Dancing With the Stars, Season 19, Week 6, “Pitbull Night”

Yeah, that seems to be the week’s theme.  Half the music danced to even involves him(perhaps a more general theme was hip-hop, except one dance wasn’t done to it).  It’s not even Latin night; apparently “the hottest night of the year,” comes about simply by having this random hip hopper come in.  After he does the opening number, he is even then interviewed, and says he’s going to judge the performances by how hot they are, clearly expecting to be viewed as an expert on this.  I don’t get it, and it gets really annoying really quickly.  Maybe it was even smart of Erin Andrews to clear out this week in favor of covering the World Series; recent semi-finalist Leah Remini fills in as co-host.

Also annoying: the immediate results: Janel & Val are in jeopardy.  And while Tommy & Peta get some relieving news when they’re told they’re safe, also in jeopardy(unsurprisingly) is the first couple to perform:

Jonathan Bennett & Allison Holker: Jazz; “Back in Time” Pitbull(from Men in Black 3).  After two weeks of disappointing scores, the fluff shows Jonathan working harder and focusing more, and noting how big a fan he is of Pitbull, and Allison encouraging him to “Be You.”  It really pays off tonight; he comes out and pulls off a sharp and really fun jazz number, where even some lingering stiffness seems to go well with the choreography.  Says Bruno, “The Man in Black got his mojo back,” and the judges break out straight Eights for 32.

Janel Parrish & Val Chmerkoskiy:  Samba; “La Vida Es Un Carnaval” Celia Cruz.  The fluff is a little weird; throughout it they both discuss that they might be attracted to each other, but then they argue and he even stomps out(but comes back for his keys!), and she then thinks they should just keep it professional.  They manage to put all that aside well enough tonight, more or less nailing it.  Except not quite; Bruno and Carrie-Ann have some minor technical quibbles.  But the harsher comments come from Pitbull; he claims he didn’t see the passion!  They only get a Seven out of him and an Eight from Carrie-Ann, but Nines from the other two leaves them with 33.

Tommy Chong & Peta Murgatroyd: Foxtrot; “September” Earth, Wind, & Fire.  This fluff is far weirder; it features Tommy & Peta going to a Native American sweat lodge in the middle of the desert, her not taking to it as much as he does, and then him having a vision of Cloris Leachman who gives him some encouragement.  For the dance he does back to his basics from the first week, letting himself be basically competent at the dancing, and then letting his personality sell it.  But he’s not clean, and Bruno even compares his side-by-side moves to someone directing traffic, though Pitbull compares him to the Most Interesting Man in the World.  That translates to straight Sevens for 28.

With two couples declared “in jeopardy” already, Tom goes ahead and calls off of the next three couples to perform  as safe:

Antonio Sabato, Jr., & Cheryl Burke: Salsa; “Bailand” Enrique Iglesias feat. Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno, & Sean Paul.  This fluff starts as one would expect, with Cheryl working on his hips, but things take a completely different turn when Cheryl gets a phone call telling her her father has had a seizure and is in the hospital.  One harrowing day later, she gets a text from him saying he’s all right and looking forward to watching her dance.  After that, even when she brings background dancers into the routine tonight, she’s still the one everyone’s watching tonight, and her dancing tonight it truly a triumph for her.  As for Antonio, he does his job tonight, though the judges, as the only people in the ballroom paying attention to him, have technical reservations, and even when he moves his hips Bruno accuses him of moving them the wrong way, and they all keep their hands on their Seven paddles for another 28.

Sadie Robertson & Mark Ballas: Rumba; “Diamonds” Rihanna.  You knew this would be the tricky routine for Mark to choreograph, with a partner not only underage but so religious, and also prone to feeling awkward and giggly while rehearsing this dance.  He ends up getting his choreography vetted by multiple members of her family, with her grandmother even sitting in on rehearsal.  But it all pays off; the routine he comes up with is very sweet and romantic and perfect for someone her age, and he gets a strong level of emotion out of her; I suspect all the putting up he’s done with her family has been rewarded with her trust here.  It’s so on-tone emotionally it’s no surprise when Pitbull breaks out the Ten paddle, and Carrie-Ann gives a Nine, but technical quibbles from Julianne and Bruno keep their scores down to Eights, for a 35 total.

Lea Thompson & Artem Chingvintsev: Salsa; “Sexy People (The Fiat Song)” Arianna feat. Pitbull.  Their fluff does not have them discussing any attraction to each other, but they too clash, mostly because she doubts her ability to do a routine as hard as the one he choreographs this week, wanting to be as good as Alfonso, since he’s also doing salsa.  Although whether the problem tonight was really the difficulty or her lack of confidence is up to debate, because she does all the moves, but can’t always hide her nervousness about them.  Carrie-Ann and Julianne suggest maybe they should do their own competition rather than trying to keep up with Alfonso, and the judges break out the second set of straight Eights for the second 32 of the night.

The last three couples are marched out, and after the twist of the first trio and the responding twist of the second, the announcements are predictable: Alfonso & Witney and Bethany & Derek are safe, and the couple in jeopardy have to perform next:

Michael Waltrip & Emma Slater: Argentine Tango; “Give Me Everything” Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack, & Nayer.  His way of coping with the low scores of last week is to go back to Talladega & race, and get encouragement from all his buddies and fans.  The performance of the song is a bare bones one, and the routine too is relatively simple, but that works well; he proves by far the best he’s been both technically and emotionally, with enough chemistry it’s nor surprising he tries to kiss her at the end(but misses).  Still, while the judges commend him for improving, Bruno especially is still making technical criticisms and only gives a Seven, and Pitbull does the same, though Eights from the other two leave them with 30.

Bethany Mota & Derek Hough: Tango; “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)” Chromeo.  This week she went to Australia for a YouTube event, and though she took Derek with her they were short on practice time; Derek describes it as the least amount of rehearsal hours he’s ever had, and during the Sunday rehearsal it shows when she struggles.  But between then and tonight she gets it together.  It probably helps that their tango too is no frills, just intense, hypnotic dancing-until she does have one slip-up.  It becomes clear from the judge’s response that this is all that keeps them from getting a perfect score; instead they get straight Nines for 36.

Alfonso Ribeiro & Witney Carson: Salsa; “Booty” Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull.  Even before the proper fluff, we see a clip of her in an alarming state of pain from the afternoon dress rehearsal, and that turns out to be a culmination of a week which starts with her crying of her and Michael’s bad score and continues with him struggling with his groin, which he pulled back when he was doing the Carlton jazz.  But none of that is apparent tonight when they come out with a sexy, energetic, perfectly nailed routine into which they really give their all-maybe a little too much, since Alfonso is walking funny afterwards.  But Carrie-Ann gives him Ten spankings, Pitbull gets out of his chair to do a Bruno impression, and this routine should have perfect score written all over it-except Julianne criticizes it for being more hip-hop than salsa and only gives a Nine; though with 39 they still win the night.

Janel & Val, Michael & Emma, and Jonathan & Allison are lined up.  There’s over a twenty-point difference between Janel & Val and the other two couples, so you would expect them to be called safe next, but no, stunningly, lowest scorers Michael & Emma are instead!  So now you’ve got two couples left standing there with 21 points difference between them.   Except…for both the past two season, Val has been a shock elimination before he and his partner should’ve gone.  Granted, both times it’s been much further in the season than this, and not nearly the outrage this would be, but you have to wonder, if just for a moment…are he and Janel going to get shocked out too?

Well, maybe they will be later in the season, but not tonight.  Jonathan & Allison are out instead.  Tom’s quick to note they’re hardly the first couple to leave on the week of their best dance, and Jonathan says of the whole experience, “I had the best time of my life.”

Len is back next week, and not a moment too soon.  I think the show really did suffer from this long a stretch without him.  Does not bode well for the show if he finds himself even more reluctant to make the weekly flights back and forth as he gets older still…

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