Dancing With The Stars, Season 17, Week 7, Stress Night

Okay, officially the selling point of this week was the team dances, but they didn’t come until the last half hour.  And while it’s perfectly normal for the fluff pieces to show the celebrities striving and straining, the way everyone seemed to be having more trouble than usual this week(I suspect creative editing in at least some of the cases), combined with comments about how this is the hard part of the season, and then there were even reports earlier in the day Derek might not be able to perform due to back issues, all this made stress much more of a theme:

Elizabeth Berkley Lauren & Valentin Chmerkovskiy: Quickstep to “Dance Apocalyptic” by Janelle Monae.  In the fluff she calls the dance “extreme” and he drives her hard, as they note how technically demanding the dance is.  They throw in a story to go with the song too, about UFOs attacking and a couple hearing about it on DWTS News deciding the appropriate response is to Quickstep.  It’s actually very entertaining, especially since they keep their characters up even during the technically heavy parts of the dance, not easy to do.  Except she’s not technically perfect; she especially doesn’t have as much body contact with him as she supposed to.  The judges love it, Len calling it “Utterly Full On,” but can only give it 9s, adding 27 to last week’s 32 for 59 total.

Brant Daugherty & Peta Murgatroyd: Jive to “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard.  It goes very similarly to the Elizabeth & Val, the fluff shows him practicing at home trying to get all the steps memorized.  They too go for a fun story; she wheels on a Jive Cream cart, there’s cartwheels and a there’s a lot of character comedy in the dance, including when she loses her skirt-which he then nearly slips on.  Oops.  Otherwise he hits all the steps, though Bruno quibbles over his timing.  But the judges still liked it, and once again give straight 9s, adding 27 to 31 for 58 total.

Leah Remini & Tony Dovolani: Salsa to “I Know You Want Me(Calle Ocho)” by Pitbull.  Tony too choreographs a difficult routine, though Leah’s reaction is, “If I screw up, it’s his fault.”  Thankfully she doesn’t, more or less managing all the steps of the salsa, though their lifts are still awkward.  It’s enough for Len to lower his score to an 8, but Carrie-Ann and Bruno still give 9s, so they add 26 to 28 for 54 .  Then we learn why the fluff piece didn’t show them struggling as much: because she didn’t want to discuss her rib injury until after the scores, to avoid using it as an excuse.  Bet the producers were mighty annoyed with her for that one.

Jack Osbourne & Cheryl Burke: Jive to “Going Up the Country” by Canned Heat.  His fluff has him suffering what he calls “mid-season blues” and fatigue, until he seriously worries his health will keep him from going on at their current pace.  He’s mostly got energy enough for the dance, though, his bounce during the routine being mostly great though weaker at some split seconds, and they even have enough left in them to run up the stairs at the end.  Carrie-Ann calls it perfect and gives it a 10(then her paddle breaks and Jack claims it), Len has minor technical quibbles and only gives an 8; Bruno compromises with a 9; they put together a pair of 27s and also have 54.

Amber Riley & Derek Hough:  Paso Doble to “Diablo Roja” by Rodrigo y Gabriela.  The fluff piece has Derek declare he’s done trying to please Len, but the main theme is their both being injured-she had knee issues and he has his back issues.  But in the end he’s able to perform, and the injuries don’t stop them from being fierce and sharp and just absolutely owning it on the dance floor.  It’s a dance that should get them a perfect score-except Bruno has quibbles about her shoulders and only gives them a 9, to extreme displeasure of the rest of the ballroom, including both the other two judges,  Their 10s give them 29 to add to their 32 for 61, which will prove the highest total.

Bill Engvall & Emma Slater: Quickstep to Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas.”  Elvis is his favorite artist and he even did a show in Vegas this week, and he talks on wanting 9s.  But maybe he wanted them too much, but after speaking of running low on steam in the fluff, unlike everybody else tonight, he actually shows it in the dance, where he looks tired and strained, the judges dispute whether he even got the steps right, and he performs them with no real quickstep characteristic.  Len takes his scoring as low as 7, while the other two give him 8s.  Already at the bottom from last week with 24, this additional 23 leaves them with the still lowest score of 47.

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi & Sasha Farber: Samba to “Hey, Mama” by the Black-Eyed Peas.  She speaks of channeling Beyonce-but only at the opening, because, she says, Beyonce doesn’t samba.  Then apparently her son gets a fever, resulting in sleep deprivation, and she too is struggling in rehearsal.  In fact, she isn’t right on her feet in the beginning.  But then her long-developed booty-shaking ability kicks in and she gets much better, though Carrie-Ann suggest afterwards she might be going too fast in general, and getting ahead of the music that way in her dances.  This one all three judges find worthy of 9s, so she adds 27 to 30 for 57.

Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff: Cha Cha.  Their struggle through much of the week is with choreography; Karina keeps trying to create a dance and they keep not liking it, with them going from brooms to the final version having a little rain in the beginning, but mostly creative moves instead of gimmicks.  But the effort pays off; it’s a great routine, and they nail it too, with Corbin showing off ridiculously good hips-except Len then declares he doesn’t like gyrating, even if it works with the routine, which costs them a perfect score when he only gives them a 9.  So they add 29 to their 27 for a 56 total.

During all this, we all get introduced to the two teams, Team Spooky Bom Bom, for which Elizabeth & Val got to do the picking, and ended up with Snooki & Sasha, Bill & Emma, and Leah & Tony, and Team Foxing Awesome, for which Amber & Derek picked Corbin & Karina, Brant & Peta, and Jack & Cheryl.  Both teams are doing freestyle.  Then, to further increase their stress, Tom reveals that if the elimination were to happen without the team dance scores the couple going home is one of the ones on Team Spooky Bom Bom.  So they can take that thought into leading the team dances off.

Team Spooky Bom Bom: Freestyle to “Bom Bom” by Sam & the Womp.  Shown groping for a theme, until Bill suggest Halloween.  As reward perhaps, he gets to be star of the dance: he wanders into a graveyard, gets ambushed by undead, and shares a dance with them before running off screaming.  It’s a well-put together dance with the couple’s solos all playing to their strengths, everyone dancing well, a dangerous stunt in the end with the three male pros doing a cheerleader throw with Snooki going off without a hitch, and the judges all love it, with Bruno saying he wants to join in.  They get straight 9s, taking Elizabeth & Val’s score up to 86, Snooki & Sasha’s to 84, Leah & Tony’s to 81, and Bill & Emma’s to 80.

Team Foxing Awesome: Freestyle to YouTube meme song “What Did the Fox Say?” by Ylvis.  They don’t do a storyline; Derek, called up to defend his perfect winning record in the team dances, says it’s just “big” and “loud.”  Though they too go for a Halloween feel, with creepy trees and changing foxy costumes.  Much like the last dance, it’s well choreographed and well done, with Len in his comments saluting both teams, but perhaps the dancers here nail it just a little harder, and the choreography is just a little more creative and memorable.  So when the judges give their comments they’re a little more ravy, and finally out come the straight 10s, taking Amber & Derek to 91, Brant & Peta to 88, Corbin & Karina to 86, & Jack & Cheryl to 84.

Obviously if they were already not on the bottom and now have increased their lead on the other half of the field by three points, noone from Team Foxing Awesome is going home, so Tom goes ahead and calls them safe moments after the scores are announced.  After the commercial break, Elizabeth & Val are also called safe, which is not surprising, and then Leah & Tony also are, which is a bit more interesting, since their scores were lower.  So now Bill & Emma are once again one of the last two couples standing, with the other one being Snooki & Sasha.  But there’s only four points difference, and while at the beginning of the season you had to figure Snooki would get more points than Bill, he’s had time to charm people, he’s certainly done so, and has he done so enough to get four points worth of votes more than the Jersey Shore star?

Turns out he has!  Snooki & Sasha are out, and she’s devastated, initially too choked up to even interview properly, though she later recovers to inquire why she is leaving as a zombie.  Tom assures her that everyone will miss her and reemphasizes that this is the time of the season you don’t want to lose anybody.  And you know, he’s right.  Every couple eliminated now is a good couple lost.  Even if said couple involves a Jersey Shore alumnus.

Next week brings the promise of Cher both performing and acting as judge, since Len has scheduling conflicts again.  That should be interesting, to say the least…

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