Warning: This recap of the Oct. 24 episode of Dancing With the Stars contains spoilers.
Welcome to Eras Night, or what host Tom Bergeron called “a spray-tanned history lesson” spanning from the deep, terrifically gilded Past to a drab, horrifically uncertain Future in which everyone wears blue lipstick and severely overreacts to fake flowers.
The Future looks bleaker than ever, y’all. You heard it here first.
Season 23’s eight remaining couples took on two routines: a solo inspired by a different decade and a team dance inspired by adrenaline and fear. What better week for head judge Len Goodman to make his tragically short-lived return? The No. 1 public enemy of messin’ about is headed home to Britain’s Strictly Come Dancing for now, but don’t worry: He’ll be back for the finals just in time to disapprove of everyone’s freestyles — especially if they’re shirtless.
Despite giving it their all in a guyliner-enhanced 1980s tango set to Bon Jovi — which honestly seemed like a no-fail DWTS situation, give or take technique — Maureen McCormick and Artem Chigvintsev have been eliminated. Her fairy tale has ended, but we can rest assured the Brady Bunch actress will float back to Planet Mirrorballus to grace the audience with her passionate/crazy eyes for years to come — or at least until Eve Plumb shows up to complain that Marcia’s getting all the attention AS USUAL and it’s her turn now, dammit. Obviously, ballroom standard Florence Henderson will be there as well. Good parenting, commitment to tradition, etc. All that timeless stuff.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ber!
James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess: 36 + 38 = 74 out of 80 Sharna suffered a last-minute knee injury Monday morning, but do you think that thwarted their 1940s jitterbug in any way? Hell to the no! Talk to her hand!
Of course, Sharna threw in a perfect fake-out ending during the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s “In the Mood” because, knee brace or not, this woman never falters on flair. The judges had nothing but praise for the couple’s unparalleled mood, style, and character. Bruno raved that watching James was like being at the movies, and Carrie Ann confirmed, “You disappear into the world that Sharna has created.” Sigh. Don’t we all?
Calvin Johnson Jr. and Lindsay Arnold: 36 + 38 = 74 Calvin got double-sacked this week. Not only was there no place in a proper 1950s jive for the incredible lifts that have become his signature skill, but the former NFL star’s ankle injuries have left him with basically non-pointable toes. “Nasty!” claimed Lindsay before bucking up and declaring this was no problem: “If you show you are focusing on keeping energy in them, then that counts as pointing.” Sure, that sounds right. Go with it. Finger guns.
Megatron pulled it off and then some. “It was like the car: a polished, high-octane performance!” said Len, delighted that Calvin had improved so much while he was away. I like to think that Len’s caught at least glimpses of the U.S. dances he’s missed, like between snoozes or something. But I know that’s a lot to ask.
Laurie Hernandez and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 34 + 35 = 69 Talk about eras: Laurie and Val’s “gymnast’s first prom” scenario took me right back to 2009 when Mark Ballas threw Shawn Johnson a fake prom during their Season 8 rehearsals. Unlike Shawn, though, Laurie had never even missed the prom. That’s how home-schooled and clueless about American history she was. Thank God for their 1960s quickstep, which taught her everything she needed to know — namely, that cute shoes and effective pantomiming can take you very far in this world.
Not all the way, though: Their quickstep was too bouncy and rushed for Len, and Carrie Ann called them out for multiple lifts, which Val cleverly attributed to the ’60s spirit of rebellion.
Terra Jolé and Sasha Farber: 34 + 35 = 69 Despite a revealing week filled with tears, fears, and the trotting out of her cute kids to further establish her humanity, the reality TV star needed no more than her bona fide dance skills and continued chemistry with Sasha to shine during their 1930s foxtrot, sweetly set to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s “Cheek to Cheek.”
“You put the ALL in SMALL,” said Len, swinging and missing like never before, but who cared? The feathers on Terra’s costume were so mesmerizing, and the art deco details on the floor and background so intricate, that nothing the judges said really mattered. Look at those two, nose-nuzzling like they’re the only two people in the world. Maybe they are!
Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko: 34 + 35 = 69 This couple’s 1970s samba, set in some sort of bubble laundromat wonderland, marked a devastating missed opportunity to undress Gleb on the spot and wash all of his clothes just for fun. But they still made it more than worthwhile, mixing traditional samba moves into a deliciously, dare I say unbeweave-ably, campy routine.
But Len had major problems with Gleb’s choreography. Well, one major problem, same as ever: There was too much messin’ about for his liking. And he hated the way Gleb talked back.
The angry point even came out (Len’s version of claws) as the head judge raised his voice: “Just listen to what I’m telling you, and get on with it!”
Gleb could only grit his teeth, revel in the power of that wig, and wait for Julianne to treat everyone to more closeups of her ludicrous eye shadow.
This lasted a whole era, if you can believe it.
“It’s not a dance competition; it’s a TV show,” Gleb explained to Erin Andrews backstage as fellow pro Cheryl nodded vigorously in the background. The line for what constitutes good choreography on this show has certainly blurred over time, hasn’t it? In DWTS’s early years, denying that this is a dance competition would be considered an outrage. But after so many seasons, both the pros and the fans know better.
Ryan Lochte and Cheryl Burke: 28 + 38 = 66 He’s still not winning any dancing awards (the Coveted Mirrorball Trophy, for instance), but the Olympian certainly earned an extra week with his 1990s rumba set to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” I’m just going to gloss over the absurdity of that song-dance combo and focus on what’s more important: I think Ryan should consider keeping his hair messy instead of gelled, as it ever so slightly helps create the illusion of movement.
Granted, he didn’t need much assistance, considering his partner spent the dance in an ecstatic trance so thoroughly convincing that no one was really watching him anyway.
“It wasn’t brilliant,” said Len, effectively summing up Ryan Lochte in general.
Marilu Henner and Derek Hough: 29 + 35 = 64 Maybe Marilu shot herself in the foot by telling us she was cast to play Roxie Hart in Chicago in 1997. It heightened our expectations for their 1920s Charleston, rendering their mediocre routine all the more disappointing. Marilu’s steps seemed even more tentative and smaller than usual, so compared to Derek’s standard of dancing bigger than ever, it was quite the mismatch.
Never to be outdone, Julianne committed Houghery in the first degree by tossing her brother an extra point with no explanation.
See you next week for Halloween Night! In the meantime, don’t forget to find your light.
It’ll be a thing of the Past before you know it.
The Fringe Fairy
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Watch clips and full episodes of DWTS on Yahoo View.