Frontrunners & first likely elimination clear after start of season 18 of 'Dancing with the Stars'

The shakeup season of Dancing with the Stars kicks off with the promise of more twists to come.

The wait is over, Dancing with the Stars tells us as the show opens. I suppose they’re talking about the show, but I’d like to think people were waiting for the return of my completely objective and very serious recap series.

So pop in Footloose and watch it with an ewok, cause it’s time to breakdown the good, the bad, and the Billy Dee.

The show starts with Jason DeRulo singing Talk Dirty. And he’s singing live, I think. On DWTS? How novel. It’s a shame his backup dancers are dancing to different beats that exist only in their heads.

First shakeup: Host Tom Bergeron is joined by new co-host and former contestant Erin Andrews, replacing prior co-host Brooke Burke. Oh, and Erin is way more aggressive a host than Brooke was. Like waaaay more. Like more than this show requires. In fact, she barks out tosses and questions like she’s still on the sidelines.

Another shakeup: with a new cast and cohost, we also get a new band, singers, and musical director. Not sure why the need for change. But they’re probably paid less. Cha-ching.

First up, reality star NeNe Leaks and Tony with a cha cha. She wants to bring personality. Way to stretch yourself, NeNe. I mean, what else do reality stars do? Their routine starts with her doing a solo dance, and it’s decent. She doesn’t have as much finesse with Tony, but she has lots of spirit. She looks confident and like she’s having fun, but simply dancing without technique. Judge Len Goodman says that’s how to get the party started. Judge Bruno Tonioli says NeNe is just scratching the surface. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba wants NeNe to dance bigger. Are you sure, Carrie Ann? And NeNe is crying – for no reason. Boy, these reality stars can just turn on the faux-motions. Score: 21.

Oh, by the way, Tony is sweating so bad that the new “Noah” movie better hit theaters soon – ha! After doing the same routine, Nene, in contrast, is dryer than sober Zac Efron – ha!

Nickelodeon star James Maslow and Peta have a foxtrot. Apparently, they went out on a date before this season, but it didn’t go anywhere. Awkward! But I say, let the (forced?) fireworks fly! James also seem unsure if he’d date her again. Well, I’m not – so call me, Peta! His dance technique is solid, but not fluid. He hits all the marks without finesse. And his hold at times looks a bit stiff. Maybe that’s why they never dated again. Bruno says James has lots of energy but needs to look more effortless. Carrie Ann says James has natural elegance, but lost his stature and control. Len noted mixed footwork, but James sold it. Score: 21.

“Wonder Years” star Danica McKellar and Val foxtrot. She is excited to be with him, and says he’s way cooler than she is. Aww, she is still a pro at working that coy thing she mastered as Winnie Cooper twenty years ago. Her dance looks pretty good. She tries to bring some performance into it, but her technique is loose and lacking. The crowd likes it. Danica looks shocked – how cute. Carrie Ann calls her adorable, that her enthusiasm takes the dance to another level, and notes her energy with Val. Len said it was a terrific first impression. Bruno says she played off Val well as an actress. Everyone has chemistry with Val. Score: 24.

Former hockey badboy (are there any other kind?) Sean Avery and Karina have a contemporary. Another shakeup: Contemporaries are tricky dances, especially for week one. Karina finds the humor in Sean, to be known as He Of The Nonexistent Expression. He looks like he’s putting his heart and soul into the dance. They’re an athletic couple, so there are naturally lots of lifts. It’s a pretty dance. Len calls Sean an Iceman full of intensity, but lacking finesse. Bruno says Sean is powerful and focused, and understood how to move to the music. Carrie Ann called Sean fascinating and said she’s never seen anyone perform like him. Sean says trained by watching “Footloose” 200 times in a week. Deadpan humor. I love it. But only when I do it, Sean – so don’t steal my thunder! Score: 20. Sean says he told Karina he thought they were going to get three 9’s. Ha.

Actor Billy Dee Williams and Emma cha cha next. The 77-year-old has arthritis and two hip operations. What a trooper! Who doesn’t love Billy Dee? But the show patronizes his career by making his dance “Star Wars”-themed. It starts with R2D2 and C3PO as backup… dancers? Billy Dee looks very unsure, as if he doesn’t have the moves memorized. But he’s still charming. I feel for the guy. Oh, and there are ewoks in the audience. This. Is. Strange. Bruno says Billy Dee got the

The shakeup season of Dancing with the Stars kicks off with the promise of more twists to come.

The wait is over, Dancing with the Stars tells us as the show opens. I suppose they’re talking about the show, but I’d like to think people were waiting for the return of my completely objective and very serious recap series.

So pop in Footloose and watch it with an ewok, cause it’s time to breakdown the good, the bad, and the Billy Dee.

The show starts with Jason DeRulo singing Talk Dirty. And he’s singing live, I think. On DWTS? How novel. It’s a shame his backup dancers are dancing to different beats that exist only in their heads.

First shakeup: Host Tom Bergeron is joined by new co-host and former contestant Erin Andrews, replacing prior co-host Brooke Burke. Oh, and Erin is way more aggressive a host than Brooke was. Like waaaay more. Like more than this show requires. In fact, she barks out tosses and questions like she’s still on the sidelines.

Another shakeup: with a new cast and cohost, we also get a new band, singers, and musical director. Not sure why the need for change. But they’re probably paid less. Cha-ching.

First up, reality star NeNe Leaks and Tony with a cha cha. She wants to bring personality. Way to stretch yourself, NeNe. I mean, what else do reality stars do? Their routine starts with her doing a solo dance, and it’s decent. She doesn’t have as much finesse with Tony, but she has lots of spirit. She looks confident and like she’s having fun, but simply dancing without technique. Judge Len Goodman says that’s how to get the party started. Judge Bruno Tonioli says NeNe is just scratching the surface. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba wants NeNe to dance bigger. Are you sure, Carrie Ann? And NeNe is crying – for no reason. Boy, these reality stars can just turn on the faux-motions. Score: 21.

Oh, by the way, Tony is sweating so bad that the new “Noah” movie better hit theaters soon – ha! After doing the same routine, Nene, in contrast, is dryer than sober Zac Efron – ha!

Nickelodeon star James Maslow and Peta have a foxtrot. Apparently, they went out on a date before this season, but it didn’t go anywhere. Awkward! But I say, let the (forced?) fireworks fly! James also seem unsure if he’d date her again. Well, I’m not – so call me, Peta! His dance technique is solid, but not fluid. He hits all the marks without finesse. And his hold at times looks a bit stiff. Maybe that’s why they never dated again. Bruno says James has lots of energy but needs to look more effortless. Carrie Ann says James has natural elegance, but lost his stature and control. Len noted mixed footwork, but James sold it. Score: 21.

“Wonder Years” star Danica McKellar and Val foxtrot. She is excited to be with him, and says he’s way cooler than she is. Aww, she is still a pro at working that coy thing she mastered as Winnie Cooper twenty years ago. Her dance looks pretty good. She tries to bring some performance into it, but her technique is loose and lacking. The crowd likes it. Danica looks shocked – how cute. Carrie Ann calls her adorable, that her enthusiasm takes the dance to another level, and notes her energy with Val. Len said it was a terrific first impression. Bruno says she played off Val well as an actress. Everyone has chemistry with Val. Score: 24.

Former hockey badboy (are there any other kind?) Sean Avery and Karina have a contemporary. Another shakeup: Contemporaries are tricky dances, especially for week one. Karina finds the humor in Sean, to be known as He Of The Nonexistent Expression. He looks like he’s putting his heart and soul into the dance. They’re an athletic couple, so there are naturally lots of lifts. It’s a pretty dance. Len calls Sean an Iceman full of intensity, but lacking finesse. Bruno says Sean is powerful and focused, and understood how to move to the music. Carrie Ann called Sean fascinating and said she’s never seen anyone perform like him. Sean says trained by watching “Footloose” 200 times in a week. Deadpan humor. I love it. But only when I do it, Sean – so don’t steal my thunder! Score: 20. Sean says he told Karina he thought they were going to get three 9’s. Ha.

Actor Billy Dee Williams and Emma cha cha next. The 77-year-old has arthritis and two hip operations. What a trooper! Who doesn’t love Billy Dee? But the show patronizes his career by making his dance “Star Wars”-themed. It starts with R2D2 and C3PO as backup… dancers? Billy Dee looks very unsure, as if he doesn’t have the moves memorized. But he’s still charming. I feel for the guy. Oh, and there are ewoks in the audience. This. Is. Strange. Bruno says Billy Dee got the

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