In tonight's intro, Tom refers to Chuck & Julianne as "star-crossed lovers". Clearly, this is one of those phrases that has become so overused that no one really remembers its actual meaning. They're also referring to this as the "home stretch", since next week's episode will be the Semifinals.For some damn reason or another, they start with a pro formation, sort of serving as a demo for the Smooth dances we'll be seeing the couples perform tonight. Of course, I'll never turn down a good pro number. Dancing are Jonathan & Anna, Dmitry & Kym and Louis & Lacey. Lacey's hair has gone highlighted light brown, so I don't recognize her until she comes back later. It's a fabulous formation, which you expect since it's Louis' choreography.The Wife panics during the roll call because she thinks we're missing people. We've just gotten so used to a huge field of competitors that just five seems too few. There's a video package for padding, where the judges are asked how they think the dancers will do in the Ballroom round.Shawn & Mark: Quickstep. They're looking for lots of energy. Mark's accent is slipping in even stronger. The routine is hugely energetic with awesome speed and lots of travel. Very light and fun. Nice expression, great performance. Footwork is solid generally, but not her best. Not sure when the judges decided on the "closed hold" rule for QS, too. 9.5/10.0Ty & Chelsie: Argentine Tango. Ty likes and responds well to challenges. He likes this dance: it's closed hold, serious, slow and allows lifts. I see some acting starting, even. Posture and poise are good, very strong as we've come to expect. Nice start to leading, and the footwork is passable. I never once, though, am convinced that he's leading even a single step. 8.0/10.0In the audience: Marlee Maitlin & Fabian Sanchez.Lil'Kim & Derek: Waltz. She's struggling hard with the slow controlled dances, and it turns out he does, too. Excellent fluidity and movement. She hits some very good lines and shows excellent balance on the counter-balanced spin. A nice softness throughout the routine, though there are some rough spots and fumbles. 9.0/10.0Gilles & Cheryl: Foxtrot. Unsurprisingly, he's too Tango. They head to the Emerald Ball to watch high amateurs/pros to see the differences. They get "Fever", so they can do sexy!FT and not have to worry about fun!FT, which he's bad at. Great jazzy and cool performance. The arms are softer, but not quite enough swing through his legs. Just too typical. Hate her weird leopard print dress. \o/ 9.0/10.0Melissa & Tony: Viennese Waltz. She's doing some "new treatment" for her ribs that makes it manageable, and has a new determination. She hits every line, and shows off that graceful poise and ease you expect. Still not hitting those heel leads strong enough or dancing through her center. It's clean and very good, but not spectacular. I like Tony's gray costume. 9.0/10.0Meanwhile, the Pro Competition is going on. Genya Mazo was eliminated, and each of the three remaining pros has been paired with a former DWTS celebrity contestant, with whom they've spent the week rehearsing to dance tomorrow night. Afton will be dancing with Cody Linley, Anna with Maurice Greene and Mayo with Lisa Rinna. Lisa, who has toned down the lips as of late, continues to prove why she'd be way better as co-host than Samantha.Another pro demo formation, this time some Latin dancing with the same three couples. Another awesome job by Louis' choreography. We're amused that Dmitry alone has his shirt open-- maybe at this point, he can't actually dance Latin with a closed shirt?Again, video package filler with the Judges commenting on the Latin round. Len, though, provides this gem: "If [Lil'Kim's] Salsa isn't fantastic, I'll run off and pickle my walnuts." Where's the brain bleach when you need it?Shawn & Mark: Paso Doble. Now they want intensity and serious face. Awful music. Starts with good strong staccato solo. Great strength and precision, and some very nice lines. A little short on stretch and flexibility, maybe, which is not a surprise. Good performance. What's up with Mark's hair? 9.5/10.0Len, if my memory of his scoring serves, is not generally a fan of the shorter, more compact girls (Shawn, Lil'Kim, back to Sabrina Bryan).Ty & Chelsie: Rumba. Ty believes he's clearly demonstrated how not Cuban he is when prompted to do more Cuban motion. The song is good, but bad for dancing. He's just fine with his figures and it is kind of fun. He's trying for hips, but they're nowhere, and the walks are awful. He wiggles some in front of Jewel for a big laugh. I counted two lifts, Carrie Ann only catches one. 7.0/10.0In the Red Room, Ty reveals that he's "hoping [his] solo pays off dividends later". This causes Tony to crack up and Jewel to fan herself.Lil'Kim & Derek: Salsa. She literally squeaks when she finds out. It's right up her and her "bionic booty" alley. The speed and energy are right on, and there are a lot of great figures packed into the routine. One fantastic trick at the end. The solo is good, but shaky in good and bad ways and overly excited. 9.0/10.0In every rehearsal shot, Derek has been wearing a "BHB" logo t-shirt (for his and Mark's band-- Ballas Hough Band).Gilles & Cheryl: Rumba. Somehow, Gilles is sporting a BHB shirt, too. They're looking for his acting to come through. They can't go shirtless again, so they go sheer. He opens with a solo that's kind of disconnected and off, but the rest is very solid and strong on technique. It's not too compelling or connected, though. 8.5/10.0Melissa & Tony: Samba. Some trouble switching gears between dances. Her costume is skin to win again. She has a good, solid solo with the most middle movement from her ever. That continues through the routine. Nice progress in using her hips and legs, but it's still too floaty and needing grounding. Great rolls. 9.5/10.0Tony's reaction to their 30? "I've been waiting to see that [again] since season two!"Results show.Encore: Melissa & Tony's Samba. Slightly better flex through the center and better legwork than last night. Tom calls them "a vision in blue and spray-tan". Tom Bergeron FTW!During the recap, Ty brings us another gem: "When I did my solo for Jewel, I looked in her eyes, and I could tell-- Mommy liked." Can't make it up.Musical guest: Jamie Cullum performing a cover of "I Get a Kick Out of You". The audio sync seems off, and the performance is a little weird, and the arrangement is really fast and all over the place, so I don't envy the challenge that Urs Geisenhainer & Agnes Kazmierczak, a champion Smooth couple that also performed earlier this season, had dancing to it. In the audience: Steve Wozniak.It's time for the return of the segment I love but other people hate!DanceCenter: Almost half of Kenny's face is covered in jewels. Not to be outdone, Jerry rice is now wearing an open vest with no shirt underneath and a bow tie. They talk about the robotic Ty-minator, and about Lil'Kim's shaking assets and refer to Shawn & Mark as happy chipmunks. Love it.Safe: Gilles & Cheryl. She's not doing it... wait... \o/ Oh, thank goodness.DanceCenter: Kenny's even quicker this season slamming Len. They call Tony a bully and say that Gilles gets naked at the drop of a hat. Suddenly, all three men are shirtless. Ack.In the audience: Louis and Harry Hamlin, both naturally here to see Lisa.They barely even introduce the Stars of Dance performance, only calling it "the biggest star ever on the DWTS stage", which turns out to be a ten foot metal star-shaped jungle gym. They barely say the names of the choreographers, and honestly, the whole thing is such a generic modern/jazz mishmosh that I don't care. The only good thing to say is that Travis from SYTYCD is in it.Pro Competition:Afton & Cody: Samba. Very familiar troubles with teaching him. She does a good job staying with him and staying focused on him. Good routine, strong and she brought out a nice performance, too.Safe: Melissa & Tony.Pro Competition:Mayo & Lisa: Quickstep. He figures out that no matter what she does wrong, calling it "timid" looking makes her fix it. Clever. He leads her well, but puts in a weirdly Latin end sequence.Anna & Maurice: Tango (he chose it because he didn't do it before). She calls her style "strict, but fair". An excellent routine, she does a great job keeping with him. Maurice looks better than ever (the judges say this outright).Next week, the remaining two teach their celebrity two dances.Safe: Shawn & Mark. RED LIGHT OF DOOOOOOOOOOM: Lil'Kim and Ty.Safe: Ty & Chelsie (who looks hugely shocked).Eliminated: Lil'Kim & Derek Hough. The audience reacts loudly and negatively to the elimination. She says some nice words to everyone, and get's Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" for her goodbye, an uncharacteristically upbeat song. See you next week.
Yeah, Gilles is really slipping the last few weeks, trying to coast on the first half of the season.