Tom Bergeron is back, along with the useless hunk of dead weight known as his co-host Samantha Harris. I was really hoping they’d wise up and ditch her this year…her inane comments last season had me hitting mute during the backstage interviews. Ah well…there’s always hope Heather Mills’ leg will fly off and smack Sam upside the head.
They started out with a quick dance number featuring the professional dancers, just so that we know what GOOD dancing actually looks like….’cause we’re probably not going to see much of that during the next two hours.
Next, they introduced this season’s “stars”: actor Ian Zering (has he done anything since 90210?), Supermodel Paulina Porizkova (youngest person ever on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue…is this the part where we act all impressed?), Billy Ray Cyrus (sans the unfortunate mullet that made him famous for half a second), “TV personality” Leeza Gibbons (why don’t they just say “a nobody”?), singer Joey Fatone (my god, Sulu, look at you! You’ve let yourself go!), boxer Laila Ali (anyone else insulted by all the “can they make a woman out of her” talk?), John Ratzenberger (a last-minute substitution), Shandi Whosherface, Clyde Drexler (he looks so thin and gangly), Heather Mills (lord, she can barely hobble down the steps—this doesn’t bode well) and Olympic speedskater Apolo Anton Ono (still sporting the unfortunate soul patch on his chin).
Wow…even Kathy Griffin wouldn’t return calls from half of these folks.
Then of course, we have our esteemed judges:
Len Goodman, the smart judge with the British accent (sound familiar?)
Bruno Tonoli: the flaming drama queen with the weird mannerisms and oddball sayings
Carrie Ann Inaba: a dancer whose only claim to fame recently is that she’s been dating some hot guy that’s a lot younger than she is.
Tonight, the ladies will be doing the Fox Trot, while the guys tackle the Cha Cha. And away we go!
First up: Ian Zering paired with two-time champ Cheryl Burke
Fans of reality TV may remember Ian’s ditzy blonde ex-wife Nikki battling alligators while flirting and bouncing her way through “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here” a few years ago. I really want to concentrate on their dancing, but good lord, I can’t help but notice that you can see Cheryl’s tush dimples in that dress. Man, I gotta start working out.
Len: you keep getting really good partners, Ian was a little bit wooden, but a great job
Bruno: he wants to see more bump and grind with Cheryl, aka “the cherry on the cake”
Carrie Ann: use the floor some more (yeah, that’s helpful)
Samantha is babbling backstage with Ian and Cheryl. Time to press mute.
And the scores: 7, 7, 7 for a total of 21 out of 30. If they’d gone later in the program, I think they would have scored higher.
Paulina Porizkova with season 1 champ Alec Mazo:
She’s claiming to be a “klutz” but damn she looks good…what the heck is she still doing with Ric Ocasek? Loved when Alec said, “Oh you’re 5”11”? So am I.” Yeah, right—she’s got at least an inch on him. Uh oh, lots of campy acting, not a lot of actual dancing. When they do move they look like they’re in slow motion.
Len: tells her she has “musical arms” but criticizes her posture and their holds. It’s obvious from Paulina’s wide-eyed blank stare that Len used one too many big-syllable words in his critique
Carrie Ann: wisely uses smaller words, but imparts some more useless advice (something about how they need to work on fitting together better).
Bruno: the wacko sucks up and tells them they have class oozing from every pore. I think he wants to borrow her dress. Then he says a bunch of stuff with such a heavy accent, Paulina just nods and smiles with a confused look on her face.
Samantha backstage again, asking the hard-hitting questions: “What’s it like out there?” Yawn. The scores: 6, 6, 7 (Bruno is SUCH a suck-up) for a 19 out of 30
Commercial break, time for a question: What’s with all the orange in the room? No, I’m not talking about Clyde Drexler’s shirt and Paulina’s dress…I’m talking about the ridiculously obvious spray tans everybody’s sporting. And we’re back…
Country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and Karina Smirnoff
A big cheer goes up from the crowd when he mentions that he’s “Hannah Montana’s dad”, which actually bodes well for his chances…never underestimate the voting base that is teenage girls (right Sanjaya?). His feet move pretty fast, but his arms are just sort of flailing around, and the country music they’re dancing to makes it look nothing like a Cha Cha. I don’t blame Billy Ray, though…this was Karina’s big problem last season with Mario, too. She kept putting in choreography that wasn’t part of the dance, and didn’t care about the rules or adhere to the required techniques. She annoys me. Oh, and the ripping off of the wig at the end (which didn’t work, on so many levels) was just plain gimmicky and stupid.
Carrie Ann: work on your musicality, that wasn’t a cha cha
Bruno: you were like a crazy bear lost in a swamp, it wasn’t the cha cha
Len: it was more like a ho-down than a cha cha cha
Scores: 5, 4, 4 for a total of 13 out of 30. Ouch! Lowest scores EVER on DWTS. That’s right, folks…he did worse than Tucker Carlson, who spent most of his routine last season sitting in chair.
Leeza Gibbons and Tony Dovolani :
She’s the oldest woman in the competition, and I can’t stop staring at her tightly pulled eyebrows. She looks continually surprised (brow lift anyone?). They did well in terms of form, but again, they look like they’re moving in slow motion, which was the same problem Tony had last year with clunky Sara Evans.
Bruno: you’ve got to relax, it lacked flow, you have to let it go
Len: technically it was very good, had a lovely elegance, he blamed her nervousness for the stiffness
Carrie Ann: let your confidence shine (where does she come up with this stuff? Fortune cookies?)
Scores: 5, 5, 5 for a 15 out of 30…wow, lower than I thought
Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson:
Poor Kym got stuck with Jerry Springer last year, and now she’s stuck with this year’s “no attention span” Mario-type cut-up. Their high-energy dance is a nice break after the Leeza-snoozefest, but again, it’s not a cha-cha. And whoa, Joey’s “got back” in those white pants.
Carrie Ann: charismatic! fun! and you look so sparkly!
Len: the path to glory starts here, and you’ve just taken an enormous step forward (someone’s been dipping into Carrie Ann’s notes)
Bruno: tells them they “really sold it” despite the fact that his mike pack went flying off and smacked him in the butt while they were dancing.
Scores: 8, 8, 8 for a 24 out of 30. Overly generous scores, imo
Laila Ali and Maxsim Chmerkovsky
I love this girl. She’s feisty and funny (“We’re going to fight to the death for this competition” followed by a mean glare). Maxim must be a real terror behind the scenes, because they all seem to be taking a little too much glee in saying, “He’s met his match!” They do a nice job, but are we REALLY supposed to be amazed at her “transformation”? For heavens’ sakes, she IS a woman, not a drag queen, and she’s a lot more feminine than Viveca Fox was last year.
Bruno: this fox trot was oozing sex appeal, you commanded the stage
Carrie Ann: seamless, effortless, and fluid
Len: float like a butterfly and fly like a swan, great technique, a fantastic job
Scores: 7, 8, 8 for a total of 23 out of 30
Edyta Slwinskya and Cheers’ John Ratzenberger
This duo had only two weeks to practice, since Sopranos heavyweight Vincent Pastore bowed out halfway through training due to history of heart trouble. Ratzenberger seems awfully laid back about the whole thing, because I think he realizes expectations for him are about as low as you can get, so he has nothing to lose. If he stinks, he can blame it on lack of practice time. His performance had shades of Jerry Springer, with his likable smile and the way he sang along with the music while he danced.
Carrie Ann: You’ve got great musicality (is that anything like Wessonality, perchance?)
Len: I was dreading your performance, thought it would be a disaster, but you did a good job. (uh, thanks) Watch your heel lead.
Bruno: Yeah, what he said about the heel lead. Very good job.
Scores: 6, 5, 6 for a total of 17 out of 30
Shandi Finnessy and Brian Fortuna
Miss Usa 2004, trying to make a name for herself now that her reign is over and she didn’t think to grab headlines for underage boozing and entering rehab while she had the chance (such a shrewdie, that Tara Conner). Brian is the newest pro on the block, and my, isn’t he all young and energetic? He’s also got a creepy smile that reminds me of Bruno Tonoli. Lovely Shandi towers over Brian while they dance, and while their arms appear to be moving wildly, their feet aren’t doing very much. They’re certainly blinding us with those white teeth, though. Sheesh, pass me some sunglasses.
Bruno: You’re Barbie and Ken come to life, and you smile too much, you crazy kids
Carrie Ann: Your upper body was fantastic (wow, like, really? Cool!) but try not to be so pigeon-toed with your feet (Hey…that doesn’t sound like a compliment. Pigeon what?)
Len: A little aggressive, but a good job (smart guy, he knows she has no idea what they’re saying, because she hasn’t stopped smiling yet)
Scores: 6, 6, 7 for a total of 19 out of 30
NBA hall of famer Clyde Drexler and Elena Grinenko
The tallest competitor ever (6’7”) paired with one of the smaller pros (5’4 ½”)…this oughta be good. He seems to have a good attitude, but can he dance? As soon as they took the stage, all I could think of was that it looks like a Dad dancing with his little girl—which was more than a little creepy when they did some of the suggestive moves. It was like watching a giraffe do the fox trot.
Carrie: You’re smooth on your feet, but use your height and fill the dance floor (uh, aren’t you basically telling him to lie down?)
Len: Such a charming performance, I hate to critique it, you were a revelation (okay, Len, but how was his DANCING? And what was that stuff about wishing you were at home sipping tea and eating a cheese log? Hmmm…..I’m getting the sense that 1992 wasn’t the only year Clyde was a member of somebody’s “Dream Team.” Ewwww.)
Bruno: You have the talent, big is beautiful, sell it and don’t apologize for it
Oh man, talk about mercy comments. Let’s see how they score him once he ambles backstage.
Scores: 6, 5, 5 for a total of 16 out of 30. The audience may have booed, but they know full well that 6 was a gift.
Heather Mills (soon-to-be-ex of “the cute Beatle”) and Jonathan Roberts
They described her as a charity campaigner, which must be some newfangled British code for gold digging opportunistic wretch. At least she had the presence of mind to introduce herself to the poor clueless dance instructor (he flew all the way to England to meet her, and was probably expecting Madonna or Duchess Fergie to walk in). Jonathan’s eyes nearly fell out of his head when she said, “I have an artificial leg.” I’m sure they cut the footage where he said, “Yeah, right! Oooohkay, where’s Ashton at? Ha ha, good one!” Then the poor guy had to watch her pop off her “sneaker leg” and pop on her “dancing shoe leg” and appear as though he sees this every day. Oh yeah, no biggie, here lemme just help you put your other leg in this duffle bag here. No problem.
I tell you what: aside from a few awkward hop-skip steps and some unfortunate posture, she wasn’t half bad.
Len: great job with the choreography, you’re an inspiration
Bruno: you’ve got more guts than Rambo, watch your hands and shoulders (as if he wasn’t watching her feet the entire time, waiting for her leg to pop off just like the rest of America)
Carrie: watch your arms like Bruno said
Scores: 6, 6, 6 for an 18 out of 30 I think Billy Ray Cyrus just threw himself out a window (the chick with one leg got more than me? What the hay?!?)
Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough
The youngest professional dancer to compete, she’s 18 and all squeaky and shiny. With Apolo Ohno and his “heartthrob” reputation, you just know the producers are doing everything they can to make these two a hot item, and draw in ratings from those pathetic souls who enjoy a little fake romance with their reality TV. During a rare practice session—they have to work around his speedskating training schedule—Julianne accidentally punches him right in the kisser…excellent!
They certainly have lots of youth and natural talent out there on the floor, and their moves are energetic but somewhat sloppy.
Bruno: It was like watching Happy Feet all over again. Apolo has a lot of work to do, but he has the most potential of any of the stars tonight
Carrie: Your impact was pretty amazing (come again?), don’t lead with your shoulders
Len: Your posture isn’t great (uh, yeah Len, he’s a speedskater…they start out all of their races hunched down), make sure you get that lovely ballroom look for next week
Scores: 7, 7, 7 for a 21 out of 30
There you have it, the very first episode of the season. A bloated two-hour premiere filled with mediocre dancing from a bunch of people you wouldn’t recognize on the street even if they had their I.D.s stapled to their foreheads. The promoters of this season’s Dancing with the Stars made quite a bit of fuss about how this group of celebs had less time to practice than in seasons past, and it sure does show. What were they thinking? For the most part, it was like amateur hour at the local dance club. There’s not one contestant that has the polish of Mario, the energy of Joey, or the smooth grace of Emmitt from last season. Unless these contestants “step it up” and improve exponentially each week, they’re going to have to change the name of the show to Snoozing with the Stars.