Dancing With the Stars" head judge Len Goodman called the Season 14 kickoff of the ABC show its "best premiere ever," but the contest's premiere ratings were its worst, down a whopping 34% from last spring."
The show has been around a while and may seem stale compared to the NBC hit "The Voice," which shares the timeslot. Even though "DWTS" won in total number of viewers, it lost a key demographic to "The Voice," 18- to 49-year-olds.
What went wrong? Coincidentally, it may be a cast that gets along and dances fine but provides no tabloid drama.
As Entertainment Weekly put it, "The secret to casting 'Dancing' is having hot-button names like Bristol Palin, The Situation, Nancy Grace, and Chaz Bono: celebrities that a large number of Americans have strong feelings about, positive or negative."
The Washington Post TV Column added that the show looks to be the least controversial season ever -- "no reality stars, no political figures." And for reality television, that's not a good thing.
This season boasts a cast of bland names (Gladys Knight? Jaleel "Steve Urkel" White? Jack Wagner?) along with complete unknowns like Katherine Jenkins, an opera star from the U.K. On the other hand, those who tune in to the show to see -- gasp -- actual dancing will be pleasantly surprised.
In fact, the cast got the highest scores from the judges of any "DWTS" premiere. "I think this is my favorite premiere, start to finish, that we've ever done," gushed the show's host, Tom Bergeron. Celebrity Circuit from CBS agreed, calling the show "a new season with no bad dancers."
Searches on Yahoo! were most popular among women aged 45 to 54, who looked up "Dancing With the Stars cast", "Dancing With the Stars voting", and "Dancing With the Stars season 14" in the last day.
Good moves are not enough to hold interest for younger viewers, however, who clearly tuned in to "The Voice" for their reality fix.
But the show is still popular with older women. Comments on the Entertainment Weekly site seemed to reflect an appreciation of the dancing, not the drama.
One fan wrote, "I'm glad DWTS had all those eyeballs watching cause it was the best premiere ever! I chose it over the Voice." Another booster added to the Washington Post page, "Absolutely the best first night ever! This should be quite a season and I'll probably watch much more of it if controversy doesn't ruin it."
Sadly for the dance fans, the drama off the dance floor is what makes for ratings gold.