Dancing with the Stars RECAP: This Is What Happens When You Give America What It Wants (S19:W9)
It’s America’s Choice week on Dancing With the Has-Beens! That means that certain over-invested fans have tweeted in with W-A-A-A-A-Y too much input on the style of dances each pair will perform, the songs they will be dancing to, and even their hairstyles. Perhaps, given that the peanut gallery got to dictate everything else that happened this week, it’s fitting that this episode ends with a “SHOCKING!” elimination. And by “SHOCKING!” we mean Not Tommy Chong. Sweetly Stoned Grandpa, limping slowly and patiently along with a knee injury, has somehow become America’s Choice.
I should probably be much more offended by that result than I am.
Tom Bergeron opens the night by declaring Tommy Chong and his partner Peta safe. Peta promptly faints. No, really, she falls on the floor, and Mark Ballas has to lift her back up again. The rest of the cast, all now in danger because of this stunning result, react by running over to Tommy with a glittering array of toothy grins and bear hugs. Hey, if they think this is cool, and they are the ones paying for it, how upset can we be sitting on our duffs at home? I called it early—he would dance stoned (OK, not stoned after all) and last forever.
Erin calls for oxygen for Peta. While she’s being resuscitated, Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney inform us that America has asked them to perform the Foxtrot to “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” by Robbie Williams. Other tweets ask for black tie and tails. Alfonso actually takes it to the streets, asking people in the market what moves they like best… and what follows is the result. Possibly he should be grateful they didn’t ask him just to do the Carlton Dance, all day, every day. That’s how he got his nagging groin injury!
Black tie and tails—check! Robbie Williams—check! Foxtrot—check! And it’s fabulous. Even Len Goodman is smiling.
Len: That’s the way to kick off the quarter-finals, I’m telling you!
Julianne: You were elegant, you were tall, you were vibrant, you were everything!
Bruno: Alfonso Astaire and the Blonde Bombshell!
Carrie Ann: It was so smooth that it was almost effortless, and I wanted you to grab me and pull me in.
The audience boos as Carrie Ann criticizes Alfonso for being too smooth and effortless, and Len (the head judge) breaks in to inform the audience that the dance had quite enough razzamatazz. So basically, STFU, Carrie Ann. You are just making shit up now. That invested in the Janel/Val Showmance, are you?
Judges’ score: 37. Bruno gave them the ten.
Tom Bergeron reminds us that Tommy Chong had the lowest judges’ score last week among those who survived, and yet he is still safe. Then they show us a clip where he tells Peta, immediately after his Paso Double last week, that his leg has given out. Then we get to watch him get an MRI, with in-depth X-ray coverage of a broken cyst behind his knee. I get the distinct idea that the producers are telling the audience, “ENOUGH ALREADY!!! SEND HIM HOME TO HEAL!!!!!!” The Twitterverse isn’t all that helpful; apparently, Tommy Chong should ride out naked on a unicorn. With puppies.
They settle for doing something I’ve been dying to see Tommy try all season—a gentle dance in hold, suitable for graceful old people: the Viennese Waltz. The song is “Trouble,” but they don’t have that much. Freed from the onus of fast footwork, Tommy manages to glide around elegantly with no obvious mistakes. He doesn’t have any razzamatazz, but it’s all very nice, and maybe slightly boring.
Julianne: America is here to support you, and that was a proper Viennese Waltz.
Bruno: I totally understand why the Tommy Chong Club got you into the semifinals. You are so watchable. There were a few creaky moments.
Carrie Ann: You truly teach us that less is more. Yes, I am trying to get my head around the idea that people keep voting for you.
Len: You are 76 years old. You got through to the semifinals. You are my hero. America, we gave him all the love and praise he’s truly earned. You may let him go home with dignity now before he hurts himself again trying to keep you happy.
In the skybox, Michael Waltrip—who WILL NOT GO AWAY!—is hugging the mirrorball trophy and mugging for the cameras. Erin shows Peta the footage of her fainting again. Peta admits that she thought Tommy would be gone in Week Two. Tommy dedicates his success to his wife, Shelby. Still trying to charm for votes!
Judges’ score: 29. Len gave them the eight. Apparently old geezers stick together.
Lea Thompson and Artem had some inane comments from the peanut gallery, too, some almost too obvious to be worth repeating. They should be animals. Lea should be a cougar. Yawn. Then, Lea argues with Artem over the choreography. That bodes well.
They dance the Samba to “Animals.” Lea’s not a cougar—she’s a tiger. Apparently, Artem is the tiger tamer. It’s competent, and they are both trying desperately hard to sell the sex appeal, but seems a bit slow and lackluster. Maybe all that arguing didn’t agree with either of them.
Bruno: Meeeee-ow! I thought I saw a pussycat!
Carrie Ann: I think your confidence is back.
Len: I thought that was terrific. You put the “sin” in “syncopation!”
Julianne: That costume looks familiar.
Judges’ score: 34
Of all the people in this cast required to make all of her crucial decisions based on comments in social media, who do you think would be most enthusiastic? Easy answer: #I’mBethanyMotaandsocialmediaismywholelife! This chick wouldn’t HAVE a career—or be called any kind of celebrity—without it. So of course, the first thing she does is drag Derek on her YouTube channel with her and get the scoop from all those brainless little kiddies who made her famous-ish in the first place! She corrals an entire staff to help her sort through all the comments, and they come up with this result: They should use the Viennese Waltz as a platform to explore the story of a couple trying to save their relationship. And of course, this also gives Bethany another opportunity to launch into a teenage sob story about a guy that didn’t want to be her boyfriend. #Lovestinks! (Yeah, we know, Bethany.) Somewhere, he’s either hiding under the couch or screaming at the TV, “No, I didn’t want to make out with you, you crazy bitch! Aren’t you over it YET?!”
So they hit the floor in dazzling white outfits, dancing some intricate choreography rather beautifully as a well synced duo, right up to the end when she suddenly grabs him in a desperate, clingy embrace, and I don’t entirely get what caused this sudden shift in tone. The lyrics of the song really tell the story more than Derek’s choreography does.
Carrie Ann: I felt like you threw yourself completely into the dance.
Len: I wasn’t totally transported to old Vienna, but it was close.
Julianne: That story right there, it connected for me.
Bruno: Lyrical, fluid, flowing, honestly emotive.
Judges’ score: 36
America got to dress Sadie Robertson this week, so if Duck Dynasty Daddy doesn’t like it, Duck Dynasty Daddy can shoot America instead of Mark. As we watch them rehearse, I’m trying to figure out what words Sweet Miss Purity Ring has on her T-shirt that the producers found necessary to blur out. All the people in this cast and it’s SADIE ROBERTSON whose T-shirt got censored? REALLY?! Also, Mark got rid of all the props and special effects. Len’s getting to you, Mark.
Sadie and Mark are dancing a lively, joyful Jive to “Turnaround,” and the number on Mark’s back apparently indicates that they are playing contestants in a dance competition. Unfortunately, Sadie’s a half beat off the entire time. If America suggested that Mark wear that God-awful shirt and bowtie, then Duck Dynasty Daddy is welcome to get out his shotgun now. America, you asked for it!
Len: No stressing, no messing!
Julianne: It wasn’t my favorite dance, but you have one more coming up. (America boos.)
Bruno: Credit and respect for even attempting such a difficult Jive!
Carrie Ann: In this dance you were very exposed (keep the safety on that trigger, Duck Dynasty Daddy!)
Judges’ score: 33
America asked Pretty Little Janel Parrish and her pro Val to kiss. Of course they did. Excuse me while I go vomit. God, America, what do you expect them to do for their (likely) final Freestyle? They also have the Quickstep—a fast, lively dance with intricate footwork, which lends itself oh-so-well to languid make-out sessions to satisfy the voyeurs in the audience. Oh, look, America, you made Janel cry! (Snivel, sniffle, “The quickstep is really hard.”)
No crying on the dance floor, though. After a simulated “lovers’ quarrel” in the aisles, Janel and Val hit the main floor running, all smiles, feet in a flurry of very fast moves, and yes, it ends with him dipping her into that damned kiss everybody demanded… And then he dumps her on the floor.
Julianne: That is what a Quickstep is.
Bruno: It was (almost) flawless. (Val tripped on his shoes.)
Carrie Ann: Best performance of the night.
Len: Three things in Quickstep—hold, posture, movement. You had ’em all, sweetheart.
Judges’ score: 38
Shall we have the rest of the results now? Oh, no. Over half the original cast is gone, but they’ve still got forty minutes to kill, so now they are going to throw in a lot of filler; this week, it’s “trio dances.” Mind you, as Mark Ballas points out, ballroom is not designed for dances with three people, so this whole next section is likely to give Len a heart attack. Was this America’s idea, too?
For their three-person Paso Double, Alfonso and Witney add Witney’s BFF Lindsay Arnold, a troupe dancer who does not normally get to shine as an individual on this stage. Alfonso is suddenly very, very aware that he’s older than the two of them combined as they break into a bunch of adolescent antics during practice. Once they hit the stage, though, it’s basically dynamite. This, not Janel and Val’s forced make-out session, is really the best dance of the night—dark, powerful, arresting and very innovative.
Len Goodman cannot be heard for all the cheers in the dance hall. Somehow, he manages to get out “I was a huge fan of that Paso Double!”
Julianne: NAILED IT!
Bruno: Who’s the man???!!! It was like a galactic ring master, chasing the space vixens!
Carrie Ann: DAY-UM!
Judges’ score: 40
Damn right. Alfonso and Witney have 77 for the night.
Tommy and Peta have called in Sharna Burgess to help out with a three-person Samba. They’ve put Mr. Chong on an airplane, and he spends most of the dance sitting down, gawking lewdly at his two pretty stewardesses. Welcome to Chong Airways, and thank you for flying high!
What follows is quite obviously intended as a novelty number for a guy who assumes he’s going to lose tonight (he admitted that at the start of the show) and just wants to be funny before he goes. The dancing is joyfully terrible, with very little footwork for Tommy—and hilariously entertaining. Oh, yeah. We forgot. That elegant old geezer is a Grammy-award winning comedian with a raunchy sense of humor, and this was intended to be his swan song… er, dance. He gave us his Freestyle two weeks early.
So, whatya gonna do for an encore, Tommy? The judges just don’t even know what to make of this. They ask for a Samba and he gives them dirty sketch comedy!
Julianne: (Is laughing too hard to comment.) I don’t even know what to say!
Bruno: (Laughs until he chokes.) You look like the guy who INVENTED the mile-high club!
Carrie Ann: (giggling) That was good entertainment!
Len: I’m flying back to London after the show tonight, and I’m changing my ticket to Chong Air!
Judges’ score: 28
I’ve never seen so many 7s from a panel of judges shaking with laughter as tears ran down their faces in my life. I’d say he got three points apiece from the humor alone, because he didn’t really dance. Total score: 57.
Lea and Artem, of course, are in a terrible spot now. They’ve got to follow a technically dazzling Paso and a ribald, hysteric and joyfully terrible Samba, and they are going to be unremarkable next to each. Their third wheel is troupe dancer Henry Byalikov. They go on and on about being a Hottie Sandwich, but Tommy and his stewardesses have already stolen their thunder on that one.
And Alfonso’s stolen her thunder on being the powerful person in the middle of a black-clad, three-person Paso Double. They are dancing to “Black Betty”; the storyline suggests that Lea is angrily taming these two scantily clad men, but that’s a story we JUST saw two dances ago. It’s just a gender switch, and the choreography is not as interesting.
Bruno: I think, honey, you’ve had enough prime beef to last you a lifetime.
Carrie Ann: You killed it!
Len: They made you the focal point of the routine. It held the flavor of Paso Double.
Julianne: I love a woman who does a Paso with men flocking.
Judges’ score: 36.
They have 70 for the night.
Derek calls in Tony Dovolani, his old babysitter, to help Bethany work out the Argentine Tango as a threesome. Derek promptly hurts his back in rehearsal, so the old guy gets to do all Bethany’s lifts. Most of the package is about Derek writhing in pain. Once on stage, these three get animalistic in brown leather going “Into the Jungle,” and the two men end by catching their prey and lifting her over their heads as the lights go blood-red.
Carrie Ann: That was so dynamic and so powerful!
Len: You three are the chairmen, I tell you! (There was a stack of wooden chairs in the background.)
Julianne: Who are you? Fierce! Fierce!
Bruno: If Mad Max had choreographed an Argentine Tango, this is what it would have looked like.
Judges’ score: 38
Total score for the night is 74.
Usually, when they do these trios, they have two pros of the same gender dance with a celebrity who is the opposite gender, so that the celebrity is not very obviously shown up by a pro doing the same moves she does, only better. However, when Mark Ballas discovers that he doesn’t get to work with Henry Byalikov because Artem got there first, he throws a little hissy fit and says he won’t work with any other guy. Sadie is put in the very difficult position of having to been shown up by a pro—Emma Slater. This is also the show’s first three-person Foxtrot. In the actual dance, we watch the story of how Sadie steals Mark away from Emma during changeovers in a society ball. Sadie also manages to steal focus by wearing an all-white gown; Emma’s skirt and Mark’s entire tux are black. Some of the complicated transitions in and out of hold between the two girls look really difficult. Sadie admits she forgot some steps.
Len: That is the best trio of the night!
Julianne: “Do you not feel like a million bucks? Because you did everything perfect.”
Bruno: Movie star stunning!
Carrie Ann: (They finally ran out of time and had to cut somebody.)
Judges’ final score: 40
Score for the night: 73
Remember Keo, the poor guy who got saddled with that awful Lolo chick back at the very beginning of the season? Brand new to the squad, their first Black pro ever? One dance with Miss Bitchface Stiff, and he was done. She bitched about it on social media for a week, and Keo faded quietly back into the troupe. Well, Janel and Val have decided he deserves better than that, so he joins them on their trio Salsa. They spend some time throwing Janel in the air and making her scream, then declare themselves ready. Janel is their Queen of Color. By the time they’ve got her upside-down with her legs spread, I’m convinced it’s a tribal fertility dance and this whole “threesome” thing is about to take on its most frequently used connotation.
Julianne: That was so fun to watch!
Bruno: Janel, Season 19 Jungle Queen!
Carrie Ann: You’re a superstar.
Len: It was a fantastic number. I would have liked a little more Salsa content.
Judges’ score: 39
Total of 77 for the night.
Tom Bergeron reminds us that the lowest-scoring couple of the night, Tommy and Peta, are safe. He says that means that one of the high-scoring couples must go home instead. Because somebody keeps voting for the low-scoring people. You see, audience, when a couple is low-scoring, that means they aren’t as good. So you shouldn’t vote for them. But somebody was voting for the low-scoring people, so Tommy’s going to the semi-finals. That means somebody else doesn’t get to go to the semi-finals. Even though they danced better. They danced better last week, and they danced better this week. But that person is going home. Are you getting all this down, America? Are you going to make the same mistake next week? Because if you do, we might have to hurt somebody. Because this week, you hurt somebody—somebody who danced really well and lost anyway. Even though they weren’t the worst. Because that would be Tommy and Peta. Just want to make sure you are listening, America. Got it? Loud and clear? DON’T DO THAT AGAIN.
Oh, shut up, Tom. Lecture me one more time and I’ll be power-voting Chong just to piss you off. By the way, who really did get voted off instead?
Oh, yeah. It was Lea Thompson. She’s going Back… To Obscurity!