Dancing with the Stars recap: Dynamic Duos Dance Off
Dancing With the Stars, as Kelly Monaco once pointed out, isn’t really about the dancing—it’s about the connection the pros and the stars make as they learn the Paso Doble, the tango, and other dance routines. So tonight’s “Dynamic Duo” theme is in alignment with the show’s essence. We haven’t seen any huge blowups this season (in fact, it’s been fairly drama-free) or any romances (though I suspect there’s one going on) or even any showmances. However, what we have seen is a gradual increase in entertaining, well-choreographed routines. For the most part, this is still anyone’s mirror ball trophy to win.
Dynamic Duo night contained some colorful costumes, some funny video packages, one perfect score, and an exit that should have happened a while ago.
Lea Thompson and Artem Chigvintsev: 32/40 (Jazz)
Lea had the upper hand in the pre-dance video segment since it was about bringing in an acting teacher to help Artem with his portrayal of Clyde in the duo’s Bonnie and Clyde homage. For some reason, I don’t believe Artem when he says he can’t act. Still, it was interesting to see him be the student for once. I thought he and Lea did an awesome jazz. The judges were critical, but at least it’s four professional judges giving feedback. (I can’t talk about the guest judges anymore.) Bruno Tonioli had one of the best quips of the night when he said Lea was “Faye Dance-away.”
Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater: 25/40 (Fox-Trot)
Thankfully, the Dancing costumer put a Tarzan loincloth on the outside of the rest of Michael’s costume. Couldn’t there have been another couple that could have gone as Tarzan and Jane? (Although, Emma did make a beautiful Jane.) They were assigned the fox-trot, but it wasn’t performed very well. I overheard someone say in the press room “He’s just walking.” Sadly, it was true. It’s too bad Michael outlasted Antonio Sabato Jr., who got the boot last week. He would have made a better Tarzan. The judges were very kind and supportive to Michael tonight in their comments, which made me think he’s got to be going. The judges are usually nice when you’re on your way out.
Janel Parrish and Valentin Chmerkovsky: 40/40 (Contemporary)
I always enjoy the contemporary routines. I jokingly call them “the pajama dance” because the couples always look like they’re going to bed in their wardrobes. The pro dancers seem to love the contemporary style; there appears to be more freedom when doing the choreography and the judges usually have positive responses to them. This was no exception. Val—who actually looks more mature than boyish when clean shaven—choreographed a winner. Janel—who apparently has zero upper body strength—didn’t need any tonight. It’s too bad the Tuesday results shows didn’t stick around because this dance would have been likely voted as an “encore” performance.
Tommy Chong and Peta Murgatroyd: 26/40 (Paso Doble)
The first thing I think when I saw Tommy and Peta is that Peta looks like Lacey Schwimmer with that dark-haired wig. The second thing I think is how long can this couple stay in the race given Tommy’s age? He’s 76! Peta, like many of the pros, has an incredible drive to win. When she knew she was getting close to winning in her second season on the show with Donald Driver, it was fascinating to watch her really want it and then really earn it. She knows she won’t win with Tommy, but at the same time she’s pushing him to have the best experience he can—and she’s incredibly protective of him and kind to him at the same time. The first thing she said to him after their dance was “Are you okay?” That’s really sweet.
NEXT: Will dance for points
Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas: 38/40 (Contemporary)
Mark’s an artist, and he’s got a great partner in Sadie (even if they have to make minor adjustments given her desire to keep things from getting too provocative—although he “won” the gotta-keep-my-hand-on-your-butt debate). The judges have been tough on him this season, especially last week. As we saw in the video packages, Mark didn’t want to do any interviews about how it went—and frankly, I don’t blame him. The duo’s Adam and Eve/Garden of Eden contemporary dance was off the charts. Better still, the judges all responded favorably and Sadie and Mark got their highest score of the season. They deserved it.
Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson: 38/40 (Cha-Cha)
Disney owns both ABC and Marvel Comics (rival DC Comics publishes Batman), so I didn’t think we’d see “Batman and Robin” even in a “Dynamic Duo”-themed evening, but I’m glad we did. This routine had everything: great dancing, a cool opening stunt with Alfonso soaring across the dance floor via a “Bat-rope,” and a funny video segment that showed Alfonso having a snafu while rehearsing that stunt. Alfonso and Witney have the highest average of any couple this season. They certainly deserve to go to the finals and it’s always nice to see a pro who’s never won the mirror ball trophy before be lifted up onto the shoulders of his or her fellow pro dancers.
Bethany Mota and Derek Hough: 37/40 (Salsa)
There’s a reason Derek’s won more mirror ball trophies than any other pro. He’s just that good. Not only that, but I want to vote for Derek tonight for no other reason than I saw on social media that he got dressed up as a lion and visited Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles to entertain kids on Halloween. He opted to contain his and Bethany’s I Love Lucy-themed dance to the kitchen set. As always, it was entertaining and Bethany did a great job. But I don’t get where she said her mother “forced” her to watch I Love Lucy. Really? I mean you could be “forced” to watch Life With Lucy, but not I Love Lucy. “What a horrible mother,” quipped host Tom Bergeron after Bethany said her mom made her watch this beloved iconic series.
Janel and Val didn’t have to partake in the dance-off tonight as they were the evening’s highest scoring couple. They were quarantined to the skybox and made to sit alone while their castmates competed for three extra points in a dance off. Kudos to Artem for telling Lea that you never pick a couple that’s not in your league. You want to pick someone who’s good so that you earn your points. Alas, this was a case of nice guys finishing last—Alfonso and Witney’s jive impressed the judges just a little bit more than Lea and Artem’s did, so the former Fresh Prince of Bel Air star got the extra three points.
In a nail-biter, Bethany and Derek beat out Sadie and Mark in a cha-cha showdown. (Ever the strategist, Derek had Bethany rehearse while Sadie and Mark did their routine for the judges.) This left Tommy and Peta to face off against Michael and Emma in a rumba competition. I feel sorry for Michael because he seems like a nice guy, but his rumba was pretty bad. Like really bad. Tommy re-injured himself during his first dance. I watched Peta literally help him up the stairs to the skybox after their routine and he still gave a better performance than Michael did. At this point I worried about Tommy’s joints if he went another week, but I also thought, There’s no way that Michael can continue.
It could have gone either way with the ejected duo tonight, but it turns out there are only so many NASCAR fans. Michael and Emma were voted off. Among the remaining pros, three (Mark, Derek, Peta) have won and three (Val, Witney, Artem) have not. Aside from Tommy—who will likely go next week—this is anyone’s mirror ball.