Cue that theme music...

Posted: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 by Travis Cody in

We're finally live from Hollywood!!!

Dang I love that theme music!

Pam was grumbly at 1900 when a crisis erupted at her work. But she made attacked and resolved it and although she'll have to catch Music on the Couch on replay, she made it home with time to spare. So now we have our fine Premier Night feast, all phones are charged and in good order in case we feel compelled to vote, and all is right with my world.

Brooke Burke joins host Tom Bergeron this season, and that works for me. She looks stunning in a silvery shimmery gown. She is one hot mama!

Something else new for this season is the "Celebraquariam". The red room where the pairs get their scores is now out in front of the stage and open to the audience.

Our 11 pairs begin competition with Cha Cha Cha or Viennese Waltz, two of my favorites!

Cha Cha Cha is characterized by triple steps and rock steps in parallel and perfectly synchronized. This dance is fun, flirty, and cheeky with lots of sassy hip action. This is a great pair, Bryan Watson and Carmen Vincelj.

Viennese Waltz is characterized by graceful turns that sweep around the floor. This dance must be elegant and sophisticated. If you've been reading here for any length of time, you know I go to Marcus and Karen Hilton to demonstrate this dance.

Ready? OK!

Chad Ochochinco and Cheryl Burke dance Cha Cha Cha. He's out of his element, so his on field personality isn't so much in evidence. I definitely prefer the toned down version. Like most of the football players on the show, his initial problems are with his upper body posture. His shoulders naturally tighten into his neck and his upper body wants to lean forward. But he can definitely move. And he's taking this seriously, which I always appreciate from flamboyant celebrities. His technique leads a lot of work, but there's potential there. He's coordinated and nimble, and he doesn't seem to be embarrassed. He needs to extend and finish off steps and arm movements. Cheryl gave him some basic Cha Cha Cha footwork, and while he handled most of it he needs to relax into the floor and just let the steps flow. I like his attitude, which I did not expect. Judges say 6's across for a total of 18. That's about right. He forgot some steps in the middle of the dance, and didn't finish as strong as he started.

Shannen Doherty and Mark Ballas dance Viennese Waltz. I know Shannen has a bad reputation in the business, but I liked her on Charmed. That side by side opening was difficult and you can see her nerves all over her face. She's not as graceful as I'd like her to be. She seemed so focused on getting those opening steps in the right order. But once they got into hold, it was a little better. And when she finally got through that part, she relaxed a little and then came the smile. She needs to work on the glide and not making things so clunky. I did like the choreography, but I would have preferred more in hold so she could feel more secure. She handled it though, and it wasn't the worst I've ever seen. And the emotion of dancing for her father was heart warming. Judges say 6's across for a total of 18. I'd say that's about right. She wasn't as graceful as I think she can be, and she needs to work on her footwork. But in her favor, she managed the turns pretty well.

Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy dance Cha Cha Cha. I've always enjoyed Erin as a sideline reporter. And isn't she a little hottie in that tiny yellow dress!! She's letting those hips roll. She was a little rubbery in her arms and her legs were a bit weird in spots. She's inconsistent in her movement, but look at her perform! She's not an actor gang, she's a journalist. She mastered her inhibitions and went for it. I loved the performance. That was completely unexpected. She and Maks have fantastic chemistry together. And she has wonderful musicality. Her steps were on beat. Maks gave her difficult choreography, but it wasn't beyond her ability. Judges say 7's across for a total of 21. Good score. She could challenge Chad for the sports vote.

Brief interlude: Brooke is handling the Celebraquariam interviews quite well. I like her style. She's not just doing the gushy thing. She remembers what this competition was like and she knows what it takes to win.

Jake Pavelka and Chelsie Hightower dance Viennese Waltz. Pam says "sigh". He's up on his toes. Not great rise and fall, but not bad either. He's less awkward than rehearsal footage, which means he's listening and taking notes to improve. That was actually very nice. It was elegant and classy, and leaning toward the right side of graceful. His footwork was pretty good. He needs to work on posture and he also needs to slow down. The adrenaline got the better of him in spots and he rushed through some of the steps and turns. Pam says that he's handsome and romantic and sweet and charming and...OK OK! I think Pam may have found an early favorite. I will say that he danced very well, and that he took the lead in the dance which is difficult for the fellas in the first week. Judges say 7,6,7 for a total of 20. Excellent score and well deserved.

Niecy Nash and Louis Van Amstel dance Cha Cha Cha. She has huge personality. And she likes her jiggly parts. HA! She knows who she is and she's quite comfortable in her own skin. That kind of confidence can serve her very well on this show. And Louis is such an amazingly good teacher. Oh I like her! She's a lot of fun. And she's doing the dancing too. She's got the performance down, and her footwork is pretty dang good too. She has musicality. She's terrific! She brought her comedy to it, but she respected what she was given also. I thought she had the perfect cheeky, flirty energy for Cha Cha Cha. She had a few mis-steps here and there, but nothing to be overly critical of. I don't know about Mr Cranky Pants saying that was flat and uneventful. That dance was way fun. I could vote for her too. Judges say 7,5,6 for a total of 18. Ppppppffffffttttt to Len and Bruno. I know it probably wasn't the best dance of the night, but it was fun and I like fun.

Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya dance Viennese Waltz. Well that was unexpected. Spinning in a direction he's not used to makes him dizzy. Who knew? However, I did expect him to pick up technique quickly and he did. The technical part of his skating was clearly evident. He extended through movements and finished things off. He's tall and he knows how to use that height. He makes fantastic elegant lines. And he understands how to move across the floor. He's musical and artistic, which I expected. He does need to work on connecting more with Anna and with the audience. And he definitely needs to work on his feet. Judges say 8,7,8 for a total of 23. That's about right. He's definitely got a lot of potential and a bit of a head start over the rest of the field. But I don't think the competition is his to lose. It'll be interesting to see how he handles the Latin dances.

Buzz Aldrin and Ashly Costa dance Cha Cha Cha. HA! He called Ashly a cute babe. Well, he's right dangit! The man is a legend and an American hero. He's also 80 years old. Ashly did a great job leading him through that dance. He didn't do too badly. He remembered most of the steps and he had fun. He got the hard one out of the way. I think he'll do much better with the ballroom style next week. Obviously this isn't about technique or musicality or any of the things we're looking at with the younger celebrities. Having said that, my grandfather is 85 and still an active member in both his square dancing and ballroom clubs. Dancing is for anyone, at any age. It's a great way to stay fit in your body and your mind. So good on ya Buzz! Judges say 5,4,5 for a total of 14. Well of course that's harsh. But it's the right score. I'm just honored to see the man get out there and enjoy himself.

Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough dance Viennese Waltz. My expectations for her are very high. She's gorgeous. Wow. Oh my. They are almost a ringer couple. That was simply stunning. Classy, elegant, sophisticated, romantic, and beautiful. Once again, Derek is a master choreographer. He knows exactly the right switch to flip with his celebrity partners. They have really set the bar high, not only for the rest of the pairs, but for themselves as well. That was absolutely amazing. They hit on every possible level. I couldn't really see the things that Mr Cranky Pants was after because the performance was so mesmerizing. Judges say 9,7,9 for a total of 25. Len takes off too many points when he gets his back up. Maybe there were technique issues with her arms and feet, but the performance brings that up to at least an 8.

Aiden Turner and Edyta Sliwinksa dance Cha Cha Cha. Oh now this is definitely Sexy Couple. He has to work on the hip action. And on the dancing. It seemed like he mostly stalked through the steps. I guess the best I can say is that he got through it. Oddly enough, they didn't actually have a connection with each other. The judges had some tough criticism, and I think most of it was warranted. These two should have been able to really smoke things up with chemistry, but there was no heat in the routine. Nothing felt natural. Unfortunately, no matter how good you look, if it doesn't transfer to the dancing then it ultimately won't mean much. He has to be able to relax and feel the music. At this point, he's too stiff and careful. It wasn't horrible, but I don't see the same kind of potential in Aiden that I saw with Jake. Pam says yes, he's handsome but there isn't much more than good looks. Judges say 5's across for a total of 15. I think it was a few points better than Buzz, but it just wasn't a good dance.

Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani dance Viennese Waltz. Tony kept the dance very slow, more at regular Waltz tempo than Viennese. I think that helped Kate relax a little, although she still looked awkward and scared to death. But she got through it. Hopefully she'll be able to relax more now that this first one is out of the way. She's not a performer or an actor or an athlete. She's a celebrity by accident because she's got a lot of kids and was willing to put her family in front of cameras. Tony can teach her the steps and show her how to perform, but she has to buy into it and let herself enjoy the experience. Based on what I've read, I don't know whether she's going to carry any kind of fan base into the show. So she needs to find her connection to Tony, to the music, and to the audience. And to do that, she has to show that she's enjoying what she's doing. Judges say 6,5,5 for a total of 16. I can't imagine how she's going to handle the Latin dance next week.

Pamela Anderson and Damian Whitewood dance Cha Cha Cha. She's working it like a club dancer, but it's surprisingly effective. I like Damian's choreography. He's mixed a lot of basic Cha Cha Cha movement into the routine, and then thrown in some raunch to make Pamela feel comfortable with what she's doing. There were certainly technique issues. She had some places where she missed footwork, and her posture wasn't very good. But she did certainly perform the dance. She engaged the audience and developed chemistry with Damian. I think that if she wants to challenge for the win, she'll have to tighten things up and learn the dancing technique rather than only relying on being sexy. Judges say 7,6,8 for a total of 21. I think that score is a little high. The performance was fun and sexy, cheeky and flirty as a Cha Cha Cha should be. But it was a bit messy in places. I don't know that it was 3 points better than Niecy.

Here's our leader board after the first dance:

25 Nicole and Derek
23 Evan and Anna
21 Erin and Maks
21 Pamela and Damian
20 Jake and Chelsie
18 Niecy and Louis
18 Chad and Cheryl
18 Shannen and Mark
16 Kate and Tony
15 Aiden and Edyta
14 Buzz and Ashly

We were pleasantly surprised with the celebrities, which is why we always try to reserve judgment on anyone who goes on this show. We think this is a terrific group, and with few exceptions the celebrities have quite a bit of potential. This could be a very competitive season.

No results this week. All the pairs return next week for another dance.

Did we vote? Yes we did! Pam tossed a couple to Jake because he's charming, and she split the rest between Evan and Nicole. I split mine between Nicole, Erin, and Niecy. Since there are only 11 celebrities, the window to split votes is pretty tight. But we're nowhere near ready to narrow down to a single favorite yet.

How about y'all? Who did you like?


  1. Travis, this is the first season I'm actually watching the show as opposed to catching parts of it while my mom - and before that, my mom and gram - were watching it upstairs. And why, might you ask?


    Have I ever mentioned that white tie and tails is the absolute most dreamy thing a man can wear?

    ...and then Evan walked out...

    Don't laugh, but my husband and I quickly switched over, the second Evan got his score, so we could watch Spartacus. You see where my priorities lie.

    But Evan did not disappoint. His role as solo skater is his biggest weakness, as he's not used to having to move with a partner. That was glaringly obvious, the moreso because his technique was so strong. Hope his natural competitive streak lights that fire to improve the in-synch aspects of ballroom dancing.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Trav: Thanks for the summary. I didn't get to watch. I hd some 6th grade math to correct. :-) I knew I could come to your blog for a review. Even Lysacek graduated from high school with my nephew, so I'm hoping he puts on a good show. I'm impressed to hear that Buzz in dancing. I'll have to catch an episode before he goes.

  1. Mags says:

    Believe it or not-I actually watched last night! I was so curious about the strange bunch of people they chose this season I had to see it for myself. I enjoyed it mostly, but I don't think I can get into it to go back week after week. I do think that Niecy Nash did well and I found her dance to be very entertaining. She knows how to move! While it was great to see Buzz up there, I sort of feel bad for his partner because it's pretty obvious that he won't make it very far. At least if you really advance based on dancing.

  1. Dianne says:

    Brooke is doing a great job!!

    I loved Tom's reaction to Pam Anderson and his sarcasm to Bruno who was a little too much this week

    I liked everyone - it's just way too soon

    I voted for Shannon and Niecy for now

  1. cathy says:

    Whoopee! This is the stuff I love. As you know I won't get to see the show so I am relying on you to keep me informed :)

  1. Jamie says:

    It's pretty sad that I don't recognize the names of the majority of the "celebrities". Of course that is one reason I love your reviews until we get down to the finals.

  1. Bond says:

    Not sure how far she can go, but I loved Niecy's openness and her style

    I was surprised at Chad's dance..and agree that he toned down his attitude and made me forget I am not a fan of his when he is on the field of play

    erin and Shannon also did well...

    no real favs yet tthough

    Excellent recap as always Sir

    Thanks again for being in the chat room last night and the shout out here today

  1. Travis says:

    Julia: Trust me, I understand the priorities. I'm glad you watched a little of it. It's a fun show!

    GGG: Math is much more important than dancing. Wait...did I really just say that???

    Mags: I'm glad you gave it a try. We could be in for one of the most competitive seasons.

    Dianne: She is! Bruno is out of control. He's borderline obnoxious now.

    Cathy: Also glad to provide a public service!

    Jamie: I knew something about most of them. But some I only knew by media reputation, whether deserved or not. That's why I always try to give everyone a chance.

    V: I like Niecy too. She doesn't take herself too seriously, and she intends to have fun and enjoy herself.

  1. Jaye says:

    Oooh, you're back with your reviews, brilliant!

    Is Bruno misbehaving already? He and Craig R-H swapped places last season, Craig all smiley and Bruno being the nasty one!

  1. Linda says:

    I thought of you the other night when the show premiered knowing that you and Pam would be cozied up on the couch and watching intently. No one does a review on this show like you do, Trav, it's the best!

    I'd heard that Kate Gosselin didn't do very well and neither did Buzz Aldrin - if I had to pick between the two I'd vote for him simply because of who he is and that may be what eventually hurts Kate, like you said - she really has no fan base at all. Should be interesting to see who goes first.