Tonight kicks off season eight of Dancing with the Stars. Even before one second has aired live, the show was making entertainment headlines. As John reported last week, Jewel and Nancy O’Dell had to drop out due to serious injuries. Of course, we wish them well. Replacements were brought in, but they only had days to rehearse. That’s going to make this first week rough for them. Furthermore, we don’t even know who they are. I’m quite curious to learn who they will be myself. So let’s get started.
I see we have a slightly redesigned staircase and band area. Looks nice.
Lil’ Kim & Derek Hough – Cha Cha – Right off the bat, Derek is talking about incorporating some of her hip hop dance moves into their routine. Has he learned nothing from past seasons? Len will never got for it and the others judges are unpredictable. Yep, the dance is falling into the hip hop as Cha Cha trap. Len won’t like it. I wasn’t as big a fan as I normally am of Derek’s choreography. I did like the Cha Cha I saw in there, so if they focus on the dances at hand, I think they’ve got a shot. And yet, Len surprised me. He said he thought it was first class. He did pick on some thing like posture, but he was mostly encouraging. Bruno talked about some stumbles but said it was overall strong. Carrie Ann told her to stop worrying about it being a different form of dance and let it all out. So I’m starting off the season grumpier than the judges. That’s not a good sign.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 7 Len – 7 Bruno – 7 Total – 21 I could have predicted that after hearing the judges’ mostly praising comments. Plus they seem to like to give this score to start out.
Belinda Carlisle & Jonathan Roberts – Waltz – Belinda has problems spinning. That won’t make this show, or her first dance, easy for her. Of course, it looks like Jonathan is taking that into account with his choreography. Yes, they are spinning, but he is allowing her more chances to rest and get her bearings while making it look like part of the show. This wasn’t a dance that blew me away, but I see the potential to grow. It was smooth and elegant. I liked it. Bruno said she started out as Julie Andrews but turned into Cloris Leachman – turning heavy and plodding. Carrie Ann said it wasn’t that bad but she does need to work on trusting Jonathan to lead her. Len thought there was some grace and elegance with a few awkward moments in there.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 6 Len – 6 Bruno – 5 Total – 17 I expected Bruno to be a step lower than the other two, but I thought it might be 7’s and a 6. Frankly, I thought this dance was better.
Lawrence Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska – Cha Cha – He said he was scared of making a fool out of himself on the dance floor. I don’t think he did that, but he was looking a bit stiff and very nervous. Not that I’d look any better out there. But it wasn’t the confident debut he hoped for. Again, I see potential, so I hope he sticks around. He knows it wasn’t that great, too. Carrie Ann started out asking if he lived up to football standards on the dance floor, and he was the one to say no. Of course, she did agree, saying he needed to get bigger. Len says he has a natural approach that was fun but lacked the crispness it should have. Bruno said he couldn’t even find the dance in there. Again, he’ll be a step below the other two.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 6 Len – 5 Bruno – 5 Total – 16 So Carrie Ann was the one who was a step away from the others. I’m okay with these scores, however. If he wants to stick around, he’s got a long way to go.
Steve-O & Lacey Schwimmer – Waltz – Well, this ought to make for an interesting match – rebel Lacey with someone like Steve-O. I’m hoping to be surprised, but I will admit I am predisposed to be rooting against them. Pure prejudice, so let’s see them prove me wrong. And they had me laughing right out of the gate with that hand stand flip to start. But then they got serious. Okay, so Steve-O looked like he was trying not to crack a smile the whole time, but the dance was elegant for the most part. I would say it was better than the last two, but let’s see what the judges say. Len admired him for trying and had expected worse, so he liked the routine. Unfortunately, he did see lots of technical flaws. Bruno and Carrie Ann said the same thing, with Carrie Ann praising his determination.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 6 Len – 5 Bruno – 6 Total – 17 So the judges thought the last three dances were about the same. You know, if the two replacements try, they just might have a chance.
Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke – Cha Cha – Who turned up the heat. I don’t normally think of the Cha Cha as one of the super sexy dances on the show, but this one certainly was. And this one was the most polished we’ve seen so far. Gilles might not have as big a built in fan base as the others on the show, but the judges’ scores should be high enough to get him through the first few weeks. Carrie Ann loved it, saying he had so much potential and basically praising it. Bruno called it sharp and sexy. Len said it was great choreography well executed.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 8 Bruno – 8 Total – 24 The best score so far, and well earned. Hopefully, they’ll get enough votes to keep them around.
Chuck Wicks & Julianne Hough – Waltz – Now this is going to be an interesting couple to watch since they are dating in real life. That personal relationship might get in the way or it might give them a better basis to work from. Unfortunately, it does seem to be getting in the way, at least at first. Those problems don’t seem to translate to the dance floor. That was a nice looking waltz with lots of polish. Of course, I did have the problem I always have; I just can’t take my eyes off Julianne. I hope Chuck realizes how many jealous men there are in the country. I was able to watch enough to see that major lift at the end. That will cost them, at least with Carrie Ann. Bruno said it looked good at times, but at times it looked like he was chasing her. Len praised his footwork, but said he needed to smooth it out and work on his posture. Carrie Ann said he might be one of the most graceful men they’ve had on the show in a long time, but did indeed point out that lift.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 6 Len – 7 Bruno – 7 Total – 20 I’m betting they could have tied with Lil’ Kim and Derek if they hadn’t had that lift.
Holly Madison & Dmitry Chaplin – Cha Cha – I feel sorry for her because not only does she only have a week to do this, but Dmitry is also one of the new pros so he doesn’t have the experience to fall back on. But for all they had working against them, I’d say they recovered very well. I noticed some missteps, but I thought that was better than some of the dances we’ve already seen. Len said it wasn’t bad, but it needs great improvement. He thinks she can do it. Carrie Ann says she has great charisma and goes for the moves, but her legs are a bit wobbly. Bruno said parts of it were quite good but she did loose timing. Still, he encouraged her to keep working hard.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 6 Len – 6 Bruno – 6 Total – 18 She’s already looking forward to improving next week. That’s the best attitude she can have right now. Honestly, I see more potential for her then some of the others. Here’s hoping she lives up to it.
Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower – Cha Cha – Another new pro and another pro from So You Think You Can Dance. Ty seemed stiff in the rehersals, but he is holding his own here. I guess it’s a case of expectations because I was expecting worse than this. He’s still got a ways to go if he wants to make it very far. And he seemed to stiffen up as the dance went on. Normally it’s the other way around. This won’t be pretty. Bruno said it looked more like a military drill than a dance. Len praised him for trying even if it wasn’t good. Carrie Ann praised him for letting go and having fun even if his dancing needs much more work.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 5 Len – 4 Bruno – 5 Total – 14 Amazing. After the way Bruno attacked that dance, I expected him to be lower if any of them were lower. The audience booed but Ty certainly thinks it is a fair score. I think we have a contender for first to go. I’m glad Jewel will be there to sing at next week’s elimination because I will be surprised if her husband sticks around longer than that. And this isn’t because he isn’t trying. He’s just not as good as the others.
Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas – Waltz – Shawn came off as giggly during the backstage stuff, but she is pulling off the dance just fine. She is smiling the entire time. She was an early favorite of mine because I figured a gymnast would have the ability to pick up these dances. This was smooth and romantic. I expect she will go far. Carrie Ann was truly moved. Bruno said it was elegant, but she was moving a bit too quick at time. Len said it was fantastic over all while agreeing with Bruno.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 8 Bruno – 7 Total – 23 This is the second highest score so far. Well deserved and I think she will go far.
Steve Wozniak & Karina Smirnoff – Cha Cha – Seriously? The co-founder of Apple is a star? Okay, they’ve had some other business men on before. Rant over now. That was just painful. You know all that stuff I just said about Ty? I take it back. Or at least I amend it. He’s got some competition in that bottom of the barrel slot. Len said it held his attention, was fun, but overall it was a disaster. Bruno doesn’t know if it was hilarious or delirious. Carrie Ann praised him for doing something outside his comfort zone.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 5 Len – 4 Bruno – 4 Total – 13 Yep, Ty and Steve are going to be neck and neck for first person eliminated from the season. I do think they are trying (unlike some people who have been on the show in the past).
David Alan Grier & Kym Johnson – Waltz – David seemed a little too intent on making jokes during rehearsal. But at some point, he must have learned something because he did a good job. It was looking smooth for the most part. I did notice a couple awkward steps and resteps like he had los his balance. If he works at it, he could improve, but it will definitely take some hard work on his part. Bruno said at times it looked great, but at times he leaned over too far. And he had too many characters in his face. Carrie Ann picked up on the same thing. Len said there was far more good than bad. And Carrie Ann mentioned a lift I missed.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 6 Len – 7 Bruno – 6 Total – 19 This definitely puts him in the top half of the standings. There’s lots of room to improve, but he should be around for a few weeks to do just that.
Denise Richards & Maksim Chmerkovskiy – Cha Cha – This is another strong performance. I wouldn’t have necessarily picked her to be one of the front runners, but based on that hot, strong routine, I think she’ll go far. Carrie Ann, on the other hand, thought she looked terrified out there despite how strong she danced. Len said it was a bit too loose. Bruno says she has it all but doesn’t quite know what to do with it yet. Obviously, there was quite a bit I missed.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 6 Len – 6 Bruno – 6 Total – 18 So it wasn’t as strong as I thought it was. Hopefully, she’ll take the comments to heart and build from here next week.
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani – Waltz – You’d think they’d have played up the fact that someone who was on this station in this time slot last week was back before this episode aired tonight. Then again, she only signed up 48 hours ago. I don’t know if I could go out there with so little time. I certainly couldn’t go out there and look that polished and posed. Wow. When she actually has time to rehearse, the rest of the cast had better watch out. She’s going to go far. And Nancy O’Dell gave her a standing ovation. They did no intro on her at all (something about so little time I am sure), but I would be interested to know if she has any dance background at all. Len said she was on her toes when she should have been on her heels, belying a ballet background. That would explain a lot. Bruno praised it and Carrie Ann said she needed to work on her emotions a bit more. They did confirm backstage that she has had ballet, so that gave her an edge tonight. Maybe I won’t be signing her praises quite as much next week.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 8 Len – 7 Bruno – 8 Total – 23 That puts her up near the top. I think the two substitutes could really go far in this thing. We’ll have to see how the rest of the season goes for her.
So, here are the standings after tonight.
Gilles – 24
Shawn – 23
Melissa – 23
Lil’ Kim – 21
Chuck – 20
David – 19
Holly – 18
Denise – 18
Belinda – 17
Steve-O – 17
Lawrence – 16
Ty – 14
Steve – 13
And that’s it for this week. The first elimination isn’t until next Tuesday. I’ll be out of town until Tuesday afternoon, but I’ll get a post up covering next week’s dances and the first elimination of the season, including the bottom two dance off. (Frankly, I’m just glad they’ll be bringing back the bottom two. Makes my guessing so much easier.)