Cat Deeley welcomes us to the Season 11 finale, reminding us of all the prizes that will go to tonight's winner: Money, cover of a magazine, part in a Broadway show, yadda yadda.
Tonight, the judges table is extra-crowded with guest judges Tara Lipinski, Adam Shankman, Jenna Dewan Tatum and Debbie Allen, alongside regular judges Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy.
We start with a number for the Top 20 choreographed by Warren Carlyle. Everybody's wearing tailcoats, but only the men get to wear pants; it's shorts for the ladies. Unfair. Let's see some male thighs up in here! Ah, there's Teddy! I still miss Teddy.
On to the encores. Mary Murphy chooses Travis Wall's "first kiss" routine, with Casey Askew and finalist Jessica Richens.
Debbie Allen chooses finalists Ricky Ubeda and Valerie Rockey's Pharside and Phoenix "Turn Down for What" routine. You might remember it as the creepy Raggedy Ann number. Watching it, this is the kind of number I wish they'd given Jessica -- a little bit creepy, not altogether pretty and not a hint of sexuality.
Cat is standing by the judges table and admires Mary's full-length gown. Ooh la la.
Finalist Zack Everhart got to choose a routine to reprise tonight and he chose the Sonya Tayeh rain-routine with All-Star Amy Yakima.
Nigel chooses a routine originally performed by All-Star Allison Holker and Rudy Abreu. Allison is now under contract to "Dancing with the Stars," but deals were worked out so she could perform tonight in the "Dirty Diana" number from Michael Jackson night.
Did you know Paula Abdul hosts the Australia edition of "So You Think You Can Dance"? Huh. She blathers on a bit in order to introduce the winner of "So You Think You Can Dance Australia": Michael Dameski. His dancing is amazing - combining gymnastics, grace, athleticism and power. I can see why he won. He's also wearing skin tight leggings and I approve of that as well.
Quick montage of Cat goofing around saying "Shazam." We even get slo-mo replay of the time she hit Nigel in the face with her microphone. Hee.
Yay! Finalist Valerie picked that staircase number with Zack to "Sing" from Week 1, choreographed by Anthony Morigerato. It's every bit as impressive as I remember it. Maybe even more so now that both Valerie and Zack have gotten more polished in their performance skills.
Finalist Ricky's encore choice is the Sonya Tayeh routine he did in Week 1 with fellow finalist Jessica Richens. So many down-tempo contemporary numbers so far.
America got to vote on Twitter last week for their favorite of three hip-hop numbers. Apparently, we chose Carly Blaney and Serge Onik as skeletons in a Luther Brown routine. I had completely forgotten about both these dancers until just right now.
A brand of deodorant that has given money to the show is sponsoring a guest cameo from Ciara. She meets the finalists and they exchange pleasantries.
Tanisha Belknap and Rudy Abreu are back to reprise their Sonya Tayeh number. Man, if we were going to get a Tanisha repeat tonight, I was hoping for that killer Argentine Tango she did.
I'm not sure when Enrique decided to drop the Iglesias, but he's here tonight. Dad Julio must be so disappointed he's had an Iglesiectomy
Cat introduces "shrinking violet" Adam Shankman. He's picking Pharside and Phoenix's playing-card routine with Zack and Ricky. He concludes with, "These two kings should know this queen is a huge fan!" Oh, Shankman. Never stop with the corny. I like this routine even more on second viewing. It's so much fun to watch two guys dance together.
Zack and Ricky remain on stage and Valerie and Jessica are asked to join them. So, it's time to announce fourth place. And it's Zack. Not a huge surprise. Whoa, do his ears stick out in the ballcap he's wearing from that hip-hop routine.
Tara loses my respect forever by choosing a NappyTabs routine. It's the snake-charming routine with Emilio Dosal and All-Star Jasmine Harper. Jasmine is killing it, while Emilio is only good.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson is center stage. He's probably tied Cat to a chair backstage somewhere. He's begging to be a contestant on Season 12. He wants to work with Travis Wall most of all. He offers to follow along with some impromptu choreography from Travis. Travis throws out some rapid fire choreography terms and Jesse begs off.
Sonya Tayeh and Dave Scott team up to choreograph a new routine for the Top 10 and the All-Stars. It's centered around four benches on which the dancers are supposed to be commuters. All-Star Will Wingfield kills it in a solo spot. I love this song, "Sweet Disposition" by The Temper Trap. With its sweet dramatics, this song alone does half the work.
Hey, remember how there was a competition for a crew to compete on the finale? The Bollywood-inspired The Wanted Ashiqz got it. So, it's, like, a lot of hot Indian guys in vests. I do not mind this development at all. Although I'm bummed only the one dude's vest opens; all the rest are sewn shut. They finish with a giant pyramid. Let me climb that mountain.
Finalist Jessica's encore choice is, alas, not the Tokyo-club routine, but the duet with Robert Roldan choreographed by Travis Wall. At the end, she stays on stage with Cat, while Valerie and Ricky are summoned again. Time for third place, and it goes to Jessica! I thought she was going to be first or second for sure. So now it's got to be Ricky for the win, right?
Cat now gets to choose her routine and she wants to see the Travis Wall routine Valerie and Ricky performed together in their first week paired as a couple. She says they've never had two finalists perform together right before the results were announced. I'm too lazy to fact check her, so let's choose to believe.
When we see them both on stage after the montage of their time on the show, they're hugging. Aww. These two are both adorable. Ricky is the winner! Giant elfin sobs and someone who might be his grandmother is losing it in the audience.
Ricky looks more like we just ran over his puppy than that he just won money and a role in a Broadway show. Cheer up, my little woodland nymph -- you're America's favorite dancer.
All in all, a good season, but I was disappointed by the finale. I like it when it's not all finalists all the time. I wouldn't have minded seeing that weird Tokyo-club routine again or the neon flavored African jazz number. And I would have really, really, loved to see Jacque Warner and All-Star Chehon Wespi-Tschopp reprise their Travis Wall routine with the spotlight. Oh well.
Tonight was apparently all about Valerie, Ricky, contemporary dance and hip-hop. Thank goodness for my DVR and YouTube, where I can cobble together my own finale the way I like it.