Posted: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 by Travis Cody in

Sorry to shout, but it's finally live from Hollywood!

I just did a little jig. Heheheheheheeee!

Welcome to season 8! I'm way too excited and I need to calm down. I do, right?

Nah! Let's get the party started!

Tonight, our couples dance either Waltz or Cha Cha Cha.

Waltz is my absolute favorite ballroom style, characterized by body sway and graceful rise and fall movements around the floor. Couples should focus on soft and round movement with simple and elegant steps. Waltz is romantic, and should be like a fairy tale. This is Marcus and Karen Hilton, from 1998. I have used their clips before. And why? Because they are 9 time professional international standard world champions, and have also been 10-dance world champions. That means they were deemed best at all 10 competition ballroom styles.

Cha Cha Cha is a cheeky Latin style characterized by lively and flirtatious movements. Couples should work together to synchronize movement, focusing on quick compact steps and teasing hip rolls. This is Bryan Watson with Carmen Vincelj.

So that's how the pros do it. Let's see how well our celebrities get it done, shall we? I mean that's why you're here, right???


Sneaky sneaky! They only introduce 11 of the couples to begin, saving the two replacements for later in the program. But both Nancy O'dell and Jewell are in the ballroom tonight.

Now away we go!

Lil Kim and Derek Hough dance Cha Cha Cha. Lil Kim reveals that she first watched the show when she was in prison. Well! I can say that I've never heard a celebrity introduce herself that way on DWTS. Right off the bat we have our first odd music selection, with Nasty Boy. Kim plenty of natural ability to move in the Latin style. But she needs some work on posture and technique. There wasn't a lot of chemistry between the two of them either. But, they had good Cha Cha Cha elements although it was a bit sloppy. Not bad to start and lots of potential to polish and refine. Judges say 7's across for a total of 21. A solid score.

Belinda Carlisle and Jonathan Roberts dance Waltz. I. Am. A. Fan. And I'm so hoping she does well. Waltz is a great first dance for her, and Jonathan is a terrific partner. She's a bit unsteady and very heavy on her feet and not nearly as graceful as I hoped. She's having a lot of trouble with spins and extension. You can really tell how foreign this is to her. She gave it a good try, and Jonathan really helped her get through it. She nearly found her stride toward the end when she started singing to the music. Judges say 6,6,5 for a total of 17. That's about right. I'm hoping she'll get better.

Lawrence Taylor and Edyta Sliwinska dance Cha Cha Cha. Now we get to see pretty quick if LT is charming and light on his feet like Emmitt & Jason, or wooden and clunky like Clyde & Evander. He's not as graceful as Emmitt, but he can move. I expected him to pick up the footwork really quick, and he did. The choreography did need a bit more Cha Cha Cha content. All he has to do is realize that he doesn't look silly, and he'll do just fine. He's got a ton of potential, just like most of the football players who have been on the show. He didn't take advantage of his size, and I think that was mostly due to nerves. The bigger guys have tried to downplay their size rather than emphasize it as a strength. Judges say 6,5,5 for a total of 16. It's a tough score, but it's pretty correct.

Steve-O and Lacey Schwimmer dance Waltz. He's been clean and sober for a year. Good for him. Now that was music from the Godfather. I've always loved that piece and it's just perfect for Waltz. He is not terribly graceful, but he's not mocking the ballroom and I appreciate that. Lacey's choreography played to his strengths and minimized his weaknesses. He did very well with it despite the awkwardness and lack of technique. I didn't know what to expect from him and I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised. He tried. Well done. Judges say 6,5,6 for a total of 17.

Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke dance Cha Cha Cha. OK...I need the drool towel for Pam. It's Cha Cha Cha to Addicted to Love. And the wonky music selection didn't matter because he's a natural. He's a strong lead. He's comfortable in and out of hold. He's got everything connected from move to move. If he can pull in the fans, he and Cheryl are going to challenge this season. That was terrific. One of the best from a male celebrity this early in the show. Now I need to go find something to cool off Pam. Judges say 8's across for a total of 24. Outstanding!

Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough dance Waltz. They are a couple in real life, so I would expect a truly romantic Waltz. But that was strange. I expected to see a love story and that was just not romantic at all. They didn't make any eye contact until the very end. The dance didn't seem smooth, and they didn't seem to have any chemistry. I guess it's not too easy to teach your boyfriend, or to concentrate on loving your girlfriend when you're trying to get the steps right. The tempo was too fast. He has some potential, and they really need to learn how to dance together and forget that it's a competition. Judges say 6,7,7 for a total of 20. Carrie Anne graded down because Julianne's feet came off the floor during a spin.

The first replacement is for Jewell, who will sing on next week's results show. Holly Madison and Dmitry Chaplin dance Cha Cha Cha after just a few days rehearsal. She is a former reality show host as well as a Playboy model. Dmitry taught her a very basic Cha Cha Cha and then guided her through it as well as he could. He did a good job of compensating for her. She's at a real disadvantage because there just wasn't time for her to really get comfortable with Dmitry and the way he works. She was awkward and unsure of her steps, and she doesn't have a natural grace. Dmitry is one of our favorite dancers from So You Think You Can Dance, and we can only hope that there are enough fans to vote these two through so we can see him for another week or two. Judges say 6's across for a total of 18. I think they got a bit of a bump because of the short time they had to practice. The dance really wasn't that good.

Ty Murray and Chelsie Hightower dance Cha Cha Cha. The tough thing for Ty is going to be understanding that dancing can be masculine. He's determined not to move those hips. That dance was pretty awkward. He lost timing a bit, and looked way out of his element. Poor guy. He was thinking way too much about looking silly. Hey guys...dancing isn't silly! I guess the best I can say is that he tried. I hope he enjoyed himself. The Latin styles just aren't going to be his thing. But I guess we'll have to enjoy Chelsie mostly in the pro routines...unless rodeo fans are ballroom dancing fans! Judges say 5,4,5 for a total of 14. Ouch Len!

Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas dance Waltz. Her advantages are going to be a history of dance training as part of gymnastics and her balance. Her disadvantage could be her age. But she's been competing her entire life so the lights and cameras and millions of people watching aren't going to bother her at all. And that Waltz was absolutely beautiful! That's the fairy tale I want from a Waltz. I forgot the other major advantage she has...control over her body and awareness of where she is on the floor. That dance was elegant and classy. Mark's choreography was excellent. Absolutely stunning! Judges say 8,8,7 for a total of 23. Uhm...I would have scored that 8's and 9's, despite the criticism about gymnastic arms.

Steve Wozniak and Karina Smirnoff dance Cha Cha Cha. Geek feet alert! I have to say that he certainly captured the cheekiness of Cha Cha Cha. And he looked like he had a great time. Karina made a fun dance for him. It was fun without being too silly. But there was no technique at all. The thing is, he's so nerdy and charming that you can't help but root for him. I suspect he'd have fared a bit better with a Waltz to start, but he did the best he could with what he had. Judges say 5,4,4 for a total of 13. I'd love to see him continue one more week just for his enthusiasm. That's what these first few weeks are about as the better couples separate from the rest.

David Alan Grier and Kym Johnson dance Waltz. Oddly enough, he could be a sleeper in this competition. He'll have had some dance training from his early career on Broadway. And he certainly knows how to perform. He had a couple of stumbles with footwork during that dance, plus posture trouble. And there were a couple of times when the performance didn't seem genuine. But overall it was very good. He is another one with tons of potential. One thing he definitely needs to work on is character...pick one and use it throughout the entire dance. Judges say 6,7,6 for a total of 19. That falls in line compared to some of the better performances.

Denise Richards and Maksim Chmerkovskiy dance Cha Cha Cha. Well dang Maks! You can't make your partner cry before you even get on the ballroom for your first performance! Oh for Pete's sake...we are doing Cha Cha Cha to Poison. This is going to make the list of worst music choices. OK...Pam had her drool moment and now I have mine. That gal has some LEGS LEGS LEGS LEGS! It's hard for me to judge the dancing because of the music. She let her nerves get the best of her. Maybe now that she's gone through it, she'll be able to relax and let Maks teach her. She needs to realize that she has the best teacher on the program. Judges say 6's across for a total of 18.

The next replacement is for Nancy O'dell. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani dance Waltz. She was famously dumped by The Bachelor last week, as the jerk proposed to her and then backed out of the engagement. And now she's had 2 days to learn the Waltz. And isn't she the natural. She must have danced before. They looked wonderful together and told a beautifully romantic story. OK. I'm a hopeless romantic and that's the moment she should have had for herself last week. I don't care if you're looking for a husband on a tv reality program. Nobody deserves to be treated that way. She'll get a bunch of sympathy votes, but she deserves the real thing for that performance. And Tony did a fantastic job of putting that together. Judges say 8,7,8 for a total of 23. Excellent!

Tonight's scores and votes carry over to next week for the first elimination. So let's take a look at our very first leader board.

24 Gilles & Cheryl
23 Melissa & Tony
23 Shawn & Mark
21 Lil Kim & Derek
20 Chuck & Julianne
19 David & Kym
18 Denise & Maks
18 Holly & Dmitry
17 Steve & Lacey
17 Belinda & Jonathan
16 LT & Edyta
14 Ty & Chelsie
13 Steve & Karina

We each had 13 votes tonight. Pam's went to Gilles. She's hooked y'all, and it's not all about the hawtness factor. She told me to tell you that. She said to tell you that it was mostly about the dancing. Really. She wouldn't lie to you.

I was going to split my votes between Belinda and Shawn. But Melissa got to me. So I went three ways.

What? I said I'm a hopeless romantic.

And I'll say it again. Dancing is not silly.

Tune in next Monday when our 13 couples dance again for judges' scores. The two pairs with the lowest combined scores will have a dance off on Tuesday, and then the first couple will be eliminated.

And we're off!

As to my other harmless obsession, congratulations to these teams who have had their tickets punched to the Big Dance:

Cornell from the Ivy League
East Tennessee State from the Atlantic Sun
Radford from the Big South
Moorehead State from the Ohio Valley
Northern Iowa from the Missouri Valley
Chattanooga from the Southern Conference
Virginia Commonwealth from the Colonial Athletic
Gonzaga from the West Coast Conference

8 in, 56 to go!


  1. DrillerAA says:

    I thought Ty Murray's comment was priceless, "Dancin' is like bull ridin', you're never quite ready, it just becomes your turn." Love it just love it. He's a cowboy through and through.
    I do feel sorry for Chelsea Hightower, something tells me she and her partner are going to make an early exit. He has NO fan base to keep him in the show.

  1. Marsha says:

    Isn't that just like a guy to go for a 'three way'?? Pam has it right....Gilles...WOW. I've never seen him before, but dang.....I'm excited that Cheryl has a chance again this year....they should be around a while.

    I'm with that Ty was too funny!

    And hurray for Melissa!! Job well done.....she's a former Cowboy's cheerleader and had ballet as a show girl! Even Tom's comment to her as they were heading back stage was good...'bet you never thought you'd have this much fun on ABC.' Got to love Tom!

    Yipeeeeee....we've got dancing!!

  1. Julie says:

    It was a fantastic show! Tom's quick witted (or so it seemed) comments were a delight! I voted for Melissa and Shawn and I usually vote for MAKS no matter who he dances with. Wonder why? Bwhahaha! Reliving the show this morning with your comments brought the smiles back all over again.

    Thanks Travis! You are SO good at this! more forgot to mention the snacks! You always tell us about your snacks! You know..the CAKE!!!

  1. Anonymous says:

    it's march madness all over!

  1. Dianne says:

    what a great review Trav, you captured just about all of my feelings about each couple

    I split my votes between Gilles - OMG!! - and Steve-O because I loved how earnest he seemed. Don't know how I'll keep voting since I like quite a few of them.

    I also like the new entrance stairs and the new back room set-up and I wonder if the cheesy opening showing all the couple is gone forever.

  1. Jamie says:

    I always read the Comcast Review and then come to read you. They like Gilles a lot too.

  1. Bond says:

    HURRAH for my new cousin Gilles! LOL

    Most excellent recap. Of course I am hoping LT sticks around for a while and I liked Melissa's tenacity...less then 48 hours to practice and she did great!

    But then ... as Pam has noticed...GO FOR THE MARINI!!!!!

  1. Grandy says:

    I think I lost track. What happened to Nancy O'Dell and Jewell? Why did they need replacements?

    Thanks for the recap. I don't get a chance to watch the show that often, but always count on you to fill me in.

    YUM EYE CANDY!! Tell Pam I'll be checking out her latest crush and reporting back. Good eye! ;)

  1. Ivanhoe says:

    Boy, did I miss your reviews :o)
    I watched last half an hour and enjoyed it. I think Shawn is my girl fave. Don't know about my guy fave yet.
    Rooting for Cleveland State tonight!

  1. Leigh of says:

    I left you a shouot out on my blog, Trav!

  1. Akelamalu says:

    I'll have to root for Belinda, she's the only one I know! :0

  1. Cherie says:

    I feel totally up to speed now. I just had an interview where I was asked, ASKED for dance analogies to real life. It was FABULOUS! :)

  1. I was so wishing there was a multi-person gchat going on last night..I am the only person I know in my offline life who watches this!

    Lil Kim dedicated her dance to her cellblock sistahs. She has some moves...the street smarts thing could help her. were too kind.

    Gilles was even better than I anticipated. He truly has some dance talent...among other things...Carrie Ann's reaction was a riot.

    Julianne and her beau don't dance together in real life I am guessing.

    Ty admitted he was thinking about his good ole boys in the audience making fun of him...and I am afraid his fan base won't hold up on this show.

    Shawn's history and natural talent may overcome her age. Not sure she has the fan base for THIS show however.

    Woz...I love him. But this ain't gonna work out. It would be interesting if they divided the fan vote by phone and email...just to see if the hackers support his online appeal. This ain't the Genius Bar afterall.

    David Allen...I can't help but watch his face and think he's about to go goofy.

    Not a fan of Denise Richards as a even her great legs didn't overshadow her poor performance. Just a couple a days and under the shadow of a nationally exposed broken heart. She may be the surprise contestant.

    I don't actually vote however...rolling my eyes.

  1. I had no clue who Gilles was and I came in late. If I had not recognized Cheryl I would have thought he was a new pro. He really is a natural. I see him and Shawn in the finals.

  1. Linda says:

    In case I've never said it before, thank you, Travis, for doing such a great job on the recaps of the shows as I just don't have the time to sit down in front of the TV for that long. Come to think of it, right now I have nothing to sit down in front of the TV on as I still have no couch or loveseat or anything in the living room! There are a lot of boxes but not really conducive to sitting on!

    And I think it's great that you're such a romantic and don't think that dancing is silly. It's a lot of work and takes a lot of talent and coordination. My hat is off to all who go on that show!

  1. Jeff B says:

    This is the time of year when I don't have a lot to say here, but wanted to let you know I at least read it.

  1. Travis says:

    Drilleraa: I can't believe I missed that quote. That's a great way to put it. I'm sure we'll get to see plenty of Chelsie dancing with the rest of the pros.

    Marsha: Hehehehehee!

    Julie: For snacks we had Fritos and cream cheese, and turkey sammiches, and CAKE!

    Lois: It is!

    Dianne: But I love the cheesy opening!

    NNG: Not me! I just put my opinions out there.

    Jamie: Gilles was really quite the surprise.

    V: HA! LT will probably stick for awhile if the football fans are watching...and picking up the phone.

    Grandy: Ms O'dell injured her knee and Jewell fractured the tibias in both legs. Yikes!

    Ivanhoe: I'm a Butler man, but good luck to your guys!

    Leigh: I'll be over shortly!

    Akelamalu: She didn't do great, but maybe she'll improve.

    Cherie: Excellent!

    Katherine: Thanks for your thoughts! But you don't vote?

    Starr: That's a good prediction. But we'll have to see what the fans think.

    Linda: You are most welcome!

    Jeff: No worries. I understand.

  1. Yeah I guess I should have added that is if it remains skill and not personality driven.