CLEVELAND - The stage is set. After weeks of competition, strange challenges, inconceivable judges' scores, shocking eliminations, and lots of layers torn off, the final three All-Stars are in place for the "Dancing with the Stars" finale.
Five couples entered Tuesday night's results show, but only three go on.
The show kicks off with the judges asking for an encore performance of the rumba that Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina did. I think it looks better the second time around.
First results: Olympian Shawn Johnson and Derek are safe. No surprise there. And good – they should be. That spry little chipmunk really gives it her all.
We get a musical performance from The Wanted, which I perceive to be some sort of British boy band?
That's followed with a dance performance, by New Zealand choreographer Parris Goebel. She gives an emotional little contemporary number to "This Girl is on Fire."
More results. It's between Apolo and TV host Melissa Rycroft. Tough choice, but given the choice, I'd like to see chipper Melissa here next week. Apparently, viewers agree. She's safe, and Apolo's going. Good sport that he is, Apolo says the show forces everyone on it to be a champion.
Still doesn't mean you're getting a Mirrorball Trophy as a consolation prize, bud.
Melissa tweeted, "OH. MY. GOSH!!!! I cannot believe it!!! Our fans are the BEST!! Love you guys sooooo much! Thank you! Thank you!!"
Then we get the highlight of the results show: a number not only choreographed by Paula Abdul, but featuring her dancing to her original hits.
Is your giddy anticipation building? Is everybody gathered round to see if Paula will mess up or forget where she is mid-act?
Well, save the schadenfreude; Paula did great. I'm not sure if she's really singing or not, but she's still a good dancer. Her "dream medley," as she calls it, is a fun production, complete with changing scenery, projection, virtual and live dancers. She "sings" to four of her hits: "Forever Your Girl," "Cold-Hearted," "Opposites Attract" and "Straight Up."
MC Skat Kat makes an appearance and, just when you think you've seen it all, a 20-foot hologram Maks steps out. Hologram Tupac's got nothing on this!
The final results? Nope. Another performance. Derek's back with some contemporary dance, which he says he doesn't usually choreograph, with faux modesty. It's not rocket science, professionally-trained dancer.
Final results. It's between actress Kelly Monaco and NFL retiree Emmitt Smith. I know people like him a lot, but Kelly has really thrown herself into this season. Besides, the soap opera veteran seduced her viewers by playing up the chemistry with Val. It seems to have worked. Kelly is safe and Emmitt is gone.
That sets the stage for an all girl finale. Based on the show's female demographics, these three make sense for the finale: chipper new mom Melissa, perfect daughter Shawn, and bodice-ripping romance with Kelly and Val.
Who will win? Kelly is a the wildcard; she's good but her quality is a rollercoaster. Melissa has been exceptional lately, but Shawn and Derek are built for this type of thing.
The finals air Monday night at 8 on ABC. Host Tom Bergeron says the couples will do a "super-sized freestyle" and their favorite routine. Then on Tuesday night's finale, they will do a third dance: an instant dance in which they will learn their music and dance style live.
More information can be found at: beta.abc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars/index .