It's time for a true staple of Dancing with the Stars:
The Most Memorable Year. That's the theme as each of the remaining 10
stars will talk about the important times in their lives. It's safe to
assume that Amy Purdy's will require tissues.
The third week will also say goodbye to one more couple after last week's shocking double elimination. Since Billy Dee Williams was in last place on the leaderboard (and the next lowest score was six points higher), I think it's safe to assume that Lando will be eliminated. At least I hope so.
Tonight also features the first of several guest judges for DWTS season 18. Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts will join the panel as the fourth judge, proving that sometimes network cross-promotional synergy is more important than, you know, actually knowing anything about dance.
When the stars are introduced, Billy Dee Williams is nowhere to be seen. He's backstage and Tom Bergeron tells us that he's unable to dance tonight. I guess that lets us know who's going home.
Robin Roberts sits between Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli, so hers will be the third score in the recap. She admits she's not a dance expert, but she loves watching the show and tweeting about it.
James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: Jive
2007: He was a chubby kid who got bullied, but he overcame that in this year. See, chubby kids, one day you might be in the Sexy Hall of Fame like James.
The routine has a high school theme with Peta as the hot chick and James as the nerd. He shows off some insanely athletic skills, doing a backflip off a table and adding a few more high kicks and impressive jumps. It's a great start and the judges love it, with Len praising it as his best yet. Bruno loves the electric energy, though Carrie Ann Inaba points out one small problem.
Judges' Scores: 9+9+9+9=36
That's a great bar to set at the start of the show. But I was kind of hoping for a 10.
Thus far, it seems Amy Purdy and Mark Ballas could be a new pair next week. And it turns out the switch is ONLY for one week. So next week we'll see new partners, but in week 5 everything goes back to the original couples. I don't know how I feel about that, but I'm sure Amy is happy. Maybe this means they'll do it again later.
It also seems the scores for next week will be combined with the scores from tonight and tonight's public vote for the results next week, going back to last season's model. I do not approve of this, because if defeats the entire purpose of putting stars with different partners if those scores are going to be diluted by scores from the original partnerships.
Billy Dee Williams and Emma Slater
Billy Dee tells us that his doctors required him not to dance this week due to his chronic back problems. He says his goodbyes and gets a standing ovation. So Billy Dee Williams and Emma Slater ARE ELIMINATED!? I guess. But they never actually said it. His grandkids come out to hug him.
NeNe Leakes and Tony Dovolani: Rumba
2013: She got married young because of physical attraction, then there was trouble communicating and she filed for divorce. Then they worked things out and she remarried him in 2013.
The dance seems to take place on the wedding night, with a bed and a very shirtless Tony. Tony's 40-year-old torso (seriously?) is making it really difficult to focus on NeNe. She's OK, I guess, but a little unwieldy. The size difference between these two is definitely a distraction. The judges enjoyed the sensuality, though it had a few issues.
Judges' Scores: 8+7+8+8=31
She finally got some 8s after two weeks of 7s.
Cody Simpson and Witney Carson: Jazz
2010: That's the year he moved to the U.S. and signed a record deal. He's most grateful that his entire family gave up everything to come here to help Cody follow his dream.
Doing Jazz to one of Cody's own songs seems like an easy week. It's another fun, very young routine, but I'm distracted by the song's lyrics about how "She on my surfboard." That sounds dirty to me. Is a surfboard like a disco stick? The judges love the energy and skill of movement. He's good, but it almost feels like he's not in the same competition as everyone else.
Judges' Scores: 9+8+9+9=35
Wow, that's a big score. And, as always, Len is the odd man out.
Danica McKellar and Val Chmerkovskiy: Contemporary
2010: That's the year her son was born, a few weeks after her grandma died. It seems her son is named Draco, which means he's destined to by a Slytherin.
The routine is all about death and the afterlife, but in a beautiful way. After two weeks of energetic, sexy dances, it's nice to see a more elegant side of Danica. I like it a lot, though it seems Val did a lot of the work with impressive lifts. The judges love it, with Len calling it "butter on a hot muffin." Danica picks up her crying son after the dance and cradles him all through the critique.
Judges' Scores: 9+9+9+9=36
Those judges really don't want to give a 10 this early.
Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke: Waltz
2005: That's the year his son was born and it changed him forever, forcing him to change his entire lifestyle because he was overweight. Drew's dad died when he was 8, and he didn't want that to happen to his son, so he got healthy and lost a bunch of weight. OK, this is the sweetest one yet.
The Waltz isn't the showiest of dances, but it's demanding. He does a decent job with it, holding his own and moving quickly. It ends with Drew picking up his son. Len points out that Drew got on the wrong foot for a bit of it, but the rest was nice. Carrie Ann thought it was too stressed. Drew's kid offers the final critique, saying that Cheryl needs to teach him some of hose moves. Hot damn, Drew Carey's 8-year-old son just hit on Cheryl! He's a playa!
Judges' Scores: 7+7+8+8=30
With this stiff competition, 7s aren't gonna cut it.
Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Foxtrot
1997-2014: She kind of cheats on this whole "most memorable year" theme by talking about her whole 17-year journey with Charlie White, from the time they were first paired to winning the Gold medal this year. I love her dancing, but not her personality.
It's another absurdly brilliant technical performance by Meryl. Seriously, not only is she the best star dancer this show has ever seen, I think she's just about as good as some of the female pros. There are some Contemporary flourishes that make it more emotional, but the judges rave about the technique too. The judges rave about the choreography. I guess it took someone as talented as Meryl to make the judges acknowledge Maks' skills.
Judges' Scores: 10+9+10+10=39
Wow, 10s! This is only the eighth time in the history of the show that someone earned a 10 in week 3. The last time was in season 14 when both Katherine Jenkins and William Levy did it.
Amy Purdy and Derek Hough: Contemporary
1999: Obviously her most memorable year was when she lost her legs and her dad gave her one of his kidneys to save her. I don't need to recap this, it's just me crying for a long time.
The Contemporary routine is recreating the first time she danced with her new legs, so it's all about falling and having her dad catch her. I give Derek a 10 for his beautiful choreography, it's so touching. But let's be honest - Amy isn't dancing. She spends 90 percent of the routine being lifted and spun by Derek. And the rest of the time she falls into Derek's arms and leans on him. It's so inspiring and emotional, but Amy is doing almost nothing. I know I sound like an a-hole, but I think she needs to be graded on the same scale as everyone else.
Judges' Scores: 9+9+9+9=36
At least she didn't get any 10s.
Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: Jive
2010: Unlike Meryl, he actually picks a single year and he chooses the one where he and Meryl won the Silver medal, because that inspired him to fight back and work harder.
He dances to "Happy" and it opens with Charlie trying on Pharrell's hat before dancing with all the women backstage on his way to the floor. It's upbeat, fast and good. I mean, he's a professional ice dancer, so of course he's good. I give him credit for using the entire building. Carrie Ann points out that he was actually ahead of the beat twice. Bruno praises the high standard of dancing tonight and how this is the best dancing in 18 years. Yeah, because there are two PROFESSIONAL ice DANCERS in the cast!
Judges' Scores: 9+9+9+9=36
Everybody gets 9s. There have been 32 paddles so far, and 23 of them (72 percent) have been a 9 or 10.
Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas: Jive
1995: That's the year Full House ended, and two months later she got engaged. It was a move from child to woman. During rehearsal, Aunt Becky and Kimmie Gibbler show up (well, the actresses who played them on Full House). Yay, D.J. and the Gibbler are still BFFs! And Aunt Becky taught her how to kiss! This makes the younger version of me very happy.
The dance is fine, but it suffers from a classic problem: Mark's ego. Like past seasons, Mark is a show-off and steals all of the attention with his energy. Candace just couldn't keep up with him. It also suffers because the other two Jives tonight came from James and Charlie and both were much better than this. The judges liked it but didn't love it.
Judges' Scores: 8+8+8+8=32
Ouch, with so many 9s, this puts her in the Bottom 3 for the leaderboard.
At the very end of the show, Tom Bergeron said that they're saying goodbye to Billy Dee and Emma, which is as close as the show came to actually telling us they're officially out of the competition. They really dropped the ball on that one.
Next week it's the Switch-Up with all new pairings and guest judge Julianne Hough. Let's see how Amy does without Derek to lean on, both literally and figuratively.
39 (12.54 percent): Meryl Davis
36 (11.58 percent): James Maslow, Danica McKellar, Amy Purdy, Charlie White
35 (11.25 percent): Cody Simpson
32 (10.29 percent): Candace Cameron Bure
31 (9.97 percent): NeNe Leakes
30 (9.65 percent): Drew Carey
(Image courtesy of ABC)