‘Dancing With the Stars’ returns with a face-lift
(CNN) — Throw a little celebratory glitter for “Dancing With the Stars.”
Despite being in its 18th season, the ABC reality series still managed to make Monday night’s premiere feel fresh.
Part of that is thanks to Erin Andrews, the Fox Sports personality who’s taken over co-hosting duties from Brooke Burke-Charvet, but Monday’s episode also debuted a set makeover, a new band and a new twist on voting.
Every week, celebrities pair up with their assigned professional ballroom dancers to learn a dance routine to perform for the judges. With a combination of votes from viewers and scores from the judges, each celebrity competing vies to be the star with the highest score weekly so he or she can advance to the next round. Those who land in the bottom are eliminated from the show.
But to shake up the process, “DWTS” is now allowing viewers to vote for stars to switch pro partners midway through the season.
The cast this year includes child stars such as Danika McKellar (aka Winnie from “The Wonder Years”) and Candace Cameron Bure (D.J. Tanner from “Full House”), plus “The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s” NeNe Leakes, comedian-TV host Drew Carey, and champion ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis.
White, who’s paired with Sharna Burgess, and Bure, who’s dancing with Mark Ballas, had the top two routines of the night. (The “Full House” actress caught the judges off guard with her skills.)
Carey, Leakes and McKellar, whose fox trot got thunderous applause, all earned scores that landed them in the middle. Davis ended up scoring below her ice-dancing partner White, earning just a 24 to White’s score of 27. (That difference made at least one viewer wonder if the judges are playing favorites.)
The real standout of the night was Billy Dee Williams (as we predicted). The 76-year-old “Star Wars” actor not only pulled off a cha-cha with pro partner Emma Slater to the movie’s theme music, but he did it with two Stormtroopers and R2-D2.
The audience — which included some Ewoks — loved it, but the judges thought his routine was lacking energy and gave him the lowest score of the night, a 15.
The first elimination in the 18th season of “Dancing With the Stars” will take place next week.