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'Dancing with the Stars' recap: The winner is...

By Amy Watts

For The Baltimore Sun

10:29 AM EST, November 27, 2013

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Finale time! Which means approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes of filler content and commercials and maybe 30 minutes of actual dancing.

The opening sequence is a lot like the one that opened the first episode of the season, with everybody making entrances and posing on the red carpet.

There's a quick recap of last night's performances and scores.  To refresh your memory, it's Amber & Derk at 64, Corbin & Karina at 62, Jack & Cheryl at 57.

Back from commercial, Nicole & Sasha are doing a reprise of their "Hey Mickey" routine. Then Enrique Iglesias sings. His hair is sculpted to look very unsculpted. It's a marvel.

Amber & Derek were chosen to do the encore dance and Amber kills it all over again. Thinking about this dance since yesterday, I decided what I liked best about it was that Derek really put Amber out front, essentially making himself a featured backup dancer. In doing that he made sure we all saw how great Amber is.

At the end of the encore routine, one of the backup dancers does a flip up off the floor instead of just getting up the boring old way. Yeah, you're cool, dude.

We get a montage of the first three weeks of competition and some of those dances were completely crazy. Speaking of crazy, Ylvis is here to sing their "What Does the Fox Say" song while the group that danced to it earlier this year reprise their routine.

Before Ylvis came out on stage, Tom and Brooke were outside the ballroom on the red carpet. Tom jokes about how nice it is to be outside the ballroom for a change -- usually that would set off his ankle bracelet.

The female pros are all out to do a quick routine. It's a testament to costume tape and waxing.

Bill Nye is back for a quick segment, where he's being "rebuilt" for a comeback. Bless ABC for getting the rights to the "Six Million Dollar Man" sound effect. They're doing a cha cha, he and Tyne Stecklein, and dang if he doesn't do a full leap over her head and then some handsprings. Oh, wait, I think there may be some clever doubling going on with a stand-in Bill.

I rewind to confirm and yes, there are cuts here and there to allow for a dance double. When it's finished, Tom says "Wow, it was like sometimes he was a whole different person!" OK, so that seals it. Kudos to the editors for that segment.

Elizabeth & Val are back for a routine and, man, do I hate that she didn't make it to the finale. She's such a gorgeous dancer.

Onto a recap of the fourth through sixth episodes. They show Christina's elimination and now I remember who she is. I totally didn't know who she was in an earlier segment. So much for making an impression.

Christina & Mark and Brant & Peta are back to do kind of an encore. Christina & Mark start the song, then go offstage, then Brant & Peta come out, then both couples dance together at the end. It's pretty cool. I like when they work up these new things for the eliminated contestants instead of just rehashing the old ones.

And now a quick recap of Valerie's time on the show, followed by a dance to "It's a Wonderful World" sung live by Colbie Caillat.

Nicole's clip package reminds me all over again why I never bothered to watch "Jersey Shore." She does the routine that had a basket toss in it. It's also one where she's wearing little dance shoes and you see how short she really is.

Lady Antebellum performs and apparently my housemate went to high school with two of them. Alas, she has no good gossip from back in the day. Hillary Scott is wearing a bustier that's got the girls up and out and I keep worrying they're going to make a break for it. Her shoes are also hideous and should be burned.

More footage from past episodes. I never saw before that right after her elimination was announced, Elizabeth made the total 'I'm sucking in all the bad words I'm not going to say on national TV' fishface.

Bill Engvall and Emma are back to do their samba again and man, seeing the footage earlier reminded me that if there was anyone I wanted to see in white pants again, it was Brant. Hoo boy!

Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff

Cha Cha - Foxtrot Fusion

They appear to start with the foxtrot, for the slower intro of the song, and then segue into cha cha when the song's tempo picks up.

Len rightfully points out a little mistake near the end and the crowd boos. He's a JUDGE, not a THERAPIST. Calm down, audience. Bruno praises his "flair for Latin." Carrie Ann has to point out the mistake despite praising the dance.

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9

Jack Osbourne & Cheryl Burke

Paso Doble - Salsa fusion

Apparently, Jack's never done salsa before. Eeeep. Jack's so cute -- he's like a sexy teddy bear. I've grown to like him much more than I would've anticipated at the beginning of the season. I think the kid, the wife and the MS diagnosis in such quick succession forced him to grow up real quick.

The judges praise his spirit, even if his dancing isn't the greatest. Len says, "The others have climbed hills; you've climbed mountains."

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9;  Bruno: 9

Amber Riley & Derek Hough

Samba - Quickstep fusion

Oooh, they've got the best song of the night, Jackie Wilson's "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher." This is some brilliant choreography from Derek. Instead of being all samba then all quickstep or vice versa, it's constantly switching back and forth throughout the song. Incredible.

Carrie Ann points out the back-and-forth, saying they've almost created a new dance style, the "Quicksambastep." Len calls Amber "my little sausage" and I promise it's not an insult -- I have a good friend from England and she calls her daughters that all the time as a term of endearment.

Judges' Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Bruno: 10

So, Amber and Derek came in with the highest score and then got a 30 to the others' 27s tonight. This HAS to be an Amber victory, right? Well, we'll find out after about 15 more minutes of commercial and filler.

Colbie Caillat performs. Then, as the three couples are up on the stage, video mash notes from the celebs to their pros play behind them. It's all so sappy and heartwarming I want to puke.

It's Jack and Cheryl in 3rd place. That's an "of course" moment. I'll take this last chance to say how much I love Jack's wife's haircut. It's so chic and suits her so well.

Amber wins! And her "I JUST WON" face is FANTASTIC. Mark Ballas gets at least three free passes from me next season because he and Keyshawn lift Amber up in celebration. I was worried they wouldn't do that because she's bigger than any other female winner (I think.)

So, that was a good season. Lots of good personalities, very little manufactured drama and the one-night-a-week thing does keep things zippy. And the ringer (Corbin) didn't win. Let's hope the spring is just as good.