ballroom bad boy, who has been unusually quiet this season when it came to his feelings for the judges, jokingly shook his head "no" as Kirstie gave props to the panel. The judges' response to him? Smiles and finger shakes. (Let's hope that doesn't come back to bite him in the butt next season.)
Though Kirstie's elimination wasn't a surprise, the second cut of the night was. Apolo, Gilles and Emmitt Smith were the last ones to learn their fates one week ahead of the semifinals. All three men had earned high scores from the judges Monday, and only one point separated the three, with Apolo at the bottom with a total of 91.5, Gilles in the middle with 92 and Emmitt at the top with 92.5.
The former NFL star was quickly declared safe to the surprise of many viewers, who felt his "perfect 30" trio salsa on Monday hardly deserved top marks.
"Emmitt was the one who got the wrong scores. He needs to go tonight, he should gave been gone before Sabrina, too," wrote Elizabeth Carter.
And in a package shown on Tuesday, even head
grump judge himself Len Goodman admitted that the football star made an error during his first dance. "Just a little slip. I don't care!" the judge declared of the flawed Viennese waltz before handing out a 9.5. Viewers will never know if that was the difference between sending Emmitt home and keeping Gilles at least another week.
But the actor was gracious as always, even in his exit. "It's an incredible experience, I tried my very best. (Pro partner) Peta (Murgatroyd) was an angel out there, teaching me amazing things," he said. "I want to thank my wife. It's been quite a challenge for the family ... without her, I'm really nothing."
Next week for the semifinals round, the remaining contestants will take on some funky dances to tunes from Michael Jackson's "Bad":
"I don't know what the producers were smoking," host Tom Bergeron joked about the very strange themes. "I'm sure it was medicinal!"
The "Dancing With the Stars" semifinals round kicks off Monday at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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