Dancing with the Stars: Week 1 (season premiere)
(S04E01) Another season of Dancing With The Stars is upon us, and I could not be more excited. Some important changes have been made this time around. Contestants were given four weeks to practice for the premiere instead of six, and there will be two weeks of dancing before the first elimination. The premiere was entertaining and surprising, as always. Let's get right to it!
Ian Ziering and Cheryl Burke (Cha Cha Cha) - It's tough to be the first dancers of the night, but Ian and Cheryl did a tremendous job. Their energetic performance included some decent footwork; those two definitely know how to have fun and work the crowd. Cheryl's hair was gorgeous, as usual, but I wasn't a fan of the Ziering facial hair. The judges gave Ian some technical criticism, but the pair walked away with a fair score of 21 (Carrie: 7, Len: 7, Bruno: 7).
Paulina Porizkova and Alec Mazo (Foxtrot) - Paulina immediately won my sympathy after her partner, Alec, said that his father had a lot of her pinup photos. Harsh. The former supermodel was worried about looking like Bullwinkle on the dance floor, but she was completely graceful and lovely. Her choice of dress and hair only emphasized the sophistication of the performance. The judges' opinions differed a bit, unfortunately, and the couple received a 19 (6, 6, 7).
Billy Ray Cyrus and Karina Smirnoff (Cha Cha Cha) - I expected a lot from Billy Ray, and his mullet-themed performance was a big disappointment. I was hoping that Karina's wigs would not show up for a few weeks, and her hair malfunction caused one of the biggest snafus of the night. Billy Ray is very charming, but I had no idea what he was going for out there. The couple's mess of a performance deserved their score of 13 (5, 4, 4).
Leeza Gibbons and Tony Dovolani (Foxtrot) - After making such a big deal of her age, I was surprised that Leeza picked a costume that exposed so much of her back. Her behind-the-scenes power struggle with Tony was amusing, however. Their performance seemed stiff, and Leeza is not as limber as her younger competitors. She does have great presence, though, and hopefully she can use her work ethic to her advantage. Score: 15 (5, 5, 5).
Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson (Cha Cha Cha) - I really did not want to like Joey Fatone, particularly after all the goofy "Fat One" shtick. I don't care how overweight he is--there's no way that this guy is an underdog. He has more dance experience than any other contestant, and it showed. Joey and Kym's performance was crowd-pleasing and the most technically proficient of the evening. They won everyone over (including me), and earned an impressive 24 points (8, 8, 8).
Laila Ali and Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Foxtrot) - With her boxer's physique, Laila manages to be gorgeous and intimidating at the same time. I expected her strong figure to be her downfall, but it ended up being an advantage. I would not have guessed that any couple could generate more heat than Maksim and Willa Ford from last season, but these two are seriously sexy together. Their intense, competitive personalities came through on the dance floor, and the judges rewarded them with a 23 (7, 8, 8).
John Ratzenberger and Edyta Sliwinska (Cha Cha Cha) - John deserves some major points for coming in as a last-minute replacement and doing a presentable job with his dance. The actor was dignified and enthusiastic, and his performance was better than the judges had expected. As usual, Edyta opted for as little clothing as possible, dancing in what can only be called a bikini dress. Luckily, John avoided looking like a dirty old man and received a respectable 17 for his efforts (6, 5, 6).
Shandi Finnessey and Brian Fortuna (Foxtrot) - Bruno compared this couple to Ken and Barbie, and that is a very fitting description. Both dancers were impressed with one another's cuteness, and their performance was about as passionate as two dolls moving across the dance floor. Shandi has height on her side, however, and could go far if she shows more emotion in her performances. The couple earned a bland 19 (6, 6, 7).
Clyde Drexler and Elena Grinenko (Cha Cha Cha) - I waited all night for someone to incorporate Clyde Drexler's nickname into the show, and it finally happened in Hour Two. The former athlete did do some gliding, and he is certainly a crowd favorite. He seems a bit uncomfortable with his height on the dance floor, though, and his performance was too safe. I hope that he takes the judges' advice and utilizes more space next week. Score: 18 (6, 6, 6).
Heather Mills and Jonathan Roberts (Foxtrot) - All of the build-up surrounding Mills' disability was pretty distracting. I found it difficult to watch her performance without anticipating some sort of major stumble. It turned out that the only tragic mishap during Heather and Jonathan's dance involved Heather's yellow-and-pink monstrosity of a dress. Yikes. Was she sponsored by a banana company? Her foxtrot was pretty tame, but she seemed to enjoy herself. Heather got no special treatment from the judges, who gave her performance an 18 (6, 6, 6).
Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough (Cha Cha Cha) - Shandi and Brian may not be the cutest couple after all. Apolo's energy and athleticism were infectious during his cha cha, and his partner Julianne is totally adorable. The pair gave an entertaining, playful performance, but the crowd seemed a little quiet at first. The judges gave them some technical advice, and seemed to love their energy. Score: 21 (7, 7, 7).
The front runners are clearly Joey & Kym, Laila & Maksim, and Ian & Cheryl. Couples like Billy Ray & Karina and Leeza & Tony will have to make up for their low scores during next week's dances. My votes went to Ian, Paulina, Laila, Joey, and Apolo.
Check back next week for Brett's recap of the Week 2 performances and the first elimination!