It's Disney night on Dancing with the Stars, and the show wastes no time in milking the tie-in for all its worth, starting with a familiar Disney castle intro. Then, the pro dancers' opening number alternates between feeling like Cinderella's ball and something out of a demented theme park fun house. We're in for a long night, folks, and it's going to take a lot more than a spoonful of sugar to make this digestible. Grab a beverage and let's get going!
Tonight's guest judge is former winner Donny Osmond, who says early on that he'll be judging the stars on their performances, rather than technique. At least he's honest.
Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews introduce the first two couples — Charlie and Sharna and Drew and Cheryl — and note that both pairs are safe.
Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke (quickstep)
The dance: Drew's agape mouth and deer in highlights facial expression is the only thing I can focus on for the first part of this routine. He does a fairly admirable job of keeping up with Cheryl as far as his feet are concerned, but the rest of his body is all over the place. And the animated Genie who appears out of nowhere in the middle of the routine is just odd.
What the judges say: Len points out that Drew couldn't keep his holds to save his life, but says he'll give him "a pass" because the performance was so fun. Donny offers Drew a few hints about his technique. Bruno compares Drew to "Aladdin having a nervous breakdown" (ouch), and Carrie Ann tells him to watch his "strange face."
Score: 28 (out of 40)
Charlie White and Sharna Burgess (jazz)
The dance: This routine to "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" starts out at a Level 10 energy-wise, but loses a bit of steam in the second half, starting when Charlie accidentally drops his cane at one point — probably owing to the fact that Sharna's choreography relies a little too much on cane and umbrella tosses. But he recovers swiftly, and it's still a fun number. I'm tired just watching it, and also already apprehensive about the medley of Disney songs that will inevitably be stuck in my head tomorrow.
What the judges say: Donny says it was "amazing," but can't resist pointing out Charlie dropping the cane. Bruno also notes that it was "almost perfect." Carrie Ann cackles and compares Charlie to a "wave of happiness" and says he made the "warp speed" routine look effortless. Len says he doesn't care about the cane drop.
Tom announces that Amy/Derek and Danica/Val are safe, while NeNe/Tony and Cody/Witney are in jeopardy.
Danica McKellar and Val Chmerkovskiy (quickstep)
The dance: Even my black heart thaws a little at Danica and Val's adorable Beauty and the Beast costumes. Is it just me, or does Danica's flowing dress impede her movements at a couple of points? It doesn't matter though, as the routine is entertaining and unfortunately puts Drew and Cheryl's quickstep to shame.
What the judges say: "You tamed the beast!" Bruno gushes. Carrie Ann rushes over to give Danica a hug and says she feels like a proud mother. Len nitpicks about their body contact, but loves the routine overall. Donny gets in a dig at Julianne Hough and accuses Val of "phoning it in," but he's only kidding.
Derek Hough and Amy Purdy (waltz)
The dance: It's kind of heartbreaking to see Amy break down during rehearsals because she's having a hard time learning the dance. Something must have clicked, though, because this waltz is smooth and sweet, without being too sultry. (This is Disney, after all.) Amy and Derek really do look like Cinderella and Prince Charming during this routine though. And it's cute to see Derek grin every now and then as Amy nails move after move.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann points out a couple of accidental lifts, but says she won't dock points from Amy because of her "circumstances." Len says he would have liked to see more in hold. A visibly moved Donny tells Amy she's a "serious contender," and Bruno says she's never looked more glamorous.
Cody Simpson and Witney Carson (samba)
The dance: Cody gives an inspired performance of "I Just Can't Wait to Be King," and continues to put his "modern spin" on dances, which the judges love so much. The choreography is fine, but Cody looks like he's not giving it his all. He later admits to Erin Andrews that he's been suffering from a stomach flu, so that explains it.
What the judges say: Len says he "sold it," but Donny says that Cody didn't look like he was enjoying the dance. Bruno compares Cody to a gazelle, and censors himself from saying something more naughty. (Weigh on what you think that might have been below.) Carrie Ann loves that Cody "brings the now" for his dances.
NeNe Leakes and Val Chmerkovskiy (foxtrot)
The dance: Things get awkward between NeNe and Tony in rehearsals, after she basically tells him that she preferred working with Derek during last week's switch-up. And it seems to have carried over into the ballroom a little bit, with NeNe "Cruella De Vil" Leakes looking unusually unsure at the start of the routine. But maybe that's owing to their "in jeopardy" status. Her feet are steady though, and she does seem to enjoy high-kicking Tony in the face from the judges table at the end though. It's also disappointing that they used animated puppies instead of real ones, just saying.
What the judges say: Donny says the show should change its name to "Dancing with NeNe." (That might be a bit much.) Bruno is so excited that he gropes Donny while complimenting NeNe's "bump 'n' grind." Carrie Ann says it's Tony's best choreography ever, and Len says the rehearsal tension resulted in a "feisty and fun" routine.
James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd (contemporary)
The dance: It's possible Peta got some inspiration from working with Charlie last week, because this routine to the ubiquitous "Let It Go" looks like it would fit nicely on the ice. Peta's impressive choreography — contemporary's definitely her strong suit — is enhanced by some stunning visual support. Props to the lighting department! And it's sweet that James has a special needs fan cheering him on in the audience.
What the judges say: Bruno calls it a "contemporary blockbuster," Carrie Ann says she cried the whole time, and Len says it melted even his cold heart. Donny loves the choreography and says he was "mesmerized" by James' athleticism.
Meryl Davis and Maks Chmerkovskiy (samba)
The dance: Maks goes for the skin vote by staying shirtless for the entire broadcast. And there's enough hip action in this Jungle Book number (from Maks in particular) to bounce a whole bunch of coconuts off of. The dance is appropriately sensual for a samba, while still being lighthearted. But good lord, this animated characters trope has got to go.
What the judges say: "You actually dance like you're part of one body," a puzzled Carrie Ann tells the pair. Len also loves it. Donny asks Maks to tone it down a little bit so viewers can focus on Meryl. And Bruno says he "caught a little jungle fever." Heh.
Mark Ballas and Candace Cameron Bure (samba)
The dance: Is Mark attempting to claw his way out of the bottom with this Sebastian costume from The Little Mermaid? (Sorry.) His goofy crab walk is smirk-inducing, but try as she might, Candace can't completely let loose. She gives an admirable effort with a few shimmies and hip swivels, but falls short of just handing herself over to the routine.
What the judges say: Len says Candace's legs could have been a little straighter. Donny tells Candace not to be discouraged about her last-place standing. Bruno says the routine was "like the birth of Venus" and praises Candace's steady improvement. Carrie Ann loves watching her move, but says she becomes visibly nervous at times.
Now for the elimination — which, remember, was already decided before tonight's routines. And the third couple in jeopardy is Candace and Mark, joining NeNe and Tony and Cody and Witney. No surprise there. But who's going home?
Safe: NeNe and Tony.
Eliminated: Cody and Witney. Candace looks shocked. (So do the judges.) The crowd boos. Witney's on the verge of tears, but Cody says a few gracious words.