Riding on the coattails of the “Dancing with the Stars” performance finale, “Skating with the Stars” season 1 premiered Monday night on ABC as six non A-list celebs, including Bethenny Frankel and Jonny Moseley, and their pro partners took to the ice for the first time. Miss the broadcast and wondering how it went? Read on for a recap.
Host Vernon Kay, also known as ‘some British guy I’d never heard of’, started off the “SWTS” premiere by calling the six professional skaters out onto the ice for a carefully choreographed opening routine set to Taio Cruz’s Dynamite. Vernon went on to promise “a crazy night of competition” before introducing the “Skating with the Stars” cast. At first glance, actress Sean Young and rocker Vince Neil looked the least comfortable in their skates; the rest, well, we shall see. Any one of them could probably fall over at any moment.
Vernon then turned audience attention to the judges. First up was pro skater Johnny Weir, who promised to look for “connection” between the skaters. Choreographer Laurie Ann Gibson planned to examine the dance-elements of the contestants’ performances. Dick Button said he wanted to look for “the unique and the unusual”, declaring that “a great skater is someone who leaves the sport a better person because they were in it”. Vernon noted that the judges would reward two sets of scores to each pair, one for Technique and one for Interpretation, and that audience votes would count for fifty percent of each score.
In one of the more awkward transitions I’ve seen on TV, Vernon handed the mic over to Olympic Ice Dancer and “Skating with the Stars” color commentator Tanith Belbin, who explained the show’s required elements: The one-foot assisted glide and the pair spin. Tanith is gorgeous and an equally gorgeous skater, but her broadasting skills are a bit… lacking out of the gates. But anyway.
Up first to take to the “Skating with the Stars” season 1 ice was actor Brandon Mychal Hall and his partner Keauna McLaughlin (who, incidentally, is the only pro skater on the show I’d ever even heard of before tonight). Awkward? Yes. Complete trainwreck? Not really. At least Brandon has some personality. That’s a plus. Dick called it “a very impressive start” and said “you’ve got a spiffy personality”. He went on to tell him to “work on your flow” and asked him to work on his spiral for next week. Laurie Ann called it “magical, fantastic” and gushed “I can’t believe you’ve only been skating for five weeks”. Johnny noted that “Keauna reeled your butt in” and kept Brandon in focus during the routine. Shucks, I was hoping for a serious Johnny Weir beatdown. But how did they score? Brandon and Keauna’s “Skating with the Stars” week 1 scores: Technical 6, 5, 5; Artistic Impression 7, 7, 6, for a total of 36 out of 60.
“Skating with the Stars” season 1 week 1 continued with actress Sean Young and partner Denis Petukhov. When considering her advantages during the show, Sean so modestly mused “what edge don’t I have?” Ugh. Uber-diva, table for one. They had some nice lifts throughout their skate. Johnny said “that was so elegant” and likened them to “bunnies frolicking across a beautiful meadow”. He wanted to see her improve “the sturdiness” of her skating. Carrie Ann was awed to be “in your presence” and called her “dreamy, elegant, beyond”. Dick claimed to have fallen “in love” with her long ago, and called her legs and feet lovely, but told her to “take off your girdle and let ‘er fly”. Sean and Denis’ “Skating with the Stars” week 1 scores: Technical 6, 5, 5; Artistic Impression 7, 5, 6, for a total of 34 out of 60.
Olympic medalist Jonny Moseley and partner Brooke Castille took to the ice next with what Tanith called one of the night’s fastest routines. Er, it was, energetic? Not bad, no. Not bad at all. Laurie Ann asked for “more funk in your trunk” but called it “dynamic”. Dick said he wanted to see how he’d manage to “transfer” his skiing skills to the ice. Johnny said “you just terrorized the ice like a bull in a china shop and I loved it”, and then expressed special appreciation for Jonny’s rhinetones. Jonny and Brooke’s “Skating with the Stars” week 1 scores: Technical 7, 7, 7; Artistic Impression 6, 6, 7, for a total of 40 out of 60.
After a commercial break, Johnny Weir put his own skills on display to the tune of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. As my husband astutely noted from behind his book, the problem with Johnny on the ice is that it reminds everyone what real skating looks like. Yup. Now the celebs will look like total turkeys out there rather than just slightly underbaked turkeys. Oh well.
The actual competition continued with a performance by soap actress Rebecca Budig and partner Fred Palascak. Well, well, well, what a surprise! Even in the wake of Johnny Weir, Rebecca looked pretty good! She has good musicality and nice lines. Dick praised her posture and pointed feet, but told her to work on her flow. Johnny said “that was so hot I almost sweated out my weave”. Ha ha ha. Laurie Ann likened her to “a beautiful ballerina” and told her to continue to use her “dancer center”. Rebecca and Fred’s “Skating with the Stars” week 1 scores: Technical 7, 7, 7; Artistic Impression 8, 8, 8, for a total of 45 out of 60.
Motley Crue rocker Vince Neil and partner Jennifer Wester kept things going with their first offering of season 1. He was pretty bad, but hey, at least he didn’t fall down. There’s a plus there. Johnny lamented not getting “the rock star performance” and told him to have more confidence. Laurie Ann told him to work on spotting, but called him a “great performer”. Dick said “I really respect you for taking this competition on” but told him to be “fearless” next week. Vince and Jennifer’s “Skating with the Stars” week 1 scores: Technical 6, 4, 4; Artistic Impression 6, 4, 4, for a total of 28 out of 60.
With five celebs down, just one remained to debut her skating skills: “The Real Housewives of New York’s” Bethenny Frankel. The multi-tasker and her partner Ethan Burgess showed decent musicality and pulled off some impressive-looking lifts. Laurie Ann wowed over her progress, but told her to relax her shoulders when she’s dancing. Dick called her “one skinny babe” but asked her to be “a little less static”. Johnny agreed with both Dick and Laurie Ann, but told her to “really give it your all”. Bethenny and Ethan’s “Skating with the Stars” week 1 scores: Technical 5, 5, 5; Artistic Impression 5, 4, 5, for a total of 29 out of 60. Ouch. Harshest scores of the evening, if you ask me.
So let’s get real. With one episode of “Skating with the Stars” in the books, what’s the likelihood that there will ever be a season 2? From the vaguely annoying host to the definite annoying-ness of Laurie Ann to the complete lack of week 1 spills, it doesn’t look good. But hey, I also thought Bristol Palin would get the boot on “Dancing with the Stars” week 1, so what do I know?
Tune in next Monday to see which of the six celebs exits “Skating with the Stars” first.