Tonight's an abbreviated show due to the presidential debate. Four couples will do their individual routines, and the other four couples will dance their group routine.
Tomorrow, they switch.
It's "Guilty Pleasures" night -- which, don't get me started. You like what you like and that's ok. Unless it's illegal. In which case, darn tootin' you should feel guilty.
Tom tells us the freestyle team dance has already claimed one victim; the camera pans to to Melissa and Tony. (Psst, I read online that she was taken to the hospital with a head injury over the weekend.) Details later in the show.
Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy: Samba
As Tom introduces them, they make the goofiest faces and it's terribly endearing.
Kelly is feeling fatigued -- wait til the end of the season, if you make it that far; it's twice as long as it was when you were on the first time. This song, by Cher Lloyd, is pretty terrible. There's something just a tiny bit off about this, and it may be the song and the "rock" aesthetic they went for in the costuming. I'm used to sambas being, I dunno, tropical?
Len felt it was a little long-winded at the start. There were elements he really liked, but there was too much gyrating and it was "a little bit on the raunchy side." Bruno is all raunchy side, so he loved it. Except he wanted more of the "samba bounce." Carrie Ann says she looked uncertain and that the runs weren't in sync.
Carrie Ann has some really strange extensions or feathers clipped into her hair. The whole thing is what I've read referred to as "dragged through a hedge backwards."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8; Len: 8; Bruno: 8.5
Brooke's questioning backstage is clearly trying to push the "These two are DOING IT" storyline.
Gilles Marini & Peta Murgatroyd
So, after some of the stuff she wore last season with Donald Driver and the costumes she's had this year, I'm beginning to think Peta is allergic to clothes. In rehearsals, she's also got this crazy wild hair -- think Daryl Hannah in "Splash," but shoulder length. Gilles jokes that their routine should be so sexy that it will be "responsible for a lot of babies."
What's really interesting is that until it gets to the chorus, it's a solo by the female singer, with no accompaniment. That's GOT to be hard to dance to, right? And then when the band kicks in at the chorus, they do this crazy near-death-spiral swoopy move. It's super dramatic. Good job, Peta, with the choreography of all that.
Bruno says it wasn't a dance, it was "master class theater." He said the a capella part was superb, and adds that it was incredible to maintain the rhythm and the musicality without the music.
Carrie Ann stands up and cheers, "Let the babymaking begin!" and then falls out of her chair. Gilles and Tom both rush to her aid, because they're gentlemen and awesome. Len's hiding his face in his hand.
Tom quips, once she's back in her seat, "When you said 'let the babymaking begin' I didn't think you'd get in position!" Ah, there's my "I LOVE TOM SO MUCH" moment for this show. Len calls it a blockbuster and then teases Peta about all her leg extensions.
Back from commercial, they've already set Carrie Ann's fall to goofy music and are replaying it. Nice work, editors!
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len 9.5; Bruno: 10
Oh, you stingy Len.
Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Quickstep
Apparently their guilty pleasure song is Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson." How on earth is that a guilty pleasure? A No. 1 song from a widely acclaimed soundtrack by an incredibly popular pop act? Why feel guilty about that?
As for the dance itself, it's a weird combo of music and dance styles and it's not quite as quick as you want a quickstep to be. Their leaps in the runs are very low, which I get, what with Kirstie being older and heavier than the other stars. It ends with them kissing behind a screen in silhouette, so the crowd goes nuts.
Carrie Ann says it was her best dance and compliments her carriage. She points out one mistake they made in the routine. Len agrees with Carrie. Bruno praised the runs and the variety of the footwork, while also noting the "mess-up."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8.5; Len: 8.5; Bruno: 8.5
Huh. That feels like a later week inflated score.
Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke: Samba
Now see, their song, "Copacabana" feels way more appropriate for a samba than the one Val & Kelly had. Emmitt explains that their rehearsal strategy is to laugh when they start to get stressed out.
This routine plays to Emmitt's strengths -- he gets to get his groove on and be sparkly. I might say that technically his moves could be a little sharper and more precise, but this routine is going over a treat with the audience and will with the voters as well.
Whatever Len says is drowned out by the audience. Cheryl gets a confirmation from Tom that he liked it. Bruno talks about the atmosphere Emmitt creates. Carrie Ann says Emmitt has "samba swagger" but then does point out a moment where he got off the beat.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9.5; Len: 9.5; Bruno: 10
We saw during the rehearsal footage that Melissa hurt her neck during rehearsal; it was diagnosed as a herniated disc in her neck. She's on a lot of drugs, she says.
In case you forgot, the couples in this group are Shawn & Derek, Melissa & Tony, Sabrina & Louis, and Apolo & Karina. So, gymnast, cheerleader, dancer, athlete. Yipes, that's a strong combination.
Shawn explains that they're going for a "football player/cheerleader" theme. Melissa says, "We're guessing the other team is going the comedy route, because they have some comedians, so we're going the technical route." That's very, very smart of them.
They start with kind of a "spirit yell" and then it goes into a full-on cheerleading routine, with stand-lifts and everything. Then Louis and Sabrina are the spotlight couple. Louis in football pants is going to make me giggle all week.
Shawn does a cartwheel to come back on stage and then she's dancing with Louis, while Derek dances with Sabrina, all in sync. Then they swap partners and Louis and Sabrina leave the stage. It's a slick piece of choreography.
Then they do a move where the four girls and three of the guys are in a circle with locked arms and as the guys spin the circle, the girls are lifted into the air. It's totally a cheerleading move and it looks fantastic.
Then it's Tony and Melissa's solo and at the end of it, Tony grabs her hands, Louis grabs her feet and Louis comes out to grab her feet (which he does bobble a little bit) and then they swing her like a jump rope. IS THAT THE SMARTEST THING TO BE DOING WHEN SHE HAS A HERNIATED DISC IN HER NECK? Yikes.
Apolo slides under the swinging Melissa and then he and Karina start their solo with several lifts that are more ballroom than cheerleading and I'm glad that someone remembered what show we're on. I know, I know, it's a freestyle, but I still like some actual ballroom dance in there.
But then Apolo and Karina go into some moves that look suspiciously like what they did in their hip hop routine from last week. Finally, all four couples are back on the dance floor and they finish the routine in a classic cheerleading group pose. It's not exactly a pyramid, but it looks like one.
Len says the individual performances were fantastic and as a group they were tight. He loved the way they introduced each couple. Bruno said the choreography made it almost impossible to distinguish the professionals and the celebrities. Carrie Ann does an actual cheer and she loved it.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9.5; Len: 10; Bruno: 10
I'm not sure why Len gives that a 10 but not Gilles & Peta's. He is an enigma, our Len.
I'm not going to put up a scoreboard tonight because it will all change tomorrow night when they dance again.