Details, with the winner, after the jump ...
(HELIO WINS. MARIE FINISHES THIRD. Live recap below.)
Bergeron calls it "the most memorable finals ever" with tough judges. Gee, most of what I've seen today has called it disappointing. Bergeron is also teasing Marie needing her fans to rescue her again. I don't want to hear it. ...
Recap. Interestingly selective. (Maks blaming Mel for messing up the freestyle, none of Marie's mouthing off and doll-promoting.) Backstage chatter. Marie says she's going to miss "the number 8" with lots of ice -- then mentions all the friendships. Mel's going to miss the crew, Helio's going to miss Julianne.
Judges' leaderboard: Mel 55, Helio 54, Marie 46. We are once again told that the first elimination is moments away. And, as well, after Celine Dion sings "My Heart Will Go On." With dancing pair, later three pairs. Cheesy, but I must confess that I am a total sap for this song.
We are now promised who will come in third "right after the break." Samantha asks "are we in for another shock?" Please, no.
After a break ... Marie is out. Thank goodness. Logic has at last prevailed. And I am cool with either Mel or Helio winning (although, one more time, Sabrina should have still been around. Imagine that final three.).
Marie says she is so pleased to be there at her age. Bergeron, sick of the age comments, asks if she's in her 70s. Marie then dogs the judges one more time. Tape of her journey. (Yes, Jonathan calls it a journey.) Lots of references to her tough times during the show.
Marie's farewell dance, a tango.
Only two couples remain, says Bergeron. Two couples and an hour and 40 minutes.
After the break, we revisit scenes from the season. Then dance by ousted contestant Josie Maran, still not worthy. Then alleged funny clips of Marie, Mel, Helio.
Albert Reed dances. I can barely remember this guy. (Cavs and Celtics in overtime!)
More season review, tied to the women dominating the men. (And yet we are down to one man, one woman.)
Wayne Newton, who walks out instead of dancing. Wayne says doctors have told him not to dance. But he says he will make it to the "Dancing" tour. Segment on friends and family of contestants. Floyd Mayweather, also not dancing, blaming it on "grueling training camp" for a fight Dec. 8.
Mark Cuban dances. And he actually seems better than he did when he was competing. More relaxed.
Recapping of season continues, with acknowledgment that Sabrina and partner were steamin' and the Marie faint, and Jane's food poisoning, and Sabrina's ouster. Ick, I still say.
Cavs hand Celtics their second loss of the season. Sabrina dances. And demonstrates AGAIN that she belonged in the finals. No, I am not getting over this. Neither is the crowd, which gives her a lonnnngg ovation. Plug for the tour. Chat with Bobcat Goldthwait -- no, Drew Lachey -- and Apolo Anton Ohno.
Jane Seymour. Looks great, not a bad dance, but with her, like most celeb dancers, there's a decline after being off the show for some time.
More freakin' clips. Then Cameron Mathison. After the dance and the chat, he gives up the shirt. Plug for "Dance War." Which leads soon enough into a commercial for it.
Jennie Garth. Like Cuban, having a lot more fun now that the competition's done. Final two couples banter backstage. Samantha shills for votes for the show in the People's Choice awards.
Celine back with "Taking Chances." You didn't think she'd leave without a plug for the new CD, did you? Her vocal is really oddly slurry in the beginning. With clips from the show. Hey, what's with that lyrical lift from "Here Comes the Rain Again"? Slurring on the vocal again. The bride asks, "Has she just been to the dentist?"
Analysis of the final two. "The Diva" vs. "Mr. Charisma." Mel is called the most versatile dancer the competition has had, while Helio is "a born competitor."
Intro of the finalists, with smoke machines and the "2001" music. Helio looks much looser than Mel. But Mel's going first. Chooses the mambo. Fabulous. Like a tape of their previous mambo sped way up. Len calls her an "absolute revelation" and says Maks was "incredible." Bruno says "truly magnificent." Carrie Ann shrieks her praise.
Scores: Straight 10s.
Helio. Quick step. Helio makes sure to show off solo at the beginning. Wide shot shows Len clapping along. There's an odd hesitation about midway through, then razzle-dazzle, and this time a kiss at the end that doesn't surprise Julianne. Bruno says they looked like they were doing the lap of honor already. CA says it's her favorite dance again. Len praises his risk-taking -- and calls the band "the best in the world."
Scores: Straight 10s again. Since they're just one point behind Mel/Maks, it all comes down to the viewer vote, which is the way the show likes it. Will Mel's versatility top Helio's success with no big dance background? Will Julianne's adorability give Helio an edge over Maks's semi-creepiness? We'll know after just a few zillion more commercials and promos.
And the winner is ... Well, first a tape about the journey for Mel and Helio ... Then the requisite building of suspense. And ...