If you’re like me, you’ve been humming a snazzy little tune in your head all day. A tune that sounds like “Dun dun dun dun duuun dun dun, dun dun dun dun duuun.” Okay, maybe it doesn’t translate to text. Nevertheless, the ditty in question is the peppy opening theme to Dancing With The Stars, and when I wasn’t reminiscing today on Vivica A. Fox’s sturdy foxtrot or Tucker Carlson’s cha-cha-in-a-chair, I was quietly humming that infectious tune that ABC will be pummeling into our heads twice a week. Yes, the stars are back, and they’re ready to cut a rug, or at least trample on one. Last night’s season premiere had its share of breakout hoofers (Mario Lopez! Emmitt Smith!) and dancefloor golems (Sara Evans! Jerry Springer!), but sadly, there was no second coming of Master P. How can we call this a legitimate dance competition with nary an embarrassed rapper in our midst?First things first: let’s make some opening observations. The venue has expanded quite a bit, and just as CBS added a dynamic second floor to the Big Brother house two seasons ago, ABC has erected a mighty mezzanine from which avid ballroom fans can view the parquet, not to mention our hosts, the returning Tom Bergeron and Samantha “Marble Mouth” Harris. In addition to the new seating areas, the show also added a modified opening credits sequence. No longer do our dancers appear in the middle of a kaleidoscope jubilee. Instead, they merely swoosh onto the screen, barely even partaking in the visual excitement around them. Silly producers. Don’t they realize that half the fun of this show is watching our favorite dancers emerge from a kaleidoscopic frenzy like Venus from a seashell?
Anyway, as the proceedings got underway, we caught a few glimpses of our stars. Joey Lawrence was looking very Boystown with his sleeveless getup, and Tucker Carlson, well, he looked the same as usual: bow-tie, button-down, slacks. Did he even dress up for this, or did he come straight from his news desk? Oooh! There was Harry Hamlin! Oh wait, it was just Louis Van Amstel. Of course, you can’t overlook Vivica A. Fox, who came strutting down the stairs in a purple ensemble that made her look like the bizarre love child of a figure skater and Grimace.
And then there was Mario Lopez’s partner, Karina Smirnoff who was one skinny combination of abs, mystic tan, and a forehead. Basically, she was what I’d imagine Christina Ricci would look like after a week in Long Island with no food. But enough about the looks. Let’s get to the dancing!
Joey Lawrence and Edyta Sllwinska
First up was the man that we here at TVgasm have decided to endorse sight unseen: Mr. Joey Lawrence. Was it smart to attach our wagon to his steed? Uh, not sure yet. Before any dancing could get underway, we were treated to the obligatory segment of Joey in his youth, which meant a brief clip from Blossom where he said, “Uh oh!” No “Whoa!”? What gives? Edyta then came on screen and told us, “My dance is inspired by creatures of the jungle!” And what creatures would those be? Spider monkeys? Iguanas? Ring-tailed lemurs?
The two then got busy practicing their cha cha (men were doing cha cha tonight, women foxtrot), and soon we quickly spotted the reason for Joey’s Michael Chiklis look. The pattern of his growing peach fuzz revealed the horrific outline of a sizable bald spot. Oh Joey. You think you could fool us? We may be endorsing you, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to look the other way when it comes to a Rogaine crisis.
Joey then babbled extensively about how he hadn’t danced since he was seven years old (yeah, yeah, yeah. You tap-danced on The Tonight Show. WE GET IT), and then finally, it was time to cha cha! The camera trained in on Joey as the music began, and I couldn’t help wondering if a) he was flexing; b) he had greased his arms up with cocoa butter; or c) all of the above.
Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean…
Well, he and Edyta performed a solid routine to a fairly miserable performance of the Bodyrockers’ I Like The Way, and by the end, I was fairly certain that if Joey wasn’t a gay icon already, he probably will be one now. Afterwards, he proved himself to be the male version of Lisa Rinna as he aggressively thanked everyone around him with overly emphatic head nods and “THANK YOU!”s. He received mixed to positive reviews from the judges. Len and Bruno told him to work his hips more while Carrie Ann INABA said, “You can work on your arms just a hair.”
“Okay, arms. Done,” Joey said excitedly. His enthusiasm faded, however, when he learned that Carrie Ann wasn’t implying that he lather his arms in an extra coating of oil.
As for results, Joey earned sevens across the board for a grand total of twenty-one. It seemed somewhat low, at least compared to last season where the smallest boxstep could earn a ten, but as the show progressed, I quickly learned that the judges had decided to counteract the grade inflation, barely giving out an eight to any duos. Nevertheless, for now, Samantha Harris in her post-dance interview concluded, “The bar has been set!” Yes, and what an unimpressive bar it is. Will anyone be able to get higher than twenty-one???
If Kate Beckinsale and Stockard Channing had a lovechild…
Sara Evans and Tony Dovolani
Next up were Sara Evans and Tony Dovolani. I’ll admit it. I had no idea who Sara Evans was, but apparently she’s the original a singer of “Suds in a Bucket,” a country ditty that was happily butchered by Kellie Pickler earlier this year. Sara’s story was a tragic one in that she was run over by a car at age eighteen and broke both of her legs. But fear not! She learned to walk again, and now here she is, ready to dance not-so-well for America!
Joining Sara was Tony Dovolani, who previously took Stacy Keibler all the way to third place. For some reason, he looked kind of different — maybe he’d lost weight? Changed his hairstyle? Capped his teeth? I couldn’t quite place it. Either way, he looked more bobble-heady than usual, especially when he said, “When I get on the dance floor, I like to think of myself as the lion!” Seriously, what’s up with these dancers and their wildlife comparisons? I’m half expecting Ashly DelGrosso to pop up next and refer to herself as the rhinoceros of dance.
Well, Sara and Tony took to the parquet with a rousing foxtrot set to the tune of “Mandy,” by Barry Manilow. If there was one lame tune that could bump the Dancing with the Stars theme out of my head, it was “Mandy.” Great. Anyway, “nervous” was an understatement when it came to Sara. She looked like she was about to get hit by a car all over again. And don’t think the judges didn’t notice. Len assailed, “You didn’t glide across the floor.” This elicited loud a loud “BOOO!!!” from the audience, which clearly detests an improper gliding assessment! Bitch glided, I tell you! Bitch glided!
Bruno, meanwhile, weighed in with one of his typically nonsensical critiques: “Sometimes you’re like Jackie O, and then you turn into Barbara Bush. What’s going on?” Funny, I was going to call her Ladybird Johnson, but that’s just me.
As you can imagine, this did not bode well for Sara’s scores. She received fives from each judge, resulting in a not so hot grand total of fifteen. Wow, Joey and Edyta really did set the bar high.
Tucker Carlson and Elena Grinenko
For all those hoping for a WASPy reign of terror on the dance floor, look elsewhere. Tucker Carlson substituted dance proficiency for a goofy laugh for a good majority of the cha cha. He also spent about half the time sitting in a chair, a move that not even Master P dared to try. Finally, he rose from his throne and attempted some fancy footwork, but his hip swiveling — or lack thereof — left much to be desired (Actually, no. I don’t think anyone desires more hip gyrations from Tucker Carlson). He did admit that his only dance experience came from drunken wedding receptions, but that’s no excuse for his mummy-like stiffness, and by the way, we could have done without that o-face of joy midway through the routine.
Afterwards, the judges applauded his good cheer and smiling demeanor, but Carrie Ann warned that she couldn’t give a good score after Tucker had spent half the dance sitting in a chair. Len added, “The best part was the start. All the problems started as soon as you stood up!” And finally, Bruno delivered the final coup de grace: “What an awful mess!” The scores: a lovely cascade of plummeting numbers: 5, 4, 3 (from Carrie, Len, and Bruno respectively). Yes, Joey’s bar was looking less and less attainable with each passing minute. Afterwards, Tucker told Samantha Harris that doing the cha cha “rattled me more than Hezbollah.” I’m surprised Samantha didn’t scratch her head and say, “Hezbo-wha?? You’re hilarious, Tucker!”
Monique Coleman and Harry Hamlin Louis Van Amstel Lite
After last season’s sparkling chemistry between Louis V-A and his partner/life-mate Lisa Rinna, I expected Monique to be in able hands. However, Louis’s heart clearly belongs to one woman only because he did not seem to care for Monique at all. He trained her so hard that she even began to cry. But let’s face it. Unless Monique can somehow make her lips the size of two hot dogs, Louis’s never going to take her seriously.
Well, the two of them performed a solid foxtrot, but Carrie complained that Monique oversold the performance with her face. Even worse, Len charged that they had no chemistry. “You’ve got to take her out to dinner and get closer together,” he said, surely raising the ire of a jealous Rinna. “They had about as much romance as an autopsy!” Len then added. To be fair, autopsies are very romantic. I heard it’s where Brangelina shared their first kiss.
Final scores: 6, 6, 7 for a total of nineteen. Joey still in the lead, shockingly.
Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke
Now things were gonna get interesting. Would returning champion Cheryl Burke (and what looked like her two new breasts) be able to win her second title in a row? It all depended on Emmitt Smith, a football great who from the outset looked entirely too bowling-ball-ish to be a master on the parquet. How wrong I was! Emmitt Smith has got moves! More so than Jerry Rice, I’d like to add. I always liked Jerry, but he seemed self-conscious up on stage, and his placement in the top three was purely a result of the popular vote. Emmitt, on the other hand, looked like a natural. He wasn’t a knockout, but man, he was pretty awesome, and he even received the night’s first standing ovation.
At the judging, Carrie Ann requested his presence at her dais. I wasn’t sure if Emmitt was about to be knighted or spanked, but it turns out it was neither. Carrie Ann INABA shook his hand and said, “You can dance!” She then followed it up with a jubilant, “You are all that and then some!” A bag of chips! Say “a bag of chips!”
“It was a joy,” said Len, and then Bruno capped things off by revealing, “For the first time tonight, I wanted to join in and dance!” This was then followed by disturbing mental images of Bruno and Emmit cha-cha-ing together (with Bruno wearing a sequined Tina Turner dress à la Cheryl). Anyway, Emmitt earned eights across the board for a total of twenty-four. Consider the bar raised! We have a new leader!
Willa Ford and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Here’s what I’ve got to say about Willa Ford: you gotta lose that awful tattoo. It’s bad enough that you have a pseudo-tribal band around your arm, but the fact that it’s a lame musical bar is even sadder. I like writing. Doesn’t mean I’m going to tattoo the alphabet on my arm. Besides, if Willa Ford had anything resembling a semi-respectable musical career, I could kind of understand her tattoo, but honestly, she’s only had one “hit,” and even using the word “hit” is entirely too generous.
Nevertheless, she seemed like a nice enough girl, and her resolve to win was articulated when she said, “I don’t like to suck it in. And I don’t want to suck.” A million different felatio jokes simultaneously raced through my head, but then I gazed on that damn tattoo again and forgot them all. That’s okay though. Just know that Willa Ford said “suck” twice in one sentence. Everyone else can make their own snarky comments.
Well, she and Maks performed a pleasant little foxtrot that earned compliments from the judges. “What an exquisite treat!” Bruno said before asking if she’d taken classes. “Just hip-hop! Just hip-hop!” Willa replied. Well CLEARLY! When I think of hip-hop, I think of one thing: WILLA FUCKIN’ FORD!
Carrie Ann labeled Willa “Graceful and flawless,” but Len entertainingly noted, “Sometimes your feet are a little bit BIZARRE!” Yes, rumor has it Willa has seven toes on her left foot (and two of them look like cauliflower). Afterwards, Samantha asked her who wears the pants in her relationship with Maksim, and Willa amusingly answered, “I wear a skort.” A skort? OR CULOTTES?
Anyway, Willa pulled off a respectable 7, 7, and 8 for a score of 22, putting her in between Emmitt and Joey.
Mario Lopez and Karina Smirnoff
He has dimples. She has a forehead. Together, they make the prettiest couple of the season. I could tell you about their pre-dance antics featuring Mario’s hyperactivity and struggles with ADD, but the real story here was how good these two were. They were awesome. Mario was a cha cha master as he bounced all around the dance floor (Must be that special Latino blood that Governor Schwarzenegger’s always talking about!). His hips swiveled more than anyone else’s, and ultimately, it earned him great platitudes from the judges, especially Bruno who excitedly yelled, “Well, it’s SUPER MARIO! The hottest Latino in town! Do you have extra batteries in your pants??” Hahaha, wait what?
“THINK ABOUT IT!” Bruno then added. Um yeah. We did think about it. That’s why we’re looking at you strangely.
Well, the rest of the judges had nothing but high praise, saying Mario and Karina were the group to beat. The two went backstage, but before Samantha Harris could trap them in an awkward interview, Tom Bergeron took the opportunity to make a Phantom of the Opera joke about the set’s new chandeliers. Oh, that chandelier humor. Gets me every time!
Anyway, Samantha asked Mario if he had ever had any dance experience, and he said that he’d had none beyond some simple breakin’ and poppin’ from his youth. Oh. So we’re supposed to forget that he was a Dancer/Drummer on Kids Incorporated??? Yeah, nice try, Lopez.
As for those scores, no surprise here. High marks all around. Two nines and an eight. Mario was absolutely floored, barely able to speak, and when he did speak, his Spanish accent suddenly became about ten times thicker. “I can’t believe how cute he is and all nervous!” a gushing Samantha Harris said. She HEARTS Mario! Cut to later that night as she writes in her diary, “Dear Diary, Today I talked to Mario, and he was all nervous. I still don’t think he knows my name, but he’s really cute and I really really like him. I hope he speaks to me tomorrow in the lunch room.”
Shanna Moakler and Jesse DeSoto
For those of you who don’t know who Shanna is, she’s the puffy-faced wife of Travis Barker from Blink 182. Correction: she was the puffy-faced wife of Travis Barker. You see, they’re going through a divorce right now, and Shanna was using this dance experience to keep her mind off the tough times. And the best way to keep your mind of your divorce? Mention it four hundred times on national TV. We also learned that Shanna used to be competitive roller skater, a revelation that instinctually made me laugh. Sorry, Shanna. This isn’t rollerskating with the stars (although, I would like to see that).
We then met her partner, Jesse, who proudly revealed, “I’m currently ranked second in the world of MAMBO!” Delightful! Actually, Jesse was sort of interesting because he only started dancing seven years ago. Prior to that, he was an electrician. Sounds like we’ve got our next Antonio Banderas movie!
We watched as the two danced up a storm in rehearsal, and eventually, Shanna proudly told us, “I think it’s important to show the world that I’m not just this reality show person or beauty queen.” That’s right, she’s a professional roller skater! Of course, this all assumes that the world has any preconceived notions of who Shanna is (which they don’t).
Anyway, Shanna and Jesse had an okay foxtrot, and as they galavanted across the parquet, I started to think how wonderfully efficient it would be to mix this show with Celebrity Duets. We could be watching stars singing AND dancing at the same time! Look into it, ABC!
Well, the judges weren’t totally thrilled with Shanna. Bruno used some nifty parallelism by saying, “Sometimes the beauty queen turned into the ice queen!” Len agreed, but Carrie Ann actually enjoyed the performance, causing the biggest rift of the night. Carrie Ann called the guys crabby, and when Bruno defended Len, she then began to ask, “So she was worse than…” but she cut herself off before she totally threw anyone under the bus. Intense!
Final scores: 7, 5, 6 for a total of 18.
Harry Hamlin and Ashly DelGrosso
Man, this show is getting long! First hour was fun, but now I’m kind of getting antsy. Maybe it’s because I’m recapping it. Nevertheless, this duo was the closest thing we had to a spin-off of last season. After spending last winter watching his wife Lisa Rinna flitting around the dance floor, Harry decided that he wanted in on the excitement too. Luckily, the producers paired him with fan favorite Ashly DelGrosso who had to spent all of last season in ballroom hell with Master P. For whatever reason, Ashly was sent to Ontario, Canada to meet her celebrity, and you could tell she was crossing her fingers for someone who at the very least would wear proper ballroom shoes.
Well, Harry was certainly game for the competition (his sweat-soaked shirt in rehearsal was evidence of that), but would he and his fan club (Team Harry, which consisted of Lisa Rinna, a blonde woman, and an aging Asian lady) be able to bring Ashly back to her Joey McEntire glory? Eh, not so much. Harry was as stiff as a board, which is surprisingly because his personality is so famously bubbly…
“Stiff and awkward. And you have to loosen up,” Carrie chided.
“A bit mechanical. Not enough animal,” Len noted in an attempted rhyme. This may have seemed like daunting criticism, but Harry was up for it. He made a nifty Clash of the Titans reference by saying, “Well, I killed the Kraken; so I’m going to conquer this!” Yeah, um, that was forced. Please stop. Sadly, this was the second Kraken reference of the night. Always a bad sign.
Afterwards, Harry told Samantha Harris that Ashly was his goddess because “she taught me how to do that dance, and if she can do that, she can teach a hippo how to do the Macarena.” Yeah, not sure if he saw Master P last season… Meanwhile, you know Ashly is cursing the producers for sticking her with another dud.
Final scores: 5, 6, 6. Owwy owwy. I always thought Louis Van Amstel would do better than that. Dammit, I just got them confused again!
Vivica A. Fox and Nick Kosovich
You know, Vivica A. Fox can be a beautiful woman. Tonight, however, she looked borderline like a drag queen. I don’t think it was her fault as much as the wardrobe person who stuffed her into a tightly fitting purple nightmare of a leotard. “I want to win this with every ounce of my being,” she told us, and as we saw, there were many, many ounces of her being.
She was paired with Nick Kosovich, who noted, “I’m known as being the James Bond of the ballroom world.” Yes, apparently he manages to rid the world of global terrorist catastrophes, all with a vicious paso doble!
As the two practiced, we saw Vivica take a spill, at which point she commented, “When I fell, it was humbling.” Apparently, this was the first time she’d fallen over EVER. Yes, behold the power of gravity!
Vivica then ended her little segment with some classic Vivica-ness. She told the camera, “Poppin’ it! Workin’ it! Do it, Vivica! Don’t be afraid! Work it, girl! Yeah, I’m gonna work it!” One part Tatum, one part Whitney, all parts excellent.
Well, Vivica and Nick foxtrotted all over the dance floor, and she earned raves from the male judges, but not so much Carrie Ann.
“Viva la diva! You’re a bad girl, aren’t you! You made this spicy quite dirty! I like it!!!” raved Bruno before he passed out from sheer exuberance.
Len liked it too, but Carrie Ann said that some of the technique was missing. Afterwards, the loopy Vivica told Samantha, “Watch out for the grown and sexy tour, baby!” This was followed by a cackle and the sound of viewers across America scratching their heads.
Final score: 6, 8, 8 for a total of 22. Looks like someone else topped the Joey bar!
Jerry Springer and Kym Johnson
Last and possibly least were Jerry Springer and his partner, the reigning Australian champ of Dancing with the Stars, Kym Johnson (who came with a requisite blonde bouffant that seemed to say, “See? I’m a wacky Aussie! Cast me in a movie, Baz Lurman!”).
Basically Jerry was a redux of George Hamilton’s “I’m old and funny! Let me make jokes about my back!” The good news was that Jerry was a bit more agile than George Hamilton, and the judges felt he held his own… sort of. Carrie Ann thought he lost some of his choreography, but that wasn’t enough Bruno from bestowing a cutesy compliment: “Jerry, there are a lot of springs left in the Springer!” Well done, Bruno. Well done.
Final scores: 5, 5, 6 for a total of 16.
So at the end of the first episode, Mario Lopez was in the lead with 26 points, followed by Emmitt Smith with 24, and Willa and Vivica each with 22. At the bottom of the pack were Jerry Springer with 16, Sara Evans with 15, and Tucker Carlson with 12.
Who would go home? Well, funny you should ask!
If you don’t want to know the results, don’t read any further.
Here’s my confession. I only saw the last five minutes of the results show. Next week, I’ll try to watch more, but seriously, two hours of dancing and then an hour of results show? It’s just too much. Here are the highlights though: Tom Jones sang, and um… okay, that’s all I saw outside of the elimination. Feel free to chime in with your favorite moments in the comments section.
As for the results, well, the bottom three were Tucker Carlson (no shock there), Jerry Springer (ditto) Shanna Moakler (shows how much I was paying attention that I wrote Jerry Springer first), and Willa Ford (mild surprise, considering she was in the top tier). Well, first to be saved from elimination was Shanna (or was it Willa? I don’t know), which meant there was no shock here: first person cut from Dancing with the Stars season three? Tucker Carlson. So sad. Not really. It was fairly expected, and he seemed happy to go.
So that was week one! What did you think about the show?