So what did you watch tonight? Survivor? The Olympics? A compilation of Stan Brakhage films? Your life slowly slipping away? Or, mayhaps, the two hour penultimate episode of DANCING WITH THE STARS? If your answer is that you watched one hour of something else then flipped over to DWTS in the last hour, then let me reassure you, you didn’t miss a thing, unless you are a fan of endless reiterations of clips you’ve already seen over and over again. They didn’t even have a musical guest my mom could swoon over to fill the extra hour! What, was Paul Anka washing his hair tonight? (No, I suspect he might have been watching the Ladies’ Figure Skating Finals…)
DWTS in a Nutshell
If Stephen Hawking could write a Brief History of the origins of the entire frickin’ universe, why can’t ABC just sum up one season of a dance competition with any brevity? Because they’re greedy ratings-grubbing bastards, and they think they can get away with it.
Let me save you some valuable time that you could be spending doing far more productive things like doing your taxes, finding a cure for cancer, clipping your toenails, volunteering for your church, or surfing for porn on the internet. Here is all you really need to know about the first hour of the DWTS Final…
It’s down to three “Star” contenders: boy band refugee Drew, “The Rocket Man” (does Bruno get money from his old friend Elton John whenever he says this, because he repeatedly refers to Drew as this) and his exuberant partner, Latin Dance Champion Cheryl Burke; football icon Jerry Rice, “The Competitor,” and his partner, another Latin Champ Anna Trebunskaya; and last but not least (especially when it comes to the leg department) wrestling babe Stacy Keibler and her pro partner, Tony Dovolani.
On tonight’s episode these three will perform two dances. The first will be their favorite of all their past dances of the past competition; the second, a no-holds-barred, no-rules, freestyle fight to the finish in a gigantic cage supplied with various weapons—the only way you get out alive is if you win!!! No, I’m sorry, they must dance, a freestyle dance. I always confuse dancing with cage matches. They will also dance one final time at Sunday’s finale.
All three dances will be scored by the judges, which will later be combined 50/50 with the call-in votes to comprise the overall total which determines the winner. This is (or rather, by the time you read this, was) the final night of audience voting, making tonight the last chance for the viewers’ voice to be heard. In the event of a score tie on Sunday, the winner will be determined by the audience’s vote.
The hour continues with the requisite, long looks back at each of the dancers’ “journeys,” padded by replays of professional routines—very lengthy replays of the pro routines, I might add, that answer such age old riddles as What is even more insufferable than having to hear Celine Dion sing “My Heart Will Go On” one more time? Hearing a far less competent singer’s voice crack during the high notes of the Titanic theme, that’s what!
Also, we are treated again to the anodyne musical stylings of special guest performers whose repertoires are available in elevators and shopping malls everywhere. Oh and Whatserface, the co-hostess, does the jive with Jonathan Roberts to “Delirious” which describes how I feel after only 40 minutes of watching this.
It’s not until nearly a full hour later that we finally see our stalwart competitors come onstage, decked out in their fancy-schmancy, glitterific dance regalia. The camera starts off with a shot of statuesque couple Stacy & Tony before ducking down about a foot to relatively Lilliputian duo Drew & Cheryl. It splits the difference with Jerry & Anna.
Is it time to dance? Oh you didn’t think it would be that easy would you? The Berge (as I like to call him) takes a moment to acknowledge their band, singers (which one of you was responsible for that damn Titanic theme?!!) and musical director, Harold Whaler. I would slap him silly for how ridiculously dreadful the music has been, except he looks like such a nice man. Now finally, on to what we're really here for: the dances!
Jerry & Anna’s 1st Dance: Working Stiff
Now it’s almost time to dance, starting with Jerry, except there are still some more time wastin’ clips of him and his wife at a Finals party in San Francisco, and practicing with Anna (we get it already, we know it’s hard work). Speaking of time wasters, Jerry & Anna’s foxtrot wastes a good amount of time at the beginning with Anna doing fancy footwork around Jerry while he sits on the stage. Yup, she’s literally dancing circles around Jerry.
While that’s a clever ploy to put off having to see Jerry dance for a few seconds, it can’t last forever. He has to get up and dance sometime, and when he does, it’s like watching a marionette on a taut string. While his face seems to indicate he is having fun and is more relaxed, and he shows a little more flair, the man still dances as straight and rigid as a street mime that got a gigantic baguette shoved his butt. Clearly, I’m running out of ways to say this man is stiff as a board; but just as clearly, he keeps giving me reason to say so.
My favorite part of the dance is at the end, when Anna slinks around Jerry’s ankle like a cat. Talk about feline grace! For all his faults, it’s a still a fun number to watch; and the judges are really kind. Perhaps trying to avoid sympathy vote backlash, the judges, even Len, lavish praise on him for being “elegant” and showing ”the joy of dancing.” Bruno is the only one to say Jerry’s performance seems to lack a bit of “drive,” which causes Len to call Bruno, “judgmental.” Har har, the irony. Jerry & Anna get 9’s from everyone but Bruno, who gives them an 8, for a 26 out of a possible 30.
Stacy & Tony’s 1st Dance: Girl on Trampoline
Stacy’s time wastin’ clip involves her and a trampoline. Sorry, she’s not decked out in a cheerleading costume, a bikini, or just body glitter and pasties—this is legitimate training folks! Tony says that in order to ease her fears during the lifts, he decided to bring her to a friend/aerial artist trainer to help her get comfortable with being in the air. Oh, I’m sure it had nothing to do with just wanting to see Stacy bouncing around on a trampoline. Next step: they get her on a trapeze to increase her “air awareness.” Tony says this experience gave her the confidence to tackle the jive again.
Stacy & Tony dance their kicky little jive to “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.” They are like to happy little trottin’ horses the whole time. If you’re a leg man before watching this number, you are now. Hell, I’m a leg man now, especially after Stacy’s impressive split. You could get a groin injury just watching her do the splits! Woops, that came out sounding wrong.
The male vocalist shatters my eardrums when he gets to the lyric “I want to hit that high.” Too bad he can’t, he misses that high note; in fact, he misses the whole key completely. Did they hire professional singers for this show, or American Idol audition rejects? So what about Stacy, did she hit her “high”? Oddly after all that talk about air awareness, they don’t do a single lift. Perhaps, we’ll have to wait for the freestyle.
The judges are pleased. Bruno, in his Eetalian accent, gushes that she is now the “All American Peenup Girl!” The Berge vocalizes the question I have in my head: “A Pinup Girl or a Peanut Girl?” They get a perfect score for their perfect jive (again!).
Drew & Cheryl’s 1st Dance: Filler ‘n’ Thriller
Time for Drew & Cheryl to dance? Oh but wait, there’s more! Filler, that is…Cheryl (garbed in a comical “Drew Crew” tank top) thinks Drew’s taking her to the Saddle Ranch, a western-themed nightclub on Sunset that is notorious for its mechanical bull, to practice their paso doble. Not so…It’s a surprise party! Drew’s family and friends are all there (those who can’t make it send in their support via video), including his extremely pregnant wife. Awww, it truly is such an incredibly sweet moment. What…is…wrong with me? Am…starting…to enjoy show! Losing…cynical perspective!!! [SFG sputters and passes out]
They do their popular paso doble to Wacko Jacko’s “Thriller” and yes, it is. It’s absolutely thrilling to watch. Their dance is as fiery as the scarlet of the lining as Drew’s crazy satin cape. Bruno says Drew has become a convincing leading man and has “finally achieved greatness.” Len deems him the best male dancer, and Cheryl the best female dancer, he’s seen in five series.
Drew & Cheryl look elated, as do audience members Nick, who came out to support his bro, and his wife, who appears as if she’s about to drop her kid any second. I hope they have towels and hot water backstage!
Last time they did their paso doble it gota decent score of 28. Can they surpass that tonight? Indeed they do, garnering the second perfect score of the night. Drew has one of his crazy screaming fits backstage. I wonder if he’s like this for every huge event in his life: first time he and his bro got their recording contract, Wooooo!!!; first 98 Degrees concert, Wooooo!!!; first time he learned wifey was preggers, Wooooo!!! I wonder if his wife has gone deaf at this point?
Jerry & Anna’s 2nd Dance: Rice Afro-ni, The San Francisco Treat
Finally, it’s freestyle time for Jerry & Anna. They appear onstage with crizazzy Afro wigs and 70’s leisure suits that look so authentic, I wonder if a wormhole opened up and we have all been transported into a vintage episode of “Soul Train.” They trip the lights fantastic to “Celebration,” and Jerry actually seems to let his funky side out—which, let’s face it, is almost impossible not to do when a Kool & the Gang song comes on.
They are finally able to use Jerry’s athleticism to their advantage, with a number of good lifts and moves where he yanks Anna around the stage. Though Jerry still doesn’t seem in quite the same league as his star dancer competitors, I can actually say I had fun watching this. Groovy, Baby!
Bruno steals my joke when he describes them as looking like “Shaft and Jackie Brown.” The judges are generous, saying he exceeded their expectations, and praising, in particular, the lifts.
Backstage, Jerry has an Iceberg Slim moment when he tells Anna, “Hold up, Baby…Daddy’s talking right now.” There are method actors, maybe Jerry’s a method dancer? Anyway you slice it, he’s pimpin’ after that number fo’ sho. They get three scores of 9, giving them 27 out of the possible 30.
Stacy & Tony’s 2nd Dance: (Just Barely) Stayin’ Alive
For their freestyle dance, Stacy & Tony also do a disco number. From the second Tony steps out in his white suit, you know what’s coming. [i]Ah ha ha ha…Stayin’ Alive! Stayin’ Alive!” Oh yes, they’ve got the Saturday Night Fever, a fever whose symptoms include shaking, shimmying, line dancing, thumb dancing (to make Elaine from “Seinfeld” proud), and a severe, chronic case index o' finger pointing.
Stacy looks gorgeous (as always) in a flowing sexy turquoise dress, she and Tony seem technically fine, and they even manage to get those lifts in finally. Stacy’s leg lift at the end is especially impressive. But the performance is ultimately underwhelming. Honestly, it’s nothing I haven’t seen done better at a Brooklyn wedding reception.
The judges actually feel the same. Carrie Ann was “a little disappointed,” as she expected more from Stacy, precisely because she is the best natural dancer of this cast. Len and Bruno agree that they expected far more from Stacy’s freestyle than she and Tony were able to deliver. Stacy looks extremely deflated at the judge’s criticism. Carrie Ann gives them an 8, Len and Bruno 9’s each; their total for the freestyle: 26.
Drew & Cheryl’s 2nd Dance: No Cowboys Were Harmed in the Dancing of This Freestyle
The final performance of the night comes from denim and diamond-bedecked Drew & Cheryl. Instead of disco, they change it up with a rootin’ tootin’ boot scoot to “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy,” which opens explosively with Drew leaping over Cheryl’s head and doing the boy band floor slide on his knees. That’s not the only fancy footwork: there are lifts, and flips, and spur-spinning kicks.
In what I think is clearly the most energetic and enjoyable performance of the night, Drew & Cheryl really set themselves apart from their competitors by the sheer joyfulness of their performance. That was a truly show-stopping number.
Len declares it “everything freestyle should be.” Bruno, who’s making the best okes of the night, says Drew is “ready for the lead in Brokeback Mountain: The Musical.” Sadly, I live on the tape-delayed West Coast, and so I never actually got to see the reaction shot. Instead, they cut away to the judges and Drew’s bro and wife laughing, so I wonder if Cheryl wasn’t joking, and she really did his pull his pants off for a number, causing a peanut-shelled wardrobe malfunction that I’ll never get to see. (From what I’ve read, he takes a cowboy hat and uses it to cover his hiney—how this is too offensive for television viewers, unless Cheryl started humping him from behind or something like that, I have no idea.)
Drew & Cheryl need at least 27 to nab the top spot. Even with all their compliments, will the judges come through on the points? You bet your Wrangler Jeaned ass they do—in spades. It’s 10s all around from the judges, giving Drew & Cheryl two perfect scores in one night.
I Wish I Knew How to Quit Drew
Backstage, Drew tells the audience to vote for whomever they want, encouraging that if they want to vote for Jerry, vote for Jerry, or if they like Stacy, vote for Stacy. He adds, however, if you want to vote for him, just vote for him more. This prompts Jerry to playfully wrestle with Drew in mock anger—hey, I think I just found the second guy to cast for Brokeback Mountain: The Musical!
The ending total scores for tonight’s dances are: Drew & Cheryl on top with 60, followed by Stacy & Tony with 56, and Jerry & Anna last with 53. That’s it for tonight. Tune in Sunday 8pm Eastern and Pacific/7pm Central to see the return of all the other eliminated competitors, one more dance which the judges will score—and of course to find out the voting results and see who will be the new champions of DANCINGS WITH THE STARS.
And please, remember, the grand finale is on Sunday, not Friday. Tune in on Friday, and you’ll be stuck watching two hours of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Now that’s a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
I actually got off my ass and voted for Cheryl & Drew: