Dancing With the Stars: Semi-Charmed Life

Dancing With the Stars‘ Season 12 semifinals gave us the good (pretty much every routine performed by our final four couples), the gross (Bruno Tonioli referring to Karina Smirnoff as a p****), and the undeniably ugly (video footage of Kym Johnson’s ghastly neck injury). Plus, there was a “winner takes all” instant cha cha cha round that was more than likely introduced to ensure Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas will advance to the finale — even if they lose the popular vote in a landslide. Here’s how it all went down.

Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff: Argentine Tango, Salsa
Ralph and Karina (in a kicky feathered headpiece) began their Argentine Tango by working a prop streetlamp like a maypole, but then kicked into high gear with a staccato routine that included plenty of fancy footwork. I thought Ralph channeled his inner sexy beast better here than he has all season, but Carrie Ann and Bruno remained unimpressed, with the latter saying Ralph had “the cold determination of an executioner.” Hmmm. I wonder which couple the judges don’t want advancing to the finale? Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 9; Bruno, 8. Total: 25.

The judges’ tepid response to the couple’s salsa, however, seemed a little more justified, as campy attire and cheeky moves served as stand-ins for fluid hip action and sexual chemistry. You knew things were headed in the wrong direction when Ralph began the dance in shades, gold chains, and a brown satin shirt, draped over a chair with his hand dangling in front of his crotch, and Karina (in an unruly wig and leopard catsuit adorned with hideous tinsel) crawled across the floor to greet him. I really liked the speed and energy of Ralph spinning Karina into his body followed by bonus twirls (yes, that’s the technical term), but the performance was swimming in so much cheese, it was hard to tell what was lying beneath. Still, I thought Bruno’s comments were completely out of line. “Are you wearing extra large diapers?” he sneered at Ralph, who had revealed in his pre-dance package that he’d be wearing a butt-enhancing pad to help define his swivels. And then, Bruno dropped an added critique that was way more “misogynistic idiot” than “enthusiastic Italian judge”: “You were too rough with your p****!” Yeah, okay, Karina was in leopard print, but that doesn’t mean she was asking for such a low blow. I think the first word of her response said it best: “Wow.” Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 7; Bruno, 8. Total: 23. (Two-dance total: 48)

Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Viennese Waltz, Paso Doble
Kirstie certainly deserved a “10” this week, if only for the “fighting dogs” hand puppetry she used to describe her relationship with Maks. The Russian sex stick, for his part, gave me a new and creative way of saying “I’m the only one who gets to be angry and irrational” that I can’t wait to try out in real life: “Stop reacting on my negative things in a negative way!”

Whatever rancor Kirstie and Maks worked through in rehearsal, though, was not present in their fantastic Viennese Waltz, which included the couple’s trademark backward dip, a pale turquoise pleated skirt, gorgeous sweeping lines, and a peculiar cover of Adele’s “One and Only.” Bruno, naturally, struck out in trying to heap praise on the routine, telling Kirstie she “set sail beautifully, like a majestic clipper riding the waves going for the America’s Cup.” Dude, no woman wants to be compared to a boat.Scores: Carrie Ann, 9; Len, 9; Bruno, 9. Total: 27.

Let’s also give a “TEN!” to Maks, for making a sheer black tuxedo shirt look borderline manly during the couple’s Paso Doble. (Seriously, this can’t be an easy task. Also, did Maks get that shirt custom made? Surely, there’s not an actual designer specializing in sheer men’s tuxedo shirts, right? So many questions!) Anyway, back to the dance…there was something alternately regal and ridiculous about it, as Kirstie tore off her full skirt, raised her arms over her head, and got whisked around like a carnival tilt-a-whirl. I clapped like a seal when Kirstie delivered the “back arched, bosom heaving, beast slain” pose at the end of the performance, with matador Maks positioned triumphantly above her. Len said Kirstie had drawn the night’s two toughest dances, but all three judges withheld their highest-scoring paddles. Scores: Carrie Ann, 9; Len, 9; Bruno, 9. Total: 27. (Two-dance total: 54)

Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas, Argentine Tango, Rumba
Please tell me I’m not the only one who was distracted/disturbed by the dangerously high slit in Chelsea’s sparkly, white lace dress (with red flower at hip) during the Argentine Tango. In my mind, this was the better of the couple’s two dances, particularly that stunning move where Chelsea hoisted herself up with an arched back over Mark’s shoulder. Len said Chelsea’s legs lacked authority, but I thought those gams were a riding crop away from full dominatrix status. (Burning question posed by my husband at end of routine: “Is it a requirement that every Argentine Tango ends with the woman being strangled?”) Scores: Carrie Ann, 9; Len, 9; Bruno, 10. Total: 28.

Mark and Chelsea’s second dance, the rhumba, had Bruno up on his haunches spitting phrases like “romantic and erotic” and “perfectly pitched,” but I felt like the sensuality was so forced that it occasionally bordered on embarrassing. Chelsea kicked things off by marching to the center of the floor in a gauzy hood with a long train, then Mark stalked up behind her, pulled away the fabric, and the two of ’em writhed around in their sheer, mauve nothingness. As they wrapped the routine in a “steamy” embrace, Mark stayed all “inhale your forehead” serious, while Chelsea began to giggle, and perhaps that summed up my issue with the dance as a whole. One person was committed to the point of creepy, while one person didn’t quite want to go to there. The judges, though, couldn’t get enough. Scores: Carrie Ann, 10; Len, 10; Bruno, 10. Total: 30. (Two-dance total: 58 + 15 point bonus from Cha Cha Cha = 73)

Hines Ward and Kym Johnson, Argentine Tango, Salsa
It’s not every day I’m moved to tears during DWTS, but I felt myself get choked up watching Hines and Kym fight back the urge to cry after they finished a complicated and sexy Argentine Tango. The main source of the couple’s emotion, of course, came from the fact that Kym had been seriously injured during their rehearsal on Friday, and the footage was more sickening than a day old bowl of soggy Shredded Wheat: As Hines swung Kym through his legs — and the top of her head was perpendicular to the ground — the duo slipped, and all of Hines’ weight came down on her neck. [Shields eyes. Lets out squeak of horror.] But after being carted away on a stretcher, Kym came back with competitive fire (and an incredibly slinky wisp of a dress that looked like it had come from the floor of the sea, encrusted in pearls and shells and other underwater gems). Their legs moving together like the wheel of a futuristic machine, Hines hurtling Kym about the floor with consummate ease, their faces focused with an intense passion, this was probably my favorite routine of the season. As the judges hurled superlatives (“legs like Karma Sutra!” said Len, not Bruno; “Like good sex, you never want it to end!” cried the chipper Italian judge) Kym and Hines shed tears of joy and relief. Anything less than a “TEN!” would’ve been criminal, and thankfully, I didn’t have to dial 9-1-1 after the paddles were revealed. “Praise God, she’s still walking,” Hines said to Roboo Brooke Burke, and all I could think was, “She’s doing a heckuva lot more than walking!” Scores: Carrie Ann, 10; Len, 10; Bruno, 10. Total: 30.

I didn’t think Hines and Kym’s salsa was nearly as spicy as their Argentine Tango, but that didn’t stop the judges from scoring it perfectly anyway. Our dashing NFL pro and his glutes of wonder certainly looked the part in red shirt, black suspenders, and white fedora, while Kym channeled some kind of magical south-of-the-border bird in red and orange ruffles. It all seemed a little loose and unpolished, but then again, the woman in charge of the routine had been carried out of rehearsal on a stretcher just three days prior, so maybe the grading was on a curve. Hines’ Korean mom, at a minimum, should get the high score for “Best Quote from the Stars’ ‘Early Life’ Package” with her: “You don’t know nothing about the dancing!”Scores: Carrie Ann, 10; Len, 10; Bruno, 10. Total: 30.

Of course, there’s also the matter of the “Winner Takes All Cha Cha Cha,” or as I like to call it, the “Here’s a Way to Give Mark and Chelsea 15 Additional Points, and Zero Points for Everyone Else, While Adding 30 More Minutes to the Telecast.” I don’t really think it’s worth getting into, except for the fact that Robo Brooke Burke’s programmers forgot to include “coin flip” into her hard-wiring, leading to a moment of pure flummoxed poetry. Oh, and two other things: There is apparently a coin with Len’s face on it! And Carrie Ann apparently thinks that “volumptuous” is an appropriate substitute for “voluptuous.” Um, it’s not, lady! Especially when describing Kirstie Freakin’ Alley!

What did you think of this week’s DWTS? Who will go home on Tuesday night? What did you think of the “Winner Takes All” cha cha cha? Sound off below, and for all my reality TV recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Peggy says:

    I thought the winner take all cha cha was a cheat dance…formulated to give extra points to judge-favored Chelsea, probably because she chose to dance half naked almost every dance. I get so tired of looking at her belly button and pelvic bones that I’ve been flipping the channel the last few weeks when she comes on. She is a good dancer, but they were unnecessarily rough on Ralph last night…the entire thing was to make sure Chelsea is not voted off. They’re afraid they’ll lose viewers if all that flesh is not shown.

  2. verver says:

    I too thought that the Winner Takes All Cha-Cha was just an excuse to give Mark and Chelsie points to make sure they’re in the finals. The judges said it was because the viewers protested when the best dancers go home–to me it was more like the judges were rigging the vote to keep their favorite. Ugh!

    • Lyn says:

      I certainly don’t see Chelsea as the judges’ favorite! She & Mark have gotten a lot of criticism. Meanwhile, Kirstie gallumphs around and gets high praise, and Hines is always fawned over even after performances when all the sparkle came from his partner dancing circles around him.

    • chistosa says:

      Chelsea is not the judge favorite, Hines is. But I agree that that it was designed to guarantee their presence in the finale. She is a far stronger dancer than either Kirstie or Ralph so they wanted to assure her making the cut. Unfair to the others.

      But I’m pretty sure they are mentally presenting the mirror ball to HInes.

  3. Red says:

    What’s wrong with staging a dance-off to be judged purely on dancing skill? People can still vote for whoever they like, but I think this was a good counterbalance to those who pretty much ignore the dancing and vote based on their opinion of a football team, a pro’s cute rear end, or their fondness for an old sitcom.

    • padncsmtr says:

      Exactly!! Kirsty is God awful and they push her through with 9’s and 10’s for not falling!! And you guys are upset? Kirsty is 1-2 steps above Chloris Leachman and she gets 9’s for showing up!

  4. Julesmn says:

    Am I the only one thinking the cha cha was more for Hines & Kym? She was injured and wasn’t sure she would be able to dance AND they are the judges favorite, not Chelsea & Mark. Because Kym was able to dance (and dance well) the judges couldn’t give it to them for all the fawning they did last night. How different would it have been if they weren’t in first place going into the cha cha. Just my opinion.

    • chistosa says:

      While I don’t agree with the concept of the winner take all dance in general, Chelsea and Mark were definitely the strongest couple.

  5. Mel31602 says:

    At least the producers admitted that the point of the cha cha was to prevent shocking a shocking elimination in the semifinals, as there have been many times in the past where the better dancer has gone home simply because they dont have the fan SSS, are considered ringers, or have unpopular partners. You can’t say it was fixed to help Chelsea in particular though when she did do the best in the round and when there was no guarantee the judges wouldn’t give it to Hines to make the sob story complete.

    As for the rest of the judging, I thought they were pretty spot-on with Kirstie and Ralph. Was happy to see Chelsea finally get a 30 though I agree she should have gotten it for her first dance, not the second. And I actually thought both of Hines dances were overscored. I actually think he is always overscored since I never like his posture especially with his neck always being bent over. I liked him tonight more than i usually do but I would have put him behind Chelsea and closer to or tied with Kirstie in terms of scores. I liked Ralph more than I usually do as well but tonight he was clearly the worst. His fans may save him again though so Kirstie might be in trouble.

    • Stacey says:

      There was no way they were going to give Hines the perfect 75. After giving him a perfect 60 on his first two dances; whether they warranted the 30’s or not.

      Yeah there was no guarantee Chelsea would win it. But I felt it was purely a way to keep Ralph down and out. 25 points from top to bottom. Makes it very hard for them to lose the popular vote so much that Chelsea gets eliminated.

      Makes Ralph to score a big percentage to overcome. It might be possible with Kirstie; but almost impossible…

      They wanted Chelsea in the finale and knew Hines was shoo-in with his other score; it was all fixed.

      Given Carrie-Ann was out in the media saying Kirstie was good enough to go all the way. Yeah they wanted her in the finale; to do the “oh my god, look how far she came from being overweight to now the finale.”

      It was all fixed. I just hope they don’t get their way.

  6. magreeda says:

    The WTA dance was an obvious cheat to make sure that Chelsea and Mark (who I have no doubt are hurting for votes considering they are dull and arrogant by turns) made it to the final. It was also obvious by the complete overscoring of Hines and the underscoring on Ralph that they want the Karate Kid out of there. It’s bad enough that they’ve fixed the finale in the last few seasons so that the judges have more weight than the viewers, but fixing the semi-finals as well? Completely uncalled for. After the Bristol Palin fiasco of last year, I promised to give this show another chance when I saw they didn’t have any inflammatory guests for this cycle, but this obvious rigging on the show and judges’ parts is just beyond the pale.

    If there’s anything I hate worse than a ringer, it’s the judges’ obvious favoritism. I’m so done with giving this show the benefit of the doubt.

  7. lori says:

    I liked this week’s DWTS.I really like all the dancer’s, but I think Ralph will be the next to go. I love Kirstie but she has to much drama for me.If she stay’s this week it won’t be because of her dancing it will be because she is a big fan favorate.I think Kym’s cha cha cha “Winner takes all” was well deserved.

  8. Kosha says:

    I agree that the WTA dance was to ensure that Chelsea and Mark make it into the finals! I don’t mind Chelsea that much, she’s cute, sweet and silly, but Mark creeps me out! I don’t want him to make it through. Hopefully America stepped up and voted for Ralph, Kirstie and Hines to be in the final. Also, no one makes me miss Samantha Harris more than Robo Brooke Burke!!

  9. Dee says:

    First, while the fall looked brutal, obviously there was no injury but a huge amount of sympathy being wrung out of it. Talk about drama. If they were truly worried about a serious injury when Hines was putting on the ice pack she would not have been shaking her head back and forth. But, it did make for good television. Funny how only three days later not one bit of stiffness, not one bit of protection, not one missed hair toss. Good for them though – it worked. Way too high scores.

    Chelsea is a cutie, but be realistic. She’s young. She’s agile. But her and Mark are a bit creepy. She’s going to be better than Kirstie. Unfortuantely she doesn’t have the fan base Kirstie has. If the judges and the producers don’t like the way America votes, then do away with it and make it judge votes only. Otherwise it just looks like a scam.

    Their judging was so obviously skewed last night. They want Ralph to go. They want Hines and Chelsea and Kirstie in the finals. They should have just tossed a coin (between Hines and Chelsea) to see who got the added 15 points. Although maybe Brooke shouldn’t have been the one to do it *chuckling*.

  10. No fan of Chelsea and Mark says:

    I do not want to see Chelsea and Mark win. The two of them are slightly (her) and extremely (him) obnoxious.

  11. padncmst says:


    I’ve been a huge fan of yours since your days of just writing about Idol. I still am a fan. However, it is very unfortunate that someone so well education and able to express himself so well in so many ways, and someone so young has decided to resort to mind altering drugs!!! This whole season has been about pushing that 230lb talentless load to the finals and you know it. If Kirsty remains standing she gets 9’s. Are you kidding me? When she doesn’t dance at all the bring in some guy from Scotland to give her a 9! 10’s last week? Kirsty is two steps above Chloris Leachman and you are complaining that the best dancer, Chelsea won some goofy competition? She and Hynes should be in the finals, Ralph should stop getting the Haley treatment, and Kirsty should have been home weeks ago!

  12. Kelly says:

    As soon as Tom described the rules for the Cha Cha Cha I knew that it was created to give Chelsea and Mark the extra points needed to make it to the final. I also thought they were pretty hard on Ralph. Granted, his second dance was a mess, but I thought the first dance was pretty good. No, he’ll never be the best dance but this show has never really been about awarding the best dancer. The way I see it, it’s about awarding the “celebrity” who learns to pass for a decent dancer while putting on the best show. For my money, that’s a toss-up between Hines, Kirstie, and Ralph. Chelsea is good (but to my admittedly untrained eye not the gift to dance we keep being told) but I just don’t enjoy watching her as much as the others…or it could just be that I can’t stand her partner.

  13. DonnaRonna says:

    Yeah, the whole WTA thing seems out of line. I’ve always liked the 50-50 split between the judges score and the public voting. Now the judges think they need the majority influence? I wonder how that sat with the voters. I guess we’ll find out tonight.

    Mark annoys the livin’ crap outta me. That is all.

  14. Cheryl says:

    There is nothing wrong with the judge’s wanting to secure a slot for Chelsea if they want a show with the control, but this show has always shared the voting, and its about us having our 50% say. They took that away and gave what they want an edge and that is not fair. I vote for who I like regardless of whether or not I can honestly say they are the best dancer. Why would I vote for someone I don’t like or someone’s personality that I don’t like just because they can dance. This isn’t Dancing with the Best Star Dancer. I am not a dancer or choreographer, I am a member of the general public, I don’t have to be impartial – the judge’s do.

  15. Cookie says:

    I am being entertained by this year’s cast of DWTS. I am not surprised by the emergence of Hines Ward, as I am familiar with his back story, and I know of his tremendous work ethic as a footballer. While I dont think he is the best dancer, I think he has a shot at being in the finale, and getting the mirrorball. Chelsea seems like the best dancer to me, although I dont know if she and that obnoxious partner of hers have enough votes to make it. I like the remaining oontestants too, although I am very confused about the high scores consistently being given to Kirstie. To me, she sort of LUMBERS out there. And I also like Ralph, although I think it is going to be his week to go home.

  16. Phillip says:

    I think the whole logic behind this conspiracy theory is flawed as conspiracy theories usually are. First of all, each week of the season is planned before the season starts. They do not know when they made the cha-cha round up who would benefit (though I grant you, they knew it would benefit the best dancers). Secondly, the show is about ratings. If a team has a couple that doesn’t dance as well, but is more popular with the audience, then that is the team that producers want to remain on the show. They want the best ratings, they don’t care so much about the best dancers when the two aren’t one and the same

  17. Amber says:

    Chelsea and Hines are the best. If one of them ends up being let go, then it’s a shame. Kirstie and Ralph are just fine, but neither is up to par when it comes to Hines and Chelsea.

  18. megslin says:

    Here’s why Hines and Kym deserve the win: They are so into every move, you just feel like you’re watching a couple dance. Kirstie and Max get there sometimes, but chelsea and mark never seem quite right together. And that’s not just because she’s 22.

    Hines and Kym got a perfect 30 yet come in second place for the night? ridiculous! The trumped up instant chacha was designed to kick off Ralph and spice up the competition by putting Hines in second place overall points-wise. I’m sorry, Mark overdances, and Chelsea might be flashy but she stumbles around a lot (I call it flashy fumbling).

    Hines and Kym have perfect chemistry, and grace, and are so fluid together. LOVE THEM! LOVE THEM! BTW to anyone who says “chelsea does more complicated steps/is the better dancer…” WRONG. MARK does more complicated steps…chelsea fumbles around like a wooden soldier. Hines holds his own with Kym and is just as fun to watch. Amazing.

    I thought Hines more than deserved a perfect 60 (and not because of the fall). His second dance was my favorite of his all season, he just seemed so perfectly into it.

  19. Sunny says:

    I came back this season (after protesting last years cast) and until last night was happy with the results. I thought the dance off was ridiculous and a blatant attempt by the show to circumvent the viewers 50% of the vote. They took away the biggest premise of the show…to split the vote evenly between the judges (who have gotten on my last nerve, especially Bruno) and the viewers. That’s the bigger problem in last night’s results.
    As a Hines/Kim fan, I obviously thought they should have gotten the 15 votes. I have nothing against Chelsea, but I can not stand Mark…he’s a huge egomaniac and a snarky jerk. I still think they would have been in the finals w/o the extra points, but maybe at least one of the judges could have voted Kim/Hines way…to make it look a little less of set up that so many think it is.

  20. TLk says:

    I do not think hines was overscored. He has been consistent every single week. He deserves to win. I find chelsea obnoxious. Does she have to sing and make those faces?? I think the winner take all chacha was definitely for chelsea to get into the finals which she probably deserves but still found it to be rigged. Ralph needs to go. He had a good run but has been inconsistent. I think hines deserves to win. Hes been most consistent all show.

  21. Media Ho says:

    I sure hope SleazeBallas reads all the comments on the DWTS posts (here and on that other site): They are almost uniformly BAD when it comes to his ego, his grandstanding over his partner, and all the things that have turned him into SleazeBallas ever since he decided he also had to overshadow Derek, his long-time nemesis — and continues to fail. Too bad no one will ever offer him a major part in a movie, which is the reason why there’s no Derek this season. Perhaps the producers, who must also see all this negative feedback, will leave him off next fall. He’s more than a bit polarizing.

  22. Jamie says:

    So whose stupid idea was it to put the Idol finale & DWTS finale on the same night at the same time??? I want names so I can send scathing emails to both FOX and ABC!! The entire season of both shows have not overlapped this year and it’s been wonderful–so why screw with the finales??

    PO’d in Michigan

  23. Amber says:

    I did not like the instant cha cha at all. I probably would have been a little more cool with it if they hadn’t made that announcement at the beginning about how it was created to keep fan favorites/talented dancers from getting voted off the show. That didn’t make sense at all. How could fan favorites be voted off? If they were voted off, they obviously weren’t fan favorites. I really do think they made the whole thing up just because they were mad about what happened with Brandy last season. But yeah, I also think it was rigged to keep Chelsey on, and it just didn’t sit well with me at all. If the audience doesn’t like her, let her get voted off! If they don’t like the idea of fans voting off people they like, then why even bother with having audience voting at all??? I don’t want to watch a rigged competition, I want all the drama of seeing what the audience will do to keep bad dancers on and good dancers off. That’s honestly part of the fun of the show for me. DWTS earned a Fail last night.

    I also agree with someone else that posted that Chelsey does have the weirdest facial expressions when she dances. It makes me laugh, but simultaneously turns me off towards her too.

  24. Ann Marie says:

    I think the judges are giving some of the dancers a higher score than they deserve….just to make the show more dramatic…..this is not what it show it about. Chelsea is the best dancer….give her the credit she deserves for dancing.

  25. Karen C. says:

    I do not like the judges changing the rules to prevent their prestige from being hurt by America voting for a dancer they didn’t think was the best. They did this last year out of fear that Bristol would win and this year out of fear that Chelsea would be voted off. It is dishonest and I hope everyone votes and gives the mirror ball trophy to Kirstie and Maks to teach them a lesson on trying to manipulate the scoring to get the outcome they want. They have taken the joy and the surprise and the incentive out of voting for your favorite.