Dancing With the Stars Season 29 began on Monday night with many major changes, and not just in the hosting position. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, there was no audience in the ballroom, creating an eery experience for fans at home. ABC and the show's producers followed the precedent set by pro sports broadcasts by adding fake audience noise. They even played booing when judge Bruno Tonioli gave Chrishell Stause criticism.
This season is the first hosted by Tyra Banks, who replaced co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews. The judges' table was also stretched out to allow for social distancing, and the celebrities were not gathering on the balcony together after each dance. Former pro dancer Derek Hough was brought in at the last moment as a new judge since Len Goodman could not travel to the U.S. due to coronavirus travel restrictions. Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba did return to judge the new season, with Tonioli showing off his silver hair color.
Hough actually has experience with coronavirus safety measures. In March, he was still working on World of Dance for NBC just as the coronavirus pandemic began. The show's finale was also filmed without a season, and the finale was filmed a day earlier than planned. Hough told Variety fans at home would not really notice many of the changes. "For me, the one thing I would kind of miss if I was a pro and if I was teaching a celebrity is [for] the celebrity to feel what it feels like to dance in front of — even just hundreds of people — just a live audience," Hough said. "There's something really special about that. But for the people at home, you're not going to feel the difference."
Fake crowd noise .. not just for sports anymore 😳 #DWTS— Marilyn Payne (@marilyn_payne) September 15, 2020
Okay #dwts tooooo loud and too much piped in fake crowd noises. It’s distracting— Michele (@mnmPineapple) September 15, 2020
Please tell me @Tom_Bergeron and @ErinAndrews are waiting in the wings. @tyrabanks is just not cutting it, sorry. #DWTS OH, and the fake crowd sounds are drowning everything out. This is trash.@JustinaMachado is the only chance for this show to survive— Todd J Daly (@ToddJDaly) September 15, 2020
I miss both @Tom_Bergeron & @ErinAndrews and I don't understand why they need to have the fake crowd noise so loud, it makes it harder to understand anyone speaking. I'm not wowed by any of this yet. #DWTS @DancingABC https://t.co/eiuAe2irm9— Dave H 🌈 (@bddavemci) September 15, 2020