This past Monday, ABC’s competition show Dancing With the Stars banked some serious geek cred. If you’ve ever watch the show, the cast usually includes some has beens, some people you’ve never heard of, and almost always some sort of athlete that you may or may not know. That’s not entirely the case with the latest season, those of us within a certain age range will recognize a certain scrawny, suspender-wearing gentleman. Who am I talking about, you may ask yourself, why none other than Bill Nye the Science Guy, that’s who! I don’t like to use exclamation points, but this totally deserves one, and now you can watch him take the floor for the first time.
You’ve probably guessed this from the title, but if you’re not familiar with the program, Dancing With the Stars pairs celebrities—sometimes in a very loose sense of the word—with competitive dancers. Nye happens to be paired with Tyne Stecklein, a former cast member with the High School Musical touring company.
Normally I could give two shits about your run of the mill reality programs, or any of the myriad competition shows that infest the airwaves these days. This, on the other hand, may have my attention, at least in a cursory fashion. Not just because of Bill Nye, though that has a large part to play in it, but also because the cast includes Elizabeth Berkeley, and I love me some Saved By the Bell. So there’s that.
Nye is a well-known fan of swing dancing, so he’s not a total virgin when it comes to the task at hand. This is something I know nothing about, so I have no comment on the quality of his performance, but he and his pretty blond partner apparently danced a cha cha. That’s what they tell me anyway. And of course, right out of the gate, they had him dance to a cover of Oingo Boingo’s “Weird Science.” You know as soon as his casting was announced they had some intern working on a nerd-centric playlist. Before he’d gone I fully anticipate hearing a version of Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science.” Let’s hope he sticks around long enough to get through the entire mixtape.
Most of you probably know Nye from his Mr. Wizard-style kids show, Bill Nye the Science Guy, where he walks kids through scientific concepts and experiment. It’s a phenomenal program for kids of all ages. But the former engineer at Boeing—he develop a hydraulic pressure resonance suppressor for the 747—got his start on a Seattle variety show called Almost Live. That’s where the Science Guy persona originated, but he also played such memorable characters as Speed Walker, and was one of the “High Fiving White Guys.” Almost Live wasn’t very good, and holds up even worse after time, but I loved it when I was in elementary school and junior high, and the fact that a local program spawned a national celebrity (Community’s Joel McHale also started there, it’s like a launch pad to superstardom) was a weird point of pride. He’s also a crusader for all things scientific, especially continued space exploration.