The Muppets! Carlton! Iconic actresses in the audience! The ballroom’s “TV Night” was a charismatic hit — as long as you weren’t video-chatting in from Atlanta, that is. Kim Zolciak and her partner Tony Dovolani have withdrawn from Dancing With the Stars after the Real Housewives star suffered a mini-stroke and couldn’t fly to L.A. “I’m so glad she listened to the doctor,” said Tony. I think we all are. Blood clots are no joke.
But enough of the sads. At least no one else was eliminated on Week 3. Let’s get to the scores, earned under the watchful eye of guest judge and professional wad of enthusiasm Alfonso Ribeiro.
Don’t you even think about booing this national treasure.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ber!
Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess: 36/40 “Did I make the most of loving you?” rang out the hauntingly beautiful lyrics to the Downton Abbey theme song. Aw, I feel for Nick. As a fellow outwardly-placid person whose head is a bewildering jungle, I can imagine him asking — nay, accusing himself of this very question re: his time on Planet Mirrorballus. No. I’m totally not capitalizing on this experience, Nick would answer Nick. I’ll never get it right. I’m doomed. And then a different voice (in the cadence of Sharna, but it’s still Nick talking to himself, would butt in. No! Stop it, sir Boy! You MUST remain present during the Viennese waltz OR ELSE!
Fun, right? Well, Nick effectively turned down all his pesky background noise during this week’s “classical virtuoso” of a dance, said Carrie Ann. “There wasn’t an intention out of sync with what you were trying to say,” offered Bruno Tonioli of all people. Our Backstreet Boy had triumphed. Still, something had to be shattered.
BREAKING, NOT BAD: “Nick Carter broke the glass” is officially the new “Charlie White dropped the cane.” Update your records.
Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas: 36/40 Understatement of the century: “Creatively, Mark just doesn’t have boundaries,” said the gender-nonspecific partner to Mark’s Walter White (complete with XXL bald cap to cover his man bun). To be honest, I didn’t love this Breaking Bad jazz as much as the judges. The dim lighting and giant hazmat suits prevented us from seeing more dance details, plus I really wanted Mark and Alexa to tear off their heavy baggage to reveal the sequined boxers or fringed briefs that surely the real Walt and Jesse must have been wearing in the desert the whole time. Anything but those tighty whities Mark proudly brandished during their rehearsal segment.
I did love how instead of cooking drugs in his creepy trailer, Our Pro was supposedly steaming costumes for that night’s dance.
Don’t try meth, kids. Do wear rhinestones. #sparklebarf
Tamar Braxton and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 33/40 “We’ve been pelvis to pelvis, bone to bone, thrust to thrust… exchangin’ saliva,” complained the prudish Tamar as millions of women screamed back at her through the screen, “AND WHAT EXACTLY IS THE PROBLEM?” The “married and dope” missionary just wants to tame her reckless partner and play the same independent woman in every routine. But this is Mad Men we’re talking about. And as we saw via Peggy and Don’s impromptu slow dance in the final season, the independent woman and the sexy businessman dance best together when they’re on the same team.
“Draper? I don’t even know her!” -not Val, not ever
Alfonso tried to snap some sense and/or life into Tamar after her well-timed but tentative tango. “In dance, there is a LEAD and a FOLLOW. Val is your LEADER! Let him LEAD you to the finish line. He has done it before.” It was a wee bit patronizing coming from a first-time guest judge who’s not even British, but I think we can all see his point.
Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold: 33/40 Their True Blood tango sizzled, from the smoking car in the background to the sequined blood-splatter on Lindsay’s back. My only quibble here is that Alek could have injected a little more passion into that bite at the end. I didn’t quite believe he wanted to do real bad things with her. Just faux bad things. Maybe some other things. But on technicality alone, this is such a brilliant couple. The judges marveled at Lindsay’s teaching ability, and she’s not too shabby of a matchmaker, either. Kudos to trouper Jenna for boldly asking Alek on a date after his awkward flirting fell flat.
Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough: 32/40 The Jetsons song didn’t clear in time, so the producers rearranged some letters and had the two whitest people ever dance the quickstep to The Jeffersons theme instead. It worked well enough — their costumes looked great, Bindi managed to learn all the steps in two days despite a foot injury, and actress Marla Gibbs lent authenticity to the number from her perch in the audience. But Bindi’s boundless energy didn’t quite serve this week. “You can’t bounce all the time in the quickstep,” Bruno reminded her. Meanwhile, Derek looked winded, having sweated his guts out earlier in a chemistry lab of his own.
Get a room, you two. Everyone else, continue gyrating. (Hi Artem!)
Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson: 31/40 Virtually any other style would have been more suitable for a geriatric-themed routine than jazz. (Or if it had to be jazz, what’s wrong with The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? “NOTHING!” Fons would bellow. “Let it all out and LET IT ALL FLY!”) So this Golden Girls tribute made little sense as a dance, but Carlos and Witney’s rehearsal segment was pretty funny, thanks to their mutual passive-aggressive teasing and even louder Cosby sweaters. Are we even allowed to call them that anymore? It’s probably not PC. Tough break, ugly knits with kicky patterns. You used to mean something.
Hayes Grier and Emma Slater: 30/40 On the opposite end of Bea Arthur’s steely stare, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles jive is, by virtue of its impossibility alone, pretty impossible to eff up. It’s going to be a hot mess no matter what. Despite Hayes’ unpointed toes and wilting energy, the pair’s exploitation of turtle power was a masterful, incredulous explosion of all that is right and wrong about Dancing With the Stars, in perpetuity throughout the Glitter Galaxy. I like to think that the yellow fringe on Emma’s “skirt” (read: undies) was a nod to Shredder, at least conceptually. “I didn’t like the turtle arms,” said Buzzkillie Ann.
Andy Grammer and Allison Holker: 29/40 A busy mid-week touring schedule has yet to lower Andy’s spirits, but his lack of precision in their American Bandstand quickstep did hold him back, score-wise. “You need to get your posture right,” Alfonso laser-beamed through the boos, possibly channeling Len Goodman through an invisible earpiece. “Open up your shoulders and stick your butt forward.” The couple landed under the brutally red “in jeopardy” light even though no one was heading home. I still think Andy has a lot of potential to be the season’s “most improved” contestant.
Gary Busey and Anna Trebunskaya: 25/40 It’s hard not to love this living paradox and the abrasively positive attitude he brings to the ballroom. Who else could follow up “You talk like a woodpecker” with “I was naturally hurt in my heart,” or render Erin Andrews speechless by remarking on her expanded vocabulary, or bravely go commando on an Addams Family sendup? No one! Alfonso called Gary and Anna’s proper tango “an Academy Award-winning dance” as all the Emmys in DWTS’ trophy case silently screamed Huh?! Judge Juli corrected Gary’s “perfection” prediction to another single word: “perseverance.” But perhaps the best compliments came from Carrie Ann, who called Gary [something in gibberish], [more indecipherable sounds], and “Yummyummyummy.” Bruno helped to clarify matters, as he always does: “It’s a different language.”
Did Gary channel Ethan Hawke here or was I hallucinating? Must be a Monday!
Paula Deen and Louis Van Amstel: 20/40 I could barely find Paula in their Gilligan’s Island samba against all the fake rain and Louis’ faded salmon cardigan. Add in a round of my favorite Where’s Waldo spinoff, Where’s Sasha (as Gilligan) and it was really a lost cause. Against the sputtering chef’s wishes to play Mary Ann, Paula had to settle for the closest match: the millionaire’s wife. Hey, her partner is Dutch. He tells it like it is. Plus, the real Mary Ann was on hand in the audience, looking sassy. Dawn Wells for season 22, anyone?
Hidden gems: One adorable grandson styling the hair of another.
’Til next week, DANCMSTRs! Cheers to a magical alternate universe in which Don Draper uses this much tongue.
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.