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TV Column
Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 11/20/2012

‘Dancing With the Stars’: Not ‘bad’ in the semi-finals

Only five couples remain on “Dancing With the Stars: All Stars” as the season winds down with the semi-finals, and this week is especially strange — the first round is all about bizarre dance/theme combinations (still sad we’ll never see Kirstie Alley’s “mad monk merengue”), and the second is a plug for the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” album.


Derek Hough and Shawn Johnston on “DWTS.” (Adam Taylor - ABC)
Reality star Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani

Dance, round 1: Caveman hustle

Melissa stresses over the fact that she’s the only non-”DWTS” champion left in the competition; Tony stresses about the fact that he has to choreograph a “caveman hustle.” “Why am I coming over [here]? From a hunt?” Tony wonders out loud as he walks around the studio, trying to find an inspiration from two random words slapped together.

Then, some added drama: Cut to Tony falling over at rehearsal, straining something in his back. Tom Bergeron tells us doctors have cleared him to dance, so here’s hoping he doesn’t get horribly injured.

The concept of a caveman hustle looks just as ridiculous as it sounds — even starting with a CGI dinosaur affect — but Tony and Melissa manage to make it look like a real dance, with some extra-ridiculous costumes.

Len is pleased, because he always love Melissa, and Bruno is thrilled with the amount of whiplash. Carrie Ann thought it was the perfect way to bring two random dances together, and actually preferred the caveman segments to the hustle. “I’ve got quite a few injections in my body,” Tony admits to Brooke Burke Charvet in the Celebriquarium, as she questions him about his back injury. Tom Bergeron quips that doesn’t make him any different from most people in Hollywood.

Scores: 9, 9.5, 9 for a total of 27.5 points.

Dance, round 2: Argentine tango

Michael Jackson’s mom, Katherine, is in the audience as the contestants choose songs from Jackson’s “Bad” album — Melissa and Tony go with “Dirty Diana.” They show off a steamy tango with lots of crazy-looking lifts, and Melissa is in tears at the end. Bruno and Len rave that it was amazing, and Carrie Ann says it was beyond everything she could have imagined — no exaggeration.

Scores: 10, 10, 10 for a total of 30 points.

Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough

Dance, round 1: Knight rider banghra

“I would rather have mustard on ice cream as a combination of things,” Derek confesses, before he has to choreograph a “knight rider banghra.” He brings in outside help, a choreographer who explains that banghra is like party music, but both Shawn and Derek look at him blankly.

Their performance make little sense, but they throw in some glowing lights and it’s wildly entertaining to watch. They nail all the steps with some flips thrown in, just because. Shawn can barely breathe once it’s over, and the audience goes crazy.

“They’ve done it — banghra style!” roars Bruno, who is ecstatic. Carrie Ann loves it, and even Len thinks it was amazing. Len! Who is usually Derek’s arch-nemesis.

Scores: 10, 10, 10 for a total of 30 points.

Dance, round 2: Argentine tango

It’s another Argentine tango, but it looks almost nothing like Melissa and Tony, as Shawn and Derek dance to the quicker, more upbeat “Bad.” Bruno loves their interpretation, but Carrie Ann believes the performance lacked passion, drama and intimacy. Ouch! Len disagrees , and was a fan.

Scores: 9, 10, 10 for a total of 29 points.

Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff

Dance, round 1: Big top jazz

Apolo’s putting all kinds of pressure on himself this week, determined to work harder than ever and put in a ton of hours at rehearsal. However, he can’t get the steps of “big top jazz” to stick in his head, and who could blame him? He lies on the couch for a quick power nap, but Karina says they have no time for sleep.

The duo goes all out with the circus theme, but the steps seem kind of clumsy — the elaborate props seem like a distraction. “I love the concept,” Carrie Ann starts doubtfully, but says it very sloppy, and quite disjointed. Len agrees there were some awkward moments, though he thinks that Apolo approaches every challenge like a champion. Bruno disagrees with the “disjointed” comment, and thinks the dance was great.

Scores: 8.5, 9, 9.5 for a total of 27 points.

Dance, round 2: Rumba

Sad music plays in the background as Apolo describes his journey through the season — almost as if he senses it’s coming to an end soon. Karina yells at him to be more romantic in rehearsal, and he shows off his dramatic side as they float through the rumba to “Man in the Mirror.”

Carrie Ann loved the way Apolo didn’t overdance, and Len agrees that its calmness was amazing — Bruno calls it perfection.

Scores:10, 10, 10 for a total of 30 points.

Former NFL player Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke

Dance, round 1: Espionage Lindy hop

Emmitt is still riding high from his salsa last week — even his mom called to compliment him on the performance. He’s a bit wary about the so-called “espionage Lindy hop,” but Cheryl decides that they’ll play the whole thing like a cartoon, with her playing the bad guy and Emmitt playing the hero.

Len would have preferred more “lindy” in there, but he still liked it. Bruno calls the dance a “Looney Tunes version of James Bond,” and declares it the most fun performance Emmitt has ever had. Carrie Ann rambles on for awhile, but ultimately, she was a fan.

Scores: 9, 9, 9 for a total of 27 points.

Dance, round 2: Tango

Emmitt compares this round of the competition to the playoffs leading up to the Super Bowl, though he and Cheryl are very frustrated when he can’t learn the steps. But all is forgotten as they dress in matching maroon outfits for an aggressive tango to “Leave Me Alone.”

Len thinks Emmitt has the biggest challenge with the tango, since he has to stay in hold the whole time — and he thinks he coped “marvelously well.” Bruno thinks it was so good it was almost criminal...but the footwork could have been more exact.

Actress Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy

Dance, round 1: Surfer flamenco

Kelly and Val are insufferably smug this week, as they spectulate that the real reason they got such a bizarre dance is that the other couples were threatened by how good they are. (Except for the fact that they were the last couple to get a dance theme chosen for them, and the “surfer flamenco” theme was by default — but whatever.)

They fly through the dance, with lots of shedding of clothing, winding up with Val in a speedo — and Bruno says Kelly is in danger of being upstaged. Anyway, Bruno is disappointed in the lack of flamenco moves, as is Carrie Ann. Len, however, liked that they took so many risks. But back to Val in a speedo — “For the viewers...it’s very cold in here,” says Val, with a wink to the camera in the Celebriquarium. “Let’s go to the scores,” Brooke Burke Charvet says hurriedly.

Scores: 8, 9, 8.5 for a total of 25.5 points.

Dance, round 2: Rumba

For the first time, Kelly hints at the fact that it was tough for her in Season 1, because even though she won, she was forced to compete in a dance-off with John O’Hurley — even she knows she wasn’t the best dancer that season. She says it made it difficult for her to open up this season, since she’s still scarred from last time...though not traumatized enough to turn down the shot to dance on TV again.

Tom Bergeron tells us that since the Kelly-Val relationship has been storyline all season, their romatic rumba could be the most climactic performance of the season. They hit all the steps during “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” and it’s as flirtatious as any other dance they’ve done this year.

Bruno calls it “smoldering,” and is again impressed by their chemistry. Carrie Ann thinks it was beautiful, and Len thought their was a lovely balance of control and emotion. Tom Bergeron makes a “is it still cold in here, Val?” joke, throwing back to Val’s speedo comment. It’s quite witty, though Carrie Ann is aghast. “Tom!” she exclaims.

Scores: 9.5, 9.5, 9.5 for 28.5 points.

Tuesday night: Double elimination before the finals.

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 11/20/2012

 
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