Spooooky! Or, rather, spooky?
No one really thought that “Halloween Night” on “Dancing With the Stars” would get too dark, did they? No necromancy going on over here because that stuff is for cable. And this is the Disney version of the creepy holiday – with bedazzling!
Black goth lipstick and ghoulish contact lenses aside, any show that kicks off with “Monster Mash” is going to be Halloween Lite.
Monday’s show featured individual All Hallows’ Eve-themed dances and, as an added bonus, a team battle between the remaining eight celebrities. And as opposed to some of the groupings in the past, this four-on-four was pretty evenly matched.
Fans watched the married PenaVegas dance together (in the same routine, at least) for the first time, and saw Derek “I’ve never lost a team competition” Hough come in second by a hair. Derek did rake in the night’s only perfect score with Bindi Irwin, so it was far from a total loss.
Again this week, Leah Remini filled in for co-host Erin Andrews, bringing a saucy injection to the proceedings. No offense, Erin, but this gal is a highly entertaining substitute. Plus, she spawned a “DWTS”-themed drinking game, which does liven up the two-hour show if you play along at home.
She’s been a guest host before, as well as a contestant on the show, so it’s no surprise she’s back. But she also has a controversial memoir coming out soon about her life in Scientology, and there are the ABC News interviews about the book to promote. Ah, that ever-present corporate synergy.
Scores for the competitors have been up and down, back and forth in the previous six weeks, so literally anyone could’ve stayed and anyone could’ve gone during “Halloween Night.”
So who left? Hint: not the lowest scorer. Another hint: the guy who just signed a fat deal with Creative Artists Agency, so that must take some of the sting out of it. It’s a congrats-and-condolences combo, then, for Hayes Grier.
Here’s how they stacked up, in chronological order:
Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess
Carrie Ann Inaba has been especially tough on the Backstreet Boy, Nick said during his rehearsal video, while most everyone else has a hard time “giving me the real.” Give him the real, everybody! Nick promised to take the constructive criticism and apply it to his Argentine tango during which he and Sharna played Dr. and Bride of Frankenstein. Their song, the Evanescence tune “Bring Me to Life,” naturally lends itself to melodrama, which the couple brought in spades. There was also a really cool, well-executed lift (or series of lifts) in the middle. Julianne Hough loved his commitment but felt the kicks and flicks weren’t precise enough. Bruno Tonioli thought it was like watching a silent film, but “lost the flavor” of the tango. Carrie Ann called it “frankensexy” in its second half, after a clunky start, and liked his character work.
Hayes Grier and Emma Slater
Hayes had facial hair! For the first time! And he tried to grow up, not wanting to appear to be the baby competitor that he is during their Viennese waltz to Lana Del Rey’s “Once Upon a Dream” from the Disney flick, “Maleficent.” It floated, and there was a gorgeous trust-fall that could’ve gone terribly wrong but didn’t. Bruno compared him to Jacob in “Twilight,” and said his lines were controlled and beautifully placed. Carrie Ann said he’s improved vastly, and the chemistry between the two was obvious. Julianne called him “a leading man.”
Whether he’d stayed or not, this 15-year-old Vine star will continue to be in the spotlight. He just signed with Hollywood talent powerhouse CAA for potential exposure “across multiple domains, including digital distribution and partnerships, film, TV, endorsements, personal appearances and publishing,” the agency said a few days ago in breaking the news. Lucky kid. He also seems like a sweet kid, so let’s hope Hollywood doesn’t change him.
Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas
Alexa was in tears last week after the judges thought she missed the essence of Britney Spears in her routine – never mind that giant Burmese python she draped over her shoulders. This week, she was in tears again, clearly exhausted during rehearsal. But she pulled it together for their “Edward Scissorhands”-themed paso doble to Rodrigo y Gabriela’s “Hora Zero.” She was Winona Ryder, and Mark the Method dancer was in heaven as Edward. How did either one of them dance with those talons? (By the way, they were glittered scissors, of course). It was a forceful, precise performance, but it didn’t skimp on fun. And there was dancing foliage! Carrie Ann said she “danced like there was no tomorrow,” and Julianne made some kind of rambling exercise analogy to say that she almost messed up but actually did a great job. Bruno thought they captured the heart of Tim Burton’s film.
Tamar Braxton and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Val, ever the taskmaster, wasn’t about to let Tamar rest on her laurels from last week. She was more confident, for sure. In fact, she declared herself “probably the best dancer in the competition” during the pre-taped segment. Even if that were true, it may not win the popular vote. Just sayin'. Their rather bloodless foxtrot to “People are Strange” from the Doors ended in a freaky foursome, so that was kinda cool. Julianne said there’s still a disconnect when they danced together. Bruno found it “not as smooth” as it should’ve been, and Carrie Ann noted that they were “out of synch.” Tamar’s naturally the “best mover,” but the judge found good and bad moments in the dance.
Score: 24, with a chorus of boos from the crowd
Andy Grammer and Allison Holker
Oh, snap, watch out for that guy. That was the message from pop singer Andy, who knows he’s been a dark horse in this contest. Last week’s perfect score might’ve changed that. He said during his rehearsal video that he wanted to “really own” his role as a badass vampire in a paso doble to Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People.” Technically, there were issues, but emotionally, it worked. Bruno said he attacked it like a “bat out of hell,” but lost the proper posture. Carrie Ann liked it, and Julianne admitted that she was “extremely turned on right now.” There were flaws aplenty, but she didn’t seem to care about those because, well, hotness.
Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough
Adorbs! Is there any other way to describe this sunny 17-year-old? Nope. She’s never really celebrated a Halloween before, she’s said previously, and she’s squeamish about the thrills and chills, so her “DWTS” routine to “Cry Little Sister” from “The Lost Boys” soundtrack may’ve represented a number of firsts for her. Derek said he wanted to bring out her fierce, sexy side during the Argentine tango since she’s much better known for her perpetually cheerful disposition. Did he? Indeed, he did. She showed her fangs as a smokin’ hot vampire in a fabulous red dress, and danced the heck out of that number. “All hail the queen of darkness,” Carrie Ann said, noting that it was “exquisitely danced” with passion. Julianne found it “so intense” and on a “completely different level,” and “so strong and deep rooted.” Bruno called it an Argentine tango “master class.”
Score: a perfect 30, the best score of the night so far
Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold
International train hero Alek has no trouble taking charge in real life, but on the dance floor, well…Lindsay was so frustrated with his laid-back attitude that she called in another pro, Artem, to help prep them for their Viennese waltz to Beyonce’s “Haunted” remix from the “Fifty Shades of Grey” soundtrack. The extra coaching may have given Alek the kick he needed, and he promised during the pre-taped video to shake off his performance ennui. It’s been his personality – or lack thereof – that’s been holding him back, not his steps and lifts, because those have been solid. Bruno found him “more dynamic, more present” in the routine, and Carrie Ann said “a hero has returned.” There was so much fake smoke in the studio that a few of Alek’s missteps were lost in the fog.
Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson
Carlos and Alexa have had trouble all season dealing with the fact that they’re competing against each other. But they are. And on Monday’s show, each did a paso doble, and Carlos seemed to find his groove. It was tough to stand up to the previous week’s “Magic Mike” routine that Carlos suspected might’ve been overscored, he said in the rehearsal video. It could’ve been the abs, Carlos, but that naughty stripper dance was ah-may-zing, as Leah Remini would say. Carlos and Witney adopted a “Phantom of the Opera” theme for their paso to “O Fortuna (Carmina Burana)” and fairly crushed it. Bruno loved the theatrical appeal of the number, and Carrie Ann thought his performance was stronger for the costume. By this time, the smoke nearly reached house afire or Tommy Chong level, according to co-host Tom Bergeron.
Team dance time!
Team Nightmare: Nick (captain) led a pin-striped group that included Tamar and Val, Andy and Allison and Hayes and Emma. The “Nightmare Before Christmas”-themed dance to “This is Halloween” was surprisingly pro-level all the way around and incredibly entertaining. Julianne loved the concept, costumes and choreography and said that Hayes stood out in “one of the best team dances we’ve seen.” Bruno found touches of Fosse in a Broadway-caliber number.
Score: a perfect 30
Team Who You Gonna Call, with Bindi as captain, had hoverboards.
Hoverboards, plural. And they still got edged out. That maybe spoke more to Team Nightmare’s success than to some out-of-synch moments in the “Ghostbusters”-themed routine to the catchy Ray Parker Jr. hit. Carlos and Witney, Alexa and Mark, Alek and Lindsay, Bindi and defending team champ Derek showed poise and power on those hoverboards – the guys were the busters, and the gals were the ghosts – but it wasn’t as impressive as the other group. Julianne liked it the most because it was energetic and fun.