Photo Credit: ABC
The finale of Dancing with the Stars, Season 17 was a high-energy celebration, an episode featuring appearances by all 12 original contestants and one last, scored dance for the three finalists. As always, the show's last episode felt less like a competition and more like a party. Producers filled the two hours before announcing the winner with flashbacks and highlight packages, live performances (by Enrique Iglesias, Colbie Caillat and Lady Antebellum), and a chance for many of the fallen "stars" to take the dance floor one last time. There were tears. There was laughter. And in the end…
Amber Riley walked away with the Mirror Ball trophy. It was the fifth win for her DWTS pro partner, Derek Hough. Early in the episode, Hough tried to temper expectations by pointing out that Riley isn't a trained dancer. (Runner-up Corbin Bleu, on the other hand, arrived on the scene with a rich dance background.) Hough also noted that Riley's high position on the leader board wouldn't necessarily translate into a win. "This final is going to be impossible to predict, because it might not be about the highest scorers," he said. "It might not be about the dancers at all. It's really just gonna come down to who American feels should be the winner."
In the end, though, this winning team also happened to be the highest scoring couple. After their final dance, a samba/quickstep fusion, all the judges gushed compliments. "You did not put a foot wrong," Bruno Tonioli said, summing up the technical proficiency that probably put Riley over the top. Here are some highlights:
Best contestant quote: "I thought I was going to be out in Week 5," said Jack Osbourne, who has charmed viewers with his down-to-earth personality all season. "And here I am, third place. I'll take that! It's like Rocky. He didn't win, but he went the distance!" Len Goodman offered Osbourne a well-earned compliment after his final dance with Cheryl Burke, a paso doble/samba fusion. "Of all of our celebrities you have given me the most pleasure to watch," he said. "The others have climbed hills. You've climbed a mountain."
Best line from Tom Bergeron: "I swear sometimes it was like he was a completely different person!" cried Bergeron, after contestant Bill Nye performed a funny bit with his former partner, Tyne Strickland. After suffering an injury early in the season, Nye didn't last long on the show. But through clever camera work and a stunt double, Nye executed a routine full of flips, backhand springs and, uh, good dancing.
Most crazy live TV moment: When Brooke Burke-Charvet asked Snooki how it felt to be back on the show, the cheeky Jersey Shore star had some fun at the comely host's expense. "I'm so happy that I'm here," cried Snooki. "I miss everybody. I miss your boobs." As if on cue, Burke-Charvet replied, "We miss you too."
Best overall moment: Riley basked in the glow of her win, jumping into Hough's arms and smiling through tears. "Anything that scares me, I want to do," she told Bergeron. "So I want to let women of all sizes out there know, you can do whatever you put your mind to. It doesn't matter what size you are, what color you are, you can do whatever, whatever, whatever you put your mind to!"