Sunday, September 25, 2016

DWTS S023, Week 2: Love Saves Us from Our Own Mistakes

Terra Jole and Sasha Farber give the best performance of Week 2.
Real love is about redemption and forgiveness. No matter your sin, those who love you forgive and forget and move on. The whole Ryan Lochte mess made me realize again what is so great about Dancing with the Stars, why I keep watching over and over and over again. It is, to me, very much like America itself. You may be crazy, you may do stupid things, but keep trying, and America will love you again and let you try again.

I still agree with the protestor(s). Ryan Lochte IS a liar. Even as he goes on #DWTS, and mouths the words, "I've hit rock bottom," I know it's BS. He really still has no conception of what happened to him, and why so many are still so mad. But here's the thing.

Dancing with the Stars may be mostly about dance (and grueling dance at that), but it's really about being a team. Hanging together, watching out for each other, no matter one's difficulties or handicaps, and bringing out the love again and again. Even if, like Ryan Lochte, he doesn't yet deserve it or appreciate it. The team at #DWTS (and the America that is watching) has got you. We won't let you fall while you're on this show. And that is a blessing I hope he appreciates.

Like Derek Hough said when he shooed away the other protestors last week: "This is a good show, positive show. Get out of here." It's true.

And so we begin Week 2 of Season 23, with the team's arms around Ryan Lochte (and shirts emblazoned with big red hearts with LOCHTE in the middle, to counter those ugly ones from last week. Although you'll notice that not everyone is in this photo). Still. We've got you. Don't worry.

This week, ladies and gents, is TV Week! Which means they will be dancing to sappy, silly, ancient and fun TV themes. Woo hooo. First up, Marcia Marcia Marcia of "The Brady Bunch" fame, who actually gets to have her TV mom (Florence Henderson) onstage in her dance (fun!).

I really truly love the team of Maureen McCormick and Artem, and will be voting for them consistently. No matter what. Artem threw in some kicky 60s/70s choreography, and the trippy clothes and cool set added up to a fun number.

Now we have the case of Jana and Gleb. The first week they performed a Viennese waltz which came out steamy and sultry and hot (not how a Viennese waltz is supposed to be). I'm all about steamy, but it felt very inappropriate. This week, they danced a tango, which frankly (to my eyes) didn't look all that different from the "Viennese waltz" the week before. Both of them danced hard, even though she said in her package she was suffering from an injury.

I kinda wish that next week they would just do a rumba (not that different from the first two) and be voted off. Every dance is supposed to be distinctly different from week to week. And they are not all supposed to be so sexual. Ugh. These two just irritate me.

Speaking of irritation, this one. Ugh. First of all, they dance to "Green Acres." Loved the show in the 60s/70s, whenever it was on. But let me just remind everyone of the theme song. The husband (in the song) is a farmer, who loves farming. The wife is a socialite (grandly played by Eva Gabor) who loves shopping and penthouses. The song ends with "You are my wife. Goodbye city life," we're going! AKA, the woman doesn't have a choice in the matter. Which may've been OK in the 60s, but WOW, does it ring badly in 2016. Well, maybe not for Rick Perry.

Love you so much, Emma, but I cannot wait till this buffoon is voted off. (Really hoped it would be this week.) Emma looks so much like Eva Gabor, it's really cute.

Calvin and Lindsay are very fun to watch. He was playing Urkel from "Family Matters" in this show, and later, in the interview room, the real actor who played Urkel showed up and surprised them. That was fun. (Course, Jaleel White is part of the #DWTS family from way back.)

Maks and Amber did a Viennese waltz to the "Game of Thrones" theme. In her package, she admitted that she "blacked out" during the whole dance last week. :-0  (Oh my!) This week, she was still having issues. Whether her shoes or some curtains that she tripped over, or just maybe that she doesn't really want to be doing this... not sure.

What's wrong with this picture? Jenna is actually the pro, dancing with Jake, not part of the troupe. Ah well, old habits die hard. They were dancing to some show that he did the voiceover for. Bad song to dance to, bad music. Ugh.

Carrie Ann's comment (echoed by other judges) was that Jake was consistently ahead of the music. Kind of a problem on #DWTS. Jenna's costume was awesome, however.

Quick recap. Vanilla Ice (whom Witney calls "Rob") had NEVER SEEN #DWTS before agreeing to do the show. Witney reveals this week that she just now broke him in to the idea that the dances were being judged. :-0 That stuff alone just blows my mind. "I knew it had something to do with dancing," said he, not helping his case. And this week, they are dancing to one of the classic sitcoms of all time, "Married with Children," which Witney had never seen before. :-0 Unbelievable, these two.

However, all that being said, I really enjoyed their dance this week. Witney did an excellent Peg Bundy recreation (she caught some episodes on YouTube, she said). I thought Vanilla Ice put a lot into the characterization, although Carrie Ann was annoyed by the lip syncing. Well, the man's never seen the show! Give him a break. "We wanna see you dancing," said she.

Milennials won't remember this, but way back in the day, TV (all TV) was in black and white. "Bewitched," when it started, was originally in black and white. After awhile, it changed to color. So it was really nice to see the production crew honor that by starting the dance segment in black and white (with the old logo!), then turning to color with a twinkle of her nose.

I loved loved loved this dance. Honestly, after this show, I really want Sasha and Terra to win the Mirror Ball. I know, I know, you have your Dereks and Makses and Cheryls, the heavy hitters, not to mention Laurie Hernandez with Val, but still and all, I LOVE this pairing of Sasha and Terra. By this second week now, they are getting into a groove of dancing with each other, and it was just such a joy to watch them.

Tom Bergeron asked Sasha after whether he was "Dick York or Dick Sargeant"... Sasha answered with "I like to think I'm a Universal Dick." ROFLMAO. Please, keep them around all season. They rock.

Most of the other performers are like amateur hour, compared to what Allison Holker and Babyface are presenting. They did an Argentine tango (a recognizable Argentine tango) to "The X-Files" theme. We find out later that Babyface did a bit of finessing of the music, since it wasn't matching up to the tango the way it should have. Well, use what you've got! It was amazing, and my favorite dance of the night. The lights, the set, the costumes, the choreography: just stunning.

Tom Bergeron called Laurie Hernarndez "the human emoji," and she is, isn't she? Val comments in their package about how there's no one better to be a cartoon character than Laurie. She says the reason why she always grabs her cheeks is that, "the happiness goes to my cheeks, and I have to grab it to keep it from falling out."

She also says in her package that her two dreams were to "compete in the Olympics and be on Dancing with the Stars." OK, sure. Val mentions how sad it was that Lochte stole her DWTS debut moment, but Ms. Hernandez did just fine last week. She's a professional by now.

They dance a jive to "Ducktales" (which I've never seen). Pretty fun.

Another of my favorite couples of this season is Sharna Burgess and James Hinchcliffe. Here, they dance a paso doble to "The Walking Dead" theme. Quite nice. I love their chemistry, and so far, their song choice. Sharna's choreography is pretty awesome: it keeps zombies away!

This could be their worst dance of the season. The music from "Taxi" isn't all that great to dance to, but Derek Hough could probably choreograph amazing things to the opening of an envelope, which is about how airy this music was. So they do a foxtrot, most notable for these cool denim clothes you see Derek wearing. (Although Len loved it!) They have a massive taxi onstage, really only so they could get in it at the end, which was lame.

And, speaking of lame: Ryan Lochte. He's clearly flustered by last week's crazy events. They danced to "The Muppets" song. He said simply that he would be "the green one." (Really? The word "Kermit" doesn't come to mind? *shakes head*)

Course, Cheryl takes his lead and doesn't mention that she's actually supposed to be Miss Piggy in this combo. I disliked everything about this dance. It is notable that they saved these two for last.

"I'm an Olympian," says he. "I didn't win six gold medals by quitting."

Judges note how "I saw so many mistakes," said Julianne; bad posture (both Julianne and Bruno); Carrie Ann: "there was a lot going wrong."

1. Allison and Babyface (Argentine tango/The X-Files)
2. Sasha and Terra (quickstep/Bewitched)
3. Val and Laurie (jive/Ducktales)
4. Sharna and James (paso doble/The Walking Dead)
5. Artem and Maureen (quickstep/The Brady Bunch)
6. Maks and Amber (Viennese waltz/Game of Thrones)
7. Derek and Marilu (foxtrot/Taxi)

1. Rick Perry
2. Ryan Lochte
3. Jana and Gleb

That was all from night one of Week 2. Night two, "the Results Show," was interesting in its presentation. In seasons past, they would have some eliminations (or telling people who's "in jeopardy") early on, then sprinkled throughout the show. This was different.

The packages basically went through each contestant (both Week 1 and Week 2 dances), adding in judges' comments (never done before) and also using a pretty common trick on other reality shows (cameras that are everywhere which catch the dancers' softest whispers). It really shaded in the depth of what was going on. Also, it really made Night 2 very interesting, when normally it's filler and fluff.

They got through EVERYONE's packages before they even got to telling anyone they were in jeopardy. Which was a much nicer way to do it.

Gleb's package was kind of interesting... they showed a few photos of him as an underwear model, which apparently they DID show in studio (giving a whole new meaning to "package"), but all we got to see... damn you, ABC censors! was a GIANT mirror ball on the nasty bits.

Then, all the pros (and troupe members) danced in these colorful costumes. Very fun dance.

Nice song by Charlie Puth, with a fabulous dance by Val and Sharna. "We Don't Talk Anymore."

Some results, blah blah.

Then, a whole big feature on Maks, Cheryl and Derek, that they call "Game Changers." They insist that these three were "game changers" previously, and them being back this season, as Derek says, "is kind of a game changer." Well, no. Not really. I mean, it is true that these three all won Mirror Balls, and some dances they did were very memorable. Derek Hough won Emmys for his choreography on this show, so I suppose he (and having won 6 Mirror Balls) is the most "game changer." But really, truly, from the beginning, from THIS beginning, everyone is at square one. No one's changing any game.

In fact, the only one who's changed any game so far is Ryan Lochte, and not in a good way.

I would even go out on a limb right now and say that I fully believe at this moment that none (out of Maks, Cheryl and Derek) of them is going to win this season's Mirror Ball. Cause it takes something other than being the best dancer around (or the worst). There is this enigmatic piece called winning the hearts of America. We know how they feel about some of them...

And right now, to my eyes, of the 12 remaining couples, those three couples don't have that winning edge.

It must have been uncomfortable also (although I understand that Maks and Cheryl and Derek HAVE won Mirror Balls, and have contributed greatly to the show) to have this big hooha, when Allison "came back" also. I don't know about anyone else, but I sure missed her, and missed her choreography and what she brings to the show.

Tom tried to pass it off as (Maks and Derek and Cheryl) all had touring shows... but Allison is right there onstage with those three (having just danced with them). Awkward. Whoever came up with this didn't think it through. So, welcome back, ALLISON! And now, kick their asses! ;-)

Judging from the first two weeks of competition, Allison has a much greater chance of taking home this season's Mirror Ball than any of those three.

As if to underscore all this, two of the four couples in jeopardy are Cheryl (and Ryan) and Maks (and Amber).

The couple voted off, sadly, was Jenna and Jake. Way too soon for Jenna the Pro to leave, but I can see why Jake wasn't anyone's favorite.


Monday, September 19, 2016

DWTS S023, Week 1: Protests in the Ballroom Ruffle an Otherwise Fun Night

Tom Bergeron keeps control. Ryan ("I thought they were over this") Lochte, Cheryl Burke.
Most of the time, the "stars" on Dancing with the Stars (now back for its 23rd season) are in career hell, and want to get out. They use it as a vehicle to present a better image to America than the one they currently have. I almost can't remember a season when there were people in bigger need of rehabilitation than this season's crop on #DWTS.

As this season's stars were announced, we were just finishing up watching a pretty wonderful (all things considered) Olympics down in Rio. But then, just at the tail end, the whole Ryan Lochte mess blew up. He'd already been signed to #DWTS, but it sure looked like a Hail, Mary. And I don't think he (or the producers really realized how much venom there was floating around America about the lies Lochte had just spewed).

I can't speak for everyone, but I still have a foul taste in my mouth from the whole Lochte mess, and he may WANT to put it behind him, but it's obviously NOT. I bring all this up because the usually pretty normal ballroom was disrupted by Lochte protestors.

It's a live show, and Carrie Ann is giving her critique of the Burke-Lochte dance, and kept saying "Excuse Me," as the protestor is trying to talk into camera. Course, #DWTS has a gazillion cameras, and the show isn't going to use the one the guy's talking into. No, we see Carrie Ann's "Excuse me," and footage from the dance in question over and over. Then Tom Bergeron blissfully cuts to commercial.

What we didn't see was the security team having knocked the guy to the ground.

It turns out, there were two guys, both of whom were arrested, and four others in the stands (all wearing "No Lochte" T-shirts).

Derek Hough (God bless him) goes to those folks and tells them to leave. "This is a good show for good folks," he says. (Then why is Lochte there, one wonders...)

My sense of it all is that America's just not over the debacle yet, and aren't ready to just go quietly as if nothing had happened. So this season is going to be interesting. I have never seen such a disruption in all the time I've been watching #DWTS.

Ah, but let's get back to the dancing and the show, shall we? The grand and glorious and amazing beginning, before the mad scuffle happened.

Actually, let me start even before that. Big things are changing this season. We have a brand-spanking new director, after having the same one for so very long (although we have the same showrunner). We have Maks and Cheryl and Derek back!!!! We have no Mark Ballas (which is more gut-wrenching that I can even describe). We also have no Shannon as pro, and it doesn't even look like he's in the troupe (at least not yet, anyway). We have no Karina or Anna or Peta. But we DO have Jenna as a pro for the first time! YAY! We also have Emma Slater back! YAY. I so love her. We have Allison back, after her baby. YAY! We have Gleb back, who was on so long ago I don't even remember him. No Tony, sadly. We distinctly DO NOT have Keo, either as a pro or in the troupe. (Also YAY!) So, all in all, it should be an interesting season.

I do think they match the pros to the people they'll be dancing with, both in height and spirit and temperament. Glad to see Sasha back too.

Now, the past few seasons of #DWTS, they've had big splashy openings. Hard to top the "Everyone on Hollywood Blvd." opening, though last season's "Everyone downtown at night" tried to.

Well, this season, in a shot many will be talking about for months (was that a drone camera? what was that?), we have "Everyone at Griffith Park and the observatory." The very first recognizable person you see on screen is Maksim Chmerkovskiy, which shows you how this season's going to go. I saw him in an interview recently where he spoke about how it would be interesting coming back when his brother (Valentin Chmerkovskiy) "has basically become the star of the show." And he has. Val is the more charming, kinder version of Maks. As to the better dancer? Hmmm...

We'll get to that. Back to the spectacular opening number, choreographed by Mandy Moore, of course. Maks opens it up, and moves off frame. To Val, Sharna, Artem and Witney, who were the face of this new season before the whole Maks/Cheryl/Derek thing was announced. Then we add Sasha and Emma (nice!). Then Gleb and Lindsay, then Jenna (surrounded by men, nice callback), then Allison and Derek. They are dancing all around Griffith Observatory, and the camera (drone camera?) is circling around, as it does on #DWTS. Then Cheryl gets her moment. Then everyone, as the camera goes higher in the sky, turns into a star on the ground. Which then turns white, then red.

Then back to the dancers, who lead us to the open door, which takes us back to the actual #DWTS stage. Phenomenal work. Stunning to watch.

Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews are back. Yay! Their teleprompter is not working. :-( They cover it well.

So what is the perfect thing to follow up that amazing breath-taking first dance? A breathless fangirl star who is thrilled to be here. Enter Marilu Henner. She is paired, to her amazement, with Derek Hough. Which means, of course, that she's going to be lasting almost the whole season no matter what. She was beside herself.

They do a nice jive, even though Marilu looks a bit nervous and uptight. As Tom pans to the judges' table, we see that Derek's sister, Julianne Hough, is back in judging position. YAY! (So we have four judges now. Apparently, they only let three of them talk after each dance.)

James, the racecar driver, and Sharna have a nice chemistry. I can see rooting for them all season long. Their foxtrot (other than her dress being slightly too long) was quite wonderful.

Thank goodness we don't have a million football players this time around (only one). This guy they call "Megatron" dances well with Lindsay. I've quite grown to like her as a pro as well, so I'm looking forward to this season.

Another over-the-moon fangirl about the show is Maureen McCormick, who dances a very nice Viennese waltz with Artem. To "You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)."

And Maureen's TV mom, Florence Henderson (who also competed on this show) is front and center, with tears in her eyes. Very nice TV moment.

(I'm rooting hard for Marilu and Maureen at this moment.)

I am so so so very glad to have Allison back again. She was greatly missed. And her foxtrot with Babyface was quite nice to watch. (Gorgeous dress, as well.)

Next up? Amber Rose and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Excuse me if you know her, but I've never heard of her. She's got a very Kim Kardashian-esque body. Very unique. In their package, Amber says to Maks: "You're misunderstood, just like me." Maks: "Everybody has a Kanye moment once in awhile." Amber: "I don't." Maks, sheepishly: "I've had a few." And here he is, back again. This really is the season of second chances and rebirth.

But now, their foxtrot. I need to pause here for a moment. By and large, my belief is that, if someone has done a really amazing dance to something on this show, the music for that shouldn't be used again. No one's ever going to do a "Singin' in the Rain" that topped what Derek did, so don't even try. Now, admittedly, this wasn't a dance in competition, so maybe it's fair game, but... I've mentioned this in my column before. Of all the dances on this show, many of them ingrained into my brain, the single dance which I've replayed over and over and over again the most times, was this one.

Jenna and Val dance, Season 21

This is the video that made Jenna a star, and proved she needed to be a pro (IMHO). Every step, every movement is iconic, IMHO. Val and Jenna. Seriously one of the best dances on this show, IMHO.

This is the dance with which big brother Maks decides to return. He does a screen thing at the beginning (where they are seen in silhouette on a screen), which was very interesting, but it took at least that long to accept that he was dancing to this dance, Val's dance. (Loved her sparkly costume, btw.)

Next up in the badly in need of image rehabilitation category: Vanilla Ice. He pushes all my buttons (the negative ones). He hadn't seen the show before, so didn't know what he was getting himself into. And, oh by the way, is currently on tour (so has no time to rehearse). Ugh. Luckily, he won't be long for this world. They dance (he and partner Witney) to, of course, "Ice Ice Baby," which was a hit before Witney was born. Yikes.

This song was the first to feature troupe dancers (see my previous comments about how they use troupe dancers to cover up that you suck).

Suffice to say that Vanilla Ice kicked off the "less good" parts of the show.

They were followed by Gleb Savchenko and some country singer named Jena. Gleb was on a long time ago (before I started watching, so it had to be before Season 10), which is to say before #DWTS hit the stride it's in now. They may not have had the strict rules about content in dances that they do now. Not sure. Only know that they were doing a Viennese waltz, which came out, steamy. Judge Len put it best: "I wasn't transported to old Vienna." It's supposed to be soft and light and sunshine and roses (when done properly) and this was all hard-edged, and I want to bang you now (never a Len favorite). Even Carrie Ann, who is normally ok with such stuff, blurted out, "Maybe you don't have to work on sexiness anymore." (This couple better watch it, if they don't want to be detracted for no content.)

Now, the Jake T. Austin and Jenna Johnson combo is an interesting one. He strikes me, at first glance, like a pretentious twat that I wouldn't give the time of day to normally. But since he is dancing with one of my very favorite dancers, who is now a pro for the first time, I'm going to find myself compelled to vote for them. They did a nice jive this time around. (Jenna is a PRO!!! *jumps up and down*)

Then we have Rick Perry, my vote to be first to leave the ballroom. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Emma Slater, and wish she would win the Mirror Ball someday. But people who come on the show with an agenda rub me the wrong way. (Perry said he wants to "do it for the troops.") How about just getting in there and enjoying whatever the experience provides? How about not deciding what it's going to be before it even begins? Then, they danced to "God Bless Texas." Dear God, make him go away already.

#DWTS has never had (in any of the multinational versions either, apparently) a "little person" dancing. And now they have. Terra is about half of Sasha's height, and he's not the tallest of dancers. But they were entertaining and fun, and I want to see them continue. Win that Mirror Ball, Sasha!

Cheryl Burke, who just looks like a goddess these days, is a sight for sore eyes. I've missed her dancing. Not sure if it's a good or bad thing that she's been paired up with Ryan Lochte this season. They do a foxtrot to (I'm not making this up) "Call Me Irresponsible." It was pretty glorious. I did enjoy it.

But then, the scuffle...

The cast was all pretty shook up. Lochte, backstage, is still flabbergasted that people are still upset about the whole thing. (Are you kidding me?) We still hate Mel Gibson, and his drunken incident was over a decade ago now. I do believe that him jumping on this show RIGHT after the whole Olympic mess was really too soon. Whatever happens, it's going to make for good TV, but to just brush it off like it never happened, well, that's not going to happen anytime soon, pal.

So, expect #DWTS security to be way tighter next week. At least around Lochte and Burke.

Somehow, the show pulled it together to perform the last dance after all the madness. Laurie Hernandez? Who are you? Oh, yeah, you're the Olympian who actually did our country proud, and didn't cause an international incident in the process.

It's a great credit to these two performers to follow what just happened. Laurie Hernandez seems to sparkle in every room she's in, and Val Chmerkovskiy is, arguably, the face, the star of this show, the one always concerned about the fans and those at home. And they cha cha'd to "An American Girl" (note the red, white and blue?). They were not going to let us down. It was quite spectacular.

Laurie said that being on #DWTS was "the congratulations lap" after the grueling training of the Olympics. Um, ok, then.

1. Laurie and Val (cha cha)
2. James and Sharna (foxtrot)
3. Marilu and Derek (jive)
4. Maureen and Artem (Viennese waltz)
5. Amber and Maks (foxtrot) (would've been higher except for song choice)
6. Babyface and Allison (foxtrot)
7. Calvin and Lindsay (cha cha)

1. Rick Perry
2. Vanilla Ice

NEXT WEEK: TV Themes Night


Thursday, September 8, 2016

DWTS S022 Finals, Night Two: Peta Takes the Mirror Ball


This is the day when they bring back all (or most) of the competitors from the past season, to dance, or not. (Thank God they did away with the "Let them dance in order of their elimination" nonsense.) And we generally waste time until they get to who wins, at the end. So I'm gonna skip over all the dancers from the season who come back (Yawn!), and just write about the good stuff.

I love that they incorporate LA landmarks on the Finale, in this case, The Grove rooftop.

Fleur East dances on top of the Grove.
Then we had a clip montage of fun moments from the first three shows of the season. Then, this:

It was an encore from one of their most memorable dances from earlier in the season (I honestly can't tell if this pictures is from then or now, sorry.)

Filler filler filler, blah blah.

Then we have something we don't ever have: host Tom Bergeron going into the control room, to introduce Alex Rudzinski, the director since Day 1, who is leaving. (Which immediately makes me scared.)

Then Peta and Nyle recreate their very first dance. I remember liking it, back when I liked them. It was to that "Cake by the Ocean" song. Peta looks extremely hot.

Blooper reel. Fifth Harmony performs, with their dancers.

Then we go back to the Grove for the women dancers to dance to "I Ain't Your Mama."

Then Ginger and Val reprise their Argentine tango. Dear God, if her faces don't ruin this dance for me. Smiling! In an Argentine tango! Ugh. Thankfully, Val's stellar choreography takes some of that edge off.

Then, a recap of Disney night. Notable mostly for Kim Fields getting lipstick all over Bruno's expensive jacket, and for this.


Then, Latin night. The Switch-Up. Famous Dances night. Len's birthday.

Antonio and Sharna recreate their Aladdin dance from Disney night. *swoon* Shannon. So great.

Promo stuff for Maks and Val's upcoming summer tour.

Jodie and Keo recreate not their best number.

Then, a game show (actually pretty funny) "Are You Smarter Than a Dancer?" Um, Witney and Lindsay? Keep your day jobs.

Then back to the Grove while two dudes sing while Witney and Artem dance. Witney, who just got married IRL, is dressed as a bride.

Then, Wanya and Lindsay recreate their Charleston. I really wish they'd recreated the dance with the errant bandana, so we could see how it was supposed to be (cause that was an awesome dance). Ah well. This one was good too.

The dance they should've recreated.
The unfortunate thing about the Wanya-Lindsay quickstep, is that all the synchopation and moves only underscores how much THEY should be the third couple in the Finale, and not Peta and Nyle. *sigh*

More recaps. Weeks 7-9. Blah blah.

Then, we had this bit of deliciousness.

OH YEAH. Shirts open, by the end. *swoon*

Not to be outdone, we had some of the #DWTS women, dancing with Pitbull.

He also had some of his own dancers dancing. You can tell them because they have real boobs (not dancer's boobs).

Then, some footage of some cast members talking about the season. Geraldo Rivera talks about how he didn't realize "how arduous" it was going to be. NOTE TO STARS OUT THERE: This show is ARDUOUS. Don't fool yourself into thinking you can just breeze through it. It's tough, tough work.

Then, mercifully, they have all the bad dancers just mostly walk through a dance called "The Summer Thing," while the troupe danced around them. In moments like these, I am so very grateful for Jenna and Shannon being part of the troupe. We also got Sasha as a CRAB again!

Fun stuff. (And thank you for having Geraldo Rivera just sitting up there, pseudo lifeguard-ish.)

Then, FINALLY, the competition part. We get the requisite walk through the studio for the last time (where the photos are now, for the first time. I love that part.). And Ginger talking about how the experience was so much more than she ever expected.

This was supposed to be an Argentine Tango/foxtrot fusion. There was smiling throughout. Enough already. Val's choreography, of course, was stellar. (There was a bit of a mess up within.)

The best part about all this was in Bruno's comment, which was trying to be a compliment, he said, "You've transformed from a weather girl to a leading lady." Ginger snapped back, "Meteorologist." (Good for her!)

Val, perhaps knowing they were going to place third, or just acknowledging that it was their final dance, took a moment to look at the camera and wave to the fans. "Thank you very much," he mouthed. I really appreciate that about him.


So, in Nyle and Peta's package, they wisely didn't have him speak. Peta, instead, was crying and mentioning how much he's helped so many people this season. I'll just leave that without comment.

They had a tango/cha cha fusion. Carrie Ann was so moved that she signed her remarks to him. ("Thank you for showing us your heart, through dance.") This brought Nyle to tears. Len, not crying, said he doesn't do sympathy votes, but mentioned that Nyle does deserve to be there.


In a bit of foreshadowing, that I didn't realize was foreshadowing at the time, Mark muses about how "I grew up on this show. Never missed a season." (He competed for 20 seasons, and he's turning 30.) Paige, who never wanted to do lifts at the beginning, asks him to put in another lift. There is a tender moment about goodbyes that makes me teary. She ends with, "I'm gonna see you again." I hope that's true for the audience too (seeing HIM again on #DWTS).

It was a beautiful closing dance, a mixture of some of their best stuff. A jive/salsa fusion. Carrie Ann says that they "set the standard" this season. Len says, "If this was judged purely on dance, you're the one to beat." (Wait... it isn't?) Mark mentions how he added more hip action for Len (and he had).

JUDGES' SCORE: On Mark Ballas' 30th birthday, 30

Alo Black (sp?) sings while they show clips from the three finalists behind him.

They then announce that the third place finalists are Ginger and Val.

They announced that in their regular ballroom. But by the time they do the final announcement, they are back outside at the Grove. Let's not stall... here you go.

But really, it's...

Most of all, Happy 30th Birthday, and goodbye to Mark Ballas. I can't even imagine a #DWTS without you. Best of luck with whatever it is you are doing next. We were lucky to have you grace our TV screens for 20 seasons. (And personally, I believe you should've won this, Season 22.)