Dancing with the Stars Recap: The Top 11 Tell a Story

A lot of teardrops fell, occasionally inexplicably.

All you need to know to understand last night's Dancing with the Stars is that this was the Tell-the-Story-of-Your-Most-Memorable-Year episode. The bar has been set pretty high for this episode. You can blame it on JR Martinez and the other dancers last year who danced about despair, death, and eventually redemption. It seems like most of the dancers have now gotten the memo that they should definitely try to make us cry on this episode. And sometimes it seemed like a bit of a stretch. Call me jaded, call me cycnical, or just call me heartless and mean, I guess.

Let's dig in. 

1. Jack and Anna danced a Samba about 2011, when he met the daughter he'd never met before

OK, I have questions. Who is the mother of this daughter he never knew? Is this why he and Amanda, sorry, Heather Locklear, broke up? There was a lot left unsaid. Which a quick Google search resolved…apparently the mother was some hook-up who told him she was PG and giving the child up for adoption, and apparently he and Amanda, sorry, Heather, broke up because planning a wedding is stressful. Hokay. Anyway, back to the dance. Unlike Bruno, I thought he seemed to be catching up the whole time, just like last week. It seemed a bit frenetic and out of control, just like last week. He has good basics, but he was definitely on the edge of losing it. Just like he lost it at the mention of his long-lost daughter. Which was nice, I guess, although because I'm a bad person, I also thought he seemed weird about it. (And from what I hear there is even MORE to this story…including more weirdness, but this is a family recap, so I'll move on.)

2. Maria and Derek danced a Rumba about 1988, and our Tivo froze, so I couldn't tell why

And once again, I'm left with question, because my Tivo did this weird freezing thing and would not let me know why 1988 was such a momentous year. I'm assuming it's the year her parents emigrated to the U.S. with a 10-year-old Maria, and that was also very moving. Everyone was crying about their families like they were dead…and then they'd show them alive and well in the audience. It was disorienting. Everything seemed quite short to me last night. Frankly, I could have stood for a little less story, a little more dancing. This was also really heavy on the overt sexuality vs. sensuality. I'm surprised Len didn't get more prudish about it. I think I was more prudish than he was! And one more nitpick: The folds and tiers around her bottom made her dress look like it came with a built-in diaper. I said it was nitpicky. Now, all of the above aside: This was very very well done. She deserves to stick around quite a long while.  If we can all forgive the wrestling thing.

3. Gladys and Tristan danced a Foxtrot about 1957, when she did her first nationwide tour with the Pips

Gladys was almost the only one who didn't try to make us cry…who wanted to commemorate a really momentous and wonderful year, and I really appreciated that. This dance was simple, but very musical, natch. I feel like the overall level of the performers is very high this season, and the adorability factor is probably working better for some others who might also be on Gladys's level of dancing. I'm a little worried for her.

4. Roshon and Chelsie danced a Samba about 1996, when he saw Michael Jackson on stage

OK, I'm not going to start an entire MJ-related sh*tstorm, but suffice to say I was surprised that the most momentous year in Roshon's short life was identified as simply the year he saw an MJ concert. I also want to put in my vote that wearing a fake afro is never a good idea, and finally I confess my girl crush on Chelsie meant I was pretty much watching her the entire time. He seemed fine if superfluous. She's a little slice of Samba-ing heaven. Still be might be at risk, given his part in this Samba was mostly imitating a pop star.

5. Gavin and Karina danced a Rumba about the year he saw a Billy Joel concert and was inspired to be a musician

Gavin also chose to commemorate the year he saw a concert. He wove it in with more crying about his supportive father and family…who I was totally thinking was dead, again…until I saw him in the audience. It was a nice routine, although I wouldn't go quite as far as Carrie Ann, jeez! He still doesn't have the natural skills of most of this year's crop of Stars, but he is sort of adorable in a puppy dog (in a fedora) kind of way.

6. Catherine and Mark danced a Waltz about 1996, when she found out her father had lung cancer and then he died

This was so lovely that it seemed quite short. (Although even the less than lovely numbers seemed short this episode.) I'm glad I wasn't the only one nitpicking about the fact that there wasn't a ton of actual waltzing going on. You can count on me and Len. But she's obviously safe. And unlike these other crybabies, her dad really did die, and it really was sad :(

7. Sherri and Val danced a Rumba about the year her son was born prematurely and in NICU

Sherri's son is adorable and is thriving against all odds, but using that as a premise for a Rumba pretty much ensured there was no sex in that Rumba. It was very emotional, but her angst was a bit overplayed. Again, me with the nitpicking, I have to say that I really wanted her to close her mouth during the number…it was bugging me. Just me? She's doing a good job, but her bigger-than-life personality can go either way with viewers. Somestimes that kind fo star on this show annoys as many people as they entertain.

8. Melissa and Maks danced a Jive about 2010, when she fell and broke her back

I'm gonna say it: Laura on the Prairie is just not that great at these newfangled dances. And I disagree with Carrie Ann: I thought she still looked like she was freaking out the whole time. Possibly because it seemed way faster than was really wise or called for. I think she's big at risk. 

9. Jaleel and Kym danced a Rumba about the year he played Stefan Urkel, Urkel's alter ego 

Jaleel, Jaleel, Jaleel. You really lost me on this one. I didn't understand all the weeping over Urkel (unless you're weeping about how hard it was to emerge from Urke's shadow and get more work). And I TOTALLY did not understand the "Urkel is my Mickey Mouse" comment. I thought he was trying to hold up Urkel as a pop culture reference on a level with MM, but my S.O. seems convinced he was talking more a la Walt Disney, as in "Urkel is my creation, like MM was WD's creation". Which I'm sure all the credited writers on Family Matters totally appreciate. As for the dancing: He did a nice enough job. He just didn't have enough to do.

10. William and Cheryl danced a Salsa about 1995, when he came to the U.S.

It was fast and sharp and strong (and seemed just a teeny bit out of control). And he looked very very nice. And, really, end of story. Or, at least, any story he needs to tell.

DANCING WITH THE STARS - "Episode 1403" - This week's episode of "Dancing with the Stars," themed "The Most Memorable Year of My Life," challenged the remaining eleven couples to perform a meaningful dance using any style dance of their choice, MONDAY, APRIL 2 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/ADAM TAYLOR) CHERYL BURKE, WILLIAM LEVY

11. Donald and Peta danced a Rumba about 2010, when his best friend died in his arms

OK, this story really was sad and worthy of all the choking up and speechlessness. Which is, again, why I wonder about choosing such a story to go with the Rumba. You know, the dance of love. Carnal love, not filial love. I just think it creates a tension between the story, the feelings and the actual dance. This particular Rumba was a little fast and frenetic, but very clean and sharp. Donald is absolutely a front-runner, and showing heartfelt emotion isn't going to hurt him any.

Bottom Line for the Bottom Two:

Should be: Gavin and Melissa with Melissa going home.

Will be: Roshon and Melissa with Melissa going home.

But what did you think?

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