Week ten - THE FINALS:
The final three had THREE challenges: First, they got to recreate their favorite dance of the season. Second was the ever-popular Freestyle, with a twist: it was Super-Sized, meaning that they could add as many other dancers, tricks, props, etc., as they wanted. Third, on the Results Show, they got an "Instant Dance": one that was chosen - style AND song - at the beginning of the episode, with only about an hour to rehearse. Of course, at the end, a Champion of Champions was crowned.
Shawn Johnson decided to redo her popular - and rule-breaking - Quickstep from Week 3 (itself, a redo of an "iconic" dance by Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough). I was thoroughly disappointed that they decided to thumb their noses at the judges and the rules by breaking the self-same rules they broke - and got called out on - the first time. Yes, the dance was spectacular. Yes, when they were "in hold" they were unbeatable. It was just a shame that they decided to go that route. That is what the Freestyle is for. I thought better of them. The judges' scores showed their displeasure (although Bruno was lenient).
Her Super-Sized Freestyle was a twist-and-a-half! When I heard that the "Fierce Five" (the US Women's Olympic Gymnastics Team) was joining them, I thought, "Oh, great. She's going to do a lot of tricks and flips and not a lot of dancing." Instead, Derek got the Fierce Five dancing as well! There were a few flips and such - and an unbelievable move where Shawn stood on Derek's shoulders, then he slowly l-e-e-e-a-n-e-d forward, and they BOTH went into a forward roll - but mostly dancing, including adding bits and elements from previous dances, including last week's Bhangra! A well-deserved perfect 30.
She ended up choosing the Cha-Cha-Cha to "Respect" for her Instant Dance, and positively nailed it. It was easily the best of the Instant Dances of the evening. Another 30.
Kelly Monaco redid her Week 3 Iconic (Laila Ali & Maks) Paso Doble. She definitely improved upon it, including some spins that were sheer perfection. At one point she missed Val's hand, but if you didn't know, well, you wouldn't know. She just kept going, not missing a beat. The only judge to take issue with it was Carrie Ann, who docked her 0.5 points, making her just miss a Perfect 30 (but netting her first 10s of the season).
Kelly somewhat disappointed with her "Dirty Dancing" Super-Sized Freestyle, adding Troupe Members and a full Church Choir, but basically just recreating the final dance from the movie (although Len was the only one to complain with a 9.5 paddle). The one thing I'll give it was that Kelly and Val - I'm sorry, there is simply no other way to say it - were having the time of their lives. Again, just missing a Perfect 30.
Drawing a Jive to "Cat and Mouse" for her Instant Dance, once again Kelly looked more like she was just having fun, which is not necessarily a bad thing. She slipped a few times, and you could tell that she suffered from the lack of rehearsal time, but made the best of it. It was the most relaxed and happy I think I'd ever seen her.
Melissa Rycroft continued the trend of choosing the Week 3 Iconic Dance - her JR Martinez & Karina Smirnoff Samba - for her redo. She was even better this time around; she was simply amazing, and got yet another Perfect 30.
I personally thought, at first, that slowing things down for her Super-Sized Freestyle, might have been a mistake. I remembered Erin Andrews did a similar tactic in Season 10 and got slammed. She also kept it simple by only adding a few trapeze artists in the background. However, her Contemporary-style-inspired freestyle was truly a thing of beauty. It was poetic, athletic, emotional, and completely amazing. Another Perfect 30.
She drew the Samba (again!) to "Life is a Highway", but since the song was a completely different tempo than "Conga" the night before, she seemed reigned in and just a touch awkward. Thus ended her streak of Perfect 30s.
As is usual for the FINALS, all of the previous Stars came back to dance. In order of elimination (as the show put them in no particular order):
Pamela Anderson danced a "freestyle" - if you can call it that - that was a huge disappointment from what I remember her from Season 10. Tom Bergeron made the not-to-far-off-the-mark comment along the lines of "Usually to see something like that you need a two-drink minimum."
Joey Fatone added a real fun twist to his dance. He started with a "trip in a time-traveling DeLorean" to meet his childhood self to warn him that "Boy bands ARE cool; easy on the french fries; and start working on your Cha-Cha-Cha NOW!" Then he and Kym stepped out of the DeLorean and danced to "Back In time" (from "Back To the Future"), only to be joined by his "younger self" and a "younger Kym": two fantastic child dancers in a fun and energetic Cha-Cha-Cha!
Drew Lachey and Anna danced a rather athletic Cha-Cha-Cha, and were joined by Drew's young daughter, Isabelle, who totally stole the show. She was SO cute, loved dancing with her Daddy, and seemed perfectly comfortable on the stage. Definitely a memorable moment.
Helio Castroneves redid his Quickstep from Week 3 (yes, the Icon Week, redoing Apolo & Julianne's). As usual, he was as much fun to watch as he seemed to be having himself.
Bristol Palin redid her Week 1 Cha-Cha-Cha, and seemed 10 times better (except she can't walk in rhythm...minor nit, as it was only at the beginning of the dance). She seemed more confident, better rhythm (walk notwithstanding), more control, and seemed to have more fun.
Sabrina Bryan redid her Country Week 6 Rumba. While it was beautiful, and she seemed to dance it with more abandon, I kind of wish she had redone her Week 5 Guilty Pleasure "Cinderella" dance. I wasn't too disappointed, tho.
Kirstie Alley decided to redo her Week 1 - from Season 12! - Cha-Cha-Cha! You could tell her personal improvements, her dancing improvements, and added a little twist that I am NOT going to type, but it was cute.
Gilles Marini redid his Week 4 Bollywood dance, and completely nailed it. It was just as much fun as the first time around.
I was so happy that Apolo Anton Ono decided on his Country Week 6 "Skin" Viennese Waltz! It was just as beautiful, and maybe even more so, than the first time.
Emmitt Smith went with is Week 1 Cha-Cha-Cha, which seemed the most characteristic for him.
There were some other bits of fun and fancy, including the Final 3's final rehearsals (Melissa and Tony "stole" some of their photos) and some outtakes from interview sections. Unfortunately, they decided to throw in a "Dance Center" covering all of the dancers. It was, as usual, terrible.
Of the three, the first one called out, to finish in third, was Kelly. She seemed happy and somewhat relieved. The best way to describe it was not "resigned", but "content" with her finish. Very classy. I won't bore with the "are they or aren't they" bit.
That brought it down to two. Reflecting the fact that neither Melissa nor Tony had ever won a Mirror Ball, before announcing the name, Tom Bergeron stated, "Now they have one, too," before calling the All-Star Champion...Melissa Rycroft!