You are now, dear sir or madame, in the act of reading the breathless if not admittedly deathless prose of one TV writer who is actually excited about Monday's tenth season launch of "Dancing wit the Stars." 

  Read on to find out why. Here's my Monday wrap for the Newsday...

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 "Dancing with the Stars," WABC/7, 8.

 Reason to watch: Best (read: "most interesting") cast in years.
 What's new: What isn't? So tweaked and so revamped are so many
elements that this edition could rightfully be called "The New
Dancing with the Stars." Take that glass-enclosed balcony, for
example. WHAT enclosed glass balcony? you (rightfully) ask. "DWTS"
has added a "sky box" from which contestants, or "stars" as they
are quaintly referred to on this set, can watch other stars
dance. They can boo, or cheer, or gasp or groan - without a sound
escaping to the audience or dancefloor below. You will be able to
see and hear their reactions. "It will make [the competition] more
like a sporting even," explains "DWTS" czar Conrad Green.
Meanwhile, there is that aforementioned cast. The
ninth season was ruled (foolishly in hindsight) by the edict that
more was more. It was stuffed with sixteen couples, most of whom
failed to bond with the viewing audience if numbers were an
indication - the season opener was exactly five million viewers
lower than the 8th, and the finale (19.2 million) was the
lowest since the first season. This season is ruled by less-is-
more. There will be only eleven couples because per Green, "we
wanted to focus on what people liked, so we focused on getting
great names [and] made it deliberately smaller to get your head
around it more easily." Finally, let's not forget that new
co-host, Brooke Burke, season 7 winner. What will she bring? We
shall see.

 My say: The ninth season of "DWTS" seemed to drag itself across
the finish line, so battered were the stars, the pros, and the
viewers. "DWTS" had become a chore and a bore, and a big part of
the problem was that dishrag of a cast. By contrast this is the
strongest lineup ever because you will have (and likely
already do) strong opinions about each.

 The stars:


Buzz Aldrin/Ashly DelGrosso-Costa: A bone fide hero, one of two to
step on the moon (July 20, 1969), Aldrin could stumble across the
floor and still get votes.


Pamela Anderson/Damian Whitewood: Insanely inspired casting move.
Everyone will watch to "See How Pam Does." Why? Because we must.
That's why.

Erin Andrews/Maksim Chmerkovskiy: The stalker of this ESPN reporter
was just sentenced, and here she is on a national TV show. The
coincidence is simply amazing. Or bizarre.

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Shannen Doherty/Mark Ballas: Geeeenius. Sheer geeenius. Shannen is
perfect. We will watch to see if she punches anyone out. (Does
Bruno know what he's in for?)


Kate Gosselin/Tony Dovolani: Already causing a rumpus, per the
tabs, which say she is being haughty. Says Green, "I feel for that
poor woman. You hear she's a terrible diva, but she's an absolute
pleasure....Nothing in those rumors."

Evan Lysacek/Anna Trebunskaya: The Gold Medal men's single figure
skating champ is already frontrunner.

Niecy Nash/Louis van Amstel: Beloved by fans of hilarious "Reno
911."

Chad Ochocinco/Cheryl Burke: Beloved by fans of formerly hilarious
Bengals, and in fact by a lot of NFL fans. A great receiver, but a
great clown too; recall the time he tried to bribe an official with
one dollar to reverse a call.

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Jake Pavelka/Chelsie Hightower: Not exactly Mr. Excitement but
"Eighty-Five" will take care of that department. Jake will last a
while here.

Nicole Scherzinger/ Derek Hough: Former Pussycat Doll and part of
"DWTS" desperate and perhaps futile attempt to reverse plummeting
18-49 aud. 

Aiden Turner/Edyta Sliwinska: Former "All My Children" star, now
"DWTS" eye candy.