USA TODAY - Our four fab final stars of Season 17 got one more chance to show off their skills before Tuesday'sDancing With the Stars winner is crowned.
Monday's finals were a challenge for Bill Engvall, Amber Riley, Corbin Bleu and Jack Osbourne. There were three rounds of dances —- the judges' pick, a samba relay and the always-amazing freestyle — and paddle-bearers Carrie Ann Inaba,Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli were being tough, although by the freestyle round the 10s were being whipped out quite often.
By the end of the night, one celeb would be eliminated. Three would wind up heading to the finals. Here's how it all played out:
Amber Riley had to work on being in sync with partner Derek Hough and to show the judges she has grown, even though she's often at the top of the leaderboard. They worked to perfect their Charleston, which was funny and sharp. Carrie Ann gave her a hug as the crowd clapped and cheered. "You started this competition at the top," said Carrie Ann, but you "completely outdid yourself." Len said that, of all the judges' pick dances, Amber's was "the most improved." Bruno said there was "a power surge across the country!" Scores: 10, 10, 10 = 30
Corbin Bleu was determined to perfect his control, something he's been criticized for in the past. His quickstep with partner Karina Smirnoff featured an old-fashioned movie theme, and it wowed the crowd with its cuteness. Len liked it but quibbled about his left arm being lax. Said Bruno: "If you did that on the highway, you'd get a speeding ticket." He said he went out of sync at one point, noting that it was a difficult choreography. Carrie Ann said she didn't see improvement. "Get your mojo back, Corbin!" Scores: 9, 9, 9 = 27
Jack Osbourne: "We've made it to the finals. What's to say we can't possibly win?" He worked especially hard on his flicks and kicks for his country-themed jive to Going Up the Country. The crowd loved it. Bruno said the "kicks and flicks were good but the timing went out the window!" Carrie Ann said they were out of sync. Len said he "lost it early on" and hoped he would come back stronger in the next two dances. "They're making us work for that mirrorball," said Jack, citing his busy week. Scores: 8, 8, 8 = 24
Bill Engvall described himself as "the man nobody thought would be there — sitting in the finals." He said it with a grin. But he's right. It seemed unlikely the stand-up comic would make it this far. But he's got a big fan base and he's "a loveable man," as his partner Emma Slater put it. "I love him!" Their Viennese waltz toBilly Joel's She's Always A Woman To Me was lilting and lovely. Len said there was "some improvement" but "some of it stayed the same." Bruno said he loves his honesty in his performance, but his timing was off. "Not everybody is a Rolex," he said. Carrie Ann loved the "warmth," even with no improvement on the musicality. Scores: 8, 8, 8 = 24
Round Two: During the samba relay, TLC performed No Scrubs. Jack Osbourne went first, followed by Amber, then Bill and a shirtless Corbin. "That wasn't a samba, it was a wham-ba!" said Len Goodman. "Crazy, sexy, cool, hot!" said Bruno. Carrie Ann said Corbin "blew us away."
Corbin and Karina ... 5
Amber and Derek ... 4
Jack and Cheryl ... 3
Bill and Emma ... 2
Round Three: It's always a highlight of the season, and this season's freestyle round covered a range of themes.
Corbin Bleu went to Las Vegas to work with Michael Jackson's choreographer, Travis Payne, to train for a freestyle to Smooth Criminal. They included a few acrobatic tricks and threw in some moonwalking to wow the crowd. Bruno said, "You killed it!" Carrie Ann said it was risky to try do Michael Jackson, but he "nailed it." Len gave them a standing ovation. Scores: 10, 10, 10 = 30
Amber showed Derek some step moves to incorporate them into a country-Western freestyle that put Amber at the front of five male dancers and Derek. She had no problem ruling the dance floor. "The whole number was just about you," said Len. "You're class, fast and built to last." Bruno called her a "leading lady -- star power, talent, bewitchingly awesome." Carrie Ann raved, too. "You're like a diva dancing James Brown!" Scores: 10, 10, 10 = 30
Jack said his freestyle was like "doing brain surgery while looking the other way." There were lifts and tricks that made it "the most physically challenging thing I've taken on," he said. He had a sore back and bruised ankle while rehearsing. But on the dance floor, he and Cheryl danced to Fred Astaire's Top Hat, White Tie and Tails. showcasing a range of steps and moves. "That was a showstopper!" said Carrie Ann, adding it was a "fairy tale ending." Len raved, and so did Bruno. Cheryl started crying and Jack's eyes welled up, too. Scores: 10, 10, 10 = 30
Bill Engvall performed an Indiana Jones dance, swinging into the ballroom on a rope for a number done to the movie's theme song. It included dancing with a whip and Bill lifting Emma up to his shoulders. When it was done, Bill took off his shirt and flexed his muscles, sending the crowd into even more laughter and cheers. "On behalf of all of us who have a one-pack, thank you," cracked host Tom Bergeron. Len said it was "cheeky" and called it "thoroughly entertaining." Bruno called it "nutty" but "insanely good fun." Carrie Ann called him a "dancing hero." Scores: 8, 9, 8 = 25
Totals for the night:
Amber Riley ... 64
Corbin Bleu ... 62
Jack Osbourne ... 57
Bill Engvall ... 51
And finally, elimination time.
Amber and Corbin were announced as moving to the finale. No surprise there. It came down to Jack and Bill. Which celeb was going home?
"It just goes to prove to me there is a God, cuz I don't think I could make one more dance," he said with a smile. He said Emma is "like my second daughter now. It's just been a blast. I'd be totally remiss if I didn't thank (my wife) Gail. ... This has been a lifetime experience. I will never forget this. To all the fans who voted this long, thank you."