Len Goodman was back in jolly old England this week, but instead of inviting a celebrity judge who, you know, might not have any dance background and/or intricate knowledge of ballroom technique (we still love you Robin Roberts, Cher, and Ricky Martin), Dancing With the Stars producers instead invited the viewers at home who definitely have no dance background or knowledge of ballroom to raise that fourth paddle.
But were voters moved by couples’ dance ability or influenced by the emotional video packages that preceeded each performance? In some cases it seemed to be the latter. And there were indeed plenty of emotional packages given that this week’s theme was “Most Memorable Year.” Let’s break it down…
Janel Parrish and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 36/40
Parrish told the heartbreaking story of leaving her biggest supporter B.J., who was like a second grandmother to her, behind in Hawaii after she came to Los Angeles to pursue show biz back in 2002. “Her love inspired me,” Parrish said of her beloved pal. Poor B.J. passed away from breast cancer before Parrish could return home to visit with her, so she dedicated her rumba to her late champion. It was arguably the most emotional and heartfelt video segment. Parrish delivered on the dance floor, too, earning high praise from the judges. “B.J. would be very proud,” Julianne said. Added Carrie Ann Inaba: “The best way to pay tribute is to go on living a full life.” This is certainly one of the couples to watch as the season progresses. Might there be back to back Chermkovskiy wins this year? Fine by me.
Jonathan Bennett and Allison Holker: 24/40
After showing initial promise, Bennett has hit a dry spell. His video package was certainly emotional, however. In it, he recounted the loss of both of his parents. But such is the roller coaster of emotion on DWTS and from sad to funny: One of the most hilarious parts of the show is the reaction shots taken of the other stars and pro dancers up in the skybox when they don’t realize the camera is on them. Most of the time, the other contenders applaud and show smiles of support when a couple finishes a dance—you know, the way Emmy nominees do when they just lost in their category to Allison Janney. But sometimes their guards are down and the looks on their faces are simply priceless. Such was the case when Alfonso Ribeiro was caught on camera reacting to Bennett and Holker’s samba. It was a mix of “Eeesh” and “I won’t have to worry about him in a few weeks.”
Betsey Johnson and Tony Dovolani: 29/40
Kudos to Johnson for being more physically fit than contenders much younger than her. She and Dovolani did an amazing jive. Johnson incorporated one of her trademark splits and told the heartrending story of how she set up her own company and why the most important year in her life was the year her daughter Lulu was born. Johnson gave herself a “98 out of 100.” (I give her 100.) The crowd went wild over her efforts and there were plenty of cheers in the press room, too.
NEXT: A battle of the Houghs