‘Dancing with the Stars’ recap: It’s the finals, part 1!

Oh no. The show is starting with a Very Inspiring slow motion intro that looks sort of like our final four are headed to war. I know you have to goose the drama, “Dancing with the Stars,” but this is a bit much. Still, it’s the finals, so let’s get excited! 

Last season’s winner Kellie Pickler performs her new single “Little Bit Gypsy.” Kellie thinks it’s going to be a great night! She remembers this night! There isn’t much to this mini-interview with Tom Bergeron, but okay.  

Time to welcome the final four couples: Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke, Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff, Amber Riley and Derek Hough, Bill Engvall and Emma Slater. Everyone will be tackling dances they’ve performed previously, but failed to nail (according to the judges). 

Bill & Emma

The Background: He never imagined this! He feels so good, and he has a new best friend/fake daughter. Let’s go win this thing! Len is going to come in and offer pointers on their Viennese waltz. He tells Bill to focus on timing and fluidity and, I’m sure, everything else. There is tearful hugging. Look, I love Bill, but I really can’t believe he’s here. 

The Dance: It’s actually much better — but that’s not to say this is great. There seems to be some problems with hand hold. 

The Judges: Len thinks it’s an improvement — however, he lost timing again. Oh, and a lot of it sucked. It’s Bruno’s birthday. He thinks Bill is so lovely — but his timing is off. Carrie Ann thinks everyone else is operating at another level, but he’s so warm. And is musicality is still awful. But he’s smiling! 

The Scores: Carrie Ann – 8, Len – 8, Bruno – 8 

The Verdict: He can’t win, can he? I mean, if he does, great, he’d a great guy. But… aren’t we supposed to vote for dancing?

Corbin & Karina 

The Background: They have to do a quickstep, and hey, Len’s coaching them, too! I think Len would be a great dance teacher. Tough, but great. He’s expecting 10-worthy work. I’m sure Corbin will deliver. 

The Dance: This is definitely more controlled, which was the issue that bothered Len the first time around. But is it better? Well…

The Judges: Len thinks he’s calmed it down, however, his left arm was too straight. Still, an improvement. Bruno points out he went out of synch, in part because Karina gave him too tough of a routine. Carrie Ann didn’t see an improvement. 

The Scores: Carrie Ann – 9, Len – 9, Bruno – 9 

The Verdict: Corbin is just thrilled to have gotten nines.

TLC coming up! 

Jack & Cheryl 

The Background: Jack thinks maybe he could possibly win? He seems so hesitant! Bruno gives them tips on their jive. His weight distribution is off, so he needs to get on his toes. Bruno gives him a pointer which really does make a significant difference immediately (kick from the knees, not the hip) and then tells him he can win this!

The Dance: This still desk’ look entirely comfortable. The kicks look shuffly, not sharp. And he’s out go synch with the music. And Cheryl.

The Judges: Bruno is crushed. He thinks he screwed up due to nerves. But he’s still much better. Carrie Ann is heartbroken. She thought it was a 10 the first time, but not this time. Len tells him he still has time to recover. 

The Scores: Carrie Ann – 8, Len – 8, Bruno – 8

The Verdict: Yeah, this wash’t great. I think the likability vote is probably with Bill if Jack doesn’t really nail it in the next hour. 

Amber & Derek

The Background: They’ll be doing the Charleston again — you know, the one they already got tens on. Okay. Carrie Ann gives them minor pointers, since it was pretty perfect. 

The Dance: This looks good. But, obviously, it looked good last time, too. 

The Judges: Carrie Ann is so proud of her! She outdid herself! Len thinks they are the most improved couple of the finals. Bruno thought it was sharp as a razor blade. 

The Scores: Carrie Ann – 10, Len – 10, Bruno – 10

The Verdict: She’s going to win, isn’t she? Come on, people, I think that’s fair. She qualifies as most talented but also most improved. 

Tom tells Kellie that in forty seconds or less, she must give her opinion on the four finalists. Bill is so funny! Corbin is clearly an amazing dancer and easy on the eyes. She loves Jack’s story and thinks he’s so brave! Ugh. No wonder Jack makes a face. Amber lights up the dance floor.  

TLC will be performing “No Scrubs” as the stars compete in a samba relay. Jack defines what a scrub is by quoting lyrics. Brooke asks Corbin and Amber to gush about TLC, like TLC is some random urban act only known by African-American people. Ugh, ugh. 

We watch the couples rehearse, and Emma seems to think Derek isn’t playing fair. Huh. Interesting!

Jack & Cheryl are first. Did Jack ever suspect that someday he’d be wearing hot pink and shaking his ass on national TV? I bet not. Next, Amber & Derek, who look sharp, of course. Then Emma and Bill. This isn’t terrible. Corbin & Karina, looking very, very solid. Corbin is moving his hips like a pro. He seems not to be so crazy nervous now. 

Time for rankings! Len thought it wasn’t a samba, it was a whamba. Bruno thought it was crazy sexy cool (hey, TLC!). Carrie Ann prattles on — she was impressed with Corbin. She also thinks Amber nailed it, Jack came back, and it was some of Bill’s best dancing yet.  

Len reveals fourth place is: Bill & Emma. Third place is: Jack & Cheryl. First place is: Corbin & Karina. Second place is Amber & Derek, obviously. Sounds about right. 

Time for freestyles!

Bill & Emma

The Background: They’ll be doing a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” freestyle. It involves rope. Oh, and Bill still has his groin injury. He doesn’t want Emma to get injured due to his incompetence. 

The Dance: Well, not the best rope vine swing entrance ever, but okay. This is cute, but his footwork is all over the place, his posture is stiff and… why bother? He’s nice and charming and funny. That’s all that seems to matter. And oh, he just took his shirt off. Okay. Carrie Ann seems to think this is the funniest thing ever. 

The Judges: Len says he’s never lost the ability to entertain. Bruno thought it was nutty and indescribable, but fun. Carrie Ann thinks he’s the everyman ho’s become a hero. 

The Scores: Carrie Ann – 8, Len – 9, Bruno – 8

The Verdict: He’s nice. That is all. 

Corbin & Karina

The Background: They’re doing a routine inspired by “Smooth Criminal,” so they go to Las Vegas to hang out with Michael Jackson’s choreographer. At first, they didn’t want to use additional dancers, but hey, they are. Oh, Karina, I hope you’re to overshooting the goal. 

The Dance:  Moonwalking! And tricks! And that forward lean in the gravity boots! This was pretty epic after all! This looks professional. This may win it for them. I’m not kidding. Wow. 

The Judges: Bruno thinks Corbin killed it. Carrie Ann thinks he nailed it, and she doesn’t usually like it when people try to copy an icon. Len gives them a standing ovation. This really was that good. 

The Scores: Carrie Ann – 10, Len – 10, Bruno – 10

The Verdict: I now think Corbin & Karina are going to win this, and I thought Amber had it in the bag. This was remarkable. Really, I loved this. Loved. 

Jack & Cheryl

The Background: Cheryl wants to tell the story of Jack’s season in this freestyle. She wants to show how much he’s improved — by putting a whole bunch of professional dancers behind him. And then, Jack falls, grabs his ankle, then hops to his feet. He’s dance tough! Oh, wait, his back is falling apart. But he’s still dance tough! Pain is temporary, but glory is forever! 

The Dance: Tux and tails? Musty music? This is not good branding, Cheryl. This is dull, dull, dull as far as all of the elements outside of the dancing. Especially after the Michael Jackson routine. Just… meh. Jack did a good job, but this feels like a routine for the judges, not the audience — and as we’ve learned (and as we can tell from the presence of Bill in the finale), the audience counts more. 

The Judges: Carrie Ann thinks it was a showstopper. Len thinks his family should be proud. Bruno says hooray for Jack. Cheryl is crying. 

The Scores: Carrie Ann – 10, Len – 10, Bruno – 10

The Verdict: Yes, a treat for the judges — but not the audience. Jack is not winning the mirror ball. 

Derek & Amber

The Background: Derek wants a special moment for the freestyle. He decides it’s stepping, which Amber can do. So, Amber is teaching Derek part of the routine. That’s kind of awesome, I’ll admit. Derek wants to use a bunch of other dancers, and the style is going to be country Western? Really? 

The Dance: This is excellent, but I feel I’m 1) looking at the other dancers and 2) paying more attention to the choreography than to Amber. She’s great, but I felt like it was too much jazz hands and not enough actual dancing. 

The Judges: Len loves that the whole number was just about her. She’s class, fast and built to last. Bruno thinks she’s a leading lady. Carrie Ann agrees with Bruno. 

The Scores: Carrie Ann – 10, Len – 10, Bruno – 10

The Verdict: I don’t know — I’m really thinking Corbin may have turned this around.

Fusion dances choices. The lowest rated couple picks for the highest, etc. We know this old saw, don’t we?

Bill & Emma pick for Amber & Derek. They choose samba-quickstep. Jack & Cheryl pick for Corbin & Karina. They choose cha cha-foxtrot. Corbin and Karina pick for Jack & Cheryl, and choose paso-salsa.  Bill & Emma get jive-quickstep. Really, it doesn’t matter. At this point, it’s just about whether Corbin wins or Amber wins.  

It’s time for eliminations (waah-waah). The first couple coming back tomorrow night is… Amber & Derek. The second couple safe is… Corbin & Karina. The final couple coming back is… Jack & Cheryl. So, Bill & Emma are going home. 

I can’t be too sad about this, only because many more talented dancers were sent home while Bill was flopping and stomping around each week. He was great fun, such a joy, but it’s time to get serious. Bill thanks Emma and his wife and gushes about what a great experience it was. Oh, and then we get a sweet montage of happy moments. Bill declares Emma one of the Engvalls. I now want to see Bill do stand-up. But I really don’t need to see any more of his dancing. Farewell, Bill. And come back as a guest soon!

Who do you think is going to win? Is this the final three you expected?