'Dancing with Stars' begins 12th season

By Terry Morrow

Scripps Howard News Service

Published: Sunday, March 20 2011 3:23 p.m. MDT

Let's be honest: "Dancing with the Stars," fancy footwork aside, only deserves our love if the cast is eclectic and eccentric enough.

For every memorable zany Cloris Leachman or fainting Marie Osmond moment, we have had soon-to-be forgotten contestants such as Laila Ali, John Ratzenberger or Tom DeLay.

As for the 12th season (which begins tonight at 7 p.m. on ABC-Ch. 4)? It's giving us the proven-to-be whacky (talk-show host Wendy Williams and actress Kirstie Alley), the well-publicized vixen (Kendra Wilkinson) and the "who's that" factor (Mike Catherwood, a radio personality). Bringing in a beloved personality, such as Sugar Ray Leonard in this case, always helps, too.

Others in the lineup include actor Ralph Macchio, wrestler Chris Jericho, rapper Lil Romeo, actress Chelsea Kane and pro football's Hines Ward.

By all accounts, Wilkinson is already an odds-on favorite to win. Of course we haven't seen her dance yet.

We've been given casts with a lot more obvious appeal (Florence Henderson, Pamela Anderson and Ty Murray, to name a few). But who could have predicted the allure of Bristol Palin?

Universally regarded as a work in progress at best, Palin was hardly a consideration in the last edition of "Dancing" until viewers kept her through the finals. No one saw that coming.

That's also part of the reason why we love "Dancing" so much. No one can ever predict what turns the season can take.

In the end, all we want is a little train-wreck-viewing. If some nice moves on the dance floor come along with it, well, all the better. Right?

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