Despite the one I was pulling for being eliminated, still have a finale to work with. First, we start with three, and some initial impressions.
- Nicole Scherzinger – one of the Pussycat Dolls. She has dominated the field more or less all season. In the first part of the finale, she had 55 out of 60 points.
- Evan Lysacek – the men’s figure skating gold medalist. He has been solid all season. Like former winner Kristi Yamaguchi, and frankly, Nicole – it seems kind of unfair. I mean, they are practically dancing professionally. Anyway, he got only 52 out of 60 in the first part. Obviously, machismo is his middle name.
- Erin Andrews – the hyper-leggy sideline reporter for ESPN. She is loved by her target audience, sometimes a bit too much. She was on the dance team at the University of Florida, so she is no slouch. She has been good all season, but picking her against semi-pros, still. 55 out of 60 entering.
So the finale final part opens up with a contrived dance routine featuring all of this season’s contestants. Not a lot of dancing involving the celebrities – given Buzz Aldrin’s performance in the real competition, that is just as well. Tom Bergeron hosts as usual – hell, I remember him growing up in the Boston area hosting a z-grade local chat show. Being friendly gets you a long way on TV – and he’s less irritating than Ahmad Rashad. The co-host and “sideline interviewer” for this is the terribly wooden Brooke Burke – sad since I thought she was the most beautiful woman on TV in her Wild on E! days. She is still hot as ever (the dress tonight makes her look a bit like a banana) – but her personality still seems to have been misplaced somewhere.
So with the first round scores, and audience votes. The final three dance again – and the points are allotted 30-28-26. All three contestants choose the Argentinian Tango. I wish I could say something insightful or witty, but it’s Dancing with the Stars. Nobody looked that hideous in dress, the dances were pretty good, the judges hemmed and hawed about how tough it would be to score, and then Brooke asked cliched questions that elicited stupid responses. Nicole, Evan, Erin get the 30-28-26 in order. So now, commercial. (*)
(* Suns 26, Lakers 23, early 2nd … wow, low scoring – remote controls rock … see an ad for The Bachelorette upon clicking back – I never understood that show. The Bachelor is one thing – women getting catty for the attention of a substandard guy. I just don’t see how the men really have that much invested – at least early on, they must be just waiting to get eliminated so they can get to the bar before last call.)
Now we are treated with a montage of this “most talked about cast” (as Tom assures us). The usual stuff – with Buzz Aldrin’s shocking badness, Shannen Doherty’s badness etc. Ooh, we get Buzz, Shannen and some guy I don’t remember dancing new dances? None of this is especially good – though plenty uncomplicated for the contestants to not screw up. They play the Star Wars theme for a very stiff dance by Buzz where he sports a sequined outfit inspired by the space program – or disco. I wish I were fabricating this. (unrelated note: the show is well known for being too cheap to pay for the real songs by real artists – so instead they are sung by their singers. Is this the lowest rung on the recorded music totem pole? I mean besides the Filet of Fish jingle singers?) (**)
** (what? No real dancing – just more foreshadowing. Suns 36-32, 7:40 to go in the 2nd. Jared Dudley banks and-1!!! He is the last college basketball player I had a true man-crush over – sue me)
More montages. Sadly, no Chad Ochocinco dancing – he hurt himself playing football (clearly not remembering his commitment to dancing). More random dancing by eliminated contestants I don’t remember – and indeed trust me, neither would you. This is apparently something romantic – couldn’t the Lakers have waited 2 more minutes to call timeout? Oh, apparently one of the couples was the final couple in The Bachelor. Well, I still don’t remember.
Now we get a look at the top arguments (the #1 involved Kate Gosselin – somehow, her ability to be irritating shocks me zero). Tom then interviews former champions in the crowd. If you were looking for a menacing quotation like the former Hurricanes in ESPN’s documentary on the University of Miami – I’m sorry to disappoint you. Someone gets eliminated … NEXT! (***)
(*** Suns 58, Lakers 51 … 2 minutes to go in the first half … Channing Frye, after an unfathomable 1 for 17 over 3 games, has hit three 3s in the second quarter)
The three contestants stand there. Erin in a yellow with black polka dotted dress that makes her look like a bee – or a leopard, or a leopard bee. Evan looks the same as always (manly of course), Nicole is wearing a brown dress and frizzier hair (perhaps like out of the jungle or something). After much buildup, Erin is eliminated. The interview – surprisingly touching – Erin acknowledges the creepy stalker story that followed her, and the need to just be happy again. I bet the distraction really did help her for what its worth. Evan and Nicole seemed predestined – indeed, now we’ll see. How does ABC fill another WHOLE HOUR??? With yellow and black Erin dancing of course – the Cha Cha. I won’t try to discuss this rationally. The house singer is doing a pretty lousy job here. (****)
**** (Suns 64-55 at recess. Channing Frye 3-5 today making him 4-25 for the series. Craig Sager’s suit not nearly disgusting enough – compared to his potential.)
Back to the show, where Brooke asks each couple what … why am I recapping this. Apparently they brought college dance finalists – I guess to see what good dancing looks like. One of the finalists was Purdue University – an engineering school – they have enough women to field a dance team, who knew? Their fellow finalist is Utah Valley University – despite my preconceived notions, they are touching each other. If this is like college football, the men must be 28. The judges pick – Utah Valley! I tear my brackets up.
Now this “most talked about” cast is being talked about, in a montage of celebrities talking about this season. I am not sure if Larry King or Mario Lopez really watch this (ok, yes to AC Slater). (*****)
***** (apparently the local ABC affiliate will be doing some feature live at the set of the program after the show. This reminds me of George Carlin’s observation about 1 hour photos – how do you get nostalgic about something that just happened? Also, glad that there is no news in Washington DC.)
Hooray – Kate Gosselin is doing a dance now. She is referred to as a TLC star – TLC, the network that gives TV shows to serial procreators – does this mean that TLC in India would need 8 or 9 channels to ensure proper coverage? Kate, all the weeks later, still cannot dance … at all. The in house singer getting to sing a medley of the execrable (“Paparazzi”, “I Will Survive”) while Kate un-dances. This might be a new low for the reality show genre – yes, I’m going there. (#)
# (Suns 66-60, 10:30 to go in the 3rd … Robin Lopez’ domination of Andrew Bynum – hurt, granted – has been a revelation. And he’s tagging Michelle Wie – or is that his brother? How does Gasol carry a neckbeard – doesn’t someone tell him?)
Brooke backstage breaking down the action. No insight from her queries yet this season – why start now? Oh dear, Pamela Anderson coming back to dance now. I know, I know – nobody would confuse her with a great now … but she is in the trash hall of fame for sure. The routine is a bit sad – she appears on a trapeze or something. Little dancing by her – always a plus. There is some other celeb – I don’t know who she is. ANOTHER COMMERCIAL? They are learning from the NBA playoffs how to stretch. (##)
## (73-70 Suns, 7 minutes left in the 3rd. Robin Lopez wins the battle again for a putback. The bigs are dominating tonight … for PHOENIX.)
Break out the dry ice and cheesy introductions. The final 2 are introduced – boxing style. Well, except for the lack of individual music choice. Actually the whole dry ice thing resembles the alien pod scene in This is Spinal Tap. Except the doors open.
Nicole in her shiny golden thing goes first … doing a quickstep – to the Ike and Tina version of “Proud Mary” (ok, that version sung by their house singer). Racing through, the energy is there. The judges might orgasm (Bruno will). Bruno calls it the “best season ever” … apparently he has declared them winner. In the interview, Nicole gets the artist of the song wrong – but it does not prevent the perfect 30. So 115 points total … guarantees they will be in 1st before the audience votes are tallied. Evan next … after … sigh … commercial (###)
### (watching the trailer for Toy Story 3. Undoubtedly it is completely unnecessary. However, Pixar is the best studio going quality control-wise. So somehow, I think it will work out. LG sends me this … good diversion from this, or maybe she wants me to switch the channel … 81-78 Suns, 2:30 to go in the 3rd. The NBA Cares, did you know that?)
Now, it’s Evan’s turn. Fuzzy montage – his mentor starts crying … maybe because she wishes he were less manly? The song choice: “I Want You to Want Me?”, so that’s a good start, even if it is not the Gael Garcia Bernal version.
Evan looks a bit like a Ken doll when he smiles – not a compliment, I don’t think. Bruno calls him “sexy, dashing, charming”. Carrie Ann says he won her heart, even if he trails in the scoreboard. Hooray throwing him crumbs. I am expecting a 30 here, just to put it all on the audience votes. OK, a 28. So 108 total points.
One of the geniuses of the show is this half audience votes, half judges scores – it’s so complicated. Is the audience vote all or nothing? How is that allocated? The votes have been counted from last night. Does that mean the important grows as the points demoninator grows from judging? It feels so arbitrary – just like ABC wants. (####)
#### (Suns 85-84, end of 3. According to NQ, Kobe is on fire. Indeed he is. Oh wait a minute. He has 31 after a big 3rd quarter. That is something else entirely. ABC showing a preview for the season of Wipeout, its Japanese game show clone. I can attest, it is worth watching, though the poor dubbing of Spike’s Most Extreme Challenge is missed.)
More suspense. Tom says that this is the culmination of their “hard work and dreams”. Somehow, I think Evan’s gold medal keeps him sleeping soundly. (I know, I know he’s a hypercompetitive athlete). I don’t see how Nicole loses this. Does the audience hate Nicole enough???? … oh what the hell, that’s what tomorrow’s internet is for. What I’ll say is the trophy is quite tacky – it does not disappoint. And indeed, neither does Dancing with the Stars.