Dancing With The Stars – Week 4

The big news in the ballroom last night was the return of former pro DWTS dancer, Julianne Hough. Julianne stepped in as guest judge while Len Goodman sat out this week.  Despite a lot of chatter leading up to last night about her potential bias toward her brother, Derek Hough, that interaction was actually anticlimactic for me.  She did accuse him of stealing her Barbie doll’s head or something along those lines but it was the zinger she sent pro Mark Ballas’ way that got all the attention.  The two used to be competitive dance partners and Julianne empathized with his current partner, Christina Milian, by saying “you have to stand in front to be seen”.  It’s not the first time Mark has been accused of being a stage hog and you could tell by his stony half smile that he was not a happy camper.  You can read about his reaction here.

There have been hints that there will be other guest judges this season and one can only hope that Maks Chmerkovskiy will be one of them.  Even though they’re technically judging the celebrity contestants, you can’t tell me watching him critique former girlfriend, Peta Murgatroyd or former fiance, Karina Smirnoff (both current pros on DWTS) wouldn’t be entertaining; not to mention his interaction with younger brother Val (also a current pro).  This is one incestuous group which, frankly, makes the show that much more interesting to me.

Oh yeah and there was some dancing last night too.  Here are some of my highlights:

My favorite dance was Elizabeth Berkley’s Argentine Tango with Val Chmerkovskiy.  Sharp and precise, I thought it was her breakout performance.  If you missed it, you can watch it  here.

Brant Daugherty and Corbin Bleu both gave shirtless performances which are always well received by the audience (although not so much by the judges in Brant’s case this time).

We saw Cheryl’s whip cracking side in Jack Osbourne’s rehearsal package.  Although she wrote it off to PMS, she definitely showed the frustration that comes from having to teach a non dancer a ballroom routine in one week.  Jack seemed to weather the Cheryl storm okay.

When one of the judges told Snooki she sometimes has “T-Rex arms” while dancing, she shrugged it off and said it’s nothing she hasn’t heard before.  There is no way the judges will get under that girl’s skin.

The ballroom said goodbye to Valerie Harper as she was the celeb eliminated after last night’s competition.  Most of the cast seemed to be in tears as I’m sure many at home watching were too.  She is an amazing human.  And on a fun note, I saw on the DWTS Instagram account yesterday that this 74 year old woman can still do the splits!

Reasons to cheer:  We saw some amazing dances from Elizabeth, Corbin and Amber.         

Reasons to jeer:  The judges’ scoring last night was predictable and boring.  3 couples tied at the top with scores of 27 (Elizabeth, Corbin and Amber).  4 couples tied with scores of 24 (Jack, Christina, Leah and Snooki).  I thought there was at least one performance that deserved the first ’10’ of the season.

On to week 5 . . .

Dancing With The Stars: Season 17 Cast Announcement

Honestly, I’ve been watching DWTS long enough that I’m actually more of a fan of the professional dancers and troupe than I am of the “stars” on the show.  However this season’s cast has definitely grabbed my attention.  The stars were introduced today on Good Morning America.  Below is the cast list along with my initial reactions:

Valerie Harper (w/ Tristan MacManus) – Valerie has an amazing story and you can’t help but root for her.  That said, I do wish Tristan would get paired with someone under the age of 50 one of these days.

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi (w/ Sasha Farber) – We’ll be able to count on Snooki to give us her “no filter” view on… well everything!  This is the woman who declared that she was very proud of the fact that she didn’t poop on the delivery table during the birth of her son.  Should be interesting to see how Sasha (who seems to be a quiet, well mannered man) reacts to Snooki’s over sharing.

Leah Remini (w/ Tony Dovolani) – the fact that Leah wasn’t in New York for the announcement seemed strange and was further made awkward by the fact that she was on via satellite. She didn’t seem particularly thrilled to be part of the show.  We’ll write it off to the satellite issue and hope more personality comes through in the first episode.

Corbin Bleu (w/ Karina Smirnoff) – Karina has made no secret that Corbin Bleu has been a “dream partner” of hers for some time.  They already looked comfortable with each other and I predict they will go far in the competition.

Brant Daugherty (w/ Peta Murgatroyd) – Don’t know much about Brant but he’s not hard to look at and neither is Peta.  Should make a striking couple and they’re both single.  I predict romance rumors will swirl.

Elizabeth Berkley Lauren (w/ Valentin Chmerkovskiy) – Elizabeth looks the part and has a dance background. Val will have the same challenge he did with Zendaya which is to educate and convince voters that ballroom dance is drastically different than other forms of dance (particularly the moves Elizabeth executed in Showgirls).  Elizabeth doesn’t appear to have the fan base that some of the others do but she’s got my favorite pro as a partner and he tends to have amazing chemistry with gals a few years his senior 🙂  His supporters are not to be underestimated either.

Keyshawn Johnson (w/ Sharna Burgess) – NFL players usually do well on the show and Keyshawn will probably not be the exception.  I’m looking forward to seeing the choreography that Sharna dreams up now that she’s paired with an athlete.

Christina Milan (w/ Mark Ballas) – Best known as a singer and social media correspondent for The Voice, we’ll find out if she can dance too.  Mark will bring his quirky vibe and it should be a fun match.

Bill Nye (w/ Tyne Stecklein) – Bill Nye the Science Guy is an interesting addition who I think will attract a completely different audience to the show.  I thought he showed the most personality of all the contestants during the GMA intro.  It’s a tough draw that he’s paired with a pro that no one is familiar with.  Apparently Tyne has danced on several episodes of the show but hasn’t been a part of the permanent troupe that I know of.

Amber Riley (w/ Derek Hough) –  As a Glee fan, I’m super excited to see Amber on the show.  I think she’s got a huge fan base and the fact that she’s paired with four time winner, Derek Hough, won’t hurt either.

Jack Osbourne (w/ Cheryl Burke) – Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, his is also a story people can get behind.  The possibility of his famous family supporting him in the audience will also be a plus.  That and he’s got a great partner in Cheryl Burke.

Bill Engvall (w/  Emma Slater) – Not sure what to say about this one other than “eh”.  Maybe it’s because I’m not that familiar with Bill so I’m not sure what he brings to the table.  Emma has been promoted to pro after dancing with the troupe a number of seasons so she’ll get a chance to share more of her personality.  I hate to count anyone out before it begins but I predict they’ll be the first to be eliminated.

A Word on the Troupe  

As happy as I am that Sasha and Emma were promoted to pros (side note – they’re also dating), I really wanted to see Henry Byalikov join the pro ranks.  As is typical with Henry, he appears humble and thrilled to be part of the show again regardless and will continue to dazzle us in the troupe numbers, along with Gleb Savchenko, Witney Carson and Lindsay Arnold.

Final Thoughts

The producers at DWTS usually stick with their NFL player/Olympian/Disney kid equation so I was surprised that there wasn’t an Olympian in the mix (namely Ryan Lochte).  But I think they’ve got an eclectic group that should make for good television.  We’ll see how the move to a one night format impacts the voting and results.  Assuming they go back to having three finalists, my preseason prediction is Corbin Bleu, Elizabeth Berkley and Keyshawn Johnson.  If a 4th finalist is added, I might throw in Brant Daugherty if he and Peta work the love connection angle.

Let the dancing begin . . .