The stage is set for the finale of "Dancing with the Stars" after the latest elimination gives us the final four.
Host Tom Bergeron introduces our judges, including guest judge Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who's not filling in for Len Goodman, but judging in addition to him this week. Four judges, including bad boys Maks? Fireworks, right? Not really. But he is wearing a Pee-Wee Herman bowtie.
The five remaining couples have two dances each. It's the plugged/unplugged challenge, which means the couples will perform two different dances to the same song, except the second time around it will be acoustic.
Since it's the semi-finals – and so many high-scoring stars were already eliminated – I'm going to be brutal in these critiques.
First up, actress Leah Remini and Tony have a paso dobe to Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." This is Gaga's most pounding rock song, so I'd expect just as many pounding steps and dramatic flourishes. But nope. This routine may be clean but it's too safe for the semi-finals. I expected more demanding choreography for Leah, but looks like they played it safe to spare Leah low marks. Not what we tune in for, folks. Len calls it neat and precise, but careful. Judge Bruno Tonioli asks where his untamed girl went. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba calls it a rough road. Maks says he liked it, but it was very basic. Score: 32 out of 40.
Disney star Corbin Bleu and Karina tango to Fall Out Boy's "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark." Finally, passion and action. This routine has hard, fast choreography. It's just demanding and exhausting to watch. Corbin has great hip action and control. With some amazing tricks, he owns this dance technically and in performance. Bruno says Corbin has the power of an exploding volcano. Carrie Ann wants to see it again. Maks thinks it has enough content for two routines. Len says the tango is about being calm then attacking, while this was all attack. Score: 35.
Reality star Jack Osbourne and Cheryl do a jazz to "Roxanne." He has good energy and delivers a solid performance with nice lifts and some eye-catching offbeat choreography. But, to me, looks like Cheryl is doing most of the work. Carrie Ann says Jack's weight placement was off. Maks loved it. Len says it lacked dance quality. Bruno admits it was a hard routine. Score: 33.
Comedian Bill Engvall and Emma cha cha to LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It." Emma's happy Bill is still here – not sure why; she's his coach and he's not improving. Maybe she's just happy the Mirrorball Trophy is in sight. Sorry – I wish Elizabeth Berkley was still here. Anyway, Bill says he doesn't want another mediocre week. That makes all of us. But he's dancing with a nasty groin injury. It's an amusing routine and Bill is on beat, but his moves are stilted. It's painful to watch and probably painful for him to dance. Maks says Bill is working hard. Len calls Bill the Peoples' Champion. Bruno says their pure enjoyment is unmatched. Carrie Ann says she's taking off points for everything, but still smiling. Score: a generous 28.
"Glee" actress Amber Riley and Derek have a jazz to "Locked Out of Heaven." It's got a futuristic vibe and starts with them sitting. The beginning choreography is mostly hand gestures, before fun choreography that puts a smile on your face. When it comes to choreography, this is Derek unleashed. Amber looks so into this dance. It's a little bit hip hop and just flows out of her. Len says, "Do it again." Bruno says, "Get out of here – you're just incredible." Carrie Ann says that routine was like a complicated math equation – and Amber just solved it. Maks says Amber makes it look like it comes easy to her. Score: 39.
Time for round two, where the stars perform a new routine to an acoustic version of the same song.
Leah and Tony are back with an Argentine tango to acoustic "Bad Romance." In her backstory, we see how she hard to work hard to make it as an actress. This time around, she's much slinkier and more alluring – a vast improvement. This routine makes it clear she is the star. It's sultry and delicate all at once. I've never seen anyone look so gentle doing the sharp Argentine tango. Len likes it, but felt she didn't embrace the dance. Bruno likes the sensual intimacy. Carrie Ann says Leah needs more confidence. Maks tells Leah to let her personality out. Score: 33, 65 overall.
Corbin and Karina are back with a rumba. In his backstory, we see how he's a born performer, but wanted to be a doctor; when Stanford accepted him, he opted for "High School Musical" instead. In the dance, Corbin has great shapes and strikes a sensual tone. He makes it look easy, like it wasn't rehearsed, but just fluid motion. Bruno says it was like watching sculptures in perpetual motion. Carrie Ann loved watching his shirtless moves. Maks says he's paired with one of the five best women pro dancers, so Karina kisses him – except the cameras don't know where to go, and we get an accidental cutaway of host Brooke Burke looking bored. Len calls it a great
number. Score: perfect 40, 75 overall.
Jack and Cheryl are back with an Argentine tango. In his backstory, he admits to using too many drugs because he was an insecure adolescent in a foreign land, but went into rehab at 17 and never looked back. Jack got a new career, new wife, new baby, before being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. In this dance, they amped up the passion with more interesting choreography. Finally, this looks like a dance. I could have asked for more content from Jack, but it was entertaining with sharp spins and dips. Carrie Ann says he's in the zone. Maks says dancing like this will get him into the final. Len calls him much better. Bruno says he transformed into a prowling panther. Score: 38, 71 overall.
Jack tweeted, "Spoiler ALERT!!!! Holy crap. I'm going to the mutha funkin finals!!!!!!!" [In case you read fast, that does not include a bad word, just to be clear.]
Bill and Emma are back with an Argentine tango. In his backstory, Bill used to drink a lot but his wife kept the family together. In the dance, Emma's in a sheer catsuit. Meow. Oh, Bill looks eons better. It's a slow, sensual number with some good lifts, nice footwork and solid tone. I feel better about him being in the semi-finals with this number. Maks says their interpretation of the Argentine tango was great. Len says Bill has the will to win. Bruno says it was everything an Argentine tango should be. Carrie Ann says, for the first time, Bill didn't joke around. Score: 32, 60 overall.
Amber and Derek are back with a Viennese waltz. In her backstory, she struggled to become an actress. Ehh, she's pretty successful at a young age, so let's not milk it, DWTS. This dance is soft and joyful, while being eloquent and understated. It almost seems too simple, but it's probably hard to make the waltz look so natural. Len calls it terrific. Bruno says she danced like an angel. Carrie Ann says Amber is something special. Maks tells them to do that next week. Score: perfect 40, 79 overall. Wow.
Amber tweeted, "How do I feel tonight after making it to the finals?!?!? Woooohooooo! Let's do this! Please vote for… http://instagram.com/p/g4xBXTM_yk/ ."
Elimination time. We learn Corbin is safe – thank God. Amber is safe – check. Jack is safe – okay.
So, it's between Leah and Bill… and the star going home is Leah. People, voting Leah off means the Scientologists win.
Leah tweeted, "Thank you to all who supported me and @TonyDovolani . So grateful to you all. It has been an amazing journey. Xoxo."
Bill looks like he has mixed emotions again, but Emma is just beaming. That Mirrorball Trophy is within grasp now.
So the stage is set for the finale, where Corbin (inevitable winner?), Amber, Jack and Bill could do upwards of four dances.
Oh, but that's not all. We'll get performances from returning champ Kellie Pickler, Lady Antebellum, Enrique Iglesias, Colbie Caillat… and TLC. They're still around?
The competition continues Monday night at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC.
More information can be found at: http://abc.go.com/primetime/dancingwiththestars/index .