It's my least favorite episode: "Most Memorable Year." Let's see what the 17-year-old has to say. Which of the presumably 12-13 of them that she can remember will she pick? I also hate the shameless manipulation -- you will cry, and you will like it.
But first, more Keo Motsepe in the opening number. I will never argue against that.
Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews take turns introducing the couples. Y'all know I love Tom and I also like Erin quite a lot, but neither one of them is the "Voice of the Balls."
Tonight, they're going to allow the audience to score dances alongside the judges. We'll get two minutes, starting at the beginning of the dance, to vote. This means our voting window will close pretty much just as the judges are starting to give commentary. Because what this show really needed was to find a way to become even more of a popularity contest.
All the couples are lined up on the stage in order to receive the first set of results. First couple safe is Janel & Val. Also safe are Jonathan & Allison, a nice surprise. Betsey & Tony are in jeopardy.
So far, they haven't introduced a fourth judge for the night. If America is the fourth judge, I'm going to be super ticked-off. We already get half the vote anyway with viewer votes. If you let viewers be part of the judges' score too, then mathematically, it really does tip into a popularity contest. If I wanted that, I'd still be watching "American Idol."
Janel Parrish & Val Chmerkovskiy, Rumba
Janel's craziest year was 2002, when she moved from Hawaii to Los Angeles. When she was 6, she was introduced to a vocal coach named B.J. who became like a second grandmother. B.J. passed away the same year Janel moved to Los Angeles.
So now, in honor of her grandmother figure, she will dance all sexy in a bedsheet costume to a slowed down version of a Whitney Houston song. My grandmother passed away earlier this year, so I'm planning a Lambada to a slowed down version of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" for Thanksgiving. As you do.
Julianne Hough praises Janel for taking her advice about foot placement from last week. Bruno Tonioli gives her a tiny criticism about her spins. Carrie Ann Inaba says she was incredible and gives some technical advice about correcting a foot slip she had.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9, Julianne: 9, Bruno: 9, America: 9
Jonathan Bennett & Allison Holker, Samba
Jonathan says when he was in 7th grade, his mom made him go to the local theater group as a way to make friends. His parents were super-supportive of his career all along. He lost his mom a year ago and his dad four months ago. He said he know his dad wouldn't want him to go out and do something sad; he'd want him to do something fun.
To that end, he and Allison start the routine in a sexy Santa costume and a ridiculous Christmas sweater, mimicking the talent show scene from "Mean Girls." He then rips off the sweater. Allison ditches the Santa garb and it turns into a samba to "Milkshake."
Bruno asks Jonathan how much Christmas punch he's had. Bruno likes the samba spirit that was in the dance, but says he never got the "easy samba bounce." Carrie Ann likes the way he attacks the dance, but wants more elegance and technique. Julianne likes the relationship between Jonathan and Allison, but wants to see them do a ballroom dance next week to pull more elegance out of Jonathan.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6, Julianne: 6, Bruno: 6, America: 6
Just noticed that they still have Alan Dedicoat doing the announcing of the judges' names, including "America."
Betsey Johnson & Tony Dovolani, Jive
Betsey says her most memorable year was 1975, the year her daughter was born. She says the relationship with Lulu's father wasn't very good and it was rough raising her on her own.
Lulu comes out with her mom at the start of the routine. This is kind of a disaster. Betsey is flexible, but the jive takes more energy and stamina than she seems to have. She even seems to just stop dancing at some points, either because she's forgotten her moves or is just tired.
Carrie Ann calls it "phenomenal" and says she threw down "the freeze" and nailed every single step of the dance. Seriously? There was clearly a time when Tony was kicking and Betsey wasn't. Bruno says keeping up with the jive is hard for anyone and she did it well, until she didn't. So Bruno saw what I did and Carrie Ann didn't.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8, Julianne: 7, Bruno: 7, America; 7
Apparently, if Betsey survives to next week, she wants to be paired up with Val for switcheroo week. Val then strips his shirt off and starts grinding on Betsey. Janel acts like she's pulling Betsey off Val and it's a catfight. Erin says, "I don't care what the producer says in my ear, I want this to keep going." Heart you, Erin.
More results: Bethany & Derek are safe. Antonio & Cheryl are safe. That's kind of surprising. Michael & Emma are in jeopardy. Good. If they'd been announced safe, I was going to throw things and that always upsets the cats. Lea & Artem are safe.
Bethany Mota & Derek Hough, Rumba
Bethany tells us she got into her YouTube vlogging career as a response to being bullied by people she considered friends.
This is weird: Bethany and Derek are going to dance their dance while Colbie Caillat performs live. I'm surprised Caillat agreed to do this. Or are Bethany and Derek getting a longer dance than the other couples? I don't know if that's unfair to the other couples or to Bethany for having to learn a longer routine. Also, when did this turn into the Derek Hough Show?
Julianne's crying as she's saying how important what Bethany stands for is. It's important for young girls, for women, for mothers. Basically, if you have a uterus, you should feel moved now.
Bruno says the message was on the spot and he likes the way she showed emotion in the routine. He does say there's a "big but" coming. Then, realizing how that sounds, he adds, "Not yours, darling. Yours looks great." Up to you to decide if he's talking to Bethany or Derek. The "big but" is that he didn't think Bruno had the right hips for the rumba.
Carrie Ann points out a stumble at the beginning, but says she recovered when she stopped dancing and started telling her story.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8, Julianne: 8, Bruno: 8, America: 9
America's more into emotion than technique, I guess. Oh, America.
Michael Waltrip & Emma Slater, Quickstep
Michael's most memorable year is 2001, the first time he won the Daytona 500. That was also the year that Dale Earnhardt died on the track during the race, which Michael learned of almost immediately after his victory celebration. That would be crazy difficult, to get over a friend and competitor dying on the track next to you. He wants to dance it beautifully for Dale, but if he messes up, he thinks Dale would like that to, might even like it better.
They chose a song that he and Dale used to sing along to, often off-key, when out boating. It's Delbert McClinton's "Givin' It Up for Your Love." My parents are huge McClinton fans and I bet they're tickled pink to hear this on the show.
Michael's a bit stiff, but he's got the speed. I'm impressed Emma didn't wear a big skirt to cover his footwork.
Bruno says he can see the dancer within trying to get out. He likes that he tried to dance a recognizable quickstep, but that he went wrong so many times. Carrie Ann is crying almost and stuttering and Tom encourages her, "Put it into words." Julianne says his frame was like a deodorant commercial where someone's holding their arms to their side to avoid letting the stink out.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 6, Julianne: 6, Bruno: 6, America: 7
I'm not sure that was as good as Jonathan's but it did kind of have more heart.
Lea Thompson & Artem Chigvintsev, Contemporary
Lea says her dad, the "coolest guy," was diagnosed with cancer throughout his entire body in 2003. She said she wanted another year with him but only got another week, so they had his birthday one day, and Fourth of July the next, and then Thanksgiving and Christmas, and so on. On one of the final days, he pulled her up into a dance and it's one of her favorite final memories of him.
I'm not a daddy's girl exactly, but I'm really close to my dad, so this is the only "memorable year" story that's got me moved to tears so far.
They're projecting images of Lea and her dad on a screen behind them as they dance and it's not helping me stop crying. But the ultra-cheesy rendition of "Dance with My Father" is helping me hold it in check. Lea is sobbing by the end of the dance and I don't blame her. She runs to Tom for a hug. I bet he gives good hugs.
Carrie Ann says she'll remember the dance forever because it went straight to her heart. Julianne loves that dance can move people and it moved her tonight. She said it was flawless. Bruno said it had exceptional quality of movement.
I'm glad they went to commercial before sending Lea up to the skybox so she'd have a chance to collect herself.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10, Julianne: 10, Bruno: 10, America: 9
Erin echoes my feelings by saying, "America, ew." You disappoint both of us America.
Antonio Sabato Jr. & Cheryl Burke, Samba
Antonio moved to America from Italy and was struggling as an actor when he went to an audition for a Janet Jackson video. And now we get to see young, shirtless Antonio in "Love Will Never Do (Without You)." It's the song he and Cheryl dance to, obviously.
It just hit me: Antonio has always had to stay fit. Like, he can't let himself go because he's got a brand to uphold. It's like he's a pretty woman.
Julianne says he's getting more comfortable out there but that he's still a little closed off in his dancing. Bruno says he thought he was watching a preview of "Magic Mike 2-1/2: Dancing with the Stud." He echoes Julianne's advice and mentions a couple of missteps. Carrie Ann says the opening was amazingly hot. She flicks her hair and says he's the heartthrob of the season.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7, Julianne: 7, Bruno: 7, America: 8
Cheryl does Erin a solid and switches places so Erin can drape herself all over sweaty, mostly naked Antonio.
More results: Alfonso & Witney are safe. Sadie & Mark are safe. OH NO, this means Tommy & Peta are in jeopardy. Nooooo. Tommy's a surprisingly good dancer and I hope he gets to stick around a while.
Tommy Chong & Peta Murgatroyd, Jive
Tommy's most memorable year was 2003, when he was sentenced to nine months for transferring drug paraphernalia across state lines. They said they gave him a choice, that he could plead guilty or they'd go after his son. Incidentally, he apparently got some of his tango practice in in jail.
Peta's in a "sexy cop" costume that'll make a lot of our straight male audience members happy. What's up with giving the two oldest dancers the jive in the same week? Are we trying to kill them? This is far from Tommy's best dance. Old people just can't jive, man.
Bruno says he had the rock n roll vibe great but that he had a hard time keeping up. Carrie Ann says what saves Tommy every time is his naturalness, despite missed steps. Julianne says she's obsessed with Tommy, that it's clear he loves to dance, but that that wasn't his best dance.
Erin asks Tommy if there were any girls "like this," indicating Peta, in jail.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7, Julianne: 7, Bruno: 7, America: 7
Erin asks Tommy if they make it to next week, who's he pulling for in the switchup. He replies, "Any of them. They're all beautiful." Erin says, "So Tony? You want Tony?" And Tommy says, "I'll take Tony. I've been in jail." As Erin lets out a surprised "Oooohkay," I think, "You can't give Tommy that kind of opening."
Sadie Robertson & Mark Ballas, Samba
Lord help us. They're both in camouflage and Mark's wearing a giant fake beard. Sadie's most memorable year was 2012, when "Duck Dynasty" premiered. She references the controversy around her grandfather's remarks. (Basically: God hates the gays, according to Phil. Or God doesn't hate the gays but hates the gay things gay men do to be gay.) Then she wants us to know that her family is all about God and they're just doing the Lord's work, essentially.
This is my least favorite of her dances so far -- she doesn't look comfortable and her legs are unusually awkward. Something about her knees, I think.
Carrie Ann says it was the best samba of the night. Considering that the previous sambas were Jonathan and Antonio, I'm not sure it's big competition. Tom thinks Mark looks more like Woody Allen in "Bananas" than someone from "Duck Dynasty." HA!
Julianne says it was a good combination of content and concept. Julianne loves Sadie's arm movements. Bruno says it was like Natalie Portman in "Black Swan." I wonder how Bruno, as a very openly gay man, feels about Sadie's remarks about her Grandfather's condemnation of homosexuality? I mean, I don't think it's affecting his scores at all, but how does he not just seethe?
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9 Julianne: 10, Bruno: 9, America: 9
Alfonso Ribeiro & Witney Carson, Jazz
Alfonso says he has many most memorable years, but that his most significant years were those spent on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." He says it did have the side effect of stunting his career, since he was pigeonholed as Carlton for so many years. He fell out of love with the character for that reason, but time has got him back to loving Carlton.
He says he thinks it's fun that people have the nostalgia they do for the "Carlton dance."
The staging is really cute, with the idea that Alfonso & Witney are on a date and she keeps rejecting his advances. When he breaks into the Carlton, the ballroom goes nuts, absolutely bonkers apenuts. Credit to Witney, though, for working the move into the choreography of the dance in a very natural seeming way.
Julianne says she's glad they saved the Carlton until tonight, but that he's doing a good job of separating himself from the Carlton at the same time and we'll remember Alfonso. Bruno calls it a "delicious dancing sitcom as Broadway standard jazz." Carrie Ann says only, "Finally."
Alfonso had to teach Witney the Carlton; she wasn't born when "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" premiered and was only 3 when it stopped airing new episodes.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10, Julianne: 10, Bruno: 10; America: 10
So tonight, we lose either Betsey & Tony, Michael & Emma or Tommy & Peta. It better not be Tommy. Yay, they're announced safe first. Although his scores tonight might spell his end next week.
Erin gives us the "not necessarily the bottom two" disclaimer. And going home tonight are Betsey & Tony. Boooo — another week with Michael.
Alfonso & Witney: 40
Lea & Artem: 39 (Shoulda been a 40. Stupid America.)
Sadie & Mark: 37
Janel & Val: 36
Bethany & Derek: 33
Antonio & Cheryl: 29
Tommy & Peta: 28
Michael & Emma: 25
Jonathan & Allison: 24
So who goes home next week? Barring a miracle, I think it's Jonathan. I'll be curious to see the switched couples. If I got to pick, it would look something like this:
Alfonso & Cheryl
Lea & Derek
Sadie & Tony or Val
Janel & Mark
Bethany & Keo
Antonio & Sharna
Tommy & Emma
Michael & Allison
Jonathan & Witney