So it’s the third week of one of the weakest seasons of Dancing With the Stars we’ve had in a long while, and maybe ABC realizes this season needs some more entertaining celebrities, so tonight, when everyone is dancing to TV music, they bring in the Muppets for the beginning. They man the booth before the opening number, and Miss Piggy appears as Tom’s co-host early in the episode, though Erin comes back in time for the interviews, and they pop up at other times too. But once that’s done, what’s going to be in the rest of the episode? Also, we’ve had a hospitalized celebrity, and it will shortly be hinted that Kim & Tony might not be dancing tonight. Does this mean a withdrawal? We must wait to find out.
Carlos PenaVega & Witney Carson: Jazz, “Thank You for Being a Friend” The Golden Girls. Even the fluff is getting ridiculously mediocre this season; this one is preceded by a cliché set of clips of Witney not being a friend because she’s a teacher(because of the song name, get it?). They put on the aging makeup and the routine is a little goofy and a little sweet. The judges praise that, but are concerned about lack of energy, and speak of his needing to use his arms more, and Carrie Ann speaks of no improvement from the previous week. That may be why she gives them only a Seven; Eights from the other three leave them with 31.
Paula Deen & Louis van Amstel: Samba; “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle” Gilligan’s Island. And this fluff, after having her mad as his choice of character for her and complaining about fatigue, has her crying about being abandoned, an obvious shot at Food Network for rightfully dumping her racist ass, and Louis’ hugging her and saying he’ll never abandon her, and really, this man is way too good to her. He even choreographs the kind of creative and bouncy routine that would be truly delightful if a better woman was dancing it with him. Or maybe just one who could do the steps right, which she absolutely does not. Though Julianne then suggests maybe it was too creative, because she’s ignoring that’s all it’ll have to redeem itself. Bruno sums it up better: the samba got stranded by the shipwreck. Still, they let her off with straight Fives and 20.
Tamar Braxton & Val Chmerkovskiy: Tango; “A Beautiful Mine” Mad Men. Tamar doesn’t like Val’s plans for their dance either, but that’s simply because as a modern woman she finds his plotline sexist. But hey, this is Mad Men, so in the end they have to go with it, with him as the boss and she as the secretary with very mixed feelings towards him. She mostly is game for it, and is good enough and in character enough for the routine to be quite striking, although there are moments, like with last week, where her face doesn’t seem to suit it. Alfonso advises her to let him lead. Though he still loved it enough to give it a Nine; Eights from the others leave them with 33.
Alexa PenaVega & Mark Ballas: Jazz; Breaking Bad Theme. Mark describes this as his favorite show ever, resulting in a humorous sequence in the fluff involving a camper in the desert which allows us to get a glimpse his ass covered only in cotton. But the routine proves far better; Mark’s love for the show leads to him putting together an unforgettable number, and he and Alexa nail it. Carrie Ann goes so far as to call it “genius,” the judges officially declare the two of them to be contenders, and they break out the straight Nines for 36, which will ultimately leave them tied for the lead.
Andy Grammer & Allison Holker: Quickstep; “Bandstand Boogie” American Bandstand. The fluff is mostly Andy gushing about the show, but we also get some details about his touring schedule making for an exhausting week. Perhaps that’s why his performance doesn’t feel like he’s doing it the full no-holds barred way you’d want for it, and also fatigue and lack of practice might have got to him technically, because he had issues there as well. Although Carrie Ann suggest the problem was simply he’s too much in his head. Julianne liked it more, and breaks out an Eights, but Sevens from the others leave them with 29.
Gary Busey & Anna Trebunskaya: Tango; The Addams Family Theme. The fluff is mostly him trying to cope with not being as good as he’d like, although there’s also a cameo from Thing. Fortunately, this week, he managed to hold it together and perform competently, for him, although quite honestly the standards are pretty low there. It gets the judges to say they’re glad he’s doing better, and they even get a Seven from Alfonso; Sixes from the other three leave them with 25.
Alek Skarlatos & Lindsay Arnold: Tango; “Bad Things” True Blood. Lindsay spends most of the fluff try to get Alek to feel and act sexy; there’s humorous clips of him chatting up women on her direction during the Sunday dress rehearsal. I’m honestly not sure how sexy he proves in the routine; but he does prove intense and strong in the way the routine requires to have its effect, so this would’ve qualified as pulling it off, except two of the judges see a mistake. Julianne insists she didn’t see it, and breaks out a Nine, while the others give Eights for a total of 33.
And now we get a fluff of Kim’s harrowing week after she suffered a stroke, leaving it uncertain if she’ll be able to dance. But in the end, that proves irrelevant, because it turns out in the aftermath it’s not safe for her health for her to fly, and she went home to Atlanta before the stroke hit, so she simply can’t get there to perform. Tony performs the I Dream of Jeannie routine he choreographed with dance troupe member Jenna Johns, which means we get to see it done by two professionals, which is great. Then Kim skypes in to insist she could’ve danced could she have only gotten there, and Tom is obliged to lay down the law: with no performance for the judges to score, the rules insist she and Tony must be withdrawn. We thought we’d be glad when we were rid of her, but this…well, you just hope she’ll be all right healthwise.
Among comments making it sound like despite the withdrawal there will also be an elimination tonight, the final three couples perform:
Bindi Irwin & Derek Hough: Quickstep; “Moving on Up” The Jeffersons. Not their original song; they were originally preparing a Jetsons routine, but Thursday afternoon the music rights failed to clear, and they had to start over having lost two days. That may be the reason why the routine Derek comes up with is no frills; just quickstepping amid a lot of character-filled choreography, and because it’s Derek, that’s all wonderful, and combines with Bindi’s energy until Jeffersons cast member Marla Gibbs in the audience gives it high praise. The judges, on the other hand, have some technical criticisms, though they still give it straight Eights for 32.
Nick Carter & Sharna Burgess: Viennese Waltz; “Did I Make the Most of Loving You?” Downtown Abbey. Sharna has them portraying Matthew and Lady Mary, and spends the week trying to get him to show emotion. Which pays off when she choreographs a romantic and exquisite tragic routine and the two of them fill it with chemistry and emotion that in the end makes for something truly moving, way beyond anything else we’ve seen tonight. Alfonso calls it “near perfect” and Julianne sums it up best: best dance of the night. Except ultimately none of the judges prove willing to break out the Ten paddle, so with straight Nines they tie Alexa and Mark at the top with 36.
Hayes Grier & Emma Slater: Jive; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Theme. It was Hayes’ favorite cartoon when he was a kid, and they have dancers as backup turtles and lots of kung fu moves in what is nonetheless very much a jive, so that’s a lot of fun. Except that it’s not very well done jive; the judges have criticisms of his technique, and Carrie Ann and Alfonso especially criticize him for losing energy near the middle. It keeps the scores of the two female judges down to Sevens, though Alfonso nonetheless breaks out the Eight along with Bruno, so the score totals 30.
With two minutes left, the couples are lined up, and two of them are announced in jeopardy: Andy & Allison and Paula & Louis. So now we are all crossing out fingers it’s the latter who are going…except that then Tom announces that, contrary to what we thought, actually, because of Kim & Tony’s withdrawal we’re not having an elimination after all! Scores will be carried over to next week. We’re not told who would’ve gone home either, which makes you wonder why the point of that episode-ending lineup was. Seriously, the dancing might have been a bit better this week, but this show is still stumbling.