After all the headlines over the last week, it was inevitable that when the Season 8 “Dancing with the Stars” premiere arrived, it wouldn’t match the pre-season hoopla.
Only one “star” stormed the dance floor out of the group of thirteen, and you probably have no idea who he is–foreign hunk Gilles Marini (”Sex and the City”). Olympian Shawn Johnson also made a good showing–despite a slip on the stairs during the intro. And the last-minute replacements for injured contestants Jewel and Nancy O’Dell didn’t fall on their faces!
Everyone else was pretty much in the middle of the pack, with two adorably awkward trainwrecks in the caboose. And that’s how it should be. This is a show where celebrities learn to dance. We’ve been spoiled with unnaturally gifted ladies (Brooke Burke and Guchi-Coo) the past two seasons who were strong out of the gate and ran away with the show.
This season it looks to be a more level playing field.
Find out who’s going steady and who’s stumbling:
Lil’ Kim and Derek Hough: The Cha Cha
“Black Barbie and Ken”—that’s how Kim described herself and Derek—put her swagger to good use and did a cha cha to Janet Jackson’s “Nasty,” which she dedicated to “all my girls in the Federal Detention Center.” Brilliant. Kim says she watched “Dancing with the Stars” while she was in prison and her fellow inmates told her she should do the show. If this is any indication, this season is going to be AWESOME. Len says: “First dance, first class.” Is he drunk? Bruno says: “Nasty but tasty.” That’s a little more spot on.
Belinda Carlisle and Jonathan Roberts: The Waltz
I loved the Go-Gos when I was little, so when Belinda Carlisle was announced in the cast, I was excited. But as I tried to write about her performance, I couldn’t remember a single thing about it. And I’m sure Jonathan is a nice fella but he’s kind of a bore. Between the two, it was pretty unmemorable. Bruno’s commentary, however, was memorable and completely uncalled for: “You started out as Julie Andrews, then you turned into Cloris Leachman.” And then he had the nerve to tell the audience to SHUT UP when they booed that? Is HE drunk?
Lawrence Taylor and Edyta Sliwinska: The Cha Cha
Lawrence Taylor is no Jason Taylor, that’s for sure. LT has his work cut out for him or else he’s going to break the NFL streak. His fear may have gotten the better of him in the premiere, but I wouldn’t count him out yet. Carrie Ann: “Did you live up to legends of the dance floor?…You need to get more on the offensive, get down and dirty.” Len: “You have a casual approach, something natural about you.” Bruno: Said something…I didn’t understand.
Steve-O and Lacey Schwimmer: The Waltz
“I want to put my foot in the waltz’s butt.” Meet the dance floor’s “first official Jackass” per Bergeron. There’s something oddly charming about Steve-O, and he was up front about his stint in rehab a year ago, and that he wants to dance with the stars to prove he hasn’t lost his mojo. Lacey thinks she has the biggest job for transforming someone on the show. Len said “I expected much worse, so well done.” Carrie Ann was “mesmerized by the beauty and the awkwardness.” Hmm.
Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke: The Cha Cha
Uh oh. The new Cristian de la Fuente is no joke. These two are the only ones to feature that magic combo: chemistry and technique. A smoking hot dance that was sexy, fluid and performed well makes them the ones to beat so far. Bonus: If he makes it through another week, Gilles has a sexy promise for us.
Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough: The Waltz
The almost perfectly perfect, stunningly gorgeous “happy couple.” Julianne definitely did most of the work leading her boyfriend Chuck around the dance floor, but she said she “thought he’d be worse.” Wouldn’t it be great if they broke up midseason but were forced to perform together, like Sonny and Cher? Carrie Ann: “One of the most graceful men we’ve had on the show in long time.” Len: “You moved well but your posture was a bit bizarre.” Bruno: “You were chasing her like a whirlwind.”
Holly Madison and Dmitry Chaplin: The Cha Cha
Holly had only five days to practice, so you have to give her credit there, even if the judges didn’t. She wasn’t bad, all things considering, so it’ll be interesting to see what she’s capable of when she gets some real practice. And the Playmate’s rehearsal segment offered this gem of an exchange. Dmitry said it felt like he was cheating on Jewel, whom Holly replaced. And when he showed one move to Holly, she said, “What do I do now? Do I just lay there?” Something tells me she knows the answer to this.
Ty Murray and Chelsie Hightower: The Cha Cha
“Are there any parts that aren’t embarrassing? Let’s start there.” What ever made Ty Murray agree to do this show? He’s shy and awkward and his cowboy hat is five times bigger than his head. “I’m approaching the cha cha like bull riding. You’re never completely ready. It just becomes your turn.” He is kinda funny though. The new pro = meh. “DWTS” should stop poaching dancers from “So You Think You Can Dance.” They’re not working for me. Meanwhile, the constant flirter Carrie Ann couldn’t muster any commentary beyond: “One cute cowboy.” Hellooo, his wife Jewel is sitting on the other side of the ballroom!
Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas: The Waltz
Shawn “Giggles” Johnson, 17, can’t stop smiling and it’s contagious. Paired with the funny-face maker Mark Ballas, these two’s facial expressions should be as much fun to watch as their dancing. Shawn, no stranger to pressure or performing, seemed the most comfortable and natural out there. While it doesn’t compare to her Olympic medals, she has a very good chance of adding a silver disco ball trophy to her collection.
Steve Wozniak and Karina Smirnoff: The Cha Cha
Poor Karina, mismatched yet again, was at least gentle with her fuzzy teddy bear and kept her trademark eye-rolling to a minimum. “The Woz,” or as I like to call him Wozzy Bear, was just as terrible as we all assumed he would be–except 10 times more adorable! “Nerds can dance.” He turned dance beats into mathematical equations, compared steps to digital and analog, and then needed to take “five-minute thinking breaks.” He stuck his tongue out while he danced and wore a pink feather boa. And he gets this year’s Guttenberg Award for being the happiest person in the ballroom. Len summed it up perfectly: “You held my attention throughout, fascinated actually, but overall it was a disaster.”
David Alan Grier and Kym Johnson: The Waltz
Kym doesn’t get the Notorious DAG’s jokes, which is, of course, funnier than his bits. Kym, always paired with the comedians, should have a better sense of humor, but maybe it’s lost in Australian translation? She’s adorable nonetheless, he’s full of personality, and these two look like they’re going far.
Denise Richards and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: The Cha Cha
Well, she wasn’t quite a “Wild Thing” but at least Denise didn’t pull a Kardashian (a sexpot who failed to sizzle). She clearly was nervous and was a bit awkward at times. She also clearly has natural ability—did you see that split?! If she can just shake that fear in her head—“I just know Charlie is watching and mocking me…That bastard!”—then she will be a contender. Bruno: “You’ve got it all but you don’t know what to do with it.” Carrie Ann: “You look terrified out there.”
READ MAKS’ EXCLUSIVE BLOG ON FANCAST.
Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: The Waltz
Who cares about what’s his name now? Melissa can dance! But here’s why we should really vote for the dumped “Bachelor” fiancée….to keep Tony and his giant white teeth around as long as possible. With just two days to prepare his last-minute partner, Tony “took all her ballet moves, put a waltz around it and there you go.” I LOVE Tony Dovolani! Len: “The Bachelor’s” loss is “Dancing’s” gain. It’s obvious you’ve danced before.” Bruno: “He’s a loser. You are a revelation.” Carrie Ann: “You are a beautiful dancer.” They should always make Carrie Ann go first; when she follows Len and Bruno’s quips, she sounds so boring.
Other highlights from the season premiere:
Near catastrophe: Shawn Johnson slipped on the stairs during the cast introductions.
The first cry goes to….Denise Richards! Oh Maks, you’ve done it again.
Awkward Samantha Harris Moment: Every time she said to the not-so-good stars, “Awe, at least you made it through…”
Most unintelligible Bruno-ism: Calling The Woz something like “a hilarious and/or delirious teletubby at a gay pride parade”
New drinking game: Every time Carrie Ann INAAABA nonsensically complains about imaginary lifts that mean nothing whatsoever, do a shot!
In danger of being the first eliminated next week: Ty, The Woz and Belinda. But first, everyone will get another chance to dance, and there will be a dance off between the bottom two couples.
Gilles and Cheryl: 24
Melissa and Tony: 23
Shawn and Mark: 23
Lil Kim and Derek: 21
Chuck and Julianne: 20
David and Kym: 19
Holly and Dmitry: 18
Denise and Maks: 18
Steve-O and Lacey: 17
Belinda and Jonathan: 17
Lawrence and Edyta: 16
Ty and Chelsie: 14
The Woz and Karina: 13