'Dancing With the Stars': The Semifinals

Not really any shockers Monday night. There are any 30's at this point. No fake butts, no shocking ambulance rides, no comments from Crotchety Pants about dropping trou in the grocery store. No carping from angry dancers about the judges. No costume malfunctions! Sigh. This week, we just get dancing and a double-dose of Bruno's bluster, as he continues to talk over Len to the point where Carrie Ann has to snap-snap those boys back into some kind of submission.

The final four -- Kristi, Jason, Cristian and Marissa (hard to believe, huh?) -- have to draw to find out what two dances they have. The highlights of that include Cristian getting crushed with the samba, the same dance that turned him into a one-armed man two weeks ago, and Kristi getsg a repeat of the jive, which is arguably the best performance all season.

Up first, with their ballroom number (foxtrot) are Jason & Edyta. She does a lame impression of a football coach laying out her "Game Plan" (key item: Stop being "friends" with Cristian) and then Dan Marino gives a little video encouragement in the form of "If you don't bring back the mirror ball, don't come home.') Emmitt Smith is in the house as well, giving Carrie Ann a chance to trot out another "twinkle toes" reference.
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The foxtrot is elegant and all the judges are overwhelmingly positive, with Carrie Ann once again raving about Jason's posture, but the only one to roll out the 10 is Len. Jason seems to catch himself in an effort not to show disappointment with his scores, but what he's seeing is the tone being set for the night. The judges have upped their expectations at this stage of the game.

Marissa and Tony show up next, with Stacy Keibler on hand to give Marissa some Tony pointers during the week's practices. Actually, it's not really "pointers" -- it's more of a case of the two women declaring him asexual on national television. Poor man.

Marissa has the quickstep first, and she makes the night's one glaring misstep: a missed jete in the big run. Carrie Ann notes that Marissa is the "unlikely contender," but everyone is pretty nice-nice tonight. She does get an 8 out of Bruno, though, which really isn't a number that anyone should be seeing in the semis at this point.

Cristian emphasizes how much he needs to up his profile with the viewers, then dances a lovely Viennese Waltz that gets a trio of "wow factor" and "very sweet" yada-yada from the judges, followed by a trio of 9's. Yes, the "10" paddles seem to be very much in cobweb mode. Can Kristi break the trend?

Yes and no. Her tango has a little bit more personality release (she gets advice during rehearsals along the lines of, "Feel like you want to breathe through Mark's skin") and Carrie Ann and Bruno reward her with 10's, but Len sticks to the 9.

On to the Latin round, which is prefaced by film clips of Len's usual visit to the contestants to help them work on their steps. (Mediocre "007" theme music and motif, etc.) Back in the studio, Tom Bergeron notes the audience presence of "The Bachelor," Brit Matt Grant, who may be on the same network shortly after but isn't getting any love from this show: "So she gets a diamond ring and you get a green card, is that how it works?" (the later show is a finale involving a proposal).

Jason's paso doble is in bullfighting mode, and he gets all positive reviews, and another set of 9's. Marissa does a rumba and gets another 8 (this time from Carrie Ann, who gets annoyed at her fellow judges for saying nice things and interrupts with a "It's the semifinals!" -- which reads like a "She's barely even worthy of being here, boys, shape up!"

Cristian's return to the samba is injury-free and Len declares him "hotter than a chili pepper" (unfortunately, this is what passes for quotable comments this week) and Samantha follows up backstage by interpreting Cristian's Spanish-language plea for votes with a request for a comment for the "non-speaking" viewers (then corrects herself with an: um, I meant Spanish). Len sits on his 10 paddle again, and 29 continues to be the top score of the night.

Last up is Kristi, trying to top her own fabulous jive. She's really good, but she's set her own bar so high at this point -- so has Mark, whose choreography is really complicated -- that Len feels as if he can nit-pick with a "just a little stiff" remark that brings on a houseful of boos. Bruno gives her a 10, but the other two don't. Still, it's enough to send her to the voting public back on top after ceding the leaderboard to Jason and then Cristian the past two weeks.

The scores:
Kristi: 29/28=57
Cristian: 27/29=56
Jason: 28/27=55
Marissa: 26/26=52

-- JENNIFER FREY

Jennifer Frey  |  May 13, 2008; 2:37 PM ET Dancing With the Stars
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"No costume malfunctions!" Say what?? Did you not see Marissa and Tony hiding behind Tom after her dress fringe got caught on his pants?

Posted by: mark | May 13, 2008 2:59 PM

It seems like Kristi gets judged more critically than the others. Her choreography and execution are so much better than the others, yet her scores don't reflect that difference. I like Kristi and Christian for the finals. Jason - too stiff and gangly. Those strides of his seem to cover way too much territory on the dance floor. Marissa has improved tremendously and I have enjoyed her. I especially liked her quick step last night. But she has peaked.

Posted by: Vienna | May 13, 2008 3:36 PM

Great review, Jennifer. I agree with your take.

Also agree that Kristi gets nitpicked because she is so far ahead of the others. But it may be what saves her since being judges' favorite can be a problem, esp. early on.
Sabrina anyone?

Jason and Christian are both good dancers, but Christian seems to be evolving more in past few weeks, and conveys 110% go for it attitude. I want Kristi to win - she is the best and also a delightfully humble personality. But, I have enjoyed the incredibly eye candy of these two guys and their wonderful senses of humor. Their personalities elevate them beyond mere good looks and career accomplishment. See guys, you can be hotties AND show gratitude and modesty (It was one of things I loved about Cameron last season - not just another handsome dude).

Posted by: guiltypleasure | May 14, 2008 11:48 AM

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