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'Dancing With the Stars': Megamixed finals

November 24, 2009 |  7:05 am
117802_5907_pre Well, we’ve made it to the final week, ballroom fans. The Mirrorball trophy has been trotted out from its resting place to its prominent position in front of the judges’ table, and we are down to our remaining three celebrity contestants.

But rather than go the regular route of having each finalist perform two routines -- one standard and one freestyle -- the producers have tried to jazz up their own combination of choreography and entertainment by introducing something new into this program: the Megamix. Which, as it turns out, is neither an intrastate lottery nor a CD compilation of hair-metal music. No, the Megamix is a routine in which all couples dance the same dance back to back, in unison (this one just so happened to be choreographed by Seasons 2 and 3 pro Nick Kosovich). But instead of a groovy rendition worthy of a volume of "Now That’s What I Call Dance," the Megamix kind of turned out to be a mixed bag, no? It went so quickly and kind of clunkily from the Viennese waltz to the samba to the jive that it was hard to keep up. And I think Kelly still may be taking off her skirt in the transition.

Finals week is also the time when the dreaded and adored freestyle routine comes into play, and the stars and their pro partners pull out every trick in the book to light up the Rectagon dance floor and win those viewer votes. And clearly, it wasn’t enough that Tom and Samantha had mentioned that the treasured Mirrorball trophy had both been won and lost on this throw-caution-to-the-wind dance: We also had to get the stars themselves talking about it, as well as previous champs Brooke Burke, Helio Castroneves and Drew Lachey. We get it. It’s important!

Of course, Mya and Dmitry Chaplin dominated the judges’ scoreboard with their technical precision. And after their first two perfect-30 routines, it looked like nothing could put a chink in their dance armor. Self-proclaimed “grumpy judge” Len came to help the couple out in rehearsals and told Mya that she needed to move past her subdued state if she ever wanted to lay claim to the coveted disco orb. Hers and Dmitry’s resulting paso doble took a page out of Mel B and Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s “Free Your Mind” showstopper from a couple seasons back. This one was set to Queen’s “We Will Rock You," had Mya and Dmitry clad in black studs and flaunted some fancy skirt swinging and a flying leap in which Dmitry -- with the undereye makeup of a linebacker -- acted like a matador who was going for the kill with a bedazzling blade. “Fearless, flamboyant … amazing,” crowed Bruno. “The power of Mya unleashed for all to admiya!” Carrie Ann dubbed her the queen of the paso doble, and Len said this routine measured right up there with Mel B and Maks’. Not only that, but Mya and Dmitry also got the full 30 points being the Megamixiest Megamix dancers of them all.

117802_4736_pre Their freestyle, however, was not as celebrated. The rehearsal footage showed a difference of artistic vision between the star and her pro partner as they decided which avenue to take for their make-it-or-break-it dance. Dmitry wanted to go with a big Broadway number from “Hairspray,” because he thought having a familiar tune would connect more with the audience; Mya was afraid using the number would be playing it a little safe and wanted to go more in the direction of Sin City. They ended up going with the pro’s idea, though, in retrospect, maybe Mya was right. Their big Broadway number was, as Tom said, “a cardio routine and a half” and showed off a colorfully sparkly halter top and voluminous skirt that made for fun swishes. But it didn’t blow away expectations or give any wow moments. Would a Vegas number have been better? Perhaps. It just didn’t seem like this routine was necessarily tailored to Mya’s strengths and may not have served her as well as, say, a sultry Latin dance would have. We all knew that she was subdued, so, come to think of it, maybe an Adam Shankman dance that required wattage rivaling the Main Street Electrical Parade wasn’t the best idea. Carrie Ann called the dance “high energy, fun but not outstanding;” Len complained “there was a sameness about it all; it never went anywhere.” Even Bruno concurred: “At this stage, I was expecting something more spectacular.” Despite the wah-wah comments, the judges still awarded Mya three 9s for her efforts, leaving Mya and Dmitry with a final tally of 87 out of 90.

Which leaves the door open for Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson. Donny, as we know, is the consummate showman -- and has such a huge fan following that he sailed right along to the finals even after slumming at the bottom of the judges’ leader board for the last two weeks. Are people voting for him so that he’ll get farther than his sister Marie? It sure did seem like they were playing up that dramatic angle in the competition. Marie even showed up in a fog of smoke and was twirled by partner Jonathan Roberts during practice so that Donny wouldn’t get so riled up by her presence. Donny, as we all very well know by now, is very competitive. He would like nothing better than to take the Mirrorball trophy back to his home state of Utah. But it’s only now become clear why: “If you had a sister named Marie, and she was going to rub it in your face for the rest of your life, you’d want to win it too.”

Bruno made an appearance at Donny and Kym’s rehearsal segment, but there were no entreaties to come over to the dark side and no attempt to play up their bromance. Clearly, Bruno didn’t have a lot of time, and there would be no airy-fairy-ness going on during this hour! Mostly what he wanted Donny to do was to be technically sharp and “don’t look down!” And Donny didn’t, as far as I could see. Or maybe it was just because I was too mesmerized by Kym’s silver-tinsel Christmas-tree outfit during their cha cha cha to really notice. Oh, but there were those missed turns. Carrie Ann brought up the “misfortune with the hand connection” but whistled prettily about Donny’s newfound hip action. “Ding dong Donny,” said Len. “That was a cha cha cha.” Bruno did not say so much about the dance but went on and on and on about Donny’s professionalism, which may not win him the coveted Mirrorball trophy but did immediately make him a shoo-in for the next round of interviews for the less glitzy but also coveted Time Warner Cable manager position.

Luckily, Donny and Kym were able to end their night on a high note with their freestyle. And the routine, to Kym's credit, fit Donny’s larger-than-life showman personality like a well-tailored tuxedo T-shirt. Kym was smart to play up his performance elements, and I loved how they started up on top of the grand staircase and skedaddled their way down. And how happy was I to see the Woz’s old pink boa make its way out for an encore performance? The routine, performed to Stephen Sondheim’s “Back in Business” smartly had Donny in a tux and Kym in a casino-girl outfit and had steps that, as the song said, “let the good times roll.” Len commended Donny for “an absolute showstopper.” No. 1 fan Bruno called him “Mr. Show Business at his best.” And Carrie Ann inducted him into the freestyle hall of fame. And though I’m not sure I would have given Donny a perfect 30 for this routine, it was still an exuberant number. Plus, had he not been given that score, we wouldn’t have been treated to the succession of “oh!s” that followed. Donny and Kym got a 27 for their cha cha, and earned second place and 28 points for Donny doing his best impression of a professional during the Megamix, and a 30 for their freestyle, for a total of 85.

117802_4626_pre In third place were Kelly Osbourne and Louis Van Amstel. And though it’s pretty clear that Kelly doesn’t really come close to some of the other dancers technically, Monday night’s performances emphasized why the Princess of Darkness has made it this far in the competition: The girl’s a hoot and half to have around. Not only does her beaming face give the glaring lights of the Rectagon a run for their money, but the Osbourne heiress’ colorful, expletive-laden comments also give the program a nice touch of spice. Like when Louis wanted Kelly to try a handstand during the freestyle. “Are you out of your f---ing mind?” she responded. “I’m going to look like a beached whale.” 

There were no whales or beaches to be found anywhere during Kelly’s first number, an Argentine tango that had her sleek and sharp and dressed in black. Carrie Ann stopped by rehearsals to help Kelly achieve an emotional and sensual connection with her partner that bordered uncomfortably on TMI. And though it did seem like Kelly was able to imagine how soft Louis’ hands were and how he smelled (eau de Louis -- eesh), I thought her movement, though precise, was still a little timid and restrained. Carrie Ann said there was an intimacy and intensity that she hadn’t seen before, but Bruno pointed out her loosey-goosey free hand and said he wanted to see more “sensuality.”

Kelly and Louis’ freestyle was supposed to be her exclamation point on the reality star’s expletive-laden “DWTS” journey, but sadly, she was all but pooped out. The duo did a 180-degree turn from their all-black outfits to all white, and the song, set to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” was supposed to show that: First she was afraid; she was petrified. But then she grew strong, and she learned how to carry on. And despite their dazzling outfits and an exuberant smile that looked like she was having the time of her life, there were a couple of clunky tumbles that kept her from “surviving” as resoundingly as she might have liked. “One of the lifts looked like Louis pooped me out!” she exclaimed good-naturedly. The judges saw no excrement in her routine, as their comments only served to bolster this season’s bad-girl-made-good. “You remind us of who we want to be when we’re faced with the same thing,” said Carrie Ann. “I thoroughly enjoyed watching you,” said Len. “You never looked more beautiful than tonight,” praised Bruno. “All the glitz and glamour of the disco era. And sometimes people fell on the floor.” Kelly and Louis received a 26 for their tango, a 26 for their third-place Mixalot finish and a 24 for their freestyle, for a total of 76.

What did you think, ballroom fans? Who got your vote after Monday night’s performances? Was the Megamix a mega success or mega mixed up? Will Donny’s perfect-30 freestyle give him the edge over Mya? Will Kelly upset the balance of the Mirrorball universe with a come-from-behind win? Post your comments below, and check back tomorrow for the results.

— Allyssa Lee


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Photos, from top: Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson; Mya; Kelly Osbourne and Louis Van Amstel. Credit: Adam Larkey  / ABC