While Julianne Hough didn't channel any of Len Goodman's grumpiness when she subbed for the head judge on Monday night's "Dancing With the Stars," she didn't hold back when it came to delivering honest critiques.
For instance, after Christina Milian hit the floor with pro Mark Ballas — who just happens to be Hough's former competitive partner — Hough warned the star, "You have to stand in front (of Mark) to make sure you’re seen."
While it was obviously a playful jab at Ballas’ reputation for being such a showman, Hough’s remark left an impression with the two-time "Dancing" champ.
"I don’t really get surprised by the judges’ comments,” Ballas revealed to reporters after the show. "The one comment that was a little funny was that I make (the dance) all about me — but all the critiques were at me, not Christina."
At the top of the show, Hough described herself as a "fair and honest judge" and that her judging was not about the professional, but rather the celebrity dancer.
Therefore, “I found it hypocritical, in a sense,” Ballas said about being the object of Hough’s comment.
Ballas might not hold up a "10" paddle for Hough’s judging, but he might give her a 9.
"We’ve had a lot of guest judges, and Julianne’s been one of the best," Ballas said. "She was insightful and gave really good tips. That part, I loved. I was just the one who got the heat, and that’s OK."
Other dancers found Hough’s presence a breath of fresh air since she can relate to exactly what they’re going through.
“Julianne did an amazing job and got more and more comfortable as the night went on,” pro Karina Smirnoff said.
Cheryl Burke noted that Hough’s comment to Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd that “you guys are working your butt(s) off” is something only a pro dancer can truly say with authority. Judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli simply can’t.
"They don’t know how hard we work,” Burke said. "They haven’t been in our shoes."
Burke doesn’t mean for her assessment to be harsh.
"Not at all,” she clarified. "But I don’t think anyone knows how hard we work other than the producers who film us every day and log everything we do."
Burke wouldn’t mind seeing Hough return to the judges’ table or even have recently eliminated pros such as Sharna Burgess or Tristan MacManus play visiting judge later in the season.
“They know what’s happening and they see people’s progress,” she explained.
Call him biased, but Hough’s brother, Derek, who’s won four mirror ball trophies, thinks his sister did a great job.
“She was so fantastic,” he raved. “I was more nervous about her judging than my performance. It’s hard to be a judge if you haven’t done a lot of it. She had a great balance.”