It's Disney night on "Dancing With the Stars!" Gotta love that corporate synergy! The opening number is "Be Our Guest" with a disco twist and with Val Chmerkovskiy playing the violin. I always forget that he can actually do that.
Each couple is introduced by prefacing their names with the movie they're representing. We'll get to that with each couple as they dance. However, I will just tell you now that Nyle and Peta have "Tarzan" and Nyle is in a loincloth!
But what I sincerely love is that we're getting Zendaya (Coleman) as a guest judge tonight. She's so stylish and poised and I think she's a remarkable young woman.
Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess
Jazz, "Friend Like Me" from "Aladdin"
During rehearsal, Sharna tells Antonio he'll be wearing a white fedora with a purple ribbon trim. So that he's essentially the "2016 pimp version of Aladdin." I so hate that the word we now use to mean stylish in an exaggerated way is the same word that means a man who traffics in female sex workers.
Sharna has chosen to eschew harem pants for her Jasmine, going instead with a version of Sandy's pants from the end of Grease. I don't understand what jazz is supposed to be exactly, but any number that has a kickline is OK by me.
Len Goodman thinks the dancer in Antonio finally came out. Zendaya says it was so fun, she was smiling the whole time, and that Antonio held his own with the phalanx of male backup dancers. Bruno Tonioli tells Antonio he could've been a Rockette. Hee. Carrie Ann Inaba babbles in a way that translates to "I liked it."
Erin Andrews asks Antonio about Sharna calling him a "cool cat" version of Aladdin. That's not what she said, Erin. But nice try.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 8; Zendaya: 9; Bruno: 9
Marla Maples and Tony Dovolani
Waltz, "Part of Your World" from "The Little Mermaid"
Apparently when Marla gets stressed during rehearsal, she likes to do a headstand. Ooooh-kay. It's all fun and games until she doesn't look where she's going and puts her feet into a wall light.
Marla, whatever you think of her actual dancing, always manages to look so graceful. There's a spin near the end that I'm pretty sure Carrie Ann is going to call a lift.
Zendaya regrets that when she was on "Dancing With the Stars" she didn't enjoy it enough. She encourages Marla to stay in the moment and enjoy the experience. Bruno says it was beautiful and compliments Marla's natural elegance, but he worries that she stops her movements sometimes rather than maintaining them. Carrie Ann is wearing a Mickey Mouse head diamond pendant. It's a little juvenile, but still pretty. She says nothing about the lift. I swear Marla didn't keep her feet on the floor the whole time. Len calls it a solid performance.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Zendaya: 7; Bruno: 7
Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd
Samba, "Trashin' the Camp" from "Tarzan"
Look, I'm not complaining about getting Nyle into a loincloth, but I have no recollection of this song whatsoever. Of course, I never saw "Tarzan." Peta says Nyle is going to be shirtless to please the ladies and Bruno. Nyle says that Tarzan and Jane couldn't really understand each other at first and had to learn how to communicate, like him and Peta. During rehearsal he lets out a pretty credible Tarzan yell.
The routine stars with the two of them emerging from a tent. The beginning has a lot of good proper samba and so does the end, but the middle gets a little flat with some weird thing with a bunch of pots and pans hanging on a line. All credit to Peta and the director for giving Nyle a booty shake directly into the camera.
Bruno appreciates that Nyle is "perfectly undressed for the occasion." Carrie Ann asks, "What can't you do?" referring to the backflip. She does point out a little slip in the beginning, which Nyle acknowledges with a nod. Len loves the samba parts, didn't like the "bongo" bits. Me and Len, man. Zendaya calls it fun.
Tom Bergeron expresses his continued amazement at how well Nyle can find the beat, without being able to hear it. Agreed — the man has a tremendous internal metronome.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Zendaya: 9; Bruno: 9
Doug Flutie and Karina Smirnoff
Jazz, "A Spoonful of Sugar" from "Mary Poppins"
Oh, no. Remember how poorly a Mary Poppins number went for Robert Herjavec and Kym Johnson in Season 20? I'm worried, because Robert and Doug are of similar age, physique and ability.
Flutie in a flat cap is fueling my crush on him. Oh no! They're even using canes, like Robert and Kym did? Also, Doug loses his cap and then "straightens" it as part of the choreography, even though we can see it on the floor. And then they jump on the judges table for a two-person kickline. I mean, 'A' for effort, but that wasn't so great.
Tom Bergeron gives a shoutout to the composer of "Mary Poppins," Richard Sherman, who is in the audience. He's a happy- and distinguished-looking gentleman.
Carrie Ann says she saw the makings of a good routine but they didn't actually deliver on it. Len likes that they got right into the character of the dance, making it fun and enjoyable to watch. However they did get out of sync. Bruno says the medicine kicked in halfway through the routine, making the second half the better one.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6; Len: 6; Zendaya: 6; Bruno: 6
Tom decides to lessen the blow of the scores by surprising Doug and Karina with the news that they're safe from elimination. Karina leaps around screaming like she just won a Brand! New! Car!
Kim Fields and Sasha Farber
Quickstep, "I Wanna Be Like You" from "The Jungle Book"
No foolin' — "The Jungle Book" is definitely my favorite Disney soundtrack. Don't mess this up, Sasha.
Hmph. They've changed this song to sound more like something from the '90s swing revival (think Cherry Poppin' Daddies) than its original arrangement. I guess that's how they handled getting it up to quickstep tempo, but I love the original so much it's disappointing. However, it's a very proper quickstep with lots of complicated choreography. Len should love it.
Len calls it their best dance so far. Zendaya notices that they had so much fun. She's rapidly turning into the Paula Abdul of this panel. Zendaya, Zendaya — I had hoped for more from you than just "You had so much fun!" Bruno praises Kim for finally getting her shoulders right. She leaps across the judging table and starts smothering Bruno with kisses, even leaving lipstick prints on his white jacket.
They replay the leap twice during the interview with Erin. Hee. And they're keeping Nyle in the background during the skybox interviews. Smart producers. Very smart.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Zendaya: 8; Bruno: 8
Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe
Cha-cha-cha, "Try Everything" from "Zootopia"
One of the characters in "Zootopia" is a pop singer who's a gazelle named Gazelle, voiced by Shakira. Jodie and Keo will be dancing with an animated Gazelle on the screen with them. In rehearsals, they have a chair stand in as Gazelle. One of Jodie's daughters comes to visit the rehearsal and is excited Mommy will be dancing to "Zootopia." At one point during rehearsal, Keo says a word that has to be bleeped on network television and immediately falls all over himself apologizing to Jodie for saying it in front of her kid.
Jodie has a few missteps during the routine but Keo is sweet to her about it, based on what he says to Tom. Zendaya notes that despite the fumbles, Jodie kept rolling with the routine and that's just what you have to do. Bruno, still sporting Kim's lip print, encourages Jodie to bring the wow factor. Carrie Ann asks Jodie what went wrong and she says she couldn't hear the music — they were dancing with fans right up next to a "stage" and she thanks them for being so enthusiastic, making sure not to blame them. Len says it was full-on and is very positive.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 6; Zendaya: 7; Bruno: 7. So, Len was the most positive in his comments but gave the lowest score? Tom feels me on this and asks Len about it. Len explains that the other judges had been so negative he wanted to be positive in his comments but that there were too many mistakes to give a higher score.
Von Miller and Witney Carson
Viennese waltz, "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from Cinderella
I greatly enjoy Von's seemingly endless collection of eyeglasses. I hope he has a special display rack in his closet for them all. When Witney tells him they'll be doing a Cinderella routine, he asks if he'll be Cinderella. She says no and he says he's "Prince Charming every day."
Witney's dress has sparkling lights on it, which feels like a bit of gilding the lily honestly. Von is in a full-on Prince Charming costume with the tails and frogging and high boots. He looks pretty great. I wonder if his girlfriend will ask him to bring it home…
Bruno calls this a "staggering transformation." He compliments Von's lines, posture and lightness on his feet. Bruno wants Von to continue to work on his turns, though. Carrie Ann tells Witney she is stunning and that Von is a champion tonight. She calls him adorable, and Witney does that "smush up his mouth" thing. Hee.
Tom prompts Len by saying that he saw him applauding at one point. Len says he hasn't been grumpy tonight and someone's got to get it. But then he swerves and says it won't be Von. He likes Von's musicality and footwork. Zendaya calls the routine graceful, especially for a big, strong guy like Von.
Erin points out that the carriage on the ballroom floor is the actual carriage from "Cinderella." They must mean the more recent live action version, not the animated one. I quite enjoyed the live action one — Cate Blanchett's wardrobe was to die for.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Zendaya: 8; Bruno: 8
As we come back from commercial, one of the troupe dancers is dancing as Snow White with six of the animated dwarfs on screen with her. Tom points out that there are only six dwarfs and wonders about the seventh. Then we cut to animated Grumpy sitting next to Len at the judges table. They both have their arms folded the same way. Heh. Len spoils it because he can't stop grinning.
Ginger Zee and Val Chmerkovskiy
Foxtrot, "Belle" from "Beauty and the Beast"
Val's silly top knot is still in evidence during rehearsals. But no ribbon yet. Ginger says she really identifies with Belle and her quirks. I could see that.
My friend and occasional guest recapper Diane would like to point out that Val is dressed like the villain Gaston rather than hero Beast. That's accurate, but means you shouldn't call Val the beast.
It's a complicated piece of music that seems like it should be very difficult to dance to. But they're managing it somehow. That's a big credit to Val's choreography skills.
Carrie Ann is giggling before her remarks. She calls it "ridiculously good." She says their hold was the best she's seen this season. Len says it had a hint of tango to its foxtrot. He calls it the best dance of the season so far. Zendaya says that with all the extra dancers and set dressing, Ginger managed to still be the star of the show. Bruno says she was playing the part to perfection.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Zendaya: 9; Bruno: 9
Wanyá Morris & Lindsay Arnold
Samba, "Circle of Life" from "The Lion King"
Wanyá says he loves "The Lion King." Then he emphasizes, "I mean, I LOVE The Lion King." It's revealed during rehearsals that he's super competitive.
I'm pretty sure he's wearing what Isaac Hayes would've worn (minus the tail) as a sweatsuit in 1973. They've done something to this song to make it a little more disco, a little more samba. I don't know what to make of it technically, but I can say that Wanyá is a joy to watch, as well as being a gifted dancer.
Len calls it fantastic. Zendaya praises Wanyá's determination. Bruno says Wanyá gave it everything and more. Carrie Ann loves seeing this side of Wanyá but she thinks he overdanced it in the beginning and got out of step with Lindsay.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 9; Zendaya: 9; Bruno: 9
Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas
Quickstep, "You've Got a Friend in Me" from "Toy Story"
I had a Twitter debate with some friends after last week's recap as to whether Paige's 13 years of dance experience makes her a ringer. They argued that she would've had to unlearn some of that dance training in order to be successful as a UFC fighter. I'd say that since she's been fighting for only four years, the dance training is probably still there in a lot of ways. I took ballet for a mere six years, stopping before Paige was even born, and I can still remember the five basic foot positions and many of the most simple moves. So even if she never learned ballroom, she's got a foundation of knowing many basic steps from three different disciplines that are often incorporated into these routines.
There's a big part in the middle of the routine where they're laying on the floor and backup dancers dressed as green army men are dancing around them. It's a weird break in pace. But other than that it has a lot of the typical Ballas trademarks: over-the-top costumes, staging and extras.
Bruno likes the routine a lot, but when he talks about the break in the middle he seems to insinuate the reaction I had — they looked like they were humping the floor. Carrie Ann says it was the most difficult dance tonight in terms of technique. Len says their routine allows the show to end on a happy note. But wait, Len, if we're still doing an elimination, the show won't end on a happy note for somebody.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Zendaya: 9; Bruno: 9
As Bruno raises his paddle, he cries "A full house!" Actually, it'd be four of a kind. Can I play poker with Bruno?
We're reminded that Doug and Karina have already been declared safe. The first couple in jeopardy is Marla and Tony. Joining them in jeopardy are Jodie and Keo. All the remaining couples are safe. This means the three football players who were tied for last place last week were ALL safe this week. Dang.
Marla and Tony are eliminated. Jodie doesn't seem as relieved as you'd expect. Tony says he didn't expect elimination tonight but doesn't seem overly angry. He talks about how much fun he had this season and has had in all his 21 seasons of the show.
Ginger & Val: 36
Paige & Mark: 36
Antonio & Sharna: 35
Wanyá & Lindsay: 35
Nyle & Peta: 34
Kim & Sasha: 32
Von & Witney: 32
Jodie & Keo: 27
Doug & Karina: 24