Dancing with the Stars kicks off its two-part Season 18 finale Monday night (8/7c, ABC), with two Olympians squaring off against a former child star and a boy bander to see who will take home the Mirrorball trophy.
The winning pair will be chosen on Tuesday's show. Who will it be — Candace and Mark, James and Peta, Amy and Derek, or Meryl and Maks? We've sized up the final four, so check out each team's strengths and weaknesses and vote in our poll for who you want to win.
It only took 18 seasons (and nearly a decade) for me to tune in to even a minute of ABC's Dancing With the Stars. I'll admit that nostalgia for some of my cherished '90s TV stars Candace Cameron Bure and Danica McKellar, combined with a small crush on boy-bander James Maslow, piqued my interest. But halfway through that first episode, I knew right away that I was hooked.
What started as unexpected enjoyment has quickly evolved into a mild obsession. I get mad when a team's score seems unjust or excited when a duo nails their performance. I get nervous when one of my favorites is deemed "unsafe." I can't get enough of the behind-the-scenes action, the fun banter and watching the relationships develop between the stars and their pros.
It's getting to be crunch time on Dancing with the Stars, with only six pairs remaining in the competition heading into Monday's episode, when each pair will perform two dances. And the stars are starting to feel the pressure.
When TVGuide.com caught up with Candace Cameron Bure last Thursday, she was trying to remain calm about this week's rehearsal schedule. "This week is going to go incredibly quickly, with learning two dances. I'm trying not to freak out about it," she said. "Mark [Ballas, her pro partner] said, 'There's no reason to just yet.' He's like, 'On Sunday if you're not good, I'll tell you to start freaking out. But don't freak out yet.'"
Erin Andrews is four weeks into her new gig as co-host of Dancing with the Stars, and while her presence in the ballroom has been a breath of fresh air for viewers in Season 18, the transition period has not exactly been bump-free.
Last week, some tabloid reports surfaced, quoting anonymous sources who accused Andrews of "diva" behavior on the set, and speculated that ABC might already be looking to replace her. (Executive producer Conrad Green has vehemently denied that there's any animosity behind the scenes.)
"I've got to be honest. ... It kind of got me worried and scared," Andrews told TVGuide.com last week, noting that she immediately called producers to do damage control. "I just went back and forth with the producers like, 'Are we good here? Please tell me what I need to work on. Please tell me what I need to do. 'And they're like, 'We couldn't be happier.'"
Long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad made headlines last year when she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the assistance of a shark cage. But, she says, preparing to dance a minute-long foxtrot on the Season 18 premiere of Dancing with the Stars last Monday was just as daunting as gearing up for her multi-day open water feat.
"When I would stand on that shore over in Cuba and look out at the horizon, I knew that what was in front of me was going to be at least two, probably more like two-and-a-half nonstop days in the open ocean, with all kinds of obstacles," Nyad, 64, tells TVGuide.com. "And [Monday], as I stood holding [partner Henry Byalikov's] hands, I was thinking, 'You have one minute and six seconds for this foxtrot.' It's just an absurdly different kind of challenge."
Nyad and Byalikov ended up with an 18 from the judges after their routine, which puts them in second-to-last place heading into Week 2. Though Nyad says she felt OK about the dance itself, there was one aspect of the performance that left her "mortified." Check out our interview with Nyad to find out what frustrated her to the point of tears, as well as what she and Henry are working on for this week's cha-cha.