It’s the semifinals for “DWTS” and, have to say, this is a pretty impressive foursome. Okay, except for Chad. Chad, he still looks a little constipated on the floor, and I think he’s really tested the last of Cheryl’s patience. But I digress. As exciting as the semifinals might be, next week is sure to be plenty more exciting because (wait for it)... Kate Gosselin’s coming back for the finals (along with pretty much everyone else, but whatever)! To the horror of dance lovers everywhere! I’m hoping they recruit her to do some actual dancing, because I’m dying to see her clomp through a waltz or maybe a bit of disco with all the grace and femininity of a dying orangutan. I’ve honestly kind of missed her since she’s gotten the boot, and apparently America has, too, as the ratings have gone into a nosedive since America lost their blonde Octomom punching bag. But until then, we’ll have to content ourselves with the semifinals. Let the excitement begin!

[Full recap of Monday's (May 17) "Dancing with the Stars" after the break...]

Erin and Maks
 
Okay, Erin really lost my sympathy when she whined about her skinny arms (boo  hoo, I’m tall and blonde and beautiful, woe is me), but I clearly forgot that the woman attracts misfortune like Lindsay Lohan, except, unlike Lilo, she isn’t inviting it on herself, so I should really be a little more sympathetic. For whatever reason, crazypants “The View” nitwit Elizabeth Hasselbeck felt the need to imply Erin’s Peeping Tom could have waited a few weeks to watch Erin swan around practically nude on television and thus stayed out of jail. Because it’s always the victim’s fault. And stalkers are funny. Really, I kind of wish Elizabeth Hasselbeck had been eaten by wild boar on that first season of “Survivor” to spare us her natterings, which honestly make me miss Debbie Matenopoulos.
 
The Dance: In any case, Erin isn’t one to complain, so she just shrugged off Crazypants and got right to rehearsal. And guess what? Tonight’s first dance, a Viennese waltz, isn’t half bad. Even if Erin is stuck wearing the biggest wide leg pants I’ve seen outside of Ringling Brothers. But Elizabeth will undoubtedly be pleased with Erin’s blue satin-swathed modesty.
 
Erin uses those too-long arms (she said it first) extremely well in this dance, and it looks fluid and graceful. There are a few moments in the middle where she seems to choke up and you can actually see all of her muscles clench and a “oh crap” look flicker through her eyes, but overall, this is quite nice. Of course, I think most people at home consider the waltz a good time to go get a snack or use the bathroom, so whether anyone will throw votes her way is anyone’s guess.
 
Judges Say: Len says she took a giant step toward the finals. Bruno says it was a symphony in blue. Carrie Ann thought she seemed nervous, but it was wonderful. The judges seem to be in a good mood tonight. Probably because they know they’re getting time off soon.
 
Score:  27. Except Bruno accidentally holds up the 10 paddle. But he sticks with his nine vote.
 
 
Nicole and Derek
 
The ringer returns to wipe the floor with the competition, but Derek has hurt his neck and is in excruciating pain. Good thing he’s dancing with Nicole, who can pretty much do anything with a minimum of handholding. Hell, Derek could probably lie on the dance floor reading a newspaper and Nicole would still score 10s. No wonder the show’s ratings have gone down – not only did we lose the show’s villain (Kate Gosselin), but everyone looks, at best, mediocre when put up against Nicole. There’s as much dramatic tension in this season as your average Lifetime movie of the week.
 
So, no surprise, Nicole and Derek’s Argentine tango is insane. This dance is, literally, flawless. The crowd goes wild. Derek must be on massive painkillers, because he swings Nicole around like she’s a handkerchief.
 
Judges Say: Bruno calls Nicole a divine enchantress. Carrie Ann starts crying and says she’s incredible. Len says it was more delicious than his grandmother’s apple pie, which is the greatest compliment he can give. Even though I don’t think it’s fair that Nicole is clearly a dancing pro, I have to say, she’s clearly head and shoulders above the competition.
 
Score: 30. Duh.
 
 
Chad and Cheryl
 
Do you remember those early episodes when Chad and Cheryl flirted and seemed to be teetering on the precipice of ripping off their clothes and doing it on the dance floor? Yeah, those days are so over. Cheryl looks exhausted, Chad seems pouty about having been in the bottom two, and seriously, the love is gone.
 
The Dance: Chad and Cheryl start with their waltz. And I keep wondering if Pinocchio became a real boy and decided to play for the Bengals, because oh ma God, Chad is stiff. Even with Cheryl tossing herself around like an overdressed stripper having a grand mal seizure, there is no distracting us from the fact Chad looks like he’s at 8th grade cotillion. And don’t get me wrong, I think Chad is making a good effort here, and this may be his best dance of the season, but his lack of dance experience shows.
 
Judges Say: Carrie says Chad nailed the waltz. Len says Chad climbed mountains and did a fantastic job. Bruno loved it and babbled on, as is his wont.
 
Score: 27. Seriously? It was good, but not that good.
 
 
Evan and Anna
 
Anna is desperate to make Evan access his emotions. The three things that make him happy are coffee, cars and his nephew. Evan is, without a doubt, the nicest but dullest person who’s ever appeared on this show.
 
The Dance: Anna screws up royally by choreographing the one thing Len absolutely hates – she has Evan holding a dumb prop at the very beginning of the dance. Sure, that may be the only way to get Evan in touch with his emotions, but you know Len is going to gun for them now.
 
But you know something? Maybe that picture did the trick, because Evan actually seems to be having fun this time. Sure, he’s smiling like a crazed Muppet through most of the routine, but that’s a whole lot better than his usual glazed expression. And technically, he does an excellent job. Maybe Nicole isn’t a lock for the mirror ball after all.
 
Judges Say: Surprisingly, Len thought it was great. Bruno thought it was sparkly with a capital S. Carrie felt the connection.
 
Score: 29. Yeah, Len docked them a point. I bet it was that stupid picture, Anna.
 
 
Erin and Maks
 
Oh, Lord. We’re at the weepy personal segment part of the program. So hey, everybody, forget about the dancing, vote for the celebrity whose personal story of private pain touches you the most!
 
Erin always felt too tall and skinny. She took dance classes. She became a cheerleader. She got her job at ESPN at age 24. Oh, and she had a stalker. Doing “DWTS” was her way of showing the public she’s not a victim. I hate to say it, but her ability to get past the whole hellish nude video thing makes her much more interesting as a personality. And since she does seem to have the worst luck in the world, that ability to bounce back will definitely come in handy going forward, I’m sure.
 
The Dance: This is one hot paso doble. Erin seems much more confident in this dance than her first one, and, except for a bobble at the end, she pulls it off pretty seamlessly. No one’s dancing is really problematic tonight (although I would argue Chad’s the weak link), so this is going to be tough for voters.
 
Judges Say: Bruno says Erin is a hot chick and she was amazing. Then, he swears and is bleeped. Carrie says she was in her element. Len thinks it was a funky monkey paso doble, and he chastises Maks for his choreography. Uh-oh.
 
Score: 29. Amazingly, Len voted for Erin’s talent and didn’t punish her for Maks’ choreography. That’s gotta be a first!
 
 
Nicole and Derek
 
Nicole was born in Honolulu and lived in a little house with 13 other people. Then, she moved to Kentucky, where she felt like she looked weird. She’s wanted to be a performer since she was a kid. She’s bought her mother a house in Hawaii. She’s had to work for everything in her life. Puff Daddy is rooting for her.
 
The Dance: Nicole is doing the cha cha cha dressed like Prince. And even though Nicole is stellar (per usual), I think the choreography is kinda lame. Derek apparently put all his energy into the first dance, and then let his neck pain get the better of him.
 
Judges Say: Carrie loves it and gives Nicole kudos for looking like a natural when she knows it’s hard work. Len thought it wasn’t a cha cha cha, but says she deserves to be in the final. Bruno says she’s sexilicious. I swear, Bruno gets more incomprehensible with every week. I love the guy, but he needs subtitles.
 
Score: 29. Len docked them the point, as expected, even though it’s Derek’s birthday.
 
Brooke, who is dressed like Vampira for tonight’s event, gets a little more interrogation time with Nicole and Derek than she has had for most of the evening. And the less said about it, the better. Brooke, you need to loosen up a little. I realize that corset is cutting off your oxygen supply, but seriously, this isn’t CNN.
 
 
Chad and Cheryl
 
Chad is from Miami. He grew up in a rough area and his mother dumped him with his grandmother. And his dad was in jail. Getting to the NFL wasn’t easy, but he pushes himself. He has four kids. He takes “DWTS” really, really seriously.
 
The Dance: Was his solo just three hip thrusts? C’mon, Cheryl, ye of little faith, he’s not that bad. Chad really loosens up for this number, and it’s nice to see. Oh wait, here’s his solo. When he isn’t forced to dance the friggin’ waltz and has something a little more up tempo to work with, he’s not bad at all.
 
Judges Say: Len doesn’t know why all the guys take their shirts off for the samba, but thinks he did a great job with a tough dance. Bruno is amazed by Chad’s chest. Of course he is. But he thought it was fun. Carrie Ann says his technique hasn’t matured, but he has great charisma.
 
Oh hey, there’s Kareen Abdul Jabbar. But moving on, it’s scoring time.
 
Score: 25. Ouch. Ironically, I thought this was much better than the waltz the judges loved so much.
 
And here’s the plug for next week. Oh, look, Kate’s in the audience!
 
 
Evan and Anna
 
Evan is from Naperville, Illinois. And he wanted to skate because his granny wanted to be in the Ice Capades. Oh, you’ve gotta love this. His mother tells us Evan was a very unusual child, because he was driven and detail-oriented. I swear she was going to say he was unusual because he had Asperger’s Syndrome. He had a growth spurt at 14 and almost gave up skating. Evan is really shy. Well, it would thrill me to no end to think that Evan isn’t actually boring but just shy, I’ll say that much, because he does seem awfully nice in a Jimmy Stewart kind of way. Vera Wang gives him an endorsement, as does Kristi Yamaguchi.
 
The Dance: Could this actually be kinda hot? Evan brings it! While I see some skater feet every once in a while, this is pretty friggin’ great. Evan finally, finally lets go and, combined with that skaterly talent, he’s an unstoppable force.
 
Judges Say: Bruno says something about dancing with bulls, but I think it’s positive. Carrie Ann says it was powerful and she loved it. Len says Evan actually dominated, which was remarkable.
 
Score: 30. Totally deserved, if you ask me.
 
 
Damn, tonight was a game changer, wasn’t it? Nicole is still incredible, but suddenly she has some really valid competition. I mean, not Chad, but even Chad did remarkably well for someone who has less than zero dance experience. On the bright side, whoever wins, I think they'll be pretty darn deserving.
 
 
Do you think Nicole should win? Who do you think deserves the boot? Are you looking forward to seeing Kate again?