If you ignore the rumors that Walt Disney was a raging racist, the fact that Disney has ruthlessly crushed its competition, how its animated princesses have created impossible body images for today's youth or that Frozen has made toddlers across the country totally intolerable, then Disney is great!
Tonight was Dancing with the Stars' Disney night, meaning the impossible magic of scripted cartoons was in the air (and Erin Andrews dressed straight out of a holiday blockbuster). Each couple danced to a song from a Disney classic, such as... uhhh, Wreck-It-Ralph, Cars 3 and Mulan? Ehh, fine.
How did ABC use corporate synergy to please its overlords? Let's recap the dances and then find out who was banished from the Magic Kingdom forever.
Rashad Jennings with Emma Slater - Foxtrot - "Evermore" by Josh Groban from Walt Disney Pictures' Beauty and the Beast
The dance: Football players in outrageously un-tough outfits is kind of my jam, and Rashad's Beastly costume probably even had Eli Manning saying, "What a dweeb." Following last week's weepy contemporary breakthrough in tribute to his father, Rashad showed a lot of versatility with this routine that felt ripped straight out of the film, animated or Emma Watson version, take your pick. There may have been less emotion than last week, but I was impressed by Rashad's range and ability to jump into an entirely new style well.
What the judges said: Len said he hasn't seen Rashad dance a bad dance, but there were some footwork issues. The judges agreed that the song was a difficult one to keep time to, but that they mostly pulled it off. Carrie Ann compared Rashad to a wild horse, whatever that means!
The score: 32/40, with Carrie Ann giving the low score of 7 and Julianne handing out a 9. They're safe, according to these new rules of telling couples they're safe extra early.
The dance: Finally, after weeks and weeks of trashy Top 40 songs from Nick's iPod Shuffle, a classic jam that's actually great! And I'm wondering if Nick understands the irony of this song and how it applies to him, since he's basically a Ken doll. Actually, I think Nick does get it, and this was exactly the breakout we wanted to see from him. At least from a personality standpoint; the whole routine was very fun. Technically, Nick was a half step behind a lot of the times, but it was worth it because Nick finally showed that surprising side of himself when he knows he's not on camera. If Nick can continue this, he'll stick around a few more weeks.
What the judges said: Julianne loved the choreography and thought it was fun. Bruno loved the cross-dressing Can Can, and Carrie Ann thought it was a breakthrough.
The score: 34/40, by far his best score of the season.
The dance: Erika 2.0 continued as the sassy pop princess turned it down for another routine that was on the borderline of classy! You go, girl. Seriously, it was like, "Who IS this?" Erika came out and flowed, rather than jerked around, and combined with the stripped-down set and gorgeous blue gown, it totally transformed her persona. What's more, this looked like the most fun she has had on the show. Did you know Erika had this in her? Because I didn't. If Dancing is really about transformation, then Erika is killing it.
What the judges said: "My darling, I think I met you for the first time," Bruno said, basically speaking for all of us. "It was an honest performance, my darling." Carrie Ann said she was "elongated" and there's a joke there somewhere but this is Disney night so I will keep my trap shut.
The score: 32/40, another personal high tonight. However, it's probably too late for her, and I think she's going home.
Heather Morris with Maksim Chmerkovskiy (note: Maks was injured and was replaced by another dancer from the troupe) - Jazz - "For the First Time in Forever" by Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, music & lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, from Frozen
The dance: A Heather dance is always worth getting excited for... or maybe not. It took a lot of time for the dance to even start as Heather and Alan pranced around and performed a skit more than an actual dance (she threw a snowball at him!), and even when it got going there still wasn't a whole lot of jazz "content" (DWTS buzzword!!!). However, the dancing -- when they finally got to is -- was solid, of course. I guess that's the big question with Disney night... are we dancing or Disneying? Maybe I'm a traditionalist, or maybe I just hate Frozen, but gimme more dancing than a stripped-down version of a movie that I can't wait to get out of. Oh god, I'm old, sorry.
What the judges said: Carrie Ann and Len didn't really love it, but Julianne and Bruno loved it. The difference was the interpretation of the performance, which Julianne and Bruno saw as a character-driven performance and an embodiment of the Disney night theme. Sorry to poop all over this party, but I'm with Carrie Ann and Len.
The score: 34/40. Sure.
The dance: The Sharner Shipping Club has been wanting to see these two do the tango for weeks now and Bonner and Sharna pulled off a nice dance, one of Bonner's best, for sure. You have to remember that Bonner has all kinds of metal inside of him after his accident, so he might not be able to go as big as he'd like. But he's really working on what he can, and he made huge leaps with his posture and framing, a key to looking like he's taking the lead. This was good, but maybe not great.
What the judges said: Len was excited that there wasn't a whole lot of "messin' about" in this routine, an obvious dig at Heather's performance and classic Len shade. Carrie Ann said she wanted to see them go "BEE BO BEE BO." And nope, I'm not providing context.
The score: 30/40, and Bonner's face when he got his first 7 made me sad. He was crushed.
The dance: Hey everyone, Donny Osmond is alive! To me, this was a great way to bring Disney into the dance. There were props as the routine was fight-themed, and the actual content (there I go again) was EVERYWHERE. On top of all that, Normani beat the s--- out of Val with some quality fight choreography in between Normani's tippy-toe moves that would absolutely leave me in the hospital if I tried them. Let's not forget that the Paso Doblé is the hardest dance to do, which makes Normani's mastery of it even more impressive. This kicked ass, and Normani even had the knowhow to capture the character well. Seriously, this had everything. Perfect 10s are coming.
What the judges said: Julianne said this dance helped little girls believe they can do anything. She was really stoked! Carrie Ann's jaw was dropped and she just looked ahead in disbelief. Even Len was smiling ear to ear!
The score: 39/40, with Len giving the lone 9.
The dance: Dad Rock Dad came out tonight, leaving some of the goofiness behind in favor of some jiving, and it peeled back another layer of the enigma known as David Ross. His greatest strength is his ability to surprise, because you just don't think he can pull off the challenges each week. The Jive is fast paced, so David was wheezing halfway through this, but he still impressed out there in a fire-engine red racing jumpsuit and kept pace with Lindsay, who could wear out a hummingbird. My only question: What's a ZZ Ward?
What the judges said: Bruno said it looks like David needed an oil change and some new tires. Carrie Ann said men were at home drinking beer telling David to "bring it home." Len and Julianne said David was a little flat-footed.
The score: 29/40. I guess they watched a different dance than I did!
The dance: Screw it, I hope Nancy wins the whole thing. She's great. The world of Disney can be so saccharine and silly, but when Nancy steps into that world it seems so fitting that you expect bluebirds and squirrels to swarm her like she's Snow frickin' White. A colorful set piece and Nancy's beaming smile and form went together so well that there's a chance that she is an actual Disney princess and we're really living in the world of Enchanted. Dang, mind blown.
What the judges said: Carrie Ann said she's the most princess-like of everyone. Julianne said she was so caught up she almost forgot to judge the dance.
The score: 36/40, all 9s but she really could have gotten a 10 in there.
The dance: Sasha and Simone are such a dangerous couple because Sasha loved to push limits and Simone is the type of partner who can match his extravagant choreography. This was half gymnastics floor routine and half contemporary dance, which worked well, because it was under the contemporary umbrella. Sasha threw her in the air backwards, Simone sprung around like she was wearing springs on her shoes, and Simone handled the contemporary movements perfectly. Well done. (But not as good as Normani.)
What the judges said: "Sasha, it was a smasha!" said Len. I also learned that Julianne's knowledge of Disney stuff is really in depth! "I think gravity doesn't apply to you," said Bruno.
The score: 38/40, with Julianne and Bruno providing the 10s.
Who got eliminated? It came down to Erika and Gleb vs. Nick and Peta, and just as I thought, Erika said goodbye. And of course it happened after her best dance because of the odd scoring system. Oh well, she'll have to go back to her millions of dollars.
Dancing with the Stars airs Monday nights at 8/7c on ABC.