Break out the mirrorball tissue box! 'The Best Year of My Life' night delivers tumbles, tears, and very few shirts

Dancing With The Stars Recap
Credit: ABC

“Tears streaming down my face during Andy Dick’s Viennese waltz” was never quite what I envisioned as a little girl hoping to become a writer. But you know what? Dreams change. People change. Some sober up to redeem themselves to their families; some drink too much Project Paso to cope with the emotional tumult of reality TV recapping and end up really feeling things again. (Fringe benefits and all.)

I’d like to formally announce that this…is–sob–gulp–…The Best Year of My Life!

Will the judges please reveal their scores? Cryin’ Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ber!

Aly Raisman and Mark Ballas: 27/30 How bizarre, that the Most Decorated gymnast from London 2012 would randomly draw contemporary out of the bedazzled hat so that her solo could be a beautifully lined tumbling pass! The story of Aly overcoming obstacles to make the Olympic team went perfectly with the dance style and song (one of the Fierce Five’s practice favorites, “Titanium”), and I loved the ring drawn on the ballroom floor by spotlights — as if to acknowledge the limited space and time of both technical gymnastics and the frame in which one can have a gymnastics career. This was definitely the most theatrically committed we’ve seen Aly, in what Len called a balance between emotion and athleticism.

Shirtless Mark choreographed this dance for Aly and his tattoos so well — I liked how even after all of those solo flips, she still struggled to rid herself of lingering burdens and then soldiered on. I wonder if Mark, clawing at her heels trying to drag her down, was intended to represent Russia’s Aliya Mustafina?

“Forget about titanium — you are going for gold, darling!” cried Bruno, who seems to have forgotten that the gold standard on DWTS is actually silver.

Zendaya Coleman and Val Chmerkovskiy: 26/30 Most of the contestants dedicated their dances to their lovers or family members, while the 16-year-old Disney star paid homage to a Beyoncé concert. That’s as it should be! 2009 was the year a sparkly diva and a talent agent changed Zendaya’s life. This samba from her and Val looked damn near professional — all I was missing was some fringe on those shimmery yet plain black pants (the Planet Mirrorballus approximation of business casual) and a bit of a deeper V on Val’s buttonless blouse. They made up for the lack of visual flash with a ton of ridiculously in-sync head-whipping and a lotta sass.

The MVP moment of the samba was definitely when “Love on Top” sort of paused in the middle, building drama for the profound BOOP! Val planted on Zendaya’s nose — appropriately, on the word “Finally.”

“You got it — oh, baby, you got it!” sang out Bruno, as Zenday stared at him like, “Wait…which Beyoncé song is that?”

NEXT: Khakis in the ballroom?! Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough: 26/30 Derek took that business casual note and ran with it — I know he was channeling the laid-back vibe of Kellie and Kyle Jacobs’ marriage, but I still think there is no excuse for KHAKIS IN THE BALLROOM. A travesty!

I really liked the story behind this rumba — Kellie finding her comfort and sanctuary (which I honestly heard her pronounce as “sex-uary”) in a man after never having any stability from her absent parents. Having Jacob there to play their wedding song, “Say I Do,” was pretty magical along with the sunset on the giant screen. Hidden gem: The blue-outlined stairs represented the waves of the Caribbean sea! But I agreed with the judges that Kellie’s moves seemed too staccato-y for the rumba.

Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff: 24/30 Jacoby spoke (he’s always mumbling!) during rehearsals about his absent father, the pain that caused, and how he wants to be so present in his son’s life. It sounded like he picked his own song, too — Rodney Atkins’ “Watching You” — for the foxtrot honoring 2012. What Super Bowl? Papa’s got a baby boy!

I’d say Jacoby had the best solo of the night — a great combination of silly (touchdown dance), serious (reeeeeeeeach!), and downright athletic (that amazing toe-touching leap). I melted when Jacoby’s final solo arm extension matched up with the lyric “grow as tall as you are.” Clever and seamless — good job, Karina! The guy floats across the floor like his feet are whispering the surface. Carrie Ann thinks he has “a real shot at winning this,” if only he’d “get the booty in.” A thoughtful comment on posture or a request for tighter trousers? You make the call.

Buzz kill, Brooke: Of course that adorable baby won’t remember this. Or, he’s already channeling the matador in his Pack N Doble and requesting spats for his second birthday…with his eyes.

NEXT: Andy Dick emerges as a new national hero #sparklebarf

Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson: 23/30 This was a really, really sweet story from Ingo — after watching all his General Hospital cash burn a hole in his wallet for 12 years in L.A., he met Hawaiian wife Ehiku in 2009 and felt like life really started when they created a family…of evil 3-givers! Ha, Ingo’s bigger son, the Tot-emacher, was channeling Len with that harsh score during rehearsal footage.

Ingo and Kym’s Viennese waltz wasn’t too flashy (except for all the post-Labor Day white! side note: when is it not after Labor Day, when you really think about it?), and Len could appreciate the basic footwork and natural turns in Ingo’s opening solo. I thought he and Kym created a lot of “beautiful pictures” — the compliment Carrie Ann gave Kellie tonight — during this waltz. Their final extension was stunningly symmetrical. On DWTS and in life, Love and Five-Minute Abs are all you need.

I loved how Brooke was all “Shut up, nobody noticed” when Ingo mentioned he’d stepped on Kym’s appliqué-emblazoned wedding dress. “No points for oversharing, Ingo!” chimed in Tom. I give Ingo a 3 for this sudden and jarring bout of honesty. No one wants to hear it, buddy. We can’t handle the truth!

Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess: 21/30 I am just loving everything Andy’s putting out there — he may have officially trumped Ty Murray as the ultimate Dancing With the Stars Hero Figure with this sob-inducing Viennese waltz, and it’s only Week 4! If he actually improves and becomes a decent dancer, he could go pretty far despite landing in the bottom last week. Who would’ve thought that DWTS would be a better reality TV test of sobriety than Celebrity Rehab? EVERYONE.

Anyway, sobriety has given Andy a chance to redeem himself with his kids — specifically his daughter Meg, 15, “a mini version of me,” said Andy. I feel like I could watch a loop of Sharna patiently rubbing the back of Andy’s neck as he starts to cry for, like, hours. (It’s been playing in my mind as I’ve sat here sob-typing since then, so I guess I kind of have.) They’re a perfect couple and she choreographed a waltz simple enough that Andy could stay in the calming spirit of the dance and really feel it in the moment instead of worrying about each next move.

Andy’s “wonderful fragile quality” (said Bruno) during his solo was what really set me off — the blink-and-you’d-miss-it hands on his heart after he reached out to his daughter from the middle of the floor. I appreciated the understated nature of the dance itself after all that buildup, and the autumnal scenery around them was perfect, too.

Ugh, I had such a moment with Andy Dick here! AND the song was “Hallelujah”?! Bitch, please! #sparklebarf

NEXT: Nothing says Compton like a foxtrot D.L. Hughley and Cheryl Burke: 21/30 This was The Revenge of D.L., according to a specially made comic book and the comedian’s hip-shaking/kiss-my-ass solo sequence up at the judges’ table. When Tom introduced him as “Peabody Award-winning,” I accidentally heard “Puberty Award-winning,” and that turned out to be appropriate for tonight’s foxtrot — an homage to D.L.’s junior high years, when he stopped behind a nerd with glasses and started developing enough game so that one day he could be….a cool person who wears nerd glasses voluntarily! We all gotta grow up sometime.

Oddly enough, this ballroom standard looked like the most fun D.L. has had yet. I liked when Cheryl “activated his crotch region” — a stirring part of the traditional foxtrot I must have forgotten — and Cheryl’s tremendous three whip-backs (not a term!) near the end. D.L. still didn’t react with ease or understanding to any of the judges’ comments, even the nice ones. But he made up for that awkwardness with a genuinely funny display of ridiculata in the Celebriquarium — falling over in faux shock after receiving three 7s (including a Len “seh-vehhhhhhhhhhn!”) and joking to Brooke, “That’s higher than my SAT scores.”

Sean Lowe and Peta Murgatroyd: 20/30 Oh, my! I totally forgot about Sean. They went first, so booooooo, but he really doesn’t seem to be a contender in this thing at all. What a shame if his Bachelor popularity takes him further into the season than his dancing ability would suggest. Of course Sean dedicated his Viennese waltz to fiancée/winner Catherine. “I never wanted to say goodbye to her,” Sean said. “With the other women, that wasn’t an issue.” Can anyone still feel Ashlee’s steely/dead gaze of incredulity boring into Sean’s skull as he said that? Chilling!

Anyway, their Viennese waltz — enhanced by fog…looked pretty murky! — contained two major lifts, much to Carrie Ann’s delight. She got so excited about her decision to resume giving out Lift Police citations that her mic started farting louder than Jacoby on a Tuesday night. Sean’s sections of fluidity, guided by a lovely sky-blue-gowned Peta, were okay, but his shuffle-solo over to Nose Stud was the worst.

“The talent is there!” insists Bruno. Where? I missed it tonight — possibly because Sean was wearing a shirt AND a vest. The talent has been buried!

NEXT: Lisa Vanderpump has fainted. Field trip!Victor Ortiz and Lindsay Arnold: 18/30 This paso doble really did not work for me on any level — Bruno claimed Victor had “punched the living daylight” out of it, but all I noticed — other than Lindsay’s Too Much, Even for the Ballroom crimped-hair poof — was Victor’s hyper-focus on the complicated choreography. He could never snap out of it long enough to get into character. In the well-staged fight of Victor vs. the Paso Doble, the victor was Victor’s Back Tattoo.

Lisa Vanderpump and Gleb Savchenko: 18/30 In honor of the year her daughter got married, Lisa turned her partner into a Chippendales dancer for the cha cha cha. Rich people’s weddings are so weird. It was hard to watch Lisa try and remember the steps — they’d had diminished rehearsal time after she fainted during practice — but at least Gleb’s bare back under suspenders (a hotter look than merely shirtless?) and a horrifying animation of Giggy the Pom tilting back and forth on the giant screen were able to distract us from Lisa throughout most of the dance.

Apparently Lisa’s busy schedule allowed for no sleep, and according to Dance Doctor Barry, the “fever” or “early flu” could be “going on.” Excellent diagnosis; glad she was wearing a leotard for that on the off chance he might claim “You faked it!” and she’d have to go back to practice right then and there.

I don’t think she really faked it, but I don’t blame Gleb for his delayed reaction. These people fall constantly, and this could have just been one of Lisa’s humorous drama-queen tics. I do hope Lisa can successfully climb the technicolor staircase tomorrow; if not, she should just bow out. Sorry Glebby.

Who do you think goes home tonight — Victor or Lisa? Did that Dick make you cry? Discuss!

Nominate your hidden gems over at PopWatch before 2 p.m. ET. (Catch up: Your Hidden Gems of Week 3!)


Read more:

Episode Recaps


Dancing With the Stars

  • TV Show
  • 29
  • ABC