After about an hour and 52 minutes of filler, host Tom Bergeron began by announcing the third-place couple, which was, to the surprise of no one, Kelly Osbourne and Louis van Amstel. The crowd booed lustily, but Kelly took it gracefully.
And then it was time to reveal the champion. Would it be Donny Osmond or Mya? Crowd appeal or technical skill? The winners were … Donny and Kym. The lesson? Crowds love Donny Osmond. Leave it up to them, and they will reliably pick a familiar ham over the best dancer.
An estimated 19.2 million people watched the season 9 finale — the smallest audience for the show’s finale since the first season. The Nielsen Co. said Wednesday ratings have been down all season for the show, an indication that viewers weren’t as attached to the contestants as they had in the past.
Donny inches closer: Each of the finalists repeated one of the season's dances. Kelly repeated her Viennese waltz from the very first week, Mya repeated her jive and Donny repeated his Argentine tango. Rather than score each dance, the judges ranked the couples, giving 30 points for first place, 28 for second place, and 26 for third place. For the second night in a row, Kelly finished in third place, but this time, Donny finished ahead of Mya — placing those two in a tie in overall judges' scores and guaranteeing it would come down to fan votes. Right then, Donny should have smelled victory.
Big name: The “special musical guest” was Whitney Houston. Her voice is not the peerless instrument it was perhaps 15 years ago, but she demonstrated that she's still a solid performer. The first number was a song from her new album, but the second reached all the way back — “I Wanna To Dance With Somebody,” serving a little nostalgia to the eager crowd.
A festival of filler segments: There is never any shortage of fluff in a two-hour finale in which almost nothing happens. The Losers' Club, made up of those eliminated first, welcomed this year's inductee: Ashley Hamilton. (Remember him?) Hamilton was roasted by loser Jeffrey Ross, then performed briefly and painfully with his former partner. In other news of returning bad dancers, Adam Carolla did a segment in which he played the “mean coach” trying to get a victory for a man this time.
There were, of course, lengthy looks back at the events of past weeks, from Tom DeLay's broken feet to Aaron Carter's crying jag, and the past contestants all returned with varying degrees of success — including DeLay, who finally got his shot at the Texas Two-Step. Nothing was too goofy for those who were back: Donny even crooned his big hit “Puppy Love” for the dance of Chelsie Hightower and Louie Vito. Michael Irvin's return meant a dance-off with former contestant (and fellow NFL star) Jerry Rice, in which Michael emerged victorious.
Finally, Miss Piggy for some reason emceed an interview segment with former contestants Cloris Leachman, Jerry Springer, Steve Wozniak and Joanna Krupa, who then participated in a competition mambo with professional partners. The joke, you see, is that the first three of these people are terrible, and Krupa is excellent. Three stooges and a great beauty — get it? The joke was over quickly; the bit, sadly, was not.