The show opens with Tom and Brooke alone on the stage, acknowledging the tragic events Boston today. I understand the need to address it, and I'm also glad to have my silly dancing show to distract me from the awfulness.
The show opens with the pros in an enclosed corridor offstage and then they all come out for a group dance, joined by the former pros that will presumably dancing with the couples tonight.
That's tonight's gimmick: this season's couples will be doing their routines alongside a pro couple. Is this when the show admits that we're actually more interested in watching the pros we've gotten to know over several seasons than the "stars" they've dredged up for this one?
Speaking of this season's stars, it appears we're getting introduced to them via solos rather than the typical staircase descent. Of note: both Mark and Derek are wearing spats and Aly is barefoot. Also, Peta's hair is like a bobbed version of the light socket look Glenn Close sported in "Fatal Attraction." Oh, and the opening number was choreographed by Lacey Schwimmer.
Each dance will start with the professional couple "setting the standard," and then the competing couple will dance alongside the pro couple. The routine will finish with the competing couple dancing by themselves. While the two couples are on stage, both couples will be dancing the same choreography.
All of this information is delivered by Len standing next to Len, thanks to filming tricks. Is that Len Goodmans or Len Goodmen?
Ingo Rademacher & Kym Johnson
Dancing with Tony Dovolani and Emma Slater
This is Ingo's first Latin dance and he's finding moving his hips "that way" to be a "nightmare." Based on comments being made during this rehearsal, I think the side-by-side section is only going to be 15 seconds long.
It's perhaps a little cruel to have the pro couple dancing their bit first because I can't help but think most of the pro/am couples will suffer trying to follow. Ingo certainly falls short of Tony's hip actions, even if his pelvic thrusts are enthusiastic.
Len thinks Ingo had good stamina and energy but needs to work on his details, "You've got the flair, now take the care." Bruno says he got out of the routine through pure willpower. Carrie Ann points out that the pelvic thrusts were a hit with the audience.
When Carrie Ann says that his "below the belt" needs some work, Tom chuckles. Carrie Ann cluelessly says she doesn't know what Tom's laughing about and he explains that he's "doing another show in [his] head." Hee hee. She keeps saying it, though, and Tom keeps laughing and she can't help but join in.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 7
Jacoby Jones & Karina Smirnoff
Dancing with Maksim Chermkovskiy and Anna Trebunskaya
During rehearsal, Jacoby has trouble with some of the moves, and claims that Karina forgets that he's a man and some moves just won't work for him. Maks gives him some solid advice for his hands during the jive, to keep them up above his waist and out of the way.
They're dancing to Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally," which contains some of my dad's favorite lyrics in all of pop music: "Saw Uncle John with long tall Sally / They saw Aunt Mary comin' / So they ducked back in the alley." And in double checking those lyrics, I learned something new: Those lines were written by a girl who gave them to Little Richard's producer. She sold them to get treatment for her ailing Aunt Mary. Well. I feel edumatated.
Maks and Anna are high flying, as to be expected, but when Jacoby and Karina come out, they more than manage to keep up. I love Jacoby's knees during their side-by-side choreography. Maks looks like what he is: and Eastern European ballroom dancer who's doing a technically great jive. Jacoby looks like a kid who grew up in New Orleans and saw some great non-professional dancers growing up.
As Maks and Anna exit the routine, Jacoby rips off his jacket and those of us who like a well-muscled man cheer. Jacoby continues to have these great, loose, bandy legs that are a delight for the jive.
AND THEN HE POPS DOWN AND UP INTO THE SPLITS!!! Now THAT is fun.
He's still pigeon-toed as all heck but I can't care because he's having as much fun as the song's lyrics promise. Before the routine ends, Jacoby takes a running leap and jumps over a standing-at-her-full-height Karina. WOW.
As Jacoby and Karina catch their breath and make their way over to Tom, he comments that he'd certainly like to see that again tomorrow night, alluding to Jacoby's stated goal during rehearsal to get picked for the encore dance.
In the audience, Jacoby's mom is jumping up and down with excitement and she's wearing a strapless dress. Be careful, lady!
Bruno says, of Jacoby and Maks, it was like "watching two stallions at the peak of their power fighting for supremacy. Masculinity and testosterone pouring from everywhere," he points to the balcony and adds, "Two ladies out there had to be restrained. They thought they were going to jump." Bruno adds one small criticism that Jacoby needs to point his toes on the kicks and flicks. Karina nods knowingly while laughing.
Carrie Ann says it was a little bit "flat-footed and stunted," but enthuses that she loves her some Jacoby. Jacoby commandeers Tom's mike to tell her, "Girl, I love you back, girl." She can't hear him, so Tom tells her, "He likes you back."
Len liked the routine but tells Jacoby he'll never get a 9 from him as long as he has "those feet." Jacoby tells him, "Len, I love you so much, but I gotta tell you with these feet I went 108 in 11 seconds."
As Jacoby enters the Contestant Crows Nest, he gets high fives from everybody. Brooke then asks him to demonstrate some of the New Orleans "skip" dance he mentioned in rehearsals. He does and, man, is he light on his feet. I should note here that he is wearing purple spats but since he's doing the jive and he's not Mark Ballas, I'll allow it.
Brooke asks Karina how scary it was to stand there and wait for Jacoby to jump over her. She says it was not even "humanly possible" and then he did it without even using her shoulders. She turns to him with what appears to be sincere admiration and says, "Baby, you can fly."
Scores: Carrie Ann Inaba: 9; Len Goodman: 8; Bruno Tonioli: 9
Tom tells us when we come back from commercial that he spent a lot of years in Boston, so he's "here and [he's] there," and lets us know that ABC News will break in with any relevant updates.
Victor Ortiz & Lindsay Arnold
Dancing with Tristan McManus and Emma Slater
Poor Victor - he's found out during rehearsal that his girlfriend of about a year has been seeing someone else.
Wow, I forgot how pretty the Viennese Waltz can be until. I see the pros doing it at the top of the routine. Victor is really trying, but he seems to lose himself a couple of times. Near the end there's a twirl/quasi-lift in which Lindsay makes a very deliberate show of dragging her toe on the ground.
Carrie Ann says it was a victory and Victor jokes that it's not April Fools anymore but Carrie Ann assures him she means it. She adds that Lindsay's foot came off the floor a couple of times. Len says that doesn't think the lifts were intentional, so he's not going to ding them. Bruno uses the word "erect" perfectly correctly and Carrie Ann gawps and makes it all awkward.
It must be noted that as they walked over to Tom, Lindsay tugged at the right shoulder strap of her costume and it's difficult to tell if she made it better or worse and whether or not we were seeing a part of the female anatomy we're not really supposed to see in primetime. Frankly, I have better things to do with my time than analyze it frame-by-frame, so we'll just wait and see if the FCC fines them. Those guys can spot a nipple at 100 paces.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 7
Aly Reisman & Mark Ballas
Dancing with Tony Dovolani and Witney Carson
Witney is teaching Aly hairography during the rehearsals and I imagine it doesn't bother male viewers to see Aly and Witney doing some bump and grind with each other.
Witney is pretty much sex on a stick when she dances and it's not doing Aly a lot of favors to be compared to her. Oh no, Aly's fear of dancing with her across her face happens, but she flicks it away easily enough.
Ok, look, I know that Aly's larger than usual thighs are all muscle and are perfectly fine. HOWever, her legs are not a classical dancer shape and I wish the costuming people would stop putting her in costumes that try to highlight her legs.
Len says to Aly, "Your bottom is the tops." Len, you dirty old man. Len liked the synchro with the pro couple, but noticed some missteps when Aly and Mark were by themselves. Bruno says her technique was strong, despite the mistake.
Carrie Ann thought Aly had more confidence when she was dancing with Witney than when she was by herself.
Up in the skybox, Jacoby and Ingo are goofing around while Brooke interviews Aly. They both immediately look chagrined when they realize that Aly's talking about her reaction to the events in her hometown of Boston. It's ok, guys, most of the time anything being said by or to Brooke is of no importance.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 9
Sean Lowe & Peta Murgatroyd
Dancing with Tristan McManus and Chelsie Hightower
Sean decides to try to make himself identical to Tristan, copying everything he does, down to wearing the same hot pink shirt. Let's hope he doesn't try to imitate the accent.
Wow, Tristan and Chelsie just fly across the floor during the fast parts at the beginning.
Peta must've ticked off people in both hair styling and wardrobe this week. The electric socket brillo pad on her head is fighting for title of most horrible with the gold lame halter bikini top and matching low rise bell bottom pants. Although, in all fairness, her tush does look fabulous in them.
Bruno felt like Tristan really came into his own this week. Carrie Ann says it was beautiful and she liked it. Len has a tortured metaphor with statues and pigeons that causes Bruno to absolutely go apenuts. Bruno just can't recover himself and it's all gone to pieces. As they give the scores, he's wiping tears from his eyes and still hasn't recovered. As my grandmother would say,"His tickle box got turned upside down."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 8
Kellie Pickler & Derek Hough
Dancing with Henry Byalikov and Anna Trebunskaya
This is their first ballroom dance and it's frustrating Kellie. Derek is wearing both spats and a trilby during rehearsal and that's frustrating me.
Well, that was a fun routine! Classic, cute, and well danced as far as I could tell.
Carrie Ann starts by telling Len that she loves the side-by-side challenge and says the stars have blossomed working with pros. There's a moment when the sound cuts out, so I don't know if Carrie Ann said something naughty.
Len says they put the "ooh" in "smooth." Clearly, Len's been watching his copy of "Bring It On." Bruno makes a Jean Harlow comparison and I shout, "Thank you" at the screen because I was trying to think who she reminded me of with her wig.
Kellie admits she's happy her wig didn't fly off during the final spin. It occurs to me that if "Hee Haw" were still a going concern, Kellie would be a natural for it.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9
D. L. Hughley & Cheryl Burke
Dancing with Sasha Farber and Chelsie Hightower
D. L. says he and Cheryl spend so much time together they fight. He protests that she keeps saying to connect through the hips and he only knows one way to do that. She calls him a dirty old man.
The side-by-side section with the pros looks seriously slowed down and you can see the pro couple having a hard time going at that pace. During some of the runs down the stage, D. L. looks more like Frankenstein stomping than the authoritative step I think he's supposed to be doing.
And during the big, drag Cheryl across the floor while she lays across his chest move, D. L. looks like he's trying REAL HARD not to stumble over backwards.
Another costuming note: this dress is doing Cheryl no favors - making her backside look droopy and her frontside look like she's got a post-pregnancy pooch.
Len says it was too mild and that even though he got through it ok, there were a couple of blunders. Bruno noticed the same stomping problem I did. Carrie Ann could see the difference side by side with the pros, even though she loved his focus.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 6; Bruno: 6
Zendaya Coleman & Val Chmerkovskiy
Dancing with Maksim Chermovskiy and Anna Trebunskaya
Val says he's never danced Argentine Tango before in his life. Zendaya explains that it's weird to grab someone's face because she's not usually "Hey, you, let me touch your face." Ha! She's funny. If I were Val, I'd be worried about her coming at me with those talons she's currently sporting.
Anna explains during rehearsals that it's showing in Zendaya's face how weird she is about touching Val's face. Anna says to the camera, "She's 16 years old - she's probably thinking Val is like this old guy...I"ve got to teach a girl how to be a woman and it's not easy."
Watching Anna dance several times tonight only makes me miss her more this season. She's so great.
I think Zendaya may have grown a couple of inches since even last week - I swear she's not wearing higher heels, but I think she's taller than Val now.
She's built perfectly for this dance, though - her long legs are like scissors slicing the air to shreds. And they get in some really great poses and one sensational lift.
Bruno names about sixteen heist movies in under a minute and then tells Zendaya she looked as good and as strong as Anna. Carrie Ann talks about how strong Zendaya's legs are. Len compares it to a lemon tart and that's apparently a very good thing.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 9; Bruno: 10
First 10s of the season! And everybody in the skybox congratulates them. I love the camaraderie between contestants on this show.
Andy Dick & Sharna Burgess
Dancing with Sasha Farber and Emma Slater
Sharna wants Andy to play Zorro and the way he says "machismo" is hilarious. In rehearsal, Sasha is wearing a striped cardigan buttoned only halfway up his chest. It's utterly ridiculous. Sharna is proudly wearing a tank top that says "#TeamDick." Oh my.
The gimmick of the story is that the pro couple are the villains and Sharna is the helpless maiden they've tied up and Andy is Zorro coming to the rescue. Andy makes his entrance on a zip line, so there's that.
His legs aren't as … strong? as I think they should be. But he's giving it his all and Sharna's done a decent job of choreographing around his weaknesses.
Carrie Ann says the entrance was memorable and the cape work was ok, but otherwise... Len says it was great fun, but... Bruno calls it "undescribable" and mimics Andy's battle with the cape. He concludes by saying the only thing missing was Cloris Leachman. Low blow, Bruno.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 6; Bruno: 6
Zendaya & Val: 29
Kellie & Derek: 27
Jacoby & Karina: 26
Aly & Mark: 25
Sean & Peta: 24
Victor & Lindsay: 21
Ingo & Kym: 21
Andy & Sharna: 18
D. L. & Cheryl: 18
So, who's going home tomorrow night? It has to be one of the comedians, right? But I have no idea which one. D. L. can get on my nerves, so I hope it's Andy that sticks around another week.