Cat is muted as we begin this week's show, which offers just a nightmare vision of a world where Cat Deeley has been silenced forever. Thankfully, it doesn't last. The opening group number features Jasmine Harper being exalted above the other dancers (not without justification) and a whole bunch of red costumes/lighting eventually giving way to white costumes/lighting. Feels very Mia, with wayward souls crashing into each other the way she often likes to do with group numbers. But no, it's Stacey Tookey and Peter Chu, which makes sense, too, since Stacey, much as I love her, doesn't shy away from taking ... inspiration, let's say, from Mia Michaels.
This week's judges: Nigel, Mary and ... Carly Rae Jepsen. Sure. Remember Dan Karaty? I hated that guy. I miss him. Nigel gets to have his favorite moment of any season: bragging about the show's Emmy nominations, including another Best Host bid for our dear Cat, as well as choreography noms for Travis Wall, Mandy Moore, Tabitha and Napoleon, and Stacey Tookey. (Also, Alison Hokler got a choreography nomination for Dancing With the Stars.)
Eliminations. You should know that I no longer trust America's decision making when it comes to this show. We had a good run, voters, but we're on 2-3 seasons of very questionable decisions in the early weeks, culminating in last week's Jasmine Mason elimination. You're on your own. Anyway, the bottom 6 are: Mariah, Alan, Makenzie, BluPrint, Jenna, and Curtis. I'm officially bewildered by the apparent fanbases of Nico, Alexis, and Hayley. And for putting Jenna (and Makenzie, for that matter) in the bottom yet again, I feel like breaking up with America all over again. Two are supposed to get sent to safety right away, and after Nigel yammers on forever, justifying the Dance For Your Life solos (which aren't quite so immediate with the pairs routines happening between them and eliminations), before sending Jenna (thank God) and NO guys back to safety before we move on with the show. Free Alan and Makenzie, please. Particularly after Makenzie's lovely, delicate solo and Alan's bold paso (complete with pirouettes and onstage cape).
Alexis and Nico: Jive (Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin)
First of all, so great to see Tony and Melanie for the first time this season. I just adore them. Second of all, this is a great draw for Alexis and Nico; the jive always looks like so much fun, and as these two dancers are the most young-seeming (some might say "immature") this season, their exuberance and energy can work for them. There's one lift that looks rather determined, if not quite labored, and there's another awkward maneuver involving Alexis wrapping her arms around Nico's waist and him kind of stepping over her a few times that I'm not sure could ever look graceful, but for the most part, I thought they delivered a solid, fun routine. Nigel says it looked like they lost momentum halfway through and wonders aloud if the voters will forget them by the end of the two hours. Mary -- the only opinion I seek in these ballroom numbers -- said they did a really good job, actually. She also singles out the one really impressive lift that was executed flawlessly. Carly doesn't say all that much of consequence, maybe.