Dancing With the Stars, Season 19, Week 9, “America’s Choice/Trio Night”

It’s America’s Choice week, which means that viewers voted to choose the dances and music for the couples this week.  For the second week in a row, there’s no opening number, but there is a result announced at the beginning: Tommy & Peta are safe!  That means there’s going to be a shock elimination, since none of the other five couples should really be going at all, but everyone runs to hug Tommy anyway, before the dances start.

Alfonso Ribeiro & Witney Carson:  Foxtrot; “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” Robbie Williams.  The audience also makes costume suggestions, and they go with the one that puts him in a tux.  They also go down to the local farmer’s market to get audience feedback in person.  Generally the routine is good and pleasing, the type of dance that leaves Len smiling even when he notes the footwork wasn’t perfect.  He is not impressed when Carrie-Ann declares it could’ve had even more pizazz.  Bruno just calls it brilliant and breaks out the Ten.  Nines from the other three make for a total of 37.

Tommy Chong & Peta Murgatroyd: Viennese Waltz; “Trouble” Ray LaMontagne. The fluff deals with his having gotten a leg injury last week during the dress rehearsal; though the doctor clears him to dance.  Then we see some of the crazier suggestions made for their dance, featuring a unicorn and dogs.  Peta apparently ignores them all, going instead for a bare bones routine that is very content focused.  It’s ten seconds away from paying off when Tommy suddenly stumbles at the end.  This is a pity, but the judges are still nice in their remarks, with Len and Julianne even citing specific aspects of the technique Tommy really did get right, which even gets him an Eight from Len.  Sevens from the other three make for a total of 29.

Lea Thompson & Artem Chingvintsev: Samba; “Animals” Maroon 5.  The fluff starts humorously with Artem asking the public via Twitter what animals they should portray, though it turns more serious as the two of them clash over the choreography.  Artem is going purist when it comes to that; with Lea in tiger-print and he himself with his abs bare, they too do a content-focused routine.  It’s a good one, sexy and fun, with Len telling Lea afterwards she “puts the sin in syncopation.”  But Carrie-Ann thinks Lea didn’t deliver the aggressive mood throughout it, and Julianne, after noting her own past wearing of tiger print, criticizes Lea for her felinity!  Eights from the two of them and Nines from the other two leave them with 34.

Bethany Mota & Derek Hough: Viennese Waltz; “Say Your Love Me” Jessie Ware.  They take suggestions for a general story concept, and go with one about a couple trying to fix a relationship.  It’s definitely the trend to not use too many frills tonight; this routine is the content plus the emotion of the story.  It’s actually not absolutely brilliant, which is a bit disappointing simply because this is Derek we’re talking about, but it’s still very good.  Except the judges have quibbles about Bethany’s shoulder position, with Len and Derek having a debate about the use of a fleckle move in the routine, which keeps their scores down to Nines, for 36.

Sadie Robertson & Mark Ballas: Jive; “1, 2, 3 Turnaround” Christian TV.  Mark has the public vote on her dress design & color, and like the others so far, they make it very content focused, though they too have a story; setting himself and Sadie in a professional ballroom competition, with him wearing their phone number digits on his back!  In a content-heavy night, this one is noted as being one of the hardest routines.  Unfortunately, it turns out to be just a little too hard for Sadie; the judges note the imperfection of her kicks and flicks, though they still praise her performance.  Len likes the performance enough to give her a Nine, but Eights from the other leaves them with a total of 33.

Janel Parrish & Val Chmerkovskiy: Quickstep; “Hey Boy! Hey Girl!” Louis Prima & Keely Smith.  It’s hyped beforehand that they got multiple requests to kiss, and will oblige.  The fluff focuses on the pressure though, since they feel the need to follow up what he feels is the best routine he’s ever done on the show, and she doesn’t find the quickstep easy.  They use a little more staging than the others, starting in the audience and having him come out from among them, before they get down to the dancing.  But it’s all good and fun, even before the grand kiss at the end, and she completely nails it.  Except his shoes interfere, getting momentarily stuck together and causing him to mess up.  He’s quite sorry about that, but Julianne and Carrie-Ann both still think it was the best of the night, and the former and Len still break out the Tens, while Nines for the other two put them in the lead with 38.

It is also trio night, with the second pro joining each couple getting announced during the interviews with Erin.  There are a few matchups one might not have predicted, but we’ll get explanations for them eventually:

Alfonso Ribeiro, Witney Carson, & Lindsey Arnold: Paso Doble; “Turn Down for What” DJ Snake & Lil Jon.  It’s talked about in the fluff how Witney and Lindsey have known each other since they were six, and how much younger they are then Alfonso, who also talks about being manly.  And he is manly, in his particular way, and while this paso doble absorbs the mood of the hip hop and punk sci-fi, it’s still very much a paso doble, and Alfonso owns the dominant character and really owns the floor too.  Julianne comments, “The matrix has nothing on y’all,” Bruno calls it, “the ride of the night,” and Carrie-Ann thanks them for bringing the pizazz she found wanting in the first routine.  Then ought come the straight Tens, taking the total up to 77.

Tommy Chong, Peta Murgatroyd, & Sharna Burgess: Samba; “Talk Dirty to Me” Jason DeRulo.  Tommy describes himself as using the Michael Waltrip method, surrounding himself with beautiful women and hope noone pays attention to him.  The routine is a doozy; it involves him as a passenger on Chong Airways and they as two flight attendants coming out to dance for him.  Except that this approach does kind of end up emphasizing how much better the two of them are then him half the time, though at least they do give him an opportunity to show off his hip-shaking ability.  The judges are left giggling, with Julianne saying she doesn’t know what to say and Len saying he wants to switch his flight home after the show.  They then break out the straight Sevens, making for a total score of 57.

Lea Thompson, Artem Chingvintsev, & Henry Bylikov: Paso Doble; “Black Betty” Ram Jam.  Artem describes Henry as a friend with a similar body type, which the two of them highlight by going shirtless, and letting Lea dominate them in the routine, which she likes.  It works well for her as well, giving her the chance to own them, the floor, and the routine; it may well be the best she’s done on the show yet.  From the judge’s praise, you even think maybe one of them will break out the Ten paddle, but actually, none of them do.  Instead, it’s straight Nines for a grand total of 70.

Bethany Mota, Derek Hough, & Tony Dovolani: Argentine Tango; “Jungle” X Ambassadors & Jamie N Commons feat. Jay-Z.  The choice is strategic on Derek’s part; he thinks Tony will be useful for this kind of dance, and for managing tricks, especially when he himself has a tweaked back.  Though the big trick of this routine turns out to be a lift done by them both at the end.  The rest of it is Bethany tangoing intensely and strikingly with both of them, going back and forth.  Which turns out to be a problem with Carrie-Ann decides she doesn’t think the switches worked, though Len and Julianne disagree loudly with her.  The two of them break out the Tens; she and Bruno give Nines, resulting in a grand total of 74.

Sadie Robertson, Mark Ballas, & Emma Slater: Foxtrot; “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” Frankie Valli.  Mark had actually wanted Henry Bylikov, but Lea & Artem got to pick first and they claimed him, and in his opinion none of the male pros left available worked with Sadie’s height, so he went with Emma, even though no female celebrity has done a trio with a female pro on the show before.  Fortunately, Mark being Mark, he comes up with a routine that puts Sadie in the center as she comes up to Mark & Emma dancing and distracts him, and the three proceed to just float dreamily through the dance.  Even when Sadie apparently forgets the last part and has to improvise, it’s still all good and you’d never guess.  Len calls it the best trio of the night and wishes for an Eleven paddle, and the straight Tens comes out for the second time that night, making for a grand total of 73.

Janel Parrish, Val Chmerkovskiy, & Keo Motsepe: Salsa.  Val chooses Keo, he says, because he wants to give the guy another shot at the spotlight, and he knows he won’t let it go to waste either.  The three of them then do a tribal dance where the two of them are dancing in tribute to Janel, their Queen/Goddess.  It’s a spectacular show, with the three of them giving their all, and being just about perfect in all their moves.  Like the trio tribal dance done back in the all-star season, the routine doesn’t really contain much of the rhythm it’s supposed to be to, but it’s so much fun to watch the only person who seems to care at all is Len, and even he admits to the routine’s quality.  He’s the only one that even lowers his score to a Nine for it; Tens from the other three leave Janel & Alfonso tied with 77.

They actually had to really rush through the comments and scores for this last routine; the show’s behind schedule and there’s about four minutes left for the elimination, so Janel & Val hurry to join the other four couples(aside from Tommy & Peta) on stage to find out who are the shock eliminees.  And then one is left to think about Val’s history of suffering shock eliminations, especially as first Alfonso & Witney and then Bethany & Derek are called safe.  And then he & Janel are called safe, and his fans can breathe a huge sigh of relief.

So that just leaves Lea & Artem and Sadie & Mark, and when Sadie’s the big current reality TV star, Mark is by far the more famous pro, and there’s a six point gap in Sadie & Mark’s favor, this one’s pretty obvious.  Sure enough, Lea & Artem are out.  There’s just enough time for her to say she’s glad for the experience and to praise Artem, who at least has had a really great debut season.

Semi-finals next week.  Hard to believe it; it’s another season that’s really flown by.  But really, let’s hope the right four couples go to the final.

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