Is Bill Nye the Science Guy the new Andy Dick — without the creepy past?
Dancing With the Stars Season 17 premiered Monday, September 16, and one of the fall season's two Bills got chants of “Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!” It’s a good thing bow-tie-guy got a rock-star reception, since he and new pro Tyne Stecklein are way at the bottom of the judges’ leaderboard. Will his fans save him next week?
There are so many changes to DWTS this season. For one, there is no show Tuesday night at all. We’ll see these 12 couples dance next Monday and then one of them will be kicked out at the end of the night. It’s going to be hard to figure out who will leave. Last season, low scores sent you home. But it’s looking like the Science Guy is the least naturally talented yet most adorable and adored star. (Maybe even more than Valerie Harper?) The personality contest aspect of the show may save him.
There’s a lot of personality to be found in this group. People can complain about the new format losing us a day of dancing, and maybe about the lack of some past beloved pros, but no one should complain about these stars. This is an amazing, talented, likable group worth cheering for. They were well showcased by the show’s new format, which started with a bang and lost nothing with the change to the opposite side of the ballroom and death of the sky box interviews. (RIP, Celebriquarium.)
It’s clear that this season has a lot of celebs with previous dance experience, but even the ones who don’t have dance classes in their past are doing pretty well. Glee’s Amber Riley even got three 9s on Week 1 — just like Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi did back on Season 6, before she won the season. Could Derek Hough be looking at his fifth Mirror Ball trophy?
Here’s a quick rundown of where the couples stand after Week 1.
Amber & Derek: 27
Corbin & Karina: 24
Elizabeth & Val: 24
Jack & Cheryl: 23
Snooki & Sasha: 23
Brant & Peta: 22
Christina & Mark: 22
Leah & Tony: 21
Valerie & Tristan: 21
Bill E. & Emma: 18
Keyshawn & Sharna: 17
Bill N & Tyne: 14
Read on for a full recap of the premiere night action:
Big intro: “A little party never killed nobody…” Right from the first second we see how this season will be different. The pros, stars and even the judges are introduced on the red carpet in a funky, choreographed dance number. It’s fun and cheeky — a lot better than having everyone do that formal walk down the stairs. Good change. Not too cheesy. Everyone seems to be having fun — so far! Give it a week, someone will start crying.
1. Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd — Cha-Cha-Cha — Peta heard that Pretty Little Liars star Brant was “kinda hot” so it made her nervous to meet him. Honey, he’s more than kinda hot! Peta asked if he’s single. He is. She is too. Eat your heart out, Maks! She told him to leave his shirt behind. Girl after our own heart. Tom Bergeron said Peta won the award for least subtle flirting. Hey, whatever works! Brant said his mom is a big DWTS fan … but maybe with this cast some younger folks will also be fans.
Our boy has some talent out there. He’s not stiff, he has personality, he moves well. They have great chemistry. He could use more flattering clothes (is he bowling later?!) but lots of good potential here, and a nice fit for “Blurred Lines.” Audience loved it. The other contestants and pros watch from the audience now. No more Celebriquarium! Now they hang out in the “sexy bus stop” pit with Brooke.
JUDGES: The judges are now on the “Australian and British side” of the room! Len Goodman said some of the couples are going to have smooth sailing, other are going to sink without a trace. “Brant, sail on. That was fabulous!” Bruno Tonioli said they had very hot stuff and were easy on the eyes. “That was a sizzling teaser of things to come.” What time it is? It took Bruno eight minutes to get creepy. He did apologize for being creepy, but said Brant lost time at one point. Carrie Ann Inaba said he has a lot of potential, despite the one little booboo. Brant was sweating a lot out there, which shows he's working hard.
SCORES: 7, 8, 7 = 22 out of 30. Look at Len! Eight out of the gate. He gave the highest score of the three. Who is this man … and can we keep him?
Vote for Brant & Peta: 1-800-868-3403
2. Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani — Foxtrot — Leah was so nervous she joked about wanting to leave. Can’t blame her. Talk about first day of school jitters — in front of millions of people! She’s sassy in rehearsals, she may be a wild one. Tony called her “a force of nature.” She doesn’t have dance experience, unlike a lot of the celebs this season. She judges herself a lot. She’s not great out there, but she’s better than she suggested with her rehearsal talk. She’s not too stiff or awkward, like some of the women Tony tends to get paired with. (Sorry, it’s true.) She looked pretty good. Jennifer Lopez in the audience for support!
JUDGES: Bruno said it was a pleasant surprise. Low expectations can help. Bruno also made a “you’ve done it before…” joke. Bruno liked the foxy trot, saying Leah went Miley Cyrus for a moment. “I can’t wait for the twerking next week.” Leave it to Bruno to add a pop culture note. Leah did not seem glad to hear that! Carrie Ann said “you are class and sass.” Her hands are gorgeous but she needs to extend a bit more. Good notes. Len said it was a little bit careful in places (yes) but it was clean and precise. She should be proud.
SCORES: 7, 7, 7 = 21 out of 30. Hmm... Leah was nice and all, but just as good as Brant? Len went down a point, but Carrie Ann and Bruno copied the 7s. A 6 or 6.5 would be fair. They should bring back those half-points.
Vote for Leah & Tony: 1-800-868-3411
3. Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff — Contemporary — Corbin has been Karina’s dream partner for a while. But this is her first Contemporary dance … ever. There’s a high expectation for the High School Musical alum to do well right away. He has some dance experience, but not in Contemporary. Karina said Corbin is her match in the crazy department. They have no limits!
They dance with a sheet at the start, under a golden light. They do lots of lifts (over the head!) and tricks, and fast movement. It’s not exactly a slow Contemporary, it’s fast move to move to move. But done so well it’s hard to know who is the pro and who is the star. Audience loves it! Karina’s hands were shaking, and it’s the first time Tom has seen that in 15 seasons. Corbin is already a frontrunner to win.
JUDGES: Carrie Ann gave a “wooooo hooooo!” It was beautiful and passionate. Great choreography and flowed emotion. Len said he was confused. Is this Week 1? It was full on, it had attack, the lifts were great. Bruno said Corbin can cut the mustard. Strong, athletic, but with a tender touch.
SCORES: 8, 8, 8 = 24 out of 30.
Vote for Corbin & Karina: 1-800-868-3406
4. Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke — Foxtrot — Jack said his sister Kelly (Season 9 finalist) is a far better dancer. He’s doing the show to continue to build awareness for multiple sclerosis. Cheryl said Jack picks up the steps quickly and he’s light on his feet. He’s a lot better than he thinks. Cheryl’s premiere dress is a lot worse than she thinks, though. Yikes. It’s a good thing she’s amazing. Jack is kind of like Leah — good, but definitely a newbie. Sharon and Ozzy in the audience with Jack’s wife, Lisa. Sharon cries all the time, and she’s at it again.
JUDGES: Len said he can dance, he was fabulous. Good posture, loved his footwork. “You’re going to give your sister a run for her money.” Bruno said he was skipping along, it was playful and fun. Great footwork, but watch your turns. Len and Carrie Ann disagreed. First fight! First boos! Carrie Ann wanted to know how Sharon was feeling; she should be so proud of her son. Carrie Ann said Jack is a ballroom dancer. It was smooth. She was blown away. Really? He was that good to everyone?
SCORES: 8, 8, 7 = 23 out of 30. Bruno got booed for the 7. Gotta side with Bruno on this one. Sorry.
Vote for Jack & Cheryl: 1-800-868-3402
5. Amber Riley and Derek Hough — Cha-Cha-Cha — She’s a theater kid and she’s always wanted to do ballroom dancing. This is a dream come true for her, “with just a touch of nightmare,” Tom quipped. Derek said they’re like a virgin couple on their wedding night. (!) Lots of Glee stars supporting her in the audience. Derek said Amber has lots of charisma and she can move. She said she’s a big girl but she’s a good example for girls her size, showing you can get out there and move.
Sharp, fast movements right out of the gate. Derek + Anyone is good, but Amber kept right up. Looked great, nice extensions. Great attitude and energy. But seriously, Derek is a work of art. All day. Could watch that boy dance all day.
JUDGES: Bruno said Amber is the tigress of Season 17. That’s how you take it, that’s how you shake it, that’s how you make it yours. Carrie Ann bowed to her as a superstar. She turned that Cha-Cha out. She’s breathless now. Len said “I need a medic here. I’m palpitating, perspirating and flatulating.” (!!!) Week 1 and she dances like that, incredible. Fabulous. Does Derek have a fifth Mirror Ball in his future?
SCORES: 9, 9, 9 = 27 out of 30. Derek is already winning again! Best partners, best teaching? But no, Brooke, it’s not a first to get 9s on Week 1. Kristi Yamaguchi got a 27 on Week 1 back on Season 6. But she did win the whole season.
Vote for Amber & Derek: 1-800-868-3407
6. Elizabeth Berkley and Valentin Chmerkovskiy — Contemporary — Tom was pitching for Elizabeth to do this show back on Season 3 when Mario was dancing. Val said he learned English watching Saved By the Bell. Elizabeth has dance experience but it was a long time ago so she feels like a newbie. She walked away from dancing around Showgirls. Now she’s a new mom and she wants to approach dance in a new way. She’s giving herself a second chance to reconnect to what she loves to do.
They dance in sync very well. She has those beautiful legs with great extension. Everyone this season is good! And it’s always good to see the mostly shirtless Val. It’s just true. How are we going to send someone home next week?
JUDGES: Carrie Ann said what’s going on with Season 17? It’s amazing. Elizabeth is like a gorgeous, sensuous, poetic angel. This showcases her in such a beautiful way. Len said it was lovely. It had beautiful light and shade, speed and then quiet. 'It was just lovely to watch.” Bruno said everyone needs to watch out ‘cause the original Showgirl i back. The choreography was so demanding. Extend her lines a bit more, though.
SCORES: 8, 8, 8 = 24 out of 30. They showed how Val told Elizabeth he had a crush on “the other one” (Tiffani Amber Thiessen's Kelly Kapowski) back on Saved By the Bell.
Vote for Elizabeth & Val: 1-800-868-3405
7. Bill Nye the Science Guy and Tyne Stecklein — Cha-Cha-Cha — Bill gives Tyne flowers then quizzes her on a beaker vs. a flask. He knows how to swing dance. He also knows how to flirt in a non-subtle way to rival Peta. He jokes about sexual tension and “Beauty and the Geek.”
They do a science-based routine! Well, they did get “Weird Science” for a song. Is he going to wear bow ties every week? He looks like an older version of Andy Dick at some points. He’s definitely the least talented dancer so far, but he’s such a charming, likable guy. He’s easy to root for, and this is probably harder for him than all the young kids or people with previous experience. The audience chants “Bill! Bill! Bil!” for him. That’s a good sign.
JUDGES: Len said “It was like being waxed - painful while it happened and lovely when it was over.” Boos! It was fun and had comedic moments but didn’t have enough Cha-Cha content. Bruno said this formula is not going to get him the Nobel Prize. It didn’t gel. They have to regroup. Carrie Ann said he’s the kind of contestant that makes DWTS the special show that it is. He needs to loosen up his hips, but he’s the heart of the show. More “Bill!” chanting from the audience. He's like a rock star!
SCORES: 5, 4, 5 = 14 out of 30. Don’t worry, he’ll probably be fine. He’s the underdog and people will rush to vote for him to save him.
Vote for Bill N. & Tyne: 1-800-868-3404
8. Keyshawn Johnson and Sharna Burgess — Cha-Cha-Cha — His colleagues joked that they expect to see him back in two weeks. Sharna joked that she thought she had the baseball player. He tried to copy her accent and she said she’s Australian, not British. He said it's all the same. She didn't like that! They are going to be a funny couple to watch. The Bickersons.
He seems a little uncomfortable out there. She did most of the moving. We’ve hit the rough patch of the night, it seems. He’s not bad, but definitely new at this. Amazing twist move toward the middle, though. He just needs to tighten up his moves.
JUDGES: Bruno said it’s like having the Empire State Building try to be a Rockette. Keyshawn is big and that makes it hard to do the fast dances. The issue is his timing. He lost it a bit. Carrie Ann said he doesn’t have to worry about looking feminine. The beginning was stiff and nervous and his eyes were down, but he loosened up when he started grinding. Len said he has great attitude but he needs to work on the technique. He just needs to refine it and have better timing.
SCORES: 6, 5, 6 = 17 out of 30. Probably fair. Maybe three 6s would’ve been nicer.
Vote for Keyshawn & Sharna: 1-800-868-3408
9. Christina Milian and Mark Ballas — Contemporary — She loved seeing J.Lo in the audience. J.Lo getting tons of attention. American Idol shoots in the studio next door. Christina described Mark’s choreography as “slightly unusual.” It’s very new to her. Contemporary is just unusual in general. Appreciate!
Oh heavens, the smoke monster is back. This looks very So You Think You Can Dance. Mark goes full-throttle with the emotions. Very intense. Are the Contemporaries starting to blend together?
JUDGES: Carrie Ann said Christina moves beautifully but she’s better than she thinks she is. She was looking down and Carrie Ann wants her to open up more. (It was intentional for the mood, wasn’t it? It was a dark story.) Len said the dance suited her. He liked the choreography. It was a little wild but with control. But he wants less control. Lift up and go for it. Bruno loved the torment and intensity. It was introverted. She has to remember about her hands, though. She has dead hand issues.
SCORES: 7, 7, 8 = 22 out of 30.
Vote for Christina & Mark: Vote for 1-800-868-3401
10. Bill Engvall and Emma Slater — Foxtrot — Bill thinks his friends are going to give him so much crap for doing the show and wearing the funky shoes. He wants a drink beer dance. He would love to be The Redneck Dancing King. It’s not like there’s stiff competition for that title! He has a shot.
As comedians go, he’s not bad! ‘Cause comedians are usually very bad. He’s not afraid to move out there and how his personality, he just needs to sharpen up, and stay consistent with his hand extensions, etc. Good start, though!
JUDGES: Len said Week 1 is about holding your nerve and remembering the routine. It needed more fluidity but he went out there and did it. Bruno said he felt something. (Bill: "It might’ve been gas.” Another flatulence joke!) Bruno said he could sense a smidgen of sophistication and elegance. If he digs deep, he might be able to show it next week. Carrie Ann said she was happily surprised. He has a good frame and musicality but he needs to be more smoothy-woothy.
SCORES: 6, 6, 6 = 18 out of 30. He could be in trouble next week, depending on his second dance. It really needs to pop. Sadly, the audience didn’t chant “Bill! Bill! Bill!” for him. Poor second Bill.
Vote for Bill E. & Emma: 1-800-868-3409
11. Valerie Harper and Tristan MacManus — Foxtrot — Valerie was thrilled to be partnered with Tristan. She knew who he was right away. “You’ve a very handsome young man, who dances as well as you do, and is straight.” Hey, now - he’s engaged! And if he’s ever single again, we have first dibs. She’s now 74 and she was diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier this year. She was told she had three months to live, but obviously she lived longer than they expected. “I was given a death sentence and here it is eight, nine months later - I’m way past my expiration date and I’m dancing.” Tristan said he’s just happy to be part of her journey.
She didn’t really have anything to prove, but she’s actually pretty good. You can see the joy in her face to just be out there. She’s a ham! Not bad at all, considering her age and health. Actually, not bad even if she was younger and completely healthy!
JUDGES: Bruno said, “How can you criticize a national treasure?” Bruno said she was radiant and stylish and moves very well. She’s light on her feet. Her shoulders went up a bit too much and she has to work on her frame. Carrie Ann thanked her for being on the show. (Carrie Ann always gets choked up.) Valerie set an amazing example and Carrie Ann respects her so much. Len said it was gentle and understated, it had an ease and elegance about it. It wasn’t forced. Tristan did a great job with the choreography. “Beautifully done.”
SCORES: 7, 7, 7 = 21. That’s the same score Leah got. Fair?
Vote for Valerie & Tristan: 1-800-868-3410
12. Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Sasha Farber — Cha-Cha-Cha — She was a “hot mess” on Jersey Shore, but now that Snooki is a mom, she feels more mature and wants to be called Nicole. Tom said she’s now “Snicole.” Snooki loved that Sasha is small, since she’s tiny. They are the shortest couple, but they are both full of energy.
She’s not bad out there, and Sasha really shows her off. No doing all the work while she stands there. He could really make this about his own talent, but he has her really move.
JUDGES: Carrie Ann said Snooki knows how to party. Her form was great and she went for it. Carrie Ann loves when people just go for it. Len said she’s like a little “pocket rocket.” Carrie Ann did not want to tell him what that meant. Len said he loved her footwork. “Well done.” Bruno said he does like a wild child. Her legs for a non-dancer are well placed. He had to show off his own legs.
SCORES: Carrie Ann screwed up her paddle. She held up 7 when she meant 8. 8, 7 = 23 out of 30. Snooki said she felt awesome in the dance and loved every minute of it. Tom is 5’9” and he said he’s never felt taller. Enough with the short jokes! Bruno got boos for his 7. Confusion!
Vote for “Snicole” & Sasha: 1-800-868-3412