Dancing With The Stars

Dancing WIth the Stars–The Finals! (May 20)

Finals Week, people! It’s been a long journey to get here, a long journey involving a unicycle, food poisoning, deafness, spray tan, butt pads, showmance, a ruptured tendon, freaky dancing kids, and Def Leppard. You know, what Joseph Campbell would call the classic hero’s journey.

Hey, did you know this is the shortest episode of the season? I’m going to bed on time this week!

Tom Bergeron narrates with some serious gravity this week. He calls this week’s routines “do or die”, and based on the footage of Jason Taylor swinging Edyta around like she’s a villain in Final Fight, that might not be hyperbole. This season, they’re facing off in a cha-cha competition. You know, people rarely use “facing off” and “cha-cha” in the same sentence. I kind of like it. Hey, Tom Bergeron! What’s the… Ah, I can’t come up with a clever lead-in. Just hit it! Liiiiiiiiiiiive!

In the opening montage of all the couples, I like the way Anna just appears behind Steve Guttenberg. It’s like she’s some sort of magical trickster imp.

I like Samantha’s hair tonight. It’s full of bounce. I don’t know what it is about Samantha Harris that compels me to notice her hair and outfit every week. Usually, I’m just happy looking at pretty people.

A quick pan across the audience reveals Jane Seymour, Sabrina Bryan, Mel B., Marissa, Tony, and Marlee. Mel’s husband has to sit behind her. Front row’s for competitors only, bro! When all three couples are introduced, it’s amusing to note that in a group of six people who have made it to the finals in a dance competition, no two of them are clapping in sync.

Tom tosses out some stats, which appeals to the number cruncher in me. 2,857 combined hours of training. Wow. I feel like Guttenberg probably put in 500 of those hours himself, and he was the third one out. 89 competitive routines. 2,125 judge’s points. Several gallons of spray tan (“mostly on Edyta”, says Tom). Three trips to the emergency room. Well, at least the “dead parent” counter is two under last season’s record. (Too soon?)

First off, it’s the cha-cha competition. They will all perform to the same song, and each star picks a mirrorball out of a hat to determine the order. Cristian and Cheryl pick first, which they’re happy about. Jason and Edyta get second, and Jason’s happy because he can “see where the bar is set, but not have to follow Kristi.” That means Kristi and Mark are third, which she is happy about. Everybody is thrilled with their placement. If this were Top Chef, somebody would have punched a locker in anger by now.

Cristian is wearing a huge brace. I think he’s going to be airlifted to the hospital as soon as the show’s over. He practices a move where he slides between Cheryl’s legs, and he keeps knocking her over. At one point, he slides kind of like Charlie Brown, where he’s flat on his back with no momentum. Good Grief.

Jason reminds us that he got three 8’s on the cha-cha, and this is his last chance to overcome his awkwardness. I kind of thought he’d managed that, what with all the 10’s and making it to the finals. Clearly, I don’t have the heart of a champion.

Mark makes fun of the hatchet face Kristi makes during practice. She’s worried because the guys are charismatic. Hey, lady. This ain’t a popularity contest. This is… well, it kind of is a popularity contest. Good point.

Next they have a group rehearsal, and everybody is just so impressed with what the others are doing. Jason and Cristian are particularly vocal in their admiration. I hope they do a buddy cop movie together. They’re both awed by Kristi, and it turns out her routine is only half-finished. Cristian busts them on trying to see what her competitors are doing before they finish the choreography, and that could actually be kind of a legitimate complaint except that all six people in the room are kind of awesome, and they all laugh about it.

And now all three couples dance to the same song! Boy, I bet it’s a great song, perfectly suited to the cha-cha. Or, no, I guess it’s “Dancing on the Ceiling”. The hell? OK, I’ll go with it. First it’s Cristian and Cheryl, clad in pinkish purple. I’m sure this color has a name that I could identify if I weren’t a dude. Once again, that arm is not holding Cristian back. He leads with some jumping and sliding, which is always cool. The rest is solid – not a lot of fireworks, but I can’t really see any missteps. Great energy and performance level. At the end, Cristian takes off on a run, only he’s still leading Cheryl, so she’s running backwards really fast and then he slides on his knees, holding her up with his good arm. That’s a cool move.

Jason and Edyta follow immediately, and it seems to me that his free arm has gone back to being all pose-y. He needs his arms to be doing things, or they just get weird. Some of his body movements are a little goony, but the footwork seems dead on. There’s a really nice bit where he vaults over Edyta and then slides backward through her legs. For the rest of the dance, his posing is much better. At the end, there’s this move which seems to involve inverting Edyta by folding her in half and then unfolding her, and I don’t know how her body did that. It’s sort of like how Grandpa Simpson can pull off his underwear from the back.

And now it’s Kristi and Mark, and Kristi, in her crazy fringe-y one-piece (basically, it’s a three-tiered dress of black, grey and white–like if the Shaggy DA just blew up all over her–Myndi), leads off by running to the judge’s table and kissing Bruno on the mouth. Hee. Bruno looks a little shocked, actually. The camera sort of loses her after that, because we’re stuck with Mark for quite a while. Perhaps she worked her way down the table, and ABC spared us the sight. When she comes back, she’s absolutely beaming, which is cute. As usual, her footwork is basically perfect. She pulls of some really nice spins, and there’s a bit where Mark is kind of standing still and she’s just rocking it. At the end, everybody takes the stage and Jason and Cristian lift up Kristi. Like, really high. She’s seven feet in the air, basically. Man, I like all of these people so much!

Over at the Judge’s table, Len says it really got him going, and he loved everybody. He says Cristian has “all the gear at the rear”. Guys, do I just not know slang, or do the judges say really weird things on this show? Len thinks Jason would have been better served by a foxtrot, which is largely true. And he says Kristi is the complete package. Bruno calls it “the threesome of the season”. Ease up, big guy. We’re not on Big Brother, here. He appreciates Cristian’s steady improvement in his banging. Yes, that’s what he said. He loved Jason, but thinks he timing could have been better. Finally, Kristi is perfect. Now we get to Carrie Ann. If she doesn’t cry tonight, she will tomorrow. Cristian was fantastic, but clipped. She damns Jason with faint praise, pointing out his awkward arm. And Kristi is Dancing Jesus. She doesn’t actually use that phrase, but she should.

Scoring time:

Cristian and Cheryl: 8-9-9 Total: 26

Jason and Edyta: 8-8-8 Total: 24

Kristi and Mark: 10-10-10 Total: 30

After some more commercials, we’re headed for the Freestyle Round. I love Freestyle Round. It’s like Christmas, Hanukkah, and Non-Denominational Gift-Giving Day all rolled into one! But first, Tom introduces the new Bachelorette in the audience. Ah, corporate synergy. I like the way Tom claims we “might recognize her” from a previous season of The Bachelor. I watched that season and I couldn’t pick a single person who appeared there out of a line-up. Maybe Chris Harrison, but that’s it.

The first freestyle goes to Kristi and Mark. We find out that Mark dislocated his shoulder in the finale last season. Man, these people are held together with duct tape. He says the timing of the lifts is vital, so he doesn’t do it again. They practice having Kristi boost him into the air so he can do a backflip. That seems risky. When you need to move a couch, you don’t call Kristi Yamaguchi. He falls over and over again. This worries me. Julianne Hough shows up to demonstrate how to do lifts, and she nails it. I love how she keeps talking while he’s swinging her upside down and flipping her through the air.

OK, the dance starts with Kristi in her pajamas and Mark wearing boxer shorts and a robe. Where are we headed here? They pull off their sleepwear to reveal sparkly outfits. Kind of neat, but not a great gimmick if they abandon it in the first two seconds of the performance. It’s sort of a hip-hop jive, if that makes sense. At one point, he seems to be strumming Kristi’s rear, which is weird. He lifts her onto his non-dislocated shoulder (his located shoulder?) and then she does the splits upside down while he spins her around. Then, she jumps up and he turns her cartwheel-style in the air. The footwork is fun and goofy, and there’s a little bit of a Hammer dance to it. (Which would totally be my freestyle if I made it to the finals.) They do the Boost of Death, and Mark completes his backflip, though with considerably less altitude to spare than he’d like. There’s another spinning lift, some breakdancing moves, and then he lifts her over his shoulder and she slides down his back. All in all, it’s really good. It doesn’t have any of those moves people will remember for years (like the freestyles of Kelly Monaco and Drew Lachey), but it’s really nicely done and a lot of fun to watch.

Bruno calls it a fusion of mambo and hip-hop, so I was close. He loved it and says they didn’t miss a beat. Carrie Ann says the men have an easier time as crowd-pleasers, but that’s not the case tonight. She calls Kristi the big crowd-pleaser, which would be a better compliment if the men had already danced at this point. Carrie Ann so wants to be Paula Abdul… Len leads by reminding us for the thousandth time that he doesn’t care for hip-hop, but he loved it. Bruno freaks out, and he does something where he’s half-hugging Len and half-humping his leg. You know, those two guys sometimes do four shows a week together, on two continents. They’re judges on the British version as well, so when the seasons coincide, they fly across the Atlantic twice a week and do four live shows together. It’s no wonder they get a little punchy when the Finals come around.

Backstage, Samantha asks Kristi how much she wants to win. The answer is “very much”. Man, Samantha saves her A-material for the Finals, doesn’t she?

Scores: Carrie Ann-10, Len-10, Bruno-10 Total: 30

Nobody was surprised by that, were they? Just checking.

We see Jason and Edyta in rehearsal, and she tells us that she’s really excited to make it to the finals after six seasons. They practice some lifts, and Jason drops her. Then he drops her again. Damn, poor Edyta. Jason’s adorable kids show up and immediately start jumping on the mat. Awww. His wife stops by to give him some encouragement, and for some reason, I’m surprised that she’s hot. Why would I think Jason Taylor was married to some sort of troll?

Jason’s wearing a white beach suit (and holding a giant inflatable ball) and Edyta is wearing a sundress, complete with hat. Isn’t it weird that she looks overdressed in a sundress? Oh, never mind. Jason pulls off the sundress and now she’s wearing a bikini top and a skirt that only theoretically covers her modesty. Their song is “Miami”, which, sadly, is not the Randy Newman version. Again, it’s kind of hip-hop, and Jason busts out some full-on breakdancing. He lifts Edyta and spins her over his head. It’s really funny, because some of the moves are things that I associate with, like, Fly Girls, and Jason’s just totally committed. It’s hard to describe, because the moves are kind of crazy. I think they’re playing leapfrog at one point. After the longest lift I have ever seen on this show, Edyta rips his shirt off, and the crowd goes wild. The Bachelorette approves. It’s not nearly as precise as Kristi’s, but once again, it’s really fun to watch. I liked this one a lot.

Bruno’s going insane at the judge’s table. He’s sort of dancing and sort of hooting like he’s in a strip club. That is one weird guy. Carrie Ann is happy to see Edyta in the finals, and she liked that Jason got funky. Len enjoyed the humor and lifts and wants to go to the beach with Jason so they can wear thongs. Bruno loved looking at them because they’re both pretty.

Backstage, Samantha asks why he wants to win. Jason takes the opportunity to talk about how much he’s enjoyed the season, but she cuts him off. Nice.

Scores: Carrie Ann-9, Len-9, Bruno-9 Total: 27

Commercials. The Mole is back! Awesome! Now if we can just get another season of Shaq’s Big Challenge, it will be the best summer ever. (Come on Shaq, there are fat kids in Phoenix, too! I saw them!)

Finally, we have Cristian and Cheryl. Cristian says the freestyle can “make your or break you”, but he’s already broken. Do you guys want to chip in and send him flowers for his surgery? I’m really worried about him. Cheryl drops him, then we see him lifting Cheryl with his one arm. There’s some cool footage of him twirling Cheryl, but then we see him doing a slide with her (which I think is actually from cha-cha rehearsal), and he falls and lands on his arm. I have said this before, but when you look at his reactions, this is a guy who’s in a lot of pain. He really looks sick. And then because he’s a Cylon, he gets back up and keeps dancing. Cheryl brings one of her trophies to rehearsal to motivate Cristian. The guy’s got a dead arm and he’s still in the competition. Motivation is not his problem.

Their freestyle is decidedly more Latin, leading off with rump-shaking. Cheryl vaults down the stairs and he catches her with his one arm. I think Cheryl must weigh less than your average sub sandwich. He spins while holding her aloft. There’s all sorts of shaking, and it’s sexy as all get out. It seems much more structured than the other freestyles – a lot of the footwork would be acceptable in a standard Latin dance, I think. But they are absolutely nailing the one-armed lifts, including one where he sort of launches Cheryl into the air with his knee. There’s a silly bit where he’s doing a side shuffle, and she’s on the ground between his legs, and she keeps rolling. At the end, he twirls her in a wide circle on the ground (with one arm) and she goes sliding down the stage. Then he does a run and ends in a slide right behind her. Awesome. By the way, Cristian is wearing a big shiny brace on his bad arm. Very stylish.

Len liked the dance, but picks on his lifts. And I call bullcrap on that. One arm! Plus, you know, Jason’s a giant and if you start comparing lifts, his will always be better. I don’t like that Len says he has to take into consideration what he saw from the other two. So unless you go first, you’re judged compared to the other performances? Sorry Len, I’m not feeling you on this one. Bruno really liked it and thinks it showed his Latin spirit. Carrie Ann says he wasn’t better than Kristi, but she sees a winner. Wow. That was helpful.

Samantha asks Cristian why he wants to win. The same question she asked Jason, actually. Cristian knows he’s getting cut off anyway, so he keeps it short.

Scores: Carrie Ann-9, Len-8, Bruno-9 Total: 26

Cristian says that the show is airing in Chile, so he gives a Spanish message for all his Chilean fans. It reminds me of how Catalina talks, in Spanish, directly to the viewers every season on the finale of My Name is Earl.

Final scores for the night:

Kristi Yamaguchi – 60 out of 60

Cristian de la Fuente – 52 out of 60

Jason Taylor – 51 out of 60

Wow. An 8-point difference is going to be hard to overcome. And I think that there’s a lot of crossover between Jason fans and Cristian fans – they’re going to split their votes. Kristi’s going to win this thing. I’m going to be happy no matter who wins, though. Join us tomorrow for an awesome finale night, a night that will take the powers of both Myndi and myself to properly recap. Two recappers enter, one recapper leaves! And then the other posts it to Google Docs and leaves slightly later. I’m going to spray-tan just for the occasion!

Share Button

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *