'Dancing with the Stars': Girl Power!
It's about time a woman won the glitter ball, you know? Oh, you don't know? Well, you'll surely know after night one of this two-night finale.
Welcome to the Kristi show (with a side dish of Jason's South Beach sex appeal). Whether you think her skating training has given her too much of an advantage, this first night of the finale is all about hammering home how much better she is, hands down, than anyone else who has stepped on the floor.
For the night's first dance, there is a new challenge: All three couples dance the cha-cha-cha, in succession, to the same music, each performance blending seamlessly into the other. It's an excellent challenge, actually, because it makes it so much easier to compare levels of performance. From the get-go, everyone feels bad for Jason, because the guy is so far and away more commanding in the ballroom numbers that he's immediately put at a disadvantage by the dance choice. The teams draw balls to see in what order they'll perform and Kristi pulls No. 3. So, hey, at least the guys don't have to follow her.
But, um, getting shown up by her in the aftermath is pretty much just as devastating. Cristian leads off and he's shaking his booty and it's pretty impressive. Then Jason comes along and is all elegant and strong, but not so cha-cha.
Then out bounces Little Ms. Shy, who decides to kick her reputation for being reserved to the curb by opening with a mouth-on-mouth kiss with a stunned Bruno. She and Mark then do their routine with so much more complicated choreography that it's a no-brainer. At the stage when it's imperative that judges are judging the competitors against each other, not just against their individual standards, Kristi is so good that the judges feel compelled to hand out four first-dance 8's (one to Cristian, three to Jason), just to indicate how big a gap there is between what they can do and what Kristi can (she gets all 10's, of course). And in case anyone misses the point, Carrie Ann declares it "Ladies' Night."
Round Two is the famous freestyle, and this time Kristi is up first. Which, it turns out, is even worse for our poor boys with the fabulous pecs. She comes out in PJ's (Mark is in a robe) and rips 'em down like a world-class stripper to reveal sneaks and a sequined, pin-striped pants. Then she does the lifts, she does the hip-hop, she shakes, she spins and spins and spins and SPINS. Again, the choreography is tremendously complicated, the pace is incredibly fast and the performance is pretty much jaw-dropping. Carrie Ann--who is clearly thrilled to have a legitimate reason to be on the chick bandwagon this late in the competition--first points out that this show tends to have a history of crowd-pleasing men ("not tonight, girl," she crows), gives a big "girl power!" shout-out when she holds up her 10. It's another perfect 30 for Kristi.
Which means, poor boys, that at this point no one believes you can possibly top her, all you can do is try to be kind of as good. (And, from their faces, Jason and Cristian clearly know that).
Jason redeems himself in his freestyle (set to a Miami Beach theme) with lifts that Carrie Ann declares the most ambitious in the show's history. And Bruno almost wets himself when the performance ends with Edyta stripping off Jason's wife-beater to reveal all that perfect pro football chest. (Poor Cristian. He dances BOTH his numbers with all his buttons undone, and it's Jason's five-second flash that inspires the drool). Bruno compares Jason and Edyta to centerfolds; and Len horrifies everyone by remarking that he could "see us in South Beach, you in your Speedos, me in my thong." Jason gamely attempts to keep on a non-horrified face, while Carrie Ann buries hers in her hands.
As much as they like it, though, the judges roll out the 9's across the board.
Last up, one-armed Cristian (whom we're told is getting surgery on Friday) uses his Latin flavor to spice it up, and tries to moves his butt enough to make up for the fact that he can only use one arm. He has to face it, though: He's at a handicap here. The judges give him the Marlee Matlin version of an assessment...aka, You never gave up, I'm so impressed by what you've accomplished, etc., etc. Definitely sounds like a kiss-off.
In the end, though, it's only Len who dishes out an 8, leaving Cristian still one point ahead of Jason.
Of course, he's also 8 points behind Kristi. So unless the voters are in the mood for the upset of all upsets, a woman will be going home with the sparkly glitter globe this season, for the first time since Kelly Monaco's first-season win (a win with an asterik, that is). Tune in Tuesday night for the coronation, sparing a disastrous final-dance collapse. Or a text-message rebellion.
-- JENNIFER FREY
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