The best and worst of Monday's 'Dancing with the Stars' premiere
Well, Dancing with the Stars definitely has a new look. And last night's season 18 premiere showed it's going for a hipper (read: younger) vibe: the new band with a more contemporary sound, new co-host Erin Andrews (more on her later), and streamlined score paddles and graphics. So far, so good; Monday's show was one of the more exciting openers in a while. (Though, despite the fact that I am a Millennial, I can't really weigh in on the effectiveness of how this new show draws that younger demographic, because I've been watching this show faithfully for years. Hey, I love to watch people dance!)
Here are some things that stood out during last night's premiere, ranked on a scale of 1-10 from best to worst:
10: Charlie White's smile. Sure, the guy is an Olympic gold medal-winning ice dancer. It might not be fair that he's in this competition (he did get the best score last night!). It was even referenced multiple times in the show, whether ice dancing is any different from ballroom. And yet, when he flashes that giant grin (which is often), he seems like the nicest guy in the room. (Also love how the fierce competition the show is trying to provoke between him and ice dancing partner Meryl Davis is nonexistent; they both couldn't be happier for each other.) I can't help but root for him, unfair advantage and all. Team Charlie!
9: We're rolling our eyes at the show's made-up rivalry between '80s TV stars Danica McKellar (Winnie from The Wonder Years) and Candace Cameron Bure (DJ from Full House), but the two overcame the silly labels by being totally adorable and charming. They both seem so happy to be there, which is always endearing, and they're actually both good dancers, scoring in the top three last night. (Honorable mention goes to Drew Carey, who proved to be a total delight and who surprised me with his dancing ability and also with how much I was pleased to watch him.)
8: Host Tom Bergeron's ability to come up with a zinger on the spot. He's still got it!
7: Honestly, going into the premiere, we thought new co-host (and sportcaster) Erin Andrews' main job this season would be to attract men who might occasionally watch the show with their wives or girlfriends. Turns out, she's actually a pretty good fit for the ballroom, just brash and sassy enough to keep things interesting.
6: Paralympian Amy Purdy, who lost both of her legs below the knee as a teenager, is obviously amazing. It's really hard not to get emotional while watching her dance. But we're so sick of her partner, five-time DWTS champion Derek Hough, getting paired with contestants who are most likely going to win.
5: Love that the show is featuring the contemporary dance more, though it seems slightly out of place on a show with so many other technical dances. In fact, despite the fact that Charlie White got three 9s for his contemporary dance with pro Sharna Burgess, judge Len basically told him he'd wait till next week to see if White really has an aptitude for ballroom. Wha?
4: The upcoming partner switch-up. Look, we all know it's coming. There were many veiled threats to it last night, though scant details. But I'm dreading it! The judges praised multiple partnerships last night for their chemistry; why split them up? Maybe they'll just have to switch for a week, or something. Let's hope so.
3: Fully support Erin Andrews as co-host, though, I could really do without her repeated comments about pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy, her partner when she competed on the show in season 10. We get it, the two had really good chemistry and probably dated or something, but let's leave it in the past, Erin. It came off a little desperate and also mean in a way that kindergartners are mean when they want to flirt with someone. There's no place for that in the glittery wonderland that is the DWTS ballroom.
2: This one's a tie between former hockey player Sean Avery's thoroughly unpleasant demeanor (dude, smile!) and when we learned that James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd went on a date earlier this year. Um, I feel like Peta can do better?
1: ABC's parent company Disney's desperate attempt to draw attention to its newly acquired Star Wars franchise by pulling out ALL THE STOPS for Billy Dee Williams (a.k.a. Star Wars' Lando Calrissian) dance: There was an R2D2, people dressed like Ewoks cheering him on and Williams' partner Emma Slater dressed as Princess Leia. Yikes.