“Dancing With the Stars” is determined to keep both its contestants and its viewers on its toes with all their Season 18 twists and turns. First, co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews announced fans could decide which pros they’d want their stars to be switched up with in two weeks. And then they announced that not one, but two stars would get their walking papers from Tasselville before the night was through.
Yes, March Madness has apparently infected the ballroom, as a pair of stars were rendered out of Mirrorball contention before they could properly get their dance footing.
The first was long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, the charming super “DWTS” fan who sadly got lost amid the choppy sequin-infested waters of the glitterverse and was eliminated 45 minutes into the first hour of competition.
“For nine years I’ve wanted to do this show. It’s spectacular, the spirit of it,” Diana said before she and Henry Byalikov performed their consolatory cha-cha. “I only wish that this superlative, handsome young man that I’ve locked my body with for three weeks – he’s elegant and he’s brilliant, and I wish I could have given him a couple more weeks.”
It’s too bad, because Diana seemed like a classy dame who appreciated everything about the show, all the way down to its last sparkle.
The other star eliminated this week was former New York Ranger Sean Avery. It never seemed like Sean really warmed up to the vat of Velveeta that is “DWTS,” telling pro partner Karina Smirnoff that "'Dancing With the Stars' likes it when you have a smile on your face all day" (like that’s a bad thing or something). And while he bared his pearly whites enough to perform a salsa that improved on last week’s score by a point, viewers apparently got that Sean did not wholeheartedly embrace the fringe like sequins on a hot glue gun and iced him out of Mirrorball contention as well.
Here’s how the other stars aligned this week:
Olympian Meryl Davis showed off her gold-medal-winning athletic abilities in her high-flying swing dance with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Meryl chose swing “to see how high I can go.” Old man Maks, however, wasn’t exactly flipping for all the acrobatics. “I’m way too old for this,” he sighed. But boy, did they crank the energy to 11 and go all-out for this one. “What’s so great is you have Maks working his butt off,” Carrie Ann said admiringly. Bruno called it “a swinging acrobatic extravaganza” but said Meryl lost timing a couple of times. “That swing had wings,” Len, aka. "the important one," said. “Fly on, girl!” Total: 25 out of 30.
Big Time Rush’s James Maslow’s got Cody Simpson in his crosshairs. Cody one-upped James last week, and James said he was willing to “take the criticism and perhaps wear less clothing for the samba” and do whatever it takes (“no shirt on, perhaps no pants”) to one-up Cody this week. What do you know: James got jokes! And hello: James also got spicy hot salsa moves! “Dayum!” Carrie Ann declared, before inducting James into her “DWTS” sexy hall of fame alongside Gilles Marini, Corbin Bleu and Mario Lopez. “You’ve come out of your shell and you’ve got the abs to prove it,” Bruno crowed. “More of that, please.” Total: 25.
Sharna Burgess wanted Charlie White to channel a bad boy aggressor for their tango, so she suggested the Olympic gold medalist go to Maks for a bad-boy primer. And while Maks gave the ice dancer tips on how not to be a one-woman type of man, Charlie, who has been dating former ice dancer Tanith Belbin for five years, dug from the confidence well instead. “Power is about the confidence in yourself,” Carrie Ann said before declaring Charlie a “wild-haired Baryshnikov.” Len soberly referred to Charlie as “Charles” before ripping into the ice dancer for breaking hold. “Charlie, don’t worry, I love you when you’re bad,” Bruno said. “What I saw coming out of you was that predatory killer instinct. Total: 25.
Danica McKellar wants to set herself apart from the crowd, and she was willing to use an exercise roller of a birthday gift to Val, a glamazonian outfit, and a fiery samba to do it. Danica aimed to match Candace Cameron Bure’s 9 last week, but rehearsals for her chosen dance with birthday boy Val Chmerkovskiy weren’t going as swimmingly as she had hoped. At one point the “Wonder Years” actress was reduced to frustrated tears. But the judges thought her samba was worthy of celebration. Sort of. Bruno called it beautiful to look at, but “not quite tamed yet.” Carrie Ann thought Danica was “so sexy and so elegant and so grounded … but you did get lost a little.” Total: 24.
Paralympic athlete and Sochi bronze medal winner Amy Purdy chose the swing dance because she thought it looked like a lot of fun, though she and Derek Hough hadn’t quite banked on the possibility that her prosthetic legs “could potentially fly off when I’m dancing.” Happily, the legs and the rhythm stayed intact for their very impressive routine. Bruno called the routine “clever” and “witty.” Len called Amy “amazing.” “You used every nuance in that music for great effect,” he said. Total: 24.
Teenage heartthrob Cody Simpson chose the tango because “I saw a video of my parents dancing the tango at their wedding.” Though I don’t know if the Australian pop star had known how form fitting and in hold he had to be throughout. Pro partner Witney Carson shot down a lot of Cody’s modernized suggestions (as well as his saggy pants), to keep with Len’s taste, though she apparently made a concession with their contemporary song and the duo’s futurized day-glo prom outfits (which Tom called “Tron” formalwear). The judges admired the young whippersnappers’ stylization (and didn't seem to mind that there was a moonwalk in the middle of it), and Bruno said Cody had a hypnotic, Edward-in-“Twilight” quality about him, though they thought he could be a little more compact in hold. Total: 22.
Drew Carey is used to being in front of a live audience. “I’m only comfortable when I’m in front of a big group of people,” the bespectacled comedian and “Price Is Right” host admitted. It’s the empty rehearsal room where he has trouble. Not to mention those kick-ball-changes in the jive! But what Drew couldn’t quite do with partner Cheryl Burke during their ’50s themed-routine, he was able to gloss over with his bedazzled collar and winning demeanor. “You covered the mistakes up beautifully,” Bruno said admiringly. “If entertainment was judo, you’re a black belt,” Len proclaimed, though the head judge cautioned Drew to “work on your footwork, work on your posture.” Total: 21.
Candace Cameron Bure is a Christian wife and mother of three, so she is careful in how she portrays herself. She also has a say in how her partner Mark Ballas is dressed, nixing Mark’s request to bare his top during a wardrobe consultation session. (“You’re worse than Bristol Palin,” said Mark. “And she was bad.”) Mostly, the “Full House” actress wanted to make sure things didn’t get too inappropriate or awkward on TV (never mind that “DWTS” awkwardly interviewed ex-boyfriend Jeremy Miller in the audience and tried to goad the “Growing Pains” actor into choosing between her and Danica right before her performance). Candace and Mark's “Say Something” rumba did seem a lot more contempo casual than ballroom. “I feel it was a little too contemporary in styling,” Carrie Ann said. Len and Bruno agreed. “The rumba is a sinuous dance, it never stops moving,” Bruno said. Total: 21.
A very Mary J. Blige-looking NeNe Leakes revealed she chose the jive for her husband. Though a couple tough rehearsals with Tony Dovolani had the Real Housewife of Atlanta rethinking her nuptials. “Who chose the jive?” NeNe demanded. “Your husband,” Tony responded. “We need a divorce.” But luckily no annulments were necessary with this fun, frothy Fosse of a routine that was as mod as it was pink and full of sparkle. “I hope you’re back because you’re so much fun to watch,” Len said. “You can shimmy, you can shake it,” Bruno said, though he said her jive had to be much sharper on the footwork. Carrie Ann agreed, though she thought NeNe’s arms still could be bigger. Total: 21.
Ladies and gentlemen, Billy Dee Williams is not impervious to the criticism. “I wanted to cry,” the always and forever Lando Calrissian sadly told pro partner Emma Slater after last week’s low scores. If Billy cries, Emma cries. When Emma cries, we all cry. And during rehearsals, Billy was feeling old and his back was achy. So Emma dug deep into her professional arsenal and brought Jenna and Lindsey from the Troupe to cheer up her glum chum. And being surrounded by a bevy of pretty, scantily clad girls did perk Billy Dee up some, and gave the 77-year-old the boost he needed to pull off a Peter Gunn tango routine. Carrie Ann said he handled the choreography very well, but she still thought the content was lacking. Len likened his dance to “ivy -- just crept across the floor, there was no attack.” And the scores remained the same. Total: 15.
So, yes, once again, Billy Dee is the low-scoring star ripe to be picked off for next week’s elimination. But this guy did once own the Millennium Falcon, so you know he’ll be hard to beat.
What do you think? Did the right two stars go home? Who do you want paired together in the switch-up? Did anyone else detect some shade from Cody Simpson after James Maslow’s red-hot salsa? Happy birthday Val!