It's been a long, dark winter. No stars! No sequins! No samba! But all that ends tonight with the premiere of the 12th season of Dancing with the Stars. And BuddyTV will be bringing the show to you via our live recap.
Starting at 8 PM EDT/5 PM PDT, check back here for constantly updated news, reviews and scores as the season 12 celebrities begin their quest for Mirror Ball glory!
What sparkly excitement can we hope for tonight? For one thing, there will be no eliminations in this first week of competition. The 11 DWTS stars will get a free pass this week, hopefully enabling everyone to get into their dancing groove before the slaughter begins. As a result, there will be no Dancing with the Stars: The Results Show until next week (premiering March 29).
Even without the imminent threat of elimination, the stars will have to put their best feet forward in one of two styles of dancing: the foxtrot or the cha-cha-cha. The accumulated hints from rehearsal videos and Twitter updates indicate the following break-down of dances.
* Chelsea and Mark
* Mike and Lacey
* Ralph and Karina
* Petra and Dmitry
* Sugar Ray and Anna
* Chris and Cheryl
* Hines and Kym
* Kendra and Louis
* Kirstie and Maks
* Romeo and Chelsie
* Wendy and Tony
Will any of the celebrities take an early front-runner position? Unlike in previous seasons, there's definitely no pre-season favorite. None of the celebrity contestants have much of a dancing background (Chelsea Kane was in some musicals as a child and Romeo has done a little dancing with his music, but that's it). Nobody is so incredibly famous or popular that he or she can coast to the finals, regardless of skill. And there's not even a hint of a political agenda to entice or put off DWTS voters.
So who's it going to be? I made some predictions right after the casting announcement, but it might be time for an update. Having watched the rehearsal videos and listened/read/watched an interview or ten, here are my updated views on the season 12 contestants:
11 - Kendra Wilkinson: I know she's a favorite for a lot of people, but I don't see it. Her dance moves didn't look too great, and she's much less famous than much of the competition. Plus, I don't see a lot of middle-America fans connecting with Hugh Hefner's ex-girlfriend.
10 - Kirstie Alley: Can she dance? I have no idea. Her rehearsal video emphasized more rolling on the floor than dancing. Personality and recognition will help Kirstie, but how much?
9 - Ralph Macchio: Much as I desperately want Ralph to do well, none of his rehearsal footage makes me think the guy can dance. I hope I'm wrong!
8 - Wendy Williams: There might be some moves there. But Wendy has to contend with the "funny celebrity" issues as well as the dancing.
7 - Sugar Ray Leonard: If we've got a superstar in the bunch, it's Sugar Ray. If he can avoid stiff movements or looking like he's going to punch Anna, Sugar Ray may have a shot.
6 - Mike Catherwood: We don't know him, but he's obviously likable. And athletic. He just needs a few moves to win over lots and lots of hearts.
5 - Hines Ward: He's charming, he plays football (athletes often do well) and he looks to have some moves during rehearsals.
4 - Chelsea Kane: No one knows her, but ... You can see the dance ability in the rehearsals. While the others struggle, Chelsea looks ready for her costume.
3 - Romeo: Based on rehearsal footage, this is a young man comfortable with movement. The looks don't hurt either.
2 - Petra Nemcova: She's beautiful, graceful and seems totally sweet. Her rehearsal dancing looks promising, and she wins hands-down for the best tragic-past of the season.
1 - Chris Jericho: The guy has more charisma than 20 normal people and a familiarity with choreography. And he might actually be able to dance.
Who are you looking forward to seeing tonight? Who has the best shot of winning? Do you expect any horrible dancing, or just success? Let us know in the comments section!