'Dancing With the Stars' judges melt down over Shawn Johnson's tribal trio
Honoring the military was the official post-Veterans Day theme for week-eight of "Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars," but the unofficial theme was war -- as in big ballroom battles among the judges.
The biggest fray of the night by far happened when all-star leading lady Shawn Johnson hit the floor. Actually, her first dance of the night -- a tearjerker of a Viennese waltz that earned her 29.5 points -- went over well with head judge Len Goodman and his peers on the panel. But when she returned for her trio routine, it was nothing but tribal trouble.
That's because the dance she performed alongside pros Derek Hough and Mark Ballas was meant to be a samba. But the high-energy, crowd-pleasing number felt more like a tribal-tribute freestyle -- a very well performed, fun freestyle, but an only slightly samba-infused one.
"Listen, if I was sitting in the audience I'd be cheering along," Len admitted after the standing-O crowd had barely returned to their seats.
But he wasn't cheering -- he was judging a samba with "very little content." So little, that he warned Shawn the dance could spell the end of her dancing days.
"If you go home tomorrow, don't blame me!" he said. Then, motioning to her pro partners, he added, "Blame those two."
Bruno Tonioli applauded the art of the dance, but he had to give Len his due on the critique. Carrie Ann Inaba? Not so much. She disagreed with both of her fellow panelists and let them know it.
"You can't disagree with the truth," Len shot back.
What happened next was a rare moment of ballroom breakdown. Len and Carrie Ann stood up and faced off, shouting over one another and turning the spotlight on themselves. (Though a crouching, arm-pumping Mark vied for his own moment during the melee.)
The judges eventually calmed down enough to deliver their divergent scores, which ranged from a high of 10 (from Carrie Ann) to a low of 7 (from guess who).
But that was far from the only fracas of the night.
When Kelly Monaco performed a spin-filled Viennese waltz packed with strong lines and smooth transitions, the panelists started at it.
Len enjoyed the flow, but felt the movement was too sharp, and when Carrie Ann attempted to school him otherwise, he went for the metaphorical jugular.
"I have my standards," he snipped. "She has none!"
Bruno advised Kelly to ignore the resident grump, and Carrie chose too ignore him too. Instead she just raved over the routine.
Despite all of the hubbub, Len was only a half-point behind his fellow judges when he presented his 9 paddle. And later they all agreed that Kelly's jive trio, along with regular partner Val Chmerkovskiy and returning pro Louis Van Amstel, was worthy of a matching set of 9.5s.
Even Gilles Marini even saw a disagreement following his quickstep. Bruno and Len were convinced the dance was flawless, but Carrie Ann felt certain she spotted a few "wobbles." While Bruno protested, the group didn't let it cause much of a commotion. Instead, the guys gave out perfect scores and Carrie Ann held back a (wobbly) half-point.
Meanwhile Gilles witnessed another mild disparity when he returned for his trio salsa (with Peta Murgatroyd and Chelsie Hightower). According to Carrie Ann, his musicality was off. According to Bruno, he lost timing. But Len, with his 10 paddle at the ready again, thought Gilles was just perfect.
Of course, the esteemed experts found a few things they could agree on. Apolo Anton Ohno's two routines -- a tango and a jive -- were marked good efforts. Kirstie Alley's Viennese Waltz was low on content but well finessed, and her paso doble was packed with content, but it wasn't good content.
And when it came to Melissa Rycroft's quickstep and paso doble, they were so in-tuned to each other that Len, Bruno and Carrie Ann presented unified 10s.
As for Emmitt Smith, the judges got along fine after his steps too. Heck. Despite a visible fumble in his Viennese waltz, they only knocked off one point between them. But they sure gave fans of ballroom dance something to argue about when they scored the hall of famer's trio salsa (with Cheryl Burke and Kym Johnson).
The dance was light on moves, contained sloppy lines and lacked standout moments. And yet somehow Len and the gang saw fit to give it a perfect 30.
Talk about something worth getting upset about!
Who do you think put on the very best performance Monday night? Take our poll below and then share your thoughts about the judges' scoring on our Facebook page. And be sure to join us on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. PT / 3:30 ET to chat about who you think might be going home!
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