This was not the ending of “The Karate Kid” where Ralph Macchio’s character wins it all and Mr. Miyagi nods approvingly.
Instead, the classy actor failed to make the finals of “Dancing With the Stars.” The voters couldn’t overcome the wide margin between his judges’ scores Monday night and those of third-place Kirstie Alley.
“The fans have driven us through every week,” Macchio said. “It inspired me. I’d run here every Monday to present what we worked on. My gratitude is overwhelmed.”
The 49-year-old over the weeks looked ageless and danced with determination and grit, even when injured. Unfortunately, he tended to appear a bit jangly, his arms and legs not quite the right ratio to his body for consistently fluid dancing. But he was always fun, seldom complained and came off sweet and likable.
Even without Macchio, the final three should be intriguing.
There’s youth: Disney actress Chelsea Kane has been a natural and has a great partner in Mark Ballas. The judges were often tough on her and would sometimes find Ballas’ risky choreography a bit much, especially traditionalist Len Goodman.
There’s athleticism: Hines Ward, the University of Georgia grad and Pittsburgh Steeler wide receiver. He has shown elegance and a cheerful persona on the dance floor. Sometimes, he was stiff, too, since his football build didn’t always translate on the dance floor.
But last Friday, when his partner Kym Johnson got hurt in the neck, he also showed his compassionate side for her. While she was worried about lost practice time, he worried about her. On Monday, he and she performed an incredible tango, one that earned them this season’s first perfect score. The tears were real. And that sealed their spot in the top 3.
Then there’s the roller coaster ride that is Kirstie Alley. She is a surprisingly good dancer but her endurance was an issue, especially in the early weeks. She’d start strong, then run out of steam. She had a couple of glitches – her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy buckled under her weight one week. Then her shoe got loose the next, causing her to take a break mid-dance. She placed a lot of pressure on herself to lose weight and got too weak at one point. Maks forced her to eat and sleep enough and she came on strong this week.
Given her popularity with the DWTS crowd, the 60-year-old actress could pull off an upset against two much younger competitors. If she did, she’d be by far the oldest winner to date.
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog