It's finale night on Dancing With the Stars. It starts with a bunch of the ousted dancers and pros dancing to "I'm So Excited," the pros doing a lot more legwork than the stars. (In particular, Kate Gosselin just kind of walks along, prodded by Tony Dovolani. So don't miss her!)
Chad Ochocinco is not among the dancers because he got injured playing football. Doh!
The finalists have two more routines to perform for scores, which will be combined with last night's votes and scores, and the third-place team will be eliminated. Then one more dance for scores.
Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough try to figure out their best dance from the season. They finally decide to reprise their Argentine tango. In this round, the dancers will be ranked, with No. 1 getting 30 points, No. 2 getting 28 and No. 3 getting 26. This is a nice choice for them -- it's so intricate and intense that it definitely has a wow factor. Head judge Len Goodman says it was clean and crisp. Bruno Tonioli says the magic continues and calls it devastating intensity. Carrie Ann Inaba loves it too.
Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya also choose the Argentine tango. I had forgotten what a good performance this was by them, too. They said it was their breakthrough week, and that is true. Bruno says Evan danced it like a lady killer, slick and stylish and with the energy under control. Carrie Ann says it's getting exciting in here. She actually thinks this was their redemption dance and beyond perfect. Len says this is the highest standard they have ever had on this show.
Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy go with the Argentine tango as well. (Is this a coincidence or a setup?) This was a strong one for them, as well, but three Argentine tangos in a row? Carrie Ann says Erin was in another zone and that it was beautiful. Len thinks judging these three tangos is the hardest task they've had ever on this show. He also thinks Erin has come the furthest since the beginning. Bruno says she had the most growth of the final three and she improved week over week.
Then, the rankings: Erin and Maks get 26 points, Evan and Anna get 28 points and Nicole and Derek get 30.
Then we start getting a season recap. This is followed by new dances from Shannen Doherty and Mark Ballas; Aiden Turner and Edyta Sliwinska and Buzz Aldrin and Ashly Costa. Very short new dances. Buzz and Ashly's is to the "Star Wars" theme, and he actually dances more than in past performances. Oh, and he's sparkly.
After that, Jake Pavelka and Chelsie Hightower dance, accompanied by Dmitry Chaplin and Vienna, Jake's fiance. There is a whole lot of reality show interaction going on here: The Bachelor and his bride-to-be performing on DWTS with two pros who got their TV start on So You Think You Can Dance. Meta!
Host Tom Bergeron talks with some previous winners, including Kelly Monaco, whom I didn't even recognize.
Elimination time: With last night's votes and scores combined with tonight's scores all combined, the third-place couple is Erin and Maks. Wow, I'm kind of surprised, actually. She's fostered a lot of goodwill since she had the least dance and performance experience. She says she came on the show "under really crummy circumstances" and that she just wanted to get her life and her smile back. Maks says it was a rollercoaster of a season, and they've both had an amazing journey and that they've both won. They get themselves back together so they can dance their final dance.
Before the final dance from the finalists, there's the finals of the college dance team competition. (I don't think I used the word "final" enough in that sentence; what do you think?) It's Purdue University vs. Utah Valley University, and they're both pretty great. The winner is Utah Valley University; the team gets a baby mirrorball trophy.
Before the finalists perform again, Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani hit the stage. She says she's been working on her shows "Kate Plus 8" and "Twist of Kate." They are reprising their "Paparazzi" performance, only with more dancing this time. She still thinks she is going to look dumb and she is making faces at everything Tony suggests. She wants to just have fun with it. (That would be a nice change!) In the performance, they do a little bit to "Paparazzi" and then "I Will Survive" comes on and they dance for a bit and she runs over to this camera that is up toward the ceiling. It's very confusing. I bet Tony's glad that's over.
But it's still not time for Evan and Nicole. First we see a recap of how they prepared for the last performance. Then there's a performance by Pamela Anderson, Niecy Nash "and some guys," Tom says. One of them, Damian Whitewood, looks like a Chippendale dancer with his tie and no shirt. Niecy works it to "Bootylicious." Cute! Even Glady Knight gives them all a standing ovation.
Finally, it's the finalists dancing their final dances. Nicole and Derek dance the jive to "Proud Mary." And it is phenomenal -- with much more of the impact I was expecting in the freestyle round last night. Len says she should be the winner. Bruno says this has been the best season ever and that these two have constantly produced some amazing dances this season, and this was the crowning glory. Carrie Ann says she looks forward to seeing what they're going to do every day. Scores: 10-10-10, for a 30/30 and a total of 115 over both nights.
Last are Evan and Anna. They do a quickstep to "I Want You to Want Me" and it's speedy and quick and fun and sweet, but it doesn't have the level of intensity to Nicole and Derek's performance that preceded it. Bruno says Evan's performance level has increased so much over the season. Carrie Ann says though Nicole and Derek might be winning the scoring, she thinks these two are winning people's hearts. Len says Evan's been a joy to watch and has done a fantastic job. Scores: 10-9-9, for a 28/30 and a total of 108 across the two nights.
Now, more waiting. But just a little.
The winner of this season of Dancing With the Stars is Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough. They seem so surprised and very happy.
What do you think about this result?
(Photo courtesy of ABC)