Ox Notes: March 17, 2008

Today’s post is an all Dancing with the Stars edition of Ox Notes. Season 6 premieres tonight at 8 ET, with either the best or worst cast ever, depending on which newspaper you read.

If you’re still unfamiliar with some of the cast members, TV Guide’s All Things Dancing with the Stars blog has star bios. And, of course, there’s plenty of information at the official ABC DwtS website.

ABC’s DwtS site offers a couple of new features this season, including weekly dance tutorials with Carrie Ann Inaba, and insights into the pro dancers’ fitness regimes.

Throughout the season, fans of Monica Seles will be able to keep up with her on a special blog at the Tennis Channel’s website.

Based on recent interviews, Marlee Matlin, Cristian de la Fuente, and Jason Taylor sound ready for their dance floor debuts. And DwtS pro Mark Ballas told People that his partner, Kristi Yamaguchi, is "very pretty to watch in the ballroom."

Tonight’s show will feature performances by the six male celebrities, and the six female celebs will dance tomorrow night. Next week, all twelve couples will perform on Monday, and scores and votes from that night will be combined with the scores and votes from this week.

During the season’s first Results Show next Tuesday, one male and one female celebrity will be eliminated from the show.

Based on everything but their actual dancing ability (in other words, tonight I’ll find out I’m wrong about pretty much everything), here are my preseason rankings for this season’s couples.

The Men
6. Adam Carolla & Julianne Hough
5. Penn Jillette & Kym Johnson
4. Steve Guttenberg & Anna Trebunskaya
3. Jason Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska
2. Mario & Karina Smirnoff
1. Cristian de la Fuenta & Cheryl Burke

The Women
6. Shannon Elizabeth & Derek Hough
5. Marissa Jaret Winokur & Tony Dovolani
4. Priscilla Presley & Louis van Amstel
3. Marlee Matlin & Fabian Sanchez
2. Monica Seles & Jonathan Roberts
1. Kristi Yamaguchi & Mark Ballas

Given that Julianne Hough has mentioned in several interviews how clumsy Adam Carolla is, this seems like the couple who could be in the biggest danger tonight. But Julianne is very popular, and she might also be clever enough to find a creative way to work around Adam’s inherent awkwardness.

Tomorrow night, Shannon Elizabeth and Marissa Jaret Winokur should both be nervous, given the star power of the women they’re competing against. Marissa’s a Broadway actress, so she could have a leg up on Shannon in terms of dance ability. I think Shannon has the more charming partner, but I’m not sure that will be enough to ingratiate her to an audience made up largely of older adults who probably didn’t see American Pie.

My early prediction for the finale is that Kristi Yamaguchi will edge out Cristian de la Fuenta for the win. But, just like my predictions for which couples will be first to go, they don’t mean anything until I’ve seen the couples dance.

Which couples do you think will be first to go? Who are your early favorites to win? See you all tonight during the chat!