There were no major surprises tonight. Kyle Massey was vibrant and fun. Bristol Palin put in her best effort. And Jennifer Grey is the one to beat.
Why Jennifer Grey will win: She has gone two weeks in a row with perfect scores from the judges. She has pulled off slow dances well, fast dances well, sultry dances well. She’s passionate when need be, sexy when need be, athletic when need be. She has managed to get past nagging injuries and emotional distress midway through the competition to ride this one to the end. Nice echo to “Dirty Dancing” last night in her free-style dance (aah… the watermelon!)
Why she won’t: She’s been almost too good. Voters may just get complacent and assume she’s safe. To some, she comes across as a bit too confident, maybe a bit too desperate to win.
Odds of winning: 1-1(odds I gave her before the competition: 10 to 1)
Why Kyle Massey will win: If it weren’t for Bristol Palin, Kyle would be the true underdog. He started out in this competition as someone nobody (including his partner Lacey Schwimmer) expected to make it to the finals, much less win. But he possessed a glint in his eye, an arch in his eyebrow and joy to his presentation. He overcame poor footwork and overall technique, keeping him safe week after week. He absorbed the judges’ advice and improved steadily, hitting 10s in recent weeks (though Len cannot give him better than 9). Sure, he has looked a bit chunky and immature to be doing some of these dances, but he has made it up with determination and artistry. He also took a big chance during the finale to with his “Tootsee Roll” freestyle, giving us some Will Smith ’90s old school.
Why he won’t: He is not and never has been the best natural dancer. He simply lacks a certain flow. Does he have a fan base as big or bigger than the other two? It’s hard to say. He received 56 out of 60 from the judges (50% of the final score) and will have one more dance to do tomorrow.
Odds of winning: 3-1 (odds I gave him before the competition: 125 to 1!)
Why Bristol Palin will win: It’s hard to discount her fan base, which has helped her overcome low scores week after week and take out better dancers. Their knowledge that others dislike Bristol’s mom might even get folks to vote for her more. She has been a solid technical dancer and listens to her partner Mark Ballas. As an every-day person with no stage experience, people connect with her.
Why she won’t: She is the weakest overall dancer of the final three. She has not gotten a single 10 from a judge. The judges penalized her for her a rather difficult free-style dance from “Chicago” as she struggled again embodying the character she tried to play. There could be a backlash vote against her as well from folks who don’t want her to win. (The undercurrent includes many who vow never to watch the show again because they feel she is not a “star” at all and has politicized an entertainment show.)
Odds of winning: 3-1 (odds I gave her before the competition: 100- to 1!)
UPDATE: The Washington Post and ABC News actually polled people about Bristol. About 54 percent said she is in the finals because of her mom. Only 14 percent think it’s because she has the talent.
I checked back on my Sept. 17 handicapping before the competition started. I got a few right and a few way wrong. My top 5 before even seeing anybody on the dance floor were Grey, Brandy, Rick Fox, Kurt Warner and (oops) David Hasselhoff.
The first four did finish in the top 6. The Hoff? Axed week one. I completely over-estimated his appeal.
I placed Bristol in the middle of the pack near the bottom and Kyle second to last. I also chose Audrina Patridge at rock bottom. We all know about how I missed the appeal of Bristol and Kyle. Audrina, while obviously a good natural talent, was so boring in my mind, I figured she’d be out first. She lasted six weeks. My bad!
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog