What happened?: The important task Tuesday night was to set the three couples who would compete in next week's finals. The first two couples to find out they would be there were Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson and Mya and Dmitry Chaplin — the first pleases the crowd most while the latter pleases the judges most. This left Joanna Krupa and Derek Hough and Kelly Osbourne and Louis van Amstel to fight over the last spot. Kelly had lower judges' scores on Monday night, meaning that only audience voting could keep her in the competition.
And in the end, to the surprise of many — including Kelly — it was Joanna and Derek who didn't make it to the finals, despite strong scores from the judges. Next week's finals, therefore, will feature Mya, a powerful and skilled dancer, along with Donny and Kelly, both of whom will have made it there on the shoulders of a lot of devoted fans.
The return of Melissa: Last season's third-place finisher, Melissa Rycroft (then a fresh reject from "The Bachelor," now engaged to someone else entirely), returned to dance a hustle with her pro partner, Tony Dovolani. They were accompanied by the surviving members of the Bee Gees singing "You Should Be Dancing." There's not much left of the Gibb voices, but everyone obligingly clapped enthusiastically. It should be noted that Melissa showed up barefoot and danced for only a very short time, giving the bizarre impression that she had run in off the street after arriving late.
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More music: Tuesday was billed as a show full of "special musical performances," and while it might not have met that high standard, it came closer than usual, beginning with Alicia Keys. What appeared to be her black rubber shorts over blue knit leggings (or pelvis-high boots) made for an odd spectacle, but unlike some of the folks who have appeared this season, she can sing live, and she even sat at the piano for a bit.
That was followed up with a performance by Leona Lewis, who is also both famous and relevant, making her an unusual grab for this show. A couple of high notes were not as solid as one might wish, but everyone looks better standing on a round platform surrounded by writhing dancers and hundreds of pounds of dry ice.
The strange and the ill-advised: As always, not all the filler worked. A dance performance from the upcoming film "Nine" was difficult to understand without whatever context it will have in the movie — here, it looked the dancing girls at a run-down tavern in hell.
But perhaps the most poorly conceived segment in the history of "Dancing With The Stars" —which is really saying something — involved the four contestants lip-synching to "Under Pressure." Because, you see, they are … under pressure. The whole thing was questionable, but when it got to Mya burning her shoes and Kelly Osbourne angrily hurling a disco ball, it wasn't even amusingly stupid anymore, just stupid.
Linda Holmes is a frequent contributor to msnbc.com.