Dancing With The Stars: Season Finale
(S04E19) After ten weeks, nineteen episodes, and an uncountable number of teases about results coming after the break, it all came down to tonight. As we have come to expect from the finale, ABC pulled out all the stops, bringing back all of the contestants, the pros, and the past champions. Also expected, they allotted an hour more airtime than they really needed, which led to a night that was heavy with pre-taped packages.
One of those got the ball rolling as Tom took us on a trip down memory lane for a look at the history of the show. I think most of that was known to fans, and I'm not sure that anyone that didn't know really cared. It was interesting to see Kelly Monaco, Drew Lachey, and some of the other past contestants, but they were going to be coming up on the live show anyway. I could have gone for scrapping this one, or any of a number of other taped segments, and adding in another pro performance or two.
The lone pro performance of the night followed that up, and it was a welcome change. I'm glad that they got their moment to shine in the finale. Too often the attention gets focused just on the celebrities. I'm guilty of doing that myself. It's important to acknowledge just how big a part of the show all of the pros are, and how great they are at what they do.
Then it was performance time, the so-called third judges dance. I could have done without all the theatrics. The judges completely took themselves out of the equation by giving everyone the same score because the results had already been established. Do you think that they did that whole segment comparing Joey & Apolo just in case the two of them were the final two? They should have just called it an encore performance and been done with it. Pretending that the third dance was actually going to have an effect on the outcome wasn't going to make a difference in viewership.
Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough (Pasa Doble) - This was the dance I would have picked for Apolo & Julianne. Going with something that already earned them a perfect 30 was a safe choice, and it was one of my favorite numbers of the entire season, and it was just as good the third time around. A little better even since Julianne was able to correct the one small mistake she made when they originally performed it. Len praised Apolo for his commitment to the show, and that is a very good point. From early on it was clear that he was working very hard. He added that there wasn't one step he could fault. Carrie Ann was pleased with their chemistry. Bruno thought the thing that encapsulates them is the elixir or youth. Score: 30 (10, 10, 10) I think we all saw that one coming.
Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson (Tango) - Choosing a different path, Joey and Kym decided to go with their Star Wars themed tango. Interesting, because it wasn't one of their perfect 30 performances. It's a really good number and they performed it well. Joey's ballroom form has improved, and his ability to entertain is as good as ever. Bruno called Joey a method dancer. Carrie Ann made a point of how Joey puts his mark on every dance. Len said that Joey has been trained, but he's never been tamed. He also liked that they chose a dance that they got an 8 on. Score:30 (10, 10, 10) Joey's daughter in her own little Leia costume was very cute as well.
Laila Ali and Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Mambo) - They also chose to go with a performance that they didn't get a perfect score on. The mambo was an excellent choice. It's a fun dance, and it really plays to Laila's strengths. There is a lot of good choreography to showcase her. Carie Ann was proud of Laila, and said she always brings sophistication. Len liked that she bounced back from some criticism the night before. Bruno thought she did a great job. Score: 30 (10, 10, 10) A nice way for Laila to finish up her season.
After all the dancing was done, that left the judges scores at:
Apolo & Julianne - 88
Joey & Kym - 86
Laila & Maksim - 85
After a segment with the friends and families of the contestants, it was finally time to get to the first of the results. As many suspected, Laila & Maksim finished in third place. I'm sure it was a disappointment, having come so far. But that is still a very nice accomplishment and Laila has a lot to be proud of. She represented herself well in this competition. In the end, Joey and Apolo were just a step ahead of her in the dancing.
All of the eliminated couples came back out for one final, albeit short, turn on the dance floor. It was nice to see everyone one last time, and it left me wondering what would have happened if Shandi could have made it a couple more weeks into the competition. Hers was probably the elimination I disagreed with the most this season.
That led us to one last segment with Jimmy and Guillermo. I haven't been much of a fan of these bits as the season has moved along, but they did finish on a high note. The cut to Len where he said "I'm British, you know?" and the surprise appearance of Clay Aiken were both very funny.
Tom got in on the comedy as he interviewed each of the eliminated celebrities one last time. When Paulina remarked that she didn't like being judged he said, "Lucky for you it didn't last very long." And when Clyde tried to make a joke about the "three hour practices," Tom topped it by asking if that was per week. Nicely done. That led to two more taped bits, one comparing Joey the Entertainer and Apolo the Olympian. The other looking back at the journey the two of them have been on. They were ok, but most of it felt like things we have seen before.
Finally, it was time to get down to the big announcement. After ten weeks, the new champions of Dancing With The Stars are Apolo and Julianne! I was very happy to see them win. You can certainly make a case for either Apolo or Joey. They both did exceptionally well throughout the season. What tipped me in favor of Apolo was Julianne. She impressed me over and over again this season both with her choreography, and the grace and maturity with which she carries herself. It was a very impressive debut.
All things considered, it was another very good season of the show, and I think the voters got it right in the end. I'd give the season as a whole a 6, because I think they have the formula working just right at this point. This episode in particular though, suffered from far too many filler segments. It would have been a great hour of television, but was just a good two hours. So I am giving this final episode a 5, out of 7.