Dancing with the All Stars: Will a show filled with great dancers still be compelling?
(UPDATE: Looks like my prediction from this morning was pretty accurate; ex-Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson became the first celebrity ejected from the show's all-star season Tuesday night, joining Nick Lachey in the bottom two dancers. The female viewers on Team DWTS do not appreciate competitors who look like the girls who stole their boyfriends in high school.)
Usually, the formula for guessing the first competitor booted off Dancing with the Stars is pretty easy.
Take the least famous "star" onstage who delivers the worst performance and figure in whether they appeal to the show's middle-aged female fans. If not -- like, say, eccentric NBA star Ron "Metta World Peace" Artest -- say goodbye before the credits roll.
That's why Monday's debut of Dancing's all-star competition was so interesting. All the competitors, including many who have won previous cycles of the show, have some measure of appeal to fans and some level of dancefloor skill.
The judges were a little less accommodating and now they can give .5 levels to their scores for more varied totals in a close competition. And the show's singers were particularly screechy and unappealing. (in a town full of studio aces, they can't find three people who can hit a note together?)
But I sensed a bigger question after watching all 13 stars hit the floor for the first time:
Will it really be interesting to watch celebrities who already can dance compete for weeks on end?
The remedial dancers stood out Monday: Pamela Anderson, Kirstie Alley, Drew Lachey and Bristol Palin are going to be working hard to keep up with their more talented co-stars. But Palin and Alley are among the stars with the most appeal among the show's core viewers, so expect them to stick around, even as more talented dancers are sent packing.
I'm thinking Anderson is the most in danger of getting the boot; she's sexy but intimidating in a slutty way, which DWTS fans don't necessarily love, and her dance routine mostly consisted of slinking around behind partner Tristan McManus and striking poses.
(Technically, Alley did the same thing Monday, but she has the advantage of embodying many of the show's viewers; Anderson is the girl most DWTS viewers hated in high school.)
But most of the other competitors are different levels of good, from Disney star Sabrina Bryan's youthful power to actor Giles Marini's smooth elegance. So I wonder: Will it be as compelling to watch these pretty good dancers try to top each other with no Jerry Springer or Tom DeLay to serve as comic relief?
That may be the real gamble of this all-star season.