Wow! What a (Disney) World of Fun tonight’s Dancing With the Stars was!
But first things first: My name’s Jeff—I’m a writer at People, EW’s sister publication, and I’ll be stepping in to recap DWTS. I’m looking forward to watching the rest of the season with you all. Full disclosure: I have a soft spot in my heart for Shark Tank and Robert Herjavec—and those baby blues of his…
Back to the show: While an obvious plug to the show’s parent company, “Disney Night” made for some of the most inventive routines yet—not to mention some of the most creative costumes yet (Prince Farming in a skirt! Rumer Willis in full-on purple body paint!). Paying homage to Disney classics new and old, the stars channeled their favorite characters, while animated support joined them on the screen at home. A cute idea in theory, but it usually just took attention away from the performance or was so fleeting it seemed unnecessary.
The night started out slow, but the final three stars of the night—Riker, Rumer, and Nastia—hit the ballroom floor with sets to remember. Let’s break down each pair:
Suzanne Somers & Tony Dovolani
“He’s a Tramp” (from The Lady and the Tramp) | Jazz
Judging by her vampy performance, Suzanne clearly came prepared to win it. She looked great in glittering black sequins and stepped onto the stage with a renewed confidence. But it was Tony—with his flirtatious moves—who played the perfect tramp. A heel-and-hem hiccup aside, it was fine, technically, and as Julianne conceded, “It was definitely your best dance.” All that was missing? Chemistry. Despite their best efforts (including the good old let’s-hold-a-hat-over-our-faces-and-pretend-we’re-kissing trick), it wasn’t convincing. Woof, indeed.
Robert Herjavec & Kym Johnson
“Step in Time” (from Mary Poppins) | Quickstep
Before we get to their delightful hot mess of a quickstep, can we talk about how shamelessly smitten Robert is with Kym? If the video opener is to be believed, he was drooling over Ms. Johnson all week in practice—not to mention sexualizing Mary Poppins in a way that would probably make Julie Andrews blush. (See: “I think Kym has become Mary Poppins…a very sexy Mary Poppins, by the way.” See also: “I’m gonna love you in a Mary Poppins outfit.”)
But despite their incredible on- and off-the-dance floor sparks, this week’s routine fell flat. The star got off on the wrong foot, literally, and was off the beat. Even so, Robert brought the “razzle-dazzle,” as Len put it, and was beaming like he does when a Shark Tank contestant brings a dog to their pitch. Extra points to Robert for always being a spoonful of sugar.
Patti LaBelle & Artem Chigvinstev
“When You Wish Upon a Star” (from Pinocchio) | Waltz
No lie: Patti is the epitome of grace. Even though she injured her knee weeks ago, the 70-year-old soul chanteuse is still keeping up, gliding—nay, floating—across the ballroom seemingly effortlessly. Upon her and Artem’s bow, Len puts all of America’s opinions into one quick question: “Can I just hug you all day?”
Willow Shields & Mark Ballas
“Alice’s Theme” (from Alice in Wonderland) | Foxtrot
At a wee 14 years old, Alice was a perfect fit for The Hunger Games star. Mark played her (ridiculously costumed but completely convincing) White Rabbit, and the entire ballroom went to Wonderland for a couple minutes. Carrie Ann put it best when she said, “That was an epic production.” She was right—and that’s the problem. Between the elaborate staging and army of background dancers decked as the Queen’s Playing Cards, Willow and Mark’s choreography got lost in the spectacle, and the viewer didn’t know where to give focus.
NEXT: Prince Farming becomes Son of Zeus (we see a resemblance in the biceps)[pagebreak]
Chris Soules & Witney Carson
“Zero to Hero” (from Hercules) | Quickstep
Iowa native Prince Farming traveled back to Ancient Greece, channeling the son of Zeus and donning a toga to #freethenipple (we’re sure Rumer was thrilled!) for his quickstep with Witney. But like the demigod, Chris isn’t perfect… even with those biceps. Struggling to learn the routine, the Bachelor alum snapped at his partner in practice, leaving her in tears. To brighten things up, Witney’s former partner (and Mirror Ball trophy-holder) Alfonso Ribeiro came in to give Chris some pointers. Namely: “It’s not about the technique—it’s about the fun!” Chris seemed to get it, until he pulled a calf muscle in dress rehearsal. By the time he took the ballroom stage, he started out a little stiff, seemingly dragging his frame across the floor to the upbeat number. Even so, he showed off some fancy footwork, getting in some cute kicks, and his cheesy smile was about as animated as the ’97 flick. Fresh injury aside: “I thought this was your best performance ever, by a long shot,” said Carrie Ann.
Noah Galloway & Sharna Burgess
“A Whole New World” (from Aladdin) | Foxtrot
After last week’s triumphant performance, the Army vet came into week 5 with a new swagger: “Maybe I’m not just an injured guy on the show. I thought, maybe I could be a competitor in this,” he said in the opening video. Even with that boost of confidence, Noah was vulnerable during practice, insecure about how his missing leg made their foxtrot look. (The routine requires lots of bending, which is impossible for him to do with his left leg.) But his give-and-take relationship with Sharna, and the heart that can be seen in their practices, is what the show is all about. “Stop caring so much about what your leg looks like, and start caring about what I’m teaching you,” his coach said. When they hit the stage, their performance was enough to make anyone smile, from that moment he sweetly offered her a flower to their effortlessly gliding across the ballroom, and finally settling in for their magic carpet ride at the end. I’m wishing he sticks around for the weeks to come.
Riker Lynch & Allison Holker
“He’s a Pirate” (from Pirates of the Caribbean) | Paso Doble
In a word, Riker and Allison’s Pirates-themed routine was explosive. The R5 heartthrob nailed the paso doble, hitting all the right moves in a way Jack Sparrow never could because he’d have been too sloshed. The production was grand (the ship! a cannon!), but unlike Willow and Mark’s routine, Riker and Allison’s choreography never got lost in the jumble. A huge fan of the movie, you could tell Riker was having fun from the first foot-stomp, making for infectious, can’t-take-your-eyes-off television. “That is what I call artistry,” said Julianne. “Technique, concept, passion, showmanship: That is what artistry is about. Well done.”
Rumer Willis & Val Chmerkovsky
“Poor Unfortunate Souls” (from The Little Mermaid) | Samba
Asked what princess she wanted to be this week, Rumer burst into a laugh: “Can I be a villain?” Lucky for viewers, the choreographer complied. Prepping to play Ursula, she actually jumped in a pool to practice channeling the evil octopus’ underwater moves. She got into character once she hit the ballroom, too: Emerging from Ursula’s grotto, Rumer’s moves were fluid and downright sexy. And when she got up in the judge’s faces, lip-syncing the “make your choice!” lyric? Delicious.
Nastia Liukin & Derek Hough
“Love is an Open Door” (from Frozen) | Jazz
“No one’s really seen the more silly side of me,” said Nastia in her opening video. And she’s right. With her signature steely gaze, the Olympian would seemingly be better suited to play ice queen Elsa than sweet, young thing Anna—but she warmed up, and she did it with flair. Her and Derek’s waltz was grand, yet playful, and it was clear from her face that she was having fun. Summing it up perfectly, “That was like a warm hug on a cold evening,” said Len, of the performance that merited a tie for second place.
Sadly, it was time for Suzanne Somers to say goodbye. In a possibly prescient video package, the Three’s Company actress broke down in a rehearsal, telling partner Tony Dovolani: “I don’t think I can stay on the show.” She ended up powering through and learning the routine—one of her best in weeks—but it wasn’t enough, as she was sent packing at the end of hour two.