Farewell, Wonder Years. We miss you already.
Dancing With the Stars Season 18, Week 8 was a bad night to be a Chmerkovskiy — or partnered with one. Not only did both Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Valentin Chmerkovskiy spar with guest judge Abby Lee Miller, Val fell victim to elimination, just missing out on the Semifinals. And he felt like the least favored Chmerkovskiy grandchild! Sad.
There were two rib injuries last week, but the second one dominated last week’s show and maybe overshadowed Danica McKellar just enough to hurt her this week. (She also got called “condescending” by Maks, so life just was not on her side.) Danica was injured in her Latin Night dances, and those are the scores that mattered tonight. She had James Maslow and Charlie White under her on the scoreboard, but Charlie had baffling scores last week, which probably led to more fans helping him out, and James had the Jeta fans. This was their test, and they passed.
Fans saved James from the bottom of the leaderboard as they saved Candace Cameron Bure the week before. Will M&M fans do the same for Meryl Davis? Inexplicably, she is at the bottom of the leaderboard this week, after sitting at the top last week.
Can we blame Abby Lee Miller? For everything? There has to be a happy medium between cheerleader guest judges who just say everyone is wonderful and nitpickers who give 8s over "sickled feet" and hand out 10s for … who knows why.
Ironically, Abby was fine with the two pros who had blasted her online two years ago, Mark Ballas and Derek Hough. In fact, she was more than fine with Derek — calling him a "legend"— but she was not-so nice to the Chmerkovskiys. Granted, both Maks and Val were more open with their disdain to her face instead of on Twitter, but — honestly — good for them. It was just strange to see Meryl get two 8s from Abby. And Meryl is the one Abby had praised in advance as being as good as one of the female pros. Guess that’s why she felt compelled to be extra tough.
Anyway, the Quarterfinals show was a little bit awkward, but as Tom Bergeron put it, it was very live TV. What did you think of Abby as guest judge, the scores, the comments, and the elimination?
Here’s a quick rundown of where the couples stand after Week 8:
Amy & Derek — 40 + 39 = 79
Charlie & Sharna — 40 + 38 = 78
James & Peta — 36 + 39 = 75
Candace & Mark — 36 + 38 = 74
Danica & Val — 38 + 34 = 72 — Eliminated
Meryl & Maks — 36 + 34 = 70
Read on for a full recap of Week 8 action:
OPENING NUMBER: Mark Ballas opens the show with his new song, “Get My Name,” as the other pros dance. Then he jumps in to dance too. Go Mark! That was fun. In unrelated news, love Erin Andrews’s black pantsuit this week. Abby Lee Miller is the guest judge; kids from Dance Moms are also in the house. Tiaras and all! Abby said she’s looking for straight legs, pointed feet, musicality, emotional changes, pretty much everything.
SAFE OR IN JEOPARDY? Charlie and Sharna are safe, and dancing first.
1. Charlie White and Sharna Burgess — Quickstep — Sharna was frustrated last week, and for the first time she saw that he was frustrated too. Charlie felt like he lost a bit of his positivity. He was feeling down and his mom came to visit to inspire him. He needed a reminder to get back to his usual place of enjoying the show. Len, you’ve crushed his spirit! He flies across the floor, all smiles and energy. And my heart goes boom, boom, boom. He doesn’t even look exhausted.
JUDGES: Len Goodman said last week he said to get a 10 you have to do something special. He’s still working this one out. Abby Lee said she’s just happy someone else is mean. She’s all about corrections, so people can improve. When he went upstairs, he needed to straighten his knee. At least she’s being technical, but Bruno Tonioli argued with her. Fight, Bruno! Slay, Bruno! But, Abby said, Charlie has impeccable musicality. Abby yelled that Bruno wasted her time. That’s what you get! Live TV, girl. Bruno said Charlie was off the starting block like a thoroughbred at the Kentucky Derby. Bruno stood through the critique. Crisp, precise footwork. Not quite so clean on the stops, though. There was a touch of Argentine Tango that was delicious. Carrie Ann Inaba said she’d be quick since “there’s a lot going on.” Ha. Charlie has struggled to find his stride, but this week he made a step beyond.
SCORES: 10 (Carrie Ann), 10 (Len), 10 (Abby Lee), 10 (Bruno) = 40! Even with Abby’s criticism, she still gave a 10. Interesting. So Charlie finally got his perfect score. And now we can stop hearing about his lack of 10s for a while.
SAFE OR IN JEOPARDY? Meryl and Maks are safe. Danica and Val are in jeopardy, and they are dancing next.
2. Danica McKellar and Valentin Chmerkovskiy — Tango — Danica asked Val if he felt they had a shot to make the Finals. He said yes. Danica has her own rib injury (which ended up upstaged by Amy’s injury, unfortunately). Val wants a lot of content to please a technical specialist like Len. (Something brown on your nose there, Val.) Love the chandelier. And the crown! Smoke machine is back. Very creative routine. How do we feel about Lorde’s dark, haunting cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”? Danica gets the crown in the end.
JUDGES: Abby said it was an amazing concept from Val and and she loves to see a man on his knees. Abby wanted Danica to dance on The Wonder Years, it was her favorite show. Danica could’ve been a pro dancer but chose to be an actress? Abby thought it was great but keep her shoulders pressed down. Bruno said it was Danica’s most majestic and powerful performance. He’d be devastated if she went home. She pulled it all together tonight. Incredibly powerful. Wonderful. Carrie Ann said she feels like Danica’s mom. It was difficult, challenging choreography with her broken rib. It was like Black Swan recreated the most beautiful ballet. Len said it took a while to get started, but once she got into hold into Tango she was on it like a bonnet. “It was terrific.”
SCORES: 10, 9, 9, 10 = 38 out of 40. Love Erin’s joke about wanting to wear the crown but it won’t fit on her weave, so don’t even try.
3. Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Rumba — Maks said Rumba is a sensual dance. This routine depicts a convoluted story of a dysfunctional relationship, Maks said. Cue Meryl slapping him after a turn. Meryl said Maks is really a big softie. Just because a teddy bear is large doesn’t mean he’s scary. Maks said he and Meryl will maintain whatever they have after the show. She pets him in rehearsal. She’s on his dance level, so it has to be easier for him to not get frustrated with her. They start the routine at a table and have a fight. She does her slap. Soap opera! She dances barefoot. Intense, passionate routine. Is she the best celeb dancer that’s ever been on DWTS? Legit question. She has the best hair, that’s not up for debate.
JUDGES: Bruno said it was tempestuous melodrama. Totally Tennessee Williams. It was like A Streetcar Named Desire - Stanley and Stella. A play without words. Inspired. Unconventional. Different. And he loved it. Carrie Ann said Meryl and Maks have an incredibly fluidity and chemistry that’s mesmerizing. Rumba is about continuous movement, but even though they stopped for drama, the energy continued. She called Charlie out on not enough Rumba content, and she has to do it again. Len said the mood and the feeling was fantastic. Like Carrie Ann he would’ve liked more Rumba, less Contemporary, but he’d like to watch it again. Abby Lee said she would never hit Maks. Abby called out some imperfect footwork, because she knows Meryl has what it takes to win so she wants her to be perfect. Feels nitpicky. Will she still give a 10?
SCORES: Maks SHOT ABBY DOWN. When Erin asked about the sickled feet comment, Maks said, “I really don’t care for anything that she has to say.” SLAY, MAKS! After that, Carrie Ann gave a 9, Len gave a 9, Abby gave an 8 (total BS), and Bruno went for 10. Bruno is winning this night. 36 out of 40. FYI, Erin: This is sickled feet.
SAFE OR IN JEOPARDY? Amy and Derek are safe. James and Peta are in jeopardy. Candace and Mark are also in jeopardy, and dancing next.
4. Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas — Foxtrot — Mark talks about how after rehearsals Candace goes home to a whole other job with her kids. Cute family. Another dysfunctional relationship routine, just more old-fashioned. Love Candace’s top. Sassy, fun Foxtrot.
JUDGES: Carrie Ann said Candace has had a difficult struggle to find her footing. She’s seen that Candace has found her footing and made a breakthrough with confidence. She saw a brand-new flair. There were still minute flaws, but she’s back on track. Len said it was bright, fun, frivolous, it was so joyful to watch. Little posture issues. Abby loved it too, but choreographically she would’ve dropped her in the piece — to go with the song, “That’s It, I Quit, I’m Movin On.” OK. Tom didn’t get it either, thought they were going to have a YouTube moment. What did that have to do with Candace’s dancing? If she’s going to give constructive criticism, then go ahead and do it. Bruno said Candace has a bright vivacity to her. He loved the touches of slapstick. Her growth as a performer has been great. Watch on extending her lines.
SCORES: 9, 9, 9, 9 = 36 out of 40.
5. James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd — Viennese Waltz — James is discouraged to be at the bottom of the judges’ leaderboard. Is there anything else he could’ve done, he wondered? Len gave him an 8 last week. They are in the Charlie zone of too much focus on what’s going wrong. The boys from Big Time Rush came in. Maybe they can help bring the positivity back. Even those guys ask the dating question! Haha. Well, if your buddies can’t tease you about having chemistry like a married couple, no one can. Not sure about the feathers on her dress, but nice Cherry Blossoms. Everything with these two is intense, but good.
JUDGES: Len said he is a fan of his dancing. He loved the free-flowing movement of it. Once he gets into hold he doesn’t straighten his legs. They are always flexed. Because of that, his bottom comes out. The crowd cheered. Ha. In ballroom hold, he has to learn to straighten his legs to get his posture better. But it was free-flowing and lovely. Abby said Peta is perfection. The male dancer’s job is to make the woman look amazing and that’s what he did. He looked into her eyes. She wanted him to look into her eyes that way. Bruno said love is in the air and he could feel it. A romance blossoming under the cherry trees. In hold he has to control his buttocks. He offered his own help. Oh, Bruno. Carrie Ann said James is a very special soul when he dances. He can go from super sexy to charming and elegant. She agreed on posture and leg issues. And Peta’s leg came off the ground? Did it?
SCORES: 8, 9, 10, 9 = 36 out of 40. Wow, 10 from Abby, and flirting with James. 8 for Meryl. 10 for James. OK. Low score from Carrie Ann. All over the map.
6. Amy Purdy and Derek Hough — Argentine Tango — They show Amy in pain backstage last week, going to the hospital. The doc felt her muscle spasm. She sat and watched Derek dance with another dancer for a while in rehearsals. Her rib continues to pop out of place if she moves wrong. You didn’t hear this out of Danica this week. The AT is targeting the exact spot where she’s injured. At least in this dance she can just lean on Derek, and she has her pointed feet on. Beautiful lifts. Creative use of the stool, and the music.
JUDGES: Abby had something to say to Derek. A great choreographer makes the dancer look incredible, pushes the envelope, he did that. Her students are there this evening. She’d better never hear that they are tired or have to do homework after Amy. (Why not?) Bruno called her Amazing Amy (again.) Said she had power, control, precision. Immersion into character were there. Perfection. Carrie Ann said Season 18 they’ve seen it all. She was watching the and she felt like she stopped breathing three times. Amy teared up. Amy put herself in a class on her own. Everything was perfection. Len said if he’s dreaming don’t wake him up. That was terrific.
SCORES: 10, 10, 10, 10 = 40.
***CELEBRITY DANCE DUEL***
Danica & Val and Meryl & Maks, Samba
Having two teachers in the room, especially brothers, made it hard for Danica to relax. Maks got a little snippy. Danica told Meryl their job was to filter out the insults from Val and Maks. Maks said she doesn’t need to be condescending. Oh Maks. It’s OK against Abby, but not Danica. Maks and Val’s grandmother flew out to L.A. to see them dance. Grandma helped them get from a not-so comfortable place to a more comfortable place.
Love the white and gold outfits on Mery and Danica. Still don’t understand how this is going to be judged. Are a unit? Individually?
JUDGES: Len said Samba is no easy dance to get through. He loved the content in there, with so much proper Samba. When the two celebs got together there was a little lack of synchronicity. Abby said something about the arms being wrong and Val spoke back. Abby said you have to love a man who protects his woman. She would’ve liked to see the girls in heels. Bruno said wonderful Samba content. What happens is, if they don’t take the bounce at the same time you look slightly off. But it was sexy. Carrie Ann thought it was sexy and had a lot of content. It’s a duel but a duet, so it’s all about synchronicity. They did well in coming together, but some of the turns were off. The timing was off, and some of the arms were off. As much as she loved it as a whole it didn’t quite do it all justice. Boos.
SCORES: 8, 9, 8, 9 = 34 out of 40. Tom talks to Grandma Chmerkovskiy in the audience. She does not have a favorite grandson.
Candace & Mark and Charlie & Sharna, Contemporary
Their rehearsal package is much, much shorter than the other team’s. Candace does do lifts very well. Beautiful. They worked well as a team.
JUDGES: Abby told Candace she was worried about her feet after rehearsals but she looked like an Abby Lee Dance Company member. (Free plug.) Charlie was amazing, lyrical, and felt the movements. Bruno said Candace and Charlie were made for each other. The four of them were a unit. Brilliant. Carrie Ann said they were an unlikely pairing but they embodied the same quality of movement. Charlie did knock Sharna off a bit. Len said they were in tune with the music with themselves. They drew everyone into the performance, but the issue with Sharna was right in front of them.
SCORES: 9, 9, 10, 10 = 38 out of 40.
Amy & Derek and James & Peta, Jive
James and Amy fell over in practice but Amy said it popped her rib back into place. Amy feels like she’s limiting the team with the choreography she can do. She cried in rehearsals.
JUDGES: Bruno said it was extraordinary. Peta and Amy looked like sisters - doing it for themselves. For James, stepping into Derek’s shoes takes some doing and he did it beautifully. It was fabulous. Carrie Ann said it was also great Amy stepping into Peta’s shoes. One tiny thing, she started on the wrong foot for the first kick. Len said it had everything he wanted to see. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. Abby wanted to get up and dance, for the first time ever. It was amazing and brilliant. Peta shared the stage with this legend and matched him. Did she mean Derek? Jeez. She’s kissing his butt tonight.
SCORES: 9, 10, 10, 10 = 39.
SAFE?: Candace and Mark are safe. So there goes our prediction. It’s James & Peta vs. Danica & Val. Peta always looks so pained in jeopardy.
WHO IS GOING HOME? Danica and Val. Upstaged by the other rib.
Danica said she’s had the best time ever. She didn’t want to see anyone else eliminated, so she guessed it worked out. Val said Danica is a great person who works very hard. She met a great individual, they had some fascinating conversions. It’s been a blast.
Did the right couple go home? Who gets your votes this week? And what did you think of Abby Lee Miller as guest judge?