The semifinal competition of Season 14 of "Dancing with the Stars" was the best and closest of any season, with only three points separating the four couples on the leaderboard -- Maria Menounos and Derek Hough in first place, William Levy and Cheryl Burke in second, Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd in third, and Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas at the bottom. No matter which celebrity was eliminated, it was bound to be a surprise. As host Tom Bergeron put it, "No matter which way this goes, it's gonna suck."
Unfortunately for Maria and Derek, with a perfect score for their Argentine tango and first place on the leaderboard, it was their time to go -- and the audience was not one bit pleased about it. When the couple was declared "in jeopardy" by Tom midway through the show, the boos and jeers rained down upon the dance floor.
Earlier, Tom announced that Katherine, who seems to have recovered nicely from her back mishap Monday night, and Mark were in the finals. With all the jumping and hugging the couple was doing, it looks like she made a miraculous recovery.
Later, William and Cheryl were added to the finals lineup while Donald and Peta were also "in jeopardy." The look on Peta's face said it all: she was certain they were through. But then, after a pause so long that people might have thought Tom was napping, Maria and Derek were eliminated, and the audience went nuts, with loud booing and shouts of
Maria was very cool and with dry eyes thanked everyone, from "Extra" for letting her adjust her schedule, to her parents, to her partner. "I loved, loved, loved dancing with this woman," said Derek, who praised her commitment dancing before they headed for their last dance and a group hug by all the couples.
While it could be that Maria just didn't have the necessary fan base to garner enough votes, I think she was a victim of the "Sabrina Bryan Syndrome." In Season 5, Sabrina and Mark Ballas were obviously the pair to beat, dancing well and even getting a perfect score as early as Week 4. But they were eliminated when voters assumed that they would be safe and voted for other dancers. Maria and Derek finished in first place Monday night, so perhaps voters felt they were secure to make it through to the finals.
Smack-dab in the middle of the show, Tom made an announcement that made loyal viewers' hearts go all a-flutter -- there will be an All Star DWTS in the fall. They will bring back contestants from past seasons, including "former champions, finalists, fan favorites and some controversial celebrities." Oh, please, not Kate Gosselin, Master P. or Kenny Mayne. How about Gilles Marini, Kelly Osbourne, Ralph Macchio, Apolo Ohno, Mel B, Stacy Keibler or even Season 1 champ, Kelly Monaco?
Aside from the results, the hourlong show was filled to bursting with entertainment -- Alanis Morissette sang "Guardian" while two dancers performed; Chelsie Hightower and Tristan MacManus were the chosen performers of a samba for Macy's Design-A-Dance; Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta and Mary J. Blige sang and danced a scene from their new movie, "Rock of Ages"; and Carrie Underwood sang "Good Girl" while Tristan and three dancers from the Troupe performed.
So the finals next week will be between Katherine and Mark, William and Cheryl, and Donald and Peta, and will include the much-anticipated "freestyle dance." With so many really good dancers in the finals, who do you think will take home Season 14's mirrorball trophy?