Cue that theme music!

Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 by Travis Cody in

It's live from Hollywood!

But first, let's have our traditional greeting in honor of today's spring equinox.

Spring has sprung
The grass has ris
I wonder where
The birdies is
...Bulwinkle J. Moose

And now, let's dance!  We've got our fru fru finery, our bread and cheese, our nice Merlot, and CAKE.  We're ready!

I can't stop smiling when that theme music kicks in.  It's just silly how much I enjoy this show.

I must say...Brooke's gown is stunning.

Yippee!!  No eliminations this week.  Everyone gets to dance again next Monday before eliminations on Tuesday.

Let's go!

Maria Menounos and Derek Hough dance Cha Cha Cha.  We won't discuss this woman's laugh.  It's a little disturbing.  She may call herself a boy with boobs, but she's got some sexy going on.  Although I thought she was a little bit stiff in her legsses to begin the dance, I can report that those legsses go right down to the floor.  Yowsa.  I like her controlled hip action in the swivels, but that was about the only place she let them swing.  I thought she relaxed as the dance went on.  It was a good effort to start the show.  I think she has a lot of potential.  She seems very outgoing, and I hope to see that more in the flow of her movement and her connection to the audience.  I thought she had a good grasp of the steps and the idea of Cha Cha Cha.  Now she needs to learn to connect from one movement to the next smoothly and seamlessly.  The dance felt a bit safe, but I'm pleased by the effort.  Judges say 7s across for a total of 21.  Solid score to start.

Jack Wagner and Anna Trebunskaya dance Foxtrot.  I like the opening.  It set a nice old time Foxtrot kind of tone.  He's got very good extension in his arms, although he's got to learn how to relax his hands.  I thought his posture was good for the most part, although there were a couple of moments when his shoulders started to hunch and he lost some of the frame for Anna.  I think he has the potential and the interest to overcome that.  There was a nice section in the middle where he handled a couple of turns very well.  I thought he was a solid lead.  They told a nice little story in the dancing.  The routine had a charm and grace to it.  It was light and a little fluffy, but appropriately so.  I'm surprised because I had it in my mind that he might be clunky.  I'm glad to see he's not.  Judges say 8,7,8 for a total of 23.  I think the 8s might be a little high.

Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd dance Cha Cha Cha.  I had a suspicion that he was going to be able to do this.  And he can.  He's got a natural rhythm and timing.  Plus he's a performer.  That was really excellent.  And I love that he's so excited to be on the show and dance.  I think his confidence is going to be a huge advantage.  He's got to work a bit on his legs because he is a bit pigeon toed, which forces his knees together a bit.  His charisma is going to cover a lot of mistakes.  He has the energy and talent to really do well, and now he'll have to work on control and technique so that his charm and personality come through in the ballroom styles without sacrificing any of the excitement of performance.  I enjoyed the routine and I'm looking forward to seeing how he progresses.  Judges say 7s across for a total of 21.  The crowd doesn't like the score because they enjoyed the performance, but I can see it because of some footwork and posture issues. 

Gavin Degraw and Karina Smirnoff dance Foxtrot.  Based on his stated insecurity, it's good that he got a ballroom style as the first dance.  From the rehearsal footage, I thought he was going to be more awkward.  You know what I think?  I think the lights came on and he was just on stage.  The performer took over and he just went out and danced.  That was very enjoyable.  I thought the choreography was sweet and suited him as a beginner.  I liked the story they told.  I'm not sure what Len didn't like because I thought there was a vulnerability to the movement that was quite endearing.  I thought he interpreted the music pretty well.  I enjoyed the performance and I'm looking forward to seeing if he can grow from week to week.  Judges say 7,6,7 for a total of 20.  I think the 6 is low.

Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower dance Cha Cha Cha.  This young man might have just a little too much personality for my taste.  But, he used that to come out and attack the choreography.  His timing and musicality were fantastic.  He brought tremendous energy, but it was controlled and focused.  I thought he understood the flavor of Cha Cha Cha, and respected the basic content while also bringing a youthful, modern phrasing to the movement.  I thought his technique was excellent.  The thing I really liked about the performance was that he brought a style to the dance...he understood the strategic pause, the slow-fast-slow to emphasize a moment, and the little details that create a complete performance.  I'm really impressed by the controlled energy.  I didn't expect that based on the rehearsal footage.  Well done, young man.  Judges say 8,7,8 for a total of 23.  I think the 7 is low, but I'm just a fan, you know?

Sherri Shepherd and Val Chmerkovskiy dance Foxtrot.  This choreography was very playful and seemed to suit her personality because it had a touch of sass.  I like that she didn't seem nervous at all.  She's a full figured woman who is comfortable with her size.  She was graceful and light on her feet.  Her smile is so infectious.  I also enjoyed Val.  He seems like he doesn't feel quite so much pressure, and so it looks like he's not trying quite so hard like last season.  I think these two have a lot of chemistry together and they were fun to watch.  She has some work to do with posture and getting her footwork organized, but don't they all?  Judges say 8,7,8 for a total of 23.  I don't know about two 8s, but I did enjoy watching her dance.  She had so much joy.

Melissa Gilbert and Maks Chmerkovskiy dance Cha Cha Cha.  I wasn't aware that she had broken her back.  This could be an interesting partnership.  And we've reached our first unfortunate music selection.  She's struggling a bit with hip action.  She also seems to be a bit behind the music.  Maks put together a very difficult routine.  I think with so much content, she was so concerned with getting all the movements and footwork that she lost track of the performance.  I'm on the fence about throwing that much difficulty into a first routine.  On the one hand, maybe make a dance that the celebrity can do to settle in.  But on the other hand, why not go for it out of the gate, especially if you've got a celebrity who can handle it?  Jury is out for me after this performance about whether Melissa can handle the difficulty.  Judges say 7,6,7 for a total of 20.  It seems the judges are on the fence also.

William Levy and Cheryl Burke dance Cha Cha Cha.  They started a week later than everyone else.  Oh...I'm going to have to remember to have a drool towel handy.  And maybe a fire hose or a bucket of ice.  Give me a minute while I get Pam a fan.  Now as for the dancing, I thought he was terrific.  He's a very strong lead, very generous and aware of his partner.  Cheryl put together an outstanding routine and William danced it pretty dang well.  He kept it controlled and didn't let the hip action get raunchy.  Pam said what really makes him attractive is that he appears unaware of himself when he's dancing.  She said he seemed so completely focused on Cheryl, and that made him even sexier.  I'll take her word for that part.  I do agree that there is great chemistry between the two...and it seems a combination of friendly and romantic as well as potentially hot and steamy.  I suspect that he's going to be around awhile on the female vote, and I'm OK with that because he can dance.  Judges say 8s across for a total of 24. 

Marina Navratilova and Tony Dovolani dance Foxtrot.  You have no idea how much I'm rooting for her, and for Tony too.  I'm glad she got Foxtrot first instead of Cha Cha Cha.  I can see how nervous she is and I just don't think leading off with Latin would have been good.  I thought she might have good footwork, and I think she did for the most part.  At least she got all the steps in the right order.  She was very reserved, and I'm sure that's due to nerves.  I'd like to see her be less careful and concerned about getting the dance right so she can enjoy it more.  But there was also a restrained elegance to her movement.  She's so powerful as a tennis player.  I think that if she can figure out how to bring that power and aggressiveness to her attitude about dancing, that will allow her to extend from her core through her arms and out through her fingers, and relax into the dance.  The rest of the field is so good.  I hope the fans are there for her so she can stick around for a few weeks.  Judges say 7,6,7 for a total of 20.  Not bad.  I thought it could go 6s across.

Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas dance Foxtrot.  She is so gorgeous.  Her lines are exquisite.  And the shapes she makes with her arms...  Her hands are beautiful.  Wow.  I couldn't take my eyes off her.  She was built to dance that Foxtrot.  That was absolutely stunning.  She looks like she's been doing this her entire life.  Class, elegance, style.  And so engaging.  I've used this description before and it is apt for Katherine and this performance...she invited the studio audience into the moment with her, and reached through the camera to bring the TV audience into it as well.  I have no idea how she'll do with Latin styles, but she's off to a tremendous start with ballroom.  That was simply wow.  Judges say 9,8,9 for a total of 26.  Yup.  Wow.  Highest score ever on premier night.

Gladys Knight and Tristan MacManus dance Cha Cha Cha.  Gladys is one of my all time favorites.  I think she is cool.  Look at that sassy gal get her move on!  Flirty and sexy and fun.  She went out and took that choreography in both hands and shook it all out.  Love it!  She had fun dancing and I had fun watching.  And I love that the crowd loved her.  Now there are some things she can work on...extending her arms and connecting the movements.  But she has musicality and fluidity.  She's so natural.  She has class and style, grace and sophistication.  She found those little details in the performance.  I love her personality.  She was so relaxed and comfortable.  Judges say 8,7,8 for a total of 23.  Well done, my dear.

Jaleel White and Kym Johnson dance Foxtrot.  Now if you only know Jaleel as Urkel, you'll think he's going to be nerdy and awkward.  But I happen to know he's an athlete and has got some moves.  And those first few bars establish exactly that.  What a great leap.  And then the turn...nicely done.  His frame is terrific.  He's an excellent lead.  This is wow.  Wonderful extension.  Beautiful footwork.  Tremendous flow and fluidity.  Outstanding musicality.  Smooth and classical.  All the movements were connected and seamless.  I really liked this performance.  Judges say 9,8,9 for a total of 26.  Yup.  That was wow.  And a tie for highest score ever on premier night.

Here's our leader board after the first round of dances:

26 Katherine and Mark
26 Jaleel and Kym
24 William and Cheryl
23 Roshon and Chelsie
23 Gladys and Tristan
23 Sherri and Val
23 Jack and Anna
21 Donald and Peta
21 Maria and Derek
20 Gavin and Karina
20 Melissa and Maks
20 Martina and Tony

You know what?  I don't even care what people said about this cast back when it was announced.  To those who said they wouldn't watch, I say too bad for you!  This was a fantastic premier show.  I'm so glad everyone gets to dance again next week.  I don't want anyone to go home.

It was so hard to decide where to cast our votes.  What to do?

I can report that Pam narrowed her choices on her 2 phones to William, Martina, Katherine, Gladys, and Jaleel.  I split mine between Martina, Katherine, Gladys, and Jaleel.

Tough choices.  I'm so happy with this cast.  No excessive drama.  No controversy.  Everybody having a good time.

Thank you ABC! results this week.  I'll do some encores for you.  Be sure to tune in next Monday for the second round of performances. 

Later gang!


  1. I missed the first half, but watched the second. Loved it. I have to agree with you on all of the second half performances.

    Loved Gladys!! Sass and class in one lass!

    And I loved Martina's comment... "See these biceps? USELESS!" LOL!

    It's going to be a fun year!

  1. I think the stars this year are the best I have ever seen dance on DWTS. I have to agree that I love that opening music as well.

    Looking forward to following the show and your reviews.

  1. Akelamalu says:

    YAY Spring's arrived!

  1. Jamie says:

    The quality level this year is great. Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas were stunning and Jaleel amazing. It's going to be tough when we get down to four couples.

  1. Jean says:

    Bullwinkle... love it!!! Thanks for the chuckle.

  1. I know this isn't the show where you get to see LEGSSES, but I thought of you last night when GN and I saw her as a judge on America's Next Top Model. Just an FYI. ;-)

  1. Cherie says:

    This is the first season premier that I've been able to watch in years, and it sure didn't disappoint. No one was appallingly bad though I did cringe a bit through Melissa's & Martina's routine. I'm concerned that Katherine doesn't have the fan base in the States to let her last long despite her obvious talent. Too soon for me to even think of having a favorite yet. :)

  1. Sounds like a great start with some talented folks

    I believe I mentioned here that i thought this cast had some serious potential to battle

    let the games begin

  1. Ivanhoe says:

    I only cought Jack, Donald and Gladys, but I liked it. Although I think the only judge that is right-on-the-money with the numbers is Len. The other two are too "number happy". Hahaha!
    Go Gladys!

  1. Julie says:

    Hey friend! Another spring...oh yeah! My thoughts: Roshon and Chelsie-great as young dancers. Full of energy! Jaleel and Kym-I couldn't stop smiling! Katherine and Mark-The yellow dress, the sunflowers on the floor and the banners--nonstop smiles. I LOVED it! William and Cheryl-yeowza! Those are my favs...for now. Where did Maks charisma run off to?

    PS....I pimped you on my facebook account. You may have additional readers.

  1. Marsha says:

    I'm excited about this group of dancers, there's several in there that I am not familiar with, but I look forward to this season.