Well, here we are folks! After ten weeks of battle on the dance floor, just three couples remain. In voice over, Tom promises us a ballroom showdown of epic proportions. Because the producers need to fill a whole 2 hours of show before the big announcement, this show is going to be jam-packed with more filler than a can of Spam. To that end, here are all of our former contestants. It’s been a while, so you might not recognize some of them. Here they are, all back for some face time: Paulina and Alec; Shandi and Brian; Leeza and Tony; Clyde and Elena; Heather and Jonathan; John and Edyta; Billy Ray and Karina and; Ian and Cheryl. Everyone gives a few quick little dance moves before lining up for the camera.
Tom tells us that the response to last night’s show was huge. Tonight the final three will have one final chance to impress the judges. The judges’ scores for tonight’s dance and last night’s performances will count for 50% of the total score. The viewers’ votes will make up the other 50%.
Before we can get started with the very small portion of this show that will not be filler, here’s a recap of last night’s show. If you missed last night’s show, check out MsFroggy’s take on things. For those of you with a short attention span (and really, if that’s the case you won’t get through this recap of a two hour show), here’s the lowdown: Last night the couples performed two numbers: with the first dance, the judges picked the dance style, while the second was the much-anticipated freestyle dance. Laila and Maks performed a Paso Doble that Bruno called a “tidal wave dripping with emotion.” Their freestyle dance was a Michael Jackson-esque routine that failed to wow the judges or me. Apolo and Julianne performed a Rumba that left the judges calling for less speed and more romance and caused Len and Bruno to nearly go WWE over the scores. Their freestyle routine – a hip hop number complete with some break dancing from Apolo - brought in a perfect score and brought down the house. Joey and Kym’s Cha Cha had both fun and flash, but not much “cha cha.” Their disco-flavored freestyle routine to “Last Dance” got a perfect 30. At the end of the show last night, Apolo and Julianne were in the lead with 58 points out of 60. Joey and Kym finished with 56 points and Laila and Maks brought up the rear with 55 points. Tonight, the couples will perform one more dance in an effort to impress the judges.
In the audience tonight are the winners from all three previous seasons: Kelly Monaco, Drew Lachey and Emmitt Smith. We get a shot of all three sitting together and then launch in to a recap of the entire series. Holy crap.
First, the Earth Cooled…
In the beginning, there was a 50-year old British show called Come Ballroom Dancing. That show spawned Strictly Come Dancing, which is the first generation of Dancing with the Stars. We get interviews with season one stars Joey McIntyre, John O’Hurley and controversial winner Kelly Monaco, who admits to initially being embarrassed about doing the show. With season two, we encountered George Hamilton and the clomping performances of Master P. Season two also brought winner Drew Lachey, who says the show changed his life. Drew likens the Dancing with the Stars tour to boy band concerts, only with fewer undergarments being flung at the stage. I’d say the median age of the DWTS audience members is a tad higher than Drew experienced when he was in 98 Degrees. Any undies thrown at Drew while he’s on the tour DWTS this summer might have support hose attached.
Speaking of the Dancing with the Stars summer tour, here’s a performance to show us what we’ll be missing <----see how I just lumped us all together right there? Jonathan and Edyta, Brian and Cheryl, Alec and Karina and Tony and Elena all perform to give us a sample of what to expect from the tour this summer. Can I just say that I’m totally amazed that a tour of ballroom dancing is probably selling out arenas? It’s cool, but I’m still shocked.
Now that we’ve gotten a little intermission, it’s back to the recap of why this show is so freaking great. Dancing with the Stars is now shown – in various incarnations – in 29 countries all over the world including Mumbai, Chile, Germany, Norway and Poland. In the U.S., season 3 of the show was the most dramatic season ever. First, we had the romances of Mario and Karina and Willa and Maks. Then came Sara Evans' divorce problems, which led to her early exit from the show. We also saw Jerry Springer’s loveable side. In the end, it came down to a Mario-Emmitt finale, with Emmitt taking the trophy. Emmitt urges the producers to spend a little more money on that trophy. He also says that this show is now what people know him for. The huge football career? Not so much. All in all, this show has changed the face of ballroom dancing.
The Main Event
Oh yeah, it's the final. I almost forgot. After what seems like an hour and a half, we finally see our final three couples. As the camera pans down the line, we see Joey and Kym, followed by Laila and Maks and then Apolo and Julianne, who look like miniature people in comparison to the others.
Finally, we’re going to get some actual dancing from our finalists! Each couple will be performing a dance of their choosing from earlier in the season. First up are Apolo and Julianne, who mull over their choice in a fake conversation for the camera. They decide on the Paso Doble, which is still great, but just not as good as the first time they performed it. They miss a hand hold and are out of synch a little bit. Still, they receive a standing ovation from the audience and a perfect 30 from the judges. Len tells Apolo that “commitment” is word he'd use to sum him up: he’s always come back stronger from criticism, like a real athlete. Carrie Ann cites the duo’s chemistry and their strength as a team, saying that the Paso Doble shows off Apolo’s ability to master every detail. Bruno says they put a fresh spin on everything they do. Apolo says the experience of being on the show has been transforming. He thanks his fans and friends. Julianne – the youngest dancer on the show – says her first season on Dancing with the Stars has been an amazing opportunity. She feels blessed to have gotten Apolo as a partner. Their final score for the week: 88 out of 90.
Next up are Joey and Kym, who decide on their Star Wars-themed tango, hoping for better scores. I have to admit that, while I’m really not a fan of this routine, I like Joey well enough. This time, Joey’s butt is tucked under and his neck isn't out like a turtle. Still, it lacked a bit of passion. For me, these two are better when they have a fun, flashy number. As if tangoing to the Star Wars theme and waving a light saber around isn't flashy. As they dance, I again hear Bill Murray singing. In the audience, Joey’s daughter clearly loved the dance. She’s even wearing a miniature (and more modest) version of Kym’s costume. Bruno praises the pair, saying they never fail to entertain. Carrie Ann says that Joey is always able to make his mark on routine and always entertains. Len tells Joey that he’s been trained, but not tamed. He sees a rawness in Joey’s dancing. He also likes that Joey always brings his own personality to the dance. The scores? Another perfect 30: a definite improvement over the straight 8’s they got the first time their performed this dance. Joey tells Samantha he now feels more like an athlete and he’s definitely lost weight. They wanted to perform this dance to show how they have improved. The total score for Joey and Kym this week: 86 out of 90.
Laila and Maks are up last. Laila argues against bringing back their Samba, saying she wants to perform a dance that they didn't get perfect scores on. They finally decide on the Mambo. I have no idea how Laila did this time - I couldn't stop watching Maks. When they finish, Laila’s mother beams from the audience. Carrie Ann says she is really proud of Laila, who brings sophistication and elegance every time she comes to the dance floor. Len tells Laila that the judges haven’t always been kind to her, but she comes back stronger every week. Bruno calls Laila an amazing amazon who comes out and knocks down the judges. Laila claims that people now see her in a different: she’s not just a tough boxer now. Their scores: 30…what else. Laila and Maks finish the week with a score of 85 out of 90.
After this final dance, the judges’ leader board for the final week of competition looks like this:
Apolo and Julianne – 88/90
Joey and Kym – 86/90
Laila and Maks – 85/90
More Clips and a Farewell
Before we find out who will be eliminated, we’re treated to a clipfest of family and friends and how they feel about the show. Laila's fiancé Curtis says he was surprised because he'd never seen Laila dance before. Lance Bass, former band-mate of Joey, says that Joey is the last person he ever expected to be a twinkle toes in the ballroom. Apolo’s friend and fellow-Olympian Shani Davis was shocked when he heard about Apolo dancing on the show. We also hear from Joey’s wife, who says she nearly stops breathing every time Joey performs. Other family members admit to nervousness. In short, everyone is proud of their dancers, including Joey’s mom, who is so proud she doesn’t even know what to say. *wipes tear*
It’s time for one couple to be eliminated. After a quick review of this week’s scores, Laila and Maks are eliminated. He looks crushed. She fakes crying. They get a standing ovation from the audience. Tom asks Laila what she will take away from the show. Laila says she had so much fun and loved getting to know all of the other celebs. She praises Maks as a great partner. Of course she’s pissed to have been eliminated. We then get to see Laila’s journey video. In the beginning, Laila thought that Maks had attitude. She says they have developed a brother-sister relationship. Maks thanks Laila for the experience and cites their waltz for Laila’s father as a memorable moment. As for the other competitors, Laila says it doesn’t matter who wins, especially since she didn’t. Well, now we have a full 30 minutes of show left. How on earth will they fill it?
Dancers of Shows Past
Hey, don’t look now but here’s some jumbo-sized filler! The road to this finale began with eleven stars. The first four eliminated couples are back to dance. Paulina and Alec do a little Foxtrot, followed by a Jive from Shandi and Brian. Next up are Leeza and Tony and Clyde and Elena. Then all four couples come together and finish the Clyde and Elena’s Cha Cha together. Clearly, both Paulina and Shandi were eliminated too soon.
Next up are the second four couples who were eliminated from the show. They should be a little more familiar. Heather and Jonathan perform a Mambo. Looks like his chest hair might be on the way back. John and Edyta do a Samba. He’s still not that great a dancer, but he’s so darn cute. Cliff Clavin was never that cute. Billy Ray and Karina do the Cha Cha and I’m totally distracted by Billy Ray’s nasty mullet wig. It’s like watching one of his videos 15 years ago. Ian and Cheryl perform their Elvis-themed Jive sans wig, thank God. The other couples then join Ian and Cheryl onstage to all finish the Jive.
Tonight, Jimmy Kimmel is back for a final time. Jimmy’s segments on the show have become so popular that he’s now trying to profit from the show. To that end, he introduces his new video, Dance Alone at Home with Jimmy. A preview of the video features testimonials from the dancers and from Len, as well as behind the scenes footage. Plus, if we buy now, there’s a special bonus gift: Guillermo’s Moustache Magic. Here with a testimony is facial hair-challenged American Idol also-ran, Clay Aiken. Apparently, Guillermo’s Moustache Magic has improved Clay’s performance. As Clay gives his testimonial, his fake ‘stache attempts to flee his face. It’s probably just as horrified as I am. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Clay on anything and yeah, he’s still….um….theatrical.
Now all of the former contestants are seated in the audience. Tom asks each of them what they won't miss about being on the show. Paulina says she won’t miss being judged. Tom shows his sensitivity by pointing out that she didn’t have to deal with that for very long. Oh, snap! Shandi says she’ll won’t miss the pain in her feet from dancing in heels. Clyde isn’t going to miss the three hour practices and Heather won’t miss Tom (*snicker*). John just says that he wants Tom’s job and Billy Ray takes the opportunity to thank the fans. Because of the popularity of the show, Billy Ray’s album release has been moved up. Ian won’t miss his dancing shoes but is grateful for the fans and the friends he made on the show. Laila is clearly still in shock and can’t answer any questions.
Six of One
In another clip segment, we get a comparison of Joey and Apolo. Joey is the showman who Bruno says surprises them with his creativity and choreography. The audience loves Joey and Kym - they’ve had more standing ovations than any other couple in any season. Apolo is the Olympian and Carrie says that, of all the athletes on the show, he’s become the best technical ballroom dancer. Apolo and Julianne take risks and that makes them stand out. While Joey uses humor and his personality and is at ease in front of the audience, Apolo and Julianne have chemistry. Plus, they’re young and cute, which is always a good thing. Again, there’s no way to know who will win. So, that was productive.
Again, it’s still not time for the big announcement. In the audience, the previous winners get a little more face time. Kelly says it’s incredible to be back and that the energy in the room is unbelievable. Drew gives some advice to the finalists, telling them to enjoy the whirlwind. Emmitt claims that being on the show turned his life inside out. Forget all of his football achievements: to America, he’s become a ballroom dancer.
The Whole Enchilada
The announcement is almost here! First, we have a few more video segments to slog through. Here’s a look back at Apolo and Julianne’s journey. In the beginning, Julianne didn’t think they’d get very far. She cites their Samba as the turning point. Apolo says Julianne is a great dance partner and a great friend. Julianne thanks Apolo for being her partner. She says that now, he’s a dancer.
In Joey’s journey video Kym says she knew right away that Joey would be fun and he was….even if she wanted to hit him sometimes. Kym says she’s going to miss dancing with Joey, but she’s definitely gained a friend, Joey says it’s been an amazing journey (drink!) and one of the best things he’s ever done in his life.
Finally, the moment is here. After a 20 minute silence that is just cruel, Tom announces that Apolo and Julianne are the winners! Apolo picks up Julianne and swings her around. Joey and Kym clap politely. Apolo says the win feels amazing and that it shows if you give 100%, anything is possible. He then thanks Julianne who says she is so proud of Apolo. Samantha congratulates Joey and Kym. Joey says he’ll take away the ability he’s gained. He congratulates Apolo and thanks Kym, who says that Joey has been the best partner.
As the show closes, all of the contestants gather around the winners, who now hold the cheesy mirror ball trophy (Emmitt is right – they really should upgrade that thing). With that, another season of Dancing with the Stars comes to a close. The show will be back next season with more awkward, uncoordinated b-list celebrities and odd musical choices. Until then, So You Think You Can Dance will be here to satisfy your cravings for TV dance shows.
Who are your cast choices for next seasons “celebrities?” PM me with your list!