Welcome, gem hunters, to Week 8 of Dancing With the Stars: They're All Dynamic Duos!
Sadly no one will be impersonating Julianne Hough and Bruno Tonioli (pictured) on tonight's celebration of famous pairs both real and fictional -- but thankfully, all seven of our remaining couples have advanced beyond the "one of us falls off a chair while the other watches in delight" stage of ballroom dancing (a.k.a. Intermediate).
There's immunity at stake! From ABC: "For the first time ever, the couple with the highest score from their first dance will be safe from that night's elimination. The remaining couples will have a dance-off for additional judges' points, hoping to lift their scores and save themselves. Because by the end of the night, someone is saying goodbye to the ballroom!"
So in other words: "Don't screw up, now more than ever!"
If you can't watch liiiive on TV tonight, try the DWTS All-Access live streams to see the dances and hear from the couples throughout the show.
Discuss it here! I'll try to float back in with comments overnight.
It's finally farewell to Planet Mirrorballus' Tarzan and Jane: Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater. He had no rhythm and she had no pants. It was never going to happen. But what a sweet farewell, with Michael batting his long eyelashes in appreciation and Emma choking up about making a lifelong friend and welcoming the wonderful world of NASCAR into her life. You go around and around and around and usually you don't win. Just like in the ballroom!
Aw, Emma's the best. And way to stick around, Michael. Bye bye. Go that way. Left foot first. Ugh. No. You're doing it wrong.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhh-ber!
Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy: 43 (40 + 3 for immunity) Yes! I tend to roll my eyes at contemporary numbers on this show, but never when Val does them, because he just gets so sweet and mushy and tender and... ROMEO! about it. Val shaved his face for the classic Shakespearean role, which turned out to be an utter tragedy -- though based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, I suppose we knew that was coming. I was tearing up during their perfect 40-worthy romp through love land. Was the beauty of their weightless, twisty lifts and other impossible-seeming shapes moving me to cry, or was it yesterday's abrupt cancellation of Utopia? (Damnit, Fox! I needed the money! The live streams were fascinating!) Well, I suspect it was both. "Abstract movement can tell a story and elicit pure emotions," confirmed Carrie Ann. I guess I just needed Val's intense choreography to put me over the edge.
"I was hoping it'd look better on TV," Val said of his clean-shaven chin. But really his comment could apply to anything.
BREAKING: ANIMAL RESCUE
I'm so relieved DWTS saved this tiny cat from the scary ceiling forest of lighting and wires!
Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson: 41 (38 + 3) A zip-lining disaster almost derailed their Batman and Robin cha cha, but then, after moments of deliberation, our brave kitty Alfonso gingerly placed one foot on the itsy bitsy ladder... and all was well. (Unlike Erin, I didn't have to stifle my "Maybe you're too short" commentary after Fons complained that the ladder they provided for his rescue was too short. Also, ultimate hidden gem: The company providing the zip lines was called Proline MINING EQUIPMENT!!!)
Anyway, Alfonso and Witney's cha cha was tight and cute and pretty much perfect to me, though I couldn't tell if they missed a big step near the end of the dance. Either way, they looked great. I agreed with both Bruno, who called Witney the sexiest Robin he'd ever seen, and commenter JAYBES, who thought Witney looked like a strawberry. Witney is everything at once! It's the magic of the ballroom. Speaking of which...
AHEM, Cheryl and Tony "dancing us in." The hotness.
Bethany Mota and Derek Hough: 40 (37 + 3) Playing Lucille Ball really allowed Bethany to open up and....uh, make the same overblown "gaping at nothing as if it's something" faces she always makes during her salsa with Derecky Ricardo. I didn't love the tired execution of a PG-13 version of The Crotch Bob (classic Derek move), but I wasn't as annoyed as some of you by the fact that they stayed in one place for most of the dance (another C.D.M.) -- I think that's the nature of the salsa, so it's probably easier to pack in all the content you need if you don't use the whole stage. Or any of it!
Too bad for Sadie and Mark that, following a tie in the cha cha dance off head judge Len's score declared Bethany and Derek the winners. The DANCMSTR was pretty hung up about that one (for the cameras)! LEN NEEDED MORE TIME.
Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas: 38 The week after I came around to unironically loving Mark, he throws down his mic and pits himself against the head judge: "Len doesn't like things that are artistic, obviously, and I'm not gonna succumb to that." It was a bold statement in itself, one made even more extreme by the juxtaposition of Mark's next sentence to his teenage partner: "Are you comfortable if I do body paint and no shirt?" Aw. If she doesn't want you touching her butt while you lift her (sorry, it's mandatory), she probably doesn't want you nude. I did, however, appreciate Mark's high-pitched giggling at the basic Biblical tenet that if you eat the apple, you're gonna DIE. "You gave it to me!" he reasoned, helplessly.
For their contemporary routine as Adam and Eve, Sadie and Mark got a vocal assist on "Uninvited" from a lady called BCG, who showed up a week late wanting to be Alanis Morissette for Halloween. I liked the lighting change along with the key change -- did this dance seem longer than the others? Whatever; I was all for it. I'm impressed every week at how...not obnoxious Sadie is, if that makes any sense. She's nonchalant and toned down in person, then comes alive in an appropriate ballroom-esque way during the dances. Isn't that all we want out of a DWTS contestant in the end? (Other than for the DWTS contestant to pass the j-bird near the end of the show.)
Lea Thompson and Artem Chigvintsev: 32 I'm not sure which was more awkward: Lea's shorts to complete their Bonnie and Clyde look or Erin Andrews asking Lea how she thinks she ranks in this competition. Since both make me uncomfortable, let's focus on the real story of this segment: Artem NAILING his acting class! Guy went from cowering, "This should never be taped," to having to explain to the acting coach that he was holding an imaginary gun, to running out into the tropics of Hollywood and full-on robbing a bank himself! Just kidding on that last one, but he could. The two-minute crash course in playing a character was that effective.
Julianne thought their Bonnie and Clyde jazz choreography (?!) was dated. Girl, it's from the '20s. Go read some Faust and think about what you've just done.
Tommy Chong and Peta Murgatroyd: 29 (26 + 3) "I don't feel as old as they think I am," a wide-eyed Chong confided in his sparkly rock, Peta. That's why we love him! The 76-year-old teen at heart stepped it up big time for this week's paso doble training, and I'm sure Johnny and June Cash wouldn't have it any other way. Even though he was limping after the solo round, Chong was game for whatever came next. What comes next again? More dancing? More training? Organic fries? Whatever, he's up for it! He's running on adrenaline! And did I say fries? I meant other munchies. "You're like a hot dog," Len Goodman told Tommy Chong. "You're tasty, but you're never sure about the content."
My affection for you holds no bounds, DANCMSTRs. See you next week!