Join us as we dive into the next chapter in the Masked extended TV universe.
The Masked Singer
Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

We're still not over The Masked Singer. In fact, we've been replaying Sun's performances over and over since she won and was revealed as LeAnn Rimes in the season 4 finale. But transitioning to its spin-off event The Masked Dancer wasn't so bad, as we saw basically the same faces from TMS (which will be back in 2021).

Ken Jeong, who's the de facto Fox mascot at this point, returned to his familiar spot at the panelists' table alongside TMS season 4's Giraffe, a.k.a. Brian Austin Green. Hosting the shindig was Craig Robinson, who's been a guest panelist on the show's "brother from another mother." Really the only new additions to the Masked extended television universe were Paula Abdul and Ashley Tisdale, who joined Jeong and Green as panelists.

The structure of this nine-episode program will be familiar to TMS watchers — 10 masked contestants compete in two groups, until they're whittled down to a Super Six and eventually to three finalists. The major difference between the shows — besides the dancing — is that there are more opportunities for contestants to reveal clues. There are hints in clue packages and choreography, plus panelists get to hear one word from the dancers' real voices and ask them questions.

Before we get into the recap, I must disclaim that I know very little about dance terminology, so you will be reading a lot of "he did his thing"s and "she sure busted a move"s, because I rarely know exactly what kind of move anyone is busting.

Anyway, tonight we met the competitors from Group A: Hammerhead, Tulip, Cricket, Disco Ball, and Exotic Bird. The very ripped shark danced to Backstreet Boys' "Everybody," and then we heard his real voice. It threw me off as he's built like a Jersey Shore guido but his voice belonged to someone The Situation would've probably thrown into a locker back in high school.

While we don't know who he is, "all we do know is that Hammerhead nailed it," Robinson said, taking a page from the Nick Cannon School of Hosting.

Then, dancing to Fergie's "Fergalicious" was Tulip, who seemed young based off the "ok bloomer" in the clue package, the steps straight out of a TikTok dance challenge, and even the TikTok symbol she made with her hands/petals on stage. Tulip will be one of the contestants to beat, as her grace and energy, not to mention the expert tap dancing, made it clear she's not a stranger to the dance floor.

Going third was Cricket, who grooved to the Pointer Sisters' "Jump for My Love," followed by Disco Ball as he boogied to Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk." The latter was a bit stiff, but going by the panelists' aggressive positivity, you would've thought he was doing Olympic-worthy back handsprings. And you thought the judges were too nice on The Masked Singer!

Finally, Exotic Bird danced (in heels, no less) to "Con Calma - Remix" by Daddy Yankee, Katy Perry, and Snow.

The first contestant to be eliminated was ... Disco Ball!

Green guessed he was LL Cool J, Jeong said Smokey Robinson, Abdul said Ving Rhames, and Tisdale predicted he was Lionel Richie.

Disco Ball was unmasked and revealed as rapper and actor Ice-T!

Clues pointing to the Law & Order: SVU star include saying he was ready to "serve and protect" as well as showing a shark fin in reference to his SVU character Odafin "Fin" Tutuola, saying he wanted to show off his "true colors" (the rapper has a song called "Colors" from the 1988 movie of the same name), his Word Up clue "Grammy" (he has one win and three nominations), and his name was literally in the clue package when they showed a pitcher of ice tea!

Ice-T told EW in his exit interview that he only had two hours to learn the choreography, and when it came time to perform the mask has so heavy his only concern was staying upright. "I threw all the choreography out the window. I said I just don't want to bust my ass on national television like that. That would be the nightmare."

The Masked Dancer will introduce us to Group B's Sloth, Ice Cube, Zebra, Cotton Candy, and Miss Moth on Wednesday, Jan. 6, and will continue to air on the same day moving forward.

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