Welcome to the premiere episode of the 10th season of Dancing With the Stars! It seems like just yesterday that we watched Donny Osmond hoist that cheesy mirror ball trophy over this head in triumph. Now, here we are again with a new batch of semi-celebrities eager to humiliate themselves in an attempt to revive their careers (<--only a slight exaggeration) To my great relief, there are only 11 stars this season. I couldn’t keep track of all those people last season.
Even the season just started, we’re already getting a recap. This time, they’re recapping the entire previous mine seasons. Here are the stats: we’ve seen 27 pros, 104 celebrities and 818 routines….but it seems like more.
In honor of the tenth season, ABC has given the set a face lift and brought in a new co-host for Tom Bergeron. Replacing Samantha Harris this season is season 7 champion, Brooke Burke. Tom and Brooke introduce the eleven couples and they all assemble on stage. For those keeping score, it took 3 minutes for them to give us a shot of Vienna (Bachelor Jake’s Chosen One) in the audience.
Partner: Cheryl Burke, two-time DWTS champ
How you know him: Chad is a wide receiver with the Cincinnati Bengals (that’s football, folks), who changed his last name to Ochocinco because 85 is his jersey number.
How I know him: Thank you, Google.
Chad admits his only previous dance experience is in the end zone and then he gets slapped with fines. When they first meet, Chad thinks Cheryl is cool and beautiful, but she makes it obvious from the beginning that she’s very serious about this. Cheryl tells us that their first dance will be the Cha Cha Cha, which is fun and flirty, like Chad. In rehearsal, Cheryl praises Chad for something and he stops her: don’t give praise unless he really does something right. He doesn’t want false encouragement.
Chad and Cheryl dance their Cha Cha Cha to “It's Just Begun” and it’s pretty good. He looks like he has potential and he definitely has the stage presence. He moves well and is nice to look at, so I have no complaints.
Len takes his hat off to Chad, who he says came out like a tiger. He’s a diamond in the rough and needs some more polish, but has great potential. Len tells Chad to work on his posture for the Fox Trot next week.
Bruno says he can see that Chad has huge……..talent. He has a natural affinity for music, although he’s still a bit rough.
Carrie Ann says Chad’s definitely got something that will take him far in the competition. He needs to work on hitting harder and extending his movements, but she definitely wants to see more.
Tom sends Chad and Cheryl off to talk to Brooke in what they’re calling the “celebuquarium.” This is the new version of the lounge where the dancers will be submitted to an awkward interview from the show’s female co-host. This new space is up behind the audience and really does look like a little aquarium. So, Instead of being able to relax on those nice, comfy couches in the old room before and after their performances, they all have to stand in this glass box like they’re on display. Great idea, ABC. Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of this part of the show, whether it’s Samantha or Brooke asking the questions, so I’m pretty much going to ignore it. No one makes any earth-shattering statements there anyway.
Carrie Ann: 6
Partner: Mark Ballas
How you know her: Shannen, famously fired from Beverly Hills 90210 and from Charmed, spent quite a bit of time on tabloid covers during the 90’s. By my count, she’s the third 90210 alum to be on this show. Can Tori Spelling be too far behind?
Shannen tells us she’s doing the show for her dad, who recently had a stroke. He asked her to do the show and she couldn‘t say no. This week, she and Mark will be performing the Viennese Waltz. Mark likens Shannen’s first moments in rehearsal to watching a baby walk for the first time. Shannen admits she’s terrified of being judged and nervous about performing live. We’re talking hives-level nervousness. Mark thinks Shannen shows promise, but he’s going to keep antihistamines on hand, just in case.
Shannen and Mark perform to the Echo and the Bunnyman classic “The Killing Moon,” which the ABC site inexplicably credits to some band called Nouvelle Vague. I don’t know what annoys me more, that ABC chose to butcher this song or that they don’t even know whose song it is. Shannen looks pretty nervous and is much more top heavy than she was the last time I saw her. It’s not bad, but it probably would have looked a lot better if they’d slipped her a valium and given her an extra week or two to rehearse.
Bruno says it was a difficult piece of choreography, especially for show one. The technique required for this dance is hard to get right this early in the season. Shannen’s arms were swinging all over like a primate. Shannen says her dad’s face was all that mattered. Cut to her emotional father in the audience. Bruno softens, saying that Shannen will get better. Carrie Ann was impressed, because she knows Shannen was nervous. It was an ambitious routine. She had a rough start but, as routine progressed, it got better.
Len says the key to the Viennese Waltz is ease and elegance and Shannen portrayed both throughout the dance. She did a good job, but needs to work on lifting her diaphragm and improving her footwork.
Am emotional Shannen says the first person she saw tonight was her dad, who has, at this point, broken down in the audience. She admits that her anxiety with DWTS has to do with the fact that it’s live: with acting, you can always have another take.
Carrie Ann: 6
Partner: Maksim Chmerkovskiy
How you know her: Erin has been a sports reporter on ESPN since 2004, although she’s probably more well-known lately for being videotaped nude in hotel rooms by some creepy pervert.
Maks first meeting with Erin takes place on an ESPN set. She says she was nervous to work with Maks because she knows he’s hard on his partners. She jokingly tells him she asked for Tony. Erin tells us she’s very competitive and is a perfectionist. That becomes clear in rehearsal, where she keeps stopping herself every time she thinks she’s made a mistake. Maks complains that his only pleasure in life is to bitch at people and, by being so hard on herself, Erin is taking his fun away.
Erin dances their Cha Cha Cha wearing a bright yellow fringy thing, which 99% of women should never even look at. Erin pulls it off. Of course, Maks’ shirt is unbuttoned down to there. They definitely have the most beautiful bods on the show. Erin’s footwork is a little off, but she does pretty well. She definitely has potential and looks fantastic on camera. The Maks Factor will likely keep her in the competition until she starts really improving.
Carrie Ann calls Erin a “nice surprise.” They had a great connection. Erin needs to work on her arms and her leg movements need to be sharper. Overall, Carrie Ann was very impressed.
Len calls Erin a “funky monkey,” which I think is a good thing. She has great hips and good movement, but needs to work on straightening her front leg. Overall, it was great. Bruno says it had zest and vitality and he likes that Erin placed her feet right on beat. “You throw your legs in the air beautifully” Bruno praises. As a debut, it was wonderful, he says.
Carrie Ann: 7
Partner: Chelsie Hightower
How you know him: Jake just finished his search for love as the latest single guy looking for “true love” (where “true love” means “sex with as many girls as I can get away with”) on the ABC cheesefest The Bachelor.
From the first second of Jake’s segment, it’s clear that ABC is keeping with the cheesiness. I’ll give you all one guess what Jake brings to Chelsie at their first meeting. A rose. Seriously. Jake says he‘s there because he’s very competitive. Well, that and because he has a pathetic need to be in the media spotlight. Their first dance will be the Viennese Waltz, which Jake naively thought would be easy. He’s now worried because he doesn’t think he’s a great dancer and just feels dumb every day in rehearsal. Chelsie reassures Jake that it’s about making improvements and taking things day-by-day.
Their routine begins and, good grief, he’s got another rose and they’re dancing to, you guessed it, “Kiss from a Rose.” Okay ABC, we get it. Uncle. Chelsie looks lovely in a peach gown, while Jake sports a tux with a tie to match Chelsie’s dress. I was prepared to hate this, but Jake’s actually better than I expected. He’s not going to be mistaken for Fred Astaire or anything, but he doesn’t look like a giraffe in a tux either. The hands are a bit awkward at times and he needs to point his toes, but there’s potential there. When they finish the routine, rose petals fall from ceiling. Oy. Of course, there are the obligatory shots of for-now fiancé Vienna in the audience.
Len thinks Jake moved very well and did a lot of dancing while in holds, which is good. He does need to work on his posture and stop sticking his bum out. Overall, the footwork was good.
Bruno advises Jake to calm down – it’s only week 1. Jake doesn’t need to be so rough with Chelsie. Honestly, most of what Bruno said tonight was a mystery to me.
Carrie Ann is impressed. We all know that Jake can do romance, Carrie Ann says, but she didn’t expect this. His lines were good and he looked like he was having a good time. He does have to work on his posture, but, overall he did a good job.
Carrie Ann: 7
Brooke asks Jake if performing on live TV was more nerve-wracking than proposing and he emits some schmalz about how proposing to Vienna was the honor of his life. Gag.
Partner: Louis Van Amstel
How you know her: Niecy hosts Clean House and starred on Reno 911 and I had no idea who she was until a few days ago.
How I know her: Google.
Niecy tells us that she was always the chubbiest girl in class and was once kicked out of a dance performance in the 8th grade because of her weight. Niecy tells Louis that she’s worried about losing weight on this show like many other celebrities do. She likes her jiggly parts and doesn’t know how she feels about losing them. She then tells us that she wants to prove that the chubby girl in the back of the room can grow up to be a nice, thick, grown woman who stands in the front.
Niecy and Louis dance their Cha Cha Cha to “Rescue Me.” It’s a bit slow, but Niecy definitely has personality. There’s definitely no stage fright with this one. Plus, it looks like Louis is having a ball and that’s always a good thing. Niecy cries happy tears when they finish.
Bruno says something, but it’s hard to hear him over the screams of the crowd. Plus, his accent seems to have gotten thicker this season, if that’s possible,
Carrie Ann says the energy was fantastic. It was a simple, clean routine and she had the technique down….. and then she added the personality.
Len agrees that the routine was clean, clear and precise, but thinks it was also a bit uneventful – nothing happened. He calls it a flat Cha Cha Cha, but Niecy says she’s just happy she remembered the routine.
Niecy says she’s happy she got bite of burger the before performance and that she remembered the routine. She then dedicates her performance to the big girls out there.
Carrie Ann: 7
Partner: Anna Trebunskaya
How you know him: He just won a gold medal in Men’s Figure Skating at the Vancouver Olympics. No pressure on Evan, but I think every other Olympic gold medalist who’s done DWTS has won the whole thing.
Evan’s coach, Frank Carroll tells us that Evan works harder than anyone else and that’s what makes him great. Evan tells us that DWTS is his opportunity to silence the people who say he’s just a technical skater and has no dance ability. His first meeting with Anna is in Vancouver, probably days after he won his gold medal. Man, ABC sure jumped on that one, didn’t they? Evan tells us he’s happy to have a Russian partner, but is hoping she won’t hold his win against a Russian skater against him. In rehearsal, the first problem emerges – the spins in the Viennese Waltz are in the opposite direction from his spins in figure skating.
Evan and Anna dance their Viennese Waltz to Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be,” which I’m sure even Edwin McCain is sick of hearing. Evan looks dashing in tux and tails, with white tie, while Anna is wearing a lavender dress with a pattern usually reserved for shower curtains. Of course, Evan has lovely extension and good arms. This dance really shows off what makes him a good skater. He may not think he can dance. But he can.
Carrie Ann screams. Evan is good and has gorgeous lines. She tells him that he’s not in skating boots, so he needs to learn to point his toes. Then he needs to work on his connection with Anna and the audience.
Len says Evan has great musicality and good posture, but the suit may be covering some flaws. He does have clumsy feet and needs to work on the chemistry between them.
Bruno thinks Evan has the wingspan of 747. It was graceful and Evan used the space beautifully. Bruno agrees that Evan needs to work on his connection with Anna, but says the routine was wonderful.
Carrie Ann: 8
Partner: Ashley Costa (nee DelGrosso), who clearly has angered one of the producers, who haven’t given her a good partner since Joey McIntyre. Think I’m making that up? Two words: Master P (okay, one word and a letter). Two more words: Harry Hamlin. This girl can’t catch a break.
How you know him: He walked on the freaking moon, meaning he is the baddest cat on the show. Who’s going to top walking on the moon? No one, that’s who.
Buzz’ wife states the obvious: he’s always been a risk taker. DWTW is just another risk. Buzz tells us how cute he thought Ashley was when he first met her, which might have sounded creepy coming from anyone else. This week, they’ll be performing the Cha Cha Cha and Ashley tells us that Buzz is in great shape. She’s more worried about him remembering the steps.
Their routine, danced to “Cupid,” involves lots of Buzz walking and letting Ashley do the work, but I can’t even bring myself to criticize it. He’s 80 and he’s Buzz Aldrin.
Len remembers sitting at home and watching buzz walking on moon. He commends for his bravery, but he can’t give marks for bravery.
Bruno can’t criticize a hero and legend either. Buzz did the Cha Cha Cha, but it looked like he still had his moon boots on. Bruno is sure Buzz will be better next week.
Carrie Ann asked if there was that a little moon walk in there. She then talks about how great the show is and how it inspired people to get out and do things. She thinks Buzz inspired a lot of people tonight.
Carrie Ann: 5
Partner: Derek Hough
How you know her: Nicole was the lead singer of The Pussycat Dolls, but some FoRTers may remember her from the reality show Popstars and the resulting singing group Eden’s Crush, which disappeared into obscurity about 3 weeks after their first CD was released. If you squint, Nicole looks exactly like Kim Kardashian.
Nicole claims she prayed to get Derek as a partner. I have to admit that I find Nicole rather boring, as evidenced by that fact that I barely took any notes during this segment. This week, Nicole and Derek will be performing the Viennese Waltz, which Nicole says is completely different from anything she’s ever done. Frankly, though she doesn’t look like she’s really struggling in rehearsal.
Nicole and Derek dance to a song called “Hold You In My Arms,“ which I either don’t know or which has been rendered completely unrecognizable by the DWTS band. There are a few little breaks, but overall, she looks like she’s in week 5. Can you say ringer? Derek does his usual mugging, probably because he knows that, unless one of them breaks a limb, he’s got a lock on the final 3.
Bruno thinks season 10 has taken off big time. He cites Nicole’s finesse and says he’s astounded.
Carrie Ann says the bar for season 10 has been set. The dance was emotional and passionate. She’s never seen a routine, out of the gate, like that.
Len disagrees with Bruno and Carrie Ann, saying there was a lot of façade to hide the imperfections. The dance lacked musicality and Nicole needs to work on her technique.
Carrie Ann: 9
Len: a grumpy 7
Partner: Edyta Sliwinska
How you know him: Aiden played the cleverly named Aidan on All My Children for about 8 years, during which time his character slept with numerous women but, shockingly, failed to father any illegitimate children. I’d watch him read a phone book for ten hours.
Aiden tells us he likes to challenge himself. He’s tried skydiving and bungee jumping, so DWTS seemed like the next logical step. He brings a bouquet of flowers to meet Edyta for the first time, causing, I’m sure, women all over the country to swoon (just speculation, of course). As they start rehearsing, Aiden realizes that he isn’t as tough as he thought he was: the Cha Cha Cha is brutal. So we know he’s cute and charming – he has Edyta in stitches in rehearsal – but can he dance? What are the odds?
They dance to “Hungry Like the Wolf” and I almost hit the mute button to block out this massacre of one of the anthems of my teen years. Edyta is clad in her usual fringe, but with a new twist. The leotard underneath is nude, so every time she spins, it’s like a little peep show. Aiden is, sadly, just in black. They have good chemistry and Aiden is a sexy beast but, alas, he’s not terribly musical. When they finish, the camera cuts to some of his All My Children cast members, including Chrishell Stause, girlfriend to Graham Bunn from Deanna’s season of [i]The Bachelorette[/b]. ABC loves this kind of cross pollination.
Carrie Ann liked their approach and gusto, but says the routine felt disjointed. The dance just didn’t go anywhere: Aiden was doing all the moves and was on the beat, but he showed no musicality. Next week, she hopes to see better.
Len knows that a dancer is in there somewhere, but the routine was full of everything he didn’t like. He urges Aiden to come back next week and do a proper Fox Trot
Bruno complains that the routine had nothing going in the groin. Aiden was stiff as a plank. Those two comments were, I’m sure, unrelated. Bruno says it was like watching Kenny Mayne all over again. I’ll beg to differ there. Not once did I ever wish Kenny would rip his shirt off.
Carrie Ann: 5
VictimPartner: Tony Dovolani
How you know her: Kate gets paid to berate her now ex-husband and 8 children on TV. As I do not like Kate, I’m going to use this recapping opportunity to mock her relentlessly for as long as she remains on the show.
Kate proclaims herself “scared” of the Viennese Waltz, probably because she can’t yell at it or intimidate it with her icy cold stare. In rehearsal, we see Kate looking like she’d rather have a colonoscopy and Tony looking slightly alarmed. Kate says she’s having trouble with the steps and is not in good head space. I have to wonder if she’s ever in a good head space. Tony finally confronts her and says that it’s not really clear if she even wants to be there. Kate whines that her insecurity is eating her alive, but that she does want to be there. I fantasize about Tony slapping her and shouting “Snap out of it!” Maybe they edited that part out.
Wearing Pepto pink and a fake smile, Kate takes to stage with Tony to dance their Viennese Waltz set to Billy Joel’s “Always a Woman.” It’s extremely awkward and wooden and Kate has a fake half smile pasted on throughout. It is not good. I don’t think Kate likes not being in control. Maybe if Tony let her lead.
Len likens the first dance is like a first date: you don’t know what to expect and you want to impress, but you’re nervous. Kate looked nervous. She needs to get over that and come out and enjoy the experience.
Bruno acknowledges that this is a whole new world for Kate. Her technique was terrible but, more importantly, she needs to learn to perform. It looked like Tony was pushing a shopping cart around the dance floor. Kate needs to exude something. I’d say she’s doing fine exuding: she looks like she wants to jump over the judge’s table and murder Bruno right now.
Carrie Ann plays good cop, saying that Kate is very different from the other stars: she’s not a performer or an athlete (or a human), so this is all new to her. Carrie Ann claims to be impressed with Kate’s performance and says there was a “sweet vulnerability” to the dance. She still has a long way to go, but next week, who knows?
Carrie Ann: 6
Now that first dance is out of the way, Kate claims she’s honored to be there and glad the first dance is over. She’s not the only one.
Partner: Damian Whitewood, new to the show this season
How you know her: You’ve probably seen Pam running down a beach in slo-motion on Baywatch or you know, watched the sex tape she made with now ex-husband Tommy Lee.
Pam says she’s doing the show for her Auntie Vie, who was a dancer and claims she’ll be happy if she can get through one dance. She says she has zero dance experience and no rhythm, so that may be a tall order. This will be the first time Pam’s had to learn choreography and, while Damian thinks she has potential, she still lacks confidence. Ah, what to say about newbie stud Damian….. by all appearances, he’s about 5’4”. I say appearances, because I actually looked up Pam on IMDB and found that she’s actually 5’7”. Who knew? This means that Damian is not quite the Lilliputian I thought he was.
They dance the Cha Cha Cha to the ZZ Top classic “Gimme All Your Lovin’” and Pam clearly forgot to brush her hair, although she seems to have doubled up on the bronzer. Damian is in classic black, while Pam is wearing hot pink fringe. It’s not horrible, although it feels a little “soft core porn” to me. I half expect Pam to start humping Damian’s leg. Still, there’s hope for her, if she learns to point her feet and get her hair out of her face.
Bruno can only think of sex, sex, sex and proclaims “Stripperella is back!” He can’t wait for next week.
Carrie Ann says that, of all the contestants, she’s been most eager to see Pam and she did not disappoint. Dance is a lot about having fun and Pam did. She was fully engaged, to the point that it might have been a bit much.
Len says the cast of celebs has been brilliant tonight. He then says that Pam was, overall, a mess. Maybe she was a brilliant mess.
Pam looks both exhausted and maybe a little drunk.
Carrie Ann: 7
Bruno: a sexed up 8
Here’s how the leader board looks at the end of this first night of competition.
Nicole & Derek: 25
Evan & Anna: 23
Erin & Maks: 21
Pam & Damian: 21
Jake & Chelsie: 20
Chad & Cheryl: 18
Niecy & Louis: 18
Shannen & Mark: 18
Kate & Tony: 16
Aiden & Edyta: 15
Buzz & Ashly: 14
I’ll see you back here next week for the second night of competition, after which one of the couples will be going home. I know who’s on my wish list!