'Dancing With the Stars' finale recap: Laurie Hernandez wins the Mirrorball Trophy

The finale of "Dancing With the Stars" starts with a Christmas motif, including the three celebrity finalists in onesies. I'm impressed they found one to fit Calvin Johnson. Oh, wait, this must mean the wardrobe department made it. Those people are marvels.

They're doing the thing again this year where part of the show is outdoors at The Grove and part is in the regular studio, which is conveniently next door.


Quickly they show highlights from each dance last night done by the three finalists. Nothing much new to report.

James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess reprise their quickstep from Cirque du Soleil Night. Aw, man. This wasn't my favorite of his. I mean, that's good and all, but I loved their jitterbug from Week 7 (Eras Night).


Then we get a recap of Week 1 and a performance from Andy Grammer. After the commercial break, Erin Andrews is surrounded by dancing shirtless Santas. Nice work if you can get it?

Calvin and Lindsay Arnold redo their Argentine tango from Latin night. This was the one with the crazy cartwheel lifts, wasn't it? I'm looking forward to seeing that again. It's not as smooth getting into it as it was the first time they did it, but it's still impressive.

Maureen McCormick and Artem Chigvintsev are back to do an encore of her Week 1 Viennese waltz, with some backup assistance at the very end from Ryan Lochte and Babyface.

Dress rehearsal behind-the-scenes montage: It's fun to find out that they use fake judges during dress rehearsal. Other than that, not a whole lot of good highlights this year.

Maks Chmerkovskiy gets a number with several of the female pros and troupe members, partnering primarily with Jenna Johnson, whose costume butt floof is the same color as Maks shirt. That's how you know she's Alpha.

More Maks exposure with Laurie Hernandez and Val Chmerkovskiy redoing their trio samba routine with him. Maks has a little trouble getting Laurie's hair out of its ponytail holder mid-routine so he misses getting the "dance competition" number stuck on Val's back. Glad it was just an exhibition dance.

Vanilla Ice is outside performing at The Grove stage. Of course he's doing "Ice, Ice Baby" but the twist is his "bromance" with Rick Perry —the former governor is standing behind turntables wearing a backward baseball cap. Perry comes out at the end and does his thinks-he's-the-cool-dad-at-the-wedding" "hip-hop" moves.

Jenna Johnson is dancing again, this time with Artem, while Felicia Barton sings "Grown Up Christmas List." Then Babyface comes on stage to sing "Winter Wonderland." My best guess is it's close to 70 degrees during this outdoor performance. California, y'all.


When we come back from commercial, Rick Perry is sitting at a drum set, which he proceeds to trash at the end. Gubernatorial mayhem.
Then it's a jacket but no shirt performance from the male pros, along with Calvin and James. It's kind of funny how Calvin is a head taller than anyone else on the floor. Oh, wait, it looks like they've picked up Ryan Lochte partway through the routine. I guess for the shirtless factor.

Jana Kramer and Gleb Sevchenko are back to do their black silk sheets/not-Silkwood shower Argentine tango from Latin Night. Len Goodman wasn't a judge that week — I'd love to hear what he thought of that number.

More highlights of weeks past, then a department store-sponsored Christmas traditions number, then a preview routine from the "DWTS" tour (coming to Baltimore's Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric on Jan. 15).

24-Hour Fusion Challenge Routines

James Hinchcliffe & Sharna Burgess
Foxtrot and Viennese waltz

As a gift, James gives Sharna the racing suit he wore in his first race back after his accident. She doesn't know what to say and he says she doesn't have to say anything, except to promise not to bedazzle it.
It's a lovely, gentle dance and a sweet ending for this partnership.

Len loves the chemistry between James and Sharna and says he wishes he could dance like James. Julianne Hough says she wishes she could dance WITH James. She thinks that routine captured his and Sharna's friendship and dancing partnership. Bruno Tonioli calls James a "class act." He then praises James's versatility and connection with Sharna.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Julianne: 10; Bruno: 10


Calvin Johnson Jr. & Lindsay Arnold
Jive and quickstep

I'm pleased with these two dances for them because I like upbeat, happy Calvin, if for no other reason than to see that perfect smile of his. Oooh, they're dancing to "Tutti Frutti" by Little Richard. This is our second song this season from one Richard Wayne Penniman. I always approve of more Little Richard.

It does feel like there's one part where Calvin falls behind the music a bit and runs to catch up with Lindsay, and another part where he seems to be looking to her to remember the steps for their side-by-side synchronized section, but it's just so fun and infectious.

Julianne calls it a "perfect fusion dance" with tons of content. Bruno praises the content but also Calvin's charm. Carrie Ann Inaba says he has an "X factor." Len says watching Calvin just makes you feel good.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Julianne: 10; Bruno: 10

Laurie Hernandez & Val Chmerkovskiy
Foxtrot and Argentine tango

At the very beginning of the number, as they go into hold, Val gives Laurie a quick peck on the forehead. It's really sweet. Val had a good big-brother vibe with Zendaya, too, a few seasons back. Maybe this is his niche, in the same way that Tony Dovolani used to always get the "women of a certain age."

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The routine is impeccable, of course.


Bruno calls Laurie a spectacular dancer but also praises her growth as a performer over the season. Carrie Ann calls it Laurie's best dance ever. Len says it's a fabulous dance to close a fabulous season.

Tom takes this moment to announce that Laurie will be joining the "Dancing With the Stars" tour. That's a big announcement!

Scores: Carrie Ann: 10; Len: 10; Julianne: 10; Bruno: 10

So the judges are pretty much making this a fan decision for Mirrorball trophy, which seems fair enough unless someone really messes up on the second night.

The three final couples are out on the Grove stage to be serenaded by Jana. As the camera is backing up to show all three couples, it appears the cameraman falls off the stage, taking the camera with him. They quickly cut to a different camera angle, where you can see that Sharna's realized what's happened and is really shocked and worried about the camera guy. So then they pull back to a really far-away shot, then a close-up on Jana, then back to the three contestants, who seem unsure which camera to be looking to. Luckily we're saved by a montage, clearly pre-planned, while everybody collects themselves enough to wave their hands in the air.

At the end of the song, Tom assures us that the camera guy is OK, catching his breath backstage (literally, behind a tree).


Calvin and Lindsay are third place, which is unsurprising and correct.
And the winner of Season 23 is Laurie and Val. Also not surprising. Most other seasons, James could have won that trophy — maybe we'll see him again if they do another all-stars season.