CLEVELAND - It's Michael Jackson night on "Dancing with the Stars" and not one All-Star even dared a Moonwalk. But, fear not, the semifinals still had plenty of wild sights.
Monday night's show opened with the troupe doing a jig to "Smooth Criminal" and "The Way You Make Me Feel." They channel Jackson, but none really capture his magic. Can one of the All-Stars? Let's see.
The couples perform two dances this week and, remember, one of them was picked by a competitor. The first dance is a mash-up dance, combining an unlikely theme with a new dance, while the second dance is a tribute to a song from Jackson's "Bad" album.
First up, TV host Melissa Rycroft and Tony do a caveman hustle to "Walk the Dinosaur." He's got a back injury, but gets the green light. The routine opens with a terrible CGI T-Rex before they do a tribal start then transition into disco. It's like a Rihanna video. They go for some wild flips, including one where Tony uses Melissa's booty as a bongo drum while holding her upside down. She hits some good lines and rocked the hustle moves. I actually started laughing watching this. Chipper Melissa seems to bring out the daredevil in Tony.
Judge Len Goodman says Fred and Wilma never danced so well. Judge Bruno Tonioli calls Melissa a primeval bombshell. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba says she liked the caveman more than the hustle. They get 27.5 out of 30.
Olympian Shawn Johnson and Derek do the bhangra, a traditional Indian dance, to the "Knight Rider" theme. In their pre-taped segment, we see their staged chit-chat while they sit on the ledge of a building. How natural. As for the dance, it's complicated, to say the least. They make it look good, though. When they really get going, it's almost unbelievable how they move. Shawn is bouncing around and moving so fast, she makes this preposterous dance look easy. Definitely crowd-pleasing. The little gymnast even sticks an upside down landing on Derek's body.
Bruno calls it a mega-hit. Carrie Ann says it was really challenging and notes Shawn is out of breath for once. A disbelieving Len blurts, "Shut up!" Perfect 30.
Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina have big top jazz to Gwen Stefani's "What You Waiting For," which is not exactly jazz. Oh, boy. This started off with a mistake and only got more awkward. First off, Apolo mimes the start of it. He runs toward Karina and his feet almost go out from him. Then she almost slips. Did someone Crisco the floor? They're trying hard, but it looks strained. Good tricks and flips, challenging choreography, but it's not very polished.
Carrie Ann says she liked the effort, but there were sloppy parts. Len notes some awkward moments. Bruno says it was Cirque du Soleil meets "A Clockwork Orange." 27 out of 30.
NFL retiree Emmitt Smith and Cheryl do an espionage Lindy Hop to "Secret Agent Man." It's quirky and cartoonish, which Emmitt hates, but it's also a fun, light-hearted romp. Len says he likes the concept, but wanted more Lindy. Bruno calls it a Looney Tunes version of James Bond. Carrie Ann says it's Emmitt's most animated performance… before she stutters an entire paragraph and turns into Porky Pig (according to host Tom Bergeron). Score: 27.
Actress Kelly Monaco and Val give us an odd interpretation for their surfer flamenco. It's rip-roaringly charged and physical. Their push-pull attitude is amazing. It looks like Quentin Tarantino directed it. But where's the surfer part? Ahh, they saved it for the end. That's when they jumped the shark and tore their clothes off to reveal bathing suits, including a Speedo, to tapdance in a wading pool. Carrie Ann rightly says their flamenco was more of a paso doble. Len says, if this was poker, they went all in. Score: 25.5.
Time for round two featuring those Michael Jackson songs. We see Michael's mom, Katherine, is in the audience. She does not look happy. No pressure.
Melissa and Tony do an Argentine tango to "Dirty Diana." Melissa looks like a different woman, a fierce creature. Her moves are controlled and tension-filled. She does some amazing flips and looks light as a feather. This is a pretty sexy routine. When it's done, Melissa clearly can't believe what she did. She's almost in tears.
Len says he would be really disappointed if Melissa wasn't back next week. Bruno says she exceeded all expectations and deserves to be in the final. Carrie Ann says it's beyond anything she could have imagined. Perfect 30, 57.5 overall.
Melissa tweeted, "MissionAccomplished tonight :-). So proud of Team T-Croft and so proud of
@ TonyDovolani !!! Thank you for your love!"
Shawn and Derek also do an Argentine tango to "Bad." The lines are clean and the moves are sharp. It's technically sound, but still seems a bit restrained for them. Bruno
says they went for a different Argentine tango than Melissa. Carrie Ann says every line was perfect but felt they lacked real passion. Len says they came out and sold it. Score: 29, 59 overall.
Apolo and Karina do a rumba to "Man in the Mirror." He goes for the softer side, but they still put a lot of heat into this. It doesn't have any wow moments for a semifinal, but it's pretty. Carrie Ann says Apolo reached into her heart and melted it. Len says the dance had waves of effortless motion. Bruno calls it perfectly pitched between sensual and romance. Perfect 30, 57 overall.
Emmitt and Cheryl tango to "Leave Me Alone." He's trying hard but not really floating on his feet. Len says well done. Bruno thinks the footwork could have been more exact. Carrie Ann says they brought their A-game, but his footwork was too broad. Score: 27, 54 overall.
Kelly and Val rumba to "I Just Can't Stop Loving You." They take their time to make this look beautiful. She projects calmness and vulnerability. They dance with a real connection that does justice to Jackson's song. Val gives her a big kiss when it ends. Bruno says she performed like never before. Carrie Ann says it was beautiful to interpret the song with such honest vulnerability. Score: 28.5, 54 overall.
To tally, Shawn and Derek top with 59 points, while Emmitt and Cheryl are tied for last with Kelly and Val at 54.
Two couples go home in the elimination episode, which airs at 8:00 Tuesday night on ABC. With how viewers have been voting, it's pretty impossible to guess who'll get the boot. The three remaining All-Stars set the stage for next week's finale.
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