What’s Worth Watching: So They Know They Can Dance

Americas Ballroom Challege
Courtesy of Jeffrey Dunn/PBS
Americas Ballroom Challege

America’s Ballroom Challenge, “Hour One” (Friday, April 24, 9/8c, PBS; check local listings)

With considerably less screaming than she exhibited during her long tenure on So You Think You Can Dance, Mary Murphy slows down her “hot tamale train” to cohost (with fellow former U.S. dance champion Tony Meredith) the classy three-part dance competition America’s Ballroom Challenge, returning to PBS after a six-year hiatus. “These couples are dazzling!” Murphy gushes as she sets the stage for the contest to select “America’s Best” ballroom couple from a dance floor in Columbus, Ohio (a bit of a homecoming as well for Murphy, a native Buckeye).

The opening hour presents six couples each in the American Smooth and American Rhythm divisions, attempting to stand out in six-ring-circus group rounds before moving on to individual show dances. The following week will spotlight the elegant International Standard dancers and the saucier International Latin specialists. In the May 8 finale, the four championship couples from each division will face off to display their versatility, with one couple reigning—perhaps to emerge someday as pros on Dancing With the Stars? Stranger things have happened.