Sunday, May 17, 2015

DWTS Season 20 Semifinals: The most emotional DWTS ep ever

Dancer extraordinaire Len Goodman gave us a bit of magic for the Semifinals. With Nastia.
I have long believed this about reality shows. You can manufacture "moments," but nothing is as powerful as reality. That very first moment when Sue told off Richard at the very first Survivor tribal council, which kicked off the reality craze. You can't write that stuff. Well, you can try, but it's never as powerful as the unvarnished truth.

Case in point on Dancing with the Stars. A couple weeks ago, they had a big hooha with their 10th anniversary celebration. And it was nice and all (to see, well, most of the former competitors back again). But it wasn't one iota as powerful as the DWTS semifinal this week.

Why? Truth and reality.

The producers must've wet their pants when Noah Galloway came to them and said, Hey, I want to propose to my girlfriend on the show, is that OK? (And mind you, that was a key factor in the nonstop waterworks that came from my eyes during that whole show.) But for me, the most sentimental moment (which, frankly, I wish the producers had done more with) was the moment with Len.

Len, you see, way back in the last century, was a dance champion himself. The short version of the story goes like this. Len was a champion, then he started judging dance competitions himself. Then a 12-year-old named Derek Hough and his 9-year-old sister Julianne started competing in front of this judge (and Mark Ballas too!). Cut to: Julianne is now a judge next to Len, after winning more than one Mirror Ball herself, and Derek is one of the four remaining semifinals.

THAT, my friends, is the actual history. That is something you can honestly look at, and go: Wow, they've known each other all their lives! So when Derek and Nastia did their Judge's Choice (which I'll get to explaining a bit later), it was truly poignant to have a dance where Derek starts the dance with Nastia and Dance Champion Len Goodman finishes it.

Not a dry eye in the house, or across the country, with that one. It was really one of the most special moments of DWTS ever.

And if Len Goodman steps down after this season of DWTS (which has been rumored), this dance will have been a very fitting goodbye to him.

But, oh, let's not go there yet... I'm tearing up again... whew...

Let's look at the evening from the beginning. First in this semifinal, we had each of the four couples do an individual dance. Rumer and Val kicked it off with a seriously steamy 50 Shades homage.

Then the producers set up this trope (which they've never done before in this season or others) of having a significant other backstage to comment on their sister/lover/daughter/whatever's dance. After Rumer's dance with Val, for example, there was Demi Moore (mom to Rumer) commenting on how proud she was of her. Yeah, OK.

Next up? Sharna and Noah. They, like Rumer and Val before them, did a Viennese waltz. It was beautiful and lyrical and Sharna's movements matched Noah's and that was all incredible.

Then, backstage, as Erin is inocuously asking questions of Noah's girlfriend, we have the proposal (above) which makes her his new fiancee.

Pretty much from that moment until the end, I was sobbing. (Even after that, actually.)

The producers, wisely, kept the announcement of this little event happening from pretty much everyone, so the jubilation around was natural.

Kinda hard to keep the show going after all that happened, though.

Riker and Allison did an amazing contemporary (all of their dances are amazing, really).

And then, we had Nastia (and Sasha).

Let me just say this about that. As I mentioned last week, this competition is not only won on technical merits. You must also win the hearts of America. That's just the facts of how this works.

To my eyes, Nastia (who was eliminated this week) lost this competition when, in her package, she basically said: "I don't have to answer that." Well, yes, yes you do. America isn't judging on the finer points of how you dance. That's what the judges are for (and really those are the only types of judges Nastia has known). America is judging on what kind of PERSON you are, and whether or not they like you, and whether or not you deserve to walk away with a Mirror Ball trophy.

Whatever the circumstances, whatever mood she was in, whatever... she answered that question how she answered it. Basically saying: I don't give a crap about what the fans want to know, I wanna go home.

And go home she did.

And so we have as our three finalists three people who very much deserve to be there, and who know how to be real for the folks back home: Rumer and Val, Noah and Sharna, and Riker and Allison. I can't wait for the finals.

But before all that, we had four more dances from everyone. This is something I wish they'd incorporated a long time ago, but shockingly, it's the first time ever. Each judge was slated to work with one of the remaining semifinalists, to create whatever dance they thought would best showcase that person.

They danced this round in the order they had danced the first.

Bruno worked with Rumer and Val, and (of course, with Bruno being as over the top as he is), they did Swan Lake (for heaven's sake!). And it was tremendous. Let's just cut to the chase and say that all judges scored all of these with 10s. (I mean, they should just leave the scoring out of this part next time, cause how is a judge going to vote against a fellow judge's work? Won't happen.)

Seriously, Swan Frikking Lake. And it was just unbelievable. And beautiful. Even if Val didn't wear his rumored tights (only).

Noah and Sharna worked with Carrie Ann, who did this amazing Valkyrian paso doble number with male backup dancers working behind Noah. It was stunning.

At this point, you're thinking this must be the finals or something, cause these numbers are just so spectacular and amazing.

Then we had Riker and Allison. If I had one complaint about this team, it's that the movement tends to be harsh and angular. There haven't been a lot (or even any) really sexy moments between them all season. Certainly not compared to what the other dancers are putting out.

Then Julianne gives us this (she decided to join in the dance, too).

It was an Argentine tango that was a threesome, and it was hot.

Then lastly, the Derek-Nastia-Len number, which was just so fitting as a last number for these two.

The votes for the eventual winner have, by now, been cast, from this particular show. But who will win? All of these performances were incredible, many of them even scoring perfectly from the judges.

It is harder now, after seeing these amazing dances from all to pick who will win, but I'm still going with my pick from last week: Rumer and Val.

The only difficulty these dancers are going to have is (as Tom Bergeron noted during the semifinal show): How are the finals going to top THIS?

Well, we shall see. Good luck to them all.

Dancing's finals are Monday and Tuesday, sandwiched in between the battling Bachelorettes, who are also Monday and Tuesday nights.


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