We have our season 17 final four: Amber Riley and Derek Hough, Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff, Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke, and…. Bill Engvall and Emma Slater.
I know I should be sad about Leah and Tony, but all I can think after listing those names is eff yeah, Emma! Girl makes the finals on her very first season. Her dark lipstick has gently grazed my heart, and no way did I expect that would sound so sinister all the way back at the beginning of the sentence.
Anyway, it's goodbye to Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani following Monday night's semifinals -- a shame in that Leah was the walking embodiment of the week's Plugged/Unplugged theme in an Argentine tango during which Tony pretended to play a bedazzled violin on the back of her dress, but not a shame when you really think about who deserves to stick around. Leah had her run. She wasn't desperate for this. She'd endured a 13-week bad romance with dainty lace-up ankle boots and it was finally time to snip the shoelace.
No, the real tragedy of the night was Tom Bergeron getting acceptance-speeched off-air, liiiiiiiiiiiiiive!, by the modified Harold Wheeler four-person string section. There's a tiny violin joke here to be made. I choose not to seek it out.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy was back! #MaksIsBack. #SexOnAStick. The self-proclaimed Bad Boy of the Ballroom -- this is his show, remember -- returned as guest judge, his prize-winning buns nestled snugly between between Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli, which allowed for a lovely array of Maks' reaction shots to Grumpy and Dopey's antics along with minimal splash-annoyance from Weepy (Carrie Ann Inaba) two seats away.
As usual, I found Maks' repertoire of moves delightful, from his incredulous yet contained facial expressions towards Bruno, to his highlighting of each pro's commitment, to the way he held up his paddle backwards and then twisted it to reveal a 10. He wasn't controversial. He was… nice. Too nice? I'll let you guys be picky. Me, I'll take what I can get. I do miss the facial hair. I can woman up and admit at least that.
NEXT: Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ber and Maks: '8!'