The ballroom is back! Season 17 (17!!!!) of Dancing With the Stars premiered on Monday night, and it looks like the stars have come to fight. Unlike last season, where it was clear from the beginning that only four contestants would be competitive, the first show of this season showed a lot of potential, and it’s already quite difficult to predict who will be headed home next week.
Before the dances, though, let’s discuss the show’s new format. With DWTS losing its Tuesday night time slot, there’s a whole lot more to pack into Mondays, so as a whole, things moved a lot quicker than usual…which is certainly nothing to complain about. Plus, now Brooke Burke can do more looking pretty and less awkward interviewing. It’s a win-win. However, I’m not quite used to the cast members being right down in the audience the entire show, but with due time I’m sure it’ll feel normal.
Brant Daugherty & Peta Murgatroyd
If you’ve never watched Pretty Little Liars, you probably don’t know who this guy is…but I’m sure a lot of ladies will remember him just by that smile after this episode! It’s got to be so tough to go out and do the first dance of the season, and Brant didn’t disappoint. His cha-cha landed him in the middle of the pack, rightfully so, but it looks like there’s a lot of room for improvement. Plus, the chemistry between him and Peta is beyond amazing already, which is huge on this show. If they keep up the cutesy flirting…and Brant continues to improve his dancing, I think they’ve got some legs in this competition.
Leah Remini & Tony Dovolani
She’ll always be Carrie on King of Queens to me, which doesn’t seem that far-off from her real personality — and that’s a good thing. I thought Leah’s opening package was funny, and she’ll definitely win people over with her charisma, but overall, her Foxtrot was just so-so. Going so early in the competition doesn’t help either, because her dance wasn’t anything memorable, however, I think she’s still got a few weeks left on the show.
Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff
It’s clear from Week 1 that the judges are going to hold this High School Musical star to a higher standard because of his dance experience. I understand that to an extent, however, in the end, it’s about who dances best each week, so I really hope it doesn’t hurt him at some point. After this week, Corbin’s tied for second on the leader board — and deservedly so. His contemporary dance was gorgeous and he made it look effortless. Verdict? The judges should’ve probably given him one 9 because he was a bit better than his fellow second place contestant, Elizabeth Berkley (more on that later). Regardless, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Jack Osbourne & Cheryl Burke
Can we first comment on how great Cheryl Burke is looking this season?! The new haircut, some weight loss…and she looks like a whole new person. Congrats! I was pleasantly surprised with Jack’s Foxtrot, and content with his scores that landed him towards the top of the pack. I think this slower dance was good for him in Week 1, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep up with the rhythm of faster dances (i.e. the Jive) in upcoming weeks. Prediction? He’s safe this week.
Amber Riley & Derek Hough
This girl can move! Which, of course, isn’t surprising…because when are they going to give Derek a partner that doesn’t have some straight-up potential off the bat, right? I’m not complaining — I love Derek — but he does seem to always get lucky with who he’s paired with. I think there’s been some criticism about Amber getting such a high score in Week 1, but when it came down to it, it’s the score she deserved. Had Corbin gotten 1 point higher, which I believe should’ve been the case, she’d be at the top by 2 points…and she honestly deserves it. Her cha-cha was fast paced, and Derek is such a master of choreography that he made her look like a finale contender in just the first week. Plus, it was beyond adorable that her Glee castmates were all cheering her on. I predict she’ll be around for quite some time.
Elizabeth Berkley & Val Chmerkovskiy
Elizabeth and Val’s Contemporary dance was gorgeous, and she deserves her spot within the Top 3 after Week 1. However, after watching both routines, I was a bit more impressed by Corbin, mostly because he seemed more natural and took more risks. I adored Elizabeth during the show, and every season Val seems to grow on me more and more. These two will be fun to watch!
Bill Nye & Tyne Stecklein
I do feel bad saying this, but Bill Nye the Science Guy was hard. to. watch. I was ready to be surprised by him, because when he was improvising with Tyne in the studio, he looked like he could move his feet! But when it came to the Cha-Cha choreography…there was just no hope. Plus, it’s always hard for a new pro dancer, like Tyne, to figure out how to teach such an inexperienced dancer in such little time (poor girl). I think Len’s 4 was a bit harsh, but there’s no question that Bill should be at the bottom of the leader board.
That being said, this guy seems to have more fans than anyone so far! The audience loves him and he’s been blowing up social media. Although there’s no question in my mind that he should be the one to go home, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t the case. But, hopefully, his time will come soon.
Keyshawn Johnson & Sharna Burgess
First off, I must comment on how amazing Sharna looked in those gold leggings. There can’t be a female out there who wasn’t envious. Get it, girl! However, she was probably the best looking thing about this routine. Unlike many of the other athletes who come on this show (think Jacoby Jones last season), Keyshawn didn’t have any natural rhythm, and he also lacked the ultimate charisma that the football players usually bring. Hopefully once this week is over he’ll get over being “feminine” and show more of his personality, because that might be all that keeps him going if his dancing doesn’t improve.
Christina Milian & Mark Ballas
Is it just me, or were the judges a little harsh on Christina? Is it because she has some performance background? Her Contemporary dance landed her in the middle of the pack, so I guess, in the end, the score put her where she belonged, but the judges made it seem like she came onto the floor like a timid child. Yes, she did look nervous at first, but she still danced a difficult dance beautifully. I think as the weeks go on, her confidence will improve, and the dancing will, too, because she clearly has some natural talent.
Bill Engvall & Emma Slater
Going into Monday’s episode, Bill was the only “star” I wasn’t familiar with, and because of that, I was ready to write him off immediately. Plus, he’s also with a new pro, and after watching this show for a while, I’ve fallen just as much in love with the pros as I have with the stars, so for the audience to not really know Emma didn’t really help his case. However, I was beyond pleasantly surprised with Bill’s Foxtrot! He had fun with it and he wasn’t nearly as stiff or awkward as I thought he’d be. In fact, I thought he should’ve even gotten a point or two higher in his score. It was also admirable that he had a good attitude about the criticism and scores.
Unfortunately, because he did get such a low score and is a lesser-known celeb, it might be his time to go this week. I just don’t think America will vote off Bill Nye or Keyshawn, who both had lower scores.
Valerie Harper & Tristan MacManus
Valerie started off her package by sharing with the audience her bout with terminal brain cancer. It wasn’t phony, and it wasn’t done for sympathy. She was truly just telling her story…and I completely admire and respect her for doing so, and for being on this show at her age and in her condition. Valerie moved very smoothly for someone who is 73-years-old, and she danced better than probably anybody her age would be able to. I think the judges were a bit lenient in her scoring, and for the first week I think that is okay, but as time goes on it might get a little frustrating if she stays on the show longer than somebody who is clearly a better dancer. Overall, her relationship with Tristan is beyond amazing, and it’s so great to see her here. I’m hoping she sticks around for a few weeks and goes out with her head held high when the time is right!
Nicole Polizzi & Sasha Farber
Per the Jersey Shore star’s request, we will from here-on-out call her Nicole! I think she went into this show with a bad reputation, and I really hope that people can see throughout this season how much she has grown up and changed. For starters, she looks fabulous…and it showed in that hot pink outfit last night! Her Cha-Cha wasn’t perfect, but she definitely showed some major potential, and her relationship with Sasha is already hilarious and adorable. I definitely want to see more from these two…and she’ll certainly be fun to toss around once lifts are allowed!
Unfortunately, although he wasn’t at the bottom of the scoreboard, I think it’s Bill Engvall’s week to go. Of course, we’ll have to see what happens when the scores from next week are added in, but with his low score and apparent lack of fan base, it doesn’t seem like he has much of a chance.