Last week was "Prom Night" and mercifully Wynonna went home. Tonight is "The Best Year of Your Life," and I'm already prepared to feel decrepit and ancient when Aly and Zendaya pick from their limited number of years.
During the staircase introductions, Gleb walks down by himself. This is after we saw Lisa take a hard fall in the rehearsal footage montage. Curious! Suspense! Drama!
Tom says that Lisa has been ill all day and sitting out rehearsal on doctor's orders. We'll find out later if she's dancing tonight.
Sean Lowe & Peta Murgatroyd: Viennese Waltz
Last week, Sean's "Y.M.C.A." was tacky but not entirely terrible.
Sean says 2012 was the best year of his life, not just because of the experience of being "The Bachelor" but because of finding Catherine. Peta coos appropriately in response. Sean says he wants to create a family like the one he grew up in, with parents who have now been married 36 years.
Sean mentions that he'd like to find a way to incorporate Catherine into the dance somehow. Peta suggests that they have his solo leading into him ending up with her. He says he knew Catherine was the one for him because he "never wanted to say goodbye to her."
The dance starts with Sean lifting Peta up from the ground in a spin. Pretty slick looking move, especially with all the dry ice on the ballroom floor. The dance ends with Sean doing his solo and dancing his way over toward Catherine and laying a kiss on her.
Len says, "He was steaming and I'm beaming." Never change, Len, never change. He calls it a "good effort" but compliments his frame. He adds that he lost the music at times and his foot placement could use some improvement.
Bruno thinks he played the role well, but needs to be more consistent with his "fluidity." Carrie Ann "got moved" but "the grace, we're working on." She announces that the "lift police is back" and scolds them for having two big ones.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 7; Bruno: 7
I assume Carrie Ann knocked a point off for the lifts.
Victor Ortiz & Lindsay Arnold: Paso Doble
They choose Queen's "We Will Rock You" because it's the song he walked into when he won his boxing title. The announcer has some fun with their intro, giving it the "In this corner" spin. There's a lot of shadowboxing and throwing off of gloves, robes, etc. at the beginning, which will probably irritate Len.
This rendition of "We Will Rock You" feels way faster than the original. Usually it feels like they slow songs down for the show. It doesn't feel like Victor's quite got the routine down, with a lack of sureness to his movements and at one point a physical assist from Lindsay to get him on the correct side of her. For their final pass down the stage, Victor looks more like he's walking than dancing and at the top of the stage he's a half step or so behind Lindsay the whole time. He kind of looks like he's playing "Dance Dance Revolution" and not very well.
Oh, wait, that faffing around at the beginning was his "solo."
Bruno says Victor "punched the living daylights" out of the dance, but he was supposed to dance it, not destroy it. Bruno admired the effort, but Victor had footwork issues and posture issues. Carrie Ann loves his attitude and commitment but he needs a lot of work on his arms. Len admires his spirit and determination but the dance needed more refinement.
Up in the contestant loft, Victor confirms that the shadow boxing at the beginning was indeed his solo. Oh dear.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 6; Bruno: 6
Jacoby Jones & Karina Smirnoff: Foxtrot
Jacoby says 2012 was the best year of his life not just because of the Super Bowl but also because his son was born. He says he always wanted his child to be proud of him. Jacoby says his own father left when he was only 2-years-old and that if his dad walked into the studio right now, he wouldn't know what he looked like. He tried to reach out and contact him, but doesn't think his dad can "face him like a man."
When Karina asks him what he enjoys most about being a dad he says, "It's a piece of yourself, something you made," and adds, "I want to watch him grow up, the right way." They're dancing to Rodney Atkins' "Watch You Grow Up."
Jacoby's struggling with the foxtrot and says it's the most difficult he's had. He calls out at the end of his interview, "This foxtrot is for you, Junior."
His posture isn't perhaps as disciplined as a foxtrot should be. He gets a big solo stretch in the middle of the song which even involves kicking up his heels, and what appears to be some country line dancing moves. Now that is unexpected.
After the dance we see Jacoby's mom holding his son on her lap. She's on the verge of tears and fanning herself to stay calm. Junior's cool as a cucumber and dressed to the nines. I'm cowed by how cute this kid is.
Carrie Ann says it looks like Junior is proud of him. And Jacoby proudly proclaims that, "He looks just like his daddy." Carrie Ann says she's going to give him some advice because she thinks he could win this thing. She cautions Jacoby that because of the height difference between him and Karina, when he leans down to compensate for it, his butt sticks out a little bit.
Len says he was a fan of that foxtrot, even though he wasn't sure about the solo. Bruno says he was "trotting at full throttle." Bruno goes a little nuts with his hand gestures and then turns around and warns Jacoby that sometimes his hands turn into spatulas.
Brooke asks Jacoby what he hopes his son will think when he's older and rewatches tonight's routine. Jacoby answers, "My daddy took chances on life and succeeded so I'm going to do it, too." Every woman in the ballroom simultaneously ovulates.
Scores: Carrie Ann Inaba: 8; Len Goodman: 8; Bruno Tonioli: 8
Brooke says that's the high score of the night so far. If they'd been scoring "cuteness of kid" they'd need paddles that go to 11 for Jacoby Jr. My mom said she didn't watch much of Jacoby's dance because she was too busy looking at Jacoby Jr. "Cute, cute, cute," says Ma. The triple cute is the top of her cuteness scale.
Aly Reisman & Mark Ballas: Contemporary
She's representing her Olympic experience of Summer 2012 for this contemporary routine. She says the song "Titanium" is about falling and getting back up.
Contemporary routine shoe watch: both barefoot. There are lifts all through the routine — I wonder if Contemporary is one of those styles were lifts are allowed. Otherwise, I can hear Carrie Ann's sirens starting to rev up as Lift Police.
I don't usually comment on the band, but the singer is really struggling here, so much so, that it's distracting from the routine.
Aly's "solo" is essentially a tumbling pass just before the end of the routine. And then it ends with the song just stopping abruptly as Aly walks off the stage, Mark holding onto her ankle.
Len says he liked the balance of the power of her athleticism with the emotion of the song. One word of advice, he says, and then teases her about the height of her last flip. Bruno liked the dramatic quality of it.
Carrie Ann says that Contemporary is about perfection of emotion, not perfection of technique, and that Aly was perfect.
Before she goes upstairs, Aly hugs a couple of her fellow Olympic teammates sitting next to the dance floor. Aww.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9
Brooke notes that's the highest score of the competition so far.
Andy Dick & Sharna Burgess: Viennese Waltz
Andy says 2013 is the best year of his life so far and starts talking about his daughter Meg. He says his kids have it hard, because "[he's] their father and [his] troubles become their troubles." He's not wrong, but that's still sad. He talks about how Meg used to dance for him but now that she's 15 she doesn't do that anymore.
They're dancing to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" because he and his daughter both love the song. I find this song overplayed, but if it has emotional resonance for them...
Andy says this year is the best year for him because of sobriety. Good for him. I hope it sticks.
Andy's still a bit awkward during the dance, gawky and a little uncertain of his next step. But he gets a part in the middle for his solo that's him dancing in hold without a partner — making you think of the daughter he misses dancing with. It's a lovely piece of emotional choreography.
After the dance, he runs over and hugs his daughter, who's beaming at him. I think this is probably the moment my mom started crying. She called me up and said she wants a MirrorBall Kleenex box for moments like this. (Note to self: Mother's Day coming up next month.)
Bruno says it was straight from the heart and the best he's danced since the opening week. Carrie Ann is openly weeping and if Mom wasn't crying by then this definitely got her started. Carrie Ann calls Andy over for a hug and she's still choking back tears as she tells him that it was simple but beautiful.
Tom tells Len not to be a buzzkill. Len says, "You came onto this show a man and whatever happens you'll go out of it a hero."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 7
Zendaya Coleman & Val Chmerkovskiy: Samba
Zendaya picks 2009 as her most memorable year because that's when she first auditioned for Disney and got "discovered." She's picking a Beyonce song, "Love on Top," because she saw her in concert in 2009 and was inspired.
The routine starts with her solo, with Zendaya taking off her jacket and vamping. SHe's wearing high waisted black pants and her legs look nine million miles long. Val's doing a great job of giving her routines that look sophisticated and adult without being too mature or age-inappropriate.
Carrie Ann calls her "baby Beyonce" and then compliments Val on his choreography. Len would've liked more samba in the solo section and Carrie Ann yelps in irritation. Len also wants her to show a little more strength in her legs. I wouldn't be surprised if some of her leg issues are a certain amount of awkwardness that comes with shooting up in height in recent years. Bruno says she has "star power." And says "every kid that watches [her] wants to dance like [her]."
When Brooke asks her how hard it was to pick her best year, being so young, Zendaya candidly responds that she hopes the best years of her life are still ahead of her. I like this kid.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 8; Bruno: 9
Ingo Rademacher & Kym Johnson: Viennese Waltz
In footage from last week, pre-routine, Kym's telling Ingo how sexy he looks and he's totally ignoring her and then asks, "Left foot first, right?" Apparently there was a bit of costume problem at the beginning of the routine that threw him off.
Ingo picks 2009 because it's the year he got married. Aww. He says that despite his success on the soap, his life began when he met his wife and had children.
Tom makes a joke about Ingo and Kym wearing white after Labor Day. Oh, Tom. We just passed Easter so it's ok to wear white again. But velvet is out after Valentine's Day.
I like that even though this is a Viennese Waltz, they're getting a lot of the waltz "rise and fall" in. This routine is really waltz-y, which should make Len happy. And there are a couple of almost-but-not-quite lifts to make Carrie Ann happy. Kym's savvy with her choreography.
Len compliments him on stepping out with his heels, which he always looks for. He liked the solo section, too, and the turns. He says there were a couple of "incidents with the arms." When the audience boos, he says "Don't hold a grudge with the judge."
Bruno praises him for taking their past criticisms to heart. And that the incidents were there, but he still achieved a lot with the dance. Carrie Ann says that when he worked on his core, his "posture blossomed." Sounds like a medical condition to me, Inaba.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 7; Bruno: 8
D. L. Hughley & Cheryl Burke: Foxtrot
D. L. says the best year of his life was 8th or 9th grade when he was "sweet and innocent." He adds that "nothing says Compton like the foxtrot." Oh dear. Cheryl's making this the "nerd gets the hot girl" dance. I hate this trope. Cheryl says his solo is "going to be all about [bleep] but in a nice way." Oh my.
They're dancing to Etta James' "I Just Want to Make Love to You." It starts with D. L. on a bench and Cheryl takes up a lot of time getting him off the bench and then dancing around him as he stands there. His solo involves going up to the judges' table for some bump and grind punctuated with a classic "kiss my a--" gesture and then crawling on the dance floor.
It's not terrible — not as bad as last week — and they did a better job of selling it as entertainment.
Bruno says "tough love" works for him. And is giving him an "extra point for the butt because that. Really. Worked." Carrie Ann is happy and giggling. D. L. says, "You know in the best year of my life, Len wasn't there." Len admires his spirit and that this routine had far more content and the fun: intensity ratio is better. Len also adds that he's heard D. L. rehearsed more this week and that showed. D. L. tells Tom that the foxtrot is "a dance for people who got divorced and still have to dance at their kid's wedding." Ha!
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Bruno: 7
D. L. has fallen to the floor in shock and then says, "That's higher than my SAT score." And then Brooke tells him he's on her dress. Live in the moment, Brooke, you harshed the funny.
Kellie Pickler & Derek Hough: Rhumba
This routine is going to be to a song by Kellie's husband, Kyle Jacobs, because he's the best thing that ever happened to her. She explains that her dad struggled with alcoholism and addiction and that her mom hasn't really been in her life. Dang, she kind of had to grow up to be a country singer, right?
She explains that they'd planned a big, elaborate wedding but at the last minute decided to run away and get married by themselves on an island in the Caribbean.
Jacobs is singing the song for them, with his guitar. Rhumba's generally bore the bejabbers out of me, and even though this one is good, I'm still not a rhumba fan. Kellie's solo involves a little too much rolling on the floor, and at one point, she's in the exact pose as the lady on the mudflaps on trucks. She walks up and gives her husband a big smooch and Tom has to hurry her and Derek back down to get the judges' critiques.
Carrie Ann says Kellie "makes the most beautiful pictures with [her] body." However, she adds that some of the movements were a little clipped. Len agrees that it was a little staccato at time and needed more fluidity. Bruno calls it beautiful.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9
Tom sets up Lisa, last to perform, by explaining that she fainted during rehearsal on Friday. He tells us we'll find out after the commercial break if she's going to dance. He adds, "I hope so. Otherwise we've got a lot of time to kill."
Lisa Vanderpump & Gleb Savchenko: Cha-Cha-Cha
Tom can rest easy: Lisa is going to dance after all. Lisa explains that her schedule is ridiculously demanding and it's cutting into her dancing time.
Her most memorable year was the year her daughter Pandora (really?!) got married, because it meant her daughter needed her mommy again and it brought them closer. Needed Mommy's checkbook, am I right? I kid, I kid.
Her daughter's in the Los Angeles rehearsal studio with them on Friday and Lisa explains that she's missed an entire night's sleep. During what appears to be a fairly routine move, Lisa drops straight to the floor in a dead faint. The doctor tells her she's got the early flu. Gleb insists on taking her home, even though she wants to get back to rehearsal. I'd insist too, if it meant I got to drive that swanky car. Kidding! (Not really.)
They start with a bride and groom pose at the top of the stage and Lisa quickly rips off the wedding gown to reveal a more cha cha appropriate outfit. They're dancing to Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" which is fill-in recapper Diane Trap's least favorite song ever.
It's not a great routine and clearly under-rehearsed. But Lisa's giving it a good effort and Gleb rips off his shirt, so I'm not too upset.
Len says she gave it her best shot and attributes the mistakes to the lack of rehearsal. Bruno says what she did, she did well. Carrie Ann says it had a lot of potential and she would've liked to see it without the illness having its impact. And then she scolds Gleb for the lifts, telling him she's taking off points because this is the second time she's had to warn him.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 6; Bruno: 6
Aly & Mark: 27
Kellie & Derek: 26
Zendaya & Val: 26
Jacoby & Karina: 24
Ingo & Kym: 23
Andy & Sharna: 21
D. L. & Cheryl: 21
Sean & Peta: 20
Victor & Lindsay: 18
Lisa & Gleb: 18
Prediction: I think Lisa has enough Twitter fans that she could squeak through, despite being on the bottom. Unless she drops out, which I hope doesn't happen.
Victor is my pick for elimination because I don't think there's a lot of overlap between boxing fans and dance show fans.
Dark horse pick: Sean, especially if everyone else, like me, forgets his existence two seconds after he's off the screen.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun