Craig Sjodin/ABC
TV Show
S7 E18
November 18, 2008 at 05:00 PM EST

‘Dancing With the Stars’ recap: The home stretch

It’s semifinals week on Dancing With the Stars, and you know what that means — tons of pressure! Lots of drama! Top-notch performances! Well, yes, ideally. But waaaaaay more importantly: The triumphant return of the DANCMSTR vanity plate! We get this once a season onscreen, even though I force you to read it on this screen twice a week. I was terrified they wouldn’t provide a close-up of the license plate’s pristine beauty, but of course they saved it for the end of head judge Len Goodman’s (see, I know his name) ”Master Class” segment. From his Cheryl-Kym ballroom-sandwich fantasy to his solo-grinding tutorial from Warren Sapp, DANCMSTR’s shining moment was a true delight, ranking up there with Tom’s suggestion that viewers judge the contestants ”not by the sparkle of their sequins but by the dazzle of their dance.” Oh, Tom. They’re so not mutually exclusive! Just ask the judges. And Warren.

The final four performed twice last night — first, the ballroom or Latin dance they’d not yet done, and then one of the scary ”four new dances” for round two. I loved that we finally got professional demonstrations of the salsa and jitterbug; those would’ve helped weeks ago, but we’ll take ’em now. Salsa pros Paul Barris and Yesenia Adame put me in a splits-induced trance that only intense squinting at her red-nude-colored dress could snap me out of, whereas Christian Perry and Annette Nicole actualized the title of their jitterbug song by perfectly resembling cats on a hot tin roof. Perry didn’t seem quite lifelike, even — I think they might have rescued him moments earlier from the deranged toy shop where Marie Osmond’s tragicomic baby doll persona was kept in storage. Anyway, both pro demos made round two much livelier on a night with few real highlights. Early in the evening, Tom claimed the remaining stars comprised ”possibly the most competitive final four we’ve ever had.” And by ”possibly,” he really meant ”not.” Here they are…

Lance Bass and Lacey: 57 out of possible 60 I’m not sure what exactly changed in their dynamic or their dancing, but Lance and Lacey never had even close to this great of a night all season. While Lacey’s mambo choreography ruled — loved that slow, sultry roundhouse kick to mimic the minute hand of a clock — I think a lot of my enjoyment of their first-round dance came from the song choice, ”Straight…to Number One,” by Touch and Go. The spoken-word element and offbeat rhythm really worked in their favor. Dare I say it was edgy? I think I just did! I also thought her short black dress and his simple black suit looked perfect together…even though Lacey’s rather atrocious peacock attachment kept giving the illusion she was shooting rainbows out of her butt. But if you think about it, that’d be perfect, too. Best dance of the night by far, even if Lance had little to do with it. I’m not blind. Pigeon toes look the same even when set to atypical music.

Lance lost a shoe during the jitterbug, which was such a perfect wardrobe malfunction for this footwear-defying couple that my inner cynic immediately thought it might have been intentional. Maybe Lance was not just a fake sailor, but a fake dance hero, too! Obviously, though, it was an accident, and the able seaman valiantly tossed his partner over his shoulder and stood erect to salute, wearing only a sock. Pure mastery. It’s kind of sad that Lance Bass jitterbuggin’ in a sock and Brooke Burke executing pretty moves while looking pretty have been the two most impressive feats of the season. Really, though, Lance’s confidence and showmanship last night proved he’s the most talented man left in the competition. He probably always has been; it’s just been masked by way too much scripted ”edgy” drama and — well, quite frankly, not enough adorable ”Grand Daddy” on hand to humanize him. I do hope James Sr. helps him get votes, if Lance needs them. After last night, he deserves it.

NEXT: Brooke’s fringed pants

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