‘Dancing with the Stars’ recap: Maks joins the judges’ table

It’s the semifinal! And Maksim Chmerkovskiy is back — and sitting next to Len at the judges’ table! This is so exciting. Do you think they’ll elbow one another into a fist fight? Or maybe hug. Anything is possible with these two. Maybe they’ll whack one another with paddles when they disagree on a score. Hey, don’t rule it out!

Also, the couples have to perform two different dances to the same song tonight. I guess we ran out of money for the music budget? Just kidding. The song will be changed as well. 

Leah & Tony

The Background: Leah doesn’t want to get lip from Maks. Does she know Maks? It’s a paso doble, and to Lady Gaga no less. 

The Dance: She has really improved exponentially, but she doesn’t entirely nail this one. 

The Judges: Len thought it was neat and precise, but too careful. He tells her to come out fiery for the Argentine tango. Bruno wants her to go for it, and she missed two turns. Carrie Ann liked that she brought drama, but it was too internalized. Maks thought it was great! He’s overlooking the moment when she stepped on her skirt, but he wanted more emotion. 

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

The Verdict: I’m worried for Leah. Eights in the semifinals aren’t great. 

Corbin & Karina

The Background: They revel in their perfect score, then Corbin admits he’s nervous. Eh, I wouldn’t be nervous, Corbin. Karina wants to do a jump, which Corbin says will be seen as a lift. Karina assures him Maks will be okay with it. She was engaged to him, so he has to!

The Dance: This isn’t my favorite performance of his, but it is a fiery tango.

The Judges: Bruno thought it was fire and brimstone… but he lost his frame. Carrie Ann thought it was hot and she wanted to see it again. Maks said the content was amazing and hey, framing doesn’t matter on “Dancing with the Stars.” His butt poked out a bit, though. Len thought it was too full on for a tango.

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

The Verdict: Corbin is the strongest male dancer left in the game — so he’s going through. 

Jack & Cheryl

The Background: Jack’s vision is getting wiggy, which worries him. Cheryl assures him it’s just a dance show and they don’t need to push so hard. Cheryl is scared, but Jack is in it to win it, M.S. or no M.S.

The Dance: “Roxanne”! Jack looks like he’s trying like hell, but he looks uncomfortable with some of the sexier passages. 

The Judges: Carrie Ann thinks Cheryl killed it. But… she felt Jack didn’t have the weight placement of a jazz routine. Maks thought it was great. Len liked his commitment… but it lacked finesse. Bruno thought the interpretation was very good. 

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

The Verdict: I think, if Jack isn’t feeling well, his base may not vote for him simply so he can go home and rest. His mom is WEEPING in the audience. 

Bill & Emma

The Background: Bill pulled something in his groin, but h isn’t letting that slow him down. Anything for the win!

The Dance: He dances. I mean, people aren’t really voting on that, clearly, so what does it matter?

The Judges: Maks says he put in the hours, and he’s amazing. Len thinks he’s the people’s champion. Bruno thinks he gave us all laughs and happiness and stuff. Carrie Ann is still smiling!

The Scores: Carrie Ann – 7, Len – 7, Maks – 7, Bruno – 7

The Verdict: I really have to think this might be the end of the road for Bill. I love him, he’s adorable and charming and sweet, but come on, dancing is in the title. This isn’t “Cuteness of the Stars.” Although I’d watch that.

Amber & Derek

The Background: The doctor has given Amber clearance to push it. And she is gonna push it! 

The Dance: Okay, this is adorable. The white gloves are a brilliant choice, too. Okay, Amber has won me over. This is great. 

The Judges: Len (or Chuckles, as Tom calls him) tells them to do it again. That’s it. Bruno thinks it was incredible. Carrie Ann thought it was how Einstein would dance, which is a compliment. Maks thought it was great!

The Scores: Carrie Ann -10, Len – 10, Maks – 9, Bruno – 10

The Verdict: Huh. It’s a little surprising Maks didn’t hop on the ten train for some reason. 

Round two! The music stays the same, but different. 

Leah & Tony

The Background: Leah tells us about her Brooklyn childhood and then about moving to California. She was on “Living Dolls,” then went to selling car insurance. But she’s a fighter! Chelsea Handler thinks Leah can win. And so does Leah’s daughter.  

The Dance: It’s an Argentine tango, and she’s a violin. Cute! 

The Judges: Len liked it fine, but it didn’t work for him. Bruno thought it was pretty. Carrie Ann thinks she needs more confidence. Maks wants the real Leah to come out. 

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

The Verdict: I think this is a big improvement. What that means, of course, is up in the air. 

Corbin & Karina

The Background: Corbin was a cute kid who wanted to be a pediatrician. He could have gone to Standford but did “High School Musical” instead. I think he has the most star-riffic segment we’re going to see. Debbie Allen? Kenny Ortega? Wow. 

The Dance: Lovely. Corbin really is a contender for the mirror ball — and Amber should watch her back. 

The Judges: Bruno thinks the quality of movement was unbelievable. Carrie Ann was transported! Maks thinks he has a huge advantage in the competition — Karina. Karina gives him a kiss. Are they back together? Len liked it.

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

The Verdict: Again, he’s gotta be safe this week. 

Jack & Cheryl

The Background: It’s a flashback to “The Osbournes,” which is more depressing than I thought it would be. Those poor kids. Poor Sharon. It’s kind of amazing Jack and Kelly came out the other side. 

The Dance: It’s a tango and Jack seems much, much more comfortable this time around. 

The Judges: Carrie Ann thinks he’s a huge inspiration. But, the dancing… was so in the zone! Maks thinks the dancing will get him into the final. Len thinks he’s back. Bruno thought he was totally in control. He wants to kiss him. 

The Scores: Carrie Ann – 10, Len – 9, Maks – 9, Bruno – 10

The Verdict: I think he’ll get through this week, but it may be his last week. 

Bill & Emma

The Background: Bill used to drink. But his wife loves him. 

The Dance: This is almost in slow motion, but it’s so much better for it.

The Judges: Maks thought the Argentine tango was great. Len thinks he has the will to win. Bruno thought he played it will. Carrie Ann thinks he finally got it right. 

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

The Verdict: Good, but good enough? I’m doubting it. 

Amber & Derek

The Background: Amber had a normal childhood, then got horribly treated by casting directors. Then, she landed on “Glee.” Ryan Murphy and her manager gush over her. Chris Colfer thinks she’s amazing. Her mom is proud of her. 

The Dance: It’s a lovely waltz. 

The Judges: Len loved it and thought it was a terrific performance. Bruno thinks she danced like an angel. Carrie Ann thinks Amber is so, so special. Maks agrees with Carrie Ann and thinks Derek will help her get the trophy. 

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

The Verdict: She’s going to win this. 

Time for an elimination! Corbin & Karina are through to the finals. Also through to the finals… Amber & Derek. Jack & Cheryl, also through to the finals. 

Bill & Emma and Leah & Tony are the only ones left. Who is going home? Leah & Tony. Bill & Emma look absolutely shocked. Hey, I’m a little shocked, too. Yes, Leah wasn’t one of the top dancers, but I think she had improved considerably more than Bill.