Plus, there were the inspiring stories: Paralympic skier Danelle Umstead is the show’s first blind dancer. Instagram model Alexis Ren is competing because the show was a favorite of her mom, who died of breast cancer.
Then, the audience saw perhaps the show’s first roast of host Tom Bergeron. As the cast gathered on “Good Morning America,” Bergeron asked comedian Nikki Glaser, known from her Comedy Central roasts, if she’ll take shots at any of her castmates or judges.
“The judges, my fate lies in their hands. But Tom, I can say a thing about: You’re like Dustin Hoffman but, like, a Men’s Wearhouse version,” Glaser said. “You’re like a Dustin Offman.”
The live audience both gasped and cheered at that zinger. “Love you, Tom!” she added. “You only roast the ones you love, and I love Tom.”
“It’s a long season, and I’ve got a long memory,” Bergeron faux-growled, as GMA’s George Stephanopoulos and Michael Strahan cracked up next to him.
Here’s the complete cast list for this season, which kicks off Sept. 24:
Joe Amabile, 31, “Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise” veteran (partnered with Jenna Johnson)
How you know him: If you do, it’s as “Grocery Store Joe.” When Becca Kufrin inexplicably eliminated this charming Chicago grocery store owner on the first night of last season’s “The Bachelorette,” viewers freaked out, and he has developed a rather intense fan following.
Bobby Bones, 38, country radio personality (partnered with Sharna Burgess)
How you know him: Bones hosts the most popular country music morning show in America, “The Bobby Bones Show,” and was a mentor on “American Idol” last season. He’s also an author and stand-up comedian and has a band called the Raging Idiots.
Juan Pablo Di Pace, 39, actor (partnered with Cheryl Burke)
How you know him: The Argentine-born actor got his start on Spanish TV but landed his breakout role a couple years ago on Netflix’s hit spinoff “Fuller House,” where he plays Kimmy Gibbler’s estranged husband.
Nikki Glaser, 34, comedian (partnered with Gleb Savchenko)
How you know her: She’s the Comedy Central stand-up star and talk show host who appeared on the roasts of Bruce Willis and Rob Lowe, and has a daily Sirius XM radio show called “You Up? With Nikki Glaser.”
Evanna Lynch, 27, actress (partnered with Keo Motsepe)
How you know her: Harry Potter, of course. She landed the coveted role of Luna Lovegood at age 14 and starred in four of the franchise’s movies. As the story goes, she had no professional acting experience and was simply a huge fan of the books.
Milo Manheim, 17, actor (partnered with Witney Carson)
How you know him: You probably don’t, unless you’re a fan of Disney Channel original movie “Zombies.” (Why, yes, he does star as a zombie high school football player.) But you might know his mom, Camryn Manheim of “The Practice” fame.
Nancy McKeon, 52, actress (partnered with Val Chmerkovskiy)
How you know her: Is there any answer besides as Jo from 1980s sitcom “The Facts of Life”? She has also appeared in TV shows from Lifetime cop drama “The Division” to Disney comedy “Sonny With a Chance,” where she played Demi Lovato’s mom.
Alexis Ren, 21, model (partnered with Alan Bersten)
How you know her: She got her start as an Instagram model though eventually made the leap to the pages of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and Maxim.
Mary Lou Retton, 50, Olympic gymnast (partnered with Sasha Farber)
How you know her: From the 1984 Olympics, when she became the first American woman to win the all-around gold medal, and followed it up with four more medals (two silver, two bronze). Fun fact: She was also the first female athlete to appear on a Wheaties box.
John Schneider, 58, actor (partnered with Emma Slater)
How you know him: He was Bo Duke in “The Dukes of Hazzard” in the 1980s and had a decent run at a country music career with several hit singles in that decade.
Tinashe, 25, singer (partnered with Brandon Armstrong)
How you know her: She’s an R&B; singer whose debut album made a splash in 2014. You might have also caught her on TV, as a recurring character in the sixth and seventh seasons of “Two and a Half Men” or Cartoon Network’s “Out of Jimmy’s Head.”
Danelle Umstead, 46, Paralympic downhill skier (partnered with Artem Chigvintsev)
How you know her: She and her husband, Rob, were the first husband-wife visually impaired ski team to compete and medal for Team USA at the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Vancouver. They earned two bronze medals and got another at the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi.
DeMarcus Ware, 36, NFL player (partnered with Lindsay Arnold)
How you know him: He spent nine seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, then left in 2013 for the Denver Broncos, who won the Super Bowl a couple years later. Now, he’s officially retired.