It wasn't too hard to figure out early on in the proceedings on Monday night's "Dancing with the Stars" finals, that the judges --- Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba ---- were already setting the stage for a Chelsea Kane-Hines Ward finale Tuesday night.
Pouring out "10" after "10" for Chelsea's dancing was just too much to bear, especially for a freestyle routine that exhibited missteps, bad synchronized dancing, an awkward segue from bicycle to dance floor, and way too much gymnastics --- oh and there were some dances steps, weren't there? In my book a perfect "10" should stand for, well, perfection. Her freestyle with Mark Ballas, as entertaining and high-powered as it was (ignore the battery pack misfire) was not perfect. And maybe the judges just weren't seeing what we saw via television angles, blah blah blah. Enough excuses. Hey ABC, perhaps the judges' table needs to be moved more toward the ballroom's center point?
Cue Hines Ward, who delivered a perfect quickstep (despite what Len picked on) and yet who failed to earn that perfect "30." And while Hines' freestyle was as entertaining as all get-out (and he's been one of my faves ALL season), the routine didn't exactly wow now, did it? It was clever and lively, but nowhere near as dazzling as some of his competitive dances earlier in the season.
Even underdog Kirstie Alley, who absolutely wowed with her gymnastic prowess and courage to do what NOBODY would have imagined possible at the onset of the season (and another of my faves all season long), failed to just really wow with her entire freestyle dance. I think her 9s were appropriate, but I think her co-finalists should have received a few more of those, and few less 10s on this night of competition. (Look back as seasons past for some absolutely thrilling, goosebump-enducing freestyles.)
So it's on to the finale Tuesday night. The pairs will have one more dance, this time only the judges' paddles will count (added to Monday night's scores and viewer votes). And unless Kirstie's troops rally around this transformed figure of a 60-year-old, look to Hines and Chelsea to battle it out for the mirror ball trophy.
If that's the scenario that plays out, I'm pulling for Hines. He danced with grace and style and without one moment of whining about judges' scores this entire season. That pretty much sums up champion to me.