I was delighted that Melissa and Tony won, as Melissa's progress throughout the season seemed to reflect a commitment to dancing, per se, coupled with adherence to program guidelines; Shawn and Derek were more about astounding through gymnastics and feats of derring-do that none of the non-professional competitors could hope to emulate. Shawn is a capable dancer - they might have won if they had resisted the temptation to pull out all the stops, and rules be hanged.
I think you're on to something, Bonnette
. There's no way to ever know all the contributing factors that went into Melissa and Tony's win but I do think there's something to be said for just getting out there and doing the required elements without all the tomfoolery. Another way to put it is that Derek may have rode his strategic horse a week or two too long. The rulebreaking may have made strategic sense during the first two-thirds of the competition but, toward the end, it just became obnoxious. Derek (and Shawn, to some extent) compounded this by coming across as flippant toward the judges when they were receiving the judges' comments. The judges may be inconsistent or flat-out idiotic (Carrie Ann in particular) but contestants should at least pretend to be respectful to the judges. (This is a problem Maks also has.)
I also think the obsessive focus on gymnastics came back to haunt Shawn and Derek. At times, watching Shawn and Derek felt like watching Gymnastics with the Stars
instead of Dancing with the Stars
. The irony of it all is that, as you rightly noted, Shawn was perfectly capable of performing the dances without the rulebreaking and the gymnastic elements. A shame, really.
In happier news, I'm thrilled for Tony that he captured the mirror ball trophy after 14 tries. He has had some real duds over the last 14 seasons including (but not limited to) Sara Evans, Leeza Gibbons, Kathy Ireland, Kate Gosselin, Wendy Williams and Martina Navratilova. So, happy to see him prevail after so long in the wilderness. (Some of it was his own doing as his Final 3 freestyles for Stacy Kiebler [Season 3] and Melissa [Season 8] were underwhelming.]
Even though Kelly and Val finished in third place, I'm happy for them as well. The Dancing with the Stars
viewership has always seen Kelly as one of the weakest winners (if not the
weakest winner.) I think she proved that she deserved her invitation to the All-Stars season and that her Season 1 win wasn't a fluke. Kudos also to Val for working wonders with Kelly and for stepping out from under his brother's shadow.
Overall, I would give the season a B-. As fun as it was to see a lot of fan favorites again, I think the show works better when it's confined to first-time celebrities. As always, Tom Bergeron gets an A+ for keeping this lumbering beast of a show on-track and on-time.
Here's a clip of the winning moment (Apolo's reaction is the funniest):