Cue that theme music...

Posted: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 by Travis Cody in

Live from Hollywood, it's the return of Dancing with the Stars!

Welcome to the first evening of the three night premier! And welcome back to our host, one of the best in the business, Tom Bergeron. The lovely Samantha Harris returns for more of her backstage interviews.

Our familiar judges return with Len Goodman flanked by Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli.

And it's the male pros to start us off with some rapid Jive steps to The Boys are Back in Town. And that deserves our first WOOOOOOOOOOO of the season!!!

The fellas are up first, dancing both a ballroom and a Latin style. Wow! I think this is the first time our celebrities have had to learn two dances for the same night.

Aaron Carter, singer and actor, and Karina Smirnof dance Cha Cha Cha. He's got an advantage because he's been performing for so long. He's got no fear of the stage and looks very comfortable with the style of dance. This is a great dance for him to start with too, because it takes advantage of some of his natural movement. He's got the hip action squared away for the most part. He's a little rough with his footwork, but that's to be expected. His connection with Karina is spot on. She has given him some solid choreography to start with, and he did well with it. I didn't have any idea what to expect from him. He has great potential, he just needs to focus and clean up the steps. Well done. Judges say 7,8,7 for a total of 22.

Chuck Liddell, ultimate fighting champion, and Anna Trebunskaya dance Foxtrot. Rehearsals were not kind to Chuck. His feet were really heavy and he's plodding and awkward. His movement is stiff and uncertain. But I give him props because he's trying. The concentration is on his face, but he found a few spots where he could smile. It certainly wasn't well danced, but he didn't disrespect it and he took it seriously. He didn't have any musicality at all and he wasn't classy or smooth. However, it really wasn't the disaster it might have been...not sophisticated, but not knuckle dragging either. Pam gave him props for being charming, and she didn't expect that. It was a good start. Judges say 6,5,5 for a total of 16.

Mark Decascos, The Chairman from Iron Chef America, and Lacey Schwimmer dance Cha Cha Cha. He looks fantastic in rehearsal footage. He's got a lot of natural ability that Lacey is going to be able to take advantage of. He'll have to work on posture and also on connecting one move to the next so that everything is seamless. And he'll need to curb some of the natural enthusiasm that can cause over-dancing...that's the key to keeping the dance smooth. But his musicality was excellent and Lacey made a great dance for him. She took advantage of his ability and the way he can move. He's got everything he needs to do well in this competition and now Lacey has to improve his footwork and technique. He's got the presentation and performance down. Judges say 7's across for a total of 21.

Ashley Hamilton, actor and comedian, and Edyta Sliwinska dance Foxtrot. He doesn't appear graceful at all. He's a tall man dancing with a short woman, and unlike most first time ballroom dancers he does appear to be staying tall rather than stooping over. That gives him an elegance, despite the fact that he's a bit awkward and slow in his footwork. But he's not horrible. He looks like he's enjoying himself. He was a pretty good lead and he danced with Edyta, rather than posing and letting her dance around him. He was focused on his footwork and I didn't see a lot of misplaced steps. The one thing I thought lacking was a connection to the audience. He's at a bit of a disadvantage unless his dad's fanbase is transferrable. We thought it was a good performance. A bit rough, but nicely done. Judges say 5,6,4 for a total of 15. That 4 is too low.

Donny Osmond, entertainer, and Kym Johnson dance Foxtrot. OK...I just have to tell you how sweet and cute this is. Pam let out a squee that startled Mr Tucker, and she sat on the edge of the sofa with her hands clasped in front of her, and a huge smile on her face. And she was rewarded because Donny did very well. Perfromance isn't going to be an issue at all for him. He was smooth and sophisticated, with a ton of charm thrown in. And he managed to do things like keep his frame except for a bit of rounded shoulders, be a strong partner to Kym, connect one move to another, and put his feet in the right places. The performance was outstanding. Of course my smitten Lady thought it was perfect and she immediately got busy dialing. But we knew that was going to happen. I enjoyed the performance, but I recognize that Donny isn't a runaway technical dancer. I will say that his fanbase is going to give him plenty of time to take notes and improve on the technical parts of his dancing. The performing is always going to be strong. Judges say 7,6,7 for a total of 20. Pam is not pleased, but Donny himself agreed that he has work to do and he got carried away in theatricality.

Louie Vito, snowboard champion, and Chelsie Hightower dance Foxtrot. I think this is actually the first time I've seen him smile. In all the promos he's got a bit of a grimace. But that grin was one of those hey-look-at-what-I-learned-how-to-do things. It was very endearing, almost as though he was tickled at how well he was doing. He had a few stumbles, but I enjoyed watching him. He actually did ok with that, and he got better and more confident as he continued to dance. He had good posture in between the slipping and mis-steps. And there's is no getting around the fact that he's charming. He'll get votes just from that, and from how much fun he seemed to have while he was dancing. Chelsie is a great teacher...remember what she did with Ty Murray last season. Nicely done. Judges say 6,7,6 for a total of 19.

Michael Irvin, NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver, and Anna Demidova dance Cha Cha Cha. I do not like Michael Irvin. Optimal outcome for me would be a very quick elimination, with apologies to new pro Anna. So Michael stood in the middle of the floor and wiggled a bit. Then he moved around the room in a sort of Cha Cha Cha pattern. It wasn't horrible. He has some smoothness and plenty of rhythm, although his timing to the music was a bit off. He'll have to work on technique and posture. And Anna will have to work on the content because there just wasn't quite enough dancing. I was a bit surprised by how minimal the content was, especially considering how well she choreographed dances during the new pro competition last season. Judges say 5,4,4 for a total of 13.

Tom DeLay, politician, and Cheryl Burke dance Cha Cha Cha. Wild Thing? Really? OK that was a funny comment...going left for Mr DeLay is totally outrageous. But this music for an old conservative is just not working for me. I do have to give him props for letting loose and just going with the dance. And I have to say he wasn't really the worst of the night either. He had a certain grace about him and he wasn't that awkward. And he was better than some other older gentlemen who have been on the show. Cheryl is great. The problem was missing Cha Cha Cha content. There just wasn't enough of it. There was some basic stuff in it and he performed well. But there was too much play to the bad music. Now of course the question is going to be...who is watching this show, and will they vote based on the dancing or on the politics? Judges say 6,5,5 for a total of 16.

That wraps up the first dance for the fellas. Now we have something called a relay dance, where we get a chance to see two groups of four. They dance either a Salsa or a Viennese Waltz and we get a chance to compare them against each other in the same style with the same music. Then the judges will rank them and assign points to be added to the scores from each pair's first dance. Got it?

The first group is Ashley & Edyta, Chuck & Anna T, Louie & Chelsie, and Donny & Kym dancing a Salsa relay. Ashley was very timid and awkward. Chuck attacked the dance, but he was mostly a prop for Anna although he did that well. Donny and Kym controlled the floor and smoked the Salsa. Louie threw a backflip, but then was a bit shy in the dancing part. I thought Donny was the winner among the four. Judges say 4 points to Ashley & Karina, 6 points to Chuck & Anna T, 8 points to Louis & Chelsie, and 10 points to Donny & Kym.

The second group is Aaron & Karina, Mark & Lacey, Tom & Cheryl, and Michael & Anna D dancing a Viennese Waltz relay. Aaron was elegant and smooth, although I thought the tempo was too fast and out of control. Mark slowed it down and danced very sophisticated, with wonderful arm lines. Tom was the classy older gentleman, although a bit awkward rather than fluid. Michael looked uncomfortable and struggled with posture. I thought either Mark or Aaron was the winner. Judges say 4 points to Tom & Cheryl, 6 points to Michael & Anna, 8 points to Mark & Lacey, 10 points to Aaron & Karina.

I like this relay thingy. Each couple gets the stage to itself, so that makes it easier for me to recap.

Here's our leader board after two dances for the fellas:

32 Aaron and Karina
30 Donny and Kym
29 Mark and Lacey
27 Louie and Chelsie
22 Chuck and Anna T
20 Tom and Cheryl
19 Ashley and Edyta
19 Michael and Anna D

There can be no doubt in anyone's mind that Pam's 8 votes went to Donny. My votes went to Mark and Lacey.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening watching the fellas. Tune in tonight when we'll see how well the ladies do. And then tomorrow night, we'll eliminate two couples.


  1. Travis says:

    What I meant to say was that I think it was the first time our celebrities had to learn two dances for premier night. Obviously they do two dances in one show as we get further into the season.


  1. I am not a fan of Michael Irvin's.

  1. Dianne says:

    I agree that DeLay was not the worst dancer of the evening - I thought Ashley was surprisingly bad - but he does have that injury so who knows how that changes things

    I LOVE the snow boarding kid - never heard of him before

    he got my votes for making me smile smile smile

  1. Bond says:

    I thought Mark was better than Aaron in the relay dance...

    Michael was the worst of the night for me in total and Anna was very disappointing in her choreography.

    Donnie is certainly the front runner after week one, but I think Mark will give him a run for his money.

    Going home from the men, week one should be Michael, but it could be Tom...

    Louie is the dark horse at this point...the kid has charisma....

  1. first of all....Bruno could not stay seated. He kept doing that "stand up and lean in for emphasis" thing??? Every time!

    Aaron...not bad at all. He'll do well...and he knows it.

    I was surprised at Liddell too too...although he was lumbering, he is learning how to make his body move differently.

    Mark...yeah, he could be a contender. He has style and ability

    Ashley Hamilton. yuck. appeal and decent dancing...I know Pam was happy.

    Louie Vito is my sentimental favorite. I'd let him be my son-in-law. Boarders are super strong and he is young. If he likes it enough to work hard he could be a finalist.

    Irvin: the judges and you had it. NO content. I wonder if Anna let him talk her out of real dancing? Rookie mistake on her part. I was getting irritated with her putting her head on his shoulder ALL the time.

    DeLay. It still makes me laugh. He was not bad. Obviously he enjoys dancing and as a longtime fan this is probably huge for him. Music was odd. But what really struck me was how respectful the judges were...kept calling him "sir" and all. It was interesting for sure.

    I really liked the relay thing too. But I also think it skews the points in a new way. heart is happy to have the show back. Thanks for giving me a place to talk about it.

  1. Akelamalu says:

    Haha you're happy now eh Trav? :)

  1. Anndi says:

    I still haven't recovered from the opening number. *swoons and fans self*

    Aaron started the season off quite well. I enjoyed watching that number. He has good musicality, performs well, could give us very nice lines.

    Chuck, I think I caught him smiling?! He gets points for respectin the process and trying.

    Mark had it going on. Now, I need to see the smooth.

    Ashley Hamilton, well... the good points he has going for him are not what the average viewer pays attention too. His frame is good, he needs to come out of his shell... maybe take some of Donny's over-enthusiasm in. I wonder how much of the stiffness might be related to his accident.

    Donny was a blast to watch but he needs to work on technique a bit more. He did much better in the relay.

    Louie is precious, and you described the grin perfectly.. I called it the "Look Ma! No Hands!" grin. I wanted to smack Mr Crankypants for the hair comment.

    Michael was meh. Anna didn't rise to the occasion choreography wise... at all. I'm tired of the football player gimmick.

    Wild thing? Oh come on!!!! *gag* I feel bad for Cheryl, who did she annoy to get stuck with him? She did put way too much fluff in there. Was it to hide his shortcomings? I think so. My issue with the "older" dancers is, they batter have something very distinctive about them (Cloris' enthusiam and cheekiness, George's ... well, class) or it just doesn't fly. DeLay, just doesn't grab me.

    What I love about relay is it's close to what we actually see in competition. But by having it be a one after the other, we get to focus on each couple individually. If the couple can make an impact in 30 seconds, it says a lot for their abilities and the choreography.
    Also, I think it takes the musical bias element away and by having the competitors dressed in similar outfits it brings the focus back to the dancing.

    I like it. Change is good.

  1. Jamie says:

    You watched Delay and I watched House. Thank you for that service. :-) My squee to scare cats was over the weekend with Hugh Jackman as Wolverine diving nude off a cliff. May have to substitute a heart healthier Donny Osmond.

  1. Linda says:

    I only watched about half an hour of the show while we were waiting for the season premier of The Big Bang Theory to come on at work but the part we did watch had the two guys in the room sitting on the edge of their seats wow'ing over the professional female dancers! I doubt they even realized that there was another person dancing with them!

    Sorry I missed seeing Donny Osmond dance, I was like Pam - quite a fan back in the day when he was young and so was I. Hopefully he'll stick around and I can catch him dancing at some point or just settle for YouTube reruns!

  1. just checking to see if your next post was up before I went to bed...laughing...

  1. Travis says:

    Charles: Ditto.

    Dianne: Little Louie...can we call him LL Vito? LOL!

    V: I think the top 3 men are Aaron, Mark, and Donny. Oddly enough, I also think that both Aaron and Mark may have the fanbases to keep up with Donny.

    Katherine: Bruno needs a seatbelt. And while the relay does skew the points, it doesn't do so nearly as badly as awarding the same score to everyone for the group dances later in the season. I think with the relays, because the points are ranked, it more clearly rewards the better dancer. It was also much easier to compare them than it is in the group dances. At least it is for me because I have a hard time seeing them all in the group work.

    Akelamalu: I am!

    Ann: The more I think about it, the more I wonder if Anna D was nervous? It's possible that she couldn't get enough proficiency with Irvin, so she had to simplify and she did that by removing content. Hopefully this week she'll do better.

    Jamie: I suggest balance in all things. And do remember that the segments are about 5-6 minutes long. So when Mr DeLay comes on, you can switch over to something else and come back.

    Linda: See! This is how guys first get interested. And then they discover that they enjoy the show. Or at least they continue to enjoy watching the ladies.

    Katherine: LOL! You'll have to stay up until at least midnight.

    Starr: I was pleased that he was good!