A bunch of non-celebrity dancers usher in the semi-finals of this, the eighth season of "Dancing With The Stars," with a wink-wink-nudge performance to The Clash's "Should I Stay Or Stay Or Should I Go?"

Though as the four remaining "stars" come down the stairs with their prof, its remarkably evident: Ty should go. He should have gone last week instead of Lil' Kim, and it would be ridiculous if he stays here past Gilles, Shawn or Melissa.

Tom lets us know there's once again two dances this week - a ballroom round and a latin round - and then shows us how an episode with just 8 dances can turn into a 2-hour program. We'll now have 4 minute videos in which the dancers each reminisce via voiceover upon a few of their "breakthrough ballroom and latin dances."  It plays like a poor man's DVD extra, and it's going to be 8:45 before we even see anyone dance live (though I'll admit it's fun to see what turns into a "best of" Gilles' shirtless moments). 

I wasn't that far off with 8:45. Finally, at 8:31, we get to the dances:

[Recap after the break...]

The Ballroom Round

Melissa & Tony

After Len's specific criticism last week, Melissa is really worried about her feet.  "He's gonna be watching them like a hawk," she cries in her and Tony's rehearsal video. Their quickstep - set to "I Got Rhythm" - includes numerous close ups of said feet, which seem to be steppin' just fine to me. It's a fun, elegant performance with great musicality - even if Melissa's very wide smile strangely stays completely static for entire thing. It ends with a incredible move in which Tony twirls Melissa him, and the audience rises to their, uh, feet.  It wasn't totally mind-blowing though, especially considering this is the semi-finals.  Carrie-Ann and Bruno agree, but I suspect the scores of "Bachelor" fans are going to pity vote Melissa into the finals no matter how she dances.

Score: 28 (Len, obviously happy with her feet, gave her a 10).


Gilles & Cheryl

Lil' Kim is gone, and Gilles wants to take over as resident booty shaker. This results - on a smart and/or horny move by the editors - in a rehearsal video dedicated almost solely to him shaking his booty.  In their waltz, this doesn't come through as much as you'd suspect. Both of them are probably more heavily dressed than ever before (Gilles in a full-on suit and Cheryl in a flowing white gown), and turn in their sexpot card for a very romantic and old-fashioned performance that I assume is meant to show their versatility. It works.  Very very well. And results in overwhelming praise from the judges (Bruno, being an original, gets up on the desk), and I suspect the following is about to happen:

Score: 30 (Gilles tears up thanking Cheryl, and with that, he has every woman and gay in America's vote)


Shawn & Mark

Last week Shawn & Mark lost points for delving away from the rules in their quickstep, and are planning on playing it safe this week. I didn't think this is what they meant:  Where Lil' Kim's absence and Gilles' surprise restraint left a sexy hole, Shawn and Mark are remarkably capable of filling it with their complex, focused, and very sexy take on the Argentine Tango.  Shawn had been concerned about all the lifts involved (aren't you an Olympic gymnast?), but she flys around that stage with precision, and stays in character the entire time.  Frankly, I've never seen her look this capable or pull something off this sexy and intricate. The judges overwhelming agree, and Gilles has got some competition.

Score: 30 (her first of the season!)


Ty & Chelsie

Alright, just be bad Ty. Be the bad dancer I know you are make it impossible for whatever cowboy-loving voters are erroneously keeping you in this competition. In his (final?) rehearsal video, Ty continues to overstate his rodeo background by taking Chelsie to a bull-riding machine. Their Viennese waltz incorporates none of the skills she must have learned, and, unfortunately, isn't terrible. But as usual, it's mostly due to Chelsie. Ty does a fine job at following her around and giving his gee-whiz smile, but as a dancer he is leagues away from these other three.  He always just looks so intimidated by what is going on.  And enough with the Jewel closeups. The judges give us this "you've worked so hard, we're so proud of you garbage," and don't make it as clear as it should be: It is Ty's time to go.

Score: 25 


The Latin Round


Melissa & Tony

Instead of a rehearsal video, we get a full-on bio where we see where the "star" comes from. I chose to take a quick and needed pee break during Melissa's, but I'm sure I take a good guess: Cue shots of Dallas and people in cowboy hats going on and on about what a good girl Melissa is and how proud they are of her. I get back in time for the dance, where Melissa is dressed her in trademark showgirl getup, but the Cha Cha Cha itself shows much more class that her outfit would suggest.  It's well choreographed and energetic, and there's a lot of very well executed flips and twirls. But every once in a while it just feels out of step and that energy just falls out.

It's certainly not her and Tony's best, and with Shawn & Mark and Gilles & Cheryl pulling out some serious stops, Melissa might be in trouble.

Score: 27 (three 9's ain't good enough tonight... 55 total for the night)


Gilles & Cheryl

Gilles, as it turns out, is from Cannes. But it wasn't all glam and glitz!  Gilles struggled in the center of the city (cue photos from his childhood where he looks hungry).  He then tells us how he used dancing as a way to seduce women (cue shots of a woman's ass as she walks out of frame - I'm serious).  Then we learn Gilles used to be an underwear model (cue a series of photos and some hootin' and hollerin' from the audience).  This fittingly leads into Gilles and Cheryl's salsa, which brings back the sexpot Gilles we all missed earlier tonight.  But it also brings an imaginative, vibrant dance that is quite seriously a perfect blend of fun and meticulously choreographed dancing (and there's some extensive booty shaking to boot).  It's definitely one of their best performances, and if this doesn't secure him a slot in the finals, I don't know what could. 

Score: 30  (Len wished he had an 11 panel... perfect 60 for the night)


Shawn & Mark

In Shawn's bio-video (which are seriously over 5 minutes long), we head to Iowa, where we get a detailed recap of how Shawn became a Olympic gymnast. Shawn never gave up! Shawn is so determined!

She even won that gold medal while having the flu! Listen, I'm not undermining Shawn's obviously incredible dedication, it's just... we've heard this already and after 100 minutes of this I'm ready to get this over with.  To a live band, S & M take on the jive with a  total innocence that only they could pull off.  It's bubbly and fun, but I feel a like we've seen this from them.  And its especially apparent  coming off their much more complex performance earlier tonight that this is not going to be a perfect score. And I'm right:

Score: 26 (ooh.. an 8 from Len. This score is almost Ty territory... but still a 56 for the night)


Ty & Chelsie

Here we go.  Are we gonna learn about how Ty became a cowboy? Or how he met his dear Jewel?  All of the above, plus some clips of Jewels telling us how challenging dancing was for him.  Well, hopefully this is your final challenge, Ty: Dancing the Samba in a incredibly gay sleeveless sparkling shirt, it's, again, a valiant effort.

Ty does everything he's supposed to, and attempts to channel Gilles with an awkward mid-way booty shake (it's not the same, Ty). But as I've said too many times to count, it's just nothing special.  The judges give him their sugar-coated criticisms with a tone that's very suggestive of an exit.  And tomorrow we'll find out if they're right.

Score: 23 (thats a 48 total... bye, Ty).


What did you think? Who's going home?


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