LOS ANGELES - On Wednesday’s Season 9 premiere of "The Masked Singer," a new batch of contestants entered the competition to battle it out, once again, for the coveted title and trophy.
On the series’ first episode, two contestants were forced to "take it off" and be revealed — and this time Gnome and Mustang would be the first celebrities sent home at lightning speed.
Gnome sent home
Gnome was revealed as Dick Van Dyke — the legendary actor and comedian, known for iconic film and television projects including "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "Mary Poppins."
"I just loved it that they [the panelists] thought I was Robert Deniro," Van Dyke told the audience. "I didn’t know Robert Deniro could sing."
Host Nick Cannon called his appearance on the show "such an honor," adding, "We are in the presence of an icon."
Panelist Nicole Scherzinger teared up at the sight of the 97-year-old actor.
"I just love you so much," Scherzinger told the Van Dyke. "The whole world loves you so much. It’s an honor to have you on our show. I can’t believe you’re here."
Panelist Ken Jeong added, "You are one of the reasons I got into comedy. You are comedy ... our greatest reveal ever."
"The Masked Singer" Season 9 premiere featured a double elimination. Knome and Mustang said bye-bye to the TMS stage. (FOX Entertainment)
Mustang sent packing
Mustang was the second contestant revealed and sent home Wednesday evening.
Underneath the mask was country star and multi-platform award-winning artist Sara Evans.
She told the audience she decided to participate in the competition because she loves the show and didnt think there were enough country artists represented.
"Sara, your voice is absolutely beautiful," panelist Jenny McCarthy shared.
Evans — a mother of three children — said that nobody in her family knew she would be on the show, and that they would watch it together as a family.
"It was so fun," she added.
About Season 9 of ‘The Masked Singer’
Season 9 will change up the game with a new "Champion of the Masked Singer" format, meaning every episode will feature a sudden elimination and double unmaskings.
There’s also a new twist entering the competition, the show said. For the first time ever, panelists will have the opportunity to save a singer from looming elimination with the "Ding Dong Keep it On" Bell.
This year, FOX and its creative technology company Blockchain Creative Labs (BCL) also launched "The Masked Singer Experience," an evolution of the singing competition program’s digital fan community with new interactive features, including live show voting polls, token-gated exclusive video content, a points leaderboard and an online rewards store at maskverse.com.
During episodes throughout the season, fans will be able to scan on-air QR codes to play along and vote on which character they believe will progress on to the next round. On February 22, "Star" holders will be able to watch exclusive content featuring behind-the-scenes and confessionals from this season’s contestants, while starting mid-season.
Next week, it's Abba Night!
Medusa returns for her second performance and she'll be competing against Night Owl and Rock Lobster, so stay tuned.
"The Masked Singer" Season 9 airs Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX, followed by an all-new "Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test."
This station is owned by FOX Corporation.