What could have been a stellar night for Dancing with the Stars All Stars 2012 competitor Shawn Johnson morphed into a memorable evening for all the wrong reasons November 12 after her tribal trio with Derek Hough and Mark Ballas touched off a near-fight in the judges' box.
Entering the week, the multi-talented Derek had a distinct vision for the group's Trio Challenge routine, aiming for a "super tribal" concept that would "push the boundaries" by combining elements of both tribal dance and Samba. Shawn thought "the audience would go crazy and love it" if they were able to put it all together as planned.
From the outset, the routine was a reflection of complete creative and theatrical genius. There were definitely bits and pieces of recognizable Samba included, but to call the number a Samba would be generous. Still, it was completely amazing and probably the most unique performance in the show's storied history. And much to Shawn's delight, the audience granted them a standing ovation.
The performance also, however, met with extraordinarily mixed reviews from the three panelists. Len Goodman, who's spent much of the DWTS All Stars season being unduly harsh on Shawn and Derek, opened the critiques with a hefty dose of pointed criticism. Although he confessed he'd "be cheering along" if he was sitting in the audience, he found the number "very self indulgent". He nailed them for including too little Samba content, and told Shawn "if you go home tomorrow, don't blame me". Bruno Tonioli called them "very, very, very naughty" and said "I've got jungle fever". He appreciated the "intoxicating animal quality" of the routine, but admitted that "it wasn't really a Samba".
Carrie Ann Inaba was quiet for a moment before expressing her dissatisfaction with Len's comments, declaring "sometimes you have to take risks". She added "what they did of Samba was executed with perfection" and appreciated it as a "routine with impact". The comments set off a near-brouhaha between Carrie Ann and Len, who both rose to their feet and argued. Shawn, to her credit, approached the judges and shook hands with each.
The controversy continued as the scores were revealed. While Carrie Ann gave them a 10 and Bruno held up the 9 paddle, Len slammed them with a 7, a score that can only be called an insult at this stage of the competition, particularly given Shawn's tremendous talent.
With a double elimination pending on November 13, Carrie Ann and much of America weren't the only ones upset about Len's score. Show alum Kate Gosselin, who was once paired with Tony Dovolani, tweeted her support following the show: "Okay, Shawn that dance was just seriously ridiculously amazing! Loved it! (and ignore Len!) #DWTS". Mark's dad Corky was also upset, and tweeted "Len Goodman is full of it!! He seems to have forgotten what a Samba is.., ill be happy to give u lessons Len, book one... 7 is OUTRAGE!"
Will Shawn Johnson survive to dance again despite Len's lowball? Watch Tuesday's Dancing with the Stars All Stars 2012 results show on ABC to find out.