Dancing With the Stars, Season 20, Week 7, “Eras Week”

(Note: The opening number in my area was more or less preempted for Baltimore coverage, and there were further interruptions during the show)

It’s been a bit of a crazy interlude week; Derek landed in a wheelchair, and meanwhile the schedule got rearranged; suddenly the results show that was supposed to happen this week is now not happening until next week.  The show opens with Tom clarifying a bit more about what this means: dance trouper Sasha Farber will step in to dance with Nastia, and the double elimination will also happen next week.  Now for them to attempt to expand concept that a few years back they applied to the Latin round only, and worked well its first season, and less so its second, in the form of Eras Week.  It is also immunity/dance off night: whoever gets the highest score tonight will be safe from elimination this week, and the other couples compete against each other for two extra points.

Riker Lynch & Allison Holker: Quickstep; “Wiggle” Jason DeRulo feat. Snoop Dogg.  The era is the 1920s, and Riker is portraying a baseball star.  In the fluff he says he wants Len’s first Ten of the season, and Allison says the quickstep is the perfect dance for him to get it.  She’s right; the redoing of this song 20s style, while very well done, still feels rather weird, but you can’t fault his performance and his sense of fun.  Len calls it a home run and gives him that much desired Ten, even as the other three judges have a few quibbles about his shoulders and above, and so only give him Nines, for 37.

Chris Soules & Witney Carson: Foxtrot; “Five Minutes More” Frank Sinatra.  Next up is the forties, and World War II, with Chris as a sailor sharing a last dance with Witney in a train station before going off to war, with a humorous sequence of her explaining this to him in the fluff.  Technically this performance is easily his best yet, and he proves able to do romantic, more or less.  The fluff also having them worried it might actually be their last dance too, but Julianne’s quick to say no, and Bruno declares he’s turning into a dancer.  But even as Len compares his timing favorably to the trains in England, he especially still has plenty of technical criticisms to make, and gives a Seven, while the others give Eights, for 31.

Rumer Willis & Val Chmerkovskiy: Jive; “Dear Future Husband” Meghan Trainor.  Forward another two decades to the 60s, but the fluff is mostly first about daddy Bruce paying them a visit, and then about Rumer getting physically strained and fatigued and suffering painful whiplash Sunday night, all to raise our concerns about tonight.  When, of course, she gets the energy from somewhere and rules the floor once more.  Aside from some concerns about her arms the judges generally liked it, except Carrie-Ann though she played it too safe this week, and Len too thinks it could’ve had more flair, but says, “Better safe than sorry,” so while she only gives them an Eight, he and others break out the Nines for 35.

Noah Galloway & Sharna Burgess: Jazz; “Super Bad” James Brown.  It’s now the 1970s, and Noah is a pimp/gang leader(although of the group of dancers on the stage for this one, his is the least atrocious outfit), a role he is definitely not used to.  It’s debatable, in fact, how well he plays the character.  His ability to portray the music, on the other hand, is truly great, and he more or less pulls off the moves too.  Carrie-Ann, in fact, seems blown away, and this was the point where my coverage got interrupted again, but she broke out the Ten, while a less impressed-looking Len breaks out the Eight, and the other two compromise with Nines, for 36.

Robert Herjavec & Kym Johnson: Argentine Tango; “Word Up” Cameo.  As the song choice suggests, this is supposed to be the Eights, but you don’t see much of that.  The fluff is about their excitement about surviving last week, and how much he likes doing a sexy routine with her.  The routine is has a stool and limited space, and nothing particularly 80s; even this version of the song doesn’t feel much like the original.  What it is instead is, IMHO, easily the hottest routine we’ve seen so far this season.  Except that Carrie-Ann though Kym was “too much woman” for him and distracted him, and only gives them a Seven, while the other three judges give Eights for 31.

Nastia Liukin & Sasha Farber: Charleston; “Honey, I’m Good” Andy Grammer performing live.  The fluff, of course, was about Derek’s injuries and struggle to cope.  Wisely, he funnels his pent-up energy into choreographing the routine for our current era, which takes place on a subway car, where the passengers include him and Grammer, and he even hands Nastia off to Sasha at the beginning.  From there they proceed to blow the walls off the car, so full of joy that the longer is goes on the more you have to smile.  As Bruno calls it “the best subway ride I have ever taken,” Carrie-Ann steals Len’s talking time to get up and hug Nastia and talk to her close-up, and Len just turns his thumb up, you think this one just might get straight Tens.  But no, Tens from Bruno & Carrie-Ann, but Nines from the other two adds up to 38, which still ultimately does win the immunity.

Willow Shields & Mark Ballas: Jazz; “Electric Feel” MGMT.  They got the future, so Mark decided the future is going to involve ninjas, because he’s wanted to do a ninja routine for a while, and says he hopes the judges will appreciate their creativity.  This is definitely the most creative routine of the night, with lots of sharp ninja moves which they nail.  But the judges do have some criticism to make, with Carrie-Ann seeming to even see a lack of energy at points.  Except Bruno, who raves, and breaks out the Ten while the others give Nines, for 37.

With Nastia & Sasha done for the night, the other six couples line up and it’s time for the dance-offs.  We are reminded off the rules: highest-scored couple left chooses their partners, who then chooses from three dance rhythms.  But highest-scorers Riker & Allison, having a sense of fair play, choose Willlow & Mark who tied them(I assume the tiebreaker was cumulative scores), who then chose the salsa.

Riker Lynch & Allison Holker vs. Willow Shields & Mark Ballas: Salsa; “Temperature” Sean Paul.  Initially you think Willow & Mark made the wrong choice.  Riker & Allison absolutely sparkle in their modern-style salsa.  Willow & Mark then kill it too, in their more traditional-style salsa.  Personally, I thought Riker & Allison better, and most of Twitter agrees as well, but while the judges emphasize how close it is, they nonetheless all go with Willow & Mark!  Their score goes up to 39.

Next to choose are Noah & Sharna.  He had said in the introductory fluff he wanted Robert, and he sticks to his choice.  Robert & Kym pick the cha cha.  This means Chris & Witney and Rumer & Val default into a foxtrot battle.

Noah Galloway & Sharna Burgess vs. Robert Herjavec & Kym Johnson: Cha cha cha; “Dance With Me” Kelly Clarkson.  Noah has limited movement in his cha cha cha, though he does show off his hip action, and he does everything clean.  Robert does more, include some killer hips of his own, but he does is less than cleanly.  Both are great in their energy, but maybe less so in their legs.  As the twitter vote favors Noah & Sharna, the judges split 2-2, but Len’s vote is the tiebreaker, and he voted for Noah & Sharna, so they win and take their score up to 38.

Rumer Willis & Val Chmerkovskiy vs. Chris Soules & Witney Carson: Foxtrot; “Orange Colored Sky.”  Rumer & Val really lucked out, going unpicked until they landed opposite Chris & Witney.  All they have to do is go out there and be their normal wonderful selves, and though Chris manages to perform a competent dance, he just doesn’t have the sharpness or the presence of Rumer.  There is some debate between the judges of just how big the gap between them was, but it’s unanimous on who was on the upside of it.  Rumer & Val take their two points, and go up to 37.

With only three minutes with which to do the elimination, the six non-immune couples are lined up, and then the night takes a truly crazy turn, as the first three couples called safe are Noah & Sharna, Robert & Kym, and Chris & Witney, leaving three couples who would all be shock eliminees!  At least last week’s highest-scorers Riker & Allison are called safe next, but that leaves Rumer & Val and Willow & Mark both standing there, leaving us all to lament; this is going to be a terrible loss.  There are two points between them…was Rumer really too bootylicious for this show?

No, it’s Willow & Mark.  “It is what it is,” says Mark, which is perhaps all anyone can summon up at this point.  Willow just accepts a hug from Tom.  Seriously, how does this kind of thing happen?

Results show supposed to happen next week, and it really will, Tom promises.  We’ll see…

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