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'Dancing with the Stars' recap: On the eve of double elimination

They open by reminding us that next week is the semifinals — can't believe we're there already! It's been a quick season. After the staircase introductions, we find out there will be two dances for each couple tonight and a double elimination tomorrow night.

Donald Driver & Peta Murgatroyd
They've got the tango tonight and in rehearsal, Donald's having trouble with his frame, so he watches footage of Derek for inspiration. OK, they're tangoing to "Higher Ground" and whether you think Stevie Wonder or Red Hot Chili Peppers when you hear this, it's still a weird ballroom choice. Donald's "Intense tango" face is edging a little close to "mouth-breather" for me — it's definitely better when he's allowed to deploy his megawatt smile. Len calls it a "first round knockout." Bruno's hyperbole translates roughly as "intensity appropriate for the dance." Carrie Ann says the shapes were more dynamic this week. She adds that he needs more "drama" and Len and Bruno shout her down.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9  Len: 9   Bruno: 9

Maria Menounos & Derek Hough
Derek says that one of Maria's problem areas is having to match her face to the character of the dance. Then there's A LOT of sustained bleeping from both Maria and Derek. You get the sense, though, that it's not AT each other, but just general frustration. They're doing the Viennese Waltz to a song with which I am unfamiliar, Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years." She's doing a better job than most of the female celebrities at getting that exaggerated head tilted way back frame. Bruno says it was "heavenly fluidity . . . combined with total emotional involvement ...  amazing." Len says that Maria is "the best" in hold and wished Derek had put more of the dance in hold. I kind of agree, given how good I think she is at it.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10  Len: 8  Bruno:  10

In the interview before the scores, Derek admits that seeing the footage, he was kind of a jerk and apologizes to Maria. Aw.

Melissa Gilbert & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Melissa says there's head butting happening in rehearals. Maks gets to the point of anger that he says he's going to leave the room. But then doesn't, and swears at Melissa A LOT.  Melissa bothers poor Harold Wheeler (the bandleader) before she and Maks foxtrot to "Maggie Mae." For some reason, Maks has his hair slicked down and is in some sort of prep school getup, complete with Clark Kent glasses.  I feel like we missed part of the backstory thanks to all the DRAMA in the rehearsal footage.  As they come up from their final pose, Maks is shaking his head, likely at the multiple errors. Carrie Ann says Melissa's shoulders were down and neck was up and it was her best dance so far. Len also mentions the mistakes, as does Bruno.  Rewinding during the commercial, it looks like the missteps came during some of the more basic in hold steps for the foxtrot.  Shame.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8  Len: 8   Bruno: 8

Katherine Jenkins & Mark Ballas
Mark's in a newsboy cap for tonight's routine. Oh boy. Katherine's of where she is in the pecking order when she identifies herself as the "least known competitor" still in the running. They're doing the Viennese waltz to "Kathleen" by David Gray. They do this crazy leap into a spin, that's really impressive, but seems to have an awkward ending that doesn't time up like it's supposed to with the end of the song. Hrm. Len says it had "plenty of content" and he didn't like "the spinny thing." Bruno helps me understand that it wasn't a newsboy cap but that Mark was the stable boy to Katherine's lady. Bruno also noticed the slip-up with the spin. Carrie Ann says something that's indecipherable thanks to the audience boos and Bruno's histrionics.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 8  Len: 9  Bruno: 9

Roshon Fegan & Chelsie Hightower
Chelsie is really making Roshon buckle down on his technique this week. Roshon's grandmothers come in to watch them dance and they're adorable. The grandmother wearing black sounds SO MUCH like my own Appalachian grandmother; I want to know where she's from. Aw, how cute is Roshon in that plaid sport coat? Also, I would totally wear Chelsie's shoes, like, out in public. Roshon's rubber band legs are still a little evident tonight, even after the judges dinged him for that last week. Bruno says "no jerkiness," with superb hold, and clean lines. Then he compares him to a "young Mickey Rooney." You can hit up YouTube to get that later, Roshon. Carrie Ann makes sure the grannies liked it. Len gives him a "good job, dog" which still sounds weird.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10  Len: 9  Bruno: 10 (Their highest score so far this season)

William Levy & Cheryl Burke
Williams doesn't like the "rules" in dance. He's a rebel in a floppy hat. Or a headband. He doesn't need your "rules." And after seeing the Eiffel Tower on the screen behind the band, of course you were expecting to hear "Stray Cat Strut." Hey, I don't think we've seen William look this smile-y and animated in a dance before - he almost seems like he might be having fun maybe. Carrie Ann is meowing her way through her comments and explains the "Pink Panther" inspiration. Len liked it, too, and Bruno says William couldn't be more debonair and suave if he tried. My dad always says that as "Swave and DeBoner."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10  Len: 10  Bruno: 10

Now for round two, it's a "trio round."  Each couple was allowed to pick one eliminated pro or troupe member to incorporate into their dance.

Donald Driver & Peta Murgatroyd
Peta and Donald pick up Karina Smirnoff to help with their jive. Karina says, "If anyone can handle two women, it's Donald." Wonder how Mrs. Driver feels about that, hmmm? Between them Karina and Peeta are almost wearing one whole dress. They're dancing to a song I must've heard a million times growing up - Little Richard's "Rip It Up". This actually looks pretty cool, for a three person dance. Especially the part at the end where Donald JUMPS OVER BOTH PETA AND KARINA IN A SINGLE BOUND. Whoa! Bruno praises their synchronicity and Carrie Ann compliments him on never missing a step.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10  Len: 9  Bruno: 9
The crowd clearly wanted higher scores.

Maria Menounos & Derek Hough
Derek and Maria will be dancing with Henry Byalikov and the three immediately have an "ab off." Derek's decided to bring a Bollywood flavor to the dance floor for their samba. This three person dance looks weirder as a three person dance than the jive did.  I don't know if it's flipping the genders or the difference between jive and samba.  I'm very curious how Len's going to feel about the Bollywood elements incorporated into a samba. Bruno points out that the dance kept Maria as the focus of the dance (which is down to Derek - he's usually very good at showcasing his partners). Carrie Ann says it was great as a "number" but mentions a few missteps.  Len says it would be a 10 if he were judging a "Bollywood number" but that he's judging a samba.  Stay crotchety, Len, it's how I like you best.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9  Len: 7  Bruno: 9

Melissa Gilbert & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
It's completely unsurprising that we're getting a Chmerkovskiy sandwich here, with Val coming in as the third for their samba to "Hard to Handle." Melissa ends the routine with one hand on each Chmerkovskiy tush. Carrie Ann says it was her best number by miles. Len echoes the sentiment. Bruno compares her to Rita Hayworth and says it "obviously takes two to get the best out of you."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9  Len: 9  Bruno: 9
See, Derek, it pays to do a samba when a samba is your assigned dance.

Katherine Jenkins & Mark Ballas
Katherine and Mark have added Tristan MacManus to their cha cha. Tristan says "The whole point is to showcase [his] celebrity" - they fail to show Mark's reaction shot of complete incomprehension. I think they're doing a "Men in Black" vibe for Tom Jones's "She's a Lady," with Mark and Tristan wearing sunglasses for the first part of the routine.  There's a part where they strip Katherine's pant suit off her, but it doesn't come all the way off so she has to dance the next few bars with a pant leg still clinging to her right leg. She does a pretty impressive (and I think, improvised) high kick to get rid of it. Len says well done despite the "wardrobe thingie." Bruno calls it sexy and cool. Carrie Ann says Katherine was in the zone and gives her a snaps up for not missing a beat with a pants leg stuck on her ankle.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10  Len: 9  Bruno: 10

Roshon Fegan & Chelsie Hightower
For their paso doble, Roshon & Chelsie are adding Sasha Farber from the troupe, which raises the masculinity quotient about 200%.  Although I kinda wish they'd gotten another female dancer to have twice the "capes" in the routine.  It also means that it's kind of weird, given it's a paso doble, to see Roshon dance alone with the guest dancer. Bruno praises their synchronization and the "Spanish lines." but has to point out that there were a couple of missteps.  Carrie Ann loved the strategy of having two male dancers in the routine , but quibbles that he went off the the beat. Len talks about "tight buttocks" and I need a memory wipe.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9 Len: 9  Bruno: 9

William Levy & Cheryl Burke
William & Cheryl add Tony Dovolani for their paso doble. I like seeing Cheryl and Tony dance together so much - William will be superfluous for me in this number. It starts with William trying to do some flamenco style feet movement and it's not good. PAN UP, PAN UP, cameraman.  I really love this song they're dancing to, though, Rodrigo y Gabriela's "Diablo Rojo."  I really wish William's fans would CALM DOWN long enough for me to hear what the judges have to say to him. Tom, turn the hose on them won't you? Carrie Ann says the lines were incredible, but that she didn't care for the flamenco at the beginning. Len liked the mix of steps together and apart. Bruno liked the movement but points out they did get out of sync.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9 Len: 9  Bruno: 9

As the low scorer tonight, It's GOT to be time for Melissa to go home tomorrow night, right? Have no idea who the other couple will be, though. My wild guess? Katherine & Mark - if I've done my math right, they're third to last (Maria & Derek are next to last) and I just don't know if she's got the audience vote like Derek does. Let's not kid ourselves that a good number of the Maria & Derek votes aren't mainly for Derek.

Tomorrow night, DANCE CENTER. Bring it, Kenny Mayne.

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