DWTS 17: Geeks and Gleeks join the DWTS fan base

In season 17 of “Dancing with the Stars,” the format has changed to a two-hour one-night only show and with many new professionals    and a lackluster cast of 12 celebrities. Surprisingly, it is not the Disney kid who took the lead and I was happy that the oldest contestant wasn’t at the bottom.

No one with be voted off this week and you’ll have to find something else to do on Tuesdays because the results show is gone. That’s not the only change. The judges sit on the other side of the stage (stage right) and next to them are the celebrities. We also get to see a makeup and rehearsal room. During the live show every Monday night, the stars dance and fans get to vote.

The following week, the stars will perform again, and the judges will give each couple a score based on several factors, including technical execution. Those scores will be added to your votes from the previous week, and the couple with the lowest combined score from judges and viewer votes will be eliminated from the competition toward the end of that week’s episode.

So for example, your votes after Week 2 will be combined with the judges’ scores from Week 3 to determine who goes home at the end of Week 3. That means these dancers will have to bring it every week. If they had a bad week followed by a good week, the judges might be their saving grace. But a terrible performance might be enough to cancel out a solid performance the week prior — you’ll have to watch to find out.

You can vote online two ways. You can vote by going to the ABC website, but you need an account and must sign in. You can vote on Facebook. You can vote by phone. See the phone numbers below.

Phone voting begins during the show on Mondays, and is open until 60 minutes after the conclusion of that show in your local time zone.

Online voting at both ABC.com and Facebook opens each Monday when the show begins on the East Coast at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) and stays open until 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) the next day. During the season’s final week on Monday, November 25, online voting will open when the show begins on the East Coast at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) and will stay open until 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT) on Tuesday, November 26.

The first dance of season 17 is Peta Murgatroyd and TV actor Brant Daughterty doing the cha-cha-cha. I really like fringe so of course I like Murgatroyd’s outfit. What I don’t like is the wide white stripe on Daughterty’s pants. It’s too distracting. He does manage to look good on the dance floor.

The judges approved of the performance. “That was fabulous,” said head judge Len Goodman.

Bruno Tonioli called their performance, “very hot stuff and very easy on the eyes.” He also commented it was “a sizzling teaser of things to come.” He did note that Daughterty “lost timing in that corner.”

Carrie Ann Inaba said that Daughtery had “double threat potential.”

Leah and Tony came out to do the foxtrot. She needs to work on full extensions of her arms and legs as well as transitions. She kept her smile and looked elegant enough with her up-do and in the white and black costume (black dress with white gores).

Tonioli said, Remini “went Miley Cyrus for a moment.”

Inaba said her hands were beautiful but she still needed to extend out a bit.

Goodman’s criticism was that the dance was “a little bit careful” but he liked that it was clean and precise. However her frame is a problem. She needs to stretch out a bit.

Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff dance contemporary which was something totally new for Smirnoff. Smirnoff was nervous.

Inaba loved the emotion expressed in the dance.

Goodman was amazed at this season’s standards so far. He found the lifts fantastic.

Tonioli liked the strong, powerful and athletic performance but also that he has a wonderful tender touch.

I thought I sensed hesitation on some of the lift and transitions.

Osbourne looked a little stiff and like many men he had problems with where to put his hands. His posture needs work, but I love his courage. He’s out in a modest suit and it was lovely to see his mother and father in the audience. I loved Burke’s sexy dress.

Goodman complimented his good posture

Tonioli found his performance joyful and playful but told him to watch his turns and don’t forget to spot.

Inaba felt that Osbourne showed nothing but class and was so smooth. That’s a good thing.

With the next, Derek Hough and Amber Riley, I liked Hough’s simple grey jacket and black shirt and pants because it really help Riley stand out in her sequined silver dress. The double of fringe really emphasized her moves. Hough is very smart with how he shows off his celebrities.

Tonioli called Riley “the tigress of season 1.” He added, “That’s how you take it; that’s how you shake it; that’s how you make it yours.”

Inaba told Riley that the performance made her  breathless.

Goodman joined in and called her fabulous.

Elizabeth Berkley Lauren was next and danced in a black dress with a chiffon skirt. I don’t think she takes full advantage of her long legs. She does move very well. Val Chermkovski was also dressed in black.

Inaba called her a poetic angel.

Goodman said it was lovely to watch.

Tonioli said “watch out darling the original showgirl is back.” He also complimented the choreography. He did ask her to expand her lines. Remember, though, when that movie came out, it actually hurt her career.

The dancer with the most well-known experience is Bill Nye the science guy. He does Lindy hop. Doing the Lindy doesn’t exactly help you with your lines and it’s a different type of partner dancing–slot dancing as opposed to a line of dance. In Lindy, frame isn’t that important and neither are pointed toes and extension.

Nye was stiff and tends to hold his head too forward. His shoulders are rounded and he tends to hunch over. He doesn’t extend his lines, particularly with his arms. His partner is new to the show and her costume (gold leotard with double bring on the stop and fringe on the bottom for the skirt with a feather bum trim.

Goodman called the performance “painful while it happened a lovely when it was over.”  Goodman noted that there were “comedic moments but not enough cha cha content.”

Tonioli concurred saying “This formula isn’t going to get you the Nobel Prize.” He also mentioned that there were feathers all over the place from Tyne Stecklein’s costume.

Inaba told Nye to “loosen up those hips and work on that footwork.” She also added, “You are the heart of the show.” He does seem to have a fan base, but I know plenty of nerds at Caltech that are better dancers. He’s not exactly doing nerds/geeks a favor.

I didn’t like Sharna’s costume. All that gold made her the star and not her actual star. He was supposed to be the science guy geek which is no stretch so his white shirt and dark pants sort of worked.

Following Bill Nye, was the NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson and new pro Sharna Burgess. Johnson was big and had a great smile, but he had problems with timing and extending his arms.

Tonioli compared Johnson to the “Empire State Building trying to be a Rockette.” Tonioli mentioned the issue is the timing.

Inaba spoke on Johnson’s comment during the rehearsal real about ballroom being feminine. She told Johnson that he was “far from feminine.” She thought he began a little stiff and advised him to have more confidence.

Goodman was upbeat and liked Johnson’s attitude, but told him to work on technique and clean up his timing.

Football players usually do well with the voting fan base so I think Johnson will not be eliminated.

I’m not so familiar with Christina MIlan, but there’s always something to worry about with Mark Ballas and contemporary dance. I don’t think using modern dance with flexed feet is going to help Milan for her other dances which will be the exact opposite. Her costume was a leotard with a few extra pieces of cloth. Nothing amazing.

Inaba told Milan to open up. Goodman felt she needed to be proud and lift up. Tonioli told her to remember her hands.

DWTS usually has a comedian. The male comedians usually don’t last long. This season the comedian is Bill Engvall and he needs a lot of work. He’s paired with Emma Slater, another new pro.

Goodman told him he needs more fluidity. Tonioli detected a hint of elegance. Inaba was surprised at how good his frame was and his musicality.

I thought their costumes clashed that his vest wasn’t quite the right tone of red.

Valerie Harper was originally told that she had three months to live because of terminal cancer. At 73 she is the oldest contestant. She was wearing a modest blue dress and her partner Tristan MacManus had a black tux on with bowtie. Usually, I don’t like his choreography and I don’t believe he shows off his celebrity very well. This routine was simple and elegant.

Tonioli didn’t want to criticize a “national treasure” but did mention that she needs to hold her frame a bit more.

Inaba thanked Harper for being on the show. She asked her to work on her spotting.

Goodman was also kind and called Harper’s performance understated with elegance and flowing expression.

The last performance was by Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi who became famous as a reality star in “Jersey Shore.” I didn’t expect to like her, but she has great potential and is not the “hot mess” that she describes herself as. Her partner Sasha Farber needs to learn from the other pros how to train and show her off.

Inaba was impressed by the tone of her legs.

Goodman called her a “little pocket rocket” and that made Inaba, Tonioli and the host Tom Bergeron laugh. He loved her footwork which he found nice and crisp.

Tonioli called her a wild child, but advised her to stretch the back of the legs.

For those who are wondering, there are several meanings for “pocket rocket.” One is a small vibrating dildo, but another is a petite, vibrant woman. A professional Canadian ice hockey player also called himself a pocket rocket so keep a clean mind.

Overall, I don’t find this season particularly exciting. I’m not sure that adding contemporary is helpful because the professional dancers do not have experience and there choreography isn’t always interesting as what you will see on “So You Can Think You Can Dance.” It does help prepare the celebrities for the freestyle but it doesn’t help the celebrity as an overall progressive, focused program.

The popularity of Bill Nye the Science Guy and Glee may help drive the ratings, but I think DWTS is floundering. It obviously tried a pre-show and a post-show. That might have led to over exposure.

Amber Riley & Derek Hough

Corbin Bleu & Karina Smirnoff

Elizabeth Berkley Lauren & Valentin Chmerkovskiy

Jack Osbourne & Cheryl Burke

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi & Sasha Farber

Brant Daugherty & Peta Murgatroyd

Christina Milian & Mark Ballas

Leah Remini & Tony Dovolani

Valerie Harper & Tristan MacManus

Bill Engvall & Emma Slater

Keyshawn Johnson & Sharna Burgess

Bill Nye & Tyne Stecklein

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