'Dancing with the Stars' Recap: The Semifinals with Judge Kenny Ortega
'Dancing with the Stars' Recap: The Semifinals with Judge Kenny Ortega
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
The end of the road is almost here on Dancing with the Stars season 18 and the Mirror Ball Trophy is within the grasps of the five remaining couples. The semifinals brings two dances each and guest judge Kenny Ortega, director, choreographer and thoroughly qualified expert who will no doubt dole out generous scores to everyone.

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One couple won't make it to the finale, and it could be a surprise. Meryl Davis had the lowest score last week while Candace Cameron Bure and James Maslow are in the middle.

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It's American Icons night and Kenny wants to be taken to a place he's never been, whatever that means.

Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas: Viennese Waltz

Her personal icon is Angela Thomas, a Bible teacher and author, and they bond about how much they love God. That's going to get her a lot of votes, though not mine. The dance is nice and sweet, though there's a pass early on where it looks like Candace gets completely lost and seems confused. The judges all acknowledge that she messed up, but they try to be nice and look on the bright side. I know it's the semifinals, but that's very generous.

Judges' Scores: 8+9+9+8=34

Ugh, the scores apparently don't matter at all anymore. She deserved a 7 for that, if the judges were actually going to be scoring accurately. Even worse, Tom Bergeron then tells her that Candace Cameron Bure is SAFE! I hate how this show becomes less and less about dance every season.

THE RESULTS, PART 1

Amy Purdy is...IN JEOPARDY!
Charlie White is...IN JEOPARDY!


Um, what? The two couples at the top of the leaderboard? Don't get me wrong, I'm SOOOOO happy, but that's just odd. I can only assume it's a misdirection and James, who will probably be the third person in jeopardy, will be eliminated. But man, if there's an Amy backlash and she goes home, I will be doing cartwheels.

Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: Foxtrot

His person icon is Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton. This kind of classy, old-school dance is what he does best. He's so elegant, though it's not 100 percent perfect (he dropped the handkerchief). It ends with some impressive figure skating spins and twirls to win over the crowd and judges. He knows that if you end with a big flourish, it's all the judges will remember and he'll get 10s. The judges are extremely positive.

Judges' Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

As far as I'm concerned, that's two weeks in a row where he gets not-entirely-deserved perfect scores.

Amy Purdy and Derek Hough: Quickstep

Her personal icon is Oprah, and she gets a phone call from her during rehearsals. Amy even gets Oprah's endorsement as Ms. Winfrey says she actually votes for Amy. Ugh, I know she's an "inspiration," but that has nothing to do with dance. Oprah even says when they win she's taking them out to dinner.

Derek acknowledges that they haven't moved around the dance floor a lot, which makes the Quickstep the hardest dance of all. But she gets new running feet to help her. I have no Earthly idea how she does this. This dance actually impresses me with the bouncing and moving and footwork. However, it looks kind of weird with the curved, bouncing new feet she has. I know it's not actually an advantage, but I feel like the advances technology helped a lot. Can you really give her credit for her "bounce" when she has those bouncing feet?

To make me furious, Kenny Ortega orders America to listen to Oprah and vote for them. She's amazing, but it really feels like everyone is just voting for her because of who she is and her actual dancing quality is irrelevant. Also, I believe judges should at least maintain the appearance of objectivity.

Judges' Scores: 10+9+10+10=39

Wow, Len Goodman dared to give her a 9! And, of course, he gets booed very, very loudly by the entire audience for it. Shut up.

THE RESULTS, PART 2

Meryl Davis is...IN JEOPARDY!
James Maslow is...SAFE!


Holy crap! Amy and the ice dancers are in jeopardy, but my boy James is safe! Hooray for abs!

James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: Cha-Cha-Cha

His personal icon is Michael Jackson and he gets a visit from L.A. Reid, the producer behind the late M.J.'s new album. He gets to dance to a new Jackson song and it's full of moonwalking and sexy, cool moves. I'm so excited that he's safe that I love every moment of it. He gets to be hot and current. Carrie Ann Inaba thinks dancing like Michael Jackson is a dangerous tightrope, but he nailed it by keeping lots of Cha-Cha-Cha moves in it. I think Peta is learning that her best shot to win the judges is to focus on the technique of the style.

Judges' Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

No wonder the audience booed for Len's 9 to Amy, because everyone is getting 10s. Anything less than perfection is bad at this point.

Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Jive

Her personal icon is figure skater and DWTS season 6 winner Kristi Yamaguchi.Maks freaks out during rehearsals because he knows Meryl is the best and deserves to win, so anything less and he'll feel like he failed her. They do an Elvis-inspired routine and it's fine. It's not the most exciting routine I've ever seen, but there's absolutely nothing bad about it. She is, technically, so impressive. Maks kissed Carrie Ann during the routine, which prompts Bruno Tonioli to beg for a kiss from Maks. He gets it, and then Kenny wants one and, finally Maks kisses Len. Meryl has somehow turned Maks into a warm and fuzzy teddy bear.

Judges' Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

After the first round, that's three perfect scores, one almost-perfect, and then Candace whose 34 is more than she deserved.


Macy's Stars of Dance

Derek Hough's latest offering is easily his best yet. It's an astounding homage to film with about six different sets that get danced through with dozens of pros. I can't accurately describe it, but do yourself a favor and watch it because it's magical and beautiful. As much as I hate the fact that Derek Hough wins every year on this show, he really is, by a large margin, the most amazing and creative choreographer around.


Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas: Jazz

They dance to Janet Jackson's "Nasty" and it's...not. Sorry, but it's the least nasty thing I've ever seen. It feels chaste and dull to me. The judges are impossibly nice about how tight she was and how Fosse-esque it all was. Carrie Ann at least says she wanted a little more attitude, and gets booed by the insanely stupid audience.

Judges' Scores: 9+10+10+9=38

Two 10s? Not only that, but Candace's FIRST 10s of the season. Once again, what are Len and Kenny smoking? Both times they very obviously overscored her. How are Carrie Ann and Bruno the voices of reason?

Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: Samba

The second half of this night is when things get weird, as they dance to "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems" by the Notorious B.I.G. Charlie is about as gangsta as Mitt Romney, but he somehow makes it work, like Julia Stiles in the original Step Up. He's so good at moving and I had fun because it was unexpected. The judges wanted more funk and pick him apart, but still say that he deserves to be in the finale. I'm curious which of the Bottom 3 the judges DON'T think deserve it. Surely not Meryl.

Judges' Scores: 9+9+9+9=36

So Candace is nastier than Charlie is funky?

Amy Purdy and Derek Hough: Jazz

If you loved Amy sitting on a stool for 20 seconds last week, how about watching her sit on a table for about a minute? Actually, it's probably more than a minute. It's certainly the vast majority of the routine. It's inventive choreography, but she does so little and they aren't completely in sync when they're side-by-side. Carrie Ann points out that they were out of sync and gets booed. Len praises Derek and Kenny says that Derek "redefines choreography for this generation." Yeah, but this isn't called Choreographing with the Stars. This is the biggest problem with Derek, because more often than not he gets overscored because of his choreography, not his partner's dancing.

Judges' Scores: 9+10+10+10=39

Thank you, Carrie Ann. The audience boos again, because three 10s aren't enough. Honestly, at this point I'm not even surprised or upset.

James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd: Rumba

James is dressed like a cowboy and Peta is Dolly Parton'ed out. It's sensual and full of great moves. Unlike Charlie or Meryl, they actually care about the style and stay true to it. The judges complain a bit about his subpar hands. I complain about the fact that this marks two weeks in a row without James taking his shirt off. He'd better pull out all the stops for the finale.

Judges' Scores: 9+9+9+9=36

So James and Charlie were both worse than Candace's Jazz routine?

Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Viennese Waltz

Like last week's Rumba, it starts with some emotional Contemporary moments, but then it dives into the Waltz and it's beautiful. It's perfect. It's magical. It's, by far, the best routine of the night. There's nothing else to say. She's in jeopardy? Really?

Judges' Scores: 10+10+10+10=40

Now that dance ACTUALLY deserved all of those 10s.

THE FINAL RESULTS

As Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews said about a thousand times tonight, the three Olympians are in the bottom. Meryl just got two perfect scores, but since it's based on last week (when she was at the bottom of the leaderboard), that 80 means nothing.

Amy Purdy and Derek Hough are...SAFE!

Boo. But obviously the producers have been praying for this momen, when the Olympic ice dancers who were once partners are now opponents, with one staying and one leaving. Also, I feel compelled to point out that Derek has reached the Final 4 in 11 out of his 13 seasons on DWTS.

Charlie White and Sharna Burgess ARE ELIMINATED!

That's a shame and a shock since he was second on last week's leaderboard, but at least Meryl is safe. And Charlie wastes no time jumping on Team Meryl, which hopefully means all of his votes will go to her and help Meryl win and beat Amy.

It also leaves James as the last man standing, which could help him too.

Next week it's the two-night finale with freestyles!

THE LEADERBOARD

80 (26.14 percent): Meryl Davis
78 (25.5 percent): Amy Purdy
76 (24.84 percent): James Maslow
72 (23.53 percent): Candace Cameron Bure


(Image courtesy of ABC)

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