This week, Dancing with the Stars
asks its celebrity cast to revisit the best years of their lives -- I expect this will be one of those weeks where tender, sensitive dances "about" family members and the like will win the day.
Our live blog starts now:
Something is amiss, as Gleb enters alone tonight. Lisa has been ill, apparently, and missed rehearsal yesterday -- it remains to be seen if she dances later.
Sean Lowe and Peta Murgatroyd
Dance: Viennese Waltz
Sean picks 2012 as the best year of his life, being the year he met his fiance Catherine. His Viennese Waltz is sweet and elegant, and though his solo is definitely pretty awkward, he wins the audience over with a closing kiss for his fiance. He's definitely more in his wheelhouse during the campy, upbeat routines, but this was a good effort.
Len: "That was a pretty good effort at a difficult dance."
Bruno: "The talent is there, so you have to really build on this."
Carrie Ann: "The lift police is back, so watch the lifts."
Victor Ortiz and Lindsay Arnold
Dance: Paso Doble
Victor dances the year he won an upset for the world boxing championship, even incorporating the song he entered to, Queen's "We Will Rock You." While his face is 100% warrior, his legs are on a different page entirely. I'm starting to suspect that Victor will be an early elimination, but at least he's trying.
Bruno: "The thing is, though, you're supposed to dance it, not attack it."
Carrie Ann: "This round went a little bit toward the Paso Doble."
Len: "You came out and gave it your all, well done for you."
Jacoby Jones and Karina Smirnoff
Jacoby dances 2012, but not for the reason you might expect: 2012 was the year his son was born. He thankfully eschews an overly tender routine, dancing a joyful number that reaches its apex in a charmingly hammy solo -- it isn't a foxtrot so much as a touchdown celebration.
Carrie Ann: "You kind of went out of the box a little!"
Len: "I was a fan of that foxtrot. I liked it!"
Bruno: "You were trotting a full throttle."
Alexandra Raisman and Mark Ballas
Aly picks the year she won her Olympic Gold Medal which, along with the contemporary genre, allows her to bust out some thoroughly impressive gymnastics moves. Though she's performed capably so far, tonight is a revelation: she mixes genuine emotion with wicked awesome flips, which is a perfect 10 in my book, purists be damned.
Len: "I think that's a dance worthy of an Olympic champion."
Bruno: "Emotionally intense, dramatic and deeply felt."
Carrie Ann: "You were completely in the moment, and I was mesmerized by you."
Andy Dick and Sharna Burgess
Dance: Viennese Waltz
This being his first year of sobriety in a long time, Andy dances 2013 to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Having played up the crazy a few weeks in a row, the stark emotion of this routine is palpable and effective. He has Carrie Ann sobbing by the end of it, as she aptly compares the performance to a poem in simple words. Congratulations, Andy, this is something special.
Bruno: "Simple, effective, straight from the heart."
Carrie Ann: "Your movement vocabulary is small, but what you said with those movements is incredibly beautiful."
Len: "You came onto this show a man, whatever happens you'll come out of it a hero."
Just to cut in again here, I think those scores are a bit low. Dance is art, and if art moves you to tears then it's accomplished its goal to the fullest -- though I suppose if we're going to get hoity-toity about it, scores don't really matter in terms of artistic expression.
Zendaya and Val Chmerkovskiy
It goes without saying that Zendaya is still a top contender. Andy Dick isn't a great dancer but has a lifetime of emotion to pour in; Zendaya is short on years but has talent to spare.
Carrie Ann: "The way you worked that movement, girl, Beyonce better watch her back."
Len: "There's no question you're a fantastic dancer."
Bruno: "Fearless, so cool, so hip, so slick; a samba for today."
Ingo Rademacher and Kym Johnson
Dance: Viennese Waltz
Ingo dances the year he got married, settling into the middle of the pack once again. The highlight of his segment comes in his backstage montage, as his son gives his performance a three out of 10.
Len: "Unfortunately, there was a couple of little incidents with the arms a couple times."
Bruno: "Elegant, dashing and deeply romantic."
Carrie Ann: "It's so nice that when you add love to these dances, they blossom."
D.L. Hughley and Cheryl Burke
Tonight, D.L. dances ... I don't know, puberty I guess. Attempting youthful sexuality has done him no favors in previous weeks, but he does better this time by performing in character -- putting some distance between himself and the hip-thrusting makes the routine fun rather than cringe-worthy. I have to say, I get nothing out of his whiny "feud" with the judges and have hoped for his elimination just to end the awkwardness. If he can keep improving like this, though, then I don't have any objection to him.
Bruno: "You're gonna get an extra point for the butt, 'cause that really worked."
Carrie Ann: "Hallelujah!"
Len: "This had elements of fun in it; it was much smoother."
Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough
Kellie has the unique advantage of a singer-songwriter husband who already wrote the song of her best year: "I Do." He's on hand to perform the song live, adding an extra layer of sentiment onto an already touching routine. The typically boundary-averse Derek does a good job of not getting punched by her husband, so that's nice as well.
Carrie Ann: "There was something a little strange with your movements."
Len: "You dancing, him playing, fabulous."
Bruno: "Scored by the soundtrack of love, beau-ti-ful."
Lisa Vanderpump and Gleb Savchenko
Dance: Cha Cha Cha
Lisa suffered a collapse during rehearsals this week, which forced her to miss rehearsal today and apparently left her participation tonight an open question. She does manage to pull through, dancing a celebration of her daughter's wedding. She does well enough considering the circumstances, but still winds up at the bottom of the leaderboard.
Len: "[The mistakes] are down to under-rehearsal."
Bruno: "You look pretty well for someone coming out of hospital."
Carrie Ann: "You can't do lifts, point off."
There you have it; everyone loves their spouses and children. Some truly impressive moments, though, especially in Andy's simple, tear-jerking Viennese waltz and Aly's excellent contemporary routine. We'll find out tomorrow whose best year goes on, and whose does not.