The show starts with the Muppets in the "Dancing With the Stars" control room. Fozzie Bear messes up the intro and Kermit gives him his trademark exasperated face. Then it's the female pros dancing in front of a test pattern suitable for a rave.
Instead of Erin Andrews, Miss Piggy is in the balcony with Tom Bergeron, and Alfonso Ribeiro is sitting in as a guest judge tonight. The routines are all set to TV theme songs and I can guess what a couple of the shows are just based on costuming.
Carlos PenaVega & Witney Carson (Jazz)
Song: "Thank You for Being a Friend" ("The Golden Girls")
They've got "The Golden Girls" theme, but that doesn't explain why they're both wearing ugly sweaters during rehearsal footage. During the performance, they're both wearing gray wigs, but luckily, Carlos didn't go for any sort of drag, although he missed his chance to wear a caftan. Never give up a chance to wear a caftan.
Tom echoes my sentiments about some of the moves when he says, "Old hair, young hips."
Alfonso says they gave it their all, but he wants Carlos to give it a little more energy and be less safe. Julianne says they might have gotten into character a little too much, with some hunched shoulders at some point. Tom makes a joke about menthol. Be careful with the old jokes - you think no old people are watching this? Carrie Ann thinks he didn't improve from last week and echoes the other's comments about bringing more energy and showmanship.
I actually like Carlos better with the old hair. I can see how handsome he is without his normal dumb hair distracting me.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Alfonso: 8; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 8
Paula Deen & Louis van Amstel (Samba)
Song: "The Ballad of Gilligan's Isle" ("Gilligan's Island")
During rehearsals, Paula insists she's Mary Ann, not Mrs. Howell, and is unhappy about her role. Paula's getting tired, like teary-eyed tired. Then during rehearsals earlier today, Paula has a breakdown about her abandonment issues and Louis assures her she can trust him.
This feels less like a samba than some sort of jazz/samba mashup. They do the part of the song that lists the cast members and extras show up dressed like them. Tom points out at the end that the professor was missing. I noticed, too, Tom - always had a crush on the professor. Paula's grandsons run out on the stage with flowers for her. Oh! They've got Dawn Wells, the original Mary Ann, in the audience! She looks terrific. (Fun fact: Paula is in fact eight years younger than Wells.)
Julianne says they got too carried away with the theme and there wasn't as much samba as there should have been. Julianne wanted it to be better, but Paula missed too many steps. Bruno says the samba got stranded by the shipwreck, so basically she biffed the second half of the routine. Carrie Ann says they captured the spirit of "Gilligan's Island." Alfonso says she can be proud of herself for giving it her all.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 5; Alfonso: 5; Julianne: 5; Bruno: 5
Tamar Braxton & Valentin Chmerkovskiy (Tango)
Song: "A Beautiful Mine" ("Mad Men")
I wouldn't have figured out based on the costuming that they were doing "Mad Men." Mostly because red ties weren't a thing then and Tamar's dress doesn't look like the '50s or '60s to me. Tamar rejects the sexism of Val's "Mad Men" narrative for their dance, but Val is basically like, "It's the sixties, it's 'Mad Men'" so he gets to play the chauvinist card.
I never realized this song was a tango, but now that they're dancing to it, of course I can hear the tango in it. It's sexy and sharp. Tamar's legs look fantastic.
Bruno says the characterization suited the tango. His only criticism to Tamar is to work on her top line. Carrie Ann questions if she saw a lift. I think Carrie Ann is imagining things. Alfonso tells Tamar that she's a contender and then advises her to let Val be the leader and she the follower. He points out Val's led someone else to a championship.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Alfonso: 9; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 8
Alexa PenaVega & Mark Ballas (Jazz)
Song: "Breaking Bad" theme
Alexa and Mark are in the yellow hazmat suits that tells us they're the "Breaking Bad" couple. Mark says "Breaking Bad" is his favorite show ever. Then there's a whole thing with Mark in a motor home in his tighty whities. He's got his hair loose instead of pulled back in the ponytail and he looks like a crazy person.
The routine starts with them playing with neon blocks on a neon table. (I guess that's the chemistry of meth making?) Then they emerge through some plastic strips, take off the gas masks and start dancing. I guess this is jazz; it's weird. But then again, you're bringing a man's downward spiral through the meth-making trade to life via dance, so ...
Mark has on a bald cap and I actually find it an improvement over his stupid hair of late. Carrie Ann thinks it was genius and mentions that they danced gender-non-specific, so that's cool. Alfonso says it was fantastic. He adds that Alexa can win as long as she remembers that Mark, not Carlos, is her partner in the ballroom. Julianne felt like tonight was the first time Alexa and Mark danced as a team. Bruno says she looked like a professional and it was perfection.
As they're talking to Erin, Witney and Carlos are in the background, meaning both Mark's and Carlos' dumb haircuts are covered up in the same frame. I'm happy.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Alfonso: 9; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 9
Before commercial, four of the male pros, including Derek and Keo, do a quick dance and it's definitely "Magic Mike"-influenced. My reaction is pretty much summed up by Miss Piggy, who runs up and smothers Derek with kisses and then growls seductively. I didn't know pigs could growl, much less seductively, but that dancing could make anything possible.
Andy Grammer & Allison Holker (Quickstep)
Song: "Bandstand Boogie" ("American Bandstand")
At the beginning of the rehearsal footage, Andy gives Allison a high five and she recoils in pain. He apologizes, saying he has a "big palm." Aw. Andy's still on tour, so Allison's traveling with him and they're squeezing in rehearsal when they can.
What's kind of funny about them dancing quickstep to the "American Bandstand" theme is that quickstep would've been too old fashioned for the "Bandstand" crowd. It's a cute routine, but isn't the most memorable quickstep we've ever seen on the show.
Alfonso says Andy looked a little uncomfortable in hold sometimes, needing to adjust his posture and frame. Julianne says it was a lot of fun, with good footwork and timing. Bruno wants him to work on finishing things off correctly - crisp, clean and clear. Carrie Ann says it was entertaining but Andy's still too much in his head.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Alfonso: 7; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 7
Gary Busey & Anna Trebunskaya (Tango)
Song: "The Addams Family" theme
Anna as Morticia Addams is a perfect match. This is a fantasy a lot of people watching this show probably didn't realize they had until just now.
This being kind of a slower dance, it might be easier for Gary, and indeed, Anna is doing a lot of the dancing around him. However, he moves more like Lurch than Gomez.
Julianne admires Gary's perseverance. She says he has improved this week. Bruno compliments Gary on doing the tango and not just the drama. Carrie Ann says he looks handsome tonight and had a newfound elegance. Alfonso says he was totally in character the whole time and so much fun to watch.
Backstage, Gary starts acting crazy with Erin and she rolls with it beautifully. What a pro.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Alfonso: 7; Julianne: 6; Bruno: 6
Alek Skarlatos & Lindsay Arnold (Tango)
Song: "Bad Things" ("True Blood")
Lindsay says to Alek that America hasn't seen the sexy side of him and he looks bashful when he says, "No, they haven't." She's encouraging him to flirt with some of the other female dancers to practice. She's trying hard to set him up with her friend Jenna. So cute.
I love this song, even though I'm not much of a "True Blood" fan. Look at Alek go - his tango is beautiful! I bet he had no idea before the show started that he'd be such a natural at dancing.
Bruno tells him true talent runs in his blood. He adds that Alek dancing at this level is so incredible and compliments Lindsay on her training. Carrie Ann says every woman loves a man who can dance like him. She's not wrong. Julianne says Alek has the best technique of anyone in this competition. High praise!
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Alfonso: 8; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 8
Kim Zolciak-Biermann & Tony Dovolani (Samba)
Song: "I Dream of Jeannie" theme
Kim felt great Tuesday night after the show, but she was hospitalized shortly after she returned to Atlanta that night. She had a blood clot, which caused a "mini-stroke" to make her entire left side go numb. She is surprised by the development given her age, but blood clots can happen at any age and can have many different devastating effects. They're nothing to mess around with.
Tom explains that, under advice of her doctors, Kim was unable to get in the pressurized cabin of an airplane, so she's not in Los Angeles tonight to perform. Tony will be doing their routine anyway with Jenna, one of the female pro dancers.
I do not mind getting to see Tony in a faux-military uniform, albeit one embellished with sequins. I also have to admit a certain amount of mild relief at not having to see Kim in a bikini top. I find her bosom distracting at the best of times, and in a bikini, it might be all I could see.
Tom explains that the judges will not offer comments on the dance. Then Kim appears via video chat. Tom explains that the rules of the show, which go back to 2005, say that if a contestant is unable to perform on the show due to injury or illness, they must withdraw. Well, that's a bummer of a way to go out.
Bindi Irwin & Derek Hough (Quickstep)
Song: "Movin' on Up" ("The Jeffersons")
Bindi says they had a whole routine worked out to "The Jetsons" theme with those Oxboard things (you know, they're like Segways without handles), but the song didn't clear in time. So they had to start over with "The Jeffersons" theme, a show neither of them has seen. At least they eschewed the blackface. The dance is super fast and has tons of quickstep content.
Marla Gibbs, one of the stars of "The Jeffersons," is in the audience and says they did fantastic. She's looking good, too. Let's get Dawn and Marla on a future season of the show.
Alfonso compliments Bindi's energy, but warns her about her posture. Julianne says this wasn't Bindi's best dance and has some issues with the frame. Bruno loves her energy, but worries that she bounced too much for the quickstep. Carrie Ann says there were a few tiny mistakes but Bindi is a rock-solid competitor.
Talking to Erin, Derek takes extra time to praise Bindi for picking up a new dance so quickly.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Alfonso: 8; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 8
Nick Carter & Sharna Burgess (Viennese Waltz)
Song: "Did I Make the Most of Loving You?" ("Downton Abbey")
They're doing Lady Mary and Matthew Crowley from "Downton Abbey" and I'm happy this means Nick in a morning suit and very groomed hair. Helloooo, handsome!
I wish Sharna had either worn a dress that wasn't backless or used makeup to cover the tattoo between her shoulder blades. It's distracting when they're supposed to be playing very specific characters.
Julianne tells Nick he was a leading man, and calls it the best dance of the night. Bruno liked the attention to detail and an unfolding of a story arc throughout the dance. Carrie Ann loved it. Alfonso says it was near perfect. He advises Nick that rehearsal is a marathon not a sprint.
Upstairs, in the skybox, Nick and Sharna are given stemware to look like they're having cocktails in the drawing room, I guess. Nick is so excited by their scores that he ends up dropping his glass and it breaks. He's falling all over himself to apologize and Erin has to work hard to reassure him not to worry about it. In the end, he stomps on the glass shards and says, "Mazel tov." Nice save, Nick. He's really growing on me.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Alfonso: 9; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 9
Hayes Grier & Emma Slater (Jive)
Song: "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" theme
This is a great pick for a 15-year-old, and not necessarily because he's immature but because it's something from his childhood he can relate to. Emma also has to worry about not crossing the line into "too sexy for a teenager" with these dances.
There is something ridiculous about seeing someone in a turtle shell do a jive, though, but they pull it off. I mean, not the shell, but the dance.
Bruno says Hayes is an effective performer, with star quality. He needs to point his feet more. Carrie Ann says his energy seemed to be flagging, even though she appreciates how hard he worked. Alfonso thinks Hayes started losing his energy midway through the routine. I wonder how much he rehearsed with the shell on. That thing doesn't look light. Julianne appreciates his timing during the side-by-side moves, but says the synchronization was a little off.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Alfonso: 8; Julianne: 7; Bruno: 8
Oh, we're still doing an elimination, even with Kim's withdrawal? Huh. I guess this means an extra non-elimination week.
The first couple in jeopardy is Andy & Allison, and the second is Paula & Louis. The remaining couples are safe. Tom then announces that since Kim & Tony had to withdraw, nobody's being eliminated tonight, with all of this week's scores carrying over to next week.
Alexa & Mark: 36
Nick & Sharna: 36
Tamar & Val: 33
Alek & Lindsay: 33
Bindi & Derek: 32
Carlos & Witney: 31
Hayes & Emma: 30
Andy & Allison: 29
Gary & Anna: 25
Paula & Louis: 20
I'm guessing with those scores, Paula goes home next week. And while I'm getting tired of her bad attitude, I'm hoping we don't have to deal with Gary much long either. It makes me so uncomfortable to watch him, especially when his behavior is making people on the show feel awkward.