Sunday, November 5, 2017

DWTS S024, And the Winner of Season 24 Is...

I don’t wanna spoil it all for you... But...

Let’s go back and just walk through the final show step by step... Let’s see... Starting with this.

(Sorry, can’t find a photo of David and Lindsay walking out.) But first the final three came out. Then the judges, looking spiffy.

Hostess with the mostess, Erin Andrews.
Len gave a chivalrous cheer to all three, wishing them all luck, and off we go.

We go through each contestant and their journey to get to the finals. First, with David and Lindsay. They show a clip of Julianne saying that they "are the heart of this competition."

Then, Sasha and Simone dance a jive as segue into the next segment. It was wondrous, and made me wish they were in the final three.

Next, Rashad and Emma take us through their really memorable dances of the season. Erin states that Rashad and Emma put in 100 hours MORE rehearsal time than anyone else.


Witney choreographed this women’s dance called “Like a River.” They added “star” Heather (“I’m not a dancer’) Morris.

Then, we have former Oscar®-nominated actress, now inspid pop star Hailee Steinfeld singing about
“I didn’t know I was starving till I tasted you.” Well, alright then.

Dance assist by Alan and Brittany.

Then, it’s Normani and Val’s turn. Normani says that she “became a woman” through this competition. Val calls her one of “the best female ballroom dancers this competition has ever seen.”

Val: “This show is about people, it’s not about dancing.”

Then, the “super-hot guys” of #DWTS (minus Sasha and Val) dance for us.

Which only goes to prove two things: Gleb has a bright future as a Chippendales dancer, and none of these boys holds a candle to Maks’ steaming hot sexiness.

Then we have past Mirror Ball champions talking about the final three. No one knows who is going to win.

(As you can see, there is always a lot of hooha and blah blah on this final show. JEEZ.)

They inexplicably have a ferris wheel in the middle, and try to do a segment with Tom and Erin, going around on the ferris wheel. It doesn't work. They can only get a lame shot from the side.

Then they do what is essentially an opening Mandy Moore number in the middle of the show, introducing all the people who were on this season, and featuring the three finalists. It's actually quite fun.

Then, they show some highlights from last night’s show (including backstage moments, like one where ever-charming Len says to crew members, ‘Coming through, don’t touch me.’). Wow.

The first of the “who was in this season?” dances: Bonner and Sharna.

A look back at “the first half” of the season.

Oh yeah. Charo and Chris Kattan were on this season (*shudders*). Chris got 4s in his first dance. (*super shudders*). Really? Do we HAVE to remember this?

Nancy Kerrigan, who was actually a pleasant memory of those first few weeks, performs a samba with Artem.

A comedic bit about a “bromance” between Maks and our Bachelor, Nick, who was dancing with his wife, Peta.

And just when we are counting our lucky stars that we got out of seeing Charo have to dance again, they announce that she’s doing a song. Ugh.

But first, Peta and Nick do one of their “favorite” dances from the season.

Then, David and Lindsay do one of their most crowd-pleasing numbers (see above).

Why they have the final three do other numbers as well, I just don’t understand. But who didn’t love this Magic Mike number?

That leads into a hilarious bloopers reel (always my favorite part of finals night).

She’s a thousand years old. She must have it in her contract that no one talks about her age. Usually how old a competitor is is played up. Not this time. No mention. Cause, you know, Charo is ageless. Except she’s not. And she’s also obnoxious.

Keo and Whitney dance while she plays.

Then some cha cha bumpers.

This was the first song they ever did, and it's so great to see them dance this cha cha again.

Then, back to the “middle” of the season.  Maks and Heather come back and dance to “Waterfalls” to celebrate their booting. TLC sings.

Hailee Steinfeld is back to perform.

And this dance... well, let’s just say that it was pretty darn sexual.

Tom after says: “To paraphrase a famous quote, you go to a dance show with the army you have.”

Then OneRepublic performs (”No Vacancy”). Gleb and Sharna dance.

Normani and Val perform with Len and Bruno (the infamous construction worker salsa).

Let’s just say this was better the first time around... Len was so cute at the end, though.

Then a look at the rest of the season. Just a reminder. This is how the judges looked when Tom announced that Simone and Sasha were going home.

Yeah. Yeah. Me too.

Then, blissfully, Simone and Sasha dance again.

*SWOON* So wonderful.

Lady Antebellum performs. Dance assists from Artem and Witney and Gleb and Brittany.

Then, some damn fool video from Mr. T. *eyeroll*

Some preview dance of Dirty Dancing with former winner Nicole Scherzinger.

OH FINALLY! We get back to the three finalists.

Oh no. Just the judges and pros talking about who they think will win. Who? They have no idea. Any one of the three can win.

Then really bad camerawork where half the troupe is cut out for a minute. Jive bumper. The ending was amazing. (HINT: It had Sasha doing some flips. Very cool.)

FINALLY. The last round. The three finalists have a “fusion” dance, where they combine two dances.

David and Lindsay combined foxtrot and salsa. This is also the moment where the team visits their rehearsal space for the final time, and they see their own photos hanging on the wall. Always a pivotal moment.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 36 (out of 40)

Normani and Val are dancing an Argetine tango/Foxtrot fusion. And oh, Val’s choreography! Sweet Jesus. So great.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 40 (out of 40)

(It is pretty clear that the judges want Normani and Val to win.)

Rashad and Emma have a cha cha/tango fusion.

Yup. Miss Emma doing some pretty snazzy choreography there too.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 39 (out of 40)

According to the judges’ scores at this moment:

1. Emma and Rashad with 119
2. Val and Normani with 118
3. Lindsay and David with 109.

This is without America’s votes, which Tom Bergeron said “count for half” of the scores.

Then OneRepublic comes back to play, while images of the final three’s season flash on the screen.

Pretty great dancing, all in all.

THIRD PLACE: NORMANI AND VAL. Judges and Tom are “stunned.”

Congratulations, Miss Emma Slater and Mr. Rashad Jennings, on your first Mirror Ball trophy!

SO so so very happy for Miss Emma and her first Mirror Ball. Thank you to all three finalists for giving us such amazing, memorable dances this season. And to Sasha and Simone too. Truly incredible and mesmerizing to watch all of you.



Sunday, October 15, 2017

DWTS S024, Splashy Sports Freestyles in the Finals

When last we left Dancing with the Stars, we were sobbing over the fact that our beloved Sasha Farber and Simone Biles did not move on to the Finals. But let me take you back to the moment when Simone Biles lost the Mirror Ball trophy.

It was this one: “Smiles don’t win you gold medals.” An offhand comment after a question Tom Bergeron had asked.

Hard work, in the world of gymnastics, is all that matters. It is not, however, what is necessary in the world of Dancing with the Stars and the mirror ball trophy. Who, for example, did the judges think was going to be bounced out? The person with the lowest judges’ score was actually David Ross (and Lindsay Arnold). Did you see him smiling and enjoying every minute he was at DWTS? You betcha you did.

Now I am NOT saying that gratuitous smiling will get you everywhere (although in Hollywood, it does get you far). What I am saying is that THE PEOPLE of America are what determine 50% of this decision. And, as long as I’ve been watching this show, the people are 90% right.

And the people will vote for someone who deserves it technically, yes, but also, more likely, someone who MOVES them. With their story, with their circumstances, with how much they enjoy to be there, or don’t.

Simone Biles, even in her last package, was frustrated, and frankly, whining, about how she works so hard, and still can’t get further in the competition. She should’ve seen the writing on the wall then. Dance comes from your technical scores, yes, but on this show, it just as much comes from your heart and your emotions, and that’s where Simone was really working with a locked cupboard.

Sasha Farber is amazing, and he really tried to save poor Simone, with a bouncy, smiling upbeat jive in the Semifinals, but it was already too late. The people had already spoken.

And so, we end up with these. And I still think, at this moment (as the Finals begin), I am believing that Val and Normani have this thing locked up. But, you know, I think we do get lulled into thinking what the judges think is best is what’s going to happen, and forgetting the part about America voting. Oh, and also how much each specific dance contributes to the final choice.

In this case, the final dances mattered immensely. So let's take a look.

First up, the “Redemption Dance,” so named because it is a redo of a dance done earlier in the season (in hopes of gaining a better score).

David and Lindsay, the ones the judges wanted out, and who they now refer to as the “fan favorites,” give us a beautiful Viennese waltz. Carrie Ann, while mentioning that David has "beaten all the odds to be here," also gives him props for "making the best connection."

JUDGES’ SCORES: 33 (out of 40)

Val and Normani dance a quickstep. In their package, they watch back their earlier quickstep, which Val admits “wasn’t all that quick.” They also show Normani incurring an injury while rehearsing that sounds painful.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 38 (out of 40)

So, we’ve had the fan favorites who performed less than the best, the presumed favorites who perform with an injury, and the judges believe didn’t have enough body contact. What’s left?

Well, this.

Rashad talks in his package about how in his whole life, he’s “never won anything,” always come close, but never won. It wasn’t said, but the audience is also painfully aware of how many times our dear Miss Emma has come close to the Mirror Ball, yet never won it.

Watching this Viennese waltz was when I knew and believed that Emma and Rashad were going to win this thing. They so elevated everything that had come before. It was so beautiful.

You know when Bruno starts out with “refined, polished, majestic,” that these scores are going to be good. Carrie Ann: “We have magic happening. This is what makes winners winners.” Len, speaking to the Redemption part of the Redemption dance: “We’re looking for improvement. I saw improvement in every level of that dance: face, body, fluidity.” Julieanne: “When people reach this point of the competition, we’ve seen all that they could do. Not you. I’m seeing the hard work that you put in. We haven’t seen the best. We just saw the best. That was amazing.”

JUDGES’ SCORES: 40 (out of 40)

1. Emma and Rashad, Viennese waltz
2. Val and Normani, quickstep
3. Lindsay and David, Viennese waltz

But the Mirror Ball is won and lost on what couples do for their Freestyles. Let me say here that I think the best Freestyles reflect all that has come before in the season, with elements of choreography harkening back to key moments throughout. And, ideally, they also reflect who the star is, and what he or she means to us, the public. And the most memorable ones show us something we haven’t seen before.

Lindsay Arnold, who also has come very close to winning a Mirror Ball, yet not won one yet, knows about pulling out all the stops in her Freestyle choreography. (Remember that walking on moving walkways thing?)

Well, this one is pulling more on the Cubs’ win (still fresh in people’s minds) than their current dancing season, but no matter. They try to couch it as “going from baseball to dance,” but there’s a whole lotta baseball in this dance.

We had baseball, we had an American flag. The only thing missing was some apple pie. A little too much rap music for my tastes, but when they hoisted David Ross up at the end, it was very good for me, too. It was fun, it was entertaining.

JUDGES’ SCORES: 40 (out of 40) (and if you get anything less than a perfect score for your Freestyle, you’re doing something wrong)

Now, Lindsay has tended to pull out all the bells and whistles for her Freestyles (to great effect). Val, lately, has tended toward the quieter Freestyles. Personally, I don’t think they work as well. This one certainly didn’t.

They danced to “What the World Need Now (Is Love),” which is a good song, but quiet. When they brought out the kids is when this dance was over for me. I pretty much hated this Freestyle. It was ok, maybe, as a dance, but not as a Freestyle.

Hey Val, THIS IS NOT THE TYPE OF THING THAT WINS MIRROR BALLS. Just in case you forgot that. *shakes head*

JUDGES’ SCORES: 40 (out of 40)

So Rashad (who’s never won anything) and Emma (who hasn’t yet won a Mirror Ball) decide to do a big, splashy Freestyle, this one more focused on football. Specifically the marching band part of football, which apparently is a strange concept to Emma (hey, Emma, go watch “Drumline”). But, in any case, they do an amazing Rashad-inspired marching band type freestyle with a whole lotta swagger in it. It was just wonderful. I loved it.

Whole lotta fun. Crowd is on their feet at the end. Judges (save Len) are on their feet at the end.

How could you not love this?

JUDGES’ SCORES: 40 (out of 40)

Emma and Rashad end up with a perfect score of 80 for the night. Val and Normani are in second place, David and Lindsay in third (per judges’ scores).

Wonder who’ll win?

1. Emma and Rashad
2. Lindsay and David