“Dancing with the Stars” season 19 resumed Nov. 10 on ABC with a ninth week of ballroom action featuring the six remaining couples as they performed both individual dances and the always entertaining trio routines. The evening birthed plenty of surprises, including two perfect scores, a kiss, and a surprising elimination.
The two-hour episode began in stunning fashion as comedian Tommy Chong and Peta Murgatroyd –week eight’s lowest-scoring couple– were named to the semifinals by co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews. Immediately thereafter, actor Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson performed a foxtrot set to “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.” Alfonso is an amazing dancer and it was a fun, well-executed performance.
A smiling Len Goodman declared “that’s the way to kick off the quarterfinals.” Although he thought the footwork was “a little bit suspect” at times, he liked it. Julianne Hough thought America “nailed” the pick, and Bruno Tonioli liked the “brilliant… Justin Timberlake touches.” Carrie Ann Inaba called it “excellent” but drew boos when she said Alfonso could offer up more “pizzazz.” Alfonso and Witney earned three nines and a single 10 from Bruno for a total of 37.
Next up to hit the ballroom floor with a Viennese waltz set to “Trouble” were Tommy and Peta. Tommy has natural dance ability and is charming and is rocking it given his advanced age, but he’s simply not on the same level as the other quarterfinalists. It was cute, but he went wrong more than once.
Julianne reminded him of her prediction that he’d stick around for a while, and praised him for doing a “proper Viennese waltz.” Bruno called him “so watchable” and likened him to a “fairground carousel” but noted “a few creaky moments.” Carrie Ann called him “a true hero” and praised him for proving that “less is more.” Len once again pointed out his age and said “from one old geezer to another old geezer, you are my hero.” Tommy and Peta nabbed an eight from Len and sevens from the other panelists for a total of 29.
Third in line to perform their round one routine were “Back to the Future” actress Lea Thompson and Artem Chigvintsev. America decided that the duo should dance a samba to Maroon 5’s “Animals.” Lea looks incredible for a fiftysomething, but there’s such an awkward vibe when she and Artem try to do sexy dances. It was fine, but a little uncomfortable to watch.
Bruno likened Lea to a “feral cat” and appreciated her confidence. Carrie Ann agreed and said she looked amazing, and told her to be wild and free all the time. Len called it “terrific” and quipped “you put the sin in syncopation.” Julianne called her “fierce” but said she wanted to see her get down and crouch like a cat during feline-themed routines. The duo earned eights from Carrie Ann and Julianne and nines from Len and Bruno for a total of 34.
Viennese waltz was the style on tap for the fourth couple to hit the “DWTS” ballroom floor, YouTube star Bethany Mota and Derek Hough. Set to “Say You Love Me” and choreographed to tell the story of a break-up, they did an excellent job of creating palpable emotion.
Carrie Ann was impressed by Bethany’s vulnerability and how she threw herself into the dance. Len called it “fabulous” but wished for a fleckle, while Julianne praised Bethany for becoming increasingly open as the season progressed. Bruno called it “beautiful” and “emotive.” For the effort, Bethany and Derek scored straight nines for a total of 36.
“Duck Dynasty” star Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas kept the evening moving forward with their America’s choice dance, a jive set to “1, 2, 3 Turnaround.” Sadie is a fabulous dancer who entered with no experience and is really taking the journey that the show intends that the contestants take, but this was not one of her better performances. Her kicks and flicks weren’t as sharp as they should’ve been and she seemed to be working very hard to keep up.
Len noted that the jive is hard for tall girls, but still thought it was “terrific.” Julianne called it some “serious choreography” and admitted that she’s a great performer, but she didn’t love the dance. Bruno gave Sadie props for “even attempting” such a hard dance and said she did a “good job.” Carrie Ann thought Sadie needed more torso strength to pull it off, but praised her effort during the second half. They scored a nine from Len and eights from the other three judges for a total of 33.
Closing out round one with a “Hey Boy! Hey Girl!” quickstep were “Pretty Little Liars” actress Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy. It was theatrical, but they wasted too much time at the beginning so the entire performance felt truncated. It was nicely done all in all (even if Val did suffer a slip-up).
Julianne called it the best dance of the night. Bruno appreciated the “detail” and “swing” of the choreography and called it “almost flawless.” Carrie Ann seconded the notion, as did Len. Janel and Val scored tens from Len and Julianne and nines from Carrie Ann and Bruno for a total of 38.
With very little ado, the trio challenge round began as Lindsay Arnold joined Witney and Alfonso to perform a paso doble. Even with two early twentysomethings on stage with him, Alfonso still commanded the dance. He was powerful and completely in control. The live audience went completely ballistic.
Len loved it, as did Julianne, who declared “The Matrix has nothing on you all.” Bruno likened Alfonso to a “galactic space master” and called it “the ride of the night.” Carrie Ann quipped “two syllables: day-um” and said she loved it. It wasn’t even remotely surprising when all four judges flashed their 10 paddles, bringing Alfonso and Witney’s week nine total to 77 out of 80 points.
Up next, Tommy and Peta joined forces with pro Sharna Burgess to dance a trio samba set to “Talk Dirty.” During his pre-dance segment, Tommy joked that he planned to use the “Mike Waltrip formula of surrounding yourself with beautiful women and hoping no one looks at you” during their airline-themed routine. So, Tommy can do a mean hip-shake, but it wasn’t really a samba.
Julianne laughed and snorted and said she didn’t know what to say. Bruno said Tommy looked like “the man who invented the mile high club.” Carrie Ann first said she didn’t know what to say but then said they should take the idea to ‘Shark Tank’ and sell it. Len said he wanted to fly on Chong Air. The routine scored Tommy four sevens, which brought his total on the night to 57.
With two trios down, the third group, featuring Lea, Artem, and “DWTS” troupe member Henry Byalikov, took their turn in the ballroom with a passionate “Black Betty” paso doble. It was a marked improvement over their round one number, but it still felt a little too cautious.
Bruno was impressed that Lea kept her focus while working between her beefcake partners. Carrie Ann appreciated the “great strategy” and how it made Lea stand out. Len liked how Lea was the “focal point” and thought she did great. Julianne thought they “killed it.” The routine scored four nines, bringing Lea and Artem’s nightly total to 70.
Fourth in the trio round running order were Bethany and Derek, who teamed up with all-star season champ Tony Dovolani for a fiery “Jungle” Argentine tango. The lifts were amazing and Bethany did a terrific job of holding completely still so they looked perfect. She was definitely in control, but looked a bit too stiff at times.
Carrie Ann “loved” it and called it “so dynamic” but wished for more “real connection” between the partners. Len loved the “seamless” partner exchanges and thought they’d “captured the flavor” of the style. Julianne agreed with Len and declared “who are you?” over Bethany’s versatility. Bruno said “if Mad Max had choreographed an Argentine tango, this is what it would have looked like.” The number scored perfect tens from Len and Julianne and nines from Carrie Ann in Bruno, bringing their total to 74.
Up next, Sadie and Mark teamed up with the recently booted Emma Slater for a trio foxtrot. Mark had to work hard to choreograph a ballroom dance that would successfully incorporate two ladies, but he did a bang of it. Their “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” routine was a stroke of genius. It moved so beautifully that it almost floated across the floor.
As Sadie made her way to the judges’ table, she shared that she’d messed up at the end, but Tom quickly hushed her, noting that the judges may not have noticed and effectively cementing his good-guy status.
Len called it “the best trio of the night” and “fantastic” and said he wished he had an 11 paddle. Julianne said Sadie had done everything perfectly and praised Mark for taking a risk. Bruno called it “stunning” and said he couldn’t tell who was the pro. Sadie cried and hugged her partners as the judges revealed a perfect 40, raising Sadie and mark’s week nine total to 73.
With 11 routines in the books, round one winners Janel and Val teamed up with Keo Motsepe to close out the show with their trio salsa. Janel really showed off her flexibility and strength big time with the lifts. It was entertaining.
Julianne said there wasn’t a lot of salsa content, but she thought it was “brilliant.” Bruno liked the “sensuality” of it and called Janel a “jungle queen.” Carrie Ann called her a “friggin’ formidable opponent.” Len thought it was fantastic and found it “uncomfortable” at times, but liked it. They scored three 10s and a nine from Len, raising their total to 77.
With the evening’s competition over, Tom and Erin immediately revealed the rest of the results. Saved to dance again were Alfonso and Witney, Bethany and Derek, and Janel and Val, leaving Sadie and Mark and Lea and Artem in the danger zone. After specifying that they were “not necessarily the bottom two,” Lea and Artem were eliminated.
Lea said she felt “strong” and was “anxious to get back to my day job on ‘Switched at Birth.'” She then expressed her affection for Artem and said he’d done a great job.
With only five couples remaining in the hunt for the mirror ball trophy, things are about to get intense in the ballroom. “Dancing with the Stars” season 19 continues Nov. 17 on ABC. For news and information, follow the show’s official Twitter account.