Dancing With the Stars, Seaosn 19, Week 8, “Dynamic Duo Night”

As well as Dynamic Duo Night, where all the couples will portray famous duos, it’s also Immunity/Dance-Off night, which means the highest scoring couple gets immunity from elimination, then each of the other couples faces off against another one for three extra points.  This is all explained at the start of the episode, although there’s no opening number, just the stars(and the judges) marching out.  The immunity rule also prevents any results from being announced yet; we just go straight into the dances:

Lea Thompson & Artem Chingvintsev: Jazz; “Somethin’ Bad” Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood.  They’re portraying Bonnie and Clyde, with the hats they don in rehearsal.  Lea also brings in an acting coach, mostly for Artem’s benefit, since he’s not used to acting, even compares it to speaking Chinese in unfamiliarity.  Yet another number opens with an entrance in a car, then out the duo comes, and the routine is sexy, snappy, and very fun to watch.  But while even Len is smiling at the end, Carrie-Ann criticizes them for having more ballet than jazz, and the other three all agree the routine needed to be bolder and riskier, though they disagree whether the problem was the choreography or the execution.  They all agree on the scores though: it’s straight Eights for 32.

Michael Waltrip & Emma Slater: Foxtrot; “You’ll Be in My Heart” Phil Collins(from Tarzan).  A Tarzan Foxtrot does seem kind of strange, and the fluff includes Michael and Emma meeting with the costume designer to figure out what to put him in(they end up covering him up and add a leopardskin belt).  He also decides that the jungle can stand for NASCAR, which he can introduce Emma/Jane to.  But the routine doesn’t really have any of that feeling, though it starts with the two of them descending on a vine.  It’s just as well the song’s from the Disney version of Tarzan, because that’s what he feels like; there’s a big sweetness about him.  He also pulls off most of the steps, until the end where he messes up, but they don’t feel very dancy.  The judges try to console him by saying it was better than last week, and Len even finds it the best he’s seen from him, which might be the reason for his Seven.  Sixes from the other three leave him with 25.

Janel Parrish & Val Chmerkovskiy: Contemporary; “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)” Quindon Traver(from Romeo + Juliet).  Playing the famous star-crossed lovers results in some playing about in the fluff, but Val then tells Janel to get off the roof, and spends much of the week trying to make her physically stronger to suit the dance style.  He describes the dance being more about love in general, and despite a bench and some candlebra about, the focus is very much on emotion and connection between two people this intense, intimate routine, and when the two of them nail it, their chemistry really shines through.  Julianne sums it up when she calls it “breathtaking,” as does Carrie-Ann when she calls it the best choreography Val’s ever done and the “epitome of what dance is about.”  Out comes straight Tens, and ultimately they end up with the only perfect score of the night and so with it immunity.

Tommy Chong & Peta Murgatroyd: Paso Doble; “Ring of Fire” Johnny Cash.  They’re portraying Johnny Cash & June Carter, and during the fluff Tommy talks about meeting the two of them, and him and Johnny having similar histories.  Peta talks about making him work harder and longer.  But initially it looks like she made him bite off more than he can chew; during the routine he barely keeps up with her figuratively and doesn’t literally, being a step behind for most of it.  Although after the judges’ comments we learn from Erin he had a calf injury in dress rehearsal.  By then Len has compared him to a hot dog(tasty, but noone’s ever sure of the contents), and the judges have talked about how much they like him while clearly preparing to not score them well.  Len and Julianne do give them Sevens, though; Sixes from the other two result in a total of 26.

Sadie Robertson & Mark Ballas: Contemporary; “Uninvited” performed live by BCG.  They’re doing the story of Adam and Eve, and Sadie spends the fluff waxing on the religious story, while Mark spends it expressing defiance towards Len’s recently expressed disapproval of theatricality, eating the apple prop in rehearsal, and insisting yes his hand has to be on Sadie’s butt during the lift for her safety.  The routine is very theatrical indeed, and Mark’s choreography; combined with well-timed special effects, bring the story of the fall of Adam and Eve and their being driven from the garden to life, impacting even to this non-Christian.    Len even assures Mark afterwards he actually liked it.  Yet he only gives them a Nine, as does Carrie-Ann, who through they got slightly out of sync during the driven-out-of-the-garden part.  They get Tens from a raving Bruno and Julianne though, leaving them with 38.

Alfonso Ribeiro & Witney Carson: Cha cha cha; “Trust” Prince(from Batman).  The fluff has some rather silly scenes of Alfonso & Witney as Batman & Robin playing superheroes out on the street, although more interesting is the dress rehearsal mishap, where a cable malfunctions and leaves poor Alfonso dangling by the skybox.  Thankfully the cable works perfectly during the live performance and allows him to swoop down at the beginning.  Personally, I don’t think it’ll ever not be weird for Batman and a sexy Robin to do this kind of cha cha cha, but in terms of pulling the dance off you can’t fault the two of them.  Unless, that is, you’re Julianne, who has a tiny quibble about Alfonso’s use of his legs, and only gives them a Nine, as does Len, even as he tells them they can take their batmobile right into next week.  Carrie-Ann and Bruno rave and break out Tens, leaving them with 38.

Bethany Mota & Derek Hough: Salsa; “Babalu” Desi Arnaz(from “I Love Lucy”).  As the song would suggest, they’re portraying Lucy & Ricky Ricardo, and yes, young Bethany is quick to assure everyone; she knows who they are; apparently her mother watches the show every morning.  The fluff even has her trying to do her Lucy impression, before having a hilarious meta dream where she and Derek end up in the show as their characters.  It raises the brief concern if the dance will live up to the dream sequence; but thankfully they go no-holds-barred about the kitchen set with a fun and energetic salsa that blows the roof off of the place.  Except at one point there’s a slight slipup, so even when the judges rave, three of them feel they can only give them Nines, though either Bruno didn’t see it or didn’t care, because he breaks out the Ten anyway, leaving them with 37.

With Janel & Val immune, the other six couples gather for the dance-off, while we have a fluff of them discussing strategy and also learn that this season there will be a Twitter vote as well, though it doesn’t seem like it will actually affect the results.  As usual, the top couple gets to pick who they want, followed by the top couple left, and for the first two dance-offs the couple picked gets to choose from one of three rhythms, with the remaining two couples getting the third, and the the picking couples this season surprise by not picking the weaker two couples left, who ultimately end up facing off against each other!

Alfonso & Witney versus Lea & Artem: Jive; “Rip it Up” Little Richard.  Lea & Artem may have picked this rhythm because it was her best dance, but against Alfonso it might not have been the best idea, given how perfect it really is for him.  Both couples do excellent jobs to it(though Bruno is of the opinion neither couple is quite clean), but Alfonso is a bit lighter on his feet and a bit more energetic.  Over 80% of the Twitter vote goes to him, and the judges agree unanimously, so Alfonso & Witney’s score goes up to 41, leaving them with the lead at the end of the night.

Sadie & Mark versus Bethany & Derek: Cha cha cha; “Really Don’t Care” Demi Lovato veat. Cher Lloyd.  This pick seems to be a move to please their fanbase by giving Mark & Derek a chance to face off against each other.  And a close and suspenseful face-off it is.  Once again there are a pair of truly excellent(if perhaps not entirely clean) routines, and this time it really is hard to split them.  Sadie & Mark seem slightly sharper and easier, but Bethany & Derek are definitely more mature and sexy, IMHO.  The twitter vote is very close, and the judges end up split even: Carrie-Ann and Bruno go for Sadie & Mark, Len and Julianne for Bethany & Derek.  But since Len as the head judge is the tiebreaker, Bethany & Derek get the points, going up to 40.

Tommy & Peta versus Michael & Emma: Rumba; “I’m Not the Only One” Sam Smith.  This wouldn’t exactly be the most anticipated face-off already, and before they dance Tom advises up Tommy aggravated his calf injury during his earlier routine.  This may be what results in him doing less content with Michael.  But Michael doesn’t do that content well; both men rely mostly on their hips and their attitude.  But Tommy on the latter is able to generate more sex appeal, to the point that while the judges mostly avoid saying who they’re favoring before officially declaring, Julianne says in her comments her vote goes to Tommy & Peta’s.  So does everybody else’s, they gets over 70% of the Twitter vote and unanimous nods from the judges, taking their score up to 29.

The six non-immune couples are lined up and four of them are quickly declared safe, leaving Michael & Emma and Tommy & Peta.  There’s an argument they’ve both overstayed their welcome, but if we can only get rid of one of them this week, hands down it ought to be Micheal & Emma, and they’re eight points behind too.  But on what is a red state show, the evening before the country seems likely to return the Senate to the GOP despite this also being a stupid decision, when a NASCAR driver faces off against a Canadian most known for smoking pot, you have to wonder: how much is eight points worth?

Enough, thankfully; Michael & Emma are finally out.  It’s an emotional goodbye though, with Emma praising Michael for being a good man and apparently making her  a better person.

Speaking of voting, next week America gets to vote on everything about the couple’s routines.  I’ll reserve judgement on how well that works out until then, I think.

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