Welcome back, dance fans! The typically awkward "Dancing with the Stars" returns with extra special doses of awkward this week, as everyone's nervously excited about Disney Week. They're dancing with cartoon characters and going totally overboard with magical make-up and impressions, but it's all lots of fun. Besides Tom's Eeyore, I especially love Riker's Captain Jack Sparrow. He's become my favorite competitor this season anyway.
I'm glad the pandering and shameless self-promotion isn't quite as heavy-handed as last season, but there's still plenty of it. But at least we know the music is really good, as the couples dance to some of our favorite songs. Many of the couples are having a rough night though, and at this mid-point in the competition (can you believe already), the top competitors are starting to separate from the pack.
Let's get into my top dances:
Willow & Mark's Fox-Trot: Mark is really quite innovative, and has clever ideas for his routines. I'm still marveling over last week's incredible "Hunger Games" piece, but this fox-trot is also inventive and fun. There's a lot happening, and I do agree with Len that the concept overwhelms the dance a little, but Willow looks good and is enjoying herself. The music, from the recent Tim Burton/Johnny Depp live action Alice in Wonderland, sounds more like something from Harry Potter, and it's difficult to hear a fox-trot in it. That's quite a makeover on Mark, though, and his loose contact lens is so distracting, I don't hear a word Carrie Ann says. Score: 34
Riker & Allison's Paso Doble: Riker is having too much fun as Captain Jack Sparrow-but it works out just great for us! He's terrific at it, and I love it. Riker has definitely become my favorite this season, working so hard and dancing so well (he's clearly a Hough!). This routine is terrific too, so exciting and dramatic. I was confused when they said they were doing a paso doble because the soundtrack has such an amazing waltz in it, but it's a really fast waltz, like Viennese on steroids fast. Turns out, they are dancing paso to the waltz music, taking one step per measure like a milonga or hesitation waltz. The music is so great that it does overwhelm the dancing slightly, and Riker seems to have a little too much energy and not enough control, really swinging Allison around like a cape. I hope she isn't injured, because she definitely seems pulled off balance in one or two places. But what an exciting, and obviously exhausting, routine. Definitely my favorite of the night, and winning them two Mickey Mouse 10s from the judges. Score: 38 (tied for second place)
Rumer & Val's Samba: I love that when asked what princess she wanted to be, as if there were no other option, Rumer insisted on playing a villain instead. And Ursula is one of the coolest villains there are. Definitely the right choice. Fun routine to a great song, one that doesn't overpower the dance, and her samba is sexy and clean. Rumer's definitely having some fun with it for a change. I noticed Glenn Close in the audience last week, and it's amazing how much Rumer looks like Glenn with that wig on. This sea witch coerced three Mickey Mouse 10s out of the judges too, squeaking past Captain Riker on the leaderboard by just one point. Score: 39 (first place)
Nastia & Derek's Jazz: Jazz is kind of the catch-all term DWTS uses when they don't know what other dance a song will fit. But this is a very sweet routine, with some lovely moves. Nastia's gorgeous grand jeté right at the beginning sets the tone, and shows off her beautiful dress well. It's a long dance though, and I absolutely agree with Carrie Ann: both this routine and Rumer's embrace lip-synching, and it doesn't quite sit with me. The dance is very sweet, but perhaps a bit too sickly sweet, almost nauseating-but then again, so was the movie (I'm not the world's biggest Frozen fan). I will say, Derek makes quite a handsome prince. I've always been a sucker for sideburns. Score: 38 (tied for second)
Suzanne & Tony's Jazz: Suzanne starts out so strong in this jazz routine, looking sexy and confident and dancing nicely. It's such a shame then that her skirt catches on her heel, and from then on she's completely lost. The costume mishap, which can happen frequently, throws her off so badly that she barely recovers, despite what Tony lovingly says afterward. It's unfortunate, because she's doing great otherwise. Score: 28
Robert & Kym's Quickstep: Ooh, that one hurt. Robert is a good dancer and he definitely gives his all, but he gets totally off track in this dance. He and Kym are on different beats starting with the first step. I wonder if everyone is nervous tonight, either because of dancing with cartoons or they just don't want to make mistakes, but it's taking its toll. I don't love this choreography either. It's a little chaotic, with too many other dancers involved, and the music arrangement is cheesy and overproduced. On top of that, they have the original Mary Poppins (Robert is definitely no Dick Van Dyke), and last year's Sharna & Charlie Supercalifragialistic jazz to compete with. Performing to a signature number always makes the expectations greater. It's a shame, but Robert definitely shouldn't be chim chim cheery after that dance. Score: 24 (last place)
Patti & Artem's Waltz: I'm not sure what the camera people are doing tonight, because they keep capturing weird moments, then cutting away from the moments that we want to see; like what happened to Patti's big overskirt. This waltz is pretty, but it's distracting having Pinocchio and Geppetto appear on the dance floor. Patti also needs to smooth out her steps; she's looking a little bit klunky, and I'm not sure what all the fluttering with her hands is about. I also don't love the singers. Score: 27
Chris & Witney's Quickstep: It's great to see Alfonso back in the ballroom, even though he's not dancing, and he does help Chris relax and enjoy himself a bit. I agree with Julianne that he's worrying and thinking a little too hard. It definitely gets in his way. This is a good routine with a lot of quickstep content, and quickstep is especially difficult with an injured calf (it's all bouncing). He's doing fairly well, but there's still work to do, of course. He still needs to straighten his torso, relax his shoulders, and be careful of sticking his butt out. I wonder how he would be with a partner closer to his height. Perhaps during switch up week, if he makes it that far. Score: 27
Noah & Sharna's Fox-Trot: I admit, I got a little suckered by this routine because I love this song and the movie, and the dance is so sweet. Sharna and Noah look lovely-though his hair makes him look like Bruno Mars. I agree with Carrie Ann that it's lacking a bit of content this week; Sharna's definitely dancing around him more than usual. But it is their first ballroom dance, and he's definitely doing the best he can given his unique challenges. Sharna's awesome, giving him a terrific pep talk, telling him to "suck it up, princess," and reminding him to only focus on what he can do, not what he can't. We all need to do that more. Score: 28
During the evening, Tom and Erin reveal the three couples in danger: Suzanne and Tony, Patti and Artem, and Chris and Witney. Despite Chris's minor improvement this week, I'm disappointed that he's still here. Patti is also spared, and Suzanne is sent packing. It's a shame; I'd like to see what more Suzanne could do.
What do you think, dance fans? Are you sad to see Suzanne go? Which are your favorite dances? What do you think of this Disney night?