After a goofy and spooky opening of "Off With Their Heads" by Florence + the Machine, Len Goodman emerges from an upright coffin. Yay, Len! Oh, and Erin Andrews is back, too. The gang's all here.
Tommy Chong & Peta Murgatroyd, Quickstep
As Tommy takes a lot of breaks, Peta seems worried about how much time they're spending not dancing. This week has the first group freestyle, so Tommy has to learn two routines.
This isn't terrible. He misses more than a few steps, but it's not the slowest quickstep we've ever seen on the show.
Len is happy that they've got a lot of "proper" ballroom dances this week. Me too, Len. He says Tommy is "easy on the eye" with a lot of charm. Julianne Hough says he was light on his feet for the kicks. Bruno Tonioli says he was good in hold, but Tommy lost it a bit out of hold. Carrie Ann Inaba recognizes Peta put in a lot of good foxtrot content. She says that she has to deduct points for some of the mistakes when Tommy lost the tempo.
Tommy tells Erin that Peta is his rock. Nerd alert: I laughed at that because Peta is the feminine form of Peter, which comes from the Greek word for "stone."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7, Len: 7, Julianne: 7, Bruno: 7
Lea Thompson & Artem Chingvintsev, Argentine Tango
Artem is frustrated after two solid weeks of criticism from the judges — one with Janel and last week with Lea. I want Lea, who is clearly struggling, to get her mojo back.
Lea should kill this, with her long dancer limbs and her maturity. Instead, she looks uncertain and a little bit slow with the kicks in and out of Artem's legs. And the transition into a lift at the end is very awkward. Tom Bergeron seems to think it went well, mentioning to Lea that he's glad to see her dimples again.
Julianne tells them they need to give themselves a break. She says they try really hard every week and Lea nails the moves with her long legs so she needs to remember to have fun. I think Julianne also wants Lea to get her mojo back.
Bruno starts vamping and mauling Julianne, and ends up falling out of his chair and onto the floor. Tom mutters, "Oh good Lord," and then goes over to haul Bruno up. Sometimes Tom is the ringmaster, and sometimes he's the romper room supervisor. Len says it lacked chemistry but was very clean and very precise.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8, Len: 8, Julianne: 9, Bruno: 9
Bethany Mota & Derek Hough, Paso Doble
Tired from traveling last week, Bethany is losing focus. She's freaking out and Derek is worried. We get a glimpse of how demanding Derek can be as an instructor. His success with his partners makes a lot of sense.
She walks down the steps with five male, hooded figures following her. The hoods are attached to giant streamers coming down from the ceiling. Four of the figures stop and start drumming, hoods still attached to the streamers. Derek, the fifth figure, steps out and starts to dance with Bethany. Eventually the drummers are detached from the streamers and begin moving up and down the stage. Derek and Bethany dance in and around them. I have no idea if this is proper paso doble, but it's one heckuva compelling stage show.
Bruno says it was on a grand operatic scale. Carrie Ann says Bethany is fascinating and that every week she morphs into a new production. She says Derek raised the bar high with the theatricality of this routine and she rose to it. Len thinks the dance got a bit lost in the whole production. Len, I missed you oh so much. Julianne says you could get lost in the concept but that Bethany was not lost.
Derek is fascinated by Bethany's crazy double-roll devil-horn hairstyle. Big thumbs up to the hair department.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10, Len: 9, Julianne: 10, Bruno: 10
Antonio Sabato Jr. & Cheryl Burke, Viennese Waltz
Cheryl wants to put a spell on the judges to get higher than 7s this week. (It's a reference to their song, "I Put a Spell on You.") This might actually work, since it's a dance where Cheryl can keep Antonio in hold most of the routine.
Carrie Ann says she doesn't think the spell worked. She says she's so frustrated with Antonio because she's seen growth in his details but overall he's still uncomfortable to watch. Len says it was so hectic and points out Antonio (literally) got off on the wrong foot at the beginning. Julianne says the beginning was too much walking and posing. Antonio says he's "doing it for the fans." Ever notice when they suck they're doing it for the fans and when they're great they're doing it for themselves?
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6, Len: 7, Julianne: 7, Bruno: 7
They're staring at Erin, to their right, while the creepy masked guy sneaks up behind Cheryl. Erin points them offstage, to Cheryl's left, and the censor guy is ready because we get silence instead of whatever swear words a very startled Cheryl is saying. I love Cheryl's pottymouth ways.
Michael Waltrip & Emma Slater, Jive
Emma tells Michael that jive is not a laughing matter. They're both feeling the pressure.
It's a country jive, as they've got "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" for their song. It's not good, y'all. It's harder for Emma to do her "dance around him while he stands still" choreography to a jive. When they get to the synced kicks part Michael just gives up. Stop this, America. I can't watch anymore. Len didn't fly all the way back from London for this.
Len is surprised Michael has made it to Week 7. He says Michael is running on empty. As the crowd boos, Len says Michael did his best but it wasn't enough. Julianne says it was a nightmare, even though Michael tried really hard. Bruno says there was very little jive and says Michael might have broken the record for being off time. Carrie Ann says it was a great freestyle but it was supposed to be a jive.
Emma is trying so hard to distract from Michael's dancing by wearing as little fabric as possible.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 5, Len: 5,Julianne: 5, Bruno: 5
Finally, they're scoring him honestly. We haven't seen any results yet. Are they not eliminating anybody tonight?
Janel Parrish & Val Chmerkovskiy, Viennese Waltz
They're dancing to the theme from "Pretty Little Liars" and Janel is going to try to kill Val throughout the routine. Val talks about needing to put a lot of Viennese Waltz content into this week's routine. I like how we're sort of acknowledging, but not explicitly, that everybody was farting around and getting away with stuff while Len was absent.
I'm not sure I see a whole lot of Viennese Waltz but Val and Janel dance well together. Julianne says they look gorgeous and stunning. She says it told a story but didn't show a lot of proper Viennese Waltz. She also gives Janel some instruction about her arm movements. Bruno echoes a little bit the arm movement criticism. Carrie Ann disagrees with them, praising the fluidity and saying it had a good mix of story and content.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 7, Julianne: 8, Bruno: 8
That's a step down from last week. Len was skipped in the judges' comments portion and Val says maybe he's glad he didn't hear what Len had to say, given the 7 score.
Tom says we've waited weeks for Len to come back, so "to hell with it," and asks Len to give his comments now. Len says it was a lovely fluid dance but not a Viennese Waltz, but there wasn't one step in hold. To the booers, he says, "It's the truth, you plonker." I've missed Len so much. Never leave us again, Len.
Alfonso Ribiero & Witney Carson, Rumba
Alfonso already has a back injury and a groin pull, and during rehearsal this week, he got a toe cramp, Witney hit him in the jaw, bonked him in the nose and then whammed him in the googlies with her knee.
Aflsonso's costume is really unflattering, making him look paunchier than I think he actually is. I know I should say something about the dance, but it's the rumba and the rumba is boring. Turn, turn, pose, turn, pose. Blargh.
Alfonso says he doesn't hurt right now. Bruno says the dance was full of content and Alfonso was taking care of his partner. Bruno advises that Alfonso should have dragged his feet instead of placing them. Carrie Ann is so impressed by the integrity of the routine, complimenting Witney on her rumba choreography.
Len is so excited about a proper rumba that he's rushing past the criticisms of Alfonso's pigeon toes and breaks in posture.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9 Len: 9, Julianne: 9, Bruno: 9
Alfonso announces that it's his son's first birthday and then drops the big news that he and his wife are having another kid. Guess it's good he got that done before the groin pull and the knock to the family jewels.
Sadie Robertson & Mark Ballas, Paso Doble
They've had to go back to Louisiana because filming began on the new season of "Duck Dynasty." This apparently involves way more cameras than their usual "Dancing with the Stars" coverage.
Sadie's a school girl; Mark's a zombie. I do kind of like the cajun feel they've given the song, but this is the first time I've really seen Sadie look awkward. Her arms seem off and she's a little unsure of her legs at times. Her styling tonight makes her look a lot younger than 17.
Carrie Ann says she's so cute but the movement was very up. She says Mark chose a character for her that was scared and demure, when the woman in paso is supposed to be strong. Carrie Ann also mentions Sadie's arms as being off. Len says the theme of the routine got in the way of the dance. He says it's like an arms race tonight with all the extra people and things.
Julianne jokes that Mark, in full zombie makeup, has never looked better. She says the theme got away with them but felt there was content there, much to Len's protests. She also criticizes Sadie's arms. Bruno walks away from the judges table pouting because they're not going to let him comment.
Mark says he wants to entertain the crowd. Sigh. I think as long as he has a fan base and gets partners that can bring their own voting base, he's going to get away with it, unless the judges can convince the producers to let them score him low for it.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7, Julianne: 8, Bruno: 8
Whoa. That's a comedown for them.
Freestyle Team Dances
Team Itsy Bitsy
Bethany & Derek, Janel & Val, Michael & Emma, Lea & Artem
Lea's legs are incredible. She's put in these odd poses and positions that could look really awkward but instead look weirdly beautiful. Derek outdances Bethany a little bit during their solo. Val is wearing crotch pants and grabs his bubblies. No. Michael's weak in his solo, but Emma has smartly put most of it in hold. Lea is selling the Black Widow aspect of the song they're dancing to. For the end of the song they all climb on a giant spider web.
The judges all love it.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9, Len: 9, Julianne: 9, Bruno: 9
Tom tells us all of these couples are safe. Oh noooooooo. Another week of Michael. I can't stand it.
Alfonso & Witney, Antonio & Cheryl, Tommy & Peta, Sadie & Mark
They've got "Time Warp" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". Tommy Chong makes a surprisingly good Riff Raff. Oh, but they're actually going with a circus/harlequin theme instead of Rocky Horror, thus depriving me of someone — maybe Antonio — wearing tiny gold shorts. Tommy's little solo is great, echoing the classic "Time Warp" dance from the musical. Antonio's character is a strong man and he lifts Cheryl right over his head like a barbell. Alfonso & Witney's solo is good, if unremarkable. Mark has wisely chosen to go back to the Charleston well for his and Sadie's solo. And then there's a kickline for the ladies. I love a kickline. Seriously.
Julianne says they stood out individually but they were a little out of sync as a group. Bruno loves the quirky, anarchic sense of it. He echoes the sync issues. Carrie Ann likes this performance better than the other one as a performance but they were out of sync. Len likes the individual personalities.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8, Len: 8, Julianne: 8, Bruno: 8
All of Team Creepy is sent up to the walkway for results. Alfonso & Witney are announced safe immediately. Sadie & Mark are also safe. Erin tells us that Tommy & Peta and Antonio & Cheryl are not necessarily the bottom two. With these two couples being tied for the bottom in judges score, I think it's Antonio going home because Tommy has been easier for the audience to warm up to.
The look on Cheryl's face says she's expecting elimination. Peta seems shocked, however, that she and Tommy are safe. So, it's Antonio going home. Fair enough - he was never going to make the finals.
Bethany & Derek: 39 + 36 = 75
Lea & Artem: 34 + 36 = 70
Alfonso & Witney: 36 + 32 = 68
Janel & Val: 31 + 36 = 67
Sadie & Mark: 30 + 32 = 62
Tommy & Peta: 28 + 32 = 60
Michael & Emma: 20 + 36 = 56
Michael should thank his lucky stars he was on Team Itsy Bitsy and that Tommy was on Team Creepy. If not, the gulf between them would be eight points instead of four. A four-point gap might be enough for Michael to overcome in fan votes. Normally I'd say the couple with 62 points might be in trouble, but there's no way Sadie & Mark are going home. It comes down to who votes harder: NASCAR fans or hippies/potheads. I think I know where I'm putting my money.