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Emmys 2017
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Dancing with the Stars recap: Insults and Injury

Performing with only one arm, Cristian gets his best scores ever; meanwhile, the judges turn on Kristi and Jason, and Len continues to abuse Mario

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Christian Cheryl

Dancing With the Stars

TV Show
Reality TV
run date:
Tom Bergeron, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman, Erin Andrews, Julianne Hough
Current Status:
In Season

”Dancing With the Stars” recap: Playing injured

There’s one big story this week on Dancing With the Stars, and it’s obvious: Thanks to, as Tom put it, ”viewer votes and a doctor’s note,” Cristián de la Fuente has finally found his calling as a one-armed ballroom dancer. The tasty Chilean sea bass of a man took the lead for the first time all season, earning his first 10 (plus two more) in the process. Other than that, though, Monday night was pretty typical. The script contained way too much Kristi vs. Jason pitting; Bruno cut off Len, as uzh; and Mark can’t stop distracting me from Kristi’s dancing with his flair and face. And Len’s inexplicable bias against Mario rages on. It’s beginning to remind me of Michael Scott’s randomly brutal treatment of Toby on The Office. Except DWTS isn’t a comedy, and Len’s bias is not funny. (Also, for the record, the first part of that last sentence is a blatant lie.)

The show runners got what they wanted: a leaderboard with a twist. (That sounds like a DWTS-inspired cocktail! God, now all I want to do is create a list of DWTS-inspired cocktails. But I’m supposed to be writing, so I’ll just nurse a Typical Edyta Costume-tini and write that list some other time.) Here’s how the final five fared in ballroom and Latin this week….

Cristián de la Fuente and Cheryl: 57 out of a possible 60 Cheryl Burke was by far the MVP of ABC’s Monday Night Discoball. Her choreography for two dances with a one-armed partner blew me away, and I’m glad DANCMSTR gave her some props right away, during his commentary for their tango set to ”Beat It.” (The song was perfect for Cristián’s current approach to the competition: ”No one wants to be defeated” — by common sense!) During the tango, Cheryl got to incorporate lots of her specialty move — whipping herself around — to mask her partner’s relative stillness. But I’m guessing some of Cheryl’s head jerks may have been necessitated by the upside-down doorway of feathers surrounding her chin.

For the mambo, Cristián’s sequined cast cover was fierce, not to mention his wide-open magenta shirt. Oddly enough, injured Cristián seems to have more composure on the floor than healthy Cristián. He seemed less nervous about his next moves, and even a little sneaky about Cheryl’s choreo. I detected a Ha-ha, you just wait half a second to see what incredible feat my right arm can accomplish next! smirk once or twice. This dance was probably my favorite of the night. And that final lift was so clever! God, I’m as easily impressed as the judges. ”The things you can do with one arm,” indeed, Bruno. Moving on….

Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark: 55/60 I assumed that with Kristi’s pairs-skating background and Mark’s unabashed love for flair and excess, this pair would be all about the wacky lifts this week. Not so; as their rehearsal footage showed (and this is all it showed), Mark didn’t want to take anything away from the character of their dances. He did throw a lift in at the end of their quickstep, but it was more of a cheerleader lift, like something the two laziest people on the squad would launch into every once in a while to keep up the illusion of spirit. (This analogy is pretty unfair, as the lift was actually quite nice — for more on analogies that make no sense, see DANCMSTR’s Britney comment to Mario, below.) The judges loved Kristi’s royal blue quickstep, quickly dubbing her as ”right back where you were a few weeks ago.” Bruno didn’t think that was clear enough, so he told Kristi she was a ”super candidate with a super ticket to the finals!” Got it!

NEXT: Do fries go with that?