Tonight on Dancing With the Stars, we’re celebrating the each contestant’s “Most Memorable Year”. In the opening montage, we see each contestant writing the number of that year in the air as if on a touch screen, and they are mostly in the 2010’s. I guess that’s what happens when you populate the show with children who have barely been weaned off of the bottle. They rhapsodize the memory of those olden days in the long-gone-by of…2012. //Major eye-roll// Thank God we at least have Paula Deen and Gary Busey, two adults who are capable of remembering the 20th century! (To the extent that Gary can remember anything, that is) Perhaps their themes will add some variety; I can’t imagine how much there will be otherwise if we are only remembering say, 2006 – 2015.
Alfonso Ribiero is filling in for Tom Bergeron, who has gone home to visit his ailing father.
Alexa Penavega and Mark Ballas
First up is Alexa Penevega. Her most memorable year is 2000, as that is the year she “booked” Spy Kids. Oh, no wonder I’ve never heard of her. Anyway, this was a big break and her whole family moved to Austin so she could take the job. Alexa’s mother comments on how challenging is was to raise three daughters as a single mom, although, “I wouldn’t have changed anything. I’m so proud of Alexa. I’m so proud of what she’s done, what she’s accomplished.” At least that’s what I THINK she said, since her face is so frozen with Botox that she can barely move her lips to enunciate words. Alexa continues: “I remember my mom blasting this song, ‘Mamma Said’ by The Shirelles.”
So Alexa and Mark will be dancing a Foxtrot to “Mamma Said” by the Shirelles, a song released in 1961, to commemorate her most memorable year of 2000. And they will be doing it in 50’s costumes. M’kay…they take the stage wearing green; him in a suit and tie with a hat, and her in a 50’s-inspired tea-length dress with petticoats. And glasses. Because mamma said to always wear your glasses? Women in the 50’s – early 60’s all wore glasses? Who knows. It makes about as much sense as the rest of this scenario, which is to say: none at all. Alexa and Mark seem to complete their Foxtrot well, with no noticeably big mistakes, but nothing spectacular either.
Gary Busey and Anna Trebunskaya
Gary’s most memorable year was 1979, as that was the year that he starred in The Buddy Holly Story and got an Oscar nomination for it. Gary’s family and friends describe how Gary’s life changed afterwards. Jake Busey says of his father: “It took him from being Average Joe to, like, he couldn’t go anywhere without someone shouting his name.” Anna tells us about working with the Oscar nominee: “Gary is very passionate this week because he loves Buddy Holly, but every single day in rehearsal I have to take into account that Gary has had trauma to his brain.” A Sisyphean burden, I’ve no doubt, Anna! This segues into Gary telling us of his 1988 motorcycle crash, in which he was wearing no helmet and was severely injured. (Lesson: wear your brain buckets, kids!) With a great deal of tenacity and resolve, his family and friends say, Gary fought his way back to health. Dancing With the Stars, and indeed the rest of the world, is much richer for the fact that he did!
Gary and Anna will be doing a Jazz routine to Buddy Holly’s song “That’ll Be the Day”, with Gary in costume as Buddy Holly (suit and tie, horn-rimmed glasses, black hair) and Anna in a fuchsia two-piece outfit of a beaded bustier and chiffon skirt. More like one of the petticoats that was under Allison Holker’s skirt last week! I’d say it was also 50’s-inspired, but there weren’t many bare midriffs and see-through skirts in the 50’s. So to get this straight: we are remembering the year 1979 with a song from 1957. Alright, whatever. Fine. I guess we get more variety this way, which is good, but I can’t say this theme has made much sense thus far. As for the dance routine itself, Gary is improving. Still, Anna does 95% of the work, but when Gary lifts his knees or raises his arms, he looks less likely to keel over and die than he has in previous weeks. A decent showing for him this week.
Before we get to the next couple, we hear about judge Bruno Tonioli’s most memorable year: 1983. Why? He says by “appearing in Elton John’s ‘I’m Still Standing’ video” in which he is wearing very early-80’s outfits of one-shouldered tops, scanty panties, and second-skin tight red pants. “Instantly I became an international sex symbol!” he jokes. During this we see a clip of the video and are treated to the sight of a young Bruno dancing next to Elton John. Back in the present day, one of the staff dancers is dressed like Bruno was in the video and pirouettes and cartwheels in front of the judge’s table. Alfonso Ribiero says about the video, “Wow! You know what? I am really happy I am on this side of the desk! That was scary! That was scary! It explains a lot…” WTF? Okay, probably I’m being over-sensitive, but that came across to me as Alfonso saying, “I’m glad I’m over here, and not having to sit by that gross nasty f*g who was wearing those super-gay outfits!” Alfonso, your stock just plummeted in my eyes. That just rubbed me the wrong way. What did you all think?
Tamar Braxton and Val Chmerkovskiy
Tamar’s most memorable year was 2012, as she says, “because I almost lost my husband, Vince.” She goes on to tell the story of their being on a trip to New York City, he wasn’t feeling well, and in the ER it’s discovered that he has blood clots in his lungs. During his 40-day recovery in the hospital, Tamar and Vince decided to have a child. Three months later, she was pregnant. So now, Tamar says, “I have two amazing miracles in my life, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world”
Tamar and Val will be dancing a Rumba to Tamar’s own song, “King”, because “It exemplifies the love and the appreciation that I have for both of them.” They take the stage in silver-gray costumes and do a routing that looks very fluid, very flow-y, very effortless.
Hayes Grier and Emma Slater
For Hayes’s most memorable year, we will be reaching all the way back to…2014! It was last year that Hayes catapulted to social-media video superstardom. Emma tells us how hurt Hayes was after last weeks lackluster performance, saying that “Hayes was really hurting. People forget that he’s a 15 year-old young boy that has never danced before. This is a whole new, different ball game for him.” Cripes, I have socks that are older than this kid…deep sigh. We get a (thankfully) abbreviated narrative of how Hayes started on Vine (basically fooling around with his brother) and voila! Here we are today.
Hayes and Emma will be doing a Contemporary routine to, as he says, “my best friend Shawn Mendes’s song, ‘Stitches’.” They take the floor and make quite a good showing. Hayes seems to have worked much harder this week. The audience hoots in approval at one point when Emma does a sort of half-flip into Hayes’s arms. The only downside I can see is that he is still retaining a bit of that teen-boy clumsiness; his moves are not as sharp as they could be.
Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold
For Alek, this year, 2015, is his most memorable due to the events on the French train, which is how we know of him at all! After another rundown of that, we hear that once again, Alek’s life has been ‘touched by violence”. Had he not accepted Dancing With the Stars, he would have been attending classes at Umpqua Community College, where there was the shooting this week. “Once I found out about the shooting, I started calling my friends and family”, Alek explains, “I felt totally helpless, like there was nothing I could do…this week has been really hard. My mind and heart have been with Roseburg.” Alek dedicates his routine, a Paso Doble, to his community.
Alek and Lindsay appear in copper-and-black flamenco-inspired costumes. Although Alek makes no obvious mistakes, clearly his mind is not in the game; he seems to be sleepwalking through it. understandable, I suppose.
Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess
Backstreet’s back alright! Nick’s year is 1992, the year he was signed to the Backstreet Boys. Nick tells us how the group was somewhat of his salvation, as he came from a dysfunctional family. I never saw “House of Carters”, but I remember it being described as horrific, so yes Nick, we’ll say dysfunctional. All choked-up, Nick remembers: “I really wanted to have that ‘movie’ mom and dad, you know, that ‘movie’ family, when you watch them…and I didn’t get that. It was really hard for me. It was hard.” Nick, we ALL wanted that ‘movie’ kind of family, but here is something I’ve learned: families like that don’t exist. Even the most “functional” families have problems, unhappiness, and what its members would think of as “wierdness”. That’s just how life is. The other Backstreet Boys are interviewed and they reminisce about how young Nick was at the time they met, and what he brought to the group. A.J. McLean says that most of Nick’s friends from growing up are now either dead or in jail, (yep, sounds like the Florida I know) but that Nick used music to get out of that destructive path. You can be proud, Nick, and even if those rumors about you and Lou Pearlman //cough// are true, it was worth it!
Nick and Sharna re-create the atmosphere of a Backstreet Boys concert for the performance of their Jazz routine, which looks very much like Backstreet Boys choreography…the duo certainly give it their all and are one of the audience favorites of the night.
Carlos Penavega and Witney Carson
Carlos would like to celebrate the year of 2012, as this was when he found his redemption. Carlos tells of being at the peak of success with his band, Big Time Rush, relishing the adrenaline high of being on stage, and enjoying the partying that went along with the lifestyle. But as so many before him have experienced, he reached the summit of the mountain only to find it lacking. Something was missing and the depression set in. “I locked myself in my house”, Carlos explains, “I started smoking weed (gasp!) like, every day. (Double gasp!) I really hit rock-bottom. I walk in to church, and I knew I was supposed to be there.” How lovely for you, Carlos. “In one week”, he says through copious tears, “my life changed forever.” Hoo boy. I think I need some insulin now after so much sugar.
Carlos has therefore chosen “Amazing Grace” to dance a Waltz to. In pure, white, virginal, heavenly costumes, Carlos and Witney emerge on a bare stage illuminated only by the shafts of light coming from the projected clouds – meant to be heaven – seen through what is meant to be a church window. They begin their waltz amongst dry-ice “clouds” also meant to be heavenly. This waltz doesn’t seem very waltz-y. The amazing graze that saved a wretch like him (a retch like him more like) seems to be much more freestyle.
Paula Deen and Louis Van Amstel
Paula’s banner year was 1989, the year she finally decided it wasn’t worthwhile to stand by her man, and pursued a D-I-V-O-R-C-E instead. In her words, when “I got sick and tired of bein’ sick and tired. I was in a 27-year marriage that I knew I couldn’t fix, and…I knew I had to make some hard decisions.” Welp, she ditched that man, started a business, and millions of tons of butter later, here we are!
Shifting her focus away from her past and towards the dancing ahead, Paula opines, “I’ve got the guts. Now I just need the self-confidence.” To the song “Respect” Paula, in an off-the-shoulder flapper-inspired dress of black and silver sequins and beads dances a Cha Cha with Louis. Paula seems more relaxed this week than in the past, but her dancing pretty much amounts to shifting her weight from one side to the other, shimmying so the beads on her dress will twirl, and falling back into Louis’s arms. Probably her best showing yet though.
Andy Grammer and Allison Holker
Since we haven’t endured enough tears, family discord, disease, and death tonight, Let’s have one more. Andy’s year is 2009, the year his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer (very late) and was gone three days later. Of course, he was devastated.
So let’s dance a Cha Cha! Andy and Allison, in attractive blue costumes, cover a lot of distance – traveling all over the ballroom in a very strenuous-looking routine full of athletic movement.
Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough
Oops, yet one more. Crowd favorite Bindi Irwin must make her entry in the Misery Sweepstakes, the well-publicized death of her father. This should be mercifully short, since there’s only 10 minutes left in the show. Yes, Bindi’s year is 2006, when Steve Irwin met up with that killer Stingray. We get to revisit the incident and see clips of the funeral. Bindi remembers activities with her dad as “the best days of my life”. Oh, Honey. Don’t sell yourself short – someone as young as you has plenty of opportunity for better days ahead.
Bindi and Derek do a very balletic-looking Contemporary routine to the song “Every Breath You Take”. The choreography seemed to suggest a couple meeting up and running off into the great hereafter together. Bindi continues to be the one to beat. Bruno gives her a perfect 10!
Alexa – 21
Gary – 16
Tamar – 27
Hayes – 27
Alek – 24
Nick – 27
Carlos – 25
Paula – 18
Andy – 23
Bindi – 28
In jeopardy are Carlos and Witney, and Gary and Anna
Gary Busey is eliminated. Is anyone surprised? I’m sorry to see him go though. He’s much more fun to write about than the children.
Next week: Switch-up. Will Emma get Alek, like she wished?