All About That Bass
The judges work hard to level the playing field by praising last week's flops and critiquing last week's frontrunners.
This week's theme is "My Jam," and each celebrity allegedly got to pick his or her song. Overall, it's a week of adjusting expectations. It seems that the frontrunners from last week got tempered comments from the judges, and the bottom-dwellers got lots of praise. Here are my rankings:
12. Michael Waltrip and Emma: Samba
When Michael Waltrip comes out, I sincerely think he's Fred Willard. I'm not sure what that says about his demeanor and overall look. Anyway, his samba doesn't have any samba in it, even if he's having fun out there (mostly because he gets to dance with three ladies at once). More rehearsal might help; he seems a bit lost for much of the routine. The judges do that thing where they try to find nice things to say when there isn't much nice to say. Score: 24/30
11. Tommy Chong and Peta: Salsa
I'm so torn on this routine. There are parts where I'm like, "Whoa, that was...not bad," and then there are parts where I'm like, "Whoa. That was...not good." He's got terrible posture, but his footwork is on point, and he seems to be having a great time out there. There's no hip action at all, but he has a great sense of rhythm. The judges emphasize how he dances like a younger man. Score: 28/40.
10. Tavis Smiley and Charna: Cha cha
Tavis is all decked out in his finest '70s gear, and his routine is not the worst we've seen tonight, but he needs to show some joy. I mean, he's wearing an Afro wig and polyester and dancing to "Boogie Wonderland." Would it kill him to crack a smile? He's so serious! The judges think Tavis needs to concentrate on the details of his dance, and wonder if his time crunch this week while on book tour contributed to his performance. Score: 28/40.
9. Antonio Sabato Jr and Cheryl: Rumba
Strangely for a guy who made his fortune smoldering on soap operas, Antonio doesn’t really bring the sex appeal for me in this routine. And usually Cheryl can pull it out of anyone, but the rumba is supposed to be all about sex, and this routine leaves me cold until the very end. The judges disagree with me, and seem to think it is fantastic. Score: 31/40.
8. Randy Couture and Karina: Cha cha
Randy is one of those guys who THINKS he has a great sense of rhythm, but in reality, he's slightly below average. He's putting it all out there with hip thrusts and rolls, but he's just a little bit off. While he says in his roll-in package that he enjoys the Latin dances more, I think he's better at ballroom. The judges think that he was fun, but that he needs to work on his technique. Score: 28/40.
7. Betsey Johnson and Tony: Foxtrot
Betsey looks much better and more focused this week, although it would be hard for her to have looked worse. Her foxtrot is graceful and light. She flubs a few steps, but nothing major, and I'm smiling while watching it instead of cringing. Well, I'm cringing over the band's singer murdering "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," but the dancing is fine. The judges are delighted by her turnaround, and Betsey gives all the credit to Tony. Score: 28/40.
6. Jonathan Bennett and Allison: Cha cha
Allison needs to give Jonathan more to do. The parts where he actually dances in this routine are really good, but mostly it seems like he just serves as a frame for her. Maybe she's the female Mark Ballas? As a new pro, it must be difficult to figure out how to choreograph to feature ONLY your partner and not yourself. Anyway, what we see was good, but I wanted to see more of it. The judges call them out on the lack of content, which is really Allison's fault, not Jonathan's. Score: 30/40.
5. Sadie Robertson and Mark: Jazz
There's a whole bit in her roll-in package about how her dad has to approve her costumes and he thinks they're all too skimpy and can we just talk about how gross that trope is? It completely removes her agency as a woman, and implies that if she were to own her sexuality by dancing in a provocative way, he would reject her and consider her a whore. I think I'm going to secretly send Sadie a recording of some Beyoncé performances so that she can have a role model who can be fierce and sexy while also being smart and strong. Anyway, as for her actual dance, it's very age-appropriate, although I don't know if her father would approve of those grinding hips. She's a good dancer! I just wish we didn't have to have all of the patriarchal bullshit along with it. My one qualm is the same one I sometimes had with Zendaya: she's got long arms and legs and sometimes looks a bit awkward. The judges have mixed reactions. Score: 31/40.
4. Janel Parrish and Val: Foxtrot
Janel's jam is "Call Me Maybe." Is that a jam, really? I feel like that doesn't meet the definition of "jam." Earworm, sure. Pop confection, absolutely. But "jam"? That song is not a jam. Anyway, her dance is light and fun, but could use a little more grace and flow to be a foxtrot. Julianne points out that her turns are wobbly, which even I notice. Bruno counters that the chorography was so fast, it's a wonder that she didn't fall over. I liked last week's routine better, and the judges' praise this week feels like an overcorrection from last week's low marks. Score: 34/40.
3. Lea Thompson and Artem: Jive
Lea's confidence was shaken by being in jeopardy last week but she really gives everything to her jive. She looks two decades younger than her actual age, both in her movements and her physical form. She doesn't quite kick and flick as sharply as I would like, but there is a ton of footwork in this routine, and she nails almost all of it. The judges have nothing but praise. Score: 35/40.
2. Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney: Samba
Their roll-in package is designed to make us believe that Alfonso struggled with this dance, probably because people were crying ringer last week. The routine is pretty good, although not perfect. I think Alfonso is trying to take steps that are too large. He's got short legs, it's fine. He doesn't have to travel across the entire floor with every pass if it's going to make him look awkward. The judges manage to find some flaws in the routine as well, and Alfonso vows to listen to the judges and his partner more. Score: 32/40.
1. Bethany Moto and Derek: Foxtrot
Bethany's battling an ankle injury and yet she looks way better this week. Her posture and technique during the segments while in hold are nearly flawless. She does much better in hold than when dancing alone; dancing solo, she tends to bounce like a toddler instead of shaking it like a grown woman. The judges are thrilled, and Len says it's his favorite dance of the night. I don't disagree. Score: 33/40.
My bet for which star will leave: Michael Waltrip.