With everyone on pins and needles waiting for an official season 30 renewal from ABC for "Dancing With the Stars" — we're pretty sure it's happening — we wanted to take a look back at the 29 other seasons. The dance competition series celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2020, and its 30th season is going to be another big milestone for the show.
The show began in 2005 with a set that looked fairly stark in comparison to the huge production value they use today. The costumes, the sets and even the lighting have dramatically improved over the years. Yet, as the ratings have dwindled and some of the audience has moved on, fans have noticed some of the sparkle has diminished on "Dancing with the Stars — and that means producers had to make budget cuts.
If we could magically change anything about the show, it would be to bring back all of the elements that have been cut — even if it's just one super-sized episode. Here are the nine things we wish "Dancing with the Stars would bring back.
1. Harold Wheeler:
It's pretty special to have an 18-piece band with a bandleader for a contemporary show. That lasted for 17 seasons on "Dancing with the Stars" until then-executive producer Conrad Green revealed some of the challenges with using a traditional band on the series.
“We feel that there are some types of music and types of songs, a lot of modern music, particularly, is so produced that it’s impossible for an 18-piece band to replicate that sound,” Green told The Hollywood Reporter in 2013. “You get to a point where you’re forcing a band to try and do sound that they just literally can’t pull off.”
Ray Chew replaced Harold Wheeler as the band leader and they now use "sound recordings and a small electric band." Green admitted this was done to “attract a younger demographic.”
2. Results shows:
Back in the show's heyday, results episodes were must-see TV on Tuesdays. Besides finding out who was eliminated from the show that week, it allowed the pros to showcase their talents and often dance with major musical artists. There was so much time having two shows a week that there were episodes where contestants had time to pick their teammates for team dances on live TV — now Tyra Banks is always rushing to keep the once-a-week, two-hour show on time.
3. Macy's Stars of Dance & Design-A-Dance:
Have you been a "DWTS" fan long enough to remember Macy's Stars of Dance: Design-A-Dance? This started in Season 7, where fans had the opportunity to vote for their favorite pros or former contestants to create a dance. The song, dance style and costumes were voted on by the viewers, too. Derek and Julianne Hough even received an Emmy nomination in 2009 for their Design-A-Dance Jive to Jerry Lee Lewis’ "Great Balls of Fire."
In addition to Design-A-Dance, Macy's also sponsored choreographers to bring in new works and perform them on the — you guessed it — results show. One of Derek's Emmy wins for Outstanding Choreography even came from a Macy's Stars of Dance piece — go watch "Walking on Air" again.
4. Two-night finales:
Results shows might have fallen by the wayside, but two-night finales remained up through season 25. After the short four-week Athletes' season, ABC realized they could save a lot of money by wrapping up the finale in one night. Also gone after season 25 was the incredible use of the "Dancing with the Stars' stage and the outdoor stage at The Grove, the outdoor mall next door to where they film in Los Angeles. The pros would be racing back and forth between the indoor and outdoor performances while host Tom Bergeron zipped across the set in a golf cart.
5. Tom Bergeron:
Yes, we had to say it, and we already know he won't be back, but Tom Bergeron's legacy on the show remains. It's also important to note that "Dancing with the Stars' also dropped from two hosts to one host in season 29 — Tyra Banks is the only solo host the show has ever had. In remembering Bergeron's contributions to the show, we also honor his former co-hosts Lisa Canning, Samantha Harris, Brooke Burke and Erin Andrews.
OK, we can admit that having the troupe in every single number to distract from the not-so-great dancing of a celebrity was an overused device, but they added a lot of magic to the show over the seasons. It became a great training ground for future pros, like Sharna Burgess, Alan Bersten and Emma Slater, and their bumpers going to and from commercial breaks were some of our favorite moments in the show.
7. Big production numbers:
The huge group dances were squashed by COVID safety protocols this past season, which is completely understandable, so we hope that production numbers come back each week in season 30. But we can't help but reminisce about the staging that former creative producer and choreographer Mandy Moore used to flawlessly execute — from a stunning "Titanic" waltz to an exquisite season premiere piece at Griffith Observatory.
8. "DWTS All Access:"
We last saw "DWTS All Access," the behind-the-scenes live internet show, in season 23, but it sure was fun while it lasted. This series helped make up for the end of the results shows and gave viewers more insight into the dynamics of the partnerships. Sometimes the web show relied too heavily on playing silly games, but it was a relaxed environment for the contestants and their pros to share a part of their journey.
Believe it or not, the first spinoff was not "Dancing With the Stars: Juniors" — it was "Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann!" The show was based on the U.K. version of the series called "DanceX," which Tonioli also starred in.
The one-season competition show had Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba leading a team of dancers and singers, who competed against each other. The audience voted for their favorite team each week and it was up to the losing team's captain to eliminate one of their team members. The winning team was given a record deal with Hollywood Records.
And of course, the other one-season spinoff of "Dancing with the Stars" was a junior version of the show. The series melted our hearts with all of the cuteness coming our way each week. "Dancing with the Stars: Juniors" was the feel-good series of 2018 and we wish they would bring it back... are you hearing us, Disney+?