Twice a year, millions of fans look forward to another season of Dancing With the Stars. Before each cast is announced, some of us think the worst and believe there’s no way it can be better than the season before — but we’re proven wrong every time.
In recent years, DWTS had faded in some viewers’ eyes and a little show called The Voice creeping up on — then soaring past — it in the ratings. But Season 19 of the dance competition was particularly strong and Tom Bergeron and co. pleasantly surprised us once again. When are we going to learn, dance fever will forever live on?
Alfonso Ribeiro showed us he’s still got it, and even if he injured himself by overdoing his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air character’s signature dance, his performance with Witney Carson was easily one of the best routines in the series’ history.
Don’t call it a comeback
In the first week, Betsey Johnson seemed out of control (no thanks to a bit of a wardrobe malfunction) but the designer and Tony Dovolani bounced back the following week with a sophisticated foxtrot that proved she could dance. Too bad she was voted off that night but, man, what a way to go.
Sadie Robertson is perhaps the most adorable contestant of all time, but to see her dad and uncles on the ballroom floor as part of a Duck Dynasty-themed samba, choreographed by Mark Ballas, was another level of awesome. Quack, quack. Hmm, maybe she learned her moves from her great-uncle Si.
Antonio Sabato Jr. and Cheryl Burke made quite the striking duo, but during the week of the switch-up his performance of a Bollywood routine with Allison Holker showed how good he really could be.
We love Bethany
What does a 19-year-old YouTube sensation know about I Love Lucy? Apparently, a ton. Bethany Mota and Derek Hough channelled Lucy and Ricky for their homage to the classic sitcom.
We’re not judging
The dancers and the hosts aren’t the only ones who get to have fun; judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, Julianne Hough and Bruno Tonioli like to show off their moves as well.
Semi-finals got us like… http://t.co/XXpTWWHYjf
— Official DWTS (@DancingABC) November 18, 2014
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Mean Girls actor Jonathan Bennett and Allison had their ups and downs but it was his boundless enthusiasm and deer-in-the-headlight expressions that won fans over.
Are they or aren’t they?
Every season, all the pros develop special bonds with their famous partners but Val Chmerkovskiy and Janel Parrish seemed more than friendly. Their dances, and rehearsals, oozed sex but, for now, they’ll never tell. At least not until after the finale airs.
No, really, even their comedic kiss is hot:
That kiss gets a 10 tho right? http://t.co/yjxvPkJzIO
— Official DWTS (@DancingABC) November 11, 2014
Actor and MMA fighter Randy Couture showed off his softer side when he and Karina Smirnoff shocked everyone with their gorgeous foxtrot.
Shake it off
Bethany and Derek’s super-cool handshake? More of that, please.
New guy in town
Lolo Jones may have looked like she wanted to be anywhere but the DWTS ballroom but at least through her, we were introduced to new pro Keo Motsepe. Can he please be part of future seasons?
Bring on the guest stars
Pitbull, Jessie J and Kevin Hart guest-judged in Len’s absence but anytime Hart and Josh Gad want to come back, they are welcome anytime. Hand jive, baby!
Age ain’t nothing but a number
At 53, Lea Thompson proved age is merely a state of mind as she gave pros Artem Chigvintsev and Henry Byalikov (a.k.a. the “hottie sandwich”) more than they could handle in their paso doble trio.
Race car driver Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater lasted way longer than we expected. His performances weren’t up to snuff but there was just something about his rehearsals that made us love him.
. @mwr55 is honoring Dale Earnhardt in his performance tonight. You don’t want to miss it! #DWTS #TeamTangodegaNights #NASCAR @emmaslaterdance A video posted by Dancing with the Stars (@dancingabc) on
We love us some Erin Andrews but when the co-host was absent one week, Leah Remini took her place and did her proud, calling it as she saw it and being her awesome, ball-busting self.
Old stoners can still perform
He may have joined the show only after Cheech bet him he couldn’t make it on, but Tommy Chong proved that at the ripe ol’ age of 76, old stoners can still bust a move.
In it to win it
The Carlton proved Ribeiro had some tricks up his sleeve but before all the injuries, it was his first dance of the competition, a near-perfect jive, that showed he was a contender, not a pretender.
The season finale of Dancing With the Stars airs Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 9 p.m. ET on M3 and ABC.