CNNYAW- If “American Idol” can end, so should “Dancing With the Stars.” As the show turns 21 — seasons, that is — it can at least have a legal drink before being put down.
The competition was stiff, but the cast that’s going to debut at 8 p.m. tonight has got to be the least appealing yet. The lineup is so bad, it may actually test America’s notoriously high tolerance for no-talent hucksters, never-quite-beens, narcissistic camera whores, underachieving children of actual stars, and the occasional racist (we’re looking at you, Season 21 butter queen Paula Deen).
Just think: This time around, one of the most accomplished contestants in his field is jockey Victor Espinoza, who won the Triple Crown with American Pharoah. Yet he appears to have been picked just so the size difference with his partner, the fearsome Karina Smirnoff, can provide high-larious visual jokes.
The other entries in ABC’s onetime ratings champ have been found by dragging a net at the bottom. You’ve got your teens, like 15-year-old Vine celeb Hayes Grier and 17-year-old multitasker Bindi Irwin (who also fills the “progeny of” slot, being the daughter of Steve “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin). Wait for the cringe factor to set in when they have to do those smoldering sexy dances.
In addition to Deen, the show boasts loose cannon Gary Busey and Chaka Khan (once a real star) for the “oldie” slot.
And then there’s the “Who the f - - k are those people?!” group, which actually includes one of the early favorites in Alexa PenaVega (formerly of the “Spy Kids” movies). A strong rival could be her own husband, Carlos.
Another early fave is from a perennially competitive category known as “the former boy bander” — in this case, the Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter. That he’ll do well, especially with lively pro Sharna Burgess, will surprise nobody.
The show has tinkered with the formula in recent seasons, but the moves have been too timid. If you’re going to shake up the judging panel, get rid of all of them, not just Len Goodman — especially since his replacement is Julianne Hough, the personality-free sister of ultra-dominant pro Derek Hough. At least Goodman was endearingly cranky, even if he could also hold fierce personal grudges — pro Lacey Schwimmer could never seem to please him, for instance.
As for Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli? Love ’em, but familiarity does breed boredom.
Predictability is high among the pros as well. Never mind their choreographic tendencies: You can count on Derek Hough being a finalist, on one of the Chmerkovskiy brothers to attract attention, and on Mark Ballas to be cockily obnoxious.
And then there’s the fact that some pros miraculously always land good stars while others get shafted: Once again, poor Louis van Amstel was matched with the kind of total no-hoper (a k a Paula Deen) that fabulous Derek would never get.
“DWTS” still performs well enough for ABC, and the show can’t be that expensive to produce. J.Lo was paid upward of $17 million for her stint on “Idol,” while the “DWTS” judges make just north of $1 million per season — not a bad bargain for the network.
But who cares when the show is such a bargain-basement embarrassment, and whatever buzz it once had is largely gone? Quick, who won the last season? A wild guess would be an underachieving somebody-or-other with a tenuous link to celebrity.
(Bingo: It was Rumer Willis, and she did it with one of the top pros, Val Chmerkovskiy.)
Enough of that junk, already.