Notes after the jump. ...
(Show's over. Kristi/Mark win, first woman celeb to win since Kelly Monaco in season one. Jason/Edyta second. Cristian/Cheryl finish third. I have no complaints. It was clear even before the season began that Kristi was the favorite, since her skating background should have prepared her well for dancing. But, as Lynne Sherwin mentioned in last week's podcast, that may be why she was chosen for the show -- so, after four straight seasons of men winning, a woman could get the top prize again.
I understand all the talk around shows like this about the journey -- about audiences wanting to support people who don't bring a great set of skills to the table but who show considerable improvement over the series. But that kind of thinking has in the past done harm to at least one very good dancer -- Sabrina Bryan -- who was voted off far too early. Yes, Jason Taylor was surprisingly good. Yes, Cristian de la Fuente kept going even after an injury. But that injury hampered his ability to dance well. And as good as Jason was, Kristi was simply better, week in and week out. She made it almost impossible for the judges to find a reason to mark her down, aside from vague gestures of dislike.
Beyond that, should this have been the final three? Not sure. Would have liked to see Mario keep going longer than he did, for one thing, and will wonder if Cristian would have gotten such high marks from viewers and judges if he had not gotten hurt; the judges certainly saw more fire in his performances after the injury. But in the end, the right dancer won.
And now my notes made while watching the show...)
If I had to guess, it would be that Kristi wins and Jason finishes third. And I am so delighted that I have to spend two hours finding out if I am right.
Recap. Good time to fast-forward. Chatter with the remaining contestants. Cristian drops another "journey." Leaderboard revisited. Bergeron notes that only once before has the leader with the judges gone on to take the trophy.
Usher performs, days after also doing "Saturday Night Live." This is the world of Having A New CD Out. Nice moves, but it looks like a total lip-synch. And is it just me, or does some of this look like elves dancing in the forest?
Stars from previous seasons predict who will win, suitably balanced among all three sets of contestants.
First results: Couple in third place is ... Cristian and Cheryl. Well, I guessed wrong, but I am not displeased. I thought he had gone a long way on the whole journey thing, and was cut tremendous slack because of the injury. (See my previous posts.)
Cristian's video recap.
Cristian and Cheryl's final dance is the paso doble. And they're going through the motions a lot. This doesn't have any of the intensity they brought when competing.
Season recap. Penn Jillette dances again. Monica Seles dances again. Don't you love being reminded how bad some of the competitors were?
The Gute. Bergeron begs him to describe his least favorite moment. Gute says he doesn't have one. Bergeron is exasperated but moves on.
Carolla reprises the unicycle bit.
Time drags on. Winner of kiddie competition: The tallest kids, Brandon and Britney. And they were good. Prize is presented by Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, granting a wish of Brandon. Bergeron says Brandon "just grew up a little more." Uh-huh.
More recap. Priscilla dances. Tape about the friendship between Jason and Cristian. Marlee Matlin dances. Shannon Elizabeth dances.
Mario, who was dogged repeatedly by the judges -- and yes, I'm still bitter -- dances. Marissa Jaret Winokur dances.
Taped setup for the final two dances. At least I don't see any boxing footage. Got enough of that on "American Idol."
And there's "Rocky" music. I guess it was too much to hope for no boxing references.
Finally, Kristi and Mark perform. The jive. Not her best, but her precision is still terrific. Unbelievable spins and drops. Len calls her the most consistent dancer of any season and "fantastic" -- aside from one awkward moment, and even then she recovered without disrupting the routine. Bruno says she didn't miss a beat. Carrie Ann says Kristi also grew throughout. Scores: Straight 10s.
Jason and Edyta. Quickstep. Nice job. Lots of flair. Bruno says they move like angels and this was their best performance. CA says it's definitely a showdown tonight and they are untouchable as far as grace goes. Len says Kristi may be the judges' champion but Jason is the people's champion. Is Kristi thinking, "Uh-oh"? Scores: Straight 10s also.
And the winners are Kristi and Mark.