Somewhere in an ABC studio back room some underpaid staffer is hard at work polishing the cheesy mirror ball trophy that one of these lucky stars will be taking home before long. So with only four celebs left in the running, it seems there is finally a light at the end of the long, long, long... long Dancing tunnel. But before the happy birth of this season's bright new dancing star, there are some labor pains left to endure and tonight said pains center around two dances per couple. We have glittery goodness oozing from every Mystic Tan-ed pore, we have more Jitterbug hoopla and we have Len's master class to look forward to. Let's get to it.
Tom and Jerry are excited because these are the semifinals tonight and, as usual, we are told that these are “the most competitive semifinals ever”. Next season I bet it will be “the most competitive semifinals in history” and after that they'll just recycle whatever they said three seasons ago. Right off the bat, I can tell that the stakes are high because Brooke is wearing a white glittery bra and half a yard of flimsy fabric strategically draped to look like a skirt, while Kym is wearing an even more, shall we say, minimalistic ensemble. I guess Edyta left all her handkerchief sized duds behind when she bid adieu last week. Again.
The first dances of the night will be dances that the couples have not performed to date, while in the second half we'll see this season's new dances. Len will be lending a hand in the latter portion because it's part of his contract and because it's an established part of semifinal filler.
A new abyss
Brooke and Derek are doing the Jive and the Salsa tonight. Even though Brooke is the next best thing to a pro on this show, Derek is still looking for perfection. However, the Salsa is a new dance for him and the choreography is not rolling as smoothly as he'd like. Lots of hair pulling and frustrated pacing from Derek later, Brooke confesses that she just wants to up the wow factor on their Jive so that she can outdo her three man competition. Did all the talk lead to action? Well, let's just say they tried but that's about it. Perhaps it was the music, which was not jivey enough, perhaps it was Brooke's weirdly exaggerated excitement, perhaps it was something else but the bottom line is that they delivered a technically lackluster performance punctuated by obvious mistakes. Brooke was often behind the music, stumbling at times and they even did an illegal lift. They ended behind the music as well. Len calls it a disaster, Bruno saw the technique go down the toilet and is shocked while Carrie says she had a bad dance and an illegal lift which upset her. They earn all 7s for a total of 21.
Pood Cody. First he's being shuffled from pro to pro, then he's reduced to tears by Dr. Drew and, to top it all off, his efforts on the dance floor keep landing him at the bottom of the competition. Is there anything else he can do short of bribing the sub 13 year old demographic to speed dial for him even more furiously? Perhaps a quick trip to the CMA's to “surprise” Julianne might attract some of those country fans and give them a boost. At this stage it can only help, especially since Cody's got himself some stiff hips that were already a problem last week. Their Salsa rehearsal seems to be going well but Cody is a bit intimidated by the manliness of the Paso Doble. While during the last few weeks he seemed to have finally found his inner Clark Gable, this week he's back to “I'm only 18” and being insecure about his youth. I'd like to be insecure about my youth too. Their Paso is weird, to put it mildly. They're wearing what looks like military style Halloween outfits, dancing to a decidedly non-Paso music with a choreography that is as for from being a Paso Doble as possible. Cody tries to look angry and manly but since the whole setup isn't providing any drama, it all comes off as forced and fake. The judges are not impressed. Bruno saw no Spanish traits, no style. Carrie gives them 10 for determination, but saw too much tension and little else. Len predicts that Cody will be gone after this non-Paso Doble that he says “lacked dance quality”. They earn 8-7-7 for a total of 22 points.
Riding high on his one and only 10 so far and bravely working around his busy schedule, Warren is pleased to be in the final four. He's got a Mambo and a Jitterbug standing between him and final three glory. Since Warren is so busy, rehearsal time is scarce, even field trips with Kym to dance at the NFL studio are a necessity. In the studio, he's exhausted, frustrated and upset but he is determined to do his best. Despite the hardships, they manage to deliver an enjoyable Mambo. As big as Warren is, he has agility, rhythm and even grace at times even if technically he is not up to par. I like seeing that he takes it seriously unlike some football stars before him who were almost ashamed to move lest they appear less than manly. The audience cheers them loudly. Carrie missed the content and technical details. Len saw great personality even if the finer points of technique were not there. Bruno says he was flat footed but engaging and entertaining. Their scores are 8-8-8 for a total of 24 points.
Lance goes last in this round, but certainly not least. They have the Mambo and the Jitterbug, which edgy Lacey says are “crazy hard” but all Lance can think is WWII and his grandfather. This being one of the last opportunities for guests, field trips and other distractions, he invites his father and his grandfather to see him rehearse in the studio. Grandpa is very proud to see Lance doing the Jitterbug, and he even gets in on the action a bit. While the bug goes well, there's also the Mambo to learn which they're determined to dance well. With grandpa in the audience, their Mambo is a great, fun filled routine, filled with clever details and the kind of excitement that we usually get only from Maks' more inspired choreographies. The audience gives them a loud standing ovation, but will the judges finally agree? Len says it was the best dance so far, Bruno calls it “semifinal material”, full of content and details while Carrie terms their dance a showstopper, the best by far so far. They earn 10-9-9 for a total of 28 points.
The master class
Since everyone can use a bit of extra help and because Len has been doing this dance thing since before television was invented, our remaining celebs are benefiting this week from his expertise. A dream sequence starts off the segment, with Len grinning ear to ear as he's dancing under the bright lights with Kym and Cheryl followed by a rude awakening when his phone rings. In true Len fashion, he pops out of bed fully dressed in formalwear and ready for his closeup.
Lance is first on his agenda and Len manages to cure him of his pigeon toe in less time than you can say “oh, really?” before moving on to Cody. Cody's problem is his stiff hip, which Len feels can be fixed. There's some nice man-to-man dancing action and by the time Len leaves Cody has found a new appreciation for the way his hips can gyrate. Problem solved, Len is on to help Brooke with her legs which apparently she is flexing too much. After some detailed instruction from Len, however, Brooke's legs are cured of their flex and she's ready for primetime. Everybody has a problem or two, and Warren's problems are his flicks and his feet. Dr. Len manages to help with Warren's issues, naturally, and even walks away with a few new tricks learned as well.
The Salsa wave
Now we can move on to the performances, right? Well, not quite. There's too much time left and the show needs filler. Some pretty impressive pros are here to demonstrate exactly how things should look in the Mambo, just so we all can compare Brooke and Warren's performances to the pros' and find them lacking.
Dressed mostly in gold fringe but looking like a Genie out of her bottle, Brooke finds her old self and manages to deliver a very good Salsa. There's hip shaking, booty shaking, full body shaking, flamboyant lifts, jumps and throws and a whole lot of rhythm. All in all a good showing. The judges mostly agree, saying that Brooke is back. Bruno hails her comeback, Carrie lauds their lifts and Len talks about their great technique and advises them to stick to it. They earn 9-10-9 for a total of 28 points.
For their Salsa, Cody and Julianne start off by working they way down the stairs which is a good way to begin. The rest of their dance, however, is not so exciting. There are the usual lifts and body shakes but it's all a bit too much fanfare and too little joy. Carrie found it lacking in the musicality department, Len disagrees and Bruno says Cody danced like a little cheeky devil, but he missed the technique as well. Their scores are all 8s for a total of 24 points.
Jitterbug dance off
The Jitterbug demonstration by the pros is quite a treat but I feel it's a bit unfair to have them on before the celebs. How can anyone think they're good after seeing the pros dance it the way it's really supposed to be danced?
Warren is up first with a Vegas themed routine. The croupier and cocktail waitress costumes are fun and their moves are quite decent, however it seems to me that the Jitterbug as a dance on this show is a bust. I wouldn't be surprised if they ditch this dance next season. It seems oddly dated, forced and boring. The audience is enthusiastic, Len says “well done”, Bruno thinks the master class worked and Carrie just loved it all. They earn 9-8-8 for a total of 25 points.
For the last dance we have Lance and Lacey. Their theme is the predictable sailor and his girl and the first 20 seconds of their routine are routine indeed, until Lance looses a shoe and is forced to dance the entire remaining time wearing a shoe on one foot and a sock on another. Another couple may have been flustered by such a wardrobe malfunction but Lance shrugs it off and they manage to put on a very nice Jitterbug. Bruno saw Gene Kelly in their dance and real brilliance. Carrie agrees that is was a magical performance. Len says they managed to put on two fabulous dances. Their scores are 10-9-10 for a total of 29 points.
Semifinals are over and somebody will not make it to next week. Want to find out who? Read MotherSister's sure to be funny recap and save yourself the pain of too much filler. See me here next week for the last hurrah when we'll crown a brand spanking new Dancing champion.