(Note: Around 9:30 the sound on my ABC went haywire, and remained so for 20 minutes, for which reason I was unable to watch the last two couples properly.)
Personally, I still wonder why for Personal Stories night DWTS still insists on this “most memorable year” of each celebrities life, when there’s been plenty of indication while the idea’s been in use that too many people’s lives just don’t fit into a timeline that easily. Still the celebrities do the best they can, even as the episode opens with the kind of announcement the new format has made possible: the celebrity with the lowest vote total is female. So the female celebrities are all presumably driven a little harder to outrace that as we get underway:
Christina Milian & Mark Ballas: Cha Cha to the Ce-Lo Green song commonly known as “Forget You.” Her year is 2010, when the birth of her daughter was followed by her learning along with the rest of the world that her soon-to-be ex-husband was cheating. So the dance is about her flipping him off, and from the start when she does an extended solo, she has everything down pat, from the technique to the attitude, and Mark’s fun choreography just makes it better. Seriously, the other couples must be wondering how they’ll measure up to this one. The newly returned Len says he’s glad to be back for that, and breaks out the first ten of the season. Carrie-Ann & Bruno are similarly effusive in their praise, but only give 9s, for 28 total.
Jack Osbourne & Cheryl Burke: Waltz to “Kissing You” by Desiree. His year is 2012, when like with Christina the birth of his first kid was followed by heartbreak, in his case his MS diagnosis. He speaks of the help both his wife and daughter were for him then, and dedicates the dance for them. Perhaps in the routine the attention is a little too much on Cheryl, but her routine is a lovely one and in it he does a wonderful job: Carrie-Ann & Bruno have no complaints to make, and Len has only a little quibble about his hands. They give straight 9s for a total of 27.
Leah Remini & Tony Dovolani: Contemporary to “Roar” by Katy Perry. About this last year and her break from the Church of Scientology of course, and since Tony has no experience with contemporary, he agrees to her idea of him playing a puppeteer she breaks free of. Unfortunately after the first two routines, while hers is technically okay, her lack of their sharpness is highlighted. Plus some curtains used in the routine means poor Carrie-Ann has to dash a little to see everything. She and Len both still say they loved the concept but thought the lifts were dicey; they give 7s. Bruno is nicer and gives them as 8, for 22.
Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff: Foxtrot to “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts. He dedicates it to his kid sister Pheonix, who was diagnosed with scoliosis in 2011. He talks about how her strength inspires him, and it’s actually kind of surprising how much joy this dance has in it, even before he blows her a kiss in the middle. That combines with his usual great dancing ability and Bruno calls him the love child of Fred Astaire and Ben Vereen. The other two love it too, but Len quibbles with their closing move and Carrie-Ann argues with Karina on whether there was a lift at the beginning. She would’ve given them a 10 otherwise, but instead she along with Len gives a 9, and only Bruno gives a 10 for 28 to tie with Mark & Christina.
Bill Engvall & Emma Slater: Viennese Waltz to “She’s Always a Woman” by Billy Joel. His year is 1982, when he married wife Gail(who is interviewed by Brooke and mostly talks about how tired this show leaves her husband), who he says makes him a better person and doesn’t get nearly enough praise, so he dedicates a dance to her. It’s a very sincerely done waltz, too, to the point that this even more or less makes up for the multiple stumbles he does in it. The judges says they appreciate the sincerity, but Bruno still has to point out it is a waltz rather than a bowling alley, and they give him straight 8s for 24.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi & Sasha Farber: Jazz to “Work Bitch” by Britney Spears. Her year too is 2012, in her case just for the birth of son Lorenzo. She talks about how he turned her responsible, then they come out to strobe lights and do a routine that actually feels an awful lot like last week’s jive in its content, if with a sharper mood. Personally, I almost like last week’s version better, but the judges disagree, since they give her straight 9s for 27.
Brant Daugherty & Peta Murgatroyd: Contemporary to “Your Song” by Elton John. His year is 2009, when his father died just as his Hollywood career was beginning. He dedicates it to his father, but says he wants to routine to be uplifting rather than sad. They dance “in the round” by lighting up only a circle on the dance floor, and it’s an intense and intimate routine, though I wonder just how much it really reflects what he wants. The judges can’t object to the amount of emotion it contains, though; they give him straight 9s for 27.
And here is where my sound went haywire, and Amber & Derek’s foxtrot, apparently to “Try a Little Tenderness,” was especially badly wrecked, especially what with it ending with her signing, when I couldn’t hear it! Their dancing looked sharp enough, and Bruno very obviously liked it even before he broke out the 10, but whatever objections and justifications for giving a 7 Len has were drowned out by static. The sound had only slightly improved in time for Elizabeth & Val to recreate a moment from her “Saved By the Bell” years which originally involved caffeine pills but now involve DWTS jive pills, and instead of just singing a couple lines from “I’m So Excited” she dances to it. Like Amber she looks good enough, and while I can’t hear the judge’s remarks they’re a bit less divided with Carrie-Ann give her an 8 and the other two giving 9s. Apparently she & Val are then immediately declared to be “in jeopardy,” though I don’t find that out until after the commercial break, when thankfully my sound has gone back to normal in time for the elimination.
With one member of the final three already called, six couples are rapidly called safe, until Elizabeth & Val are joined by Christina & Mark and Leah & Tony. At this point it seems obvious Leah & Tony are done for, especially when Elizabeth & Val are called safe. After all, Christina & Mark are tied for the top, Leah & Tony are in the back by some way, there’s a comfortable six point margin between them, and surely there is only one way this can go….right?
WRONG!!! It now becomes obvious that Christina was that female celebrity who got the least votes, and seemingly by big enough a deficit that her advantage in judge’s scores didn’t make up for it! She and Mark are gone to copious boos from a stunned audience, and quite honestly here again I don’t hear what they say in their exit interview, because while the sound’s working fine I’m too busy being shocked. So…yeah. Don’t know what to think. Maybe it’ll all make sense next week?