A new season of Dancing with the Stars begins tonight, and the cast is a mix of people we’re genuinely excited to see and people we had to look up and are maybe still not super clear on. So to help everybody out, we’ve got out patented Snap Judgments!
Joe Amabile / Jenna Johnson – I’m pretty open about how much I hate the Bachelor franchise and the real-world damage I think it does. So already I’m not super into people from that show joining the show I like. And in this case, it seems like this guy’s claim to fame is being eliminated in the first week of a recent Bachelorette season. I guess he works at a grocery store so they call him “Grocery Store Joe”. Let’s be honest, this isn’t much different than just casting somebody who was interviewed about a tornado on the local news. He’s paired with the show’s most recent winner, for the four-week mini-season. But I can’t imagine he’s going to get far unless he is a phenomenal dancer right off the bat. (EJ)
Bobby Bones / Sharna Burgess – As a living skeleton reanimated by voodoo, Bobby Bones is an unusual choice for this show, but the bizarre nature of his existence should make for some entertaining challenges. Will Sharna have to worry about him collapsing? Can she play his ribs like a xylophone? Will other couples be willing to do a group dance with a skellington or will they be too afraid? Props to the show for doing something really interesting with the casting. Wait…. I’m sorry, I’m being told that Bones is actually a country music radio personality who briefly threatened to run for Governor of the state of Arkansas. My mistake. The point is that Sharna is my favorite post-Anna dancer so I hope he turns out to be very good and keeps her on the show. (EJ)
Juan Pablo Di Pace / Cheryl Burke – Cheryl always seems to do well with European or Latino men. Can she catch lightning in a bottle with Juan Pablo like she did with Gilles Marini or Cristian de la Fuente, or will this be more of an Antonio Sabato Jr. situation? We won’t know until they hit the floor, but Di Pace is a decent actor. He has played conniving guys (on TV’s Dallas reboot) and complete goofballs (his current Fuller House gig), and has lots of theater experience, so he should be good at character. Cheryl can be a taskmaster, but it’s mostly paid off for her. (Myndi)
Nikki Glaser / Gleb Savchenko – This is one of the weirdest castings we’ve seen in a long time. Nikki Glaser is great, don’t get me wrong. I am a fan. I just saw her at a local comedy club and she did one of the best sets I’ve ever seen. But, you know, she works. A lot. Active stand-ups travel a lot and I don’t know how they’re going to fit in practice time. And she doesn’t seem like somebody who really wants to reach out to new fans in the DWTS audience (her show is pretty dirty, folks) We haven’t seen many comedians on this show, but the ones who appeared have been disasters. (Penn Jillette, Jeffrey Ross) But Nikki is in great shape, which is usually enough to prevent total embarrassment in the first week. Beyond that, I don’t know. I feel like she will either be a surprise success story or a complete flame-out. I’m talking either semi-finals or first three eliminations, with nothing in between. (EJ)
Evanna Lynch / Keo Motsepe – Until I saw a publicity still of Evanna Lynch on a red carpet, I didn’t realize how fair-skinned the girl really is… Someone is going to be transformed by the Mystic Tan booth! Regardless, unless she’s got a dance background we aren’t privvy to, the show’s once again paired Keo with someone lacking in sizzle. Then again, at least she’s young, which is pretty unusual for him! (Myndi)
Milo Manheim / Witney Carson – I know my whole thing is that I don’t know who any young people are, but this kid is 17, he’s done one Disney Channel original movie and an episode of Ghost Whisperer (when he was nine). So there’s not much to know. His mother is Camryn Manheim, and I know who she is. She was very good on Waco. I don’t know. I can’t even guarantee that I’ve successfully found a picture of the right boy. Witney has a Mirrorball to her name, along with her share of absolute flop partners (Chris Kattan, Vanilla Ice). Unless this guy has incredible natural talent or a surplus of charisma (and since Disney hasn’t put him in anything else, they don’t seem to have invested too heavily) he’ll probably be an early exit just on votes. But if he does really well and tops the leaderboard, I will probably try to make a “Manheim Steamroller Project” joke. (EJ)
Alexis Ren / Alan Bersten – Here comes Old Man Feddes again. I’d never heard of Ren before, but I learned that she’s a model. She was in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and has more than 12 million Instagram followers. By contrast, Better Call Saul has about 2.25 million viewers so she’s saying she’s five times than Better Call Saul, and that’s just not the case. I admit, I jumped to some conclusions there, but the only information I can find about her comes in the form of pictures and I think she’s probably very attractive but she’s also very young and I mostly just worry that she’s saving her money because modeling is not a forever job. She will also have to be very good very fast, because I think her primary voting demo would be teenage boys, and I’m not sure they’re watching DWTS. Alan is nice, though! (EJ)
Nancy McKeon / Val Chmerkovskiy- One of a few “vintage” or “nostalgia” picks in this season’s cast, Nancy is probably the biggest wildcard of the bunch. She’s not known for her dance or athletic abilities (unless you count the fact that Jo rode a motorcycle on Facts of Life, which is stretching it to say the least), but she looks fit enough to be up to the challenge, especially with a proven winner like Val to choreograph for and coach her. I would not count her out depending on how she starts off. (Myndi)
Mary Lou Retton / Sasha Farber – In the summer of ‘84, I was still doing gymnastics after school, and as any other 11 year old girl was back then, I was constantly inspired by the feats of that little dynamo, Mary Lou Retton. She was on every magazine cover, and her pixie cut was up there with Dorothy Hamill’s bowl cut as an athlete-inspired look for young girls of the era. But that was a long time ago, and Mary Lou is in her 50s now, not just coming off an Olympic triumph like Laurie Hernandez, Aly Raisman or Simone Biles. However, she pairs nicely with Sasha, who is not a tall man, and it will be nice to see if her competitive instincts still kick in when there’s hardware on the line. (Myndi)
John Schneider / Emma Slater – So, Myndi was really excited about a couple of people on the list, and I convinced myself I was excited about John Schneider and I’m just now remembering I have no strong opinions about him. I liked Dukes of Hazzard as a kid, but it doesn’t hold up today (even aside from the Confederate flag), and everybody loved him on Smallville, but I hated that show. So, I’m not bringing much to the table here. The thing is, though, check out his IMDB page. This guy works. Sure, they might be Hallmark movies, but he’s racking up a dozen credits a year. I admire that, and I’m kinda rooting for the old guy. He’s pushing sixty and he doesn’t appear to have any transferable skills, but he’s likeable and I think he reaches a portion of the DWTS audience. Emma is a fairly popular pro, so I see John getting past the midway point, maybe a week or two further than he deserves based on his skill level. (EJ)
Tinashe / Brandon Armstrong – I fear this couple will suffer from a lack of recognition in this group, especially since singer/actress Tinashe is not a household name and this is Brandon Armstrong’s first season as a pro after being in the troupe for a while. If they are dazzling from the start, they may surprise us all, because they will no doubt be pretty to watch, but every once in a while, we get a singer who’s not much of a dancer. We will have to wait and see for sure, but I can’t see this pair getting too far. (Myndi)
Danelle Umstead / Artem Chigvintsev – Danelle, not to put too fine a point on it is a blind skier. She has a couple of bronze medals in the Paralympics and competes with her husband as her sighted guide. It’s not super clear from the various sources I checked exactly how blind she is, but definitely enough that this is going to be ridiculously difficult.
But also? Not more difficult than downhill skiing. The level of body control and ability to learn from verbal instruction has to be incredible, and I’m not sure how this is going to work. I mean, yes, she knows how to overcome her disability, but there’s such a visual component to dancing. And Artem will have to be perfect every time, because he needs to be where she thinks he’s going to be. I’m genuinely nervous for her. (EJ)
DeMarcus Ware / Lindsay Arnold – As we are pretty much required to say in this Snap Judgements: “NFL players always do well on Dancing With the Stars”. For whatever reason, these guys just seem to have the most natural grace of any male athlete (save for perhaps figure skaters; Right, Adam Rippon, Evan Lysecek and Charlie White?) and are in the best shape, without necessarily being all gangly like most NBA players. Lindsay has proven herself to be an extremely good choreographer, too, and she tends to elevate her partners all the way around. It would be silly not to expect this duo to go far in the season. (Myndi)
Let us know your favorites and check in with our recap tonight to see how things pan out!