The introduction to last night's "Dancing With the Stars" Season 22 finale has all the stars dancing in various locations around and even on top of the studio. I hope the rooftop dancers got hazard pay.
There's a bit where a backup dancer tries to hike the ball to Doug Flutie and the snap is botched! (It really was the center/backup dancer's fault, though.) They cut to inside the ballroom and there's a bald dude up in the skybox and I have absolutely no idea who it is. Wait! Apparently that is Pitbull?!! Huh.
Jodie Sweetin is no dummy — she's dancing inside and with a bunch of hot guys holding her in the air. Marla Maples is back to do a cartwheel and it's still impressive.
Tom Bergeron gives us a little taste of his "Robot" dance moves while Erin Andrews vamps with some of the hot male dancers. I'm not a huge fan of Erin's dress tonight because it's essentially a leotard with a sheer overlay. If it were actually lined, the dress would be elegant and gorgeous. As is, you're focused on the top of her thighs, given where the camera cuts off. I mean, maybe that was the goal?
When we see the scoreboard, it only has the totals from last night. I could've sworn they said Monday night that the scores and votes from last week were coming forward to this week.
Outside, Fleur East performs her debut single while Kim Fields and Sasha Farber, along with troupe members, act as her backup dancers.
I'm not recapping the clips from shows earlier in the season. We have a handy archive here if you need refreshing.
Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas are back to do their "Steel Cage Paso Doble" from Week 3.
Then there's a quick segment with Doug Flutie, Von Miller and Antonio Brown. It seems that they've taken outtakes from the regular interview segments and spliced them in with ridiculous questions from Kenny Mayne. It works for me. Especially since we didn't get "Dance Center" this year.
Back from commercial, Tom is in the control room and has longtime director of the show, Alex Rudzinski, in a headlock/hug while the poor guy is just trying to do his job. Rudzinski is leaving the show after this season and that may be a bigger deal than we'd like. Whoever comes in has some big shoes to fill.
Bindi Irwin, Emmett Smith, and Shawn Johnson (all former winners) are in the ballroom to give some soundbites to Tom. Bindi wins because she says "sparkles" in her cute Australian accent.
Fifth Harmony performs. It's got a weird quality to it, like they're using a different camera than usual or something? Maybe it was actually recorded earlier?
Tom's dressed up like Uncle Sam to promote Season 23 in Fall 2016. USA! USA! USA!
Back outside, the female pros and troupe dancers get a routine that involves them taking off clothes as they go along. I'd be annoyed except I feel sure they'll give us the guys doing the same thing later.
Ginger Zee and Val Chmerkovskiy are back to do their Argentine tango, which may have been my favorite of Ginger's all season. I keep meaning to track down that gorgeous cover of "Telephone."
Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess are performing an encore of their Aladdin jive and I'm angry all over again that Sharna isn't wearing harem pants and is instead in Sandy-at-the-end-of-"Grease" leggings. Harrumph.
Oh, hey, here's a preview of the Chmerkovskiy brothers' show. When Erin asks Val what fans can hope to see, he says, "They can see a dream come true." When Erin raises her eyebrows at that, he clarifies it's their dream come true. Erin puts Maks on the spot by pointing out that both his brother and his fiancee (Peta Murgatroyd) are in the finale. Maks parries that thrust with something about their family being the best family. I do kind of enjoy the brothers.
Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe are back to do their "church jive" that earned them a perfect score in Week 8. Earlier, during clips from dress rehearsals throughout the season, they showed a clip of Erin saying something like, "So it's our first elimination, which means Keo's going home." Man, if I were Keo, after the things they've edited in this season from his partners, the judges, and now a co-host, I wouldn't be expecting an invite back for Season 23.
And now a quick segment with Von Miller hosting "Are You Smarter than a Dancer?" with contestants Witney Carson and Lindsay Arnold — they are proudly holding up the "dumb blonde" stereotype. Von actually might have a future in some sort of hosting/comedy. Tom tries to comfort Lindsay and Witney by telling them he crashed and burned on "Celebrity Jeopardy!" a few years ago. He came in third, a little behind Elizabeth Perkins and way behind Aisha Tyler. Aisha's a pretty smart cookie, so don't feel so bad, Tom.
Back from commercial and on the outside stage, Witney and Artem Chigvintsev are in bride and groom drag while Dan + Shay perform. Moving inside, Wanyá Morris and Lindsay are reprising their Charleston. I so loved this routine. It was peak Wanyá.
Now it's time for the male dancers to do their group number. They are wearing pants and jackets and long sleeve shirts and this is all too much fabric. Antonio and Von join them for a little bit near the end, just in time for all the guys to pop their shirts open. THANK YOU!
Pitbull performs on the outside stage, which gives him a reason to wear sunglasses and he looks SO MUCH more like himself. It's like Tom Selleck and the mustache: You can recognize Selleck without the facial hair, but with it recognition occurs much faster.
Erin teases Pitbull about not being asked to be a backup dancer and then asks if he'll come back as a guest judge next season. He ducks and dodges that commitment like a pro.
Some never-before-seen clips reveal that Wanyá sweats a lot, Marla is stinky because she uses hippie deodorant, Ginger accidentally grabbed Val's private parts (through his pants) in rehearsals and found out he doesn't wear underwear, Mischa Barton had a wardrobe malfunction in rehearsal in which her bra unsnapped (and she wasn't wearing a shirt over it), and Antonio flosses his teeth a lot.
The whole cast, minus the three finalists, is back for some sort of summer-themed number. It makes me happy to see all these dudes in shorts. And then the crab costume (with Sasha inside) makes its triumphant return! I love how they're never letting that joke die.
The judge's montage has Carrie Ann saying that Ginger's confidence isn't steady, Paige doesn't always connect with the audience, and Nyle rushes ahead of the music. Carrie Ann grimaces at having said that knowing he can't hear the music, but she correctly defends herself by saying it's true. The judges all said nice things too but, c'mon, those are boring.
Ginger Zee and Val Chmerkovskiy
Ginger's also wearing a leotard under a sheer dress, but the reason it works better than Erin's is No. 1: It's stage wear, as in a dance costume; and No. 2: The overlay part doesn't look like a really beautiful dress that is mistakenly missing a lining.
The dance starts off as mostly the tango, then there's a weird moment when they break apart and Ginger walks in circles and claps her hands above her head to get the crowd into it before coming back together with Val in hold. It's an awkward transition. But this song is kind of weird rhythmically, so maybe it was the best Val could come up with.
Len compliments Ginger on her continued growth throughout the season. He assures that losing the dance a little bit is something that happens to every dancer at some point. I rewind and rewatch the routine and that explains what I thought was a weird transition. I'm sorry I doubted you, Val.
Carrie Ann is "so sad" that's the last dance she's seeing from Ginger and Val, and I agree — it's a bummer for her to end the season on this note.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9; Len: 9; Bruno: 9. Hmph. Overscored. Forgetting the choreography is one thing, turning away from your partner and "improvising" for several measures is a big mistake. She should've gotten 8s, finale or no.
Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd
I'm glad that Peta's engagement to Maks was public and in place before the season began so we didn't have to endure weeks of teasing about a showmance between Peta and Nyle (who, by the way, grew up in Frederick).
I want Nyle's shoulders to be a little more down in hold. I think the white jacket he's wearing only highlights it. This is maybe not his best dance of the season, and you can imagine how he, more than anyone, would need more than 24 hours to learn a new routine. I mean, fair is fair and he has to compete by the same rules as everybody else, but it showed to his disadvantage tonight.
Bruno calls it "glorious in every possible way," so maybe I know nothing. Nyle is biting his lip real hard and you can tell he's about a split second away from crying.
Carrie Ann stands up to sign something to him and that's when he (and I) lose it and start crying for real. I don't know if she got it exactly right since I don't speak American Sign Language, but it really doesn't matter given her sincerity and his reaction. I'm also amazed and pleased that the audience maintains a respectful quiet while she's speaking to him in ASL. They show a quick cut to Nyle's mom in the audience and she's wiping away tears, too.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Bruno: 10
Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas
Apparently it's Mark's birthday and he's hoping for a mirror ball trophy for his birthday. He reflects that he's been on the show through most of his 20s and really kind of grew up on it.
They're dancing to one of my favorite oldies, "Little Bitty Pretty One." It's an infectiously happy song. Something feels off with the speed, though. Like the song is too slow and they're pulling the throttle back on their dancing to match.
Carrie Ann says Paige has set the standard this season and uses the word "awesome" three times to describe the dance. Len says if this were a competition based purely on dance technique, Paige would be the certain winner.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Bruno: 10
Just to prolong the agony for the finalists a little bit longer, they have to stand on stage while Aloe Blacc sings a supposedly uplifting song. Peta's makeup tonight, when she's not smiling, is giving her a serious Joan Crawford look. Note to Peta: Don't use this as your wedding makeup.
Third place goes to ... Ginger and Val. That's not unexpected. They somehow lost momentum right at the very end of the season.
The finalists, host, and mirror ball trophy have all moved outside for the big announcement. Boy, wouldn't you be ticked if you had inside seats and they pulled this for the big reveal at the end!
And the winner is ... NYLE and PETA! A bunch of of guys in suits rush the stage to hoist Nyle and Peta up on their shoulders. Erin tries valiantly to interview Paige but it's mostly drowned out by the celebration.
Tom is only moderately successful in trying to grab Peta and Nyle for the official presentation of the trophy. Peta speaks for both of them — I'm not sure where Nyle's interpreter is in the scrum of people on the stage.
Tom promises to see us in September and Erin wishes us a great summer. And I echo those sentiments to you, my lovely readers.