Rob, Ricki, and J.R. all covet season 13's itinerant trophy. May the best lifters win!
Credit: ABC

So much had changed since the semifinals of Dancing With the Stars season 13. I wasn’t there, for one thing. Kirstie Alley, Maks, Val, and Hope Solo occupied the front row (in that order). The show was only an hour — god forbid! And most significant of all: The COVETED MIRRORBALL TROPHY had moved from its perch up on Brookebot Mountain to its two-nights-only spot at the foot of the judges’ table. Risky prize placement, I say. It would take only one unchecked lunge/lurch session by Bruce Jenner during a commercial break for our coveted MBT to have gone mysteriously missing.

I like to picture the mirrorball trophy migration happening overnight Sunday to Monday. It’s about an eight-hour process, taking place when all the Sparkaliens are sleeping. As soon as It is sure no one is watching — like the night janitor or Corky Ballas — the MBT begins its journey, skimming the surface of Planet Mirrorballus ever so slowly, like the game piece of a Ouija Board. It is powered only by intrinsic duty, dust on the floor, and a last-ditch desire to see more of this sparkly orb for which It has been named and in whose likeness It has been cheaply manufactured. The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” faintly emits from the MBT’s core, which turns out to just be a CD player.

My God! What have I done? Have I disgraced Our Idol? Let’s get to the scores before I fall down this rabbit hole any farther.

Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhhh-ber!

Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke: 27/30 + 30/30 = 57 out of possible 60 The judges want Rob to win the competition, but in a way he’s achieved an entirely different type of victory, having been told by Bruno Tonioli (during Bruno’s rehearsal visit) that he, Rob, was “demented.” Our “Cinder-fella” has come a long way since arriving on the planet having not yet figured out that all he needed to do was smile and act really really into all this cheesy ballroom stuff and remember to shout “Rio!” every few hours, with feeling.

I must admit Rob has won me over as his own person; the Kardashian factor has no effect on me. Rob is a good DWTS contestant! Yeah I said it! He didn’t get to do many of those exaggerated hand twists (by which I’m so easily impressed for some reason) in his and Cheryl’s first routine, the waltz, but he did act as a strongish leading man for his partner’s long pink feathery gown. I liked when he clutched her from behind and ran backward as she tried her very best to look serene.

NEXT: Carrie Ann is blowwwwwwwwwwn away, as is my ‘w’ key, now What was this powerful and smooth force whisking Cheryl away? Was it a mighty wind? No, it was a Kardashian! He’ll huff, and he’ll puff himself up, and he’ll blowwwwwwww…..

….Carrie Ann away in the freestyle! Rob had been instructed to play up the importance of the freestyle in his interview, so I went into this expecting sparks to literally fly out of his ass. Instead, we got a nice, measured piece combining slower standards and a quicker ending. The staging was brilliant, with the red-carpet security guy assuring us viewers we were “on the list” to see flapper Cheryl flopping around and being “saved” by Rob like a wobbly Betty Boop, and later pointing at her partner’s butt as a cue for him to cast a spell on his own family. For, you see, we are all Kardashians now.

All in all, I dug this dance visually (blue sparkles!) and was glad one of the freestyles went for an old-fashioned feel. (I know Ricki and Derek’s contained quickstep but the crotch bob sort of ruined that.) And it was somewhat satisfying to see Rob still out of breath from those power-lifts, even up on the mountain. This competition is about spinning your partner over your head, and Rob is in it to win it!

Ooh, there’s my buddy Tristan, cheerfully guarding a pot of gold under the skybox stairs. Hi!

Ricki Lake and Derek Hough: 27 + 27 = 54/60 Christmas came early for fringe fairies ’round the world with Ricki’s red-tinsel cha cha dress. I don’t know if I saw the sex-goddess transformation coach Carrie Ann was going for with Ricki, but at least she looked good. I mostly kept watching Derek to see which moves would prompt his sparkly hardware jacket to reveal his own holiday gifts for us — direct from God! — so I had to trust the judges (shudder) that Ricki’s own moves lacked fluidity. I’m just kidding. I noticed. Anyone else think Len’s comment that Ricki’s cha cha was “a dance worthy of being in the finals” was a bit of a kiss-off? And so out of character for the season.

“Mirrorballs have been won and lost on the freestyle alone,” announced Derek Hough, expert mirrorballogist to the stars. As a joke, I’d predicted in a “What to Watch” blurb in the print issue of EW that viewers should expect Derek to choreograph a freestyle depicting his partner’s dramatic weight loss — THROUGH DANCE. And lo and behold, where was Ricki? Not on the stage yet because first she had to tear through a giant panel of her heavier self, Biggest Loser-style! What a joke indeed. (But really, I am psychic.) I think she should have gone with a black leotard instead of white, to offset Derek’s jacket and milk that ooey gooey weight loss for all it was worth.

After Ricki jumped out of a cake, so to speak, this freestyle was technically difficult but honestly not that exciting. Sure, Derek did the overhead spin, but…yawn, right? We knew he could do that and she didn’t have to do anything. Same goes for the ridiculous Derek Hough Crotch Bob, which started out as a cruel joke against Joanna Krupa in season 9, but has since become his signature ooey gooey move. The horror!

I wanted to play back Derek’s words to Ricki during rehearsal right into his ear: “SO BAD. THE WAY YOU’RE DOING IT IS BAD.”

NEXT: Is Karina secretly gunning to have her own neck broken on liiiiiiiiiiiiive TV? J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff: 24 + 30 = 54/60 “You’re gonna dance!” proclaimed the resident M.D. (Doctor of Mirrorballs), so J.R. dutifully spiffed himself up in a suit inspired by my two favorite food groups, chocolate and butter. He wanted to get loud, but J.R. had a rough cha cha cha. The hypnotic nature of Karina’s “sparkly birdcage” yellow frock was almost enough to distract from his mistakes, but J.R.’s timing was off for much of the dance. “Your enthusiasm got the better of you, really. You attacked it too much and it fell to pieces,” said the DANCMSTR, who had shown up to J.R.’s rehearsal to stand around, pose, and point emphatically at the war hero’s buttocks. Len had even displayed rare support for Karina by pointing out how many mirrorball trophies Derek and Cheryl had already won. But his voice fell to a hushed whisper as he referred to Karina. “This girl….make her proud,” he murmured. Shhhhhh. Whoever she is.

For the freestyle, Karina went for matching pink hoodies (hers just in theory, really) and a salsa-inspired routine with tons of lifts. That was a stunning J. Lo moment for Karina at the end. If she did about 37 variations on that in a workout video, I’d probably buy it, to watch while snacking. I love that they did so many crazy lifts, especially at the beginning, but that one move where J.R. ran up and just sort of “landed” on Karina? Was that the whole point of it? Was something else supposed to happen? Why would a dancer with previous neck injuries instruct someone to “hopefully” plant his privates directly onto her face from a flying leap? All I’m saying is there are so many more opportunities for one’s head to snap off during a Dancing With the Stars routine — usually unplanned! Why tempt Death?

From Len, it was a 10. But let’s let Bruno have the final word salad: ”Wild, exuberant, with animal physicality. ‘Twas like a jungle, tribal, hypnotic yes-perience!”

Or in the immortal words of Tom Bergeron, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, tomorrow.”

I’ll see you then.

Want to hear Tristan MacManus say “Snuffleupagus” in his adorable Irish accent? What a silly rhetorical question. Check out the video player below to watch my trailer park chat with Planet Mirrorballus’ cutest leprechaun — plus, twirlin’ Teddy Volynets defends the DWTS Troupe, very embarrassing footage of me participating in the pre-show dance party on Tuesday, and musical director Harold Wheeler!

(“Enthusiastic Chimes Lady…” “Oh, sure, I know you! I’ve heard all about you…” …WARMS MY HEART.)

That was a bit of ‘foon,’ yeah? I liked it all right!

Nominate your Hidden Gems of the Week before 2 p.m. ET on PopWatch. Update: Your Hidden Gems of the Finals!

See you soon, DANCMSTRs!


Fringe Fairy


More on the season 13 finals:

Ask Annie anything about THE BALLROOM (or whatever else) in the video player below. To see her answers to previous questions, click on the text links below the picture.

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