And it’s that time of the half-year again, when the cast of Dancing With the Stars is announced, so are their partners, and everyone begins speculating who goes far, who goes home the first week, and whether Derek Hough has been handed a ringer again. Everyone scoffs at how the celebrities mostly aren’t famous enough, the most famous sometimes provoke a shocked reaction from people who can’t believe they’d stoop to doing Dancing With the Stars, but forget about all that; these days, Dancing With the Stars is all about the pros, with the most high-profile of them often being more famous than their partners, and the big news yesterday is a year after she and Jonathan Roberts divorced, Anna Trebunskaya is sitting the season out due to pregnancy. Kym Johnson too is sitting this one out, Louis van Amstel still hasn’t been invited back, nor has Chelsie Hightower, and we’ve also lost last season’s newcomers Lindsey Arnold, and, most sadly, Gleb Savchenko. Instead, we have two pros promoted from the dance troupe after having been featured already last season, and another new pro nobody has heard of at all. Their assigned celebrities are:
Val Chmerkovskiy: Elizabeth Berkley Lauren, the older actress. From “Saved by the Bell,” which I think was popular when I was in elementary school, and various other TV shows and movies. Votes should be fine at least at first, if only because Val can get them on his own, but middle-aged or older actresses can be hit or miss in their ability to dance.
Karina Smirnoff: Corbin Bleu, the Disney Channel star. High School Musical, which was his big hit, has pretty much faded from memory now, but presumably he has some dancing ability, which Karina should be able to take well advantage of. If he has an appealing personality as well, they can go far(Geek alert: He also played the young boy pilot in Galaxy Quest).
Peta Murgatroyd: Brant Daughty, the B-list TV actor. Who knows whether he can dance or not, he’ll have to if he doesn’t want to be an early elimination. If he’s got some ability, hopefully Peta can work with it.
Emma Slater: Bill Engvall, the comedian. Comedians almost always trade on their personality rather than their dancing ability, but he’s old enough that lack thereof could be a serious problem. Really, it’s not nice to make Emma do her first competitive season with this dude.
Tristan McManus: Valerie Harper, the old lady. It seems they’re no longer necessarily fobbing the old lady off on Corky Ballas, but they seem to like to give McManus challenging partners. If Valerie’s cool enough, these two will last at least a few weeks, possibly longer than they should.
Sharna Burgess: Keyshawn Johnson, the football player. Lucky choice for Sharna, even if she still won’t have the fans some of the other pros will, he’ll have enough for the both of them. Football players can be anything from brilliant to terrible when it comes to dancing ability, though the retired ones in the fall tend to be weaker(but often have more fans).
Mark Ballas: Christina Milian, the B-list singer. Her one hit is a decade old and despite a few acting gigs noone is going to remember who she is, but there are definite indications of dancing ability: if this season has a ringer it’s probably her. She and Mark are both lucky to bag each other; he gets material to work with, and she gets someone who has made great dancers of much less than her. Add his fanbase to make up for her lack of it and I’m seeing finals, at least.
Tyne Steicklin: Bill Nye, the Science Guy. I admit, my first reaction to hearing he was on the cast list was delight, followed by dismay when I saw he’d been paired with the new unknown pro. Though given how everybody was tweeting up a storm about it last evening, maybe he’ll get enough votes to keep them going for a while. But he must be able to dance; otherwise this could be a very sad first elimination.
Cheryl Burke: Jack Osbourne, the Osbourne family member. Who knows if he can live up to Kelly’s whole story arc, but if Cheryl can get him to dance at least adequately, and she has her own fanbase, they could last at least a while.
Sasha Farber: Snooki. UGH. Seriously, I am so sad for Sasha he gets stuck with a Jersey Shore alum for his first time out. Is that damn show over now anyway? Hopefully she won’t last too long.
Tony Dovolani: Leah Remini, the name recently in the news. Also someone in the same vein as Elizabeth Berkley Lauren, and I’m sure the producers assumed she won’t be very good; they very often saddle Tony with this kind of middle-aged partner. Still, on at least one occasion, he and his middle-aged partner were surprisingly good. It could always happen again…
Derek Hough: Amber Reilley, the Glee star. Apparently cast purely for her singing and actually one of the show’s weaker dancers, so not a ringer, but you’ll never get Derek’s detractors to acknowledge that. She’ll be a better dancer no doubt when Derek’s done with her, and despite his history of getting ringers he doesn’t actually need one to be a top contender, but can he make her good enough?
12 couples is quite a lot; in fact I’m surprised they went with that many, especially considering the ratings have dipped low enough they felt the need to combine competition & results into one show, a move I’m not a fan of, though I understand why. It can be a dangerous move too, sometimes, if too many of the couples lack quality. One hopes they don’t end up regretting this.