"Dancing With The Stars" kicked off its seventeenth season Monday night on ABC Television and it probably was no shocker that science guy Bill Nye scored the lowest points from the judges, but it wasn't because he wasn't entertaining (Come on; he danced with Tyne Stecklein to "Weird Science" -- how cool is that?). And given that Mr. Nye seems to have the moves of the stereotypical geek, it should come as no surprise that he finishes a bit low on the oddsmakers list as well when it comes to trying to divine just who might win Season 17's Mirror Ball Trophy. So with a cast of notables, including Leah Remini, Keyshawn Johnson, Snooki Polizzi, Bill Engvall, and Valerie Harper, who do the professionals think has the best odds to become the seventeenth winner of "Dancing With The Stars?"
Us Weekly reported (via Yahoo TV) Sept 17 that "Glee" star Amber Riley started off the season on the right foot, prancing a lively Cha Cha Cha with four-time and defending "DWTS" champ Derek Hough, who won last season's contest with Kellie Pickler. Riley scored three nines from returning judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, and Bruno Tonioli for the highest score among the 12 couples.
Before we get there, let's start at the opposite end and see who the pros think has the least chance of making the finale and, by extension, winning the competition. Oddsmakers at Bovada.com (via PureDWTS.com) actually don't have Bill Nye as the likeliest to be excused first from the competition -- at least, not by himself. The questionable honor goes to actress Valerie Harper, the aforementioned Nye, and blue-collar comedian Bill Engvall, who placed last on the list with 50/1 odds to win.
Still, Harper and the two guys are not too far behind music producer and reality show personality Jack Osbourne, who posts 25/1 odds of winning.
Of course, the odds were posted before the first dances tripped the light fandango across the "Dancing With The Stars" studio floor Monday evening during the show's premiere, so oddsmakers had only historical observation, dancer experience, and weighing in the stars' celebrity power (because "DWTS" is also a personality contest, as we all know) upon which to assess and figure the odds. Their list may have been a bit different had they actually seen the celebrities dance prior to hitting the floor. Still, those alterations will come after the first celebrity is sent home...
All eight of the remaining celebrities have pretty decent odds to win the Mirror Ball Trophy. All post 10/1 or better odds. NFL star and ESPN football analyst Keyshawn Johnson, actor Brant Daugherty ("Pretty Little Liars" and "Days Of Our Lives"), reality show personality Snooki Polizzi, and actress Leah Remini ("King of Queens") bunch up in the middle from 10/1 odds to 7/1 odds in descending order.
Actresses Elizabeth Berkley ("Saved By The Bell" and "Showgirls") and Amber Riley ("Glee") are tied for third best odds and seem likely to make the finale, scoring 11/2 odds.
Singer and actress Christina Milian ("The Voice" and "Be Cool") appears to have the second-best odds of winning, pulling a respectable 13/4 odds.
But the star with the best odds of taking it all, at least for the preliminary beginning-of-the-season odds list, is actor/dancer/singer/producer Corbin Bleu ("High School Musical" franchise).
So how did the frontrunners fare? Riley, as noted, finished on top. Bleu finished second with partner Karina Smirnoff and 24 points, tied with Berkley and her professional partner, Valentin Chmerkovskiy.
And Milian? Surprisingly, she and partner Mark Ballas got a low cumulative score from the judges, a 22, which puts them in the middle of the pack.
Surprises for the evening were the two reality show celebs, Snooki and Jack Osbourne, who scored a fourth-place tie with 23 points. Another surprise was the poor performance of ace wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who, along with pro partner Sharna Burgess, scored a next-to-last 17 points.
So the audience has seen all twelve couples dance and they've heard the scores. Will the oddsmakers ultimately be correct in seeing Corbin Bleu as the eventual seventeenth champion of "DWTS?"
That, of course, will depend on the audience vote. The first contestant of Season 17 to get the boot will be revealed on Monday, Sept. 23.
"Dancing With The Stars," hosted by Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke Charvet, airs on ABC Television at 8 p.m. (EST).