'Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars': Why Melissa and Tony Won the Mirror Ball
'Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars': Why Melissa and Tony Won the Mirror Ball
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
In a season filled with champions, it wasn't terribly likely that Melissa Rycroft -- who lost to not one but two co-All-Stars back in season 8 -- and Tony Dovolani -- the ultimate DWTS also-ran -- could win Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars.

But they did. How did they do it?

The Best Dancing

There is always a popularity issue on Dancing with the Stars. Because the winners are chosen at least partially via popular vote, it's common for lesser dancers to beat out a better dancer or two. Sometimes, those lesser dancers even win.

That didn't happen on Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani actually were the best couple to make it to the finals this year.

Seriously. In the end -- and thanks to those two perfect scores during the finale performances -- Melissa and Tony edged out Shawn and Derek for the highest cumulative score. By one point (420 vs. 419). OK, so it wasn't the widest margin of victory ever, but it does mean that the viewers' choice for champion was also the judges' choice.

That's kind of nice.

Peaking at the Right Time

Back at the beginning of the season, Melissa and Tony hardly looked like championship material. Their first score -- 21 points -- was only good enough for 9th place out of the 13 couples competing in week 1. Melissa could have legitimately gone home at that point.
She didn't. And that turned out to be a good thing.

By week 3, Melissa and Tony were starting to look like possible winners, at least when it came to judges' scores. They managed to avoid elimination in the danger weeks and actually started to improve.

And then came the Swing Marathon. Usually, this just means a couple of extra points for some of the teams. For Melissa and Tony, it may have been the key that got them to the finale. Their 10 points gave the couple their first definitive lead in a week and put them into the position of a couple to be beat.

This win was followed by 10s. A lot of 10s. In the three weeks following the marathon, Melissa and Tony got five perfect scores. That's out of six dances. Kind of amazing.

Underrated Popularity

Melissa was not the most famous celebrity on Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars. Far from it. But fame isn't the only measure of popularity -- a young man named Kyle Massey could tell you that.

Tony Dovolani is one of the more lovable pros. He never seems to lose his temper, and he seems to genuinely like all of his partners who are not named Kate Gosselin. Tony is the kind of guy you want to win.

What about Melissa? Well, she comes across as pretty, friendly, hard-working and enthusiastic. Those are likable qualities in a TV person. Also I can say, having interviewed Melissa earlier this season, the former cheerleader is surprisingly articulate and thoughtful.

Honestly, there's nothing to dislike here.

They Deserved It

Melissa was the only celebrity in the semi-finals and the finals who had never won a Mirror Ball trophy. Tony had been on Dancing with the Stars since season 2, all without a win to his credit.

Maybe voters felt it was time for these two to get what they deserved? After all, why give another Mirror Ball to a previous champion when we could share the wealth?

Did you expect Melissa and Tony to win? Were you rooting for them? Who did you want to win? Leave your comments below!

(Images courtesy of ABC)