You know what we mean. Those posed photos of the pros and celebrities that are supposed to generate excitement for the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars. Each season we offer our enlightened commentary on these photos, and this time is no different. We really have no real interest in Season 18 since there was obviously a clerical error when the cast was announced and Tristan MacManus wasn't given a celebrity partner. In fact, most of us aren't even bothering to watch on a regular basis - if at all - but that won't stop us from speculating about the season. As we always do, we're speculating based solely on the team photos. No individual photos were looked at, talked about, or analyzed to death because we saw all we needed to with the images of the Season 18 pairs. This is what we found.
Mark and Candace – She looks beautiful, but since these are dance-related photos, she should be wearing dance-related shoes instead of something from Lord & Taylor. The dress is nice, but she won’t be dancing in that. Mark? His hair…what happened? We thought we must be watching the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or maybe Mickey Mouse Club because he looks more goofy than edgy and Candace looks fun and flirty. We wouldn’t miss the spats if he lost those too. The best part of this photo is that the clothing choices actually seem to work together and when you look at some of the rest of the couples, you wonder if somebody forgot to do the laundry and grabbed something out of the hamper instead.
Mark likely isn’t the right partner for Candace; Tristan would be so much better and you wouldn’t be seeing “I’m Candace and I’m here and I’m Mark and I’m here” instead of “We’re a team to reckon with.” The other concern is that Mark has a tendency to go a little over the top on occasion with choreography, costumes, and props. We only hope he doesn’t go all Lady Gaga and have the costume department make a meat dress to go along with the spats Candace will likely get stuck with at least once this season.
Sharna and Charlie – We love that Sharna got a great partner, but we don’t love the Charlie/Meryl package deal that will most likely give package results in a predictable, packaged ending to the season. Anyway, we get the reason for the gold lame pants because we’re talking gold medal and all that, but we’ve already been there and done that with those pants, and it’s too soon to recycle them. Besides, if she’s in gold then why isn’t he? We’re not quite sure that these two costumes/outfits/ensembles go together because he looks like a carhop at Sonic who is about to serve a showgirl a chocolate shake. We were surprised at the awkwardness of this photo, and while we still think they are the team to beat, we’re going to have to see some chemistry that knocks our socks off to make them believable. His expression says, “I’m having fun with this thing wrapped around me but I’m not sure what to do with it.” And his feet. Awkward? We know that figure skaters don’t have to point those little toesies, but shouldn’t somebody have pointed that out? (No pun intended.)
Maks and Meryl – Um, individually they look fine but together they do not. And not to be picky but what’s that big hunk of shoe sticking out on her right foot? Couldn’t they find a pair that fits or is it supposed to be like that? Her pink and his maroon don’t work either. I get that they didn’t put him in pink (Thank you, ABC – fast forward to Tony and the hot pink not hot mess) so why not make her a little dark and intense too? We expect pink and perky from her and that’s what we got. Again. Predictable. Also that's a dress that’s a little too “figure-skatey” for us. Then we are wondering if Maks always looks like he wants to devour the camera? He’s supposed to be connecting with his partner not the camera. Those two look like they belong on different planets.
Tony and NeNe – She looks beautiful – that might be the best photo of a female celebrity because she’s glowing and beautiful and curvy. We think the dress might have had a huge impact had it been white but they didn’t ask us. We like that they played up her obvious sensuality but again, where are the dance shoes? Is this supposed to be Dancing With the Stars or What the Real Housewives Wear When Painting the Town Red? Not her fault, however. This was a bonehead ABC decision. The dress looks like it might be Argentine Tango appropriate though, which is a bonus. And then there’s Tony…..Dear, Dear Tony. Why do you insist on wearing bubblegum pink at least once a season? For a dark, passionate AT, the male lead doesn’t wear a frou-frou color that only Barbie should wear, particularly when it makes you look like you have a beer gut. Unless we’re talking Samba or Salsa, hot pink should be illegal for the men. And what’s with the Addams Family hair? This just doesn’t work. And now on to...
Val and Danica – She looks great – for perhaps a questionable profession. We don’t want to start the season with Val and Danica playing the sexy card, but unfortunately, it looks like it’s happening already. Here’s another example of the male Chmerkovskiy playing the intense leading man type while the female celebrity looks like she just heard a funny joke. At least she’s wearing dance shoes although that doesn’t work with the hot pants like one of us wore in the 70s. (Yes one of us did so don’t ridicule either one of us - at least the fabric wasn't pleather). We should also say that SWAT will be eternally bitter because Danica was her dream celebrity for Tristan, and the fact that she’s with Val makes our SWAT want to crawl into a cave and roll the stone shut. Now that the rant is done, but we need to talk why this couple isn’t going to work.
Danica was supposed to be Winnie Cooper – the girl next door. Just because she’s dancing with Val doesn’t mean that we need to be introduced to Stripper Winnie. She is a college graduate and math whiz and she can be sexy and smart without looking slutty. So why must we break out the pleather Daisy Dukes and crop top to make a point? Yes, it’s worth repeating. Hot pants, pleather Daisy Dukes – it’s all the same. T.R.A.S.H.Y. It’s way too soon for trashy. The very different looks on their faces is creepy. It's like the girl who is just happy to be at the prom even having made a misinformed dress/not dress choice not knowing that her date is going to turn into a werewolf once the full moon comes out.
Cheryl and Drew – Now this works. Enough said. There’s our Season 18 champion right there – we wish. Fun, some chemistry, and dance attire, kind of. Drew is one of those partners that they need more of on DWTS, and these two look like they are ready to have fun. Cheryl knows deep down they ain’t winning this thing so why not have a big old time? This is Season 18's version of Emma and Bill but even better. Drew does look great though. He's lost weight and looks like he's in good shape. Good for him. We believe that Cheryl has worn this dress about a billion times but with substantially more fabric on the hip; we’re a little scared of the potential wardrobe malfunction but we can’t see past the glasses to know for sure. Still, we likey. Humor is sexy and we can't wait to see where they go with this.
Derek and Amy - Can’t really comment because there’s no dance attire. We applaud her for going on this journey, but whatever they do on the dance floor, the judges have to judge it on the dance quality and if the dance deserves a 10, give it a 10, but if it deserves a 3, give it a 3. The only photos we have seen don’t show us much – chemistry or otherwise – and it seems like ABC could have managed a quickie photo shoot because, after all, they were already rehearsing as is evident in the photos. It seems weird that they didn’t have one. It also seems that ABC has been focusing all of the early attention on them (along with two other couples), and we think that every person dancing (and every pro – ahem) should get equal time. Sermon over. We don't have a clue on this one because there was no costume to criticize.
Witney and Cody – Sigh. Speaking of awkward. He looks like he’s prepping for a colonoscopy. She looks perky and pink, and we (or at least one of us) hate perky and pink. It’s all wrong for DWTS. We’re supposed to see fun and sexy, passionate and hot, and honestly that bubblegum pink/sometimes lavender look isn’t sexy, hot, or passionate, and it's only fun if the bubblegum doesn’t get stuck in your braces, and both of them look about that old. Anything sexy and attempted passionate is going to end badly. Oh yeah. Her dress isn’t dance worthy either. Make it real ABC because so far we’re not buying into any of it. Our reaction to this photo is a huge, unqualified “Ugh”. We think Lindsay would have been a better choice to be Cody's pro because she has more of the “girl next door” look instead of the “look how much I can mug for the camera” look. The photo pose is okay but we can visualize Witney trying to wrap her legs around Cody's neck in some weird-ass contorted contemporary that makes us cringe. Let’s just hope they do it when she’s not wearing that dress because we don’t need to see what might be revealed.
Emma and Billy Dee – Oh man. This photo is not in our top 10. It’s awkward with a huge amount of disconnect thrown in and yet it could have been fun. Instead of making it interesting, creative, and even crazy, the ABC folks went with costume misses, zero chemistry, and no fun. While we am forever grateful that there is no pink, it just doesn’t work. They might as well be standing on opposite ends of the U.S. Remember when the judges said they didn’t want to see the sexy with Tristan and Nancy and then changed their mind when Tristan and Gladys danced? Trust us. We don’t want to see the sexy with this pair. 50 years is the age difference. They’d better make it fun or it will be a short run. The problem is that this photo isn’t fun. What is that thing wrapped around his neck and why is it there? There are other ways to make stylish and high-necked work but this is all wrong and you don’t have to be Vera Wang to see that. We see Emma being the frontrunner to replace Tristan (and to some extent Jonathan Roberts and Tony) as the pro who will get the celebrity most likely to not draw in the younger demographic. Emma has the happy smile on her face, but she doesn’t look as happy as she was in Season 17 with Bill Engvall. Not to mention that she's dressed in an outfit that has that skin toned latexy stuff that somehow makes her legs look five shades darker than the dress. BDW looks like he's ready to go up to the Lido Deck for the buffet. That doesn’t speak well for dancing prowess.
Peta and James – More pink. Gag. This photo shoot (not just James and Peta) has had so much pink that we have vowed to never again wear pink tutus or dress our kids in pink, and Shakes’ pink polka-dotted sweater just went into the garbage pile. James looks 15. He looks awkward, and the sexy business that we know will be attempted with Peta again this season just ain’t gonna work. He’s handsome, if you like your boyfriends to look 15. Which we don’t. We’re still not even sure why they are partners since they’ve been seen publicly for weeks – doesn’t seems right to us, which brings us to our next point. They keep giving her the young, preppy dudes who like to flash us the Zoolander face. James looks like Val gave him "scary sex stare" lessons, and Peta looks like she's ready to reprise her seasonal showmance. It's getting old. We do think he's dipping her too much though, her head is at a weird angle, and his shoulders and upper back just look weird. Are we picky? Yes we are. We’re still cranky that Tristan isn’t a Season 18 pro so we are entitled to spout off random stuff every now and then.
Diana and Henry – Wow. Diana looks great. But there’s a problem. Again no dance clothes or shoes which is all wrong for a dance photo shoot, and Henry looks downright pained. He looks 12 in the little blue short sleeved shirt. We keep thinking he’s on his way to the movies but dressed to impress the chicks, and he stopped by to get a photo with the famous Diana Nyad. Zero connection. She’s stiff, but that’s okay. They should have her in dance shoes/dance dress, etc. We’re not sure what impression we’re supposed to get here but it’s probably not what ABC had in mind. It pissed us off when they gave Valerie a MuMu last season for the promo pic, yet Diana has on a real dress. Granted she won’t be dancing in it but it’s still better than a tent. Anyway, Diana and Henry. We don’t really see a ballroom dance theme here. It looks like she's wearing something she might wear to a charity gala and Henry is one of the part-time waiters. What's with the 1950's waiter shirts on these men? The two outfits REALLY don’t go together. This would have been a good opportunity to put Henry in a simple white button up shirt and it would look a million times better. Mismatched costumes spell mismatched dancing.
Sean and Karina – After Drew and Cheryl, this is by far the best photo. It captures him, his personality, and Karina’s personality. Thank goodness he probably picked up the costume person who handed him a pink or turquoise shirt and tossed the poor person into the hockey rink because this look works. It’s a good one. Our final two are now set, and the picture is all the proof we need. He’s serious in this; she’s playful. Oddly enough, it works. The only problem is the pants; if the crotch was a few inches lower we might be talking some Hammer Time.
Drew and Cheryl for the win, Sean and Karina in second.