Laney's Look: A First Look At The Celebrities Of "Dancing With T - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Laney's Look: A First Look At The Celebrities Of "Dancing With The Stars" Season 18

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Eighteen seasons of Dancing With The Stars. It's hard to fathom, but the show keeps going and growing and changing. This year is bringing a lot of changes, from a new co-host to a new band to a double-amputee. There's no shortage of reasons to tune in.

Normally before the season starts, I sit down and make my predictions and observations of the cast. That didn't happen this year. Part of that was because of time constraints, the other reason was plain and simple… There were SEVERAL cast members that I knew absolutely nothing about. I had to look up their names to see who they even were.

So here we are -- one dance down and an entire season to go. I think Season 18 promises to be an interesting one. After watching the debut dances, I'll share my thoughts (and ignore any opinions cast by the judges).

Sean Avery (with Karina Smirnoff): I think this is the first time the show has had a hockey player. NBA and NFL players have joined the line-up, but I'm pretty sure there's never been a hockey player. I don't think this hurts him, but I don't think it helps him either. I found myself turned off by his personality, which I've learned has gotten him in trouble in the past. However, my dad enjoyed him. (If you've read my posts in previous seasons, you know that my dad and I watch Dancing With The Stars the same way basketball fans are preparing for March Madness.) I found his dance "clompy". I'm a big fan of contemporary, but I wasn't a fan of his performance. I see Sean being an early departure from the ballroom.

Candace Cameron Bure (with Mark Ballas): No, I did not have to look her name up. She will forever be DJ Tanner in my mind. She's only a few years older than me, so I grew up with her on Full House. Even watching her recent TV movies, I still see her has DJ, but I digress… I'll admit that I expected her to be able to move, but her performance was beautiful. Hers was a contemporary dance that I loved. To me the key with contemporary is that you have to "feel" it, and I felt it from her. I think between talent and a fan following, she will stick around.

Drew Carey (with Cheryl Burke): I've never really been a big Drew Carey fan, I won't lie. I know that he has a lot of fans, though. Every season you have one or two dancers that I refer to as "comedic dancers". Sometimes those people actually have dance talent, other times they completely rely on comedy. (Think Bill Engvall from Season 17… His personality got him further than his dancing probably did, although I adored him just like everyone else.) This season our comedic dancer is Drew. His first dance showed some promise. He didn't solely rely on comedy, but I think this could go either way. I see him lasting until mid season.

Meryl Davis (with Maksim Chmerkovskiy):  Anyone that has watched DWTS knows that Olympians fare well in the competition. I don't think Meryl will be any exception. She's got competition, though, because she's not the only Olympian in the competition. For her first dance, her Cha-Cha was good, but it didn't have me doing back flips. With so many other good dancers in the competition, she's going to have to find her edge in the competition.

NeNe Leakes (with Tony Dovolani): Okay, NeNe is just a force to be reckoned with. She's a ball of fire that is going to give Tony a run for her money. She may not have the body of most dancers, but she's not afraid to shake it. The way she hit the floor with her Cha-Cha is proof of that. I'm curious to see how she does in ballroom, especially with a Waltz, but I think she's definitely got the passion. I also think she'll have the fan support to help see her through.

James Maslow (with Peta Murgatroyd): This would be another celebrity that I drew a blank on. I knew the name but couldn't tell you how I knew him. (No, I know little about Big Time Rush). He wasn't scared to move, which is a plus, but his footwork leaved some to be desired. Nonetheless, I think he will improve and do well in the competition, and I think the girls will love him. That will turn into votes to keep him around.

Danica McKellar (with Val Chmerkovskiy): One thing I know for sure… Our John Hart is hoping she stays around for awhile. That's all I'll say on that, though. She gave a solid performance out of the gate with her Fox Trot, and she had great chemistry with Val. I think she has the ability and fans to stay around for awhile. I also think that viewers will enjoy the good-natured "feud" between Danica and Candace.

Diana Nyad (with Henry Byalikov): I really didn't expect much from Diana Monday night. I've only caught glimpses of her in the past through news stories, and I really didn't get a good vibe from her personality. First impressions can definitely be deceiving! She was a hoot and fun to watch. No, she wasn't the best dancer out there, but she went out and tried and had fun. Sometimes that can mean a lot. However, in a competition where it's not just about how good you are – I'm not sure she has the votes to stay around for long.

Amy Purdy (with Derek Hough): Every season the judges say that they can't take injuries or other obstacles into consideration when giving their scores. Most would think that the deck is stacked against Amy considering she is a double-amputee, but she proved right away that she's in it to win it. I think Derek is a great partner for her too. He has the ability to let her be showcased in the best way and let her shine. I can't wait to see what she continues to bring.

Cody Simpson (with Whitney Carson): So I had to look up Cody, and I'm still not sure I've ever seen or heard him prior to DWTS. I thought he did well tonight and has a good connection with his partner. He's a tall guy, though, so he'll have to watch to control his moves. I don't know what kind of fan base he has, but I don't see him as a long term contender. This is one I could be way off on.

Charlie White (with Sharna Burgess): Just like his skating partner, Meryl Davis, Charlie has a natural edge to this competition. I actually think he did better than Meryl did Monday night. He did have an "easier" dance by comparison, though. Contemporary compliments his talents as an ice dancer much more than the Cha-Cha did for Meryl. I'm looking forward to see how he does when given a more traditional ballroom dance.

Billy Dee Williams (with Emma Slater): What can I say? He's a beloved icon, and I give him credit for even approaching the dance floor after two hip surgeries. I hope that I'm still game to do something like DWTS when I'm 77 years old. When it comes to his performance, though… It definitely left a lot to be desired. I think he'll stay a few weeks because of fan votes and who he is, but he's definitely not in it for the long haul.

There it is… What I think of the contestants on Season 18 of Dancing With The Stars. There is a lot of talent there, and I think it could prove to be a close competition.

Who will be leaving the competition first? My instinct is saying it'll be Diana Nyad. We'll all find out next Monday at 8pm on WJBF News Channel 6, and you can follow along with my thoughts each Tuesday on Laney's Look.

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