'Dancing With the Stars' results: And then there were five
“I think the team dance did us in,” acknowledged Chuck Wicks upon discovering that he was the eighth contestant eliminated this season. Despite earning praise for his ballroom dances and steadily making his way up the leader board, voters spoke up in favor of saving the low-scoring Melissa Rycroft, putting the satin pajama-wearing country singer out to pasture instead. This also marks the swan song for partner and real-life girlfriend Julianne Hough, who has said she won’t be returning to "DWTS" next season.
Though was it the team dance that did him in? The producers sure did want to make the distinction that all the members of Team Tango -- chosen as the encore performance for the week -- were deemed safe before any of Team Mambo. And while I loved that that saved Ty & Chelsie from having to endure another whole hour before discovering they were in the clear, I’m not sure I believe that it was just the team dance scores that resigned the contestants to a certain fate. It's not like the mambo was that bad -- I thought it was an absolute hoot. But it certainly doesn't deserve to be treated like a bastard stepchild.
Before finding out the elimination, however, there was the requisite silly filler: a segment where the judges talked about creating the perfect celebrity dancer, and a music video about putting one’s celebrity aside and becoming a celebrity dancer, in which an earnest singer crooned lines like “Where did all my street cred gooo?” and “Mirror ball trophy -- I thought it would be nicer!” Oh, and also featured Gilles in a beret holding a baguette while the French flag waved behind him. The whole thing seemed ridiculous and over the top, which is to say, I kind of liked it. Though why the segment was called “Ballroom Dancers of Genius” was beyond me.
There were also two performances by Robin Thicke. The first, “When I Get You Alone,” sampled Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and was accompanied by a group samba with Dmitry Chaplin, Alec Mazo and Tony Dovolani, and Kym Johnson, Edyta Sliwinska and Cheryl Burke in fun canary yellow ruffles. And then Thicke came back and sang a newer single, “Sidestep,” featuring a spry dance by “SYTYCD” alums Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis.
Which brings us to our pro competition. Looks like Ben and Snow didn’t make last week’s cut: It was just Genya Mazo, Afton Delgrosso, Mayo Alanen and Anna Demidova left. Genya and Afton danced a quickstep that was lickety-flicked and light as a feather, and Mayo and Anna showed off their Latin steps with a hopping jive (didn’t know jive was Latin, but whatever). I’m guessing genial Genya and Afton will be in the finals, though Mayo could definitely slip through as a dark horse contender (or a lovely accompaniment to a chicken salad sandwich).
We were also treated to some celebrity endorsements: The first one was an eHarmony parody for Dance Match, which pairs single dancers using 29 moves (loved the sprinkler!). Chuck and Julianne gamely played the couple being matched, and it gave them the chance to reiterate, once more, that they had not danced together before this competition. “It was like we danced before, but we hadn’t,” said Chuck. And in a sly nod, it was ex-“Bachelor” star Melissa doing the matching this time, instead of being matched. Too bad that 1-800 number listed on screen didn’t continue the joke; all I got was a recording that said it was an ABC number used for production. Boo.
My favorite segment of the night was the pros’ ad for PETD -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Dancers. And not just because it offered a highly creative use of mirror balls. Prefaced with a warning: “Some viewers may find these images disturbing,” the clip first showed our pros cropped closely in a head shot, the stark black-and-white picture indicating the utmost seriousness in dancer safety ("How many more mike packs do I need to land on," asked Tony). And then as the camera pulled back, it was revealed that the pros were naked (of course, Edyta was also in this segment), with only strategically placed mirror balls (in some cases, two) separating them from all their buff glory. And the pros were very convincing as they relayed the very real dangers they faced as professional hoofers. My favorite: Cheryl’s “I’d rather go naked than see another rhinestone injured.” Ha!
But back to business: Chuck & Julianne and Melissa & Tony were the last two couples to find out their fate. At this point, I figured it was Chuck’s time to go, because it would have felt a little unfair if Melissa (who also wore fringe, btw) was punished for something that was so clearly out of her control. But with Tom’s constant declarations that this could be “the most shocking elimination of the season,” I wondered if Melissa’s low score from Monday night was enough to cut her from the competition. Poor Melissa and Tony looked like someone kicked their puppy and stole their lunch money while they got caught in a rainstorm. It was really hard to watch their despondent faces as they awaited their fate. Is it just me, or does it seem like the emotions are ramped up this season? The pressure has reached a boiling point in these final weeks, and some look dangerously close to cracking. And Tony has been so glum these past two days; he's become like Eeyore. Shawn Johnson also looked like she was going to toss her cookies, and then practically burst into tears of relief upon learning she was safe.
Julianne, on the other hand, could not stop beaming when the cameras were turned on her. Was she putting on a brave face, or is she just happy to be done for the season and get back to her country music career? Thank goodness Chuck and Julianne were the ones voted off, not only because they will be able to leave the competition with their dignity and their relationship intact, but also because I don’t know what would have happened had it been Melissa and Tony.
Do you think the right contestant went home this week? Did the team dance do him in? Are you sad to see Julianne go? Who are you rooting for in the pro competition?
-- Allyssa Lee