Tonight's Dancing With the Stars gets off to a quick start with a professional group dance to "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" The contestants will be taking on a ballroom dance and a Latin dance; we'll see how it all goes down.
Before Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani dance, they relive way too many moments from the season. Then Samantha Harris interviews them. If they have this much time to fill, maybe it should have been a half-hour shorter. Actually, it turns out they are reliving moments and talking to everyone before any of the performances. Yuck. Let's get this started already!
Half an hour in, it's finally time for the dances. Melissa and Tony are doing the cha-cha and the quickstep tonight, the quickstep first. In rehearsal, they work really hard on Melissa's feet because head judge Len Goodman has not been a fan. I'm no expert, but to me, Melissa and Tony looked amazing -- peppy and precise and entertaining, and ending with a great spin (but not a lift). Len says he loved the musicality and that her feet looked amazing. Bruno Tonioli says he thought it was "very, very good" but not as exhilarating as it could have been. Carrie Ann Inaba agrees, saying it was nice and pretty, but "not connected to your soul." I disagree -- I thought they looked like they were having a great time. Scores: 9-10-9, for a 28/30.
Gilles Marini and Chery Burke are up second, with the waltz. Their performance is flowy and romantic, quite lovely. Bruno: "Wow! That is how you start a race for the final!" He also compares Gilles to a matinee idol. Carrie Ann says people watch dancing because it takes them to a world of fantasy, and this did that. Len says, "I am giving you a sitting-down standing ovation." Scores: 10-10-10.
Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas are doing the Argentine tango for their first performance, and they were concerned about their ability to pull off the lifts during rehearsal. They do just fine with the lifts during the dance, and though much of it is crisp and powerful, there are a few moments of wobbliness as well. I think they wouldn't be as noticeable, but because the dance is so precise, it makes the off moments more obvious. Carrie Ann says she sometimes worries whether Shawn will be able to handle the emotional heft of the dance, but she totally did. Len says she danced with maturity and intensity and that it was honestly her best dance. Bruno calls her "Catherine Zeta-Shawn." So maybe I am the wobbly one? Scores: 10-10-10, for a 30/30.
Ty Murray and Chelsie Hightower start out with the Viennese waltz. He usually excels more in the ballroom rounds, but you can tell how hard he is trying, and he just oesn't have the smoothness that this dance requires, especially when he is holding Chelsie during some of the turns. Len says no one has worked harder or tried as hard as Ty has this season. He says there were some "issues" here and there, but overall, "well done." Bruno says he understand why people love him, but the Viennese waltz is supposed to be smooth, and this was not. Carrie Ann says he was struggling tonight, and the judges start fighting with one another. Sorry, Len; the others are right: Ty wasn't that good, even though he did try hard. Scores: 8-9-8, for a 25/30. (Um, 9? No. That is just crazy.)
Before the Latin round, we get clips about where the contestants come from and their families.
Melissa and Tony have the cha-cha for their second dance. It's very fun and cute, though I could do without the Timberlake hats. Bruno says he loves his cha-cha "full thrust and full on" and that he thinks at times this wasn't totally full of energy. He says for the finals, they need to maintain the energy. Carrie Ann congratulates her on taking the criticism from the first dance and applying it, saying that she showed more personality and emotion. But she agrees with Bruno about the inconsistency of energy and "size of step." Len says he like it but not as much as he was hoping to. Scores: 9-9-9, for a 55/60 total.
Gilles and Cheryl do the salsa for the second round. They've got energy and lots of hip action. Carrie Ann says this was Gilles at his best and that she wants to see him in the finals. Len says he is almost speechless and that he wishes he had an 11 paddle. Bruno: "Lil Kim is alive and well and she's hiding in your pants!" Hahahaha! Sometimes, I love Bruno. He adds that Gilles deserves to be in the final. Scores: 10-10-10, for a 60/60.
Shawn and Mark dance the jive for round two, in adorable polka dots. Their dance is fun and fast, and they end at the judges' table, holding up sparkly "10" paddles. Len says it was fast, full of feeling, but "too much messing about dancing going on." He wanted to see more tradition, less slapstick. Bruno says he likes when she goes wild, and she sold it 110 percent. Carrie Ann says she lost a little steam and got a little heavy toward the end, but she still enjoyed it. Scores: 9-8-9, for a total 56/60. So wait. Len gave Shawn a lower score than Ty? That is bananas!
Ty and Chelsie have the samba for the last dane of the night. He has basically no hip action (except for one booty-shaking moment), and that's OK -- it's way less awkward than last week. He does pull off the samba rolls, though. Bruno says Ty has resilience and determination, though he occasionally looked like he was dancing on a tightrope. Carrie Ann votes him MVP of season eight. Len says he's Arthur Murray in ballroom and "Murray in a hurry" in Latin. Scores: 8-7-8, for a 23/30 and a total 48/60.
What do you think about tonight's semifinal? I think Ty is a sweetheart and definitely most improved, but I think he needs to go home before the final. Such a limb I am going out on!