The twentieth season of Dancing with the Stars, promised to be a special event, the last one with Len Goodman, and meanwhile, we’ve already lost one of the big pros for the season; Cheryl Burke has gotten a new opportunity and is taking it. Plus we nearly lost Derek Hough to the same thing, but apparently he really didn’t want to miss the ten year anniversary and they’ve worked a schedule out. Besides Cheryl Karina Smirnoff is also out, but surprisingly, even with one less contestant everyone else from last season is here again, and, more excitingly, so is Kym Johnson, back for the first time in two years! So who will these pros go once more into the breach with?
Kym Johnson: Robert Herjavec, the reality TV star. An older guy, and a businessman primarily, so he would defy expectations if he actually proved a good dancer, and he isn’t going to have much of a fanbase either. Kym has had her own fanbase, but how many of them will still be there after two years? I fear Kym’s return to DWTS may be a short one.
Keo Motsepe: Charlotte McKinney, the model. Poor Keo. First they saddle him with Lolo Jones, who turns out to be a dud, now he gets a woman where there’s no guarantee of her dancing ability and the thing she’s most famous for is a Super Bowl commercial! Still, it’s not unknown for models to be surprisingly good dancers, but one would have more confident of it were Derek Hough involved. It’ll be a challenge for Keo, at least, to see if he can get some good dancing out of this one.
Sharna Burgess: Noah Galloway, the veteran. Of course the last veteran of the Second Gulf War on this show won it, but he had a soap opera history, plus all of his limbs. Although Amy Purdy of course came in second without all of hers, but she did have her arms, which I’m not sure anyone’s tried to do this show without, and also, again, Derek was involved. Sharna too may have a challenge on her hands if she wants to stay longer, but at least this guy sounds like he’s in good shape and really motivated…
Tony Dovolani: Suzanne Somers, the older actress. Once again the producers don’t intend for poor Tony to stay very long. And looking over her history, it doesn’t sound like she’s likely to be that cool either. There’s a chance she could surprise in her ability to dance, but at her age, it’s not that likely. Wouldn’t be surprised if Tony went first again.
Allison Holker: Riker Lynch, the young man singer. He had some dance experience in his youth, unsurprisingly, since he’s also related to the Houghs (though he denies having their formal dance training), so he should be expected to be good. He’s also been on Glee, and we can perhaps expect a modest fanbase, though not one that will take them into the finale, for that, he has to be the kind of dancer who picks up new fans during the show.
Emma Slater: Redfoo, the guy you thought was too famous for this. Though maybe his being here isn’t all together surprising, since he’s been on the show already as a judge. At least he should come in with basic movement experience and enough of a fanbase to automatically get through the first couple of weeks. Plus Emma has gotten one guy to the finale purely off his personality, so if she can get him to do basic ballroom technique, they could last until it gets really annoying.
Artem Chingvintsev: Patti Labelle, the older lady singer. These are women who are unpredictable in their ability to dance, but often aren’t as good as you’d wish. Plus even with her name being a more familiar one, getting an actual fanbase to vote for her may still be a problem. She may turn out to be really good, but best not to rely on anything out of these two yet.
Peta Murgatroyd: Michael Sam, the football player. It seems as if the NFL stars are just not willing to be on this show anymore; Michael’s the first one in three seasons. This is kind of sad, actually; you feel like he’s been reduced to doing this. But at least he’s young, and Peta has taken a football player to victory already, so he might be great, even if he might also be terrible, and if he is they could go pretty far.
Derek Hough: Nastia Liukin, the Olympic gold medalist. Kind of surprised they gave her to Derek instead of Mark, though looking at Mark’s partner, it’s probably because they give him the kids, and Nastia’s not anymore. In any case, it’s a real piece of luck for Derek. Gymnasts have danced very well on this show before, he probably would’ve won the All-Star season with Shawn Johnson if he’d chosen a different reprise dance in the final, and this is one couple that will officially be the favorites to win going into the season.
Valentin Chmerkovskiy: Rumer Willis, the Pretty Little Liars actress. Seriously, they’re going to have the entire cast on this show at the rate they’re going, and it seems the female ones will keep going to Val. Now the question comes as to whether she can dance as well as castmate Janel Parrish did last season, and her partnership with Val can live up to that one. At least the Pretty Little Liars fans are already watching the show and should keep doing so.
Mark Ballas: Willow Shields, the Hunger Games actress. Honestly, I’m not sure fourteen isn’t too young to do this kind of show. Even with all the older teenagers there were tricky waters to navigate sometimes. Mark of course is an expert in navigating them and keeping the dances age appropriate, and he’s good enough a teacher he may well take Willow very far indeed, especially with the votes they’ll have between them, but still.
Witney Carson: TBA, but implied to be Chris Soules, the current Bachelor. It would be very far from unprecedented if it was; Jake Pavelka too was a late announcement; perhaps they do the paperwork late for Bachelor stars. Neither of the bachelors who have been on the show were that good, although Sean Lowe really did go as far as he could, but it’s difficult to predict how this one would be, based off that.
The first question that springs to mind is: will anyone challenge Nastia & Derek? Riker & Allison, if they can start winning fans? We’ll have to find out, although we can always hope for it.