Previously on Dancing with the Stars – Party Anthem week sent NeNe Leakes home, and now we’re down to six couples.  Two gold medal ice dancers, Derek’s partner, a young dude who’s hooking up with his partner, and two former child stars.  Kind of the people you’d expect in the top six, frankly.

Hey, Tom Bergeron!  Actually, I’m running behind this week and would appreciate a freebie.  Do you mind?  Thanks man – it’s LIIIIIIIIIVVVVVE!!!!!  We open with a Mark Ballas musical performance because his debut single is dropping.  Honestly?  Not very good.  But, you know, hope it works out for him.  Abby Lee Miller of Dance Moms is the guest judge, and I really only know her from seeing clips on The Soup.  She does a bad job of answering Erin’s opening question, and I already feel like it’s going to be a long day.

Before we start dancing, Charlie White and Sharna Burgess are safe.  So there you go!  They’re first up!

Charlie White and Sharna Burgess (40/40) – Charlie’s mom stops by practice to cheer him up after some bad scores last week.  And that’s all of the rehearsal footage!  They’re dancing the Quickstep.  It’s nice, but it’s actually a little boring.  He’s not making mistakes or anything, but there’s no real showstopper moments for the longest time.  As they get closer to the end, the tempo picks up and it’s more fun to watch.  I think in general the Quickstep doesn’t allow a lot of room for huge moves, but it’s well done.

Len can’t decide whether or not this was special.  Dance Mom tries to drop some dance terminology, and Bruno corrects her.  Oh, this is going to fall apart.  Bruno compares him to a thoroughbred and the crowd goes wild.  Carrie Ann says that tonight is his lucky night.  They get a perfect 40.  Wow.

Danica McKellar and Val Chmerkovskiy (38/40) – They find out that they’re in jeopardy right before they dance.  In rehearsal, Val talks about how long Len has been judging him.  I assume it’s in a professional capacity and he didn’t just show up at Val’s school to criticize.  They’re dancing the Tango and it’s super theatrical.  The problem is that Val gets most of the big drama moves.  They do this cool jerky move while they’re in hold that looks like a mistake but clearly isn’t.  I feel like she’s not quite as good when they’re out of hold, though.  I like a good Tango – it was fun!

Dance Mom talks about The Wonder Years because they have unlimited time.  Bruno calls her “majestic and powerful”.  Carrie Ann compliments her artistry but she says it in a way that makes it sound like a “but…” is coming.  Len liked them better when they were in hold and says that part was terrific.  They get a 38.

Meryl Davis and Mak Chmerkovskiy (36/40) – They learn that they’re safe, so everything is cool, right?  Maks calls the story of their dance “convoluted” and “dysfunctional”.  Meryl calls him a teddy bear and that warrants a frown and then they talk about what great friends they are.  It’s actually really cute.  They’re dancing the Rumba, and it starts out with them sitting at a dinner table.  They throw plates and she slaps him.  It’s a pretty good opening, you have to give them that.  I like it a lot – they really do a good job of selling the story.  Maks does this thing where he seems distant while they’re in hold, and she seems… wounded?  I’m so much more focused on the storytelling than on the actual dance.

Bruno compares it to A Streetcar Named Desire, and all I can think of is the musical version from The Simpsons.  Carrie Ann loved the story and the way the energy flowed.  She thinks they’re a little short on the Rumba though.  Len liked the mood and feeling, even if he doesn’t usually go for the drama.  Dance Mom tries to be funny and you can tell the judges are already tired of her.  I can’t even listen to this.  The woman is just soaking up every iota of screen time with a sponge.  Maks tells Erin that he doesn’t care about anything Dance Mom has to say.  Wow.  They end up with a 36.

Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas (36/40) – They’re in jeopardy!  Mark is wearing his stupid hat in the rehearsal footage!  They compare Candace to a turtle on rollerblades, which is a funny image at least.  Candace talks to her kids and home in footage that is totally not staged.  That always seems creepy to me.  When kids show up at rehearsal, that’s adorable.  When cameras follow them home, that’s creepy.  They’re dancing the Foxtrot, and she starts out on a couch, watching TV.  Mark shows up and they fight over the remote.  Len is not going to like this.  It takes a long time for them to get away from the couch, too.  It’s cute but even I have my limits when it comes to prop work.  I think I’d like this a lot better if Meryl and Maks hadn’t just gone – they’re doing a similar thing but at a lower level.  That was a fight, this is a spat.  It suffers by comparison, at least in terms of entertainment.

Carrie Ann says she’s found her footing and talks about her journey, because suddenly this is The Bachelorette.  Len says it was joyful to watch despite some posture issues.  Dance Mom tries to be funny again and the audience turns on her.  Bruno loved it and calls her gorgeous.  The other judges just can not ignore Dance Mom hard enough.  Why not bring in some of the pros?  Anna Trebunskaya is in the audience tonight – give her a paddle!  They score a 36.

James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd (36/40) – They are in jeopardy!  The guys from Big Time Rush visit rehearsal, and I don’t know if that’s the name of a band or a TV show or something else altogether.  I’m not going to look it up, either.  They’re dancing the Viennese Waltz, and it’s lovely.  After the prop work of the last couple of dances, it’s jarring to just have a straight dance without a one-act play.  There’s not much to say about it, but it’s really good.  Those two just look good dancing together, you know.

Len says he’s a fan, but James needs to straighten his legs in hold.  Constructive criticism!  Dance Mom uses the phrase “man dancer” and complicates James for how well Peta did.  Bruno loves their chemistry and compliments their flow.  Then he offers to help James control his buttocks.  I’m not picking the low-hanging fruit.  Carrie Ann agrees about the legs and also picks on a lift.  They get a 36.

Amy Purdy and Derek Hough (40/40) – They’re safe!  Also, Amy is back after her weird back injury last week.  It’s crazy because it seems to just pop when she and Derek are walking to the stairs, and she’s clearly in great pain.  Derek brings another dancer to rehearsal so Amy can watch the choreography and learn that way.  Like when I took a ballroom dancing class in college and then broke my foot!  Have I ever talked about my ballroom dance class?  I got a B!  Anyway, these two are dancing the Argentine Tango.  The outfit she’s wearing shows off her prosthetics in a way that they usually don’t, and it’s amazing.  There’s a very cool section where she’s on a stool and doing all of her dancing with her arms.  I love this one  It feels kind of small and contained – they can’t cover more than a few square feet of the floor.  It’s a neat gimmick, and I approve.

Dance Mom compliments Derek because, again, they have unlimited time available.  Bruno calls it “spellbinding”.  Carrie Ann says that after 18 seasons, this dance really had her excited again.  Len calls it terrific and stunning.  It’s a 40.

And now it’s time to mix things up!  They’re doing Dance Duos which means two pairs will dance at the same time.  The Chmerkovskiy boys and their partners are on group, and things get heated between the girls and the boys.  Meryl complains about their teaching style, and Meryl calls him “condescending”.  Then the Chmerkovskiy grandmother shows up, and she is adorable.

Meryl/Maks Danica/Val (34/40) – Both couples are dancing the Samba, and they’re doing the same choreogrphy.  The two women solo together  and it’s actually all quite good but it’s very hard to compare the two couples when there are so many moving parts on the screen.  Len says it was fabulous.  Dance Mom complains about their arms and Val tells her that she’s wrong, to wild applause.  Also, she’s mad that they didn’t wear heels.  Bruno liked the content but points out where they lost sync.  Carrie Ann goes on about their sync, also.  There seems to be some confusion as to whether these are Dance Duos, Dance Duals, or Dance Duels.  Everybody seems to think something different, and I’m lost.  Tom talks to the grandmother, who won’t pick her favorite.  They get a 34.  OK, they’re scored as a group and not against one another.  This was not explained well!

Candace/Mark Charlie/Sharna (38/40) – They’re doing a Contemporary dance, and because we have a male star and a female star, they have a routine together rather than what Meryl and Danica did with just keeping in step with one another.  Contemporary always looks silly to me, but it’s fun.  Charlie keeps Candace in a lift the whole time, and there’s a moment where it looks like it could go horribly wrong, but they save it.  It’s all very striking, but the style just doesn’t land with me.  Dance Mom asks about one night stands.  Even Bruno looks grossed out.  He says it was brilliant.  Carrie Ann calls it spectacular and notes that Charlie dropped Sharna at one point.  Len saw that too, but still really liked it.  They get a 38.

Amy/Derek James/Peta (39/40) – It’s a Jive.  Sigh.  Amy and James take a bad fall in rehearsal, but they seem to be OK despite her back problem.  But by the end of rehearsal, she’s feeling it and worried about holding the other pair back.  Their sync is off at the beginning, especially with regards to Amy and Peta’s head movements.  The Amy/James solo is fine, but there’s nothing really special about it.  That’s just a fact of Jive, though.  By the end, the sync is kind of amazing, though.  Bruno calls it extraordinary.  Carrie Ann loved the partner switch.  Len said it was everything he wanted to see.  Dance Mom… oh, nobody cares.  They get a 39.

All right, it’s time for the elimination.  We’ve got three couples in jeopardy – who’s going home?  Not Candace and Mark, because they’re safe!  It’s either James and Peta or Danica and Val.  It is… Danica and Val.  I’m actually glad, because it looked like Peta was ready to throw up on camera if it didn’t go her way.  Danica takes it well, so everything is cool.  At this point, it’s clearly going to be Meryl, Charlie, or Amy, and I think Danica knows it.

What kind of crazy twist or inappropriate judge will they throw at us next week?  Maybe Maks and Val’s grandma?  That would be fantastic.

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One Response to Dancing with the Stars Season 18, Week 8 – Dance Duos/Duals/Duels

  1. myndi` says:

    You realize by using the phrase “low hanging fruit”, you kinda did grab it, right? 😉

    Val & Maks’ grandma would be so much better than Abby Lee. Did you see her go for a high five with Bruno after Candace & Charlie’s duel and him kind of her a “Seriously?” side eye? It was amazing.

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