I have never felt inclined to write about this show until now. Why has it taken 17 seasons for me to decide to recap Dancing with the Stars? Well, it is because of how truly amazing this cast is. I have never been more excited to watch this show than I am right now. This is the very first time that I think that the show is actually living up to it’s name, because these people are stars!
The season features one of the stars from one of my favorite childhood shows, Saved by the Bell. Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley Lauren) appears to be following in AC Slater’s (Mario Lopez) footsteps. Let’s see if she can out-dance her former Bayside High beau.
I am also rooting for two people from two current favorite shows of mine. Brant Daugherty plays (or played?) the devious character of Noel Kahn on Pretty Little Liars. In addition, Amber Riley, who is best known for her portrayal of Mercedes Jones on Fox’s Glee, will also be squaring off for the Mirror Ball Trophy. I will talk more about the rest of the cast as the episode unfolds because I want to get this whiskey tango foxtrot started!
Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke Charvet make their return to the ballroom. Is it just me or does Burke not quite fill Samantha Harris’ dance shoes? I have wanted to say that for a long time. There was a certain elegance and charisma that Harris brought to the show. Burke seems to be a bit too timid for live television. Anyway, I guess she is doing something right considering this is her seventh season as co-host.
The co-hosts inform the viewers of all the gory details regarding the new format of the show. First of all, there will only be one episode per week. Week one will be give everyone a chance to display their dancing abilities, or lack thereof. Week two will give everyone a second chance to win the judges over, and then the person with the lowest score (a combination of judges’ scores and viewer votes) will be sent home at the end of the episode. Honestly, I love the new format. I rarely used to watch the previous results shows unless I was interested in watching a special musical guest. This will definitely allow things to move more quickly and smoothly. In addition, all of the contestants will be sitting near the judges’ table. They won’t be waiting backstage. I love this idea because you get to see all of them on a more regular basis.
Brant Daugherty and his partner, Peta Murgatroyd, are the first couple of season 17 to make their ballroom debut. We are shown a recap of how they prepared for their first performance. Murgatroyd immediately asked Daugherty if he is single, and she seems somewhat surprised that he is. I would not be surprised to see Daugherty come out of the closet at some point in his career, just based off of his mannerisms. Hey, that wouldn’t be a bad thing; he is a very good looking guy. Moving on. . . I was actually very surprised that Brant did not perform the Cha-Cha as well as I had hoped. Maybe I had high expectations of him considering he is the season’s heartthrob and because he is from one of my favorite TV shows. Maybe I didn’t like it because he and his partner danced to a rendition of “Blurred Lines.” Regardless, he didn’t do too poorly for his first performance. He received an 8 from Len Goodman, a 7 from Carrie Ann Inaba, and a 7 from Bruno Tonioli for a score of 22.
I think that Leah Remini has the potential to do very well in this competition. It seemed to me that she was over-thinking it and was trying to not let her nerves get the best of her. She is one of those people who could end up being a great dancer as long as the audience gives her a chance. The only true downfall was that Tony Dovolani’s choreography seemed a bit too generic. All in all, her Foxtrot to Amy Winehouse’s “Tears Dry on Their Own,” was a safe way to start off the season. Each judge awarded her with a lucky number 7; she received a score of 21.
I knew that Corbin Bleu would be a force to be reckoned with. He was Zac Efron’s best friend in the “High School Musical” movies, so he knows a thing or two about choreography. He and his partner, Karina Smirnoff, were absolutely thrilled to be working together. First of all, they were going to be performing a contemporary number, which is Smirnoff’s first time ever performing this style of dance. Secondly, she mentioned that Bleu was her dream partner, and she wanted to work with him for a very long time. In addition, Smirnoff went on to state that unlike other partners, Bleu would not stop her when she was trying to do something crazy with the routine – - something that pushed the limits and was almost impossible. They performed their musical number to OneRepublic’s “If I Lose Myself.” Sometimes it just takes a great song to help deliver an amazing performance. They definitely wowed me. I was in awe of everything that they were able to deliver. I cannot wait to continue to watch this duo. Apparently the judges agreed with me because each judge gave them an 8 for a total score of 24. Honestly, I think they should have gotten higher, but whatevs.
I was completely unaware of Jack Osbourne’s battle with Multiple Sclerosis until tonight’s episode. I absolutely adore the idea of someone not allowing something like this destroy his/her life. I love a good underdog story. I love when people overcome adversity and move on to achieve great things. This is why I am rooting for Jack to make it far. It definitely doesn’t hurt that he is paired with one of the best women that the show has ever awarded us with, Cheryl Burke. Eliza Doolittle’s “Pack Up” was the perfect song for this couple and made their performance that much more special. They were the first couple who appeared to be having a great time, and I think that’s what this show should be about. No, from a technical standpoint, it was not the best dance of the night. However, it was entertaining and inspiring. It even brought Jack’s mom, Sharon Osbourne, to tears as she set next to Ozzy in the audience. Len and Carrie Ann both gave a score of 8, and Bruno gave them a 7 for a total score of 23.
Finally, the person I have been anticipating the most has finally hit the dance floor! Glee’s Amber Riley has been fortunate enough to be partnered with four-time winner, Derek Hough. It also doesn’t hurt that she has performed a ridiculous amount of dance numbers on her hit show (season five premieres on Thursday, September 26 at 9/8c, by the way). Their Cha-Cha to Little Mix’s “Wings” was superb and gave me goosebumps. Who would have guessed that Mercedes Jones would have such sweet moves!? Britney needs to watch out. I was so impressed with Amber’s performance, and so were the judges. Not only did she receive the first 9′s of the season (three of them for a score of 27), but this was the first time that 9′s were given out on the very first episode! I cannot wait to see Mercedes take that Mirror Ball Trophy back to West McKinley High! On a side note, I was really impressed that Amber had four of her “Glee” co-stars in the audience. Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Kevin McHale, and Jenna Ushkowitz (Quinn, Kurt, Artie, and Tina) were all rooting on their glee club partner. I thought this was really sweet.
Another person I could not wait to see again was Elizabeth Berkley Lauren. She is probably most recognized because of her stint on Saved by the Bell, as well as her stripper-turned-showgirl role in the 1995 film “Showgirls.” I truly believe that Berkley has the most to prove out of everyone here. Her career took a nose dive after she was cast in what is regarded to be one of the worst movies ever made. Honestly, I’ve seen it, and I don’t think it’s that bad. In addition, I’m sure she wants to go on to be known as more than Jessie Spano. In a behind-the-scenes segment with her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, he states that her show actually helped him learn English. He also mentioned that he was actually more interested in “the other one.” The other one being Kelly Kapowski. What guy says that? I always thought that he looked like a douche-bag; he just solidified my opinion of him. The couple performed a contemporary routine to John Lennon’s “Imagine.” I was relatively surprised and impressed at Berkley’s elegance, class, and overall dancing ability. I definitely think that she could and should make it to the finals. She received three 8′s from the judges for a total score of 24. Even 20 years later, she is still at the top of the class.
Okay, let’s be honest. We all knew that Bill Nye the Science Guy was not going to be the best dancer. Of course, it would be up to him and his partner, Tyne Stecklein, to actually put on a show, and that is exactly what they did. Their Cha-Cha to “Weird Science” can’t even be considered a dance, because he really didn’t dance. He mostly just flailed around on a set that was created to look like a giant science lab. The only reason why he will stick around for a while is because he’s Bill Nye the Science Guy! He will continue to get the lowest amount of points, though, so viewers’ votes will only get him so far. Len gave him a 4, Bruno was nice enough to give him a 5, and Carrie Ann gave him a 5, as well, but she went on to say that he was the heart of the show. I can agree with that. His first score was a measly 14. Maybe he’ll be able to create up an experiment that will allow him to dance better. Hmmmm.
Here’s my thing, if you’re going to worry about what you’re going to look like to your homophobic friends, then why are you even competing on this show? Keyshawn Johnson tells his pro, Sharna Burgess, that he doesn’t want her to make him look too feminine. Their Cha-Cha to Bruno Mars’ “Treasure” was overall pretty stiff. However, there was one part of the routine where he was doing some club dance moves that were surprisingly really good. This was not good enough for the judges, though. Bruno and Carrie Ann both gave the Superbowl champion 6′s, while Bruno gave him a 5 for a total score of 17. I’m not sure why, but football players tend to make it far in this competition, so it would not surprise me to see him make it through to next week.
Christina Milian and Mark Ballas are up next. They perform a contemporary routine to Zedd’s “Clarity.” Honestly, I was expecting a bit more from Milian. The routine itself was fantastic, but her performance was a bit underwhelming. As one judge pointed out, her head was down during the first half of the routine. I think Milian has amazing potential. She has one of the best male coaches that she could ask for, so as long as she trusts in him, then she could make it to the top five. Carrie Ann and Len both gave the superstar a couple 7′s and Bruno gave her an 8. It’s weird how Carrie Ann and Len tend to give the same score. Anyway, this gives Milian a first round score of 22.
The “Redneck Dancing King,” Bill Engvall, did not do as bad as I thought he would. Emma Slater really did all she could to not make him look like an idiot. Their Foxtrot to “Hot Stuff” was a little safe, and it wasn’t as technically-sound as most of the other performances, but it was not bad enough to get him last place. He received all 6′s from the judges (score of 18). Engvall mentioned that he hopes all of his rednecks out there vote for him. I’m not so sure “redneck” is one of the demographics that actually enjoys the show. Sorry, buddy, but I think you’re going home first.
First of all, Valerie Harper does not look like she’s 73-years-old. She looks absolutely stunning for her age. Even more so than Jack Osbourne, I am incredibly proud of Harper. In 2009, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Then, earlier this year, this cancer spread into her brain. Her doctor only gave her three months to live considering that this rare form of cancer is incurable. Her spirit is infectious. She was constantly laughing and smiling and a true inspiration to everyone watching. Her Foxtrot to “Some Kind of Wonderful” wasn’t too bad, either. It wasn’t as stiff and was more fluid and smooth than I thought it would be. The judges gave Valerie and pro-parter, Tristan MacManus (so hot, by the way), a total score of 21 (three 7′s). I would love to see her make it to the end of this game. She has elegance, personality, and a fight that is truly inspiring.
Last, but certainly not least, we have everyone’s favorite hot mess, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi from MTV’s Jersey Shore. Snooki actually informs the audience that she would prefer to be called Nicole from now on. Yes, she will always be Snooki, but she has grown up so much since the birth of her child that she truly feels like a woman. Tom compromises by calling her Snicole. I’m still going to call her Snooki. I was actually expecting more from her Cha-Cha with Sasha Farber. Her performance to “Wild Ones” was not as clean as I thought it would be. She did remind me of Lil Kim from a few seasons back. You could tell that she was enjoying herself, and she really went for it. Carrie Ann and Len each gave the “meatball” 8′s while Bruno gave her a 7 for a week one score of 23. Not bad for someone who spent several years in dance and gymnastics, but I expected more from her.
Considering how extremely long this recap was, allow me to do a recap of the recap. But first, during the show, Tom and Brooke mentioned the top four people who have had the most buzz via social media. Bill Nye was in a commanding lead, followed by Amber Riley, Snookie, and Valerie Harper. It pains me to see such a terrible dancer at the top of the list, but I’m excited that Amber and Valerie will be sticking around for a while.
Amber Riley and Derek Hough: 27 points
Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff & Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Val Chmerkovskiy: 24 points each
Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke & Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Sasha Farber: 23 points point
Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd & Christina Milian and Mark Ballas: 22 points each
Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani & Valerie Harper and Tristan MacManus: 21 points each
Bill Engvall and Emma Slater: 18 points
Keyshawn Johnson and Sharna Burgess: 17 points
Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and Tyne Stecklein: 14 points
As aforementioned, I believe that Bill Engvall will be the first “star” to go home. I don’t think he has the fan base nor the dancing ability to make it far in this game. Until next time. . .
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