'Dancing with the Stars' Live-Blog: Switch-Up!
No one talking about Dancing with the Stars — whether you're Bustle's Jodi Walker or the contestants themselves — is that pumped about the new "Switch-Up" feature being introduced tonight. And for understandable reasons. It's like you've been going out with this guy for a few weeks, and he's great. You're great. Everything's great! Conversation flows easily and, so far as you can see, he has no glaring personal defects (certainly he hasn't discovered yours yet!). Physical attraction levels are SNL's horny Boston teenagers ("no, YOU ahh!"). Nothing could ever go wrong.
Now it's only been three weeks of DWTS but in that short amount of time not only have viewers gotten attached to contestant pairings... those pairings themselves have gotten attached to each other. Did you see Meryl Davis and Maks Chmerkovskiy last week, or the week before?! AY, CHIHUAHUA! The number of butt grabs, and references to butt grabs, feels enough to raise DWTS' rating to a TV-MA (S). No one wants those sexual flames snuffed. Least of all this recapper.
None of our contestants will go home this week. But they will. Be. SWITCHED. And let's hope, for the sake of a bunch of horny dancers and dance enthusiasts, we find a way to keep the sexy alive.
9:50pm: Last but not least, Meryl (and Val)
How did Meryl get along with her partner's brother?!? "You know, keeping it in the family." Val braids Meryl's hair, is more business than Maks.
Meryl and Val tango to that dubstep-heavy song "Closer" that announced the cool new Internet Explorer last fall. And they tango very well to it, spinning and twirling and cavorting all over the floor. Can they recreate the explosive chemistry Meryl has shared with Maks for the last few weeks? OBVIOUSLY not. But they come close.
"That was the dance of the night," says Len. Julianne: "I would love to dance like you." Carrie Ann: "You are untouchable." Meanwhile Maks, up in the stands, looks like Stanley Kowalski in his tight undershirt.
Erin grills Meryl about which brother she prefers. Val: "Let's just say I made Maks look like Mother Theresa this week." Leave that to your imagination, whatever it might mean!
Score: 39/40 Nice work, guys!
9:38pm: NeNe and Derek jazz it up
"Derek knows that I'm known for being fabulous," says NeNe as Tony watches from the door, jealousy in his eyes. Derek and NeNe dance a jazz number, the latter in a truly fabulous costume. It's red and gold-plated and has feathers, too? I'd expect nothing less from NeNe Leakes. As for the number itself — ehh. Clearly NeNe isn't the finest dancer left in competition. She tries hard, but it's tempered by limited movement.
"It was like being in the presence of the Queen of Shiba," Bruno yells, excited as always and not interested in offering any sort of actual dance assessment. But who cares. Score: 32/40
9:27pm: Aussie pride for Cody and Sharna
"I'm kind of getting used to Sharna being my mom," says Cody, 17, about Sharna Burgess, 29. They're both Aussies; maybe that will make for easier communication?
Oh right, the dancing. It's smooth and okay and all the judges seem to mostly like it!
9:15pm: Amy and Mark salsa their (tight) butts off
Salsa time. Will Amy have the same comfortability with Mark that she has with Derek? The whole dance feels a little tentative, start-and-stop. Not bad by any stretch, just slightly off.
"The amount of footwork Mark made you do tonight is incredible. I was looking for something wrong and I didn't see it," says Bruno. So maybe they don't feel quite what I did. I guess that's the judges' prerogative.
9:02pm: Was it a rumba?
Charlie (Prince Charming) finds himself dancing this week with Peta, noting that they're both blondes and therefore very dance-compatible.
Rumba time! They do share a lot of physical characteristics. Certainly tonight, in their purple ensembles and slicked-back hair. As for the dance... I'm no expert (literally I spend these recaps trying to find new words for "dancing"), but it didn't feel like a rumba? Len and Carrie Ann agree with me.
Score: 33/40 (Carrie Ann threw up a 7!)
Amy, who'd been with Derek these past three weeks, is matched with Mark. No small challenge here — Amy had gotten comfortable with Derek, expressed all her physical limitations. They'll do salsa after the break.
8:49pm: Danica trades one Chmerkovskiy for another
Danica is partnered up with... Maks!, trading one Chmerkovskiy brother for another. Maks: "Meryl seems to let things in... and Danica is questioning everything."
Maks and Danica dance an impressive jive with a lot of spinning and leg kicks. It's great! But I can't feel too happy watching Meryl up in the balcony, looking down on her man with Winnie Cooper. It just feels wrong.
Oh wow, Julianne is rough in her assessment. "I feel like you were phoning it in this week before you could get back with Meryl."
8:40pm: A Brief Message from the Macy's "Stars of Dance"
Drew and Witney's scores: 33/40. Not bad! Cheryl is so happy for Drew, and for the fact that they'll probably have a dance to do next week.
Derek talks to us about his choreography work with the Macy's Stars of Dance, which I didn't know was an official troupe until just now. Derek: "we're going to do some very cool slo-mo work." DWTS producers: "I mean we've got to fill these two hours somehow."
8:30pm: Drew and Witney's May-December Dance Party
Witney was, until this week, paired with the youngest dancer on the show. And now she's with Drew Carey — the oldest dancer on the show! He likes her patience; she likes his dad vibes. They may be taking it slow but sometimes you've got to walk before you can run.
Drew emerges in a sparkly gold suit that says "here to play" and sure enough — his moves feel much tighter than last week. Sure, Witney does most of the heavy lifting, strutting around the stage, but Drew's clearly enjoying himself. Improved. The judges seem to like it. I sure did!
8:16pm: James tangoes up a "Dark Horse" storm with Cheryl
Four dancers on stage: James, Cheryl, Peta, and Charlie. Who's with who? James winds up with Cheryl, who is definitely excited to be tango-ing with someone who stands a very good chance at winning.
With that in mind, "Dark Horse" feels like the incorrect song to dance to! But it's good: James gets to slide around the floor a bunch and do all kinds of cartwheels while Cheryl rebuffs his advances from a golden throne. James has that obnoxious Nickelodeon star confidence to pull off all of the moves asked of him.
"You are the total package," says Julianne, doing nothing to assuage the dude's ego. Bruno tells him to get his butt under control. Score: 35/40
8:00pm: Julianne's back! And Candace finds a new ballroom partner in Tony.
Dancing dancing dancing dancing! Everyone's dancing, including Julianne Hough — back for some guest judging this week with her new cropped haircut and a saucy black dress. "Are we gonna see that honest Hough style again?" Erin Andrews asks. Was she particularly blunt last year? I'm looking forward to some candid Houghisms tonight.
Our first switch-up: Candace is thrown together with Tony, which didn't thrill her for the first few days but now...
They tackle a quick-step to "Ballroom Blitz" (which this recapper will only for the rest of his life ever associate with the movie Wayne's World) which feels energetic if slightly gapped, body-wise. The judges share my assessment. Lori Laughlin, aka Aunt Becky, looks on from the audience with pride.
Candace: "Tony has given me new tools that I'm excited to take home to Mark." Score: 28/40