Wednesday, November 16, 2011

'Dancing With the Stars' semifinals: Ricki rules; Hope sinks

The four semifinalists got intense Monday night as they competed for the three spots in next week's final week of Dancing With the Stars. Hope Solo, Rob Kardashian, Ricki Lake and J.R. Martinez had to dance three dances - two individual numbers (one an Argentine tango) and a Cha Cha relay. Dancing with the Stars': Hope out of the game

Injuries. Insults. The night had all the usual drama. Here's how the stars stacked up:

Ricki Lake and her partner Derek Hough were bright and cheery in yellow costumes for their first number, a samba. "I can taste the finals," said Ricki in rehearsals. And she probably can. The crowd went nuts for their well-done dance, even though Ricki seemed to think she had flubbed some of it. Judge Len Goodman raved: "Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous." Bruno Tonioli called it "sizzling hot, bright and brilliant." And Carrie Ann Inaba praised Ricki for finally getting her shoulders down. Scores: 10, 10, 10 = 30

Before her second dance, Ricki's backstory was shown. She talked about growing up outside of New York City and seeing Annie, which made her want to be on stage. But she said, "I was molested in my own home," and that prompted her to turn to food, hitting 260 pounds at one point. She then managed to lose 100 pounds and launched a successful talk show. After it ended in 2003, she had a "really bad divorce," so she moved to L.A. to start over. Her precise tango was much praised. "Ricki, I don't think you know how good that was," said Len. Bruno said he was "transported" by it. Carrie Ann said she noticed Ricki's core strength had improved and said the dance had "pop." Scores: 9, 10, 10 = 29 Total: 59

Her Cha Cha earned her an 8. Total for the night: 67.

Rob Kardashian said in his rehearsal segment "It's my time to peak," and he picked a good time to do it. Using his secret weapon - his "butt" - he shook and shimmied in a lively samba with partner Cheryl Burke. Mom Kris, stepdad Bruce Jenner, sister Kourtney and her baby, Mason, all cheered like crazy, along with the rest of the audience. Carrie Ann raved: "Holy cow! ... fantastic!" Len and Bruno agreed. "That's how you turn a handicap into an asset," said Bruno. Scores: 10, 9, 9 = 28

Rob's backstory showed that he has had to cope with being the only guy in a house full of ambitious girls. He was close to his father, famed defense lawyer Robert Kardashian, who died of cancer in 2003, and he has been trying to figure out what to do with his life. "He entered the competition as a boy. What I see now is this man," said his mom, Kris Jenner. (Rob is 24.)

His Argentine tango was manly enough. "There's no way to fake good dancing," said Carrie Ann. "That was good strong dancing, good strong leading." Len said he was "finishing strong." And Bruno said, "You started out as a goofy outsider. Now you look like a leading man - slick, dark, handsome, in control." Scores: 9, 9, 9 = 27 Total: 55

His Cha Cha earned him a 10. Total for the night: 65

J.R. Martinez twisted his ankle in rehearsal on Saturday and lost practice time resting it, so he worried that it would affect his paso doble. Blindfolded and looking like Zorro, he managed to twirl his partner Karina Smirnoff around the floor, but his style was definitely not up to the bar he set last week with perfect scores. Not only that, he was hobbling when he got off the floor at the end of his dance, and he said he had twisted his ankle again. The crowd was supportive, giving him a standing ovation and lots of cheers. Bruno praised his attitude, but said his posture was lacking. Carrie Ann agreed. Len said, "This dance didn't suit you at all. It was more zero than Zorro." Scores: 8, 7, 8 = 23.

J.R.'s story of being injured in Iraq was recounted before he took to the floor for an Argentine tango that didn't seem to show he was suffering from any injury. J.R. acted mad about it, as if he hadn't performed well. Again, the crowd stood and cheered. Bruno called it "incredible." Carrie Ann said the lifts were difficult and he "commanded it." Len said it had "mood and intensity." J.R. said that his ankle was in pain, but the doctor had re-taped it. "This is not the time to quit. At all." Scores: 9, 9, 9 = 27. Total: 50.

His Cha Cha earned him another 6 points. Total for the night: 56

Before Hope Solo tackled her paso doble, she needed a big shot from her doc. Apparently she has major shoulder pain from a tear she suffered at some point in the past. "I'm in pain pretty much the entire time on the dance floor," she said. But you couldn't tell in her fiery (there were flames shooting from a box on the ballroom floor), aggressive paso with partner Maks Chmerkovskiy. The dance didn't impress the judges, however. Len said Hope "lost finesse." Bruno said she was "untamed" - in a good way - but her dance lacked "artistry." Carrie Ann said she"nailed the character of the dance," but was lacking otherwise. Scores: 7, 7, 7 = 24. "Thank you, everybody!" said Maks, not meaning a word of it. "It's a new Stepford Maks," said host Tom Bergeron.

Before her second dance, we saw a taped segment of Hope being a tough competitor, even as a kid. She spoke of her parents' difficult divorce and she cried as she recounted her dad's troubled life.

Later, her Argentine tango was fierce. Len called it a "bullfight of tasty morsels." Bruno said it was "much better" than her first dance. And Carrie Ann cited Hope's lack of "grace." As Carrie started her critique, Maks started smiling (in a sarcastic way). Hope sounded ticked after that, telling co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet, "I think from Day One they've wanted me off the show!" Scores: 8, 8, 8 = 24 Total: 45.
She came in last place in the Cha cha, adding 4 to her score. Total for the night: 49


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