Can geeks and Gleeks save "Dancing with the Stars"? After failed attempts at expansion, season 17 brings a slimmed down format: a two-hour one-night only show. ABC's salvation may be the star of another ailing show: Fox's "Glee."
While this new cast of 12 celebrities may seem lackluster to most of us, ABC has finally realized that geeks can be a force, unfortunately despite his well-known dance experience Bill Nye turned out to be less than graceful. His practice reel showed him leading, but his specialty, Lindy hop, doesn't require a ballroom frame, adherence to a specific heel or toe step or pointed toes and graceful extensions. Nye was the lowest scoring celebrity and he is also handicapped with a partner who is new to the competition: Tyne Stecklein. Her costume choice left one judge complaining about the molting feathers.
Surprisingly, it is not the Disney kid, Corbin Bleu, who took the lead. Bleu and his partner, Karina Smirnoff were tied for second with Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, both teams earning 24 points. The oldest contestant and sentimental favorite Valerie Harper, wasn't at the bottom. She and her partner Tristan MacManus earned a respectable 21 as did Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani.
Despite that story line about Amber Riley's character on Fox's "Glee" not being able to dance, she showed plenty of sass and was the surprise leader, well ahead of the rest of the couples. Gleeks and DWTS fans will be glad to see her go far in the competition if she keeps turning in such stellar performances. Another surprise was the self-proclaimed "hot mess" known as Snooki.
Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi is dancing with Sasha Farber and she can move. The judges complimented her well defined legs and overall control. That lead to a generational and British versus American English misunderstanding when head judge Len Goodman called her a pocket rocket.
For those who are wondering, there are several meanings for "pocket rocket." One is a small vibrating dildo, but another is a petite, vibrant woman. A professional Canadian ice hockey player also called himself a pocket rocket so keep a clean mind.
Overall, I don't find this season particularly exciting. I'm not sure that adding contemporary is helpful because the professional dancers do not have experience and there choreography isn't always interesting as what you will see on "So You Can Think You Can Dance." It does help prepare the celebrities for the freestyle but it doesn't help the celebrity as an overall progressive, focused program.
Gone is the pre-show and the post show. Also gone is the usual ABC YouTube video of the dance highlights. Last season, the YouTube official videos seemed to show a bit of favoritism. This season, two contestants didn't have videos posted, including Amber Riley, however, this might be an honest mistake. There are two posted videos for two other celebrities. If you're confused by the new system, it seems that people at ABC are confused as well. I've hyperlinked all the videos that were available at 6:30 a.m. PST. Click on the name of the teams below to see them on YouTube.
No one with be voted off this week and you'll have to find something else to do on Tuesdays because the results show is gone. That's not the only change. The judges sit on the other side of the stage (stage right) and next to them are the celebrities. We also get to see a makeup and rehearsal room. During the live show every Monday night, the stars dance and fans get to vote.
The following week, the stars will perform again, and the judges will give each couple a score based on several factors, including technical execution. Those scores will be added to your votes from the previous week, and the couple with the lowest combined score from judges and viewer votes will be eliminated from the competition toward the end of that week’s episode.
So for example, your votes after Week 2 will be combined with the judges’ scores from Week 3 to determine who goes home at the end of Week 3. That means these dancers will have to bring it every week. If they had a bad week followed by a good week, the judges might be their saving grace. But a terrible performance might be enough to cancel out a solid performance the week prior -- you’ll have to watch to find out.
You can vote online two ways. You can vote by going to the ABC website, but you need an account and must sign in. You can vote on Facebook. You can vote by phone. See the phone numbers below.
Phone voting begins during the show on Mondays, and is open until 60 minutes after the conclusion of that show in your local time zone.
Online voting at both ABC.com and Facebook opens each Monday when the show begins on the East Coast at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) and stays open until 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) the next day. During the season’s final week on Monday, November 25, online voting will open when the show begins on the East Coast at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) and will stay open until 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT) on Tuesday, November 26.
Amber Riley & Derek Hough
"If I Lose Myself"—OneRepublic
"Pack Up"—Eliza Doolittle
"Wild Ones"—Flo Rida feat. Sia Furler
Brant Daugherty & Peta Murgatroyd
"Blurred Lines"—Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell Williams
Christina Milian & Mark Ballas
"Clarity"—Zedd feat. Foxes
"Tears Dry On Their Own"—Amy Winehouse
"Some Kind of Wonderful"—The Drifters
Bill Engvall & Emma Slater
"Hot Stuff"—Donna Summer
"Weird Science"—Oingo Boingo