Hang onto your fringe pants, season 10 is here – complete with a new cast, new dancers, a new backstage holding tank, and a new co-host. The premiere started by reminding us exactly how long we’ve been watching the show (that’s 818 dances to date, in case you’re counting), and then it was off to the races!
Chad Ochocinco and Cheryl Burke – Cha Cha – Ochocinco comes into this season as one of the heavy fan favorites, and it’s clear from his performance that he’s going to stay that way. This was a fun, energetic start to the show. Ochocinco still needs some work polishing his moves (like most tall guys, he needs to watch his shoulders and stand up straight), but overall, it was a strong routine that had Bruno jumping out of his chair by the second 8-count. Len called Chad a “rough diamond” but called out his posture, Bruno said he has natural talent but needs to be sharper, and Carrie Ann claimed “something raw is happening.” Scores: 6-6-6.
Shannen Doherty and Mark Ballas – Viennese Waltz – Shannen is lacking a certain amount of natural grace, which is a problem in the classical dances. She’s obviously trying very hard, but those arms! Those arms! Eeek! That being said, Mark is one of the most capable partners here, and I think he can whip her into shape in the next few weeks. Bruno noted how difficult the choreography was, Carrie Ann was impressed by how Shannen overcame her nerves, and Len called the routine clean and elegant. Scores: 6-6-6.
Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy – Cha Cha – Choo choo! Hot tamale train coming through! (whoops, wrong dancing show). It’s clear from their rehearsal footage that Erin and Maks have great chemistry and are totally charming together. As for the dance, it was pretty good for Erin’s first time out. There were a couple stumbles, and she fell off the beat at one point, but it’s clear that she has a lot to offer on this show and I look forward to seeing what these two do next. Carrie Ann praised her movement but said she needs to work on her arms, Len said she did a great job but her legs are too wide sometimes, and Bruno called her out (correctly) for having previous dance experience – it shows. Scores: 7-7-7.
Jake Pavelka and Chelsie Hightower – Viennese Waltz – Hey, did you know Jake was on The Bachelor? No? That’s okay, because he’s going to meet Chelsie at the airport with a rose, then they will dance to “Kiss from a Rose,” with Chelsie wearing a rose-colored gown as rose petals fall from the ceiling. Get it – roses? Because he’s the Bachelor? Oy. As for the dance – Chelsie is one of the best choreographers here, and she put together a strong routine. I think Jake shows a lot of promise, but his negativity could be a turnoff to viewers at home. Len said Jake needs to keep his bum tucked in, Bruno said he needs to calm down (pot, meet kettle), and Carrie Ann said she was impressed and that his lines were gorgeous. Scores: 7-7-7.
Niecy Nash and Louis Van Amstel – Cha Cha – I don’t know what happened to Louis last season, but I like this new Van Amstel, complete with sense of humor. Thank you, Kelly Osbourne. Like Kelly, Niecy is something of a handful, but Louis seems up to the challenge. And she’s nothing if not enthusiastic. As for the dancing, she’s a born performer, which Donny Osmond will tell you can go a long way on this show. I expect these two will be around for awhile. Bruno said he wanted to see more sass, Carrie Ann cried foul and praised the performance, and Len called the routine uneventful. Scores: 7-5-6.
Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya – Viennese Waltz – Can we all agree that this is Evan’s mirrorball trophy to lose? Thanks to his day job, Evan’s lines are impeccable, his moves are finished, and his extensions are lovely. And it’s only week one! His feet were sickled occasionally, but it’s pretty clear that Evan’s natural ability and athleticism has elevated him above the competition. Carrie Ann praised his lines but said he needs to work on pointing his toes, Len said they need to work on their chemistry, and Bruno proclaimed Evan has the grace of a swan. Scores: 8-7-8.
(We interrupt this recap for a quick message from the International Space Station, putting the “stars” in “Dancing with the Stars”)
Buzz Aldrin and Ashly Costa – Cha Cha – Oh Buzz, you know what I love even more than your impressive collection of spaceman t-shirts? The adorable way you half-dance, half-march. Obviously, Buzz is in a different category than these other contestants, but like the Woz and Jerry Springer before him, you can’t help but smile when he dances. Len said there wasn’t much dancing, Bruno said it looked like Buzz still had his moonboots on, and Carrie Ann said he was inspiring. Scores: 5-4-5.
Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough – Viennese Waltz – Derek seems to have lucked out again, because he’s got a great partner in Nicole. She’s another natural talent, and she moves with a wonderful fluidity. And this was just a waltz! Wait til Nicole and Derek get their hands on a Latin number – they’re going to burn up the ballroom! Bruno crowed over her “sparkling finesse,” Carrie Ann said they set the bar for the night, and Len said her technique was lacking. Scores: 9-7-9. Okay, it was good, but it wasn’t better than Evan’s routine. Calm yourselves, judges!
Aiden Turner and Edyta Sliwinska – Cha Cha – Hmm. This was an interesting one. All the elements were there – good looking guy, half-naked Edyta, Duran Duran song … but it never gelled together. I’m always rooting for Edyta, because she’s the Susan Lucci of this show, but … eesh. She has her work cut out for her. Carrie Ann said the dance was disjointed, Len hated all the gimmicks, and Bruno said it was like Kenny Mayne all over again. I didn’t think it was that bad, geez. Scores: 5-5-5.
Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani – Viennese Waltz – Um, wow. I wasn’t expecting them to be great, but I didn’t think she would be so awkward. The whole routine was so uncomfortable to watch, you were just praying for it to end and put everyone out of their misery. Len said she looked nervous, Bruno said her technique was terrible, and Carrie Ann said she has a sweet vunerability. Uh, okay. I shudder to think what will happen next week, when Kate has to do a Latin number. Scores: 6-5-5.
Pamela Anderson and Damien Whitewood – Cha Cha – DWTS saved the most anticipated celebrity for last, and Pam exceeded my expectations tenfold. She’s obviously not shy, and she threw her entire self into this routine. Was it technically perfect? No. But it was a memorable performance. Bruno purred, “c’mere, girl” (nightmares), Carrie Ann said she didn’t disappoint, and Len called it messy and off-time. Scores: 7-6-8.
A word about Brooke Burke – I didn’t know what to expect, but Brooke was pretty good! I still miss Samantha’s over-eagerness and flawless hair, but I think Brooke is a worthy replacement. The weird fishbowl holding tank thing the contestants now must visit after their routines, however … that may take a little getting used to.
There’s no results show tomorrow night (these scores will be added to next Monday night’s scores, and the first elimination show will take place next Tuesday), but I think it’s going to be a tough season. There’s a lot of great competition, but who do you think did the best?
Cha Cha with The Disney Chick at her regular home, www.thedisneychick.com.