Next week is the semifinals of Dancing with the Stars season 18, but to get there, the final six couples will have to go through Abby Lee Miller. The loud, confrontational star of Lifetime’s Dance Moms is the guest judge this week and, as a choreographer, she’s the most qualified guest judge since Julianne Hough.
DWTS will also introduce yet another new twist as the six remaining stars will be paired with each other for special dances. This will give us a chance to see how good they are without the aid of their pro partners. And, as always, one couple will be eliminated based on last week’s scores and votes.
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The opening features the “vocal” skills of Mark Ballas. I’ll let my sarcastic quotation marks speak for themselves.
Abby Lee Miller is wedged between Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli. She’s looking for straight legs, pointed feet and everything else. Good for her, caring about technique.
Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: Quickstep
Charlie White is…SAFE this week and still frustrated that they’re not getting 10s. His mom visits during rehearsal to give him a pep talk. The routine is sweet, romantic and quick. Every since the Mary Poppins routine, he’s come across as an old-school Disney musical romantic lead. Abby wastes no time becoming my favorite guest judge ever by actually pointing out specific problems with his footwork during an Arabesque. She and Len are soul mates. The judges are positive about his energy and most of his work, but still with a few issues.
Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40
WTF? The judges pointed out flaws, yet he still gets a perfect score? This is ridiculous. Why should he bother to improve anything if he can get a 40 with this? I feel like they were just worn down by Charlie’s constant whining about wanting a 10.
Meryl Davis is…SAFE!
Danica McKellar is…IN JEOPARDY!
No real surprise. After some actual competition in the middle of the season, it’s starting to look like the Olympic ice dancers will make it into the finale just like everyone knew they would as soon as the cast was announced. Please, no more ringers in season 19.
Danica McKellar and Val Chmerkovskiy: Tango
Once again, she has to dance immediately after finding out she’s in jeopardy. Val works hard to get this right, especially since he did so well with the Argentine Tango when he was stiched up with Meryl. Danica is dressed like Natalie Portman in Black Swan and it’s weird, intense and awesome. Val is easily the best Tango choreographer on the show. The judges love the artistry and her skill. Len thought she was “on it like a bonnet.”
Judges’ Scores: 10+9+9+10=38
I’m not quite sure how that was worse than Charlie, but whatever.
Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Rumba
During rehearsals, it’s adorable how Meryl calls Maks a teddy bear and he gets a little upset. This is a more vulnerable routine than they’re used to. It’s about a dysfunctional relationship and opens with a scene at a dinner table where he gets upset and she slaps him. It’s evocative and moving, but this doesn’t look like a Rumba at all. It looks like a Contemporary routine. The judges agree and Carrie Ann Inaba points out that, like with Charlie a few weeks ago, there wasn’t nearly enough Rumba content. Abby plays Foot Police and gets booed for it.
Judges’ Scores: 9+9+8+10=36
Maks doesn’t care about anything Abby says. And wow, the guest judge gave the lowest score. That’s a first, but I tend to agree, especially to offset Bruno’s ridiculous 10. It was an amazing routine, but it wasn’t a Rumba and there should be a serious penalty for ignoring the actual style you’re supposed to dance.
Amy Purdy is…SAFE!
James Maslow is…IN JEOPARDY!
Candace Cameron Bure is…IN JEOPARDY!
Of course Amy is safe, she stole all of Danica’s sympathy votes. I hope Candace goes since James and Danica are my two favorites.
Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas: Foxtrot
The rehearsal footage really plays up Candace’s religious mom status. This is another routine about a domestic squabble, but it’s sillier and funnier than Meryl and Maks’ dance. It’s goofy, which fits Mark’s style, but Candace is just OK. It’s not awful, but it’s a little too light and airy for my taste. Abby tries to make a joke but no one gets it and the audience boos her again, which is the theme of the night. The judges praise her growth, which means she’s the worst dancer left, but she’s come a long way.
Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9+9=36
So she’s as good as Meryl. Umm…OK.
James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: Viennese Waltz
James’ Big Tim Rush bandmates and co-stars stop by for rehearsals and grill them about whether James and Peta are dating. The dance is elegant and beautiful. It’s nice to see that can be every bit as sexy with all of his clothes on. Len says that he needs to straighten his legs so his butt doesn’t stick out. Abby loses some points in my eyes because she just gushes over James because he’s so damn sexy. I mean, I’d be the same way, but that’s why I’m not a guest judge. Carrie Ann says she has to take a point off because one of Peta’s feet came off the ground. She adds that she “always” has to do that, which is a comment designed to make me furious because I guess “always” now means “unless it’s Amy.”
Judges’ Scores: 8+9+10+9=36
OK, Abby is now just giving scores based on hotness of the dudes. I wanted to like her for keeping it real earlier, but she just ruined her credibility.
Amy Purdy and Derek Hough: Argentine Tango
We see Amy in pain after last week’s dance and going to the hospital. It’s something with her muscle and her rib popping out of place. Derek brings in a troupe member to rehearse with since Amy can only watch. Ugh, it’s another classic Amy routine, meaning Derek lifts and twirls her around for most of it. Heck, there’s even a point in the middle where she literally sits down on a stool for about 20 seconds while Derek does a bunch of stuff around her. It’s intense and some of the dancing is decent, but watching Amy sit on a stool for 20 seconds isn’t my idea of dancing. The judges, naturally, give her a pass because she’s so inspirational. Come on, if any other star in the history of the show sat on a damn stool for 20 seconds in the middle of a routine, the judges would rip them apart. Everything the judges praise is about Derek’s choreography and Amy’s inspirational story, not her actual dancing.
Judges’ Scores: 10+10+10+10=40
Congrats, Derek, on winning your sixth Mirror Ball Trophy this season. The judges are handing it to him on a silver platter with these absurd scores.
Danica and Val and Meryl and Maksim: Samba
This new round features the stars pairing off, but they also dance with their pro partners. Dang, I was hoping it would just be the two stars by themselves. Danica and Maks are like a woman and her brother-in-law who don’t get along. Then Grandma Chmerkovskiy shows up for some fun. It starts as a side-by-side challenge, and then Danica and Meryl get to dance without the pros. It’s pretty great and I love the partner work, but the worst part is when it’s just the two girls. Abby wishes the girls were in heels. It felt more like two girls who don’t get along and preferred dancing with their guys.
Judges’ Scores: 8+9+8+9=34
Who cares about the scores, I give a 10 to Grandma Chmerkovskiy.
Candace and Mark and Charlie and Sharna: Contemporary
Getting Contemporary is a gift, and since Candace is so good at being lifted, they take the Amy Purdy approach and make sure her feet never touch the ground when she and Charlie pair up for their part. And major kudos to Charlie for doing all of those lifts and making it look so effortless. He was great, and maybe it’s the open shirt, but this dance makes him almost as hot as James. There’s one tiny moment when Charlie slips with a lift for Sharna, but seeing as how the routine was nothing but lifts, you can’t blame him.
Judges’ Scores: 9+9+10+10=38
“Slip? What slip?” Erin Andrews says. Exactly.
Amy and Derek and James and Peta: Jive
Having to dance with Amy means James has the most difficult job this week. Amy feels bad because she feels like she’s limiting the choreography they can do. Sadly, this segment will make people sympathetic for her because of how badly she feels instead of making people sympathetic for James and angry at her because she IS limiting. The routine is fun and breezy. I love James’ dancing, but it looks like he’s more tentative when he is partnered with Amy. As always, the judges are insanely generous with Amy, but since it will benefit James (if he’s not eliminated), I guess I can live with it.
Judges’ Scores: 9+10+10+10=39
Every single moment of this entire segment was set up to convince us that Amy is the best and deserves to win, which she will. Every question Erin asks, every piece they show from rehearsals, it’s all about Amy.
THE FINAL RESULTS
Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas are…SAFE!
Boo. One of my favorites is going home.
Danica McKellar and Val Chmerkovskiy ARE ELIMINATED!
Poor Winnie Cooper and poor Val. She was so good, but her injury last week ruined her. I also think my theory was proven right, that Amy’s injury overshadowed Danica’s last week and cost her the sympathy vote.
I also feel badly for Val, because this is the second season in a row where he’s eliminated in sixth place despite having an amazing partner (it was Elizabeth Berkeley last time).
On the bright side, we get another week of James Maslow’s hotness, and thanks to the overscoring benefit of being paired with Amy, he could be safe next week as well. Meanwhile, somehow Meryl is not only at the bottom of the leaderboard, but waaaay at the bottom.
Next week on Dancing with the Stars: It’s the semifinals with another actual choreographer as a guest judge, Kenny Ortega. Let’s hope he doesn’t overscore hot dudes and Amy while underscoring pretty women he’s threatened by.
79 (21 percent): Amy Purdy
78 (20.7 percent): Charlie White
75 (19.9 percent): James Maslow
74 (19.7 percent): Candace Cameron Bure
70 (18.6 percent): Meryl Davis
(Image courtesy of ABC)