Hey, guess who's on “Dancing with the Stars” this week? Julianne Hough! She'll be sitting in at the judges' table, and I fully expect her to be a great judge (sorry, Robin Roberts, but you were kinda useless). She's not only a dancer, she's been a dancer on this show — so she's not going to pull any punches. Possibly. This week, the celebs will be getting a new partner — just for the week, mind you — so it could open the door to hot messes. Or greatness. Depends on the switch! If anything, this is sure to make some of the pros nervous. No one wants to think their star is circling the drain because of something they are or aren't doing.
Candace & Tony
The Background: They're doing the quick step, and it's going to be a speedy quick step. She was nervous about switching partners, and it's her first ballroom week, so this could be a recipe for disaster! Eh, don't worry. If you screw up, Candace, it's probably all on you.
The Dance: This is a little all over the place, isn't it? I like the punk rock costumes and the music choice “The Ballroom Blitz” but this looks awkward and frantic.
The Judges: Len thinks it was a hair raising performance. Her posture wasn't great, but she attacked it. Julianne Hough thought it was wonderful choreography, but she thought the body contact was a little too gaffed. Bruno wasn't expecting it. He thinks she lost her frame. Carrie Ann thinks the body contact was off, but she loved the energy.
The Scores: Carrie Ann – 7 Len – 7 Julianne – 7 Bruno – 7
James & Cheryl
The Background: James isn't sure if he'll have the chemistry he has with Peta with Cheryl, but he'll try. There's an awkward Skype call to Peta, and Peta seems so much more interested in James than he is in her. Peta, you deserve better! Anyway, they'll be doing a tango.
The Dance: His feet are not great, but this is good otherwise. I'm just a little mad at him for being so cool to Peta.
The Judges: Julianne is so glad she gets to talk first. She thinks James is the total package — he has dedication, technique and passion. But he's sticking his butt out, so next week maybe Peta can help him tuck his pelvis. Everyone laughs, because sex. Bruno has no problem with his pelvis. Everyone laughs because sex. He liked it, but he needs to get his butt under control. More laughing. Carrie Ann thought the butt and pelvis were fine, but noticed no big change, which is huge. Len thought it was burning hot. It lacked control and was too manic sometimes, but hey, fiery. I think everyone else saw a better dance than I did.
The Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 8 Julianne – 9 Bruno – 9
Erin asks if James and Peta are dancing and gets a non-answer. Of course.
Oh, and the pros give a few warning about what the new partners should expect. NeNe screams a lot, Drew bruises a lot, Cody is a narcissist, and Charlie likes to joke around. Alrighty then.
Drew & Witney
The Background: He tells Drew he's older than her dad, which must hurt plenty. But still, he thinks it's great fun dancing with Witney. Even if it's creepy.
The Dance: This cha cha looks a lot better than last week. Maybe he did turn a corner!
The Judges: Bruno thought his performance was somewhere between Elvis and Liberace. Carrie Ann thinks he killed it. Len thinks he was really out there and he hasn't had that much fun in a minute in a half since he was teenager. Badum-dum! Julianne thought he owned it. It was so good!
The Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 8 Julianne – 9 Bruno – 8
Derek Hough is overseeing the return of Macy's Stars of Dance. So yeah, those are back. There will be a slow motion camera effect happening in real time. Okay, I'm in. Derek says it will be epic!
I'm not sure if it was epic, but it was very, very good. The camera effect was cool, but I only noticed it once, and I'm not sure it was worth hyping the heck out of it.
Danica & Maks
The Background: Maks will be taking Danica through a jive. Hang in there, Danica!
The Dance: Wait, what happened? There was a tech glitch, wasn't there? But otherwise, this is good. Danica continues to surprise me, really.
The Judges: Ah, something did happen to their music. But anyway, Carrie Ann thinks she's having fun. But she thought she was dancing ahead of the beat. Len thought it was high energy, but she would have liked more jive. Julianne also felt she danced ahead of the beat, but she felt Maks phoned it in so he could get back to Meryl. Maks disagrees, but not with much passion. Bruno thinks she covered the musical mistake and liked the jive — as much jive as she did.
The Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 8 Julianne – 8 Bruno – 8
Wow, Drew scored higher than Danica did. Ouch.
Charlie & Peta
The Background: Peta feels pressure to keep Charlie at the top of the leader board. It's a rhumba, and he isn't naturally super sexy. Peta feels like she's cheating on James. Interesting…
The Dance: I have to say that this season is really between Charlie and Meryl. They are the ringers. It's a shame no one else has a chance, but it does make for some really good dancing.
The Judges: Len hated it, because it wasn't a rhumba. Julianne thought it was stunning and beautiful. But… he's on his heels and back weighted. Bruno loved the grand heroic sweep.
The Scores: Carrie Ann – 7 Len – 8 Julianne – 9 Bruno – 9
James tweeted for Charlie not to get too comfortable with Peta. Ha. Ha. Then, he's quick to tell the audience this is just good-natured ribbing. I would not trust James, Peta.
Amy & Mark
The Background – Mark can't wait to work with her! She's like a jigsaw puzzle! He talks to Derek about the challenges of dancing with someone without feet. Pivoting is difficult, but she can twist. Good to know for salsa!
The Dance: I'm continually amazed that she can dance at all, but I think she can't get into the salsa as deeply as someone with feet could — it would ruin her balance. But, I mean, still amazing.
The Judges: Julianne thinks she's a fierce competitor. She's really proud of them both. Bruno thought it was incredible. Carrie Ann thought it was excellent. Len thinks her bottom is the top. Len is in dirty old man mode this week. Stop it, Len.
The Scores: Carrie Ann – 9 Len – 8 Julianne – 8 Bruno – 9
Cody & Sharna
The Background: It's two Aussies dancing together, which is apparently a first. She can't believe how young he is. He thinks of her like his mom. Eww, she's maybe 10 years older than him at most. Calm down, Cody. Still he says Witney tolerates his messing around more.
The Dance: Oh, he's singing. I'm not sure if a musician has gotten so much of his or her music on the show before. Branding! He looks less like a jumble of long limbs this week, most definitely. There's a lot of grace here, and a lightness to his footwork. But still, he's flapping.
The Judges: Bruno thought he can't control his length of bone in hold. Carrie Ann loved hearing him sing, but thinks his hold has improved, but his arms are moving from his elbows. Len thinks he looks a little awkward in hold, but good out of it. Julianne loved it.
The Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 7 Julianne – 8 Bruno – 8
NeNe & Derek
The Background: NeNe loves that Derek knows she's known for being fabulous. Really? Okay. Tony is totally jealous. Yeah, he says that, but I somehow doubt it. They'll be dancing jazz.
The Dance: That was fun, I guess, but it seems… insensitive. I guess it's a Josephine Baker homage, but… hmm. Well, I guess it's Beyonce-inspired, sure, but wow, that outfit is so not okay.
The Judges: Carrie Ann loved that NeNe was working it. Len thought the dance suited her and it was her best dance of the season. Julianne loved that she let her inner Beyonce out. Bruno thinks it was like being in the presence of the Queen of Sheba.
The Scores: And… Slingbox fail. But I'm assuming good scores.
Meryl & Val
The Background: Princess Jasmine, I mean Meryl, is nervous to meet her person… and it's Val! Val thinks this is “incestual adultery.” Don't make up words, Val. How are the brothers different, Meryl? Maks has never braided her hair, but Val is more down to business. It's a tango, and Maks is jealous. I know Meryl has a boyfriend or fiance or whatever, but I think Maks wants to carry her off into the sunset given half the chance.
The Dance: Damn. Just… damn. So good!
The Judges: Len thought it was the dance of the night. Julianne would love to dance like Meryl. She thought it was stunning. Bruno thought it was powerful and seductive. Carrie Ann thinks Meryl & Val are in a class of their own.
The Scores: Carrie Ann – 10 Len – 9 Julianne – 10 Bruno – 10
Best score of the week. And hey, if it isn't Charlie, it should always be Meryl.
Tom Bergeron gives us score totals — at the top is Meryl and at the bottom, Candace. I think the partner swap was an interesting idea, and I hope they keep doing it. It did seem to allow a few dancers to really show what they can do — especially Drew — and it made a case for some pros being better matches for specific celebrities. Yes, they're all great, but personalities meshing makes a big difference in the end result, too.
Next week is Disney night! What do you want to bet Meryl will be doing something from “Aladdin”?
What did you think of NeNe's routine? Do you think the final two will be Meryl and Charlie? Who are you rooting for?