If there’s a shortage of sequins and spray tan in Hollywood, blame ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ It’s back. The ABC hit returned for its 10th season with record-breaking viewership – 23.9 million, the biggest ever for a DWTS opener -and the recipe that generated that blockbuster number appeared straightforward: shimmer, glitter, glamour, and sex appeal.
Indeed, with a Playboy Playmate, a Pussycat Doll, a Hollywood hottie, and the sexiest sports reporter in the land, tonight’s two-hour premiere had nearly enough steam and skin to qualify for a Pay Per View special.
There are noticeable changes this season, starting with a lineup reduction to eleven couples. We’re also missing fan favorites Karina Smirnoff and Lacey Schwimmer, neither of whom was asked to participate (no official explanations were given); and original host Samantha Harris has been replaced by season seven champion Brooke Burke, who seemed stiff and unsure in her own debut. (We give Brooke a 6 and hope for improvement – as well as an explanation for Harris’ departure).
All that business aside, there was some dancing to be done – a lot of dancing, actually. There were two full hours to fill up. The fun of opening night is picking the front runners. Prior to tonight, the favorites appeared to be Olympic skating star Evan Lysacek and Pussycat Doll lead singer Nicole Scherzinger, both of whom have previously shown off some pretty smooth moves in the spotlight.
And the couple to beat after tonight?
Well, if judge Carrie Ann Inaba‘s comments are any indication, Scherzinger and her partner, Derek Hough, are going to be tough. “I haven’t seen a routine like that out of the gate ever,” said Inaba. (Lysacek is graceful but needs to overcome some lazy toes.)
As for highlights, Pamela Anderson didn’t take off her clothes (though she looked like she wanted to), Len was visibly moved by seeing astronaut Buzz Aldrin in person (he made Cloris Leachman look absolutely nimble), Niecy Nash celebrated her curves with a good sense of humor, and Kate Gosselin didn’t embarrass herself, completely.
All in all, the participants seemed to have a blast.
Here’s how it all played out:
Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough, Dance: Viennese Waltz
Personally, we think it’s slightly unfair that Nicole already has boat-loads of dance experience as front woman of the Pussycat Dolls. But that aside, she was stunning, graceful, and elegant tonight and deserves mad props. Bruno jumped out of his seat and said it was “a performance of startling finesse. I am astounded.” “Apparently, the bar has just been set,” agreed Carrie Ann. Leave it to Len to bring it down. “Work on your technique!” he criticized.
Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya, Dance: Viennese Waltz
Figure skating and dancing: What’s the difference, right? Well, judging from his first dance, a lot! Carrie Ann might have squealed over his gorgeous lines, but she also warned him to “watch your toes” and “connect more to the audience” instead of just, er, skating by. But it was Len who nailed it: “Just because you can dance on ice doesn’t mean you can dance in a ballroom. However, you had got great artistry.” Bruno said he has the “grace of a swan.” And, let’s not forget, some polls out there have this pair as the frontrunner.
Pamela Anderson and Damian Whitewood, Dance: Cha Cha Cha
Rocking some great bed-head hair and exotic dancer moves, former Playmate/’Baywatch’ babe Pamela Anderson elicited this reaction from Bruno: “I can only think of sex, sex and more sex…”Stripperella’s back home!” Indeed. But, Carrie Ann thought it was “a little much,” while Len gave it to her straight, saying “It was a mess.” Let’s hope next week, Pam can finesse her sex appeal a bit, because tonight was a wee bit more trash than class.
Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Dance: Cha Cha Cha
She’s got legs and she knows how to use them. Well, almost. Yes, it was hard not to ogle the ESPN reporters amazing long legs, but her legwork was in question with the judges. Carrie Ann said her legs were “a little soft, but like when you’re hitting your lines you’re not quite hitting it sharp enough,” while Len echoed that sentiment saying, “You gotta work on straightening your forward leg.” Bruno said he wants to see her legs in the air more. But, overall, the judges dug how she strutted her stuff.
Jake Pavelka and Chelsie Hightower, Dance: Viennese Waltz
Jake said that he “doesn’t think I’m a great dancer.” Well, Jake, we’re here to tell you, you are wrong. Light on his feet and handsome as ever, the Bachelor looked like a pro to us. “I thought you moved very well,” said Len, who then criticized his posture and his bum being stuck out. Bruno played around with the way Jake led Chelsie around the floor, saying, “This is the waltz -nice and romantic. Don’t bash her about. What are you going to do with the rumba? Kill her?” No worries, Carrie Ann praised his bravado and thought he did an “excellent job.”
Niecy Nash and Louis Van Amstel, Dance: Cha Cha Cha
‘Reno 911”s Niecy proved that her self-proclaimed “junk in the trunk” has just as much place on the glamorous stage as a Playboy Playmate does. Her cha cha cha was one of the sexiest and most confident of the evening. “Way to work those jiggly parts,” said host Tom Bergeron. However, Bruno charged that she needed to keep her sassy going and grumpy ol’ Len said it was “uneventful,” but Carrie Ann was feeling it and she she, “loved it.” In the end, Niecy announced, “I am dedicating my performance to big girls everywhere.”
Chad Ochocinco and Cheryl Burke, Dance: Cha Cha Cha
Cheryl might have told Chad “you suck” in rehearsal, but once the NFL star hit the dancefloor, he left any “sucky-ness” he may have had way behind him. The pair kicked the show off with a sizzling cha-cha that had judge Len saying, “You came out like a tiger.” Bruno threw some love his way too with “You have a huge, huge, huge talent.” (Yes, three huges.) Something to work on? Extension and hitting it “a little harder,” suggested Carrie Ann.
Shannen Doherty and Mark Ballas, Dance: Viennese Waltz
The ‘Beverly Hills, 90210′ bad girl admitted to a fierce case of pre-show jitters, so we were expecting a truly uncomfortable performance. Sure, she was a little stiff, but she did not break out into hives nor did she fall on her face. The judges, though, had a different take: Bruno told her she was “swinging your arms around like a primate.” Carrie Ann, on the other hand, was “impressed,” while Len gave her kudos for her “ease and elegance.”
Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani, Dance: Viennese Waltz
Clearly the most talked-about (and possibly disliked) competitor this season, Kate didn’t too much to make us love her tonight. The Pepto-Bismol-colored dress was as over the top as her Barbie blonde hair. But onto the dancing: “You looked nervous,” said Len. “The technique was terrible,” said Bruno. “It looked like Tony was pushing a shopping cart around the floor.” Carrie Ann cut her a break saying that said she had a “sweet vulnerable.”
Aiden Turner and Edyta Sliwinska, Dance: Cha Cha Cha
The ‘All My Children’ star had me at that first jump. Wow. Can we say, s-e-x-y? These two emanated sex appeal like no other coupling tonight. Even Tom joked, “We are about one gust of wind away from an FCC fine.” That said, Carrie Ann was not feeling it. Len thought it was “full of everything I don’t like.” And, Bruno, went in for the kill with, “You were stiff as a plant.” Bruno=Brutal! Better luck next week.
Buzz Aldrin and Ashly Costa, Dance: Cha Cha Cha
He was one of the first to walk on the moon, so we would’ve felt robbed if we didn’t see a little moonwalk creep into his performance tonight. It wasn’t enough to please the judges, though. To us, his cha cha cha was cute, cute, cute. The judges didn’t quite agree. Len commended him for his bravery, but said he “wasn’t too good.” Bruno said, “It looked like you still had your moon boots on.” (Ouch! He’s 80. Give an American hero a break!)
Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough: 25
Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya: 23
Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 21
Pamela Anderson and Damian Whiteboard: 21
Jake Pavelka and Chelsie Hightower: 20
Chad Ochocincoand Cheryl Burke: 18
Niecy Nash and Louis Van Amstel: 18
Shannen Doherty and Mark Ballas: 18
Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani: 16
Aiden Turner and Edyta Sliwinska: 15
Buzz Aldrin and Ashly Costa: 14
Who did you think shined the brightest tonight? Hit the comments below and let us know what you think.