On paper, Dancing With the Stars‘ TV Night looked like a hot mess.
A samba set to the Gilligan’s Island theme song? A jive choreographed to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soundtrack? A quickstep courtesy of The Jeffersons? It sounded as though the ABC reality staple was handing us laughable routines on a silver platter.
In execution, though, TV Night was arguably the strongest installment of Season 21 thus far, allowing for innovative choreography, over-the-top set pieces and dance styles that challenged even the most impressive celebrities on the roster. (Except for that samba set to the Gilligan’s Island theme song. That was just as underwhelming as you would expect.)
Of course, not every contestant could put Monday’s episode in the win column: After suffering a mini-stroke last week, Kim Zolciak-Biermann was forced to withdraw from the competition due to doctor’s orders that she wasn’t fit to fly back to Los Angeles. (Tony Dovolani, at least, went out on a high note, performing an I Dream of Jeannie-inspired number with fellow pro Jenna Johnson before bidding adieu to Season 21.)
Before we get to the results, let’s break down the five routines worth talking about from Monday’s broadcast:
BEST OF THE NIGHT
Alexa PenaVega and pro Mark Ballas (Jazz to the Breaking Bad theme) — I promise I’m not ranking this routine solely on Mark’s uncanny resemblance to Walter White. (But I couldn’t have been the only one to do a double-take, right?) Rather, the impressive number lands at the top of our leaderboard for its creativity, attention to detail — the gas masks! the (hopefully) fake crystal meth! — and complex choreography that Alexa nailed every step of the way. In a HazMat suit, no less. Judges’ Score: 36/40
BEST OF THE NIGHT (Runner-Up)
Nick Carter and pro Sharna Burgess (Viennese Waltz to the Downton Abbey theme) — Put the words “Downton Abbey” and “Viennese waltz” into the same sentence, and your eyes might glaze over before you even get to the punctuation mark. But Nick and Sharna’s performance was far from yawn-inducing. Not only were Nick’s nerves finally out of the spotlight, but he brought grace, elegance and class to every stride. Judges’ Score: 36/40
LEAST AMOUNT OF ACTUAL CHOREOGRAPHY
Paula Deen and pro Louis Van Amstel (Samba to the Gilligan’s Island theme) — It probably goes without saying that Louis isn’t giving Paula quite the same choreography he would give to a more able partner like Bindi Irwin or Tamar Braxton. But that shouldn’t mean Paula has to stay in one tiny corner of the dance floor every time she performs. As fun as it was to watch Louis, Paula and their backup dancers brave a faux rainstorm in the middle of the ballroom, the routine barely included any content that the judges could properly critique. Judges’ Score: 20/40
MOST ENJOYABLE TO WATCH
Andy Grammar and pro Allison Holker (Quickstep to American Bandstand theme) — No, Andy isn’t grasping the finer details of his routines quite as well as I thought he would. No, his busy tour schedule isn’t doing him any favors when it comes to rehearsing. But even though Andy and Allison’s quickstep wasn’t the most technically flawless performance of the night, their colorful costumes, dazzling smiles and start-to-finish nostalgia trip (including Tom Bergeron’s old-fashioned introduction) easily made their quickstep the evening’s most entertaining 90 seconds. Judges’ Score: 29/40
WORST OF THE NIGHT
I think we all know it was Gary Busey and Anna Trebunskaya’s Addams Family-themed tango. Enough said. Judges’ Score: 25/40
And your results:
TWO COUPLES IN JEOPARDY
Andy Grammer and pro Allison Holker
Paula Deen and pro Louis van Amstel
No one! Since Kim was forced to withdraw from the competition, neither of the bottom two were eliminated, and their scores will carry over to next week’s show.
What did you think of Monday’s DWTS episode? Were you surprised by the couples in the Bottom Two? Hit the comments!