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'Dancing with the Stars' recap, Grab the tissues

DanceOlympicsJimmy Eat World (music group)Mark BallasRalph Lauren

Last week, Diana Nyad and Sean Avery got the boot. Please, please let's put Billy Dee out of his misery this week.

The guest judge is Robin Roberts. LOVE HER. It's also "tell your sob story/backstory" night. DON'T LOVE THAT. 

Uh oh, Billy Dee Williams is backstage. This does not bode well.

James Maslow & Peta Murgatroyd
Jive

James used to be chubby kid. In 2007, he overcame bullying - it's unclear if he got skinny and the bullying stopped or the other way around.

It's our first "nerdy boy/hot girl" routine of the season. Blech. Although I love this song, "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World. Peta is so channeling Cher from "Clueless."

Len calls it full-on, flat-out and fantastic. Robin praises his attack and his winking at her when he came up on the judges' table. Carrie Ann calls it kinetic and vibrant, but gives him teeny tiny advice about his "claw" hands.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9;  Robin: 9; Bruno: 9

Basics of the switcheroo: It's only for one week.

Billy Dee Williams announces that on doctor's orders he's withdrawing from the competition. No word yet if there will still be an elimination tonight or if there will be two eliminated next week. My guess is that they weren't planning on eliminating anybody solely based on their performance with their switch partner, so they'll combine this week and next.

NeNe Leakes & Tony Dovolani
Rumba 

NeNe's most memorable year was the year she remarried her husband.

This rumba is sexy, sexy, sexy. And I'm not just saying that because Tony is shirtless and buff. 

Bruno compliments NeNe's ability to maintain her movement throughout the entire dance. Carrie Ann likes her arms this week. Len says that despite the bed and Tony's nakedness, it didn't veer into raunchy.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 7; Robin: 8; Bruno: 8

Erin just confirmed my suspicions that this week's scores will be combined with next week's scores.

Cody Simpson & Witney Carson
Jazz

Cody's most memorable year was 2010, when he moved to the U.S. after an agent discovered his videos on YouTube. His family gave up their lives for his dream. This week, they're dancing to one of Cody's own songs.

Witney's doing some sort of '40s pinup bathing suit thing while Cody looks like he stepped straight out of a Ralph Lauren ad. I have no basis on which to judge jazz dancing. Let's see what the actual judges say.

Bruno calls it refreshing and so right now. The rest of the judges liked it too, praising its newness and inventiveness.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 8; Robin: 9; Bruno: 9

Danica McKellar & Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Contemporary

Danica's most memorable year was 2010, the year both her son was born and her grandmother died. And yes, you're hearing correctly, she named her child Draco.   

Despite it being a contemporary dance, they're both wearing shoes. Huzzah. This is a nice use of contemporary, to tell a story other than "they love each other but they can't be together." There are some gorgeous lifts in this routine and the transitions are really smooth.  Danica is visibly moved at the end of the routine and Carrie Ann is already crying. Danica goes to grab her son and then brings him with her to hold during judging.

Carrie Ann calls the routine delicate and sincere. She also praises her graceful lines. Len says the movements were fluid and the routine was beautiful. Val is being so sweet to Draco, scratching his head and making silly faces for him. Awwwww. 

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Robin: 9; Bruno: 9

I think if they had done this number three weeks from now, it would've gotten 10s. 

Drew Carey & Cheryl Burke
Waltz

Drew's most memorable year was 2005, the year his son Connor was born. He decided for the sake of his son, he'd get in better physical shape. His own father died when he was 8 and Drew didn't want his son to have that same experience. After apologizing for getting teary-eyed and then wiping his eyes, Drew says, "I wanted to live to see him live." Awwww, Marine crying. 

I'd never heard this song before and I really like it. In case you're curious, it's "Fade into You" by Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen.

Drew brings his son over for the judging and Tom quips, "It's bring your kid to work day."  

Len said the dance was charming, but there was a mistake that made it muddle for a bit after. Robin calls Drew a "marvelous surprise" this season. Carrie Ann says that he was really intense this week and it made the dance not look that relaxed.

Tom gets down on his knees to ask Connor what he thought of dad's dance and Connor says, "I thought he did real good and I want her [Cheryl] to teach me some of those moves." Smooth, kid, real smooth.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Robin: 8; Bruno: 8

Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Foxtrot

Meryl says it's not a most memorable year, but a memorable 17 years of her partnership with Charlie, with whom she started competing when they were both under age 10.

They get a violinist named Lindsey Stirling playing for them. There is a long, long moment of almost kissing and I'm not sure how Len is going to feel about that in a foxtrot. 

Robin likes that Meryl picked the journey instead of just one year. I still can't get over Meryl's Disney princess face - she's all big eyes and wide mouth and tiny chin. Carrie Ann says she burst into tears because the routine was so beautiful. Len loved it, especially the rise and fall.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 9; Robin: 10; Bruno: 10

Amy Purdy & Derek Hough
Contemporary

Amy's most memorable year is, duh, the year she lost her legs to bacterial meningitis. Not only did she lose her legs, she lost both her kidneys as well and required a transplant from her dad. (Nerdy quilter note: I love the modified flying geese pattern quilt in one of her old pictures.)

She's changed her feet this week, so that they have pointed toes. That's both weird and cool, being able to change your feet.

They are not shying away at all from showing her legs and feet. I think it's great that they've been doing that. The effect of the pointed toes is amazing -it makes her look like she's dancing a lot of the dance en pointe like a ballerina. After the routine, Amy walks over and hugs her dad and then you can see him mouthing, "I'm so proud of her." Awwwww.  

Robin looks stunned with emotion. Bruno says it was heart-wrenching and inspirational. And then he calls it miraculous. Carrie Ann calls her inspiring and points out the challenge of Amy balancing on the toes instead of the flat feet. Len says it touched his brain with the level of difficulty and his heart with the level of artistry. Robin says there aren't enough superlatives. Robin's voice is breaking as she gives her comments and that's impressive given how composed Robin usually seems.

Fun fact: it's Amy's parent's 41st wedding anniversary today. Nice present, kid. They'll never forget it.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Robin: 9; Bruno: 9

I'm kinda surprised they didn't pick up a 10 somewhere.

Charlie White & Sharna Burgess
Jive

Charlie's most memorable year was 2010 because they achieved only the silver at the Olympics that year and it gave him and Meryl the resolve to go for the gold the next Olympics. 

Charlie starts his routine backstage, solo, and dances with various people on his way to the stage, where Sharna is waiting.  In case you're wondering about his rolled up pants, it's imitating Pharrell Williams's style, whose song "Happy" Charlie is dancing to.

Great dance! So much fun and Charlie is so light on his feet, so bouncy.

Carrie Ann loved the way he worked the room and how in sync he and Sharna were, but then she says Charlie was off the music at time. Len loved it and had no problem with the timing.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Robin: 9; Bruno: 9

Candace Cameron Bure & Mark Ballas
Jive

Candace says the most memorable year of her life was 1995, when "Full House" ended and two months later she got engaged to her husband. Aw, Lori Laughlin and Andrea Barber are there to wish Candace luck during rehearsals. Kimmy!

This is not great. Candace's footwork isn't as sharp as it needs to be and their transition into one of the throws is terrible. Her feet are all over the place and not as sharp and strong as they need to be. Mark does a forward flip at one point, because for Mark it's about showcasing Mark as much as or more than his partner.

Len liked the pace, but wanted more bounce. Robin says it was snazzy. Bruno says she needed cleaner footwork. Bruno gets me. Carrie Ann agrees with the other judges and says Candace needs to pull her shoulders back more. She guesses that it might be because Candace isn't entirely comfortable wearing heels and is putting her weight forward for balance. Or maybe she just has bad posture normally? I dunno. She's only 5'2" - she should be standing up just as tall and straight as she can get.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Robin: 8; Bruno: 8 

Scoreboard

Meryl & Maks: 39
Charlie & Sharna: 36
James & Peta: 36
Amy & Derek: 36
Danica & Val: 36
Cody & Witney: 35
Candace & Mark: 32
NeNe & Tony: 31
Drew & Cheryl: 30 

There isn't any point in trying to make predictions, since this week's scores are only half the picture. I'm most nervous for Drew, though, because Cheryl is the best of the female pros at choreography for challenging celebrities. And if he's low man this week, I don't know that that will improve next week. However, he probably has a pretty decent-sized fan base. So, it's almost impossible to predict.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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DanceOlympicsJimmy Eat World (music group)Mark BallasRalph Lauren
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