Spoilers ahead for the October 19 episode of Dancing with the Stars Season 29 on ABC.
Dancing with the Stars is down to its final ten dancers of Season 29, following six weeks of celebrities strutting their stuff and five already being sent home. The October 19 episode ended with a heartbreaking elimination for Vernon Davis and Peta Murgatroyd after winding up in the final two with Johnny Weir and Britt Stewart, and there are moments to remember from each of the numbers, but the highlight of the evening might have been judge Derek Hough, and I'm ready to officially say that Dancing with the Stars needs to keep him.
Although Derek Hough made a name for himself on Dancing with the Stars with his dancing abilities, sticking around for 17 seasons and holding a record as a dance pro partner, his return for Season 29 involves sitting rather than spinning. He stepped up to fill the third judge chair when 76-year-old longtime judge Len Goodman wasn't able to travel between the United Kingdom and United States for the show due to pandemic travel restrictions.
Derek Hough taking Len Goodman's place would have been a huge change in any other season, but Hough is such a veteran of DWTS that him coming in as a judge didn't result in nearly as much of an outcry (for better or worse) as Tyra Banks stepping in to replace both Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews. Banks has had some missteps over the season so far, but Hough has slipped right into place, and he has the banter with the other judges down as well as the technical expertise to give valuable critiques of the dance duos.
That's not to say that Len Goodman wasn't a stellar judge, but I surprised myself this season by not actually missing him, and I think that's much more to do with enjoying Derek Hough at the judges' table than disliking anything that Goodman brought to the show. Hough brings some fresh blood to the panel, which I didn't know I needed. Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli are mainstays who have been around from the very beginning, but Hough is just livening things up in the best way for me.
And the man can dance! I can admit that it's no coincidence that my advocating for Derek Hough to stick around Dancing with the Stars after Season 29 happens right after he hit the floor as a dancer for the first time in three years. He and girlfriend Hayley Erbert, who was a Dancing with the Stars pro partner back in Seasons 21 and 22, dominated the DWTS floor with an unforgettable performance that will likely leave longtime fans remembering why Hough holds the record as the DWTS pro with the most mirrorball wins.
Even if Derek Hough doesn't stick around as a judge and Len Goodman is able to return, I hope Dancing with the Stars finds a way and reason to keep him in the mix. Of course, Hough has spent four seasons so far over on NBC as one of the judges of World of Dance, alongside Jennifer Lopez and Ne-Yo, so we can only wait and see what the future holds.