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Big Changes, Surprises to Come on Dancing with the Stars Season 18

Dancing with the Stars Season 18
ABC via YouTube

What’s different about Dancing with the Stars this season, besides the cast, of course? Nearly everything! And some things aren’t sitting well with us die-hard fans.

There’s a new band and singers, a new dance floor set-up, new theme music, and new co-host Erin Andrews. The only thing that hasn’t changed is Tom Bergeron as the host, and the three judges — Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli. But there are plenty of surprises to come.

One interesting tid-bit is that there will be a fourth guest judge added weekly, starting with next Monday night’s show. Another interesting twist is that, much to the pro dancers’ surprise, this season’s celebrities got to pick the dances they’ll be performing next week.

Here are their choices:

  • NeNe Leakes, Drew Carey – Jive
  • Amy Purdy, Meryl Davis – Swing
  • Billy Dee Williams, Cody Simpson, Charlie White – Tango
  • Candace Cameron Bure – Rumba
  • Danica McKellar – Samba
  • Sean Avery, James Maslow – Salsa
  • Diana Nyad – Cha Cha

So how did the first dances stack up? As I expected, Danica McKellar, Candace Cameron Bure and Olympic gold-medal-winning ice dancer Meryl Davis were at the top. But it was Davis’ 17-year skating partner Charlie White who rocked the house with an amazing contemporary dance, earning him an unheard-of-for-week-one three 9s.

And though he ended up at the bottom of the leaderboard, Billy Dee Williams is shaping up to be the Bill Engvall of Season 18. His less-than-stellar performance ended with an eruption of applause from the audience. At age 77, he’s the oldest competitor this season.

Comedian Drew Carey didn’t disappoint, though. He came out and wowed the crowd with a dazzling, and humorous, Foxtrot that earned him a 21 out of 30 judges’ score. And Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy shocked the fans and the judges by performing a saucy Cha Cha, despite having two prosthetic legs.

Check out the final scores for the big premiere:

  • Charlie White – 27 (Contemporary)
  • Candace Cameron Bure – 25 (Contemporary)
  • Danica McKellar – 24 (Foxtrot)
  • Amy Purdy – 24 (Cha Cha)
  • Meryl Davis – 24 (Cha Cha)
  • Cody Simpson – 22 (Cha Cha)
  • James Maslow – 21 (Foxtrot)
  • NeNe Leakes – 21 (Cha Cha)
  • Drew Carey – 21 (Foxtrot)
  • Sean Avery – 20 (Contemporary)
  • Diana Nyad – 18 (Foxtrot)
  • Billy Dee Williams – 15 (Cha Cha)

The dancing this season is amazing already, but I’ve got to say I’m a little baffled by all the changes. I was expecting Erin Andrews to be a much better co-host, and she is great with the interviewing. But I loved the old band and singers, the theme song, and everything else about the show. It feels so unfamiliar now, so foreign.

And I’m hearing something about fans voting for partner-switching? I hope that doesn’t happen. I think the pairs should stay the way they are – they’re just right this season. I’m anxiously awaiting next week’s show. Maybe it won’t take too long to get used to all the changes.

On another note, there’s already some dancing romance brewing. Last night, we learned that pro dancer Peta Murgatroyd and her celebrity partner, James Maslow of “Big Time Rush,” had a little something going on before finding out they were paired up in the competition. I know a lot of folks are looking forward to seeing how that will turn out as the season continues.

 

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