Monday, October 21, 2019

Dancing With the Stars S28E05: Disney Night

© ABC
DWTS Disney Night was full of magic, romance, and swashbuckling adventure
By Kim Krober

Every season of Dancing with the Stars, I look forward to the magic of Disney Night. This year didn't disappoint with that Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious opening number choreographed down the Main Street of Disneyland. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, and Goofy were all in the ballroom to cheer on the contestants, and we also got occasional glimpses of Tinker Bell and a special Frozen II dance from the pros. But can we talk about the fact that you can build your own custom droid at Galaxy's Edge because I'm seriously geeking out about that!?

Let's see how your favorites did during this fantastic fifth week of competition:

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Sailor Brinkley-Cook & Val Chmerkovskiy, Viennese Waltz
A Viennese Waltz set to "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from Cinderella? My jealousy for Sailor grew as I watched her ride in a glass pumpkin carriage at Disney down to that gorgeous dress she wore during her dreamy waltz with Val. Len thought it was as light and fluffy as a souffle, while Bruno called her the belle of the ball. Light, fluid, and elegant were all words he used to describe her dance. Carrie Ann got emotional watching her full-body performance, saying the magic of Disney was definitely at work.
Score: 24

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Karamo Brown & Jenna Johnson, Samba
I still can't believe Karamo was in the bottom two last week. Seeing him dance a Samba to "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" from The Lion King was total redemption. Bruno wanted to hear him roar, telling him he attacked it like a leader even though he lacked elasticity. Carrie Ann enjoys watching him radiate joy, but she could tell he lost his balance. Len called it fun and joyful but said it was too stompy and that Karamo took a while to recover in spots. How cute was Karamo as the proud dad though?
Score: 21

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Kate Flannery & Pasha Pashkov, Jazz
Mary Poppins is my all-time favorite Disney movie, and I was excited to see Kate and Pasha dance to "A Spoonful of Sugar" in a Jazz routine. I loved, loved, loved it - everything from her entrance down from the ceiling to her cheeky disposition and all the chimney sweeps dancing around her. Carrie Ann loved the Quickstep beginning and admired them for being in sync, but then she fell out of her chair in one of the most bizarre moments I've ever witnessed on this program. Len liked the Polka and Charleston bits, calling it a sweet and delicious routine. Bruno said the medicine worked wonders, enjoying all the personality and content. Pasha is really growing on me too!
Score: 24

Sean Spicer & Lindsay Arnold, Quickstep
Sean and Lindsay looked like they were having a great time dancing a Quickstep to "You've Got a Friend in Me" from Toy Story, although I'm not sure you could call it quick exactly. Len liked the heel leads and his frame, complimenting him on his hold and for not taking the easy route. Bruno said it was a better effort, giving him credit for improving. Carrie Ann called it his best dance in the competition, saying they're not skimping on the choreography or character.
Score: 19

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Ally Brooke & Sasha Farber, Contemporary
Ally and Sasha were tasked with a Contemporary dance set to the titular "Beauty & The Beast." It was as beautiful as her sparkly yellow dress. Bruno thanked her for one and a half minutes of pure happiness, commending her for throwing herself into every feeling and moment. Carrie Ann loves her authentic shapes, saying she can tell she dances from her heart. Len said it was as smooth as butter on a hot muffin, admiring the lifts, emotion, and passion. It was enough to earn Ally the first 9's and the highest scores of the season!
Score: 27

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Lauren Alaina & Gleb Savchenko, Samba
Ariel is my favorite princess too! Lauren and Gleb danced an adorable Samba to "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid. Where can I get colorful jellyfish like that for my ceiling? Carrie Ann recognized how hard the Samba is, praising her for having the right timing and movement. Len liked the content among all the frivalry, while Bruno called it fabulous. The reactions seemed a bit mixed, so when Carrie Ann and Bruno pulled out 8's, I was a little surprised.
Score: 23

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Kel Mitchell & Witney Carson, Jazz
I'm not a fan of High School Musical, but I am a fan of Kel and Witney. Their Jazz routine to "We're All in This Together" was high-octane fun from start to finish. Len called it a dance that was well-suited to Kel's strengths. Bruno said he's graduated to the top of the class but cautioned him about carrying that energy over to the rest of his dances in this competition. Carrie Ann said he led that number like the champ he is. It was enough to earn him two 9's and an 8 from the judges and to catapult him to the upper half of the leader board!
Score: 26

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Hannah Brown & Alan Bersten, Foxtrot
"A Whole New World" is one of my favorite songs from my childhood and Aladdin. Hannah's Foxtrot was mesmerizing thanks to the starry, foggy backdrop and colorful costumes, but not as amazing as watching their package from Galaxy's Edge! Bruno said it was radiant and enchanting, likening it to a magic carpet ride he wanted to go on forever. Carrie Ann called it a stunning showcase. Len said she's fantastic in hold, but he was not a fan of all the swooshes. I would have to agree with host Erin Andrews who quipped that Len could use some pixie dust. Is he trying to boost ratings by being more cantankerous than ever, or is he just getting sick of doing the show?
Score: 25

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James Van Der Beek & Emma Slater, Paso Doble
James channeled his inner swashbuckler for a smoldering Paso Doble inspired by the Pirates of the Caribbean. Carrie Ann loved the drama, dynamics, and energy exchanges. Len called it aggressive but noted certain movements could be stronger. Bruno said it was a big hit for him, echoing my sentiments about the dance. It was amazing seeing Mr. and Mrs. Leery from Dawson's Creek in the crowd rooting for Dawson (James) this week!
Score: 26

After such a fun-filled night, it would have been tough to see anyone go home short of their dreams. Luckily for us, nobody went home on Disney Night! But that probably spells a heartbreaking double elimination in the cards next week. How did your favorites fare this week?

Monday, October 14, 2019

Dancing With the Stars S28E04: Top Ten

© ABC
DWTS had Leah Remini as a guest judge, but it was a ho-hum episode
By Kim Krober

It was great to see Leah Remini return to Dancing with the Stars as a special guest judge during Cast From the Past Week. She was a lot more lenient to the contestants than the judges have been this season, and I enjoyed watching her talk over (and at times down to) her fellow judges as she called them out on their cantankerous spirit. Was anyone else a little disappointed we didn't see other past favorites this week? I don't know what I was expecting exactly, but a star-studded number with former champions might have been nice. Let's see how your favorites did during this fourth week of competition:

Sean Spicer & Lindsay Arnold, Paso Doble
Will this be the week that Sean Spicer finally goes home? Dancing a Paso Doble to "Bamboleo" by The Gipsy Kings, he looked more serious and polished than in weeks past. Len called it the Paso Doble from Pasadena, but liked his attack. Bruno said he isn't quite Antonio Banderas, but admired him for taking the bull by the horns. Carrie Ann loved his committed arms but cautioned him about dancing without expression or humanity. Leah loved that Sean comes out and tries his best even though he's clearly not a dancer.
Score: 21

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Ally Brooke & Sasha Farber, Jive
Ally survived Sasha's Boot Camp to deliver a Jive set to "Rollin' on the River (Proud Mary)" that was high-octane fun. Bruno was tingling with delight from the diva-like performance, while Carrie Ann commended her for nailing it. Leah called it a difficult routine that was no joke, while Len said he was proud watching her technique and personality come out during the dance. Ally received all 8's and praises from the judges.
Score: 32

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Kel Mitchell & Witney Carson, Cha-Cha
I'm in disbelief that Kel was in the bottom two last week but even more in disbelief that he has a 20-year-old son because he's part of my generation and I can't be that old! His Cha-Cha to Shawn Mendes' "If I Can't Have You" was fun and fancy-free. Carrie Ann said it was what she's been waiting for from Kel with lots of incredible flair. Leah told him he was wonderful to watch, while Len said he finally came out from under the radar. Bruno said he has the Cha-Cha in his pocket and loved seeing his hip action, musicality, and engaging personality come out in full force. I hope his four 8's are enough to keep him safe from elimination this week!
Score: 32

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Kate Flannery & Pasha Pashkov, Argentine Tango
I love to watch Kate continue to bloom in this competition! She seemed a little nervous to do a steamy Latin dance this week. Her Argentine Tango to Selena Gomez' "Hands to Myself" was probably more fun than passionate, but it wasn't the worst dance of the night. Leah praised her for her energy, while Len admitted it was more of a struggle than her Quickstep last week. Bruno admired her for going for it like a cougar, but noted that it lost some of the purpose of the Argentine Tango. Carrie Ann said it was amazing to watch her feet work the floor. Hopefully, she comes back stronger next week after this slight setback.
Score: 26

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James Van Der Beek & Emma Slater, Quickstep
I can't believe James and his wife are expecting another baby ... they're going to have their own soccer team soon! How appropriate was it that his adorable Quickstep this week was set to "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina & The Waves? Len congratulated him on the good news and called him a terrific dancer, saying it was full of clever choreography and movement. Bruno commended him for being able to tell a story but told him he needs to work on slicker transitions. Carrie Ann called it a great routine but felt they danced a little out of sync, while Leah told him he's been amazing since day one and she loves watching him. I must not see what the judges see because I thought it deserved 8's.
Score: 28

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Hannah Brown & Alan Bersten, Paso Doble
Hannah was unable to hide behind a plastic smile, as she was given the Paso Doble this week. Channeling inner feelings of rage while smashing objects looked very therapeutic, as did her Paso Doble set to Icona Pop's "I Love It". Bruno said she's released the sexy beast from the cage, calling it drop-dead gorgeous. Carrie Ann saw a new intensity this week, while Leah told her she's too cute. Len saw the aggression, but felt it was in control at all times.
Score: 32

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Lamar Odom & Peta Murgatroyd, Viennese Waltz
We saw a softer side of Lamar this week, thanks to his children and his Viennese Waltz set to Seal's "Kiss From a Rose". Peta looked absolutely stunning in that rose petal-covered dress! Carrie Ann admired his courage and vulnerability, saying he touched her heart. Leah got emotional at how hard Lamar's been working, saying it was an amazing job. Len liked his gentleness and praised him for climbing mountains while others in the competition only need to climb hills. Bruno felt it was soft and beautiful, even though it may have lacked some of the technique. I applaud Leah for attempting to even the score with a 7 (two 4's seemed a bit harsh) - she is fiery, isn't she?
Score: 20

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Sailor Brinkley-Cook & Val Chmerkovskiy, Cha-Cha
It was awesome to see former DWTS champ Rumer Willis come to support her friend Sailor and former partner Val. With a Cha-Cha set to "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," Sailor further cemented herself in this competition. Leah complimented her loveliness and smile, while Len said it was another terrific performance. Bruno called her a tease but appreciated her lines. Carrie Ann commended her for being a bright light, but cautioned her about finding a consistency in her footwork. Host Erin Andrews likened her to former DWTS champ Bindi Irwin for being so likable. I could see that. I wasn't sure about her at first, but she's really grown on me.
Score: 31

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Lauren Alaina & Gleb Savchenko, Foxtrot
Lauren appeared to be in her element, returning to her roots in Nashville for a performance at Tootsie's. Dancing a Foxtrot to Dolly Parton's "Jolene", it was sultry and tender. Len liked the lovely movements, while Bruno called it a classy Foxtrot done by a classy, elegant lady. Carrie Ann told her she has arrived, saying there was a sensuality that came out through a beautiful story. Leah agreed, saying she was moved by the performance. Lauren said she missed some rehearsal time due to a family health scare, but you couldn't tell based on her scores. It was all 8's!
Score: 32

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Karamo Brown & Jenna Johnson, Tango
A Tango set to Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road"? Well, Karamo was certainly up to the challenge! He looked debonair and full of attack from start to finish. Bruno liked his leading man attitude and full focus without mistakes. Carrie Ann called it her favorite dance of his so far but pointed out an illegal lift in the dance. Leah complimented him for not getting enough credit for how good he is, while Len said his footwork could use some improvements. Bruno had Len's back, saying he's a dance expert and he deserves the opportunity to express his opinions without Leah interrupting him. Valid. I've never seen anyone more enthusiastic for 7's - if this man ever gets a 9, look out!
Score: 28

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It seemed almost cruel beyond words that whomever went home this week also missed out on going to Disneyland next week for the ever-popular Disney Night. It was revealed that Lamar & Peta and Karamo & Jenna were in the bottom two this week. Carrie Ann said it was an honor to watch both grow in the competition, but she voted to save Karamo. Bruno also saved Karamo, so Len didn't have to cast a deciding vote. I felt bad for Lamar, but it was the right decision this week. And that's a wrap until next week! Are you as excited as me to see that special opening at Disneyland? I think they teased it will have something to do with Frozen II. How did your favorites fare this week?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Movie Review: Groupers

© Global Digital Releasing
Groupers has something in mind, and it is unafraid to be weirdly over the top about it.
by Jeremy Fogelman

I have the desire to be kind to movies, for as video essayist Mikey Neumann often says, “movies are miracles.” There are a million things that can go wrong even if everything else goes right, and the fact that a completed movie exists that tells something of a coherent story with the hint of themes is an accomplishment. More so for the small, true indie movies from the writer-director sets. So I often grant such films a bit of slack.

Groupers is one such movie from writer/director Anderson Cowan (his first feature film), and the movie is essentially a “one room” tale, similar to a stage play. Here we meet young doofuses Brad (Peter Mayer-Klepchick) and Dylan (Cameron Duckett), following a young bewitching lady named Meg (Nicole Dambro) into her unmarked van where she knocks them out and kidnaps them to a pool near an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere near Los Angeles.

When the two bros awaken, they discover themselves bound and tied in the emptied pool, with a set of tablets pointing at them. Meg reveals that she is a grad student and is planning an experiment (the absurdity of how illegal this would be is barely touched on) regarding the two. It seems that Brad and Dylan have tormented her troubled younger brother Orin (Jesse Pudles) due to his homosexuality and additional personality issues.

Both Brad and Dylan (who appears to the stupider of the pair) proclaim that homosexuality is a choice, which Meg expected. So she sets in motion her plan: For them to prove being gay is a choice, which will set them free in a set of mechanics that don’t really make sense if you think about it, but the movie pretends they do. The two are naturally resistant, especially when it appears one might have some closeted feelings.

© Global Digital Releasing
It’s a weird, if interesting setup, and the near-sociopathy of Meg is balanced against her angry and oddly convivial rapport with the two homophobic idiots. It seems her desire for revenge is oddly balanced with her desire for her “grad student study,” and there are some repetitive scenes for a while, but things get out of control halfway through the movie when her unbalanced, drugged out brother Orin shows up. Further people show up and are honestly tiresome and clichéd, bordering on racist stereotypes.

The last segment of the movie is so disconnected from the start, it loses steam and the odd, almost funny level of absurdity that was carrying through the movie changes to a bunch of conversations that twist around on each other until the movie simply ends in a way that feels like it should be more cathartic than it is -- but part of the issue is the heavy nature of the theme, the homophobic tendencies of some teenage boys and the potential way some closeted ones are lashing out.

The movie cannot sustain this level of self-reflection, and thus ultimately wastes away in a stream of conversational back and forth with characters we barely care about, if at all. Meg is the only character with any level of connection to the audience, and much of this is due to Nicole Dambro’s heated, unusually sincere performance of a madwoman scientist. The two bros are fine, given what they are asked to do, but the rest of the gang are thin at best.

A positive note about the whole thing is that it flows easily enough, only really stuttering in the final act to feel bored (not coincidentally, when Meg loses focus of the movie). I think my main takeaway is that visually speaking, the movie shows some promise, but this isn’t as much of a surprise, as the cinematographer may be new as DP, but he’s been second unit on a few Christopher Nolan and Marvel movies.

The other takeaway is that Nicole Dambro is great, and she needs to be cast in more interesting things in the future.

Dancing With the Stars S28E03: Movie Night

© ABC
DWTS captures red carpet magic on Movie Night
By Kim Krober

Dancing with the Stars returned with Movie Night, plenty of popcorn and confetti, and a splashy, hypnotic opening number featuring the dance pros and their celebrity partners set to the theme from Fame. Host Tom Bergeron quipped it was another night for a DWTS-inspired drinking game - take a shot every time the confetti cannon is fired. If someone heeded that advice, they'd be more blitzed by the end of the show than London during World War II, as it felt as if almost every dance involved confetti carnage.

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It was also revealed during the opening that Ray Lewis and Cheryl Burke would not be returning to the dance floor due to an exacerbated injury of Ray's from 2010. I genuinely felt sympathetic for him, as it sounded painful and difficult to give up the competition, but was anybody else as pissed as I was that he was spared by the judges last week only to bow out this week? If only he had gone home and Mary had been allowed to continue in the competition! Alas. However, it was great to see former DWTS champ Rashad Jennings return to dance Ray's Cha-Cha with Cheryl set to The Beatles' "Twist & Shout" in an homage to Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Let's see how your favorites did during this glamorous third week of competition:

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Lauren Alaina & Gleb Savchenko, Tango
I enjoyed seeing Lauren channel her best inner Julia Roberts for a Pretty Woman-inspired Tango set to the movie's iconic theme song. I also loved their costumes, especially those boots with the high heels. How does someone walk in those without falling, let alone dance? It was a classic case of misdirection as Len said he was disappointed (about not getting to wear a hat) before telling her it was full of attack, drive, and purpose. Bruno called it a racy Tango at full throttle but told Lauren that she needs to work on her transitions. Carrie Ann loved the confidence but cautioned her about working on her musicality, saying she would've liked to see more resistance in the holds.
Score: 20

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Hannah Brown & Alan Bersten, Rumba
It was refreshing to see a performance inspired by Wilson Phillips' "Hold On" from the beloved comedy Bridesmaids - how original! Bruno told her she's a wonderful lyrical dancer, but she needs to engage her lower half more on the dance floor. Carrie Ann agreed, saying she had exquisite lines, but she needs to expand her Latin ballroom horizons. Len commented on her beautiful musicality and shaping but said she could have benefited from more hip action. Perhaps Hannah should have taken note of Alan's hip action in that bizarre real-life bachelorette party scenario in which he pretended to be a stripper for her and her gal pals.
Score: 21

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Karamo Brown & Jenna Johnson, Jive
A Jive set to Elton John's "I'm Still Standing" from Rocketman seemed like a match made in heaven for Karamo. It was fabulous to see him living his best life and oozing enthusiasm, even if it seemed like he wasn't moving fast enough for a Jive at all times. I also loved Jenna's keyboard ruffles! Plus, how adorable was Taron Egerton's personal good luck greeting? Carrie Ann admitted she saw a lot of mistakes but complimented Karamo on his entertainment value and joy. Len liked the mix of steps and that he came out with determination, but he compared going wrong in a dance to getting a hickey (you can try to cover it up, but everyone's going to see it anyway) in the most awkward analogy I've ever seen on this show. Bruno said to look on the bright side: Karamo went off like a rocket with fireworks even if there were some misfires along the way. He told him he has great potential and to come back bigger and stronger than ever next week. Good advice!
Score: 16

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Ally Brooke & Sasha Farber, Rumba
Ally paid tribute to her personal hero Selena by dancing a very special Rumba to "Dreaming of You". It made me see her in a new light and earned her more votes. Len admired all of the cuckaracha movements in the dance and the overall performance, telling Ally she was right up his alley. Bruno could tell she put all of her heart and soul into that dance combined with correct Rumba motions and lines. Carrie Ann commented that she had chills the entire time, saying it was unapologetically passionate and beautiful. It was enough to catapult Ally to the top of the leader board!
Score: 24

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James Van Der Beek & Emma Slater, Rumba
I loved, loved, loved everything about seeing James' Rumba to "Shallow" from A Star Is Born and learning more about his love story with his wife Kimberly! It was gorgeous from sparkly start to finish. Bruno teased the audience for going gaga for James, saying it's valid because there wasn't anything shallow about that dance. He commended him for making his partner look stunning. Carrie Ann praised the choreography and poetry in motion, while Len felt his wide leg action impeded his hip action and said this Rumba was a bit too passionate for his tastes. Len earned that side-eye from the other two judges for ruining James' perfect trio of 8's!
Score: 23

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Kate Flannery & Pasha Pashkov, Quickstep
Is there a more appropriate song choice for Meredith from The Office to dance to on Movie Night than Dolly Parton's "9 to 5"? It was whimsical and fun - Kate continues to impress me week after week! Carrie Ann admired the precision and synchronization, while Len enjoyed the choreography and characters. Bruno said it was a big hit, just like the movie. It was enough to tie her at the top of the leader board standings. Yay, Kate!
Score: 24

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Lamar Odom & Peta Murgatroyd, Cha-Cha
A Cha-Cha set to Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock N Roll" seemed like Risky Business for Lamar to pull off, but you know what? It was good to see him thoroughly having a blast on the dance floor, lip syncing along with the music and even donning the signature boxer shorts made famous by Tom Cruise. I think it was his best dance to date because he looked a lot lighter on his feet. Len liked watching him have fun even if the wheel fell off a bit by the end of the dance, while Bruno admired him for giving it a good go. Carrie Ann could tell he felt more confident and praised him for being on beat. She also told him to keep doing what he's doing and not to mind the judges' scores. Ouch!
Score: 12

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Sailor Brinkley-Cook & Val Chmerkovskiy, Tango
Mama Mia, here she goes again! As a big fan of the ABBA-inspired musical, I adored Sailor and Val's Tango this week. She radiated pure joy and it looked really fun to be able to dance with every male dance pro on the show. Bruno complimented Sailor for her hard work and Val for the brilliant choreography. Carrie Ann called it a transformation, saying she felt every movement in her body and it was a huge leap forward for Sailor in the competition. Len loved the clever moments, saying it was a fantastic routine with lots of snap, crackle, and pop.
Score: 23

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Kel Mitchell & Witney Carson, Rumba
Kel continued to be a charming leading man with his Rumba set to Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic. Carrie Ann said it was solid dancing, but she cautioned him about making his energy feel super tight when he needs to spread it out a bit more. Len felt it needed more shaping through his hands, saying it was too flat. I chortled with laughter when he also called it out for being too difficult to see his footwork through all of the fog. Bruno told him he made it to port with confidence, calling him a solid performer but said the intensity took away from the fluidity of his movements. I know the judges criticized him for being too intense, but I liked his intensity. I can't wait to see him do a Paso Doble!
Score: 20

Sean Spicer & Lindsay Arnold, Cha-Cha
I've always had a soft spot for Saturday Night Fever and the Bee Gees, but Sean Spicer managed to screw this one up too. Set to "Night Fever", his Cha-Cha was awkward and virtually non-existent. It was like watching him strike the iconic stance while everyone else danced circles around him on the dance floor. Len said it felt more like Monday Night Lukewarm than Saturday Night Fever, calling him pigeon-toed. Bruno proclaimed him a genius for turning Saturday Night Fever into a disaster blockbuster that nobody could look away from. Carrie Ann loved seeing him live his best life and complimented his ability to smile from start to finish, although she would like to see him be less robotic. Finally, the judges let loose on him. No more walking on eggshells!
Score: 15

The final surprise of the night came in the revelation of the bottom two in jeopardy: Kel and Witney (color me stunned) and Lamar and Peta. However, to no one's surprise, nobody went home this week since we already lost Ray and Cheryl. When is Sean going to be without political asylum? He can't dance, and he's not even enjoyable to watch (unlike Lamar). I'd prefer it if he went home next week instead of either of those other two couples! Only time will tell. And that's a wrap until next week! How did your favorites fare?

Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8:00 PM on ABC.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Dancing With the Stars S28E02: First Elimination

© ABC
DWTS had its first live elimination during second week of competition
by Kim Krober

The new twists regarding how voting and eliminations will work on this season of Dancing with the Stars were finally revealed. You can still vote on the ABC website, but now you can also text votes until the end of the final dance of the night. What I found most confusing about the voting system was that you're given up to 10 votes per couple now instead of 10 total votes to distribute among all of the couples. The couples' scores from the judges from both weeks were combined with the viewers' votes live to reveal the two couples at risk for elimination. The judges were then able to save one of the two couples in jeopardy. If Carrie Ann and Bruno aren't unanimous, head judge Len Goodman gets to cast the deciding vote. Will the judges play favorites or remain impartial this season? Only time will tell. Let's see how your favorites did during this second week of competition:

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James Van Der Beek & Emma Slater, Cha-Cha
Apparently, a secret desire to be on DWTS inspired James' fake Cha-Cha routine on Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 a few years back. His real-life Cha-Cha set to Lionel Richie's "Dancing on the Ceiling" was fun and flamboyant. He may have come out strong in the premiere, be he seemed to fall from the judges' grace a little this week. Len said it was a solid performance with crisp footwork, though he thought the dance was too gimmicky. (I tend to agree with Erin Andrews' assessment of that statement: this entire show is a gimmick.) Bruno loved the big opening, likening James to a poster boy for Fame and calling it a Broadway Cha-Cha. Carrie Ann and Bruno both saw a misstep in the beginning of the dance but thought the rest of the routine was sharp and precise. All in all, I thought it was a fantastic opening to the show.
Score: 20

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Sailor Brinkley-Cook & Val Chmerkovskiy, Rumba
The Rumba is a very sensual, romantic dance, but Sailor and Val just met a week ago. I think you could tell they don't have all the passion and chemistry there quite yet, but it was a valiant effort. Bruno told her she has everything going for her but he felt like giving her some tough love - she needs to work on carrying the meaning of the dance and staying in character. Carrie Ann agreed with Bruno, saying she lacked an intensity and consistency throughout the entire dance. Len thought it was a nice performance but said she needed to keep her feet on the floor (although he was going to ignore the heel lifts he saw because that's the "nice guy" he is ... hmm.).
Score: 18

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Ray Lewis & Cheryl Burke, Foxtrot
Cheryl may be a little tough on her partners, but she knows what it takes to create a Mirror Ball Champion. Ray needed inspiration about being lighter on his feet, and she delivered in an unconventional method to say the least. Dancing a Foxtrot to Earth, Wind & Fire's "Dancing in September", I could see improvement in his footwork. Carrie Ann commended him for being comfortable in his own skin, but she noted a ton of mistakes in the dance. Len called it flat-footed but loved seeing his personality shine through. Bruno told him he always lights up the room, and even if it doesn't always work out as expected, he sells it anyway. I liked what Ray said while receiving his less-than-stellar scores from the judges: It isn't how you begin a competition, it's how you finish. He's learning!
Score: 15

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Ally Brooke & Sasha Farber, Viennese Waltz
I don't know anything about Fifth Harmony, but I felt bad for Ally. Nobody deserves to be bullied in the spotlight. She's not a bad dancer, as her Viennese Waltz set to the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris" proved. It had an ethereal quality to it. Len thought it was pretty but wanted to see more rotation and better footwork. Bruno praised her for a compelling, heartfelt performance with some wonderful moments, but said it lacked continuous movement. Carrie Ann hugged her, saying she felt how transformative this dance was for Ally's future in the competition. It wasn't a bad effort.
Score: 20

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Mary Wilson & Brandon Armstrong, Cha-Cha
While there is a generation gap to overcome with these two, Mary continues to steal my heart in this competition. Their Cha-Cha set to Aretha Franklin's "Think" from The Blues Brothers was a winner in my book. Bruno said it was nicely presented, while Carrie Ann commended her for knowing how to work the room and please the judges even with missteps in the routine, which is the sign of a true pro. Len said it was lively and full of freedom, and it's a joy to see her out there.
Score: 15

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Lauren Alaina & Gleb Savchenko, Paso Doble
Set to Demi Lovato's "Confident", Lauren and Gleb oozed aggressive confidence in their Paso Doble. I wasn't wowed by her last week, but she earned my respect this week. Carrie Ann was literally meowing, finally saying she loved seeing her come out of her shell but she could have benefited from more consistency with her character. Len said it had a powerful attack and determination, but it lacked shaping at times. Bruno loved it, saying it was nasty and nasty suits her well. He felt it was very convincing and well-done, although he understood what Len meant about the lack of shaping.
Score: 19

Sean Spicer & Lindsay Arnold, Tango
Sean thinks he can appeal to the people and earn our sympathy votes with bumper stickers because he can't dance and it's his birthday? Hmm. Let's see how that strategy pays off for you, buddy. Their dance was set to one of my favorite guilty pleasures: Walk the Moon's "Shut Up and Dance". That was about all it had going for it though - it was stiff and awkward to watch. Len felt it was better than last week, while Bruno begrudgingly admitted it resembled a Tango. Carrie Ann called it a sure-footed Tango, saying it didn't have any mistakes and she applauded them for improving and working together. I feel like the judges are being way too easy on him compared to the others. Is it just me?
Score: 16

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Karamo Brown & Jenna Johnson, Quickstep
A Quickstep set to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" during the second week of competition? Wowsa. Karamo brought in the big guns this week: his soon-to-be mother-in-law who taught ballroom dance for 50 years. He looked like he was having the time of his life with an infectious energy on the dance floor. Bruno admired his panache and flair, though he noted that he lost some of his body contact during the dance. Carrie Ann said it was exactly what she was hoping to see: his electricity and confidence coming through with pizzazz. Len wasn't oversold on the performance, hating the lack of body contact and saying it was a little bit on the hectic side, even for a Quickstep. Two 7's and a 5 aren't bad I guess.
Score: 19

© ABC
Kate Flannery & Pasha Pashkov, Foxtrot
I adore Kate and the song choice of "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra for her Foxtrot. Carrie Ann called it amazing, saying she was blown away by how much technique Pasha was able to teach her in a week. Len liked the music, the routine, that she showed improvement, and that Pasha was dressed sensibly compared to other outfits he has to judge week to week. Bruno told her she has entered the correct orbit, praising her for a job well done. Kate was quickly catapulted to the top of the leader board this week!
Score: 21

© ABC
Kel Mitchell & Witney Carson, Samba
Kel received some difficult news this week regarding his father's health, but he remained committed to the competition. Dancing a Samba to Bobby Brown's "Every Little Step", Kel scorched on the dance floor. Len felt it had plenty of rhythm and steps, also praising him for his overall likability. Bruno called it a cool Samba with a naturalness about it without over-pushing the musicality. Carrie Ann echoed the sentiments from the gentlemen regarding his smoothness and natural dancing ability, pointing out more sophistication from him this week. However, she did note that some of the bounces of the dance became thrusts. Those thrusts looked good though!
Score: 20

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Lamar Odom & Peta Murgatroyd, Salsa
Their song choice sounded like Snow's "Informer", but it was hard for me to tell because part of it was in Spanish. I loved their colorful costumes, and Lamar looked like he was having a great time on the dance floor. Bruno could tell he enjoyed himself more too, while Carrie Ann didn't see as many mistakes as last week. Len gets that it's difficult for Peta to work out the choreography due to their height difference, but told Lamar that he's on the right track for making improvements in this competition. If I'm going to award extra votes to anyone out of sympathy, it's going to be for this guy because it seems like his heart is in the right place even if his footing and memory may not always be.
Score: 12

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Hannah Brown & Alan Bersten, Viennese Waltz
Hannah took ballet when she was little, so she may have a leg up on the competition. Their Viennese Waltz set to Taylor Swift's "Lover" was a beautiful ending to the show. Carrie Ann was whisked away by the movement and character, while Len liked the lovely musicality of her arms and called it the best dance of the night. Bruno was transported into a romantic dream, saying it was pure American Beauty like the Oscar-winning film. He also thanked her for finishing her lines.
Score: 24

© ABC
The Elimination
The look of pure astonishment on Lamar's face when he was revealed to be safe was precious. After the judges' scores and the viewers' votes were tallied, it was revealed that the two couples in jeopardy were Ray & Cheryl and Mary & Brandon. Carrie Ann voted to save Mary, while Bruno voted to save Ray. It was ultimately up to Len to follow his brain - and not his heart - and save Ray and Cheryl. So, Mary and Brandon became the first couple to go home during the newest season of DWTS. I think Sean Spicer should've been the first to go, but I understood Len's decision regarding the two remaining couples. And that's a wrap until next week! How did your favorites fare?

Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8:00 PM on ABC.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Why Women Kill S01E04: You Had Me at Homicide

© CBS All Access
Jealousy rears its ugly head
by Chuck Duncan

Last week's episode opened with an explanation of the tango, and this week the show features a mortician with three bodies under sheets, explaining the various things that can lead to murder, and the possible methods of the crime. I'm sure this is setting up the murders that are to come, but we still don't know who will be killed in each era, nor who the killer will be. But there are suspects aplenty. What we do know is that, according to the title of the series, the killers will be women.

Simone

Preparing invitations for her daughter's impending nuptials, Simone and Karl are on a deadline to get them done or else they'll end up with more of the groom's family in attendance ... and they don't seem to have very high regard for that side of the soon-to-be family. Unfortunately, Amy arrives with some bad news: her fiancé cheated on her, the wedding is off and she needs wine. The true story finally comes out that the intended slept with another girl ... two years ago, when he and Amy we broken up (they've had a rocky on-and-off relationship). Simone is in panic mode trying to take Amy's side, but Karl is trying to be more neutral, hoping to convince Amy that it's not as bad as she thinks. Plus everything is paid for already.

Enter Tommy with flowers for Simone. He saw Karl leave so assumed it was okay to pop over, unaware that Amy was also home. And Amy saw Tommy, and Simone had to concoct a story that she told Tommy's mother that Amy was home and he came over with the flowers for her. Already feeling a bit jealous (and still smarting from Simone's horrified reaction to the gift he gave her -- a Swatch watch) that Simone was not yet ready to part with Karl, Tommy gleefully accepted Amy's offer to go out on a little dinner date. Simone had no choice but to let it happen, but became more concerned when Amy boldly proclaimed to her that this was just a date that will end with revenge sex. Oh dear. Simone is not quite ready to share her boy toy with Amy, so she surprises the pair at the restaurant ... with Amy's fiancé. Next thing they know Amy and the guy are making out heavily in the waiting area and Simone shows Tommy that she's wearing the Swatch. Crisis averted ... for now.

Beth Ann

Things are going swimmingly with Beth Ann and April, while Sheila is baffled by this plan that seems to be going further into the friend zone than it should. Beth Ann even pulled out her old rollerskates that Robert gave to her on their first date to go skating with April. Beth Ann doesn't have the best attire though to skate in, but she still enjoyed herself skating through the park in her dress. Back at April's, the friendship continues to blossom but April may have crossed the line by offering the still uptight Beth Ann a brownie. A pot brownie. Beth Ann is terribly offended and starts to storm out but April tells her that her boyfriend enjoys them. That stops Beth Ann in her tracks so she decides to have one too. After she's a bit more relaxed than we've ever seen her, Beth Ann asks April about her date with Robert that night but April tells her that the date is the next night, Robert has a dinner party to attend at his boss' house. Panicked because she forgot what day it was, Beth Ann makes an excuse about feeding her neighbor's dog and heads home as quickly as she can.

Robert is waiting and Beth Ann has just a few minutes to change and get out the door. But she's still stoned on the way to the dinner, and it only gets worse once they arrive and she is oddly focused on one guest who isn't there and another who is obviously from Japan. Then she sees the napkins folded like swans and is so impressed that she can't unfold it and put it in her lap, no matter how insistent Robert is. When his boss proclaims that it's no big deal to fold the napkins like that, the stoned Beth Ann challenges him to make one himself. Robert is horrified, but his boss is actually charmed by the challenge and it turns out to be a fun attempt at futility. Beth Ann proved her point, but Robert wants to know what's gotten into her. Dropping his fork and getting Beth Ann under the table, she very dramatically tells him she's had some pot and she knows what he's been doing.

After leaving the party, and to Robert's surprise Beth Ann was adored by everyone, they get home and Robert wants to know how Beth Ann found out about what he was doing. Before she can answer he proposes that she must have found a joint in one of his jacket pockets and smoked it. Relieved that she didn't have to confront what she really meant, she agreed, saying that she just wants to cut loose once in a while. Robert says that's all he wants because the pressures of his job and the rigid lifestyle they lead -- and probably the burden of losing a child, which went unspoken but is obviously a part of it -- is getting to be too much for him. All he wants is to relax. Beth Ann now sees that all of their problems have come simply from not communicating with each other and now that they share this moment of bonding over marijuana, it seems everything is back to normal. They even go rollerskating down the street together. But will April now become the jealous other woman?

© CBS All Access

Taylor

Now that Jade has officially become part of this threesome, the trio are trying to figure out a way to introduce the arrangement to their friends. "Throuple" has become a modern description but none of them like that. Instead, Taylor suggests they just say Jade is family. Jade lights up at that, having never really felt like she belonged to any family, not even hers. There's just one problem -- her ex, Duke, who is now threatening to have her dog Teacup put down if she doesn't come back to him. And then he shows up at the house. And poor Eli thinks he can handle the much larger guy. It took lawyer Taylor to remind Duke that he's on thin ice legally and one misstep here could send him right back to prison. That was the thing that actually struck fear into his heart.

But Jade is still concerned about Teacup, so they hatch a plan to go to Duke's and politely ask for the dog. Eli decides to bring a hammer for protection. When they get there, Duke does not answer so they assume he's out. And if he's out and Eli has a hammer in his pocket, a little breaking and entering isn't going to hurt, right? He and Jade get in, get the dog -- which is anything but teacup-sized -- and also learn that Duke was in the shower and he comes after them. Luckily Taylor's got the car running and Eli, Jade and Teacup make their getaway ... but Duke isn't about to let things go that easily. Taylor isn't happy about being an accomplice to a crime that could get her disbarred but Eli tries to spin it as a good thing because his plan worked. He needs that ego boost because his screenwriting is going nowhere and he's as frustrated with himself as Taylor is, and the fact that Taylor had to step in earlier and save him from Duke only hurts worse. He just wants to have that moment of saving a dog and being a man and calling it a good day. And Taylor agrees. Reluctantly. And then Duke shows up. Eli forgot to lock the door and he lets himself in, tossing Eli against a wall and fighting off Taylor who jumps on his back. He storms up the stairs looking for Jade but there's no answer. When he turns to yell at the couple lying on the floor, he's hit from behind by Jade, with the hammer, falling over the railing and crashing to the floor below, breaking his leg in the process. And then a very scary Jade tells him that if he comes back, she'll break the other one. Eli and Taylor exchange slightly worried glances after seeing this different side of Jade. Can she be trusted?

Back to the morgue where we're reminded that good people end up there for various reasons: reckless love affairs, inviting violent strangers into their homes, and some kept dark secrets from those they loved. These choices lead to death ... and murder.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Dancing With the Stars S28E01: 2019 Season Premiere

© ABC
DWTS Season 28 returns with a few fan favorites and a new scoring format
by Kim Krober

After a lengthy one-year hiatus, Dancing with the Stars finally returned with Season 28, an all-new glitzy set, some newcomers in the dance troupe, and everybody's favorite reality show judges (Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman, and Carrie Ann Inaba) and hosts (Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews). After some criticism and controversy over the scoring in seasons past, it was revealed there's a new voting format this season: we'll be able to see the results of our votes live at the end of next week's show. The judges are also "coming out of their shells" with a call for better technique and stricter scoring than in competitions past. They certainly seem to mean business, as nobody scored any higher than a 7 and some of the scores were the lowest I've ever seen (3's), which were met with boos from the studio audience. Let's see how your favorites did during this first week of competition:

© ABC
Hannah Brown & Alan Bersten, Cha-Cha
Am I the only one out there who doesn't get the popularity of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette? It seems like it's the same shtick every season. However, it does produce some fierce competitors for Dancing with the Stars. I thought Hannah's Cha-Cha to Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" was a great start to the season. Len praised the dance for being crisp, clean, and confident, while Bruno claimed she had finally found her true love: dancing. He admired her for being enthusiastic but cautioned her about being too fast and frenzied with her turns and for being slightly ahead of the music. Carrie Ann believed she had the posture and attitude of a Latin dancer, saying she had great form and she can't wait to see what she has in store next week.
Score: 20

© ABC
Kel Mitchell & Witney Carson, Tango
I was in middle school when All That premiered on Nickelodeon. I remember loving it the first few seasons, so seeing Kel was a welcome blast from the past. Kel has an awesome personality, and I'm looking forward to watching him grow in this competition. He's turned into quite the leading man coming out to a Tango set to The Jonas Brothers' "Sucker", and I loved his colorful suit! Tom quipped he was the first person in 28 seasons to begin his routine by sliding through his own mouth, referring to a giant Kel head on the backdrop's screen. Bruno loved seeing his serious side and focus, but said he was a little too jumpy and needs to work on his footwork. Carrie Ann is optimistic about his future on the show, though she said he still needs to find his groove. Len liked his attack and attitude, saying he has potential, although he would have liked to have seen a few more heel leads. It will be interesting to see what kind of tricks Kel has up his sleeves this season!
Score: 16

© ABC
Kate Flannery & Pasha Pashkov, Cha-Cha
I loved Kate on The Office, and I'm so excited to watch her compete on DWTS! Kate was paired with newcomer Pasha Pashkov (who looks to be a fun addition to the dance pros!), and I thought she came out strong with a Cha-Cha set to Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money". I've never seen Kate look so glamorous and beautiful. Carrie Ann was impressed with her defined movements, while Len commended Pasha for putting a special move in that he hadn't seen in years. He cautioned Kate on needing to straighten her legs, but said she came out and really sparkled. Bruno told her she could run his office any time, although she needs to work on finishing her movements with precise, sharp endings.
Score:15

© ABC
Lamar Odom & Peta Murgatroyd, Foxtrot
Two-time NBA Champion Lamar Odom looked debonair in a red velvet suit, coming out to a Foxtrot set to Michael Buble's "Feeling Good". This couple has a distinct height difference to overcome, but I thought they looked fabulous together. Len noted he did a terrific job but felt it lacked an overall finesse. Bruno admired him for giving it his all, acknowledging that the Foxtrot is a difficult dance to try to master during the first week of competition. However, he advised him not to overthink it and go with the flow more next week. Carrie Ann was thoroughly impressed with his ability to smile on cue and hit his lines, saying she knows how much former athletes without any background in dance have struggled in this competition. The crowd booed, as two of the three judges gave him a score of 3. I'll admit it wasn't the best dance of the night but were the 3's deserved? I guess Lamar can only go up from here!
Score: 11

© ABC
Lauren Alaina & Gleb Savchenko, Cha-Cha
I don't watch American Idol, so I wasn't familiar with Lauren Alaina. Dancing the third Cha-Cha of the night, Alaina had a fun routine set to Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman". Bruno called her a sultry Southern belle giving him a steamy Cha-Cha with sharp finishes, but he said her hip action was hindered by having locked knees. Carrie Ann told Gleb he took some risks but they paid off for her and she admired her looseness. Len liked the rhythm but thought the beginning was a bit long-winded with the chairs as props. It was one of the more polished performances of the night but maybe not super-memorable.
Score: 19

© ABC
Sailor Brinkley-Cook & Val Chmerkovskiy, Foxtrot
'80s supermodel Christie Brinkley was one of the ones I was most excited about in the cast reveal, but she was abruptly removed from the competition when she fell during rehearsal and broke her arm. Luckily for her, her daughter Sailor (also a model) has taken her spot. However, she had only three days to learn the routine (versus the three weeks everybody else had) set to Christie's theme song "Uptown Girl". Was it as flawless as the Brinkleys' complexion? No, but it wasn't a bad effort. Carrie Ann was blown away by her poise and carefree spirit, telling Val he's hit a gold mine with this partner. Len said she floated his boat with beautiful movement, but that it was a bit stumpy and she'll benefit from more practice. Bruno said she has the looks and talent to go far in this competition and is looking forward to seeing what she can do with proper rehearsal time. Christie looked great rooting for her daughter, but I cringed at her description of her injury.
Score: 18

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Karamo Brown & Jenna Johnson, Salsa
Queer Eye's Karamo Brown was probably the most genuinely thrilled contestant I've ever seen - he looked like he was living his best life from start to finish of his Salsa routine set to Lizzo's "Juice".I loved his purple suit and his enthusiasm for the competition. Len thought it was a bit disappointing because it didn't have enough hip action or rhythm. Bruno commended him for his good looks, style, and lifts, but agreed with Len about needing to see better hip action. Carrie Ann thought it was an alright performance but was a little underwhelmed because she felt he was too reserved and didn't let enough of his personality pop through on the dance floor. Can he redeem himself next week?
Score: 17

© ABC
Ray Lewis & Cheryl Burke, Salsa
Footballer Ray Lewis came out to Nelly's "Hot N Herre" with this crazy little shuffle that made me smile. Athletes are always a mixed bag on this competition, as you never know how stiff or natural they'll look on the dance floor. I thought it was a commendable effort for the first week, and so did the judges. Bruno loved that he turned on the heat, saying he was charismatic, although he pointed out some missteps. Carrie Ann said he brought his "A" game turning on this audience, calling it pretty damn good. Len noted there were a couple of serious mistakes but told him he has potential. For Carrie Ann's comments, I was a little surprised she didn't pull out a 6.
Score: 15

© ABC
Mary Wilson & Brandon Armstrong, Foxtrot
Love The Supremes! Mary Wilson looked absolutely stunning; I'm in disbelief that she's 75! Her Foxtrot set to her signature hit "Baby Love" was inspirational, as she's the oldest competitor this season, but you couldn't tell by her appearance or dance moves. Carrie Ann told her she was built to Foxtrot on their dance floor, calling her elegant and a legend. Len is the same age as her and complimented her on her ability to come out and dance a Foxtrot that good because he didn't think he'd be able to pull it off. Bruno was starstruck, telling her she knows how to sell it and commended her for doing a heel turn. Tom quipped he'd never heard anyone so happy about 5's.
Score: 17

© ABC
Ally Brooke & Sasha Farber, Cha-Cha
Am I the only person not familiar with Fifth Harmony outside of this competition? I'm happy for Sasha though - he got a partner who can obviously dance! Len didn't care for all the hip gyrating and thrusting, likening it to Beyoncé. However, he thought she was a very competent dancer anyway. Bruno loved her sense of attack and flair, but he could tell she was missing the beat. He called it a bit muddled but a great performance overall. Carrie Ann felt she needed to find her balance but said she has potential. I didn't recognize their Cha-Cha song choice at all - turns out it was set to Fifth Harmony's "Work From Home".
Score: 16

Sean Spicer & Lindsay Arnold, Salsa
Former Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer was out to score points for his damaged reputation ... on a dance reality show. Yes, you read that right. His Salsa set to the Spice Girls' "Spice Up Your Life" wasn't as stiff as I was expecting. Bruno quipped he went bonkers with the bongos and said his hips looked like they were set in cement, but felt it was strangely entertaining anyway. Carrie Ann called it the best fluorescent shimmy of the night and admired his boisterousness, although she pointed out that he was off beat most of the dance. Len told him he brought fun to the ballroom, showing more reserved constraint with his commentary than usual. He was committed to having fun, although I don't see him lasting long in this competition.
Score: 12

© ABC
James Van Der Beek & Emma Slater, Tango
I don't wanna wait for this dance competition to be over to say I'm rooting for Dawson Leery! It was so good to see James Van Der Beek back in the spotlight (along with all of his adorable lookalike children). They definitely saved the best for last. I was mesmerized from the moment he hit the dance floor, and I'm so excited for Emma to have such an amazing partner this season. James will clearly do "Whatever It Takes" to remain in it to win it. Carrie Ann praised his style, technique, and flavor, calling him the leading man of this season's competition. Len said it had drive and purpose, stating it was a terrific number. Bruno called it charismatic and strong, complimenting it for being so in control and in character. With three 7's from the judges, James was quickly thrust to the top of the leader board.
Score: 21

I'm a little sad a few of my favorites seem to be missing this season: Derek Hough and Mark Ballas. However, I am looking forward to watching this season unfold and seeing how the new scoring and elimination system works. The best part of the night for me though was that winning commercial from KFC touting a fictitious Rudy II with Sean Astin reprising his Rudy role and taking on the role of the Colonel. It was inspired advertising to say the least.

And that's a wrap until next week! How did your favorites fare? Tell us who you're rooting for in the comments section below!

Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8:00 PM on ABC.