“Whatever happens, it’s perfect, okay?” Derek had whispered to Bindi before Monday’s quickstep. A few blasts of pure sunshine and magical poofs of Houghery later, the prophet’s message had come true. Congratulations to Dancing With the Stars winners Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough!
“You are the beacon of light and hope for everyone, every time you dance,” Carrie Ann Inaba overdid it for the last time after Bindi’s explosive cha cha/Argentine tango fusion.
“Honestly, Bindi deserved it!” insisted Backstreet Boy and DWTS runner-up (his permanent new job title?) Nick Carter. Fair enough, Nick. But let’s not get it twisted: Nick and his fair goddess Sharna Burgess provided some very strong sunblock against Bindi’s high beams, especially during their final dance, a salsa-tango fusion that featured Sharna as a whirling human sundial, just when we thought they’d done every lift in the book.
What time is it? Trick question! It’s the 24-Hour Dance Fusion!
Nick sang the hell out of his new single “I Will Wait” as the other finalists swayed very patiently for the results/Christmas morning. Then Alek Skarlatos accepted his third place finish with nothing but gratitude and misplaced apologies to partner Lindsay Arnold. But get this: The studly little brother America never knew it had won’t turn into a stranger again, not just yet: Alek and Vine star Hayes Grier are both joining the DWTS Tour this winter.
But I’ve buried the lede here, big time. The MOST important announcement of the night?
FROM LEN, THE “SEE YOU THEN!”
That’s right! Our beloved DANCMSTR Len Goodman will return to the U.S. ballroom for season 22, having spent this fall strictly overseas judging the British show. “Val, stop pulling that face,” warned the head judge in a pre-taped segment. Wait, he’s only calling out Val? Has he seen Mark’s man bun? It is the very definition of “messin’ about”!
I wasn’t kidding about Christmas morning up above. No longer content with operating as a self-contained universe, DWTS boldly took over neighboring outdoor shopping paradise The Grove — a blissed-out winter wonderland already, because Southern California lives for this s–t — so we could all stress out about holiday shopping a few weeks early. I loved the ice rink effect of the dance floor (its white-hot glow contrasted deliciously with all the spray tans) but must admit the constant product placement harshed my finale buzz. There is no Crate & Barrel on Planet Mirrrorballus! I refuse to believe it! I mean, I wouldn’t mind The Beefcake Factory or Waltzstrom or whatever, especially if they were part of The Groove. But real brand names? Pfffft.
Dancing On Ice highlights included an awkward interview between Erin Andrews and Santa, a truly meaningful Magic Mike stripper segment reprise by Carlos Penavega and the shirtless male pros, and season 21 stars Chaka Khan and Andy Grammer doing the best impression of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s Barnes and Noble commercial I’ve ever seen on network television.
So far I’ve just seen the one, but there’s still time.
The rest was mostly a fringeworthy (that’s always good thing) blur. Alek and Carlos further immortalized their bromance, Kim Zolciak popped out of a bottle she’ll never get back into, a digitized dancing Tom “sang” his own version of “The Safety Dance” with — as he admitted himself — less rhythm than his own bobble-head, and Gary Busey played some sort of shame therapist Santa to Victor Espinoza, his loyal elf.
All the little guy wanted was a pony! It’s not like he asked for poetry in motion from pricy slabs of lean beef over ice. That wish was all us.
Santa can bring anything, you see. All you need is The Grove.
What a long, strange, trip season 21 has been! It seems like just yesterday we were absorbing life lessons from Santa Busey and avoiding them from Paula Deen. But those days are OVER. Oglers Vicariously Entering Realms. In perpetuity, throughout the alternate universe, all of us are OVER.
And so the visions of the mirrorball danced out of our heads (to be put on ice ’til the spring) and season 21’s storybook came to a close. By the end of a finale packed with holiday fluff and twisted torsos, it was some of the simpler pleasures that had stood out the most. Like Alek stooping to hug his excited grandpa…
…my delight at randomly pausing the DVR on this exact Jenna Johnson power play (props to hidden gem Elle King for that killer vocal performance)…
…Val Chmerkovskiy’s pure, unbridled joy at what he does…
….and Tom Bergeron, now and forever the happiest Muppet on Mirrorballus.
See you next season, liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!
Dancing With the Stars returns to ABC in March.