'Dancing With the Stars' recap, 'America's Choice' night

For The Baltimore Sun
The Twitterverse offers a hand on this week's "Dancing with the Stars."

Tonight is America’s choice, where the fans design the dances for the stars. We are spraytanned and ready, and starting with results from last week.

Making it to the semifinals: Tommy Chong & Peta Murgatroyd! OK, that was unexpected. Peta’s knees give way and she and Tommy are caught up in a big group hug by the other competitors. Tom Bergeron says they’re the lowest scoring couple but they’re safe; we’re definitely in for a surprise elimination tonight. Who could it be? Lea’s scores have been low, but maybe Janel doesn’t have the fan base to back up her dancing, despite her high scores?

We’re starting with Alfonso Ribiero & Witney Carson. They introduce their dance while wearing #teamwitfonso stocking hats. Ideas for their dances were requested through social media, including totally not-scripted-by-the-marketing-department tweets.

Someone suggests top hat and tails for Alfonso and a gorgeous dress for Witney, which is 140 characters of thinking squarely from within the center of the box. For more insight #teamwitfonso, go to the LA Farmer’s Market to look for opinions in meatspace. Alfonso wants to deliver what America asked for.

Witney’s gorgeous dress is a sheer sequined red skirt and bra top. Robie Williams is no Dean Martin. It is a lovely and fun number. As DL Hughley said in his season, “Nothing says Carleton like the foxtrot.”

Len Goodman is smiling! he says that’s the way to kick off the quarter finals. Julianne Hough says Alfonso was everything he wasn’t in previous ballroom dances, not at all squatty, and America nailed it for them. Bruno Tonoli says they channeled the sophistication of a bygone era while throwing in Justin Timberlake touches. Carrie Ann Inaba thinks they might give more ka-zazz and is booed. Len puts up a hand to shield his eyes from her heresy, as he might to avoid the sight of a lady’s underwear shop.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 10. Sure thought Len was throwing out ten-thusiasm there.

In the skybox, Erin teases the trio round, introducing Lindsay. Derek reaches forward to prick his finger on a spiky bit of Lindsay’s costume but does not fall asleep for a hundred years.

Before the commercial, Tommy and Peta read a suggestion from America, something about riding in on a unicorn and dancing under black light, preferably naked. This is what happens when you ask for suggestions from stoners.

Hey stoners, it's #DWTSAmericasChoice this week. Peta and I are doing a Viennese Waltz to 'Trouble'. What ideas do you have for our dance?
— Tommy Chong (@tommychong) November 4, 2014

The recap of last week’s Paso Doble shows Peta yelling commands to Tommy as they dance. She reads a tweet suggesting Tommy keep on the beat, practice and practice some more. Tommy says, “That’s from Peta!” Oh hilarity.

No unicorns on the dance floor, but the Viennese Waltz suits Tommy’s smooth dance-floor presence. If Peta’s dress were on "Project Runway," Tim Gunn would be concerned. As they head to the judges, they’re giggling because Tommy forgot his arms.

Julianne says it was a proper Viennese Waltz and Bruno calls him watchable, spinning around like a fairground carousel. Carrie Ann says Tommy teaches us all that less is more. Len says he’s terrific for an old geezer.

In the skybox, Peta admits she thought they’d be out week one or week two. Tommy says he had his bags packed for New York.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 8; Julianne: 7; Bruno: 7.

Lea Thompson & Artem Chingvintsev will be dancing the samba. Call me crazy, but they seem to get better scores when Artem is shirtless.

Hey guys @artemchigvintse and I are dancing a samba to #Maroon5 "Animals" #DWTSAmericasChoice what animal should we be?
— Lea Thompson (@LeaKThompson) November 4, 2014

America suggests Lea be a cougar because America likes its humor obvious.

Lea is in tiger stripes; Artem’s animal identity is unclear, but he is shirtless under a Member’s Only jacket. The samba seems slow, the better to show Lea’s legs for days. Bruno says her confidence is renewed and she’s working her asset (just one? OK.) Carrie Ann says she wants Lea’s wild and free to be wild and free and calls one of her moves a crotch-over, which pretty much describes it perfectly. Len thinks Lea puts the sin in syncopation. Julianne thinks her moves were insufficiently catlike but still good.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 9; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 9.

.@BethanyMota & @derekhough are dancing a Viennese Waltz to Say You Love Me! Send routine ideas!#DWTSAmericasChoice pic.twitter.com/TTJ9tTe7wd
— Official DWTS (@DancingABC) November 4, 2014

Bethany Mota & Derek Hough’s social media pals say they should be a couple on the verge of breaking up. Bethany says this routine is really for America, because everyone can relate to that feeling of heartbreak.

Wikipedia tells me Bethany Mota is a fashion reviewer with 7 million followers on her YouTube channel and an estimated income of $40,000/month. That may be proof we live in a crazy world, but her dance showcases that combination of talent, hard work and emotional openness to her audience. Her fan base and Derek’s may overlap into an unstoppable fevered groundswell of votes from the teenage female demographic.

Carrie Ann says it was stunning and quite breathtaking. Len wasn’t totally transported to old Vienna, but at least made it to Austria. He and Derek argue about the possible presence of a fleckle, but it’s unclear whether that would be a good thing or a bad thing. Julianne says it was beautiful and Bruno says it was wonderful.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 9.

Sadie Robertson & Mark Ballas asked America to pick Sadie’s dress, and what they could do to win the Mirror Ball. America does not suggest Mark stuff his ego in a box for a bit, but Sadie says he’s stripped down the jive to where all they have to do is dance. This is a good choice for Sadie’s long limbs and natural bounciness.

America put Sadie in sparkly midnight blue fringe. Len likes the content of the number and Julianne compliments Mark’s choreography. She admits it wasn’t her favorite dance and is booed. Tom asks the audience if they were not critiqued as children.

Bruno gives them respect for attempting such a difficult dance and Carrie Ann says the second half was stronger than the first half. Overall, the judges say it was a good presentation with technical flaws.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 9; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 8.

After the show finishes, I expect the Robertsons will give Sadie her own "Duck Dynasty" product line, maybe promwear featuring camo, orange and padlockable undergarments.

@JanelParrish & @iamValC are dancing Quickstep to Hey Boy! Hey Girl! Send ideas for the routine!#DWTSAmericasChoice pic.twitter.com/i8SC13Rwqx
— Official DWTS (@DancingABC) November 4, 2014

Janel Parrish & Val Chmerkovskiy close out the round. America wants them to kiss, so they start with a will-they-or-won’t-they teaser and end with a big smackeroo. On the way to the judges’ table, Val apologizes for messing up. But Janel says he’s still really cute and it was a blast and she got kissed, so it was all good.

Julianne guesses correctly that the messing up was Val’s patent leather shoes sticking together, but she doesn’t care, that was the best dance of night so far. Bruno praises the detail of the choreography and Carrie Ann praises their full-body performance when other quickstepping couples are too worried about the dance to use their faces. Len says Janel had hold, posture and movement.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 10; Julianne: 10; Bruno: 9.

Janel and Val are at the stop of the standings, but could Janel be the one going home? Sometimes the fan base means more than the dancing.

It’s the trio round next, with an eliminated pro or troupe member added to each celebrity couple. Alfonso, Witney and Lindsay are dancing a Paso Double; Alfonso thinks the Paso is so manly he’ll need two girls. The girls might be humoring him a bit, but he does pretty well.

Len’s a fan; Julianne is screechy. Bruno demands WHO’S THE MAN? and Carrie says DAY-um.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Julianne: 10; Bruno: 10.

Tommy and Peta are joined by Sharna. Tommy says he’ll be using the Michael Waltrip formula, surrounding himself with beautiful women and hoping no one looks at him.

The dance starts with a welcome to Chong Airways, thanking us for flying high. (Dear DWTS: We get that joke. Really.) Peta and Charna are flight attendants and Tommy is a cheerful frequent flyer. The big airplane set limits them to a small stage, which means Tommy doesn’t have as many steps to forget.

Bruno is having a coughing fit and the Julianne can’t judge for giggling. Carrie Ann says it was good entertainment and Len is changing his ticket to London to Chong Air.

In the skybox, Erin says it’s every man’s dream to have to beautiful women dancing with him and asks Tommy how it was for him. He says is was very hard, and Dear DWTS: we get that joke too.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Julianne: 7; Bruno: 7.

Lea and Artem will be working with Henry, who looks like a young Chmerkovskiy brother, and I mean that in the best possible way. The boys will be cool dudes being bossed around by a real woman. Lea says it’s good to have them on their knees. In the Paso they are shirtless except for some accent straps, so their scores will automatically be one point higher. I’m doubting it will be traditional enough for Len, and since you can only be in hold with one person at a time, the guy left out looks a bit awkward capering about on his own.

Bruno comments on the inadequacy of his own chest and tells Lea she has enough prime beef to last her for a lifetime. Carrie Ann says it was a good strategy for Lea to be dancing with such a matched pair and Len says it kept the flavor of the Paso Doble and the focus on Lea. Julianne says job well done.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 9.

Bethany and Derek will be dancing the Argentine Tango with Tony Dovolani. In practice, Derek is complaining of a back injury and says he’s depending on Tony to step up with the tricks. The dance must be set in a steampunk dystopia because everyone’s wearing leather corsets (I think I saw Bethany’s on corsetstory.com). The guy not in hold doesn’t look awkward at all, so well done Derek for the choreography.

Carrie Ann loves that performance, but dares to criticize Bethany’s connection with her partners and is booed because that’s what the audience likes to do. Len thought the connection was great. Julianne and Bruno compliment the change in style from the waltz to the tango, done with equal authority.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 10; Julianne: 10; Bruno: 9.

Sadie and Mark will be dancing with Emma, the first time a female celebrity will be working with a female pro, and the first time a foxtrot will be done as a trio (nothing says complicated like the foxtrot). Mark and Emma are dancing when Sadie strolls on the floor, and the Mine! No, Mine! story gives Emma action when Mark is in hold with Sadie. Mark is wearing wingtips, not spats, and his tattoos are covered, so -- and I can’t believe I’m saying this -- well done, Mark.

As they go to the judges, Sadie tearfully tells Tom she forgot the last part, but Len says that it was the best of the trios and wishes he had an 11 paddle. Julianne tells Mark it was worth the risk to add a woman partner. Bruno says movie-star stunning and Tom cuts Carrie Ann off for time.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Julianne: 10; Bruno: 10. I have no love for the whole "Duck Dynasty" thing, but Sadie’s just a really genuine kid and is doing very well. I hope she goes to college and dates a beardless vegetarian who reads Sartre.

Janel and Val are dancing with Keo, doing Salsa as a tribal dance, apparently from the tribe of shirtlessness and posturing and crazy scary lifts. Judging is rushed for time, but Julianne says there wasn’t a lot of Salsa content but that doesn’t matter because she’s in a really good mood. Bruno calls Janel the jungle queen and invokes Josephine Baker before Tom cuts him off. Carrie Ann calls her a superstar and Len, predictably, wants more Salsa even though he thought it was fantastic.

They don’t have time to go to the skybox to get the scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 9; Julianne: 10; Bruno: 10.

The couples are lined up for results: Alfonso and Witney are safe, and so are Bethany and Derek. Janel and Val are safe, too.

Down to Lea and Artem and Sadie and Mark: it’s not such a surprise, then, that between the two of them, Lea is eliminated. She went out on two great performances, though.

Alfonso and Witney and Janel and Val are tied for first; Tommy and Peta are at the bottom of the leader board.

Your regular recapper, Amy Watts, is out of the country, but fortunately for her, whiskey and Manhattan sound the same in most every language. She’ll be gone next week as well, but will be back for the finals. 

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