After the last steps of samba, salsa and Argentine tango had been danced on Monday night's Dancing With the Stars, the remaining nine couples had to face the fact that no matter no matter how well they pulled off their steamy, fun routines, they might still face the scorching red lights of elimination on Tuesday night.
And that's why, for the first time ever, Dancing is rolling out a so-called "Dance Duel" for the next three weeks. Think of it as a mid-season course correction: During the Dance Duel, the bottom two couples dance the same dance to the same tune at the same time, split screen. The judges can then decide to override the secret viewer vote to keep the star they like best on the show.
The intention, according to executive producer Conrad Green, is to prevent talented dancers — such as past season contestants Sabrina Bryan, Kristin Cavallari, and Chynna Phillips — from going home too early. "To be honest, I'm not sure we can ever get this right," says Green, "because we'll have people complaining about the judges throwing people out. But for now, we'll play it by ear."
And possibly hit a few sour notes. The main trouble is, Monday nights after the show used to be the time for the stars to unwind, recover from injury and put their feet up for the first time all week as they waited for Tuesday's results. Now, with the Dance Duel, there is no kicking back because they have to prepare to compete again. Says pro Kym Johnson, "I don't like it. I think it puts added pressure, and you have to learn another dance."
"I'm dreading it in that I don't want to do it," says Disney kid Roshon Fegan, who had reason to be pessimistic after landing in the danger zone last week. "I don't want to be in the bottom two again. But it's another chance to dance. And that's what we're here to do: Dance."
The idea may also generate a fair share of controversy because some couples have already danced the Dance Duel assigned dance — a cha cha — on the show. That includes fan favorite Latino actor William Levy, who ripped a ligament in his right ankle this weekend. "If I have to cha cha, I'll cha cha," he says about Tuesday night. "But hopefully, I'll get to rest."
Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!