The Dancing with the Stars season 11 week 5 results show brought with it a surprising elimination for some viewers — and for the cast-off — as Brady Bunch star Florence Henderson found herself on the short end of the voting stick. Did America get it right, or should teen activist Bristol Palin be Alaska-bound in her truck as I write instead? Let’s take a gander at the season-long string of evidence.
Following a night of mostly successful jaunts around the ballroom set to popular TV theme music, Florence wound up third-up from the bottom of the leaderboard with a score of 21. Reactions to her Brady Bunch themed Foxtrot from the judging peanut gallery were primarily positive. Carrie Ann Inaba called her a “sexy senior” and Len ‘Crankypants’ Goodman noted that it was probably the couple’s best dance of the season. Bruno Tonioli was a bit less impressed with their efforts, praising the beginning of the routine as “beautiful” but criticizing her for becoming a “herky jerky” ragdoll in the middle.
Palin’s Monkees-themed Jive was less of a Dancing with the Stars week 5 hit, earning just 18 points from the judges and landing her in the leaderboard cellar. While Carrie Ann, Len and Bruno appreciated an attempt to increase her performance skills, they slammed Bristol for losing the technical ability that had positively earmarked earlier dances.
Based on DWTS week 5 results alone, then, Bristol should’ve gone home instead of Florence. But would that result make sense within the context of the entire season? Let’s take a look back.
Dancing with the Stars season 11 Florence Henderson v. Bristol Palin Smackdown Week One: Battle Cha Cha Cha. When the season 11 starting gun fired, both ladies came out of the gate in mediocre fashion. Bristol won praise for her hip shakin’ and leg action, but criticism for a lack of sparkle and pizazz. Florence, conversely, won the judges over with her ethusiasm, but garnered criticism for tentative stepping. Both ladies earned identical scores of 18, and the ‘technique’ versus ‘performance’ dilemma was born. Battle Winner: Tie.
Dancing with the Stars season 11 Florence Henderson v. Bristol Palin Smackdown Week Two: Battle Quickstep. Week two was indubitably Bristol’s time to shine. Her Quickstep earned her a cool season-high (through week 5) 22 points, although the judges’ comments were primarily aimed at convincing her to up the ante in her entertainment game. Florence also earned praise for her offering, although Bruno did liken her to “Driving Miss Daisy” and much of the praise seemed to center around her age and how impressive it was that she was able to move so quickly and so well for a 76-year old. Battle Winner: Bristol.
Dancing with the Stars season 11 Florence Henderson v. Bristol Palin Smackdown Week Three: Battle Waltz versus Foxtrot. Week three marked the first time that the two ladies performed different dances, with Florence tackling a Waltz and Bristol, a Foxtrot. Florence’s 20-point scoring Sound of Music dance was called “sweet” and “emotional” by Len and co, but lacked technical skill. In my own review, I called Bristol’s Foxtrot “strained” and “uncomfortable at times”, though Len praised her for her technical savvy. So once again, the distinction between the two ladies was one of performance versus technique, and which reigns supreme in DWTS land. Battle Winner: Florence, based solely on her one point edge over Bristol.
Dancing with the Stars season 11 Florence Henderson v. Bristol Palin Smackdown Week Four: Battle Rumba. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m struggling with this one a tad because I’m still scarred by Florence and Corky’s uber-racy and utterly bizarre Rumba. Even more than a week later, I still don’t think it was as good as the judges scored it (17 for technique, 18 for performance). I guess if I could get past the icky feelings, I could justify the performance marks, but the technique just wasn’t there: At one point, Corky dragged her awkwardly around the dancefloor by a leg, and that wasn’t the worst of it. Sure, it’s great that she’s confident enough to put on that kind of show, but it just wasn’t pretty. Bristol achieved only slightly better technical marks (18) despite delivering a decidedly more pointed and precise footwork. And by now, we already know that Florence will take the crown for performance value, so I won’t go into Bristol’s quasi-disastrous 14. Battle Winner: Tie. I just can’t get past the awkwardness of Flo’s Rumba.
So what does all of this tell us? Well, from a practical standpoint, it hammers home the fact that Bristol and Florence excelled (and decelled) in opposite areas while on Dancing with the Stars season 11. While Bristol was hailed as a technician through many of her routines, Florence more often than not nailed the performance aspect of hers. But which is more important? Beats me.
Did the right woman go home last night on the Dancing with the Stars week 5 results show? Share your opinion below, and tune in next week to see the remaining celebs strut their stuff to some good old fashioned rock n roll.
Dancing with the Stars season 11 week 5 results, October 19, 2010, ABC