The perennial hit “Dancing With the Stars” is a kid-to-Grandma all-family show, hence the fourth go-round of “Disney Night” this week, with appearances by a passel of characters from the House of Mouse.
But make no mistake, “Dancing With the Stars” is also an undisputed ratings champ with adults, even after more than 20 seasons. Hence, lots of exposed flesh, very often from the professional ballroom dancers – so that’s what zero-percent body fat looks like! – and often from the celebrities, especially the ripped athletes and leggy actresses.
Hence: Nyle DiMarco in a loincloth. Nyle in a loincloth!
So this spectacular vision of male musculature served several very important purposes. One, it was a little something for the ladies, or anyone with a pulse, at home. Two, it nearly made judge Bruno Tonioli’s head explode, which is always a delight. And three, it was accompanied by a Phil Collins tune, giving viewers back-to-back weeks with the former Genesis rocker turned “Tarzan” composer.
If that’s not entertainment, folks, I surely don’t know what is.
Monday’s episode brought in Zendaya, a former Disney kid, “DWTS” contestant and now rising pop star, as a guest judge and returned to songs and characters that have appeared on the series in the past. No matter -- who gets tired of “The Little Mermaid,” “Mary Poppins” or Cinderella or Woody? No one. Absolutely no one.
And did I mention: Nyle in a loincloth!!!
Thanks to those handy smelling salts, I have the week’s recap, which included the obligatory cross-promotion for every arm of the sprawling Disney empire – catch “The Jungle Book” opening Friday! – the most-improved award (see the clip above of Antonio Brown), the surprise fan save (Doug Flutie!) and an even more surprising elimination. Bye, beautiful Marla!
Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess
Jazz routine to “Friend Like Me” from “Aladdin”
It was important to Sharna that she and Antonio put a new spin on the well-known Aladdin and Jasmine partnership. And, since Sharna is a smart competitor, she knew it would take a standout performance to catapult the NFL star out of the middle of the pack. And he delivered, doing some synchronized moves with several pros that really did make an impression. Bruno told him, “You could have been a Rockette,” and Len called it his “best dance” of the contest.
Score: 35 out of 40, with 9 times 3, Len with an 8
Marla Maples and Tony Dovolani
Waltz to “Part of Your World” from “The Little Mermaid”
Marla talked about having a tough couple of years, losing her mom, a close friend, “spiritual mentors” and pets. And by the way, she hardly ever mentioned The Donald during her “DWTS” stint, and I sort of wish she would have. Dirt, please! But given that she’s a classy gal, no such luck. Her handstands during rehearsal, according to the pre-taped segment, can be sort of destructive, but that’s how she blows off steam apparently.
Even though she struggled a bit in practice, she made a lovely Ariel. (Consider going red, Marla, and wearing lots of emerald green.) It was a pretty waltz. Zendaya dubbed it, “fluid, soft and sweet,” but she thought Marla wasn’t having a good enough time. But those legs, though! Bruno noted her “natural elegance,” but said she needed to finish her lines. Carrie Ann Inaba thought she looked a bit frightened at times, but Len Goodman called it “another solid performance.”
Score: 28, 7s across the board
Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd
Samba to “Trashin’ the Camp” from “Tarzan”
A bit of trivia: he’s not the first contestant to play Tarzan on the show, but he’s the hunkiest by far. A while back, Nascar star Michael Waltrip did a turn as Tarzan, but the 52-year-old driver wisely kept his shirt on and draped a tiger-print fabric swatch over his brown pants. Nyle went full Tarzan. Thank. God.
Peta talked in the video package about feeling pressure to stay on top – she and Nyle had the highest score last week, and the first 9 of the season. Nyle was game for anything, he showed during rehearsal, and he said he feels a special connection to the Tarzan character because he’s had trouble communicating all his life. The part should’ve fit like a glove, and it did. Bruno called him “perfectly undressed” for the occasion, and Carrie Ann loved his back-flipping, joyous performance. Len noted the “energy,” but thought there was too much bongo and not enough samba. Zendaya said he stayed in character, and everybody had fun watching him.
Doug Flutie and Karina Smirnoff
Jazz to “A Spoonful of Sugar” from “Mary Poppins”
After last week’s emotional routine honoring his late parents, the former football great kept getting frustrated and angry during rehearsal when he wasn’t picking up on the jazz routine. But he started to get his feet under him, so to speak, and it was clear that he wanted to do well. He’s just not a natural dancer, unlike many of the athletes who’ve starred on the series. Carrie Ann saw the “makings of a good routine,” but “it just didn’t all come together.” Len liked the character work, but noted that it was out of sync. Bruno said “the timing was slightly off,” and only about half the routine worked.
Score: 24, but host Tom Bergeron broke the good news that the couple was safe this week because of combined fan and judges’ scores. Since Doug was last in official scores, it was definitely the fans who kept him around.
Kim Fields and Sasha Farber
Quickstep to “I Wanna Be Like You” from “The Jungle Book”
Quick is the operative word in the quickstep, said Kim during practice, and Sasha told her to imagine she was running from wild animals like the big bear Baloo from the classic animated flick. (Remake, a combo of live-action and CGI, opening Friday!) Kim definitely had some fun, and four pros added some charm as sexy jungle creatures. Len thought it was her “best dance so far,” and Bruno called her the “fastest girl in the jungle,” with excellent energy level. And she improved her posture, he said, causing her to do a “dolphin dive” onto the judge’s table, as host Erin Andrews later dubbed it. Carrie Ann said they made it “look so easy.”
Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe
Cha Cha to Shakira’s “Try Everything” from the “Zootopia” soundtrack
Her children are nuts about “Zootopia,” but dancing with an animated singing gazelle is hard, y’all! But the “Fuller House” star seemed to have the routine down pat during practice, and they started off strong in the competition and recovered from a few foot faults. Jodie was clearly disappointed, but Zendaya noted that she kept going despite the bobbles. Bruno wanted her to let her inner Shakira out, and Carrie Ann called it “underwhelming” and somewhat out of sync. Jodie said she couldn’t hear the music over the audience screaming and cheering. Len disagreed with Carrie Ann, saying, “Underwhelming, it was not,” and then he compared the mistakes to a pimple on your nose that you hope no one notices. But they always do.
Score: 27, all 7s with a 6 from Len because pimple
Von Miller and Witney Carson
Viennese waltz to “A Dream is a Wish” from “Cinderella”
Highly competitive Witney didn’t like that she and Von were near the bottom of the leaderboard last week, so she cracked her Barbie drill sergeant whip. She even told Von he couldn’t fart anymore during practice. That lasted, well, about a nanosecond. And that was not the elegance she was going for. The NFL MVP continued to give her a hard time during rehearsal, but he obviously listened because he pretty well smashed that waltz as Prince Charming. Bruno called it “a staggering transformation,” with good lines and posture. Carrie Ann said he was “adorable,” and Len said Von’s gone from “drab to fab,” with great musicality. Von, like the dutiful soldier he is, credited his turnaround with “good coaching.”
Score: 32, even an 8 from a non-grumpy version of Len
Ginger Zee and Val Chmerkovskiy
Foxtrot to “Belle (Bonjour)” from “Beauty and the Beast”
Ginger wants and needs a breakout week, she said during the video package, and she thinks the quirky character of Belle is perfect for her. She was correct, and it was probably the most relaxed, fluid and carefree she’s been to date. Carrie Ann said it was “ridiculously good,” with the best hold of any partnership so far this season. And Len still didn’t bring the cranky. In fact, he raved. Zendaya called her “the star of the show” despite all the stuff going on in the scene (and Val/Gaston’s fake rat tail).
Score: 36, best of the night so far – 9 from Len!
Wanya Morris and Lindsay Arnold
Samba to “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King”
Wanya declared in the pretaped video that “It is ON” after Nyle outscored him last week, and he promised to bring the heat. Besides, he’s a huge “Lion King” fan and he wanted to do it proud. Boy, did he ever. Len called it “fantastic,” and Zendaya said he was “the king of the jungle.” Bruno dubbed him “a magnificent beast,” who “gave it everything and more.” Carrie Ann loved his primal power, but saw some hurried missteps in the beginning of the routine.
Score: 35, only one 8, from Carrie Ann, who took on the disagreeable Len mantle and got booed for it
Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas
Quickstep to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from “Toy Story”
Paige is a fierce mixed-martial-arts fighter and it’s not easy to make non-UFC friends when you beat people up for a living, she said during rehearsal. But she’s grown close to Mark and her “DWTS” family, so she gravitated to the touching “Toy Story” tune. And what an incredibly cute cowgirl! Bruno called it “saucy,” and “so refreshingly wonderful” and said Walt Disney himself would’ve been proud of the creativity. (Mark is, after all, known for his theatrical numbers. Loved the Army men!) Carrie Ann said it was the toughest dance of the night, technically, and Len compared it to a Disney flick with a happy ending.
Score: 36, tie for first place with Ginger and Val
Next week: The infamous “Switch-Up Night,” which shuffles the couples and sometimes creates magic. Other times, not so much. But it’s usually interesting.
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