After a very long wait, Dancing with the Stars is back! And yes, there’s a certain participant that is a problem. Also, Christie Brinkley broke her arm recently and her daughter is taking her place at the last minute. That’s some behind the scenes drama right off the bat.
Also, full disclosure, Myndi and I talked about the best way to handle former Press Secretary Sean Spicer, a guy we don’t think should be on the show. So here’s what we’re going to do, and I will admit this is petty. If he’s good or even OK, we’re just going to give his scores and otherwise ignore him. But if he’s bad, man, we are going to take this opportunity to drag him. Is it fair? No, probably not. But dude should have thought of that before he defended Hitler.
That was kind of a downer to start with. So the fun thing is we don’t know who anybody’s partnered with and we’ll find out during the show. I like that – it’s a neat twist that doesn’t affect the actual competition. Also, they are reportedly tweaking the way judges’ scores and viewer votes are weighted so we don’t get another Bobby Bones situation.
Hey, Tom Bergeron! Does the first Titanfall have a single-player campaign or is it only multiplayer on Xbox…. LIIIIIIIIIIIIIVVVVVE!!!!
We open with a bit where the stars do a fake job interview for he show and James Van Der Beek is very funny. And then it ends with Tom Bergeron admitting he doesn’t remember how to tie his necktie because he hasn’t hosted anything in almost a year. I’ve missed you, Tom!
Tom and Erin look great and the judges are so happy to be there and I love this goofy show. Erin says there’s a new way to vote as of next week and the judges have a big announcement, but we’ll learn about it next week.
Time to dance!
Hannah Brown and Alan Bersten (20/30) – I don’t like the Bachelor franchise and thus I have no idea who this person is. She was apparently treated badly by the guy who picked her, but, you knew that show was a scorpion when you picked it up. She and Alan are dancing a Cha Cha which is a lucky draw for a Week One dance – It doesn’t have these immediately striking moves that we know to look for. To most of us, it looks like generic dancing. And it’s OK. It’s a good start to the show. It’s Week One, but it was fun to watch and makes it clear that she can move.
Len talks about how they’re going to be pickier this year and thought she delivered a recognizable Cha Cha, which is actually a good compliment on the first week. Bruno is wearing an insane jacket and likes the way she went for it but thought he balance was a problem. Carrie Ann liked her posture and attitude. The lights are having a weird effect where they’re sort of washing out the colors and it looks very Seventies. It’s distracting. Anyway, she gets a 20.
Kel Mitchell and Witney Carson (16/30) – If you are younger than me, you know Kel as Kenan Thompson’s partner on All That. If you’re me, you know him as Invisible Boy from Mystery Men. He’s partnered with Witney Carson, which starts him off on a good foot. But they’re starting with a Tango, which seems like a rough go for the first week. There is a giant Kel face with a slide for a tongue in the background when they dance, which is weird. It’s a mixed bag – he’s going for it and some of the moves are really nicely done and other times they’re just mushy. It’s a good effort with some bad moments.
Bruno thanks Witney for a real Tango but says he was too jumpy and went off on the wrong foot. Carrie Ann said he got too far ahead but he has potential. Len liked his attack and attitude but wanted more heel leads and thought the hold was loose. That’s kind of like what I said but smarter. It’s a 16.
Kate Flannery and Pasha Pashkov (15/30) – It’s Meredith from The Office! Her intro video is shot like that show, which is actually pretty funny. She’s partnered with the new male pro, Pasha. He seems nice enough. They’re doing a Cha Cha that begins with Kate in a breakaway waitress uniform. It’s a little slow and the choreography is not doing her any favors by having them break hold so often, but it’s a solid enough dance.
Carrie Ann is really impressed with her footwork but she rushed the music. Len talks about something I don’t understand and then tells Kate to straighten her legs, though he loved her attitude. Aww, Angela Kinsey is in the audience! Bruno tells her she needs to remember to finish her moves. She gets a slightly discouraging 15.
Lamar Odom and Peta Murgatroyd (11/30) – Lamar is the former basketball man famous for his marriage (ended in 2016) to Khloe Kardashian. That’s two of my cultural blind spots, so I’m not going to be much help here. He’s partnered with Peta, who I really like so let’s get behind this team. There is quite a height disparity, which is always a problem with the NBA guys. They’re dancing a Fox Trot and holy smokes, it’s good to see Peta again. She looks like she’s having such a blast bring back. It’s a decent dance and I think his biggest problem is that his limbs are too long and he doesn’t quite know what to do with them. There are some really good moments though.
Len compliments Peta but says Lamar needs more elegance and this is not really his dance. He wants him to get sassy. Bruno says he was too focused on the steps to actually dance. Carrie Ann was impressed and thought he used his height well. He beams when she compliments him and I feel like Lamar is already really into being on this show. It’s an 11 with a couple of brutal threes from the male judges.
Lauren Alaina and Gleb Savchenko (19/30) – Lauren is a country singer and I don’t know if she’s famous or an up and comer or a third choice. She got second place on American Idol in 2011, which I knew despite never watching that show, because that was the season Paul F. Tompkins recapped. She’s paired with Gleb Savchenko and doing another Cha Cha. There are two female backup dancers at the beginning of their performance, which is never a good idea this early on. They dance to one of those Shania Twain songs and I’m mostly struck by how rarely she moves her feet. There are stretches where she’s just standing, which can’t be OK.
Bruno gets inappropriate for the first time this season but does note that she has a bad habit of locking her knees. Carrie Ann like the choreography and thinks her looseness could be powerful. I don’t know either. Len liked that she had rhythm, but he didn’t like the opening. They end up with a 19.
Sailor Brinkley-Cook and Val Chmerkovskiy (18/30) – So, putting aside that she had to step in for her mom at the last minute, I feel like there’s something to the fact that her half-sister had a boat in her dad’s song named after her and then Christie Brinkley got remarried and named her next kid “Sailor”. There’s a joke there somewhere but I can’t excavate it. Anyway, we see the moment when Christie breaks her arm and she really just trips on Val’s leg and catches herself the wrong way. Christie is at the show in a cast. We’ve got a Fox Trot to “Uptown Girl”, which you knew was going to happen. It’s actually not bad but I feel like the production team is trying to help out with weird camera angles. It’s very obviously a first dance but given the circumstances, it’s quite good.
Carrie Ann says she’s blown away and says Val “got a gold mine”. Len is impressed with what she accomplished but wants more body contact. Bruno says she’s got the talent to go far in the competition. It’s an impressive 18.
Karamo and Jenna Johnson (17/30) – Hey, it’s Karamo from Queer Eye! He’s on a hit show right now and he seems like a delight. He is so happy to be paired with Jenna and we don’t see any rehearsal footage because I think they’re already worried about a time crunch. They’re dancing a Salsa, which is a heck of a thing for Week One. And he’s already super fun to watch. He makes big joyful movements and tosses Jenna around in a way that’s surprising to see in a premiere. It’s maybe a little sloppy, but that’s something we can work on. For now, it’s the most fun performance of the night.
Len says it was disappointing because there wasn’t enough hip action but he loved the lifts. Bruno liked his style but also picks on his hips. Carrie Ann says he underperformed and I feel like they’re all dead inside. He gets a 17.
Ray Lewis and Cheryl Burke (15/30) – Ray used to be in the NFL and was maybe involved in a murder. And yet, he’s still not the most questionable participant this year. He’s partnered with Cheryl, who does a great job with athletes. Also, she’s rad in general. They’re opening with a Salsa and it takes a while for the dance to start. He lumbers a little but Cheryl is good at covering that up. His footwork is pretty good and I think he just needs to work on his frame. Also, Cheryl started on Season 2 of this show. That was, what, fourteen years ago? How does she still look like that? I know how I’ve aged in 14 years, and it is not good.
I feel like they’re tight on time because the judges all hurriedly tell him that he did a good job despite some missteps. It’s a 15.
Mary Wilson and Brandon Armstrong (17/30) – In case you don’t recognize her name, Mary was one of the founding members of the Supremes. That means she’s this year’s official Older Lady, but she seems pretty awesome. I honestly didn’t remember Brandon until they said his name and even then it’s a little fuzzy. They’re dancing a Fox Trot to “Baby Love”, which is one of her songs. It’s a fine dance, but it’s slow and a bit deliberate. Still, Mary has some really good extensions and is much better than I would have expected.
Carrie Ann calls her “true elegance”. Len was impressed and wishes he could dance like she does. Bruno says she knows how to sell it. Also, damn, Mary is 75! She get a 17.
Ally Brooke and Sasha Farber (16/30) – I don’t know what Fifth Harmony is and I choose not to find out. I do think it’s very cute the way so many people have been psyched about their partners. It’s a Cha Cha for their first dance and it’s quite good but you can tell she’s used to being the center of attention in a pop star way.
Len didn’t like the hip thrusting and also Sasha gets a little mouthy. Bruno loves her sense of attack but thought it was a little muddled. Carrie Ann is excited but rushed. It’s a 16.
Sean Spicer and Lindsay Arnold (12/30) – OK, I feel like the wardrobe department is as excited about Sean being on the show as I am, because they put him in a bright green frilly shirt that’s much too big and much too green and it’s maybe the ugliest shirt I’ve seen in the history of this show. Lindsay says his ability is a at a “pre-preschool level”. And this Salsa is just bizarre. He doesn’t move his hips at all and he seems to think walking and dancing are the same thing. And, like, I have no sense of rhythm and even I can tell he’s missing the beat every time. It’s bad and weird and it’s kind of what you expect just from watching him walk around.
The judges talk about his sense of fun, but that’s about it. 12.
James Van Der Beek and Emma Slater (21/30) – I am over the moon that the Beek, playing himself, had an arc on Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 where he was on Dancing with the Stars and now it’s come true! This is the only thing that still brings me joy. Oh, also his dozen or so kids are adorable and may be rooting for Karamo. Hey, didn’t they show us a new female pro? And now she’s not paired with anybody? What’s going on? Anyway, they’re dancing a Tango, and I’m a Tango guy anyway, but I really like this. His frame needs work, but there’s a really good flow to it that I’m enjoying. The choreography is cool – it’s a very good first week dance.
Carrie Ann calls him a leading man and loved his technique. Len thought the drive, purpose, and body contact were terrific. Bruno says he was in control the whole time. And they wind up with the best score of the night, a 21.
I am still very confused as to why they introduced us to a new pro and then didn’t give her a partner, but other than that and the Spicer situation, this was a really fun premiere and I had a good time. Myndi will be here next week for the first elimination! Place your bets!