It’s the spookiest episode of the year on Dancing with the Stars. The eight remaining couples must face their fears, including an elimination, the team dances and the return of head judge Len Goodman. But it’s also Halloween Night, which means plenty of ghosts and goblins, plus Scary Ann Inaba and Boo-no Tonioli.
After the eight individual dances, Alfonso Ribeiro and Bethany Mota will lead their respective teams into battle. Will Derek Hough emerge victorious as he always does? Will Tommy and Peta be eliminated as I predict? And will Len’s return add some much needed credibility to the judges’ scores?
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There’s a great haunted house intro, ending with Len Goodman emerging from a coffin. Even scarier, Erin Andrews is back. I already miss Leah Remini.
Tommy Chong and Peta Murgatroyd: Quickstep
Tommy takes a lot of breaks during rehearsals and has trouble learning two dances. We’ve reached the point in the season where Tommy’s age becomes a problem. It’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, with Tommy moving quickly enough, those his legs seem a bit wobbly. He certainly seems to step it up for the live shows. Len loves that tonight is full of traditional ballroom styles and enjoyed Tommy’s charm. In fact, all of the judges are surprised and give him praise for being better than a 76-year-old man has any right to be. They deducted for mistakes, but still liked it.
Judges’ Scores: 7+7+7+7=28
That’s good for him, but not good for this point in the season.
Lea Thompson and Artem Chigvintsev: Argentine Tango
Getting low scores and criticism has caused a lot of doubt and emotion during rehearsals. The dance, however, doesn’t show any of that. It’s slinky, seductive and powerful. And Lea’s legs are insanely good. Julianne Hough says that they need to cut themselves some slack because she’s great at hitting her moves and the precision. I couldn’t tell if she was giving a compliment or a criticism. The judges liked the technique, but wanted some more chemistry and emotion.
Judges’ Scores: 8+8+9+9=34
That’s a good score for them. I was worried there wouldn’t be any 9s.
Bethany Mota and Derek Hough: Paso Doble
The score last week has turned Derek into a strict taskmaster now that he knows what she can do. The dance has a whole lot going on. There are drummers, Derek in a red hood with no shirt and all sorts of weird, cult-like craziness. I think it’s pretty great, but I found it hard to focus on Bethany. The judges, however, loved the theatricality. On the bright side, now that Len is back, he completely agrees with me, thinking that the actual dancing got lost in the production. He just wanted to see a Paso and not all of these drums and stuff.
Judges’ Scores: 10+9+10+10=39
Thank you, Len, for not being blinded by all of Derek’s bells and whistles.
Viewers can go on Twitter to voice what dance styles and songs the couples should do in two weeks for America’s Choice Night.
Antonio Sabato, Jr. and Cheryl Burke: Viennese Waltz
Cheryl is going to make Antonio disappear at the end of the dance. I can’t help but feel like there’s a lot of subtext about their relationship in that idea. Much like all of his dances, it’s technically adequate, but lacks any real magic. Carrie Ann Inaba feels uncomfortable watching him, and I agree. Antonio just doesn’t seem to be having any fun or giving himself over to the show. No one really likes it at all.
Judges’ Scores: 6+7+7+7=27
Wow, a 6? If he isn’t eliminated tonight, Carrie Ann is definitely trying to sabotage him for next week.
Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater: Jive
The Jive is a lot harder than the Tango, so Michael knows he’s in trouble with all of the fast steps and Emma struggles to teach him. Calling this a trainwreck wouldn’t do this dance justice. This is like the Hindenberg of Jives. He’s dressed like a cowboy and Emma is wearing her skimpiest sexy cowgirl costume to try and get votes. The judges don’t even try to be nice about how unbelievable horrifying and nightmarish it was. And on top of that, there was very little actual Jive content. He tries to make jokes, but nothing can save it.
Judges’ Scores: 5+5+5+5=20
The audience boos, but quite frankly, even that score is kind of generous. And I did the research: Andy Dick and Billy Ray Cyrus are the only other stars to ever get a 5 in week 7. And for next week, Billy Ray, Nancy Grace and Niecy Nash are the only stars to ever get 6s or lower in week 8.
Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy: Viennese Waltz
They’re dancing to the theme song from Pretty Little Liars for a creepy dance where Val dies in the end. She enjoys it a little too much. The dance lives up to the hype. It’s slow, but in a good way, and supremely creepy and exciting. Not only does this appeal to the PLL fans, but it also works for people like me who don’t even watch it. Julianne didn’t think there was enough proper content for a Viennese Waltz. Seriously, what crawled up her butt and died? Bruno Tonioli thinks she needs to extend her arms more. The judges are all over the place with compliments and criticisms. Len agrees with Julianne that it wasn’t a Viennese Waltz.
Judges’ Scores: 8+7+8+8=31
What? Val sucks up to the judges about needing their comments to help him improve her dancing technique, but clearly it doesn’t work. He’s such a teacher’s pet, but they prefer the rebellious cool kid in school, Derek.
Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson: Rumba
They’re happy about being on top of the leaderboard, but still tired from their injuries. Even worse, during rehearsal, Witney twirls and knees Alfonso in the family jewels. This is just an absolutely beautiful dance. There are no frills or gimmicks, and it’s not groovy or funky like most of what they do, but it’s just stunning to watch. Carrie says that “the magic is happening” and the judges love how much proper Rumba content there was, which is just another way of insulting Val.
Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9+9=36
Come on, give them a 10. Alfonso then tells us that it’s his son’s first birthday and his wife is pregnant with another baby! Awwwwwww.
Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas: Paso Doble
Once again, the same people always seem to perform later in the show. This is the second time Sadie and Mark have been the last couple to dance, and the fourth time Sadie has been in the last two. Alfonso, Witney and Derek have also been among the last two to perform in four out of seven weeks. During rehearsals, Sadie was also filming for Duck Dynasty, and all of the cameras put pressure on Mark, which makes it hard for him to choreograph.
For the dance, Sadie is a little girl with a teddy bear who wanders into a cemetery and gets attacked by Mark the zombie. It’s really weird and distracting. Like with Derek, there’s too much going on and it doesn’t make much sense. The judges didn’t like it at all. The Paso was lost and Sadie wasn’t properly powerful for this style. Julianne defends her friend Mark by claiming that there was some content there.
Judges’ Scores: 7+7+8+8=30
Ouch, that’s very bad for them. This week is all about putting on a show and entertaining the audience vs. actually focusing on the dance technique.
Now it’s time for the two team dances, with last week’s top scores Alfonso and Bethany as the team captains. Coincidentally, they’re also the top two this week.
Team Itsy Bitsy
Bethany and Derek chose Janel, Lea and then Michael. Derek has never lost a team dance and Michael knows he’s the weakest link. Even worse, Michael missed one of the final rehearsals. It’s a sexy, hip-hip style spider dance. It’s good and well put together, but not particularly exciting. The Fox and the Spooky Bom Bom set the bar way too high last year.
Judges’ Scores: 9+9+9+9=36
That sounds about right.
Team Itsy Bitsy is…SAFE!
Yes, Michael lives another week, as do Janel, Lea and Bethany. Whew, I was nervous about Lea and Janel, so now it’s obviously between Tommy and Antonio.
Team Creep du Soleil
Alfonso picked Sadie, Antonio and then got stuck with Tommy as the last pick. They rehearsed individually a lot and are using The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which Sadie knows nothing about. I’m pretty sure that movie is illegal in her town.
It’s this totally surreal circus theme set to “Time Warp,” and it’s crazy in ways I love. It’s definitely more creative than Team Itsy Bitsy. It was a little out of sync, but individually it was fun, with Alfonso and Witney obviously stealing the show as mimes. Carrie Ann Inaba actually preferred it to the other dance since this was unique and embraced how wildly different they all are.
Judges’ Scores: 8+8+8+8=32
So Carrie Ann liked it better, but it still got a worse score. As always, Derek Hough wins.
Now it’s time to find out which member of Team Creepy is getting the axe.
Alfonso and Witney are…SAFE!
Sadie and Mark are…SAFE!
Antonio Sabato, Jr. and Cheryl Burke ARE ELIMINATED!
I’d much rather get rid of Michael, but I won’t be sad about Antonio leaving. But I continue to feel badly for Cheryl, who just can’t catch a break since winning seasons 2 and 3.
I also don’t like that Michael got 4 extra points for being on the right team, which could help him beat out Tommy next week. If Bethany had just picked Tommy over Michael, then Michael would be 12 points below the second-lowest score on the leaderboard instead of down by only 4.
Next week on DWTS: It’s Dynamic Duos Night, with dances inspired by Romeo and Juliet, Adam and Eve and Batman and Robin. Ugh, I have a feeling Michael is gonna be Batman and Emma will be his Robin.
75: Bethany Mota
70: Lea Thompson
68: Alfonso Ribeiro
67: Janel Parrish
62: Sadie Robertson
60: Tommy Chong
56: Michael Waltrip
(Image courtesy of ABC)