The Dancing with the Stars 2010 Fall season premiered Monday night on ABC, featuring fancy footwork and a few funny foibles from an all-new cast of celebrity wanna-be hoofers. While actress Jennifer Grey rose to the top of the judges’ leaderboard with an emotional Viennese Waltz, comedienne Margaret Cho didn’t fare quite so well with some bizarre choreography and The Situation suffered seriously from a lack of practice. Here’s a look back at the evening’s DWTS season 11 revelry, from the first shimmy to the final shake.
The season premiere kicked off with co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke’s introduction of the new cast. As usual, pro dancer Maks Chmerkovskiy was lookin’ fine as chocolate. Celeb contestant David “the Hoff” Hasselhoff looked like he was channeling Michael Knight in his black leather jacket. Yeah. It’ll be an interesting season.
Up first to show off their stuff on the Dancing with the Stars 2010 premiere? The Hills star Audrina Patridge and pro partner Tony Dovolani with a Cha Cha Cha. Tony decided to “challenge” his partner with their choreography after deeming her a quick study. Props to Audrina for starting off their first dance of DWTS season 11 with a solo; that takes guts, girl. She looked a little off-balance at times, but all in all I was impressed with her moves. I’d had her pegged as another hip-challenged Shannon Elizabeth.
Head judge Len Goodman praised her “confidence” and “technique” but asked that she be “more feisty”. Bruno Tonioli called Audrina “a beautiful show pony” that needs to be “whipped into shape”. Carrie Ann Inaba finished the critique by agreeing with my observation that she was brave to start with a solo, and went on to tell her to work at connecting her beauty with her body. Audrina Partridge and Tony Dovolani’s Dancing with the Stars 2010 season premiere scores: 6, 7, 6 = 19.
Up next to show off his Ballroom chops were NFL superstar Kurt Warner and his partner Anna Trebunskaya. Kurt showed off his goofy side during rehearsals, but got to business during their Viennese Waltz. Although not a super natural Gilles Marini kind of dancer, Kurt had a surprising ease and elegance about his performance. And the smile? A great accessory. I am duly impressed! He’s definitely more of an Emmitt Smith than a Lawrence Taylor in the DWTS ballroom.
Bruno called him “a graceful quarterback” and said “I can see great potential”. Carrie Ann agreed with the notion that he has potential, but cautioned him against some of his technical faults. Len differed from the other two, saying “it had very little to commend it”. Ouch. Well, I guess it’s good that old Crankypants is still cranky. Kurt Warner and Anna Trebunskaya’s Dancing with the Stars 2010 season premiere scores: 7, 5, 7 = 19.
Disney in the House! That’s right: Actor Kyle Massey kept things going with the help of his newly blonde partner Lacey Schwimmer. (And holy schmoly, it’ll be hard to tell her from Chelsie Hightower this season.) Despite his goofiness, Kyle claimed to be a “really dedicated person” who is scared of performing on live TV. The duo opened their Cha Cha Cha in gimicky fashion, complete with bright yellow lockers and dork outfit, but shot it into high gear in short time. He was a true crowd-pleaser and he and Lacey had a surprising amount of convincing chemistry. For the third time in a row tonight, I’m impressed.
Carrie Ann called Kyle “my first crush of season 11” and deemed him “dynamite out there”. Len simply said “I liked it” but of course added that he disliked the gimmicky start. Bruno called him “an adorable” something or other (it was the usual crazy Bruno-style ramble) and said “I want to take you home”. Uh, when you get beyond the totally creepy potential connotations of that comment, it’s quite flattering. I smell good scores. Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer’s Dancing with the Stars 2010 season premiere scores: 8, 7, 8 = 23.
NBA star Rick Fox got the LA crowd going next with partner Cheryl Burke. Rick’s 6 foot 7 inch height was an issue from the get-go, but he vowed to prove that NBA players can dance. Rick is just so tall that, for me, he completely overshadowed Cheryl during their ‘Crazy’ Viennese Waltz. It was a decent performance, especially for a week one dance, but he was definitely a little stiff.
Len called Rick “elegant” and smooth, and said he and Cheryl had done a “great job”. Bruno said he looked forward to seeing Rick and Kurt going at it next week in a hip to hip Latin Battle. (Okay, so he didn’t use those words. They’re mine. But they’re funnier than what Bruno said.) Carrie Ann drooled over him for a moment before proclaiming herself “blown away” by his grace and great posture. (Wait, were we watching the same performance?) Rick Fox and Cheryl Burke’s Dancing with the Stars 2010 season premirere scores: 8, 7, 7 = 22. (Inflated score alert! Inflated score alert!)
Comedienne Margaret Cho and partner Louis van Amstel kept things going in the ballroom with their Viennese Waltz. Much to my surprise, she wasn’t nearly the horrible, hilarious trainwreck I’d assumed she’d be from the get-go. She looked like she might actually have some natural ability. But then it got weird. Really, really weird, with long golden bird arms and a lot of clumsy buffoonery. It was definitely a the-judges-are-not-going-to-like-this-one-bit kind of weird. I can here the critiques bubbling away.
Bruno rose to his feet and shouted “what the hell was that?!” and likened it to “the Last Airbenders”. Carrie Ann called her “a lovely and talented lady” but followed that the choreography was a “very bold choice”. Len praised the start of the dance, but called the rest of it “inappropriate”. Margaret Cho and Louis van Amstel’s Dancing with the Stars 2010 season premiere scores: 5, 5, 5 = 15.
Pre-season favorite R&B star Brandy and hottie partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy followed Margaret and Louis with a Viennese Waltz of their own. Brandy told Maks from the start that she needs to be pushed to excel, and Maks was thrilled. Could get interesting! Yeah, from move number one, it was clear that Brandy is a performer nad a contender. She’s elegance, graceful, has great extensions, and knows how to put on a show. Watch out, castmates, she’s going for Mirrorball glory.
Carrie Ann called it “very beautiful” but cautioned her against being less strong with her movements. Len praised her for making “a fantastic impression”. Bruno crowed “I love the taste of Brandy in the evening” and loved the “little spark” she added to the dance. Brandy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s Dancing with the Stars 2010 season premiere scores: 7, 8, 8 = 23.
DWTS season 11’s most controversial contestant, teen activist Bristol Palin, was up next with partner Mark Ballas and their Cha Cha Cha. Okay, so she’s not a natural dancer, that much is for sure. It was awkward at first and a bit stiff at times, but good for her for getting out there and trying! It definitely wasn’t a trainwreck, so she outperformed my expectations.
Len called it “a very acceptable performance” but suggested that she loosen up in future dances. Bruno said she shook her hips “like a pro” and told her to work on her technique. Carrie Ann said she hadn’t expected much from Bristol, but that she was pleasantly surprised with her leg action and her shakin’. Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas’ Dancing with the Stars 2010 season premiere scores: 6, 6, 6 = 18.
Dancing with the Stars season 11’s most senior celeb, Brady Mom Florence Henderson, kept things moving in the ballroom with partner Corky Ballas. Florence acknowledged that there would be comparisons made between Cloris Leachman and herself, but said that she planned to learn the dances. Florence was a crack-up from the first few steps of her Cha Cha Cha, but not in a bad way; she was actually impressively hippy for a 76-year old woman, even if the tempo was a bit slow. Woot!
Bruno called her “a spunky lady” and proclaimed “you’ve still got it”, but noted an insecurity with some of the steps. Carrie Ann praised her for having “the time of her life out there” but agreed with Bruno’s critique. Len called it “great entertainment” and praised Corky’s work with Florence as “incredible”. Florence Henderson and Corky Ballas’ Dancing with the Stars 2010 season premiere scores: 6, 6, 6 = 18.
Singer Michael Bolton and partner Chelsie Hightower were up next with their Viennese Waltz. Oof. As much as I love Chelsie, she may be in trouble this season. Michael just isn’t a great dancer. He seemed to fall behind at intervals and looked uncomfortable and overly posed at times. This can’t be good.
Carrie Ann called him “too generous in allowing Chelsie to lead too often” and told him to remember to smile. Len liked his “musicality” but said he needed to work on his posture. Bruno agreed, and told him to try to just “relax and enjoy it”. Michael Bolton and Chelsie Hightower’s Dancing with the Stars 2010 season premiere scores: 6, 5, 5 = 16.
Things got a little bit situational next as Mike ‘the Situation’ Sorrentino hit the dancefloor with partner Karina Smirnoff. The Jersey Shore star was late to the game, with two weeks’ fewer practice time than his fellow castmates. The Situation was all about the charisma on-stage, but he clearly suffered from the reduced rehearsal time. He could’ve used more work with his choreography and with nailing the steps of their Cha Cha Cha.
Len said that although he has “potential”, he was “under-rehearsed”, and when prompted, added “you’ve got the guns but not the ammunition”. Bruno noted “there’s a spark there somewhere” and encourged him to apply himself. Carrie Ann told him to “get rid of the 80s thing” and “bring it into now”. Ah, sweet snorthworthy commentary. How I’ve missed you. Mike Sorrentino and Karina Smirnoff’s Dancing with the Stars 2010 season premiere scores: 5, 5, 5 = 15.
Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey and pro partner Derek Hough were up next with their Viennese Waltz. Jennifer was overwhelmed with emotion when memories of co-star Patrick Swayze arose, and vowed to do the deceased actor proud. She had a few small stumbles that were largely imperceptible, but all in all, the routine had a lovely, graceful flow to it and drew well-deserved cheers from the audience.
Bruno proclaimed “Baby is back where she belongs” and said “someone up there is going to be very proud of you”. A tearful Carrie Ann called it “really beautiful to see” and said she’d improved with age. Len agreed that the kind of dance “really suited you” but threw down the gauntlet when he said he looked forward to seeing how well she’d be able to Jive in a week. Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough’s Dancing with the Stars 2010 season premiere scores: 8, 8, 8 = 24.
The night came to an end with a Cha Cha Cha from actor David Hasselhoff and partner Kym Johnson. I’m not sure if David was trying to be funny during rehearsals, but all of his grunting and groaning was hilarious. I’m also not sure if their dance was supposed to be funny, but it was. Oh, so funny. He looked like an actor from the 80s trying to dance. Oh wait….
Carrie Ann called him “the offspring of Donny Osmond and Jerry Springer”. Len noted that “it’s never too early to panic” and called it “entertaining”, but noted that next week’s Quickstep will kick his butt if he’s not careful. Bruno said he “loved the madness of it all” and the “Liberce sparkles”, but told him to focus. David Hasselhoff and Kym Johnson’s Dancing with the Stars 2010 season premiere scores: 5, 5, 5 = 15.
Before I launch into my ‘who will go home tomorrow’ segment, I have to admit that I’m wondering what kind of stuff Carrie Ann is smokin’; what was she thinking giving Rick and Kyle a higher mark than Brandy? Craziness, chica. Your male-lovin’ bias is already showing! That said….
My guess is that Michael Bolton will get the boot. Yeah, The Hoff was pretty bad, but dude, he’s Mitch Buchannon. AND Michael Knight. The Situation was also bad, but he gets hot points because I’m betting there are women out there who will vote for his chest. Margaret Cho mirrored The Situation’s badness, but I think she’ll get more vote-love than Michael. Call it a hunch. People loved funny lady Niecy Nash last season, after all.
Will I be right? Will I be totally wrong? Tune into the first Dancing with the Stars 2010 Fall season elimination show tomorrow night for the scoop. Or you can just check in with me. You know I’ll be watching.
Dancing with the Stars 2010 Fall season premiere, ABC, September 20, 2010