Sunday, April 16, 2017

DWTS Season 23 Finals, part 2: It's Val and Laurie!

The Grove shopping center is right next to where Dancing with the Stars films. So it's a natural backdrop for their finale, especially around holiday time. I love it. The holiday finales are some of my favorites of this show. So we open on some of the pros dancing through the sparkling, glittering Grove.

Thankfully, the whole concept of "everyone in the cast gets to do a dance" went away with the previous director, and we only SEE each of the season's cast members. Some of whom you had probably surely forgotten were on this season. (Who's that guy with Jenna again?) What is weird though, is that SOME of them do get to perform "their favorite" dances. Others don't (Amber bails on what she said during the show was her least favorite dance, and we get to see the wondrous Jenna dance it instead.). Others have their partners bail inexplicably (see Marilu at the beginning with Derek; when she dances her dance, with Terra and Sasha inexplicably, Marilu is paired with a troupe dancer, and Derek is nowhere to be found). Just weirdness like that through this whole thing.

Tom does his usual spiel, and says that "for the first time ever, the final three are all athletes." Really? A racecar driver counts as an athlete? Hmmm.

So, the scores, they tell us in a nicely done recap of last night are: THIRD PLACE: Lindsay and Calvin with 75, SECOND PLACE: James and Sharna with 77, and FIRST PLACE: VAL AND LAURIE with 78.

Now, in my experience, it's really not often that the addition of the scores from America changes much at this point. (And, indeed, these end up being the final rankings.) But we have this whole finale to go through. So here we go!

First, a look back at the season that was. Back to the first week, and the whole mess with Ryan Lochte, which sadly overshadows that great opening number at Griffith Park. Week Two, TV Night. Week Three and that crazy Face Off nonsense. Then, we have a song (inexplicably) by Andy Grammar. It is notable only for the dance that goes with it, by the wondrous Allison Holker and Keo Motsepe.

You will remember, of course, that when Andy Grammar competed on the show, Ms. Allison was his partner. Always wonderful to see her dance, so this was beautiful.

Then, they start the recap dances, for no apparent reason.

We have Calvin and Lindsay's beautiful Argentine tango (to "Hotel California"). Then Maureen and Artem do a waltz or something (to "You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)," surrounded by other men from the season.

Then, the always fun blooper reel from the dress rehearsals.

Then, not clear why, Maks dances with women of the troupe. I just realized that this was the dance that Amber so memorably was bitching about having to dance in heels, down stairs. Maybe this was meant for her to dance? In any case, our lovely Jenna did a fine job, having no problem with said heels, or said stairs.

Then, Maks and Val and Laurie do their Trio from the semis, which was wonderful. They improv with Maks and Val together at the end (instead of with Laurie, which is how it was originally), which is funny.

Erin, now outside at the Grove again, talks about the bond that Vanilla Ice and Rick Perry formed on the show (true story). Ice and Witney do their dance to "Ice, Ice Baby," and Rick Perry joins them at the end.

Then they show a bunch of the celebrities and pros who visited Children's Hospital LA, which they've been doing for eight years now. Very nice moment.

Wisely, they chose to not have Babyface dance again, but do what he does best: sing. His lovely partner, Allison, danced with Alan. Beautiful number.

This number was some fun here. Some (not all) of the men of Season 23 and the male pros and troupe members, having some fun with their jackets open. "Yes, please!" as Erin would (and did) say. Although it's unclear why the number was "24 Carat... something" and they come out in silver jackets instead of gold...?

They recap Week Four, which yes, had a double elimination, but what we will always remember as the night that Sasha proposed to Emma. Then Week Five, and Week Six.

Then, Jana and Gleb do that hokey Argentine tango with the water. I didn't like it the first time around. It certainly (to me) wasn't "the hottest Argentine tango ever." (Remember Mark and Paige's Argentine tango? Just sayin'...) Just the wettest.

Then they run through Week Seven through the Semifinals, all of which includes the Team dances, and Halloween, and Sharna's injury, and Jenna filling in. (Props to those who edited these packages. Really nice stuff.)

And now! It's big, it's fantastical, it's choreographed by Mandy Moore. It's a Macy's ad in the middle.

This was truly magic. Part in camera tricks, part amazing dancing. Really stunning stuff. Reminiscent of those big holiday ballet epics, but with a unique #DWTS spin on it.

Then we had a promo for the big DWTS tour, which follows this show in cities across America.

This great photo of Emma and Alan isn't from that dance, but let's just say it was..
Then, we have a judges' look at the final three competitors. Basically, any of these three can do it.

Then, by way of competition, since we really do have three of the best choreographers on the show, we have a fusion challenge (where they combine two styles of dance in one song). Previously, Derek Hough and Mark Ballas were masters at this. I haven't really seen any choreographer match their level yet, although Sharna and Val do come close.

Fusion Challenge: Foxtrot and Viennese Waltz
Scoring: Perfect score (40 out of 40)

I admit it, I always judge competitors by how they react to the final wall when they do this last dance, because the production staff decorates their regular rehearsal rooms with pictures of them throughout the season. The couples who react the best to those items are the ones I most want to win. In this case, Sharna reacted much more to the photos than James. Course, she knows what it means.

Their fusion dance was beautiful.

Fusion Challenge: Jive and Quickstep
Scoring: Perfect score (40 out of 40)

Lindsay seems more wowed by the pictures than Calvin. He notes how he had difficulty in the beginning wearing all the sequins that are standard issue at #DWTS.

Fusion Challenge: Foxtrot and Argentine tango
Scoring: Perfect score (40 out of 40)

They have many great pictures, and Laurie makes somewhat of a show about how hard it is to not be working with Val anymore. That is short-lived, however, when Tom announces after they dance that, indeed Laurie is going to be joining the aforementioned DWTS Tour, so she'll still be seeing plenty of Val.

For those keeping score at home, based on Judges' scores, the ranking STILL is:

1. Laurie and Val
2. James and Sharna
3. Calvin and Lindsay

Now, the audience votes have to be factored in. Guess how it turns out?

Well, they shuttled the three finalists over to The Grove. Mind you, when they had that "Winter Wonderland" song (that Babyface was singing), they were pumping out the fake snow for a wintry effect (you know it wasn't snowing here in SoCal). It appears whatever they used was slippery, so dancers were slipping, and right before the big announcement, one of the cameramen went flying. Noble Val jumped to help him out.

So, Tom and Erin announce that Calvin and Lindsay have taken third.

This lovely couple took second place.

Oh, and look who won! Congrats to Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy. Well-deserved.

Season 23, a great season of truly amazing competitors.


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