What?! No Tristan MacManus this season? It's like Dancing With the Stars doesn't know what St. Patrick's Day even is.
The lack of our tall, dark, and handsome leprechaun (plus Gleb. poor Gleb, always the bridesmaid, even in this sentence) isn't the only thing different about season 18. Brooke is gone. Harold Wheeler? Out. Princess Sparkle, Enthusiastic Chimes Lady, Impeccably Manicured Trumpeter? Glitterpoof, sad chime, boom. Nowhere in sight. Erin Andrews has swept in to give Planet Mirrorballus the sports-arena treatment it apparently deserves, and Ray Chew is manning the band.
MAKS IS BACK. RETURN OF THE MAKS.
And get this: the judges are back on the left side of the Rectagon -- Len Goodman's preferred driving lane, naturally. The Celebriquarium has returned! Yay, more blatant iPhone use. Gotta Instagram that sh*t. The judges' paddles are silver/gold, all sparkly -- instead of gold/red, only sparkly in the center. And the changes only get more impactful from here: There's a HUGE "Dancing With the Stars" logo on one rehearsal studio wall, and glamorous "DWTS" vanity bulbs (suggestion for alternate title of this show: Vanity Bulbs) in another. It's a lot to take in! Let us bask in its shimmery glow.
Good! Now let's talk about the Full House/Wonder Years late-'90s-era Nick at Nite EXTRAVAGANZA brought on by Danica McKellar and Candace Cameron Bure (it doesn't rhyme with "pure" -- though she'd love that) as contestants this season. I'd freak out if Winnie Cooper and D.J. Tanner were even in the same room. And you're telling me it's a ballroom?! I've died. I'm writing this recap from disco ball heaven. The internet is actually great up here. At first all the guys looked like Charlie White, but once I pressed the "Chmerkovision" button on my controller, they beefed up and took their shirts off. I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but I should probably return to the planet on which the show takes place!
Anyway, this is basically how the season looks to me:
(Appropriately, I am even taller than Erin Andrews and constantly make that weird face.)
Hidden Gem: Kevin Arnold's mom (Alley Mills) in the background, lovin' it!
But, you know, my point of view is not necessarily shared by all....
Esteemed Colleage Email Interlude:
Whatever, nerd. Go watch a star war or something.
Will the judges please reveal their scores? Carrie Ann Inahhhhh-ber!
Charlie White and Sharna Burgess: 27/30 Sharna made two bold decisions here: 1) Execute the entire dance on the elevated circular platform, and 2) Wear a costume completely devoid of sparkle. Only the Bad Girl of the Ballroom (not what she calls herself, only a Maks would do something like that) could get away with pulling off both of these feats on Week 1. Her perfectly draped matte costume matched her burgundy hair! And luckily she's got an Olympic gold medalist ice dancer for a partner.
Len laid out the simple truth after their contemporary piece: "Honestly, this is like ice dancing, without the ice." You don't say, DANCMSTR! Meanwhile, Carrie Ann is redefining the yin and the yang over there. "You're very yin and you're very yang. Normally the man is very yang. But, beautiful." I have no idea what just happened, but I think the overall point here is that Sharna is awesome.
Nice shot of Alex Freaking Wong (a So You Think You Can Dance alum) behind Charlie's girlfriend. Tanith Belbin, Gracie Gold, Kristi Yamaguchi, Alex Wong… it's like my own personalized Graceful Olympics!
NEXT PAGE: It turns out Candace Cameron is such a Deej