In the semifinals, each of the four contestants gets at least one 10, and Mel B. and Helio are perfect; plus, Len shows them all how it's done

By Annie Barrett
November 20, 2007 at 05:00 PM EST
Craig Sjodin
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”Dancing With the Stars” recap: Grade inflation

Ah, the Dancing With the Stars semifinals — where the music is extra awful, the light shows are totally trippy, and any score under a perfect 30 somehow feels insulting. We wouldn’t have it — spoon-fed to us like baby food — any other way. Please, DANCMSTR, I’d like some more. With extra cheese!

Speaking of which, hooray — Len’s DANCMSTR limousine emerged for the first time all season! I’m sure some of you must find my insistence on referring to Len only by his vanity-plate moniker in all my TV Watches bewildering if not super annoying. (It’s also kind of annoying to type. Can I buy a vowel up in here or what?) But now that you’ve been reminded of the name’s origin, you’ll absolutely agree that there’s really nothing else you can call the guy.

Moving on from my Personal Jesus to ”our stars,” here’s how the semis played out:

Scary Spice: 60 out of a possible 60 Mel B. definitely earned her perfect scores last night, if only for those four consecutive ”walking splits” that, if I recall correctly, first came to the judges’ attention when Monique Coleman did them in season 3. They weren’t crazy about them then, but that’s probably because they all hated Monique’s partner, Louis. Mel’s splits fit perfectly with the music, a slightly off version of Queen’s ”Somebody to Love.” She does work hard every day of her life (for this TV show), oh yes — she tries and she tries and she triiiiiies (to be flexible). It worked! M&M’s entire Viennese waltz was gorgeous, quick paced, and as Bruno said, surprisingly sexy.

For their Latin dance, the couple chose the paso doble, which they’d scored a 30 on before. Despite being thrown at the mercy of ”Liiiiiiiiive!” television at the super-rushed beginning of their paso (Mel looked angry, which made her clutching a leather whip even funnier), they cranked out another dominatrix-themed Cape Fear for another 30. As if to balance out the rocky beginning, M&M kind of tumbled over just after the music stopped. None of the judges mentioned it; they were too preoccupied by the Case of Tom Bergeron Holding the Whip. DANCMSTR’s impersonation of Justin Timberlake — he actually sang, ”You can whip me if I misbehave,” with that knowing DANCMSTR ”I’m so raunchy…and current!” twinkle in his eyes — may have been his finest moment all season.

Oh, and the Spice Girls showed up. Again. Why is it that every time they’re all just standing around, all I want to do is focus intently on Posh even though she never, ever does or says anything? Is there like a support group for this? I wouldn’t go to the meetings. I just feel like that group should exist.

Helio Castroneves: 60/60 Okay, so he got the same score as Mel. I think she outdanced him, which is why I listed her first. I have nothing against Helio — he seems like a doll; he does exactly what Julianne tells him to do and says exactly what they write out for him to say. But maybe that’s why I’m still not sold. I’m not getting perfect-score vibes from him, and haven’t all season. That said, there were no glerrors (glaring errors) in either of Helio’s routines last night. I rather liked his and Julianne’s fox-trot, especially the part where they both kicked on the line ”Ain’t that a kick,” because I’m a total loser like that. I thought the green costumes worked, too. By the way, did Helio give Julianne a billion green and white balloons because she finally decided on that color instead of pink and blue for their outfits? Because that’s, like, incredibly supportive of him as a partner. ”Teeeeeeeeeeen!”

Helio supported Julianne during their cha-cha, too — he spent most of the dance with one arm out, as she twirled, lunged, writhed, etc. against it. I did love Julianne’s move where she spun on the ground, then ”swam” out from between Helio’s legs like a goldfish gliding lazily through his bowl’s ”castle.” She even had a wide-eyed, fishlike expression while she did it, and I was disappointed when a single bubble didn’t pop out of her mouth and rise to the top of the ballroom. The music, a murky version of ”Love Rollercoaster,” stunk up the joint — it was way too fluid to showcase such sharp, precise moves. Of course, this didn’t matter. The judges loved Helio. Carrie Ann said, ”I don’t even know what to say,” and then called him both ”mind-boggling” and ”ridiculous” but apparently in a great way. Bruno laid it on thick, insisting Helio ”must be a wizard because it’s impossible to believe you never danced before this.” Really, Bruno? And Len called Helio and Julianne the standout couple of the night. Also: He’s the only guy left, and they really need a testosterone-y celeb in the finals!

NEXT: Of mice and Jen

Jennie Garth: 58/60 Jennie was finally allowed visitation rights with her daughters during an ABC-sponsored voyage to Disneyland, where a 5-foot-tall Mickey Mouse pulled her up on a platform, danced with her, and then attempted to eat her face. Those extras telling Jennie, ”You’re such an inspiration to me,” and ”Thank you for doing this, because it is really special,” were overkill — even she kind of laughed in their faces as a response. It matched my reaction to Jennie and Derek’s tango music. Something heinous about a widow and a divorcée, which, thanks to Google, I learned was a Fall Out Boy song in just 0.15 seconds! Carrie Ann thought the tango had no chemistry, DANCMSTR disagreed, and Bruno called Jennie ”the Red Menace.” Okay! At least Paige, Michael, Paul, and Eduardo from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition were into Jennie. It was kind of weird — the cameras zoomed in on them both times she danced, as if they were her own adopted cheering section. Where’s Donna Martin when you need her? (Trick question. You never do.)

The judges unanimously adored Jennie’s Latin number, the cha-cha. This time, Derek’s shoe was not half off for half the dance (did anyone notice that, in the tango? I didn’t), and it was the first time Jennie really let loose and didn’t seem so focused on each step. I didn’t notice an improvement in her arms as a result of her private sesh with DANCMSTR — in fact, his critique only called their over-extension to my attention. Good thing I don’t really care about that stuff anyway! On to more important matters: Jennie’s cha-cha dress was probably the first outfit all season I could actually picture someone wanting to wear in real life, which is a very big deal. Despite a perfect 30 for the cha-cha, Jennie remained unconvinced that she should still be around. Derek looked absolutely horrified as she rambled on to Samantha and the audience: ”I don’t know why you’d put me [in the finals] but if you want to put me there….” Huh? Maybe Yummy Mummy just wants to go home.

Marie Osmond: 56/60 Even though Marie finished in fourth place, there’s likely no way she’ll be eliminated, so maybe YM will get the rest and self-sabotage she so desperately craves. For her quickstep, Marie danced a much more complicated routine than the guy in this Viagra commercial who danced to the same song. ”Good Morning,” everyone! Oh, good morning, Osmond brothers, so weird to see you in the audience. Oh, Marie’s going to sprawl across you in some sweaty, incestuous orgy that’ll make your family seem creepier than ever? Awesome!

Actually, Marie’s mambo was pretty awesome, if only because it was such a mess it could only happen on Dancing With the Stars. Do you ever shake your head, gaze at your screen fondly at something as ridiculous as red-and-yellow prop ruffles and Marie Osmond bending over backwards while sputtering for air and/or general consciousness, and just think, ”Ahhhh, this show. Gotta love it.” If not, may I kindly ask you to leave?

I’ll leave you with this:

Jonathan’s ruffled sleeves reminded me of Big Bird’s legs!

So, what do you think? Is Marie’s fan base devoted enough to keep her in the finals? Did Jennie’s apathy about winning throw you off? Did Len bring SexyBack to you? And who’s the one person who wants to see Michael Flatley, Lord of the Dance, tonight?

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