We’re down to Kirstie, Ralph, Chelsea and Hines, each of whom must get through three dances in the two hour torture session known as the semi-finals. I wonder if this isn’t pushing our stars a little too hard, as we’ve already seen signs of wear and tear in the past few weeks and, oh yeah, Hines’ partner Kym Johnson ended up on a gurney during rehearsals. Apparently the wear and tear isn’t restricted to our celebrities. But I guess the show must go on, and Kirstie’s getting blonder and thinner each week, so it can’t be all bad!

Tom announces that there will be a winner-takes-all cha cha cha at the end of the show. I’d be more excited about this if “DWTS” didn’t overdramatize every little thing. The contestants must dance without having heard the song! The celebrities must flip a coin! The celebrities must dance a dance they’ve never danced before! I’m surprised Tom Bergeron doesn’t sprain something trying to make everything short of a celebrity clipping their nails sound like THE event of the century.  
 
Full recap of Monday's (May 16) "Dancing with the Stars" after the break...
 
Ralph Macchio & Karina Smirnoff
They’ll be doing a salsa, an Argentine tango and, of course, that winner-takes-all cha cha. That’s a lot to ask of a guy who was hobbling around on a bad knee last week, but that’s not his real problem. He’s apparently funk challenged, so Karina wants to put him in a booty shaper, as a larger butt will improve his salsa. I hope she’s kidding. Thankfully, we don’t have to see this right away, as first up we have the tango.
 
This seems a little sleepy to me. Don’t get me wrong, because I love Ralph, but he looks tired. His dancing, however, looks pretty good technically. He’s nailing the steps. He just doesn’t seem all that interested to be there. This is surprising, given that Ralph is usually so good at selling a dance, even a mediocre one.
 
Len says it lacked emotion but thought he did a good job. Bruno said he was too stern and detached while holding Karina. He wanted more Latin lover. The crowd erupts into booing. Carrie Ann agrees with Bruno.
 
Carrie Ann: 8 Len: 9 Bruno: 8 for 25 out of 30. Not bad. I hope Ralph brings a little more heat to the salsa. Maybe the wax on, wax off thing really did help.
 
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkosvskiy
She’s eating five meals a day, sleeping as much as she can and saying hot diggety dog a lot. I’m not making that up, she really says she is doing this for some reason. She and Maks have a system, or at least a dysfunctional pattern. They fight. She cries. Then, they hug it out. She’s weary, but she will persevere.
 
Eh, it’s a waltz, which is always difficult to do and somewhat boring to watch. Could the costumers not dress Kirstie like she’s on “The Lawrence Welk Show”? Seriously, this dress is a shiny crime, though the skirt moves beautifully. There are a few shaky moments, but overall this is not bad. I’d hope for better this close to the finals.
 
Bruno thought she set sail beautifully. Like a boat. Nice, Bruno, every woman wants to be compared to a boat, although admittedly that dress wasn’t helping matters. Carrie Ann thought she transformed the ballroom stage. Len thought she’d be a Klingon hanging on to Max for dear life, but she wasn’t. I love it when you can tell the judges have written material they want to use and will go to any length to work it in, even when it doesn’t fit.
 
Carrie Ann: 9 Len: 9 Bruno: 9 for 27 out of 30. Kirstie is just happy! She’s giddy! Whee!
 
Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas
She’ll do the tango and the rumba in addition to that winner-take-all cha cha. Mark gives her crap for being a dead weight and not giving her all, which is surprising. I mean, come on, she’s not a professional dancer! Mark’s usually Mr. Upbeat and encouraging, so I’m not sure why he’s coming down on Chelsea, who tends to look a little like Bambi when she’s sad.
 
Speaking of sad, I’m a little depressed because this wasn’t all I hoped it would be. Some of it is sharp, but this isn’t as fiery as I expect a tango to be and sometimes her legs look weak when they should be slamming into the floor. This lacks force. Chelsea always looks great, but she seems too restrained in this dance.
 
Carrie Ann felt it wasn’t up to par. Her legs weren’t sharp enough. Len thinks her legs lacked authority but it was clean and precise. Bruno thinks Chelsea and Mark played it well and she was Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct.”
 
Chelsea admits to Brooke she’s sleep deprived. I’m sure she is. I think everyone looks plumb exhausted at this point. If this is what happens when the stars are forced to pump out three dances, I say it’s time to cut the length of the show and let everyone take a nap.  
 
Carrie Ann: 9 Len: 9 Bruno: 10 for a total of 28 out of 30. Mark is super proud of her. Well, he should be.
 
Hines Ward and Kym Johnson
We already know this rehearsal is not going to go well. Kym is doing lifts she’s never seen on “DWTS” before! They should play ominous, horror movie music under this part.  So, during one of these super challenging moves, Hines falls on Kym. If you’d told me she’d broken her neck, I would have believed it. And one of the first things she says? “I can’t feel my arms.” We don’t see her getting an MRI or get any details on what exactly happened, but I’m fairly sure if Hines had fallen a little harder or she’d been at a slightly different angle, she would have ended up in a wheelchair. And yet, Kym is worried about practice time as she’s being carted off by paramedics. Either Kym knows her body well enough to have a full understanding of her injuries or she’s in shock and babbling.
 
Well, this should be a spectacular tango. But honestly, it’s not amazing. I feel like Kym is dancing around Hines, which would be fine if Kym were the one being judged. Hines is very good, but I suspect the choreography had to be adjusted at the last minute.
 
They finish, and Hines starts crying. Kym cries a little. Everyone’s emotional, and I have to think they know something about Kym’s injuries that we don’t.  
 
Len felt like he was in a club watching them. That is a tango, he exclaims! Tom gives Kym an opportunity to put her boob away. Wow, Kym really can’t catch a break lately! Bruno felt it was like good sex he never wanted to end. Carrie Ann is crying because she was so worried about Kym and she loved how Hines connected with her and protected her in the dance.
 
Hines tells Brooke he’s glad she’s still walking. Kym didn’t want to dance but she did. I wish Brooke would just let them talk, but no, Brooke has to babble and cut back to the judges’ table. Sometimes I wish Tom had a twin who looked good in a dress, because Brooke is not really a natural at this gig.
 
Carrie Ann: 10 Len: 10 Bruno: 10 for a total of 30 out of 30. Whoa. Okay. It was good, but was it that good?
 
Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff
Oh boy, it’s time for childhood photos and interviews with loved ones. Ralph was a happy kid. He met his wife when she was fifteen and they’ve been married twenty-four years. He resisted the allure of fame. He was, essentially a stay at home dad when his career tanked. I hope that Ralph gets some work after “DWTS.” It doesn’t look like he’s going to win the mirror ball at this point, but we’ve definitely learned he’s a decent guy.
 
Oh ma God, he really is wearing a booty shaper! But hey, I think it helped his salsa. He’s clearly having a good time. Sure, it’s a little loopy, but it’s fun and boisterous and I’m happy to see it. Ralph has been looking wooden and stiff, as if he’s thinking about his knee or his back, and in this he lets loose.
 
Len thought it was too wild and there was no rhythm. Bruno thought it was a bad ass salsa. And Bruno says, I think, that Ralph was too rough with his pussy. As in cat. Come on, censors, Karina is dressed LIKE A CAT. ABC, that wasn’t dirty! Anyway, Carrie Ann liked it.
 
Carrie Ann: 8 Len: 7 Bruno: 8 for a total of 23 out of 30. Ralph says he’s used to being the underdog, and he’s definitely the underdog at this point.

Tom thanks the Bert Lahr estate for Karina’s wig. Get it? “Wizard of Oz”? Cowardly Lion? I love Tom.
 
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkosvskiy
Kirstie was born in Wichita, Kansas. She’s just a little old Midwestern Scientologist! She was a cokehead. Oh, we’re going dark. She got divorced and got fat. She’s friends with John Travolta. Where’s the part about Dianetics?
 
There are a few moments during the dance in which it seems like she’s trying to remember her next move and she’s off the beat at the beginning, but mostly this is fierce. Kirstie can’t move like Chelsea or Hines, but she does bring something a certain sultriness to the floor that shouldn’t be overlooked.  
 
Bruno thought it was “Dance Trek 12: The Wrath of Kirstie.” Apparently, this is a compliment. Carrie Ann says she was the queen of the paso doble. Len thought she danced fabulously.
 
Carrie Ann: 9 Len: 9 Bruno: 9 for a total of 27 out of 30.
 
Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas
Chelsea was born in Scottsdale, Arizona. She was a creative kid. She was friends with Jordin Sparks, who went on to “American Idol” and a better haircut. Chelsea thought she had been discovered by a manager, but then went to Hollywood and found out he was a scam artist who had an office in the basement of a hotel. But she couldn’t go home empty handed, so she started auditioning for roles and became a Disney dreamboat. Joe Jonas thinks she’s great, which is good, since they kissed on his TV series.
 
She’s dancing the rumba. Apparently in a shroud. There’s a missed step towards the end, but otherwise this is very, very good. Chelsea is getting better each week, which is pretty impressive since she started out strong. Maybe Mark’s pushing her and calling her dead weight is paying off. But I hope that’s not really it, as that wasn’t exactly a Disney friendly moment.
 
Carrie Ann says that’s what she wanted to see. Len thought it was expressive and she had natural hip action. He adds that she’s fulfilled her potential. Bruno thought it was beautifully linked and perfectly pitched. I’d say best dance of the night, but they’ve already handed out straight tens.
 
Carrie Ann: 10 Len: 10 Bruno: 10 for a score of 30 out of 30. So maybe it was the best dance of the night!
 
Bruno declares that, if you haven’t voted yet, you’re lame. At least Brooke smiles and loosens up in the moment, even if that involves calling viewers lame.  
 
Hines Ward and Kym Johnson
He’s from Seoul, South Korea. Because he’s mixed race his mom brought him to the United States, but her marriage failed and she had to work multiple jobs throughout his childhood to pay the bills. He learned his work ethic from his mom and he learned hurtful racial epithets from other kids. He got into sports and the teasing over his race stopped. Unfortunately, he dropped from a first round draft choice to a third round draft choice because he has no ACL. Well, that hasn’t seemed to hold him back. His mom told him he’d last a week on “DWTS.” After all the nice things he said about his mom, I am not impressed.  
 
Simply put, this is a cute routine. In fact, I like this better than his earlier dance, despite that one’s perfect scores. He’s having fun, he’s emanating happiness and, oh yeah, he’s nailing the moves. He’s very light on his feet and has an easy, natural musicality. I’ve never been a huge Hines fan, but I can definitely see his appeal.
 
Len loved it. Bruno says Hines is beautiful. Carrie Ann says he’s joyful. In short, they liked it a lot.  
 
Kym admits she isn’t going to do some of the tricks she had planned for the cha cha. I’m glad to see she’s talking sense.
 
Carrie Ann: 10 Len: 10 Bruno: 10. He’s got a perfect score for the night. I wouldn’t say Hines’ last dance was worthy of a thirty, though this one might have been. Still, I think the judges might have thrown a few points toward Hines and Kym in a “glad you’re not dead//glad you didn’t kill her” tribute. Not a lot of points, but just a few.
 
Time for the winner-takes-all cha cha cha! It’s never been done before on the show. This dance challenge was created pretty much because Brandy got voted out too soon. The winner gets fifteen points, which pretty much guarantees they’ll live on for another week, and no one else gets anything.
 
The first two couples are Hines and Kym versus Ralph and Karina. Ralph doesn’t stand a chance. The judges practically pee themselves when Hines walks across the room. But maybe they should, because this is a smooth little number from Hines and Kym. Is Ralph’s number as good? Well, not really. It pains me to say it, but he just doesn’t look as relaxed and fluid as Hines.
 
Len says Hines looked great, and gives Ralph for giving it 100 percent. Bruno thinks Ralph is as entertaining as ever and says Ralph raised the game. Carrie Ann said Ralph did well, but Hines was in it to win it.
 
Carrie Ann: Hines and Kym Len: Hines and Kym Bruno: Hines and Kym. So, obviously, Hines & Kym go to the next round.
 
Next up, Chelsea and Mark versus Kirstie and Maks. Chelse and Mark look solid, I have to say. Kirstie nails the steps, but she just can’t move like a kid less than half her age.
 
Bruno says Chelsea moves beautifully and says Kirstie is slinky. Carrie Ann agrees. Len thought Chelsea’s dance was clean and crisp and says Kirstie is more sensual.
 
Carrie Ann: Chelsea and Mark Len: Chelsea and Mark Bruno: Chelsea and Mark. I love how the judges try to make it seem like they’re desperately torn when they obviously aren’t.
 
Brooke reveals that Hines and Kym and Chelsea and Mark will be dancing to Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance.” Hines decides he wants to dance second but Brooke screws up the coin toss. Hines wasn’t supposed to decide anything. Anyway, Hines and Kym will be going first because Chelsea wants to go last. This is an awkward moment that does not want to end for some reason. Brooke also says something about the coin having Len on the back, which I suspect is an attempt at a joke. Oh, Brooke, just stop while you’re ahead. And the couples get one commercial break to practice their cha cha cha.
 
Okay, I give this one to Chelsea. She’s just as relaxed and natural as Hines, and the routine looked tougher. One thing I love about Chelsea is how she sings along when she knows the words. I get the sense she really loses herself in the moment.
 
Len calls Hines Daddy Cool and Chelsea Little Miss Dynamite. Bruno says it’s like deciding between diamonds and pearls. Carrie Ann thinks both couples have proven themselves dancers. Yeah, yeah, we know you decided this about two seconds after the couples finished dancing, stop faking it.
 
Carrie Ann: Chelsea and Mark Len: Chelsea and Mark Bruno: Chelsea and Mark. I think she probably needs the points, as she mentioned she’s in a specific demographic (tweens and teenagers), so I’m glad she won. Hines will make it into the finals, I’m fairly sure. I hate to say it, but I think Kirstie and Ralph may have reached the end of the road on “DWTS.” Yes, they’re entertaining and fun to watch, but Chelsea and Hines have emerged as true dancing talents. It’s not a tragedy for them in any case: Kirstie lost a crapload of weight and Ralph has got to get a decent gig from this. ABC, find a spot for him on “Grey’s Anatomy” or “Private Practice.” I see nice guy/good doctor written all over the guy.
 
Do you think Chelsea could win the mirror ball? Do you think ABC was silly to censor Bruno? And who do you think is going home next?