And the loser on Dancing With the Stars is ... the audience! Stuffed with more filler than a 2008 Depression-sawdust turkey, the two-hour finale crept by like a Beckett play staged in a sauna. The highlight wasn't the foregone conclusion of twinkly, dimply princess Brooke Burke's coronation, but Miley Cyrus's performance of her hit single "Fly on the Wall." Which isn't exactly breaking news, either.
When you think of it, it's passing strange that she sang a vitriolic evisceration of celebrity addicts and flashing cameras on this particular show. "Don't you wish that you could be a fly on the wall?" she hissed in a hoarse, breathy rasp, "A creepy little, sneaky little fly on the wall? All my precious secrets, yeah, you’d know them all -- don't you wish?" To quote Rachel Maddow, "Well, duh! D'yathink?" The tune was catchy. It starts like Nirvana playing the B-52s' "Rock Lobster," but in what amounted to a de facto song-and-dance competition, Team Miley was only in a draw with Team Alicia Keys.
Asked how it felt to win, Brooke exclaimed, "Unbelievable!" But it was all too believable. The last scintilla of suspense on DWTS was when Brooke got overambitious and screwed up a few episodes ago, and the screw-ups Lance Bass and Lacey Schwimmer oddly got better. But you knew she'd win. On the anticlimactic final night, the judges were as corrupt as Wall Street stock analysts, mindlessly rubber-stamping momentum to line their own pockets without bothering to actually scrutinize performance. No way did Brooke's and Derek Hough's pallid Viennese waltz deserve three tens! Her clothes flowed prettily, and so did she, but her arms moved woodenly, and the duo looked like the blond leading the bland.
I know I demanded that she win, but now I regret it. Lance and Lacey, the last-place finalists, danced an infinitely superior sailor-themed jitterbug, even though they made some mistakes they hadn't made when they did the routine earlier in the season. I think I glimpsed Lacey's ass pointing at the ceiling when it was supposed to point to the floor. At least flubs are spontaneous. It's beginning to sink in how flat a character Brooke is, and how unlucky we are to be stuck with her as a new-minted celeb. "You proved what you could do with your body," trilled airhead Carrie Ann, "but you proved today what you're doing with your soul." I've seen more soul at a Mitt Romney rally. She's a model with static expressions and zero acting talent. She belongs on a magazine page, not a TV stage.
Second-placers Warren Sapp and Kym Johnson were winning as ever in the niceness department, but their lame, spiritless steps to what should be an irresistibly rousing song, "Funkytown," left me feeling as tired as they looked.
The only surprise of the night was how good some of the losers looked. I remember Edyta Sliwinska put a spring in my step. Maurice Greene and Cheryl Burke did a rumba that bested any of the winners (though I keep worrying that those hairdo-flattering head-snaps she does will snap her neck one of these days). And hands down, the top dance of the finale was Cody Linley's and DWTS quitter Julianne Hough's reprise of their I Love Lucy jitterbug. Just killer, even better than the first time, and the audience went nuts. I loved the joy on Julianne's face after executing especially daring acrobatics -- she kept sticking the end of her tongue out in naughty delight. Or maybe she's just thinking about her post-DWTS music career, the self-centered publicity whore.
Speaking of same, did you catch
Kim Kardashian's shameless plug of her shame-free reality series? Now that's unbelievable. And weird as it was to hear virginal publicity whore Miley whine about invasion of privacy while invading our homes, it was bizarre to see Kim grinding her ample stern to Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back." How would we know, in that massively rear-camouflaged getup? She might've been concealing Thanksgiving's turkey back there under all those yards of ruffles.
The liveliest moments of a largely undead evening we owe to Jeffrey Ross, who roasted the others, a refreshing switch from the upchuckingly upbeat standard tone of the show's sadistically boring chat. "Cloris, was that even dancing? Your partner just dragged you around the stage. It was like Weekend at Bernie's: The Musical. Your score should be 911! Just relax, Cloris, you've had your 15 decades of fame ... Brooke with the perfect score, Lance Bass with the perfect hair, Warren Sapp with the perfect boobs." I didn't see Warren smile -- did Jeffrey get home OK? He suggested that Lance sired Brooke's fifteenth child (the joke losing a little from echoing the "15" in the Cloris gag). "Hey, maybe the baby will come out of the womb and the closet at the same time. What can you say about Lance Bass that hasn't already been said about Clay Aiken? Seriously, which Spice Girl were you again?" My favorite gag went to Warren: "You're an inspiration, I mean, how do you dance eight hours a day every day for three months and stay so out of shape?" Finally, Warren did smile.
I can't say I'm smiling after DWTS's seventh season. Word to the producers: I know you thought nobody would notice this piece of dreck show, but face it, you've got a hit on your hands. You have to de-dreckify it, somehow without vitiating its vital cheesiness. Lose the Trevor Nunn dry ice effects, and for the love of all that's holy, lose Samantha -- no matter how many hairdos she wears, it's always wrong. Samantha is still Samantha. Do not try to milk previous weeks' footage so outrageously. As Paul McCartney said when people asked when the Beatles would reunite: "You can't reheat a soufflé." Hire a better band. Get somebody funnier than Cloris for the clumsy clown contestant role, more like that hysterical guy on the British version of the show. Middle-aged incompetent dancers are funnier than geriatric ones.
Get better judges, or at least somebody as talented at talking as Simon Cowell. In fact, cast dancers on the basis of how entertainingly they talk. Pick up the pace of the non-dance interludes, and make them less cranium-crushingly moronic. Put the pleasure back in guilty pleasure.