Jennifer Grey had the time of her life, ultimately taking home the mirror-ball trophy tonight.
By far, she was the superior dancer compared to her competitors: the exuberant, youthful Kyle Massey and the controversial Bristol Palin. From a pure dancing perspective, only Brandy had a shot at beating Grey but she was eliminated last week.
Grey’s role as Baby in “Dirty Dancing” gave her the instant nostalgia vote. The thoughts of her and the late great Patrick Swayze was especially resonant early in the competition. And her fans embraced her roller-coaster ride of injuries and emotions.
This season 11 spurred more blog-Twitter-Facebook buzz than any prior one thanks to Palin and the political connection with her mom. As a result, the ratings on Monday night jumped to 23.7 million, the highest of this fall for any non-sports program.
The final dances didn’t really change the judges’ impressions of each. They marveled over Grey’s skills and passion. They loved Kyle’s stagecraft and power to connect with viewers. They gave Palin, the obvious amateur who made it to the finals on the strength of the voters (not the judges), props for pushing hard to improve at all levels.
Len Goodman noted that Kyle attacks the dance while Bristol is all about neatness and precision. “He has the wow,” he told Bristol on finals night. “You’ve got the how.”
Grey, at age 50, is often called a “professional dancer” based on the film in 1987 “Dirty Dancing.” She actually has had chronic neck problems the past two decades stemming from a car accident and has never been a “pro” dancer. Given how her career went nowhere after the film, this is a great resurrection for her. Hopefully, she’ll find some work from this.
Oh, and that Situation “dance” would not have gotten him into a Chippendale’s audition.
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog