Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dancing With The Stars Finalé

Are you surprised I'm writing this?

I am!

You should be too!!

Two months ago I would never have thought I would have spent almost 24 hours total watching has-been, ne'er-do-well, and never-were celebrities learn to Waltz, Foxtrot and Cha-Cha-Chá! The folks I am visiting in Colorado are die-hard fans, and got me hooked on DWTS. So here I am, coming out of the closet in my tux and spats! DWTS won't replace my favourite show - Amazing Race - but since it does not overlap the summer series Burn Notice it is welcome to share my #2 slot!

It was apparent from week one that Brooke Burke was hands down (or feet up!) the class of this seasons stars. I don't think anyone can quibble with the final results, Brooke and Derek were beautiful and graceful on the floor all season. From a guy's point-of-view, what wasn't to like about Brooke? The shapely former swimsuit model (and mother of FOUR!) still has the goods and could knock most of the current models off the cover of any magazine! Grace, poise, and good looks make for a great foundation, but she took the show seriously, trusting Derek to teach to her and was able to follow his lead and take big risks on the floor.

For pure entertainment value, you had to love watching the big ol' teddy bear Warren Sap doing his darnedest to get up on his toes to satisfy Len. As is typical with the sport stars, Warren was doggedly competitive, but was so cheerful and engaging, and incredibly open to learning from Kim. I doubt a 300 pound lineman will ever win the DWTS trophy, but as Warren was fond of saying, "the fat man can dance!" The almost weekly comment from the judges was that Warren brought an energy to the dances and the show that engaged the viewers. It was apparent that his fan base helped overcome his technical short-comings, most notably in the finals by boosting him to 2nd place over Lance. Something that has been missing in the TV line-ups for many years is the "variety show", though DWTS is sort of close in a reality kind of way. I hope that some ABC executive has taken note of Warren's charming demeanor and his ability to connect with an audience and draw them in and hold their attention. Few sports stars transition well into TV personalities, especially when trying to go beyond being a sports commentator, but Warren seems to be a complete package and in my mind he would be a perfect host or MC for a 60's or 70's style variety show showcasing music, dance, comedy and short sketches along the lines of Flip Wilson, Rowan & Martin, and the Smothers Brothers.

Boy-Band Lance was a slow starter and it took Lacey half the season to get him whipped into shape, both physically and mentally. Then it happened! There seemed to be an emotional connection for the "lancey" team (though Lance outted himself two years ago), monstrously demonstrated by what can only be described as a late season "lover's quarrel", and their routines really began to dazzle. Not well liked by the judges when performed, I loved Lance and Lacey's smoldering barefoot Rumba during the season. I thought their performances Monday and last night in the finals were definitely #2, but Lance just couldn't match Warren's fan base for viewer votes. Lance and Lacey will continue to dance together in the upcoming DWTS Tour, and it should be interesting to see what they can do without having to cater to the demands of the judges.

Long gone, yet returning for last night's finalé (and just out of the hospital from pneumonia), was the queen of this season - Cloris Leachman. At 82 Cloris was the oldest ever Star, but while her age was a running gag, she more than gave it a go every week she was on the floor. Ingeniously paired with Corky Ballas, father to DWTS Mark Ballas and stand-in parent and mentor to Derek and Julianne Hough, plus coach to more than half of the other DWTS professional dancers, Cloris not only tried to learn to dance, but true to her character and long career, she played the clown! Corky was brilliant in choreographing dances for Cloris that exploited her multi-award winning comedic talents, and together they appeared to be having more fun than anyone. The comedic relief could only last so long, but it was great that DWTS kept Cloris and Corky on until it was necessary to make room for only the dance couples that were truly competitive.

So, am I now a die-hard Dancing With the Stars convert? Well ... maybe! Next spring will tell when the new season of DWTS begins. If the next group of stars are as engaging and entertaining as they were this fall, I will most likely be swaying with the Samba and Waltzing to my easychair every Monday and Tuesday night to watch DWTS!

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