Welcome back to the den of iniquity and spandex known as Dancing with the Stars, a show that manages to quick step at a snail’s pace until racing to the finale. To wit, while there are still five contestants dancing the pain away — Jack Osbourne, Amber Riley, Leah Remini, Bill Engvall and Corbin Bleu— tonight is the show’s semi-finals.
To mark the occasion, the stars will have to double up on the Aquanet and spray tan and dance two routines to variations of the same song, meaning they’ll first perform either a Jazz, Paso Doble, Cha Cha or Tango to an original version of a track — and then try a Viennese Waltz, Argentine Tango or Rumba to an acoustic version of that same song. Plus, erstwhile pro Maksim Chmerkovisky finally returns to the DWTS ballroom, but instead of flashing his abs on the dance floor, he’ll be sitting staidly behind the judges’ table with a paddle, swatting away Bruno Tonioli and awkwardly increasing the perfect score from 30 to 40.
Here’s what happened on Dancing with the Stars:
Best Way To Spike The Ratings: While introducing former pro-turned-guest-judge, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who really didn’t need an introduction, Tom Bergeron stared into the camera and informed the audience that Maks wasn’t wearing pants. Sold!
Best Advice: Leah and her pro partner Tony Dovolani did a paso dobles to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” while making their sexiest faces. Maks suggested that Leah show more emotion in her face just so Tony’s face doesn’t look so crazy. 32/40.
Worst Person To Have On Your Team: Sorry, Corbin, but you don’t want Karina Smirnoff on your team for this one. Karina and Maks used to be engaged and you just don’t want an ex-fiancé judging your footwork if you can help it. And if Maks doesn’t get you, Bruno and Len Goodman will. While Bruno thought their routine was an “exploding volcano,” he thought Corbin occasionally “lost his frame.” Len felt like it was all “too full on.” Luckily, Carrie-Ann Inaba and Maks both loved the routine and the duo earned 35/40.
Best Reminder: When the symptoms of Jack’s multiple sclerosis flared up during rehearsal, Cheryl Burke flatly told him, “You’re health is more important. It’s just a dance show.” Then they hit the dance floor for a jazz routine that was a literal interpretation of The Police’s “Roxanne,” meaning that they basically recreated Pretty Woman on the dance floor while Sting sang. 33/40
Most Dedicated Dancer: Bill Engvall decided to push through his groin injury to wear a zebra-print sleeveless sweatsuit (out of a New Edition video) and dance to LMFAO’s “Sexy & I Know It.”
Most Backhanded Compliment: While trying to assess Bill’s cha-cha, Maks noted that he doesn’t believe in talent. Phew! 28/40.
Best Reason To Get Health Insurance: Between Jack’s MS aggravation, Bill’s groin and Glee star Amber Riley’s knee injury, it’s surprising that this show hasn’t been investigated by OSHA. After being assured that her knee injuries won’t cause permanent damage, Amber and Derek Hough do a memorable jazz routine (complete with jazz hands and jazz gloves and jazz shoes) set to Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven.”
Best Comment: While Carrie-Ann compared them to Einstein, it was just three little words from Len that stole the show: “Do it again.” 39/40, with the lone 9 coming from Maks.
Round 2: Before the stars could hit the dance floor again, their family and more famous friends got to recount stories of their life, times, travels and travails. For example, Leah survived the cancellation of Living Dolls to become a human cello on Dancing with the Stars during her reinterpretation of “Bad Romance” as an Argentine tango. Len’s rave? “Well, you know, I liked it fine.” 33/40
Best Life Choice: Corbin Bleu gave up admission to Stanford to be in High School Musical and end up dancing a rumba while Carrie Ann ogled him. But he got a 40/40, so he obviously made the right decision.
Better Than A Sobriety Chip: According to his mom, Jack Osbourne went to rehab at age 17 so he could survive to do an Argentine tango to a rendition of “Roxanne” that was so dramatic it sounded like the theme song to an ’80s detective show. 38/40
Funniest Famous Friends: Larry the Cable Guy and ex-Hootie Darius Rucker both loved Bill Engvall before they saw his Argentine tango to a weirdly sultry rendition of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” by YouTube sensation Noah Guthrie. Now they undoubtedly love him more. Another fun fact about Bill: He met his wife while he was wearing roller skates.
Best Sibling Rivalry: Maks missed the chance to judge his brother Val when little bro returned to the ballroom when the show came back from break. Maks scored him anyway, giving him a 5 and then a 10.
Most Interesting Factoid: Amber Riley shares the same manager as Justin Bieber. Also, she inspires Ryan Murphy (the man behind Glee American Horror Story and Nip/Tuck) and now he thinks he can be on DWTS, which would be the best thing to happen to this show since last week (when Cher was on) . Amber and Derek’s Viennese Waltz sent to Kerli’s acoustic version of “Locked Out Of Heaven” got a well-deserved 40/40.
The Results: Last week, Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy were sent home after earning a perfect score from the judges. This week, though, all the top scorers were safe: Corbin and Karina, Amber and Derek and Jack and Cheryl are all headed to the finals.
Who Went Home: Leah and Tony and Bill and Emma were in jeopardy. Leah was sent home, meaning that Bill Engvall will need to power through his groin injury for one more week. Sorry, Bill!
Best Reason to Tune In Next Week: It’s the Finals!