Monday night kicked off Rock Week on "Dancing With the Stars," and it was a night of surprises, including one not-so-rockin' shock.
The big jaw-dropper was the sudden, conspicuous absence of a celebrity at the end of the show. Following a strong paso doble earlier in the evening set to the White Stripes "Conquest," one which featured a stumble from pro partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, actress Melissa Gilbert waltzed out of the ballroom and into the hospital.
"If you're wondering why Melissa and Maks are not here, she injured herself and as a precaution, has gone to the hospital to get it checked out," host Tom Bergeron told the audience before promising that an update would come during Tuesday's results show.
Whatever it was that took Gilbert down, it wasn't the only injury she suffered on Monday night. Another blow came after she finished her paso -- a dance that could easily be considered her strongest effort in the competition so far. That's when judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli gave her a set of 7s -- which matched the lowest numbers they dished out all night and inspired a round of boos from the in-house audience.
Thanks to head judge Len Goodman, those 7s didn't land Melissa in last place. He added an 8 to the score, as well as some praise for the routine -- despite the trip up from "silly old Maks."
And that makes for one of the other surprises of the night. After a three weeks of odd scoring and off-the-mark critiques from the panel, Len plugged in and rocked Rock Week even more than the show's opening act, KISS.
The ballroom bigwig delivered tough talk where appropriate, took note of technical details and kept the sky-high scores to a minimum by keeping his "10" paddle holstered and only pulling out the "9" once all night. That resulted in an overdue leaderboard shakeup, which means that for the first time this season, "Dancing" queen Katherine Jenkins isn't topping the competition.
Katherine's paso doble lacked control and only earned her 8s. That placed her right in the middle of the action and three points behind the new dance floor leader, Donald Driver.
The NFL man put on an intense (and shirtless – for those us who watch the show from the shallow end of the pool) paso that had the judges raving and later rewarding him with 27 points. It also had them ignoring a couple of blatant lifts.
Right behind Donald in the rankings were Roshon Fegan and Maria Menounos. Roshon delivered a 26-point Viennese Waltz that inspired mixed reviews from Len. Maria received a similar, caveat-filled bit of encouragement from ballroom's elder statesman for her tango.
"Occasionally, it lacked control," Len told her. "It was pretty good, but not right up there."
The man usually filling that second or third place spot is William Levy, but there was no such luck for the model-turned-actor on Monday. His jive started off strong, but soon fell apart when he lost control of one element of the dance and just couldn't find his place again.
Carrie Ann and Len gave the routine 7s, and Len even added a warning about a pattern of missteps from the star. Bruno turned a blind eye to the many flubs and threw an 8 William's way.
Jaleel White's attack-free tango matched William's score, and Sherri Shepherd and Gladys Knight's tangos trailed him by one and two points, respectively. For those routines, Bruno and Carrie Ann joined Len with sensible scoring and commentary.
But of course, you can't have a trend without an exception, and even Len was off the mark once on Monday. After criticizing Gavin DeGraw's tango for packing more poor posture than passion, Len handed the should-be back-of-the-pack dancer an 8 toward his overall score of 23. Strange, though not quite as strange as Carrie Ann comparing Gavin to Johnny Depp.
With all of those big leaderboard moves, who can we expect to see go on Tuesday night? Let's hope it won't be an exit due to an injury (which could mean either Melissa or Maria and her now-fractured foot). But judging from the last few weeks, Gavin might be a good bet.
Are you worried about Melissa Gilbert's injury? And what did you think of the new and improved Len? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page. And don't forget to join me and Anna Chan for our weekly chat at 3:30 ET Tuesday!
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