'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Semifinals

Semifinals tonight. And it's only the second time we're getting two individual routines from each couple, right? Does anyone else feel like they started the two-a-shows earlier in past seasons? Or am I old with a failing memory?

William Levy & Cheryl Burke (Tango)

Oh, it's one of those tangos to a modern pop song -- in this case "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" And I think Cheryl's wearing wide-legged pants. So there are two reasons right away for me not to like it. William looks a bit stiff at times, but his posture is really pretty great, no hunching, no slouching. Len starts out by saying it's very competitive so he's going to get picky. He says he would've liked tighter hold, slightly crisper movement, and that it was a little bit flat-footed. If you assume Bruno's critique is about a certain part of William's anatomy it still works and is very funny. Carrie Ann says the lines were gorgeous and then she uses a lot of technical dance terms that I don't understand, William doesn't understand, but Cheryl probably does.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9 Len: 9 Bruno: 10

Katherine Jenkins & Mark Ballas (Quickstep)

Katherine talks about how much she's changed over the course of the competition, especially with willing to be show more skin. I know many American males that approve, Katherine. If you didn't think Mark would wear spats for a quickstep in which he's playing a "gangster," I want to take your bets forever. This quickstep, to "The Dirty Boogie" has a lot of fun moves and they're really covering the floor, but it has a bit too much mugging for my taste. I'll grudgingly admit it could be appropriate for the routine. Bruno calls it "Outstanding!" Carrie Ann starts with a fake-out and then says it was Katherine's best dance ever and "the best dance ever on 'Dancing with the Stars.'" She's wrong. Len says he saw a foot fault, which Mark takes the blame for, saying he hit her with his knee. Nice to know there's still a judge willing to actually, you know, judge.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10 Len: 9 Bruno: 10

Donald Driver & Peta Murgatroyd (Waltz)

Donald's all about the emotional in rehearsals, which is just adorable, of course. This waltz has too much fog machine in the beginning -- I always want to see the dancers' feet. Especially when I think it just disguised a lift there. The fog is just getting worse -- I fully expect by the end of the routine we'll only be able to see Donald's head. Eh, I'm sure this dance was fine technically, but it didn't reach out and grab me. Maybe because I'm unfamiliar with the song ("Kissing You" by Des'ree), maybe because it didn't have a lot of build or climax to it. Carrie Ann liked the emotion and said there were some extra steps and that some of the footwork was problematic. Len said it was elegant and charming and wants Donald to turn his head a little more to the left. Bruno says it's harder to impress with a waltz (although not as hard as with the rumba, to this viewer).

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9 Len: 9 Bruno: 10

Maria Menounos & Derek Hough (Argentine Tango)

I like the way they start the routine, behind the slightly lifted curtain, so you really see the intricate footwork. And then, because lifts are allowed in Argentine Tango, Derek comes down the stairs carrying Maria while she's intricately wrapped around his body. Hummina, that was hot. She's got the long, long legs to make an Argentine tango really look great, but just every now and then, you see the tomboy get the better of her. And they end with a big, giant smoocheroni. These two have a serious connection, whether they're romantically involved or not. Len says he was "totally caught up in the whole thing." Bruno says "every step had a meaning and purpose," and that it was "absolutely, utterly fabulous." Carrie Ann talks about her journey and transformation, then gets distracted because she accidentally kicks Len under the table.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10 Len: 10 Bruno: 10

For the second round, instead of actual rehearsal footage, we're going to get sob stories, back-stories, and recaps of each couple's "journey" so far. This is the sort of thing that bores me silly. I'm here for the dancing. And the costumes. And the glitter.

William Levy & Cheryl Burke (Samba)

William grew up poor in Cuba and moved here with his family when his father was granted political asylum. We see shots from his modeling days and hear a lot from his family. A friend commented on Twitter during this routine, "Kudos to the tailor of William's pants." And yes, yes, there's dancing going on, but there is also a very fit man in very tight white trousers. I'm going to have to hope the judges were paying better attention than me to the actual dance. Well, at least Carrie Ann and Len. Bruno is making no sense, he's aware of the trousers. Carrie Ann was also excited. And Len says he's never watched another man's bum so much in his life, and calls William "the hunk with the junk in his trunk."

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10 Len: 10 Bruno: 10

Katherine Jenkins & Mark Ballas (Salsa)

Katherine grew up in small Welsh town. When they show footage of her singing as a child, unsurprisingly, she's always been adorable. And apparently she and her fiancee split in December -- yowch. They're going for a Bollywood feel for this salsa because that worked so well for Maria and Derek last week with their samba. (Although to be fair, the song IS called, "Bananza (Belly Dancer)"). And keeping with the Indian flavor, Mark's wearing spats. Because, of course. The whole theme feels forced and something happens at the end, like an injury or something -- Katherine's visibly shook up, but Mark is right there for her, telling her over and over, "I got you." Carrie Ann says it was fantastic and is so sorry about the ending. Len, surprisingly, says nothing about the Bollywood motif, and instead praises her. Bruno is trying to reassure her, but Katherine really looks near tears, poor thing. In the interview with Brooke, she says it was something going out in her back.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 9 Len: 9 Bruno: 9

I did some rewinding and frame-advancing and it looks like her left leg went out from under her during Mark's last leap over her and she may have hurt her right leg trying to correct and not land on her butt.

Donald Driver & Peta Murgatroyd (Samba)

Donald's dad was in prison when he was born, and she tried to raise five kids on her own, at one point living in a U-Haul. Donald's life was heading toward crime, but sports was his way out. But his life really turned around when he met the woman that is now his wife. Awww. Donald's in a three-piece suit, looking mighty fine for "Mr. Big Stuff." The samba rolls are a little awkward but he's giving his best wiggle for the hip action. Aaron Rodgers is in the audience -- I bet he's trying to figure out how to photo-bomb a dance routine. Len's comments are swallowed by the audience applause, but I think he finished with "Overall, I liked it." Bruno said they took a risk taking the samba "out of Brazil" but it paid off. All Carrie Ann can do is smile.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10 Len: 9 Bruno: 10

Maria Menounos & Derek Hough

Wow, counting Maria, three of four remaining stars grew up in poverty. And of those three, two are immigrants, and the other is a minority. This season is all about the American Dream, ain't it? They're jiving to Janelle Monae's "Tightrope." Bold choice. They do some deliberately highlighted footwork in the middle, which I like. I also like that Derek's nodding towards some of the great choreography in the Monae's video. Bruno talks about how some of that footwork is reminiscent of Fosse. Carrie Ann calls Maria the winner of the night. Len says it wasn't a traditional jive, but that it felt great with the music, but noticed a little stumble at one point. And then Maria jumps up on Tom and wraps her legs around his waist. It's one of the few times I've ever seen Tom lose his place. Well done, Maria.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10 Len: 9 Bruno: 10

Prediction: If we don't lose her to injury, I don't think Katherine makes it through to the finals. Tune in tomorrow night to find out.

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