The truth is out there…on the dance floor

By Maggie Fremont
September 20, 2016 at 03:55 AM EDT
Eric McCandless/ABC

With the Ryan Lochte drama of week 1 behind us, it’s time to focus on the dancing. It’s also time to channel your favorite television character, because tonight our couples are dancing to TV’s greatest theme songs…and also Go, Diego Go! Let’s get real: Some theme songs are made for the ballroom; others, not so much. A cute quickstep to Bewitched? Sure! A sexy cha cha to a children’s cartoon? WHY?

Since no one will be eliminated until Tuesday night’s two-hour results show, everyone’s looking cool, calm, and collected. Right now, the show is all about having fun — and maybe not getting any more fives from the judges. Fingers crossed!

Maureen McCormick and Artem Chigvintsev

Quickstep, The Brady Bunch Theme

Isn’t Maureen the loveliest? Girl just wants to dance. Of course, Maureen will be dancing her way through The Brady Bunch theme song this week, and even better: Florence Henderson is back to support her former costar, both in rehearsals and on the ballroom floor. The most impressive thing, though, is how much I now want Artem to star in a ’60s-style sitcom. That man can cheese it up with the best of them! Overall, the judges think Maureen has improved a great deal since her last dance and are surprised by how at ease she looks on the dance floor. A few technical kinks to work out and she’ll be moving up that leaderboard in no time.

Judges’ Score: 26/40

Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko

Tango, “I Don’t Want to Be” by Gavin DeGraw (theme from One Tree Hill)

Jana is using TV week to pay homage to her One Tree Hill character, Alex, but we all know Alex was the worst. Don’t come at Brooke Davis, ya heard? To really make this OTH celebration pop, the man, the myth, the one-time DWTS contestant Gavin DeGraw is in the ballroom to sing the theme song live. It’s unfortunate that on such a big night, Jana is dealing with a major injury: She pulled some muscles between her ribs and is dancing through the pain. The judges commend her for fighting through it, but could tell she was holding back. Her natural dance ability and intensity are enough to earn her decent scores, though.

Rick Perry and Emma Slater

Quickstep, Green Acres Theme

Whatever you think of Rick and Emma’s quickstep, never forget it gave us a giant bedazzled pitchfork. You guys, if I knew pitchforks could be that fabulous, farming could’ve been a real option for me. Another missed opportunity! Like Maureen, the former Texas governor seems much more at ease this week. He’s actually having fun. Rick Perry is a quickstep guy! Who knew? Carrie Ann thought the performance was fun, and for what Rick lacks in artistry, he almost makes up for with his unbridled enthusiasm. Bruno, however, is stuck on the lack of finesse in Rick’s footwork. But, like, who needs fancy footwork? What is this, a dancing competition or something? Oh, right.

Judges’ Score: 22/40

Calvin Johnson Jr. and Lindsay Arnold

Foxtrot, Family Matters Theme

A lot of wonderful things occurred on DWTS‘s TV night, but perhaps the greatest is when Megatron met Steven Q. Urkel. After Calvin and Lindsay perform a fun, lively foxtrot to the Family Matters theme song, Jaleel White comes out to surprise Calvin, who’s apparently his biggest fan. It is the most unexpected but delightful bromance to ever hit the dance floor. Speaking of dancing, Calvin is definitely more of a Stefan Urquelle with his charming and very competent dance skills. The judges see improvement, and Carrie Ann speaks for all of us when she tells Calvin he’s “so darn cute,” giant suspenders and all.

Judges’ Score: 28/40

NEXT: Dancing is coming

Amber Rose and Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Viennese Waltz, Game of Thrones Theme

Julianne is distracted by Amber’s clunky shoes (and clunky footwork), but the only thing I’m distracted by is the fact that MAKS IS KHAL DROGO. Like, how do you expect me to write anything coherent when that is a real thing happening on my TV screen? Although Amber and Maks haven’t been showing the greatest connection during their routines, it’s clear they have a partnership that works for them. Amber needs someone who will keep her moving, and Maks likes his partner’s great work ethic. The judges aren’t so hot on the pair; they all want Amber to push herself a bit more, in both performance and technique. Where’s little Drogon when you need him?

Judges’ Score: 24/40

Jake T. Austin and Jenna Johnson

Cha Cha, Go, Diego Go! Theme

Cover your children’s eyes if you want to keep their childhood intact. Jake here was the voice of Nickelodeon’s Diego back in the day, but he and Jenna want to show a more mature Diego in their cha cha. Enter Magic Mike Diego and Sexy Jungle Kitty, all set to the original theme song. So, yeah, it’s a little jarring. But, as the song says, we’re all discovering together. Mainly, we’re all discovering that Jake is having some timing issues. Carrie Ann says he’s always ahead of the beat and his movement looks forced. Julianne thinks that if he focuses on his chemistry and partnership with Jenna, the problem should correct itself. Baby Jaguar isn’t there, but he probably thought the routine was just so-so. He always was a diva.

Judges’ Score: 24/40

Vanilla Ice and Witney Carson

Foxtrot, “Love and Marriage” by Frank Sinatra (theme from Married…With Children)

TV night is really bringing it in the costume department. Witney Carson is a top-notch Peg Bundy. That’s a sentence I never dreamed I would write, but I’m so happy to have had the opportunity. The dancing, however, isn’t totally top-notch. There’s definitely more content in the style of dance compared to last week, but it’s missing some refinement. Bruno warns Vanilla Ice to watch his lines next time. Len admits he was thoroughly entertained by the whole thing, but he’s just in a good mood because he got to use the line “thrilla in Vanilla.” Bless his heart.

Terra Jolé and Sasha Farber

Quickstep, Bewitched Theme

Julianne’s right: This routine was made for Terra, all the way down to the hair. (But seriously: How great was her hair?) Terra and Sasha are feeling good after their well-received first dance, but the quickstep brings on a new challenge: The couple will have to be in hold. Well, they nail the hold. The entire routine is graceful, elegant, and fun. Obviously, Julianne was a fan, and she calls it her favorite of the night. Carrie Ann thinks their frame was the best they’ve seen so far. Uncomfortable Dick York/Dick Sargent joke aside, Terra and Sasha are proving to be contenders.

Judges’ Score: 31/40

Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Allison Holker

Argentine Tango, The X-Files Theme

What on earth is happening tonight? Babyface and Allison are tasked with dancing a sultry, sexy Argentine tango to the theme from The X-Files. Is Allison supposed to be an alien or something? You know what? I don’t care. This shouldn’t work, but it does! Part of this is due to Babyface actually taking the music and reworking it to better fit the dance style (smart!); part of it is owed to Toni Braxton, sexiness coach; and most of it is owed to the great chemistry between this pair. Babyface is so reserved, but on the dance floor he really connects with Allison. In other news, Bruno Tonioli is a huge X-Files fan. He expounds on the sexual tension between Mulder and Scully so much that I’m 82-percent sure he must have a podcast on the subject. If not, he should start one and steal Carrie Ann’s nickname for Babyface: “Mr. Smulder.” I LOVE THIS SHOW.

Judges’ Score: 30/40

NEXT: World, meet Disney Beyoncé

Laurie Hernandez and Valentin Chmerkovskiy

Jive, DuckTales Theme

First, we’re blessed with Maks as Khal Drogo and now Val is Scrooge McDuck? ALL OF MY DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE. There’s no denying Laurie is the cutest Huey (or was she Dewey or Louie?) on the dance floor. After the Lochte debacle stole Laurie’s thunder last week, she and Val are looking forward to dancing a routine sans drama. Let’s not hold it against Laurie that she has no idea what DuckTales is. Her excellent dance moves (she’s dubbed the “Disney Beyoncé”) earn her that much. As expected, Laurie is full of energy on the dance floor. Even better than praise for her sparkling personality is the positive feedback she gets on her technique: It’s only week 2, and the girl is as precise in her movements as it gets.

Judges’ Score: 32/40

James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess

Paso Doble, A Tribute to The Walking Dead

Let’s not jinx anything, but the Queen needs a crown this year, if you know what I’m saying. Due to James’ crazy racing schedule, the pair has about two days to rehearse their zombified paso. Umm, if that’s how James dances with only two days of rehearsal, the dude is going to be a force when he has a full week to learn his routines. James, surprisingly, really gets into his characters, and his movements are sharp and strong. Carrie Ann and Julianne both want him to work on expanding his shapes, but they’re seriously impressed. Len wanted to see more paso content, and he’s being very grumpy about it. Did the Zombie Dance Troupe get to our esteemed head judge without us knowing?

Judges’ Score: 29/40

Marilu Henner and Derek Hough

Foxtrot, Taxi Theme

We’re learning so much about Derek Hough this week: First, the guy isn’t just a machine of inspiration. Some routines, like this foxtrot to the Taxi theme, take a lot of work. Second, the Houghster rocks a mean Canadian tuxedo. I’m into it. Thankfully, Derek conquers his choreographer’s block and helps Marilu perform what the judges deem a very graceful foxtrot. It’s full of elegance, expression throughout her lines, and loveliness. Marilu admits she felt a lot of pressure to do her Taxi family proud, but it never shows. Probably because Derek’s denim-on-denim look was so calming. It’s science.

Judges’ Score: 29/40

Ryan Lochte and Cheryl Burke

Quickstep, The Muppet Show Theme

DWTS saves Ryan and Cheryl for last because OF COURSE IT DOES. In the rehearsal package, both members of Team Cherloch seem genuinely shaken up from last week’s incident. However you feel about the guy, watching Ryan get emotional after seeing his mom so upset in the audience is affecting. But this team is done with the tears. They’re dancing to The Muppet Show song, and they’re going to have fun, dammit! First, Ryan needs to learn that “the green dude” has an actual name — it’s Kermit the Frog. Ryan does seem like he’s having a good time this week, which is nice, but he’s severely lacking in technique. The main critique is over his lack of posture, but that’s fixable…probably.

Judges’ Score: 24/40

Now it’s in your hands, America. We’ll finally get an idea of how this group of new dancers shakes out amongst the popular vote during Tuesday night’s results show. Get your bedazzled pitchforks ready, people!