The choice between the final three comes down to performance vs. technique and talent vs. fan base; and Marie Osmond comes in last (phew!); plus, Cameron Mathison strips!


”Dancing With the Stars” recap: The finale!

Zig-a-zig, arrrrgggh!

Behold the new winner of Dancing With the Stars: not Marie Osmond! (That’s all most people cared about, right?) Race-car driver and champion of smiling Helio Castroneves edged out Scary Spice to win the coveted ”splendid” mirror-ball trophy, which always looks smaller in person, even when that person is Helio. We can rest assured that he deserved to win because the owner of Penske Racing said so. Helio is the second partner of Julianne’s to switch from racing around in circles (lame!) to twirling around a ballroom (spectacular!) and handily win it all. And Julianne has now joined Cheryl as the show’s second repeat pro champion. Congrats to both winners, especially Helio for overcoming his initial phobia of sequins throughout the season. If your priorities for enjoying this show are anywhere near as warped as mine, it really made a difference.

Of course, I’m disappointed for Mel, but more than that, I was pleasantly surprised (and a bit shocked, considering her rabid fan base of ”thousands and thousands of doll collectors”) that Marie was declared the second runner-up early in the episode. Stowing Marie safely off camera allowed us to focus on the 7000 filler segments featuring mostly Helio and Mel that peppered the finale in between live dances.

Now, results-show filler is usually cringe-worthy, but I have to admit I truly enjoyed everything this time. All of my friends will disown me for what I’m about to type, but I honest-to-Maks teared up at Celine Dion’s performance of ”My Heart Will Go On,” just after Cheryl fluttered out and flung herself backwards onto Mark’s knee. Her commitment to the moment reminded me of my blind devotion to the entire ridiculous series, and I just lost it! They’re all so beautiful! You think I’m joking but I’m not! Sniff!

Of course, I was only being a total softie about the filler because it was the last show of the season and in a few hours I was about to get my life back. But tell me with a straight face that you weren’t completely delighted during that 2001: A Space Odyssey smoke-machine fiasco. I was surprised they didn’t place the trophy in the center of the stage to represent the monolith, which would aptly make the two couples the groveling gorillas. But no matter. This was another one of those blatantly over-the-top DWTS treats that as a loyal viewer, you’re somewhat embarrassed by, until a few seconds later, when you boldly declare to no one in particular, ”F— it, I love this s—!” At least that’s been my experience.

My favorite segment was the sort of ”blooper reel” of the final three, which contained Helio chastising each of his misbehaving feet in a dramatic monologue, Julianne accidentally dancing into a glass wall, extended footage of Maks’ belching regimen (who knew?), and possibly the greatest unscripted exchange ever between two partnered contestants: Mel: ”God!” Maks: ”Just call me Maks.” They could have played this entire segment three times and I would have sat there, feeding bowl in outstretched hands, begging for more. Anything that prompts Tom to make the disclaimer ”And they’re all sober” afterward works for me.

By the time we got to the whole Diva vs. Driver segment, featuring the lovely (or as Mel would say, ”loave-ly”) graphic above — in which they really could have done Mel a favor and re-proportioned her noggin down to an Helio-ish scale — we were beyond ready to hear Tom proclaim the winner of ”history’s greatest celebrity-dancing accolade.” Oh, the hilarity! Helio got a container of milk! And the judges looked not too excited! And…confetti! And…scene.

NEXT: Stripping star search!

Helio vs. Mel wasn’t the only story of the night, of course. Unlike past seasons, in which each previously eliminated celeb danced for only a few seconds in a group performance during the finale, last night each couple that was physically able got to do an entire routine. So Wayne and Floyd sat it out (yesssss), but everyone else busted their favorite — or, in the ”deceptively unfit” Josie Maran’s case, only — moves from the season. Albert Reed and the fantastic Anna made me wish more than three people knew who he was, because he could have been a serious contender if he’d been able to stick around. And yet again, Jennie Garth danced way better on a results night than she ever had when it counted. How cute was Derek at the end, pretending to almost tip over before she saved the day and yanked him up to his feet? Okay, I’m a little obsessed.

Cameron Mathison and Edyta’s rehash of their trippy-fabulous ”Superman” paso doble was probably the highlight of the encore dances, primarily because after it ended, he followed through on his promise to strip. But technically, too, he and Edyta rocked this performance, especially that flourish (or floor-ish!) of a finish. I will never get enough of Edyta’s ”My neck might snap but it’d be worth it to nail this dramatic moment” whiplash move at the end of that dance.

Then, after Cameron ripped off his shirt and flung it at Samantha for her birthday, it was hilarious to watch the hosts, who had clearly lost control of the show, and not for the first time of the evening. The partial nudity, the gaggle of women pawing at said nudity, Lisa Rinna attempting to sneak a peek behind Tom and Sam — the only thing that could make this moment more quintessentially Dancing With the Stars would be if Bruno and Drew Lachey had stood up and pretended to remove their own clothing. Which, of course, also happened. And speaking of Drew, I loved seeing my buddy Apolo in the front row next to Mr. Lachey. He’s the reason Helio was there at all!

Oh no — am I going to have to TV Watch Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann starting January 7? You don’t want that, right? Please tell me you don’t want it. I’m serious.

Don’t forget to vote for DWTS to win a People’s Choice Award!

Well, that’s about it. Stop crying — your heart, too, will go on. Watch our ”Best of Season 5” video if you haven’t already, and know that I’ll miss writing this column even more than I’ll miss the way Tom Bergeron triumphantly flicks his note cards when he makes a funny. Okay, that was a total lie. I couldn’t miss anything more than that. But it’s been real, TV Watchers, and I’ll see you all next season…liiiiiiive!

What do you think? Are you happy with the results? Should Tom Bergeron run for president? For that matter, should Maks be the new face of Cingular Wireless (see above)? And will a female ever win this competition again?

Episode Recaps


Dancing With the Stars

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