"Dancing with the Stars" Recap: Season 10, Week 9

It's semi-finals week on "DWTS," and the four remaining couples had a jam-packed night, with each performing both a ballroom and a latin routine (featuring a solo for the star--scary!). But exciting as the lineup was supposed to be, we were pretty bummed out after watching the opening montage, which has become a sad little ballroom graveyard. Pam! Niecy! We miss you so! We just don't find any of the semi-finalists as likeable as some of the folks we've said good-bye to already. We're even missing Kate a teeny tiny bit--at least she stirred up real, albeit ridiculous, drama. (And we have a feeling that Kate-Hater Nation was a big part of the reason this season of "DWTS" rocketed to the top of the ratings charts.)

But maybe we're not giving enough credit to Chad, Erin, Evan and (especially) Nicole, who put on a generally impressive show last night. And so, in the spirit of fairness, we'll try to be gentle in our recap. Sortof.

The ballroom round kicked off with Erin and Maks in a Viennese waltz that the judges enjoyed, but that we weren't feeling--maybe because we were totally distracted by Erin's bizarro pantsuit. (It could have been such a pretty dress, DWTS stylists--why, oh why did you pants-ify it?) Erin also seemed super nervous, particularly during the turning sequences. (Note to Maks: Please teach her how to spot.) Though we were impressed, as always, by Erin's stretch and extension, the waltz left us feeling little more than "meh." (And yes, that's us being "gentle.")

Thank goodness for Nicole and Derek, who picked up the pace with a fabulous, smoldering Argentine tango. One of our co-workers has said that when this couple takes the floor, she has a hard time telling which is the star and which is the pro--which is exactly how we felt last night. Nicole's intricate legwork was nothing short of jaw-dropping. And kudos to birthday boy Derek, who powered through a nasty neck injury like a trooper. The tango brought Carrie Ann to tears and had Bruno gushing that Nicole was "a divine enchantress, using each move to draw us deeper and deeper into a love spell from which there is no escape!" (Bruno, if you're  trying to make it onto "The Soup" again, you're on the right track.) Perfect 10s all around.

We figured that Chad and Cheryl's waltz might be a bit of a letdown after all that--and, sadly, it was. Again, we were confused/disturbed by a costume: Chad's awkward chiffon pajamas. (What are the costume designers on this week?) Though Chad showed more grace and elegance than he has in past episodes, he's still not on the same level as the other dancers. We want to give him credit for being, as Len noted, the only remaining star with no previous dance training, but he just ain't good enough. Sorry dude.

Evan and Anna were working on getting Evan to "let go" this week--i.e., to not be a robot, as he (literally) was last week--and we thought they succeeded, at least relatively speaking, in their Astaire-esque foxtrot. While Evan looked a little goofy--and a little unpolished--in the happy-go-lucky routine, we much preferred it to the cold perfection of past weeks. Also, many bonus points for this exchange:

 

Anna: "Evan, what makes you feel happy?"
Evan: "Coffee? Cars? ...My nephew?"

 

Oh, Evan.

Then it was on to the Latin round, beginning with Maks and a considerably more comfortable Erin in a paso doble. Erin seemed to be having a lot of fun in her knee-high boots, and we think we saw a couple of flashbacks to her high-school dance team days. Despite the little mishap at the end--Bruno squealed that it was actually Maks who "(bleeped) it up," HAH--we liked seeing Erin let loose. (BTW: Erin's childhood sob story initially made us want to barf--OMG, she was sooo tall and sooo skinny, her life was soooo hard--but then we heard about her legitimately scary stalker and immediately felt like horrible people. Girl's got courage, that's for darn sure.)

Next up were Derek and Nicole in a cha cha cha to Prince's "Kiss." And, predictably, they absolutely KILLED it. Nicole looked amazing in Prince-impersonator mode (down to the mole!), and we're loving her on-the-money musicality. Bruno called her "the sexylicious purple queen of the cha cha cha" (should we start a "Make Bruno a 'Soup' Regular" Facebook page?); Len said she's "gotta be" in the finals; we couldn't agree more with both of them.

Chad and Cheryl's samba was basically an ode to Chad's abs, and we were totally OK with that, as we were with the shots of his adorable kids. But we get the feeling that the producers were just trying to distract us from the fact that he can't samba--at all. It's a tough dance, granted, but jeez louise: His solo looked like something he'd do at a wedding after a few too many drinks. (Or something he's already done in an endzone.) Again we say: Sorry dude.

Finally, Evan (who apparently started skating for his grandma, who wanted to be in the ice capades!) and Anna finished off the night with a paso doble to that creepy Evanescence song we'd JUST managed to get out of our heads. (Evan dancing to Evanescence--we get it!) Evan was technically awesome; we especially loved that his solo seemed to involve actual paso doble steps. As confused as we were by the bloodsucking bite at the end--wait, this was a vampire story? exsqueeze us?--we enjoyed the routine and thought Evan earned his perfect score.

So, who's going home this week? Our money's on Chad, but what do you guys think? And check back tomorrow for our recap of tonight's elimination episode--apparently featuring (much to Tom Bergeron's glee) Miley Cyrus in a cage. Ohhh dear.

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