It's "Eras Night" on "Dancing With the Stars," which means different decades, the 1920s through the 1990s. Best news: Len Goodman is BACK. After the individual dances in Round 1, there will be team dances in Round 2.
Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkovskiy
Huh. Not really a decade known for its quickstep, especially for the younger generation. This could be a challenge for Val. He tells Laurie they're going for a "prom vibe" and she says she's never been to prom because she's home-schooled. This is a smart way for them to go — evoke the part of the '50s that carried over to the '60s.
I love the low-key bouffant updo the hair department's given Laurie. There's a little bit of faffing around at the beginning with a corsage and then a part near the end where Val gives himself a little solo, taking off his jacket and dropping into a split. It's focus-pulling and I don't like it.
Len says they rushed a little bit and that caused them to lose some of the technique, but overall it was a good performance. Julianne Hough disagrees and calls the whole thing amazing. Bruno Tonioli doesn't make a whole lot of sense but likes it. Carrie Ann Inaba calls it light but strong. She calls out the two lifts in the program. I'd wondered about it when watching — if lifts were allowed now.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 9
Ryan Lochte & Cheryl Burke
Ryan thought he did amazing last week but was disappointed to still be at the bottom. He says that the show changed his life, bringing him out of a "dark hole." A dark hole of his own making, I feel compelled to point out. Cheryl brings Ryan's fiancee in to work on the "sensual" side of the performance.
This isn't terrible, even if it is mostly Cheryl dancing around Ryan and posing. That's kind of what the rumba ends up being a lot of times anyway. His arms and hands could use some work.
Julianne calls the song "epic" and "dynamic" but doesn't think Ryan's dancing was up to it. Then she lists a lot of dance terms in a row, basically telling Ryan that we're at the point in the show where charm alone isn't enough. Bruno acknowledges that technique is not Ryan's forte, so he has to turn up the performance. Carrie Ann thinks Ryan did well with the acting, given that it's so far out of his comfort zone. She wants him to connect with the music more. Len is giving them an extra point for eschewing props, big set pieces and background dancers. He admits it wasn't brilliant but admires their "pluck."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Julianne: 7; Bruno: 7
Whoa. Does that mean Len would've given them a 6 if he wasn't casting a vote in favor of simplicity?
Marilu Henner & Derek Hough
Marilu's excited that they had two good weeks in a row and she feels like they're hitting their stride. In 1997, she played Roxie Hart in the "Chicago" revival, so she's feeling confident with the Charleston this week.
Marilu's footwork isn't quite as perfect as it could be and her legs are a little awkward at times. But it's a fun routine and plays to her comedic actress strengths.
Bruno calls her a "feisty flapper." He points out that they muffed the ending a bit and asks if it was the fault of some "bootleg gin." Carrie Ann wanted them to get in and out of the lifts better and notes that Marilu's tenseness from earlier in the season was back. She also thinks they were out of sync, with unmatched lines, during some of the side-by-side portions. Len calls it fun and entertaining despite a loss of synchronicity in places. Julianne points out that Marilu is the oldest competitor and is doing a great job of keeping up with Derek.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Julianne: 8; Bruno: 7
Calvin Johnson Jr. & Lindsay Arnold
In the highlights from last week, they show that incredible lift with two rotations from Lindsay. There are no lifts allowed in jazz, so they have to work on improving footwork for this week. Lindsay points out that Calvin's ankle injuries, sustained during his football career, keep him from pointing his feet as well as could be desired. But he's going to try his best.
Well, there's a giant car in the middle of the dance floor and tons of backup dancers, so Len may have something to say about this. They're dancing to one of my dad's favorite songs, "Good Golly, Miss Molly" by Little Richard.
Carrie Ann calls it energetic, effortless and easy on the eyes. Len says Calvin has improved a lot in the weeks Len's been away. Julianne calls it a proper jive and says that even if the toes were pointed perfectly, they could see the effort put into them. Bruno compliments his footwork.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 9
Erin cues up some footage from rehearsal where Calvin compares Lindsay to Napoleon (I'm presuming because she's short and bossy) and she doesn't know who Napoleon is (except to reference Napoleon Dynamite). To be fair, Lindsay never went to college and Calvin had three years at Georgia Tech — maybe they're not covering Napoleon until college-level history nowadays?
Maureen McCormick & Artem Chigvintsev
Maureen isn't into the '80s — she was more of a hippy dippy flower child of the '60s. Artem isn't very familiar with the '80s because American music wasn't allowed in his country (Russia) then. I'll also point out he was only born in 1982. They're doing "You Give Love a Bad Name" and it might be sending Maureen over the edge into eccentricity.
The male backup dancers, including Keo Motsepe if I'm not mistaken, are wearing mullet wigs with bandanas. Oh my. So is Artem. This is a terrible fit of song and dance style.Or maybe Artem's slowed down the choreography too much? It looks completely disconnected. This is painful to watch, especially Maureen's vamping of "bad girl" faces.
When they get over to Tom, Artem's apologizing for stepping on Maureen's skirt. Did that happen at the beginning? Did that throw off the whole thing?
Len thought there was a lot of great tango content but does point out that there was more than one blunder. Julianne tells Maureen she's hot and should take the outfit home. She does give her credit for persevering after the mistakes. Bruno says something about Axl Rose that sets Carrie Ann off into giggle fits, which then throws Bruno off and then they're in a vicious cycle of making each other laugh. Carrie Ann tells Maureen that she needs to be closer in hold.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7; Len: 7; Julianne: 7; Bruno: 7
Terra Jolé & Sasha Farber
Terra's down about her position at the bottom of the scoreboard last week. But she's not going to let it get her down. She jokes that this week's song is "Cheek to Cheek" even though she and Sasha are more like "cheek to chest." This song is one of my all-time favorites, though, so I'm always happy to hear it again.
It's a lovely routine, with a lot of flourishes putting it straight into old Hollywood glamour territory. They rub noses at the end and it's adorable. Terra looks beautiful tonight with retro finger wave hair.
Julianne says this is the Terra they fell in love with, that she completely embodied the character. Bruno says Terra has the sparkle of Jean Harlow. He brings up the old Hollywood feel of the dance. Carrie Ann loves the way she commits to every movement and moment. Len says she comes out and gives it everything, including class and sophistication. He also singles Sasha out for praise, which is well deserved given that we just saw a dance that's done so much in hold and didn't even notice the alterations that Sasha has to make to make because it look so good and natural.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 8; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 8
Jana Kramer & Gleb Savchenko
Their rehearsal schedule this last week was shortened because of Jana's tour schedule. She's feeling overwhelmed.
They're dressed more like the '60s than the '70s and there's a laundromat theme for some reason. They do attempt some samba rolls, which are always so hard to get right. Gleb's wearing a really awful shaggy wig that, frankly, is as distracting as some of the styling Mark Ballas used to affect.
Bruno praises the rolls. Carrie Ann reminds Gleb no lifts, even if it's about getting around the stage set. She also says Jana had some issues with musicality. Len scolds Gleb for not putting in enough samba content and gripes about the faffing about with the set. Gleb, after prompting by Tom, lists some of the samba content that was in the routine. This sets Len off to specifically list what was wrong with each of the samba elements that they did attempt. Len is FIRED UP. Julianne defends them in her remarks, praising the '70s funk they included.
Erin tries to prod Gleb into saying more. Resist the bait, Gleb. Unfortunately, he says that this isn't a dance contest but a TV show. Ooooh, that's not going to go over well, no matter how truthful it is.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 9
James Hinchcliffe & Sharna Burgess
Sharna's still bowled over by Julianne's comment last week that James is the best male (celebrity) dancer they've had on the show. Then they show James video chatting with fellow IndyCar driver (and Season 5 winner) Helio Castroneves. He tells them to tell Julianne that the reason he wasn't the best was because he had a different partner. (That would be Julianne herself.) If all Indy Car drivers are as funny as James and Helio I want to watch more of them.
James knows he's not, as slight as he is, going to be able to do some of the kinds of lifts that other dancers like Calvin can do. Sharna explains one move she wants to do and James looks dubious, saying, "The physics of that are mindboggling." Sharna says that she's feeling the pressure this season because she's never won the Mirrorball trophy, but with James she has a very good shot at it.
They didn't go into it in the intro package, but Sharna's got a knee brace on because of an unspecified injury. There's a lot of faffing about at the beginning with James playing cards with three of the backup dancers. But lemme tell you how that works in their favor: you honestly can't spot James as the amateur dancer when the four are dancing together. He's that good.
Carrie Ann says he immerses himself in the role of the dance spectacularly. She did see some moments of hesitation around the more difficult elements. Len would have liked to see more jitterbug than jive but enjoyed it very much. Julianne says they always have great character, storyline, technique — everything. Bruno says what James puts into the dance is amazing. He does point out that the synchronization was a little off in parts.
Sharna takes the blame for the synchronization issues, citing her injured knee as a factor.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 9
James is captain of "Team Past" and Laurie captain of "Team Future." They were chosen as captains because they have the highest cumulative score so far this season. Laurie picks first and chooses Jana & Gleb. James goes for Calvin & Lindsay. Laurie chooses Terra & Sasha. James picks Maureen & Artem. Laurie passes over fellow Olympian Ryan and selects Marilu & Derek next. This leaves Ryan picked last. That's fair, given that he might have the lowest cumulative score of competitors still in the competition.
Sharna explains to Team Past that it's kind of freestyle so they can do anything they want. James immediately yells out "Jazzercise!" Cheryl enthusiastically agrees and says "Thank you!" but Sharna says she was thinking Viennese waltz. James says that was his second choice. Sharna elaborates that they're dancing to a Scottish folk song that was originally written in the 1700s. Someone explain this all to Lindsay later, preferably off-camera/off-mic.
As the pros work out the choreography and the stars are sitting by watching, James entertains himself and them by narrating the pros working as if they're "animals in the wild" and he's an Australian TV host. It's pretty funny until Sharna catches on. They're having trouble with the routine through Saturday's rehearsal and even up until the camera blocking runthrough yesterday.
I was wondering about the show using a centuries-old Scottish folk song but as soon as it starts up I recognize it as the theme for the show "Outlander." That makes more sense now.
Calvin & Lindsay, of course, do a magnificent lift. Calvin also looks good in skin-tight breeches, but I guess they're not that different from football pants, really. The Viennese Waltz looks great as a group dance because they're making it look like a ballroom from the past, with couples whirling around one another.
Len thought it was brave to go for a Viennese waltz. He says no one stood out because it was a "proper team dance." Julianne calls it clean and says they executed it briefly. Bruno calls it a luscious romantic dream. He singles out a moment where Calvin and James crossed the room in absolute synchronization and calls it gorgeous. Carrie Ann praises the formations and lines and says it was as good as an all-pro dance. She concludes by saying it was her favorite dance of the night.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 9; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 10
Team Future is all couples with female stars/male pros. Derek seems to be taking the lead with choreography. Some of the steps are long strides that Sasha points out Terra can't do. Terra says privately that she doesn't want to hold them back and feels like they've had to change a lot of things because of her. She wants to be as good as them. Sasha seems to be doing a good job of advocating for her (in a way that seems good and protective rather than presumptive and patronizing) and Derek's checking in a lot about what Terra can and can't do. I think the pros are handling it well but it's still tough to be Terra and realize how much is focusing on her capabilities. Val gives her a hug and kiss at the end of the first night of rehearsal.
They don't get a Saturday rehearsal together, it seems, not reconvening as a team until camera blocking Sunday.
Well, apparently in the future, all women wear blue lipstick. And Jana & Gleb do amazing lifts. Also, we'll symbolically hand flowers around and there will be green confetti.
It was a good routine but not quite as … captivating as Team Past's.
Julianne says it was a cool concept and that it did emphasize the individual couples. She does call out some out-of-sync moments. Bruno admits to being a sci-fi geek in his comments. I love learning that about him. Carrie Ann points out that even though their expressionless faces were part of the concept, it made it more challenging. She says that meant we were forced to pay more attention to the shapes their bodies were making, and sometimes those shapes didn't match. She asks after Marilu, who had a fall out of a turn in the middle of the return. Marilu says she's fine and Carrie Ann compliments her for being a trouper. Len thinks it had great imagination and liked the touches of tango and paso doble.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 9; Julianne: 9; Bruno: 9
The first couple in jeopardy is Maureen & Artem. Joining them are Jana & Gleb. The remaining couples are all safe. C'MON. Ryan should at least be in jeopardy. This is only a shocker if it's Jana & Gleb after their perfect score last week. And indeed, it's Maureen & Artem going home.
Calvin & Lindsay: 36 + 38 = 74
James & Sharna: 36 +38 = 74
Jana & Gleb: 34 + 35 = 69
Laurie & Val: 34 +35 = 69
Terra & Sasha: 34 + 35 = 69
Ryan & Cheryl: 28 + 38 = 66
Marilu & Derek: 29 + 35 = 64
Since America is apparently seized by the fever of Lochte Love, if I were Marilu, I'd be very, very nervous for this week. And wow, what a difference the team dances made to those two. If they'd been on opposite teams, Ryan & Cheryl would be at the bottom instead — a full four points behind Marilu & Derek. So don't feel too bad about being picked last there, Ryan.