‘DWTS’ Finale: And the Winner Is…

Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd Win 'DWTS' (Photo: ABC)

Donald Driver’s rooting tooting romp of a freestyle on Monday night’s “Dancing with the Stars” looked like it assured the NFL star a victory. So I thought Tuesday’s grand finale wouldn’t have much suspense as far as the placement. I believed singer Katherine Jenkins would finish second and telenovela hunk William Levy third. But what I was most looking forward to was seeing what the returning Season 14 competitors would do on the final show. It’s always a fun reunion. Last season, Carson Kressley’s Madonna parody was the best exhibition performance ever on “DWTS”—would there be anything to challenge it this time? Maybe Jaleel White would don suspenders for a Steve Urkel tribute! Would Martina Navratilova still look like a Hollywood starlet?

The show began with the parade of nations of the entire Season 14 cast; they all did a little boogie. Yep, Martina was still in makeover mode.

Behind-the-scenes footage from the night before showed Mark Ballas telling Katherine to calm down before their paso doble and Len Goodman shouting, “Don’t mess it up!” at the accident-prone Brit. During Donald and Peta Murgatroyd’s dangerous freestyle, Bruno Tonioli was holding his head in amazement. In fact, I’ve never seen all three judges looking so shocked by a routine. So, no surprise when the country cowboy dance was chosen for the encore on Tuesday. I thought it was even better than the previous night because Donald and Peta were more relaxed.


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There would be one more dance for the three finalists, but it would occur in the last hour. First, we had Sherry Shepherd doing the cha cha to “It’s Raining Men”! Tony Dovolani and Maksim Chmerkovskiy descended from the ballroom ceiling to join Sherry and her partner Val Chmerkovskiy, which was very funny. The journalists backstage enjoyed it so much, they applauded.

Brooke Burke-Charvet checked in with the final three, who were rehearsing behind the stage. I still couldn’t understand a thing William said after all this time. My only observation here is that the show has changed him from hunky to emaciated—his famous abs have actually hollowed out. Oh, no! I prescribed elocution lessons and eating for William once the show was done.

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Martina and her partner Tony did their exhibition number and the tennis champ was smiling gamely but her awkward dip at the end showed exactly why she was voted off first. Jack Wagner then took the stage with partner Anna Trebunskaya. The soap hunk’s sleazy nightclub bump and grind to start was more than a bit much and I heard another reporter behind me laughing at him. He did look too, well, aging Lothario, to be honest.

Watch the Third Place Couple Reveal:

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Then there were Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff semi-reprising their canoe number–which got them booted off the show–but this time, some other random dancing girls joined them in the South American fantasy.

Aww—Gladys Knight was dancing again with her partner Tristan MacManus. The reporters murmured about how much they loved the “Midnight Train to Georgia” singer. And, a big plus—she would be singing later in the show! Meanwhile, look who was back! Carson Kressley was waving in the “DWTS” audience like a deranged Muppet, his arms appearing behind Tom Bergeron’s head.

Watch Katherine and Mark’s Last Dance:

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But, sadly, no reprise of his Madonna from last season. Instead, we got Jaleel dancing to the theme from Shaft with Kym Johnson. Oh, okay—so Jaleel would don black leather again instead of his famous red suspenders. It was a solid dance until Jaleel couldn’t quite get Kym up on his back and had to double pump to accomplish the move. When the dance ended, both laughed and looked sheepish. To quote his famous Urkel character, “Did I do that?!”

Melissa Gilbert was back dancing with the Chmerkovskiy brothers to reprise their threesome that caused such a stir. Half Pint appeared to have forgotten most of what she learned this season and stumbled all over the floor.

Oh, goody. Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower were going to do a whole NEW dance, the freestyle they would have done had they made the finals. A few press members clapped but I thought it was more of the usual hip hop with sneakers; certainly no challenge to Donald’s freestyle.

Watch William and Cheryl’s Last Dance:

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Next, Maria Menounos and Derek Hough performed their tango; I still thought they should have been in the final three.

Tom announced that fans could vote on abc.com for who they wanted to see on the “DWTS All-Star” edition next season.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be top ones through threes but will also include colorful characters, so, oh, please, Kate Gosselin, Marie Osmond, and Cloris Leachman! Those were my votes.

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Finally time for the last dance of the final three, which they all had to learn in just 24 hours.

William Levy and Cheryl Burke: Salsa

Sexy camera tilt time as William did his usual smiling and butt-shaking. Wasn't this the same dance from last night? That was what it looked like but the reporters around me inexplicably hooted as though it was the first time. Len said well done; Bruno said "hips don't lie. Nobody does it better than William." Carrie Ann cited his true star quality. I thought the dance was a little stale, myself, and thought he should have mixed it up with different moves or maybe swapped his typical shiny shirt for a wife beater. But the judges just drooled and gave him three tens.
Score: 30

Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas: Jive

Mark jumped over Kat to start their jive and they did a great job with the “Splish Splash” song in their very orange costumes. There was absolutely nothing to criticize in this dance! The singer looked like a professional and Mark threw his coat into the audience once it was done; he sure was amped, hoping for a third mirror ball for his mantle. Bruno said she had it all, one of the most wonderful DWTS competitors ever. Carrie Ann gave the couple credit for setting the bar so high this season. Three tens—the judges really weren’t judging. Everybody would get a 30 tonight? Strangely, producers put Tori Spelling’s tweet on the bottom of the screen about how she would call Donald and Katherine as the final two—for crying out loud, who cared about the “90210” star at a time like this?
Score: 30

Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd: Cha cha

Donald started the final dance by giving judge Carrie Ann the shirt off his back. He and Peta were on fire and Donald would get good scores just for his tattoos! It was sexy and fluid. Everyone in the media area burst into applause and wows"! after their dance. Carrie Ann told the athlete, " you are such a fierce competitor: you are the one to beat." Len said no one was a loser tonight (oh, yeah?). Bruno called him Donald the Magnificent. Another perfect 30, leaving us at the stalemate I expected. These three pairs were all so different, yet someone had to win.
Score: 30

Back from commercial with Gladys Knight's song tribute to the season, "The Way We Were," and Katherine, the other singer in the cast, burst into tears. On to the results-who was in third place? William and Cheryl! Well, I had been right on that one. Reporters groaned as the ABC cameraman cruelly showed William's son sobbing in the audience about Daddy getting the boot; hope they cut that out for the West Coast "DWTS" airing.

Then Donald and Katherine finally heard their fate.

The winner of “DWTS” is … DONALD DRIVER!!!

Well, my rule about the freestyle winning the show held true again. Donald and Peta celebrated their well-earned win as the journalists backstage went nuts!

Watch the Dangerous Dance That Helped Donald and Peta Win the Mirror Ball Trophy!

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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