Season 17 of “Dancing with the Stars” kicked off on Sept. 16 and two stars landed at opposite ends of the leaderboard after the first round of competition. While Amber Riley from “Glee” and her pro partner Derek Hough soared to the top, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and new pro Tyne Stecklein sank to the bottom. Here’s how it all played out on Monday night on “DWTS.”
As always, host Tom Bergeron welcomed viewers back after a four-month break. The new celebrities and their partners danced their hearts out in an impressive opening number. This year, the show has been changed to a one-night format, meaning that the tedious, long trek upstairs after each dance has been eliminated. Instead of sitting in the cushy Celeb-Aquarium, the couples are now seated on the first floor in what is coined the new “warm-up room.” In a nutshell, “DWTS” is forced to cut down on time. The judges’ comments are more concise and to the point and all “fluff” time has eliminated. The end result is a more captivating, entertaining show that is revamped with new life and vitality.
So, how did the new couples do on the first night of competition? After performing a fast-paced and difficult Cha Cha Cha, Amber Riley and Derek Hough received well-deserved praise from the judges. Bruno Tonioli called Amber “the tigress of season 17.” Head judge Len Goodman stated that he needed a medic after the saucy and steamy routine. Carrie Ann simply bowed down. Their judges’ score was 27, a truly remarkable feat for the first week.
At the other end of the spectrum, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and new pro Tyne Stecklein failed to deliver. They also danced a Cha Cha Cha, but it fell flat with the judges. Bruno stated that the routine had all of the elements, but that they never came together. Len compared the dance to waxing and said, “It was painful when it happened, and lovely when it was over.” Bill and Tyne received the lowest judges’ score of the evening: 14.
In between the leaderboard highs and lows, there were plenty of memorable moments. Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke struck a high note with their Foxtrot and received a score of 23. Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy received a score of 24 for their Contemporary dance. Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff also received a high score of 24. However, longtime “DWTS” fans question Blue’s participation. He danced on Broadway and even hit the dance floor on “DWTS” in season 13. As an invited soloist, Bleu sang and danced to the choreography of Kenny Ortega and received a standing ovation from the audience and judges.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi was another surprise hit and scored a 23 for her Cha Cha with new pro Sasha Farber. “I’m not a hot mess like people think I am,” the “Jersey Shore” star stated. She proved her critics wrong and landed on the top half of the leaderboard.
Brant Daugherty from “Pretty Little Lairs” tied with Christina Milian with a score of 22. Brant and Peta Murgatroyd were the first couple out of the gate and their Cha Cha Cha was well received. Len predicted smooth sailing and Bruno added, “It’s a sizzling teaser of things to come.” Carrie Ann saw potential, despite a misstep. Christina Milian and Mark Ballas performed a difficult Contemporary routine. Bruno loved the intensity of the dance, but Carrie Ann and Len advised Christina to open up and connect with the audience.
All eyes were on Valerie Harper and her pro partner Tristan MacManus. The 74-year-old was out to prove that cancer could not hold her back. “It’s good to be alive and it’s even better to be dancing!” she exclaimed. For her Foxtrot, Valerie received a very respectable score of 21. Leah Remini tied with Valerie for her own version of the Foxtrot with Tony Dovolani. The two exhibited real friendship and chemistry on the dance floor. Tony, who won the coveted mirror ball trophy with partner Melissa Rycroft, said on Monday, “I’ve had some pretty crazy partners in the past, but Leah is a force of nature.”
Bill Engvall from “Blue Comedy Tour” and ex-NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson were less impressive. Despite his desire to be the next “redneck dance king,” Bill’s Foxtrot with new pro Emma Slater was a bit too stiff. All three judges asked for more smoothness and fluidity. Like Bill, Keyshawn fell flat with his Cha Cha Cha with new pro Sharna Burgess. Bruno commented, “The bigger you are, the harder it is to keep step.” Len liked the footballer’s attitude, but suggested that he work on his technique.
So, after one week of competition, how does the leaderboard stack up? Here’s a look at who rose to the top and who sank to the bottom on Sept. 16.
- Amber Riley and Derek Hough: 27
- Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy: 24
- Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff: 24
- Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke: 23
- Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Sasha Farber: 23
- Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd: 22
- Christina Milian and Mark Ballas: 22
- Valerie Harper and Tristan MacManus: 21
- Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani: 21
- Bill Engvall and Emma Slater: 18
- Keyshawn Johnson and Sharna Burgess: 17
- Bill Nye and Tyne Stecklein: 14
Next Monday, all twelve couples will dance another routine. Their judges’ scores from week one and two will be combined with viewers’ votes from this week. One couple will be eliminated, but who will go? Does Bill Nye have a big enough fan base to keep him in the competition? Could the vote be a shocker? Tune in to find out. The next new episode of “Dancing with the Stars” airs at 8 p.m. EST on Monday, Sept. 23 on ABC.
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