With fans still debating the outcome of Big Brother 14, there are many new Fall reality shows that are clamoring to take over the #1 position. There’s The Voice, The X Factor, Survivor, The Amazing Race, The Challenge: Battle of the Seasons. After screening all of these and more, I can say without equivocation, that for my money… Dancing With The Stars: All-Stars.
I will admit that it took me awhile to jump on the DWTS bandwagon. I didn’t really understand the network appeal of B-List celebrities learning how to dance. After giving it a chance, however, I feel like it combines all the elements that make for great television. The show is fun and fast, there are girls in ridiculously tiny outfits and the level of competition is incredible.
While bringing back contestants for all-star version is always tough and no one will ever agree with the decisions, I certainly feel like producers couldn’t have done a better job this season with their picks.
Let’s take a look at the remaining teams in advance of this week’s double elimination episode.
Apolo Ohno & Karina Smirnoff
Apolo’s original partner was Julianne Hough and he won the Mirror Ball trophy back in 2007. While I believe that Julianne was the best dancer on the show, with her departure, Ohno was paired with Karina Smirnoff (who is also a former champion with J.R. Martinez). With his speed skating background, Ohno is used to competing at an extremely high level and I think he will definitely be in this year’s finale. He seems to be taking the competition very seriously and I believe that gives him an edge over everybody else who seem to be there just to have more fun.
Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas
Clearly Mark Ballas got the short end of the stick this season. While they could have given him many of his former partners including Kristin Cavallari or Chelsea Kane, they stuck him with Bristol. I have always thought that Mark was the best male pro dancer on the show and I actually think that the producers did him a favor by putting him with Bristol, because if he can take her to the end again (like he did the last time), it will prove that he might be the best dancer on the show. In addition, I absolutely can’t deny that Bristol is the most improved dancer on the show. While I don’t think she is at the level of everybody else yet, I definitely think that she can get there with Mark’s tutelage and I can’t wait to see what transpires. No matter what anyone thinks, I do believe bringing Bristol back for all-stars was a smart decision. Both from the perspective of seeing whether she can actually dance and from the trainwreck perspective as well.
Drew Lachey & Anna Trebunskaya
Everyone knows that this is my favorite team. On an episode of my show, Anna taught me how to dance and I root for her every season. With that being said, I have always believed that she has been stuck with bad partners. I don’t think that Kurt Warner, Carson Kressley and Sugar Ray Leonard ever had a shot to win. For the first time (next to Evan Lycasek of course), she is partnered with a really good dancer. a former champion and this time I think that their success will come down to two things. The first is Drew improving upon his killer instinct. While I believe he is one of the best male celebrity dancers in the competition (next to Apolo, Emmitt and Helio), I believe that the others are slightly more competitive than Drew and that’s what he needs to work on. I also think that Anna is going to have to do the best choreography she has ever done on the show as this is its most competitive season. For her, however, it might be her last time with a partner who has the skill to win so I am hoping she takes full advantage. I am definitely voting for her.
Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke
Cheryl always gets good partners and that’s evidenced by a few of her partners being on this season (and paired with others). The fact that she chose Emmitt over Drew and Gilles Marini) speaks volumes about how confident she is in the former Dallas Cowboys’ running back. I still remember their freestyle routine from the last time that Emmitt won and even more than that, I remember how strong their partnership was. We cannot forget the fact that Emmitt is a former football player and along with the other athletes on the show, he has the competitive fire that is necessary to win. I also see him in the finale.
Gilles Marini & Peta Murgatroyd
Peta Murgatroyd is the defending champion and Gilles Marini was one of the best overall dancers on the show (despite the fact that he didn’t win). Even though their routine was spectacular last week, I have some minor concerns about their chemistry. With that being said, I do feel like they have a technical advantage but I have a feeling they will get lost in the shuffle with teams that are more memorable. It would be a shame if that happens though.
Helio Castroneves & Chelsie Hightower
One of my favorite teams. Chelsie steps in for Julianne Hough and has been shoes to fill as Helio won the competition with Derek’s sister. While I believe that Helio is a fan favorite and has one of the best jives I have ever seen, I do think he cannot have a single bad performance if he is going to last in the competition. He was in the Bottom 2 last week and while I don’t think this deserved (especially considering the fact that Bristol is still in the competition) he is the toughest one for me to read. He has the ability to win again but, like Drew, needs to find his competitive fire if he is going to compete against the likes of Apolo and Emmitt. With that being said, I have always liked Chelsie, both on So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars and I am hoping she can get to the end as well.
Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy
My favorite female celebrity this season is Kelly Monaco. She has had the most to learn, since she was the show’s first winner and they didn’t have to do as many dances as they did back then. She looks absolutely stunning and I actually think her form is significantly better now than it was back then. I also think she is probably the hottest girl on the show. I am a huge fan and really, I think the question with this team is whether Val will be able to choreograph her to the top. She certainly has the skills to win. Like Gilles/Peta though, I think that her problem will be to standout in a field that is this strong. Also, how hilarious was it that Val doesn’t know what General Hospital is?!
Kirstie Alley & Maks Chmerkovskiy
While Kirstie lacks in skill, she makes up for in chemistry with her partner. She actually has the opposite problem that Gilles/Peta do in that, while her dancing may not be up to par, EVERYONE wants to see her and Maks dance. In my opinion, she should have won on her season and I actually think she is easily the most underrated dancer this season. While she definitely won’t win, she is a darkhorse as I think she will go further than people think. There is something about her that makes people want to cheer her on. It’s almost like she is Maks’ antithesis.
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani
When they announced Melissa Rycroft as one of the all-stars on this season, I had mixed emotions. On the one hand, I am happy that Tony finally has the chance to win (just like I am with Anna Trebunskaya), on the other hand… I am not sure if Rycroft’s celebrity status warrants a position on the show. Also, with her professional dancing background, I also wasn’t sure if it was fair for her to compete the first time since I think she is more experienced than the others. She is clearly one of the top dancers in the competition, but I also don’t think that she has the same following that the others do. I see this pair going sooner than later. What do you think?
Sabrina Bryan & Louis Van Amstel
This is another team that I am rooting for. I go way back with Louis Van Amstel and Sabrina Bryan definitely didn’t deserve to go home the last time that she competed on the show. I am very glad that the fans voted her back onto the show as I feel like this season was specifically meant for her to get another shot at the trophy she so richly deserves. I like the chemistry between Sabrina and Louis. The other undeniable point to note is that Sabrina knows what it feels like to go home early whereas the others have all pretty much made it to the end. That gives her a competitive fire that will be tough to beat.
Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough
Derek has always had great partners, and once again, he is with a former champion. I do think that this season he will be in trouble. It’s not because Shawn can’t dance. It’s also not because of his choreography (since I think he is the best choreographer on the show). I just think that the other teams might be more popular. On a regular season of the show, this team would mop the floor with everyone but this season, I think they will have one of the toughest roads to get to the end.
With all that being said, I implore you to vote for Anna (and Drew) and Chelsie (and Helio).
I can’t wait for tonight’s episode!
Check out Anna Trebunskaya on this week’s Murtz Show. It’s in two parts. In the first, I interviewed her with Chelsea Gheesling. Because of some technical issues, we did a second part interview. Let’s just say she might dress up like a Greek Goddess. You don’t want to miss it.
Dancing With The Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CTV and ABC and on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on CTV Two and ABC
Tags: Dancing with the Stars, murtz