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!