Saved by the Bell and the NFL face off as the Dancing with the Stars 3 finale begins tonight

Dancing with the Stars 3 begins its finale tonight at 8 p.m. ET with a 90-minute finale. (Actually, excuse me: Because ABC programmers are dicks and think extending an episode by a few minutes is a good way to force people to watch whatever crap’s coming up next, it’s 91 minutes long.) Tomorrow night starting at 8, the show will do its best to fill the 62-minute final finale with no content whatsoever before revealing the winner.

The final two are former Saved by the Bell star Mario Lopez and former NFL star Emmitt Smith. Will Emmitt’s partner Cheryl Burke help her partner to victory for the second time in a year (she partnered with Nick Lachey last season)? Or will all of that breakdancing at The Max pay off for Mario? Celebrities weigh in and tell the New York Post who they want to win.

This season, the series has averaged 20 million viewers, and it “grew 8% in total viewers and 10% in the desirable 18-to-49-year-old demographic and ranks No. 9 among 18- to 49-year-olds who earn more than $100,000,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper does an excellent job of summing up what’s made this season so crazy popular, and it’s not exactly the dancing:

Beauty queen Shanna Moakler got into a bar fight with Paris Hilton, of all people. Country singer Sara Evans had to quit because of trouble in her marriage. Daredevil Monique Coleman had a wardrobe malfunction (her bottom went whoops!) that etched itself as a season highlight for the ever-proper British judge Len Goodman. Teen heartthrobs Lopez and Joey Lawrence got verbal spankings for their breaking-all-the-rules ways. Tucker Carlson dazzled with his skillful chair-sitting routine. Jerry Springer — Jerry Springer! — got choked up when he was voted off the competition not because he wanted to stay but because he was overwhelmed by the kindness he had been shown during his seven-week stint. And if that weren’t enough, NFL legend Emmitt Smith can shimmy, shake and even waltz, earning him the nickname “Twinkle Toes.”

Dancing with the Stars [ABC]
‘Dancing’ Feat [New York Post]
‘Dancing With the Stars’ sambas to hot ratings [LA Times]