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'Dancing with the Stars' (ABC)
Premiere date: June 1, 2005
While "DWTS" hasn't brought the best amateur dancing to American viewers (and frequently brings some of the worst, thanks to uncoordinated and uncooperative celebrities), the adaptation of the British "Strictly Come Dancing" format turned into a summertime hit with surprising staying power. It shouldn't be a surprise, though, that we're still tuning in after 16 seasons. The assortment of celebrities each season has a little something for everyone -- ringers (who are usually the professional athletes, who know something about training), the dark horses (who give us someone to root for), the jokesters (to make those early, less-impressive weeks easier to tolerate) and the kids (so families can watch the show together, then fight over who gets to vote first). We don't have to know a thing about the foxtrot or the Viennese waltz to know when someone's forgotten their routine, and when one dancer discovers the show provides a path to redemption (as Andy Dick did), we find unexpected but powerful meaning in the challenge of learning to dance. Not such summer fluff after all.
- Liane Bonin Starr