Monday, November 21, 2016

DWTS Season 23, Week 8: Halloween Scares Up Some Great Dances

Halloween is always a special time at Dancing with the Stars. Usually it involves a team dance (last week). But it's always a PARTY.

Someone tell Erin Andrews she needs a Bunny tail...
First on the Halloween docket, we are sitting at the table with Beetlejuice.

Terra and Sasha are my favorite couple this season. I love them. I love everything they do. They kicked this thing off good with this Beetlejuice cha cha, even if the judges scored them lower than they should have.

The couple that I think is going to win this had a magical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory homage next. Val has always taken a brotherly attitude toward his partners who are in their teens. His relationship with Laurie Hernandez seems to be really special, nowhere noticed more than this Viennese waltz. Rehearsals evoked tears from Val (not a common occurrence).

One minor point: Charlie enters the Chocolate Factory by possessing a golden ticket (not a KEY)...

I think there's something about the childlike wonder of this dance that gets to Val, but after the dance, he again tears up. It's so sweet.

This episode also has (not clearly explained) an immunity for whoever gets the best score (they cannot be voted out). Val and Laurie get a perfect 30 from the judges. More tears backstage.

Marilu and Derek... Wow. She struggles so much, but yet... this combo just doesn't gel the way others have. I still think she's overthinking her dances, or something. "Sweet Dreams" is not a dance that one should mess up. However, they did not get a perfect score.

Calvin and Lindsay, one of my favorite couples, were a lot of fun in this Skeleton-themed quickstep. They dance to "Mr. Bones," that Julianne calls "MegaBones" now. It was great fun. And it also garnered a perfect score from the judges.

First, huge props to costumes and hair for this whole Halloween extravaganza, but wow! Cheryl's costume was just stunning. She went hardcore on Ryan Lochte this week with their tango, so he did seem better, but like Marilu and Derek, they just don't seem to have much fire as a couple.

Jana and Gleb did Gleb's first ever jazz routine to "Little Shop of Horrors," however, as Bruno said, "Where's the plant?" First we have Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with no golden ticket, then we have LSOH without the plant? WTF? If you're going to open up these worlds, know what makes them what they are. Sheesh.

Then, we had this...

Our wonderful and lovely Sharna hurt her knee in last week's Team dance rehearsal, so this week, Jenna is dancing in her place. James and Jenna do a stunning Viennese waltz to "You Don't Own Me" with James as the Joker. Quite wonderful. Costumes are great, choreography is amazing. And although I wish Sharna was dancing, I was so bummed about Jenna leaving this season so soon, so this is a nice bit for her (and us).

No surprise it gets a perfect score.

So, to recap: we have THREE perfect scores of the seven dances (Val and Laurie, Lindsay and Calvin, and James and Jenna). The immunity winner is taken from whoever had the highest judges' scores all season. Which turns out to be James and Jenna! YAY!

The nicest part about this is that neither Sharna nor Jenna had to dance the "Dance Off" since they had immunity. BTW, I hate these stupid dance-offs.

Another thing I hate about these dance-offs is that they trumpet that "America will be voting live," when really it's just the East Coast. By the time the West Coast sees it, the votes have already been counted. So UNFAIR.

So, I'll just go through this quick. Val & Laurie compete in jive against Megatron & Lindsay. Val & Laurie win.

Jana & Gleb against Terra & Sasha in salsa. Jana & Gleb win.

Marilu & Derek against Cheryl & Ryan in cha cha. Cheryl & Ryan win.

Winning couples get an extra 3 points. Immunity couple got an extra 5 points.

1. James and Jenna (and Sharna) (Viennese waltz)
2. Laurie and Val (Viennese waltz)
3. Terra and Sasha (cha cha)
4. Calvin and Lindsay (quickstep)
5. Ryan and Cheryl (tango)

1. Jana and Gleb
2. Marilu and Derek

Cheryl and Ryan end up being the booted couple this week. :-(

Next week: Showstoppers Week


Sunday, November 13, 2016

DWTS, Season 23, Week 7: Eras Night, Not a Dance Competition, Just a TV Show

It's "Eras Night" on Dancing with the Stars. Every star takes an era and does a dance. Fun times.

First up, Laurie and Val with the '60s. This isn't the counter-culture hippie rebel '60s, but the sickly sweet prom version of the '60s. Sixteen-year-old Laurie has never been to prom, since she's home schooled. Lucky girl. She gets to go to prom for the first time with Valentin Chmerkovskiy. She gets her first corsage from him. *swoon* We'll just skip over the fact that in the '60s, the black kids wouldn't have been dancing so easily with the white kids. Maybe it was a really cool high school. In the late '60s... Also, in their scenario, she asks him to dance. He would've asked her. Maybe this is the '60s, the way we wish they were...

In any case, Laurie and Val do a swinging quickstep (to "One Fine Day") that is loads of fun to kick off the show. Len is back! Yay! Carrie Ann gets on their case for doing two lifts in a quickstep. Val counters with: "It was the '60s, a time of rebellion."

First, I have to commend the hairstyling staff for their amazing '90s hair on Ryan.

Then, we have to talk about this '90s rumba. Ugh. I find him so unsexy. Cheryl Burke's dancing is always stunning, but there is such a lack of chemistry between them. This rumba was yawn-worthy.

However, Len says he's giving them an extra point because they didn't have lots of hooha going on (other dancers, big sets, flashy nonsense), it was just them and the dance. Which is Len's preference.

Marilu and Derek are another couple (like Cheryl and Ryan) who just haven't seemed to gel as partners. This week they do a '20s Charleston. It was OK, but it didn't do much for me. Julianne tries to make it all better by saying, "Well, you ARE the oldest person in our competition." Thanks, Julianne! :-/

They also had this disconcerting thing in this dance, which they've had in other dances this season when they have tap dance, namely that the sound effects indicate that there are taps happening that aren't really being created by the person doing the tapping. Very annoying.

Love Lindsay and Calvin. They have a real connection as partners. They danced a '50s jive to "Good Golly Miss Molly." (Can't go wrong with that one.) They are just fun to watch, and dance well. Very refreshing to see them.

Right before commercial, they had a bit with Artem (in his '80s gear, next to Maureen) pulling out a brick phone and making a call on it. Makes me laugh every time I see it.

First of all, Maureen McCormick is the sweet Brady Bunch chick. We're not used to her being harsh. And Artem? Looks totally different, though really hot. I loved this '80s tango. They danced to "You Give Love (A Bad Name)" by Bon Jovi.

There was an issue with someone slipping on the long skirt... really these skirts should be shorter so people don't have these problems...

Terra and Sasha! Man, I LOVE THESE TWO. Tearing up the dance floor with a '30s foxtrot.

Len comments, "You put the ALL in SMALL!" and commends Sasha for "doing a fantastic job." Indeed so. They are, by far, my favorite couple all season. And this is the season Sasha became a star, rather than just the crab.

The way he crafts each dance for Terra (this, "Cheek to Cheek," which Terra calls "Cheek to Chest"), the way he dances around her, it's just magic. Bruno calls Terra, "a mini Jean Harlow." Their connection works like no other couple this season. This foxtrot was so great.

They were at the bottom of the leader board this week. So glad they didn't go home. I know I used all my calls for them.

I have very little patience for this couple. Every season there is one star and/or pro whose ego is just off the charts. This season, that couple is Jana and Gleb. (Now that Amber and Maks are gone.) You will note that this dance, a '70s samba, includes other dancers, and WASHING MACHINES (what?), and clothes flung about here and there.

They are dancing to that "Get Down Tonight" song ("do a little dance, make a little love")...

Carrie Ann pointedly reminds Gleb that there are no lifts in samba. Even for "creative reasons."

Len starts by saying that there wasn't enough samba content.

PRO TIP: When Len starts in on you (as a pro) about how there isn't enough of whatever content in your dance, the proper response is: "Thanks, Len! We'll do that next time."

Oh, but no. Gleb does not do this. He escalates this almost to a Maks-level of insolence with Len. In his interview afterward with Erin, here is his comment: "It's not a dance competition, it's a TV show."

The look on Erin's face as he said that. Ahem.

Yeah, excuse me, Gleb, but it IS a dance competition. Ruled by Len. If you don't bend to his rules, YOU DON'T WIN. That's how this works. Gleb is very lucky that this season Len is away most of the time judging in England. But rest assured, if Gleb doesn't do what Len says, he won't win. (Actually, I hope they don't win anyway.)

This couple, on the other hand...

Sharna just presents a whole world here in this '40s jitterbug. The choreography was stunning; the characterizations, which James does amazingly, are stunning. There's a story here, and packed with content.

Although Len also said that there wasn't enough jitterbug, and was too much jive, to which Sharna nodded sheepishly.

But they did score better than Jana and Gleb...

And, for that, I am glad.

1. James and Sharna ('40s jitterbug)
2. Terra and Sasha ('30s foxtrot)
3. Laurie and Val ('60s quickstep)
4. Calvin and Lindsay ('50 jive)
5. Maureen and Artem ('80s tango)

Now, to the Team Dances. First, it's very odd to have the Team Dance night fall on a night that isn't Halloween. Very strange. Also, two precedents that need to be brought up: Derek's team always wins, and the person going home is usually on the losing team.

This was Team Past, dancing a Viennese waltz to a Scottish brogue or something.

Here's how the Team dance thing goes (usually). The ensemble dances together, then each couple breaks off and does a bit by themselves, then the ensemble gets together again. In all they are judged for cohesiveness, and how well they are in time with the others, and in their individual pieces, how well those reflect each couple's personality. This is what scores big numbers with the judges.

So mind you, on Team Past, you have two powerhouses of choreography (Sharna and Lindsay). It is a beautifully executed piece.

Len notes that it was "very brave to go for a Viennese waltz... This was a proper Team dance."

They score two tens, for a total of 38.

Team Future also has two powerhouse choreographers (Derek and Val). It also has the regular winner of the Team Dances (Derek). Plus, Sasha and Terra. Lots of elements here to win this.

Why did this dance fall apart? "Laurie's traveling... Jana's traveling..." (could be?)

Several of the judges mention the lack of synchronicity among the dance members.

They get 35. Derek's team loses.

And who goes home? Someone from the WINNING team.

Sad. It was fun watching you, Maureen. And at least we got to see Artem as an '80s rocker.

1. Jana and Gleb
2. Ryan and Cheryl
3. Marilu and Derek