As it turns out, there is such a thing as too much Dancing With the Stars, as evidenced by Tuesday’s episode.
Unlike most Tuesday installments of the ABC reality staple, this particular broadcast wasn’t just a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am results show. Rather, it was another 120 minutes of “Hometown Glory”-inspired routines, which seemed to leave the contestants, the judges and even the hosts utterly exhausted.
If you’d like to play a retroactive drinking game for Tuesday’s two-hour show, feel free to take a sip anytime: (1) the judges are reminded that each couple had to practice two dances this week — an extra sip if the judges have no sympathy for that fact; (2) Erin Andrews is at a loss for what to say in her post-performance interviews with the contestants; or (3) you start to feel as though you’ve been watching Dancing With the Stars for the last 24 hours straight. (You practically have been!)
But I digress. Here are the highlights — the good and the bad — from the latest DWTS episode:
BEST OF THE NIGHT
Tamar Braxton and pro Val Chmerkovskiy (Charleston) — Finally, finally, finally, last season’s champion proves himself worthy of another win. Despite the fact that something seems off about Val’s chemistry with Tamar (including, but not limited to, the puzzled looks Tamar gives Val in every moment of rehearsal footage), Ms. Braxton matched her partner step for fast-paced step during the Charleston — without ever looking overwhelmed by the quick choreography. Judges’ Score: 25/30
BEST OF THE NIGHT (RUNNER-UP)
Bindi Irwin and pro Derek Hough (Waltz) — I realize it’s getting redundant, even after just three episodes, to highlight Bindi and Derek again and again… but their performances consistently warrant the kudos. More than Bindi’s technical skill (which she’s got in spades), the junior crocodile hunter is a remarkable actress when the routine calls for it. That one sequence where Bindi’s hand seemed to go straight through Derek’s chest? Perhaps the most powerful few seconds of a Season 21 performance so far. Judges’ Score: 23/30
COUPLE I WANT TO BE GOOD, BUT IS SO FAR JUST “MEH”
Alexa PenaVega and pro Mark Ballas (Rumba) — Alexa and Mark have all the ingredients for a DWTS power couple. She’s young, energetic and limber; he’s proven himself adaptable to partners as young as Willow Shields or as inexperienced as — groan — Kim Kardashian. And yet, despite their chemistry and genuine appreciation for each other, the couple just isn’t quite clicking on the dance floor. It happened once more during Tuesday’s rumba, which was built up to be the night’s most emotional routine and fell just short of that expectation, largely due to Alexa’s stiff lower body in the most sensual moments of the number. Judges’ Score: 22/30
MOST OVERUSED DANCE MOVE
Paula Deen and pro Louis Van Amstel (Tango) — Paula and Louis have performed three routines thus far in Season 21, and two of them have contained the same creepy step in which Paula wraps her leg around Louis’ thigh and eyes him like he’s a box of Land O’Lakes — which, quite frankly, is two routines too many. After watching Paula semi-straddle her partner in a rumba and tango, it’d be too soon if the home audience never had to witness that combination again. Judges’ Score: 18/30
WORST OF THE NIGHT
Gary Busey and pro Anna Trebunskaya (Paso Doble) — Just before the couple took center stage for their paso doble — air quotes applicable! — a producer asked Gary if he thought he might be eliminated this week. The actor’s response: “You just saw us [rehearse] that, right? What do you think, dummy?” Well, Gary might question my intelligence for calling his performance the worst of the night, but it’s the only proper categorization for a routine that mostly consisted of Gary stomping across the dance floor, waiting for Anna to point him in the right direction. Judges’ Score: 15/30
And now, what you really care about — the results:
TWO COUPLES IN JEOPARDY
Gary Busey and pro Anna Trebunskaya
Victor Espinoza and pro Karina Smirnoff
Victor Espinoza and pro Karina Smirnoff
Your turn! Do you agree with Victor and Karina’s elimination? Which routine(s) will get your vote? Drop all of your thoughts in a comment below.