1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: Karina Smirnoff, J.R. Martinez
Adam Taylor  /  ABC
J.R. Martinez, who was suffering from a twisted ankle, didn't bring his usual ballroom perfection with pro Karina Smirnoff, and his scores reflected that.
TODAY contributor
updated 11/14/2011 11:32:43 PM ET 2011-11-15T04:32:43

For Monday night’s “Dancing With the Stars” semifinals, the four remaining hoofer hopefuls took the stage three separate times to prove their mirror ball-worth. Unfortunately for this season’s dance-floor favorite, J.R. Martinez, that turned out to be three chances to show why he may not be destined for a big ballroom win after all.

Last week, the war-hero-turned-actor stole the show with back to back (near-) perfect performances , but that turned out to be a feat he couldn’t repeat — or even come close to — this time.

Of course, it’s not as if the man who’s been wowing the crowd all season suddenly forgot all of his major moves. It’s just that an ankle injury Martinez sustained during rehearsals meant that his body wouldn’t cooperate with all of the rigorous routines.

Story: You be the judge! Rate the 'Dancing' contestants
  1. More Entertainment stories
    1. Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts

      In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...

    2. Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
    3. See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
    4. Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
    5. 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom

The first letdown for Martinez took place during his Zorro-themed paso doble. After a strong start with bold lines and intricate holds and changes, the performance seemed to fizzle out. The more he moved, the less passion he put into the paso and the more flaws he introduced into his footwork. Then, on his final, somewhat out-of-sync leap, things went from bad to worse.

Martinez re-injured the sprained ankle that was already holding him back, setting him up for a couple of dismal follow-up dances.

In the Argentine tango, he successfully pulled off a number of tricky lifts — which were allowed for that particular number — but failed to connect them with much fluidity. He was clearly in pain throughout the dance, and if his disappointed appearance was anything to go by, he was a harsher critic than the judges, who gave him his highest score of the night with a generous set of 9s for the routine.

Join us for 'Dancing' chats on Tuesdays at 3:30 ET

By the time Martinez hit the floor for his portion of the evening’s cha-cha relay dance, he winced each time his injured ankle had to support his weight. That, along with some of his worse moves since starting the competition, was tough to watch.

But maybe not quite as tough for the judges. Despite the fact that Martinez’s cha-cha was easily the worst of the night, head judge Len Goodman and the rest of the panel dubbed it a third-place, rather than fourth-place, effort.

With that, the former leaderboard topper took third-place for the entire night, just one spot above Hope Solo.

Falling to the back of the pack isn’t new for Solo, but in the case of the aforementioned cha-cha, it was a shame. For once, and only once, she out-danced Martinez but didn’t get the score to show for it.

Is it time for 'DWTS' to replace its co-host?

The less said about her earlier routines the better, which seemed to be the unofficial motto of her pro partner, Maksim Chermerkovskiy. No matter what the judges said about the sloppy moves, he simply smiled and nodded and didn’t dare let his “Mad Maks” side show.

  1. Stay in the know!
    1. 'Like' The Clicker

      Get the latest TV and reality TV news by following our blog on Facebook and Twitter!

    2. 'Like' us on Facebook
    3. @TODAY_Clicker on Twitter

“I’m very happy,” he told “Dancing” co-host Brooke Burke Charvet in a not-so-sincere tone. “Thank you, everybody, for everything you ever said and did.”

From the sincerely happy side of the dance floor, the night’s second place dancer was Rob Kardashian, who impressed the judges (especially a 10-paddle-flashing Carrie Ann Inaba) with his (ample) booty-shaking samba. He followed that up with a precision Argentine tango and a top ranked cha-cha.

That put him just behind this season’s “Dancing” queen, Ricki Lake.

Lake swept the samba with a perfect set of 10s, somehow scored slightly less for her slightly better tango, and put on an impressive entry for the cha-cha relay.

Grace calls partner the true ‘Dancing’ star

Now it all comes down to Tuesday night’s elimination. It’s the last one before next week’s finals and the most important of the season so far. And barring any surprising shakeups, it will be the one where Solo says so long.

After all, it’s not like one bad night is going to suddenly send a sentimental favorite such as Martinez out of the competition.

Did the scoring surprise you? What about Carrie Ann's comment about Maks smiling? Share your thoughts on the Facebook page for our TV blog, The Clicker.

Ree Hines can’t believe Rob Kardashian is in the final four. Even more surprising? She can’t believe she thinks that’s OK. Join Ree and her fellow “Dancing With the Stars” expert, Anna Chan, as they discuss the performances and the upcoming finals during their weekly live chat on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Vote: Rate the dancers

Having trouble voting? Try clearing the cache on your Internet browser.

TODAY.com | Link |

Photos: Season 16

loading photos...
  1. Call the fashion police!

    "Dancing With the Stars" is known for its lively judges, sexy dancers, and of course, its sometimes questionable costumes. Check out some of our favorite odd outfits from the season, and why they may have been better off left in the dressing rooms. -- Anna Chan

    On March 25, Wynonna Judd and pro partner Tony Dovolani donned cop costumes for a sad quickstep that was slower than molasses. Oddly enough, judge Bruno Tonioli "loved the bonkers cop idea." We're not so sure "Fashion Police" boss Joan Rivers would agree. (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Throw them a life saver!

    "Bachelor" Sean Lowe and pro Peta Murgatroyd offered up a sloppy jive that left the judges wanting on March 25. But their matchy-matchy yellow outfits only sank them further. Granted, Peta can pull off pretty much any atrocity, but Sean? What's up with those lemon yellow pajama bottoms? Don't lifeguards wear swim trunks? (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Stayin' alive

    Head judge Len Goodman got into the theme on April 1 when "DWTS" went back to the prom. Ruffled shirts were never hot, so why not make them hot pink? (Hey, we all know the costume department doesn't always choose the best colors.) (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Pretty in pink

    Oh, the hair! The one glove! The pink bows on her dress! Co-host Brooke Burke has looked nothing but stunning all season (a surprise, as her wardrobe in the past has been rather questionable). Yet during prom week, she let go of the glam. We'll forgive her this one and only fashion faux pas of the season. (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Going to the Y

    While the rest of the "DWTS" cast went to the prom on April 1, Peta and Sean somehow missed the memo and went to the YMCA instead as the Village People. (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Prom? So what?

    Every prom has them: the anti-prom kids who are too cool for school. For the "DWTS" bash, that was Wynonna and Tony, who got all rockered out. Normally, we wouldn't take issue with this, but Tony! The mullet! Really?!?!? It's almost as bad as Maksim Chmerkovskiy's Mick Jagger wig from last season! (Nice boots, though.) (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. She's golden

    As gorgeous as Peta is, even she couldn't quite pull off those questionable gold bell bottoms and giant hair when she and Sean danced a highly praised quickstep on April 15. (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Let's boogie!

    On April 22, Team Samba (or as Andy Dick preferred to call it, Team Pickler Dick) took the the ballroom bash with a '70s-themed dance complete with the decade's questionable fashions. Among the low lights? The guys' creepy mustaches. (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Not so easy on the eyes

    On Latin Night April 29, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman and pro partner Mark Ballas took on a salsa that had the judges raving. What the panel didn't rave about were the seasick green/blue getups both wore. (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A little young?

    On May 6, Aly and pro partner Mark were joined by Henry Byalikov for a trio jive full of shimmies and shakes for the 18-year-old gymnast -- and also a saucy red garter. Not that we're prudes, but did we mention yet that Aly's only 18? (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

    Adam Taylor / ABC
    Above: Slideshow (10) Worst 'DWTS' season 13 costumes - Season 16
    Adam Taylor / ABC
    Slideshow (14) Worst 'DWTS' season 13 costumes - All-Stars
    Adam Taylor / ABC
    Slideshow (17) Worst 'DWTS' season 13 costumes - Season 14
  4. Image: Cheryl Burke, Rob Kardashian
    Adam Taylor / ABC
    Slideshow (16) Worst 'DWTS' season 13 costumes - Season 13
  5. Image: Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas
    Adam Taylor / ABC
    Slideshow (14) Worst 'DWTS' season 13 costumes - Season 12
    Adam Larkey / ABC
    Slideshow (13) Worst 'DWTS' season 13 costumes - Season 11
    Adam Larkey / ABC
    Slideshow (19) Worst 'DWTS' season 13 costumes - Season 10
  2. ABC
    Slideshow (27) Worst 'DWTS' season 13 costumes - Season 9

More on TODAY.com

  1. @HillaryClinton/twitter

    Hillary Clinton: Granddaughter led me 'to speed up' political plans

    4/10/2015 3:58:42 PM +00:00 +00:00 2015-04-10T15:58:42
  1. Courtesy Bryan Morseman

    Marathon dad's victories help raise money for son with spina bifida

    4/10/2015 5:54:50 PM +00:00 +00:00 2015-04-10T17:54:50
  1. AP file

    Lauren Hill, inspirational college basketball player, dies

    4/10/2015 1:32:31 PM +00:00 +00:00 2015-04-10T13:32:31
  1. AP file

    Alyssa Milano calls out airport security for confiscating breast milk

    4/10/2015 5:29:18 PM +00:00 +00:00 2015-04-10T17:29:18
  1. YouTube

    8 great celebrity impressions of other celebrities

    4/10/2015 6:44:22 PM +00:00 +00:00 2015-04-10T18:44:22