Comedian Tommy Chong was voted off “Dancing With the Stars” Monday night after weeks of defying the odds and just one week before the finals of the ABC dance competition.
Chong, 76, is the oldest competitor to have made it so far in the 19 seasons of the show and his performances scored at or near the bottom of the leaderboard throughout the season.
When co-host Erin Andrews asked Chong what his time on the show meant to him, he replied: “Everything,” adding that it just “showed that ... old stoners can perform when they need to.”
Each couple had to perform two routines. The first dance was set to a song, and the second featured a different dance style set to an “unplugged” -- or musically stripped-down -- version of the song from the first routine.
Returning on Nov. 24 to compete for the mirrorball trophy are actress Janel Parrish, YouTube star Bethany Mota, “Duck Dynasty” star Sadie Robertson and actor Alfonso Ribeiro. An injury during rehearsals last week had threatened to sideline Ribeiro for the remainder of the competition but the actor danced tonight despite his injury.
Sadie Robertson: Robertson’s first dance of the night, a quickstep, won praise from the judges. Head judge Len Goodman said he was disappointed because he didn't see anything to not like in the entire routine. Julianne Hough called Robertson a “breath of fresh air,” telling her the performance was brilliant. Bruno Tonioli said Robertson’s performance was “really, really wonderful” and he commended her pro partner, Mark Ballas, on the choreography. Carrie Ann Inaba said the performance was detail-oriented. Robertson earned a 10 and three 9s for a total of 37 out of a possible 40 points.
Robertson’s second routine of the night, an Argentine tango, also earned the judges’ approval. Goodman said the routine was “terrific,” although he said he wished the prop guitar had been featured less in the routine. Hough and Inaba both said they loved the use of the guitar and Robertson’s performance. Tonioli said Robertson’s performance was “emotionally involved, sensual but always correct.” Judges said Robertson deserved to be in the finals, and gave her three 9s and a 10 for a total of 37 points.
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Alfonso Ribeiro: The actor suffered a back injury during rehearsal last week and wasn't sure he’d be able to perform tonight, but he did and judges approved. “Pain is temporary; glory is forever. Work for it to get into that final,” Goodman said. Hough said Ribeiro showed he was a fighter, and Inaba advised the actor to “go safe but go hard” for his second routine. Tonioli said he didn't see any sign of injury in Ribeiro’s performance. The actor earned four 9s for a total of 36 points.
The actor’s unplugged contemporary routine wowed the judges. Goodman praised its passion, Tonioli saw “sizzling chemistry” between Ribeiro and pro partner Witney Carson and Inaba said it was amazing. “It was so unexpected. You showed us a whole new side of Alfonso tonight. I’m so excited!” she said. Ribeiro earned 39 points.
Tommy Chong: His jazz routine won the comedian a standing ovation from the ballroom audience and kudos from the judges. Goodman, a former award-winning dancer, told the 76-year-old that he admired what he’d achieved throughout the entire competition. “Tommy, I tell you, you’re six years older than I am and I’ll be honest, I couldn't have done what you've done. ... Well done,” Goodman said. Tonioli told Chong, who has struggled in the competition, that he was lucky to have Peta Murgatroyd as his pro partner. “You have Peta, the human defibrillator. She can bring the dead back to life,” he said, adding that he enjoyed the performance. Inaba agreed, calling Murgatroyd the MVP of the season. Hough called Chong the “wild card” of the show, adding that the performance was “wild” but that she loved it. Chong earned four 7s for a total of 28 points.
Chong’s second routine, an unplugged rumba that was inspired by “The Nutcracker,” moved Hough and Inaba to tears. Hough called the routine “magical,” and Inaba said the routine showed the master and his muse. “There was something so tender, every touch, every embrace,” she said. Goodman said Chong may not always have been the judges’ favorite, “but what’s better, you’re America’s favorite.” Chong earned two 8s and two 9s for a total of 34 points.
Bethany Mota: The YouTube star drew mixed reviews for her samba. Tonioli liked that the routine took the samba out of its traditional milieu, but Inaba said she felt “a little underwhelmed” because she has come to expect more from Mota. Goodman likened the routine to cotton candy -- light and fluffy, but a bit sticky here and there. However, he said the routine was fun and he liked the feel of it. Hough, the sister of Mota’s pro partner, Derek Hough, liked the routine, telling her brother that his pre-dance doubts based on a creative block during rehearsals were unfounded. “You've got nothing to worry about so get out of your head, Derek,” she said. Mota earned three 9s for a total of 36 points.
Judges loved Mota’s unplugged contemporary routine that featured the continuous use of a large prop picture frame held between her and her pro partner. “I didn't want to blink,” Inaba said, calling the routine “breathtaking.” Describing it as a “Picasso of a dance,” Goodman said he loved it. Hough called the routine “picture perfect,” while Tonioli said the performance “should be on permanent display in an art gallery. It’s a modern masterpiece.” Mota earned 40 points.
Janel Parrish: The actress’ fiery paso doble drew rave reviews from the judges. “I wanted more! That was over way to soon. ... Fabulous,” Inaba said. Goodman called it a “great performance and a fabulous routine.” Hough said Parrish was “in it to win it,” while Tonioli added that Parrish was “like an untamed force or nature.” Parrish earned four 10s, for a perfect score of 40.
The actress’ unplugged Argentine tango drew mixed reviews from judges. Inaba said the lifts were “a bit ungraceful,” and Goodman agreed that the first lift could have been sharper. Tonioli loved the lifts, saying they were in keeping with the tone of the routine. “Fantastic job,” he said. Hough said Parrish had a God-given gift for dance. The actress earned 38 points.
Tonight’s Scores (First routine; second routine. Grand total.)
Janel Parrish and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 40; 38. Total: 78
Bethany Mota and Derek Hough: 36; 40. Total: 76
Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson: 36; 39. Total: 75
Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas: 37; 37. Total: 74
Tommy Chong and Peta Murgatroyd: 28; 37. Total: 65
(Chong was voted off tonight.)