Welcome to Season 18! Maks is back! Harold Wheeler is gone. BROOKE IS GONE! The jury is out on Erin Andrews, but I'm not sorry to see Brooke go except that I never had to recap her segments because they were so useless. We open with the traditional huge dance number, but this one adds in a live performance by Jason Derulo and his back-up dancers. I kind of just want to see the pros dancing together?
Okay, so they still have a full band? So why get rid of Harold Wheeler? I mean, I'm not complaining because Harold Wheeler's band was great with orchestral songs, but they were terrible at pop songs and even ruined a few performances. The couples are introduced and I have done nothing to learn about the contestants this season except read the press release announcing the contestants, so I'm coming in pretty cold. So far Erin seems to be sharing a lot more of the hosting duties with Tom; I like her but her voice is a little… grating?
First up is Real Housewife Nene Leakes, who is partnered with Tony. I don't know much about her except that she's one of the few Real Housewives I actually have heard of, so I guess she's doing something right. Although that also puts her in the company of Bethenny Frankel so there's that. In their clip package, Nene has a lot of sass and is not afraid of Tony, for sure.
They are dancing the cha cha cha. Nene's dress is TERRIBLE. It's like a white lace with fringe but it's not at all flattering to her statuesque figure. Okay, so her frame and posture are awful. She's just floppy through the middle and needs to put her shoulders back and stand up tall. She's got good rhythm and musicality, and I think she has plenty of personality but she affects this giant fake open-mouthed smile that I find off-putting. She has potential, but ballroom is going to be a problem if she doesn't work on her posture.
Judges? Len tells her that she got the party started right, although she needs more pressure through her feet. Bruno thinks Nene has more to give, and has great energy, although she could work on her leg placement. Carrie Ann first needs to find out if Nene is crying (she is) and then tells her that she has great personality, but she needs to dance bigger to match both her stature and her personality. Scores: Carrie Ann 7, Len 7, and Bruno 7. Very fair for the first week. I'm going to continue to skip the post-dance interviews unless something interesting happens.
Next up is James Maslow from Big Time Rush. I had to Google what all that meant. I thought it was a boy band and I felt like Nickelodeon was involved, and it turns out I was right on both counts! I would have been all kind of into that as a tween but now I'm old. Anyway, he's partnered with Peta and the awkward thing is that they went on a date before they found out they were paired, and then James went on tour and never called. Yikes. It is STRONGLY implied that they slept together. Now the audience is going to hate him. Well, except the ones who already loved him. INTRIGUE.