That epitome of cheese-tastic fun, Dancing With the Stars, is back. It's of course entertaining to watch people learn the dances and perform them live, but, as one of my friends pointed out, it's also fraught with the possibility that one of these days, someone is going to fall on their face on live national television.

  • First up were Joey Lawrence and Edyta Sliwinska, who performed the cha cha cha to an overwrought version of "I Like the Way You Move." Joey was a good dancer -- he says he hasn't danced in public since he was 7, and he once tap-danced on The Tonight Show in 1982 -- but I was a little put off by his Kojak-esque shiny shaved head. He just looked a little scary and intense out there. The judges liked the performance but said he should work on his hips a little. Score: 21/30.
  • Country star Sara Evans was paired up with Tony Dovolani (Stacy Keibler's partner from last season) for a foxtrot to "Mandy." I thought she seemed a little nervous and stiff, but the judges were much more harsh. Bruno Tonioli said she seemed to have a split personality: "sometimes Jackie O ... sometimes Barbara Bush." Score: 15/30.
  • Oh, Tucker, Tucker, Tucker. I wasn't expecting Tucker Carlson to be great, but watching him dance the cha cha cha to "Dancing in the Streets" with his partner Elena Grinenko was almost physically painful. He started sitting in a chair while Elena danced around him (it had an unfortunate lap-dance vibe), and then once he got up to dance, it did not get better. Most problematic were his arms. Every time he had to do any kind of arm extension, he reminded me of a 5-year-old doing a magic trick and going "TA-DAAHHHHH!" Not OK. Also, he snickered through basically the whole thing. (Or was that me?) Bruno said it was an awful mess and dreadful, and Carrie Ann Inaba said she was glad he had fun, but that he didn't dance for half of it, so it was hard to score him. Len Goodman said he thought he would be better at the ballroom dances than Latin, but I don't know why. Those require graceful extension, too. Score: 12/30.
  • Monique Coleman and Louis Van Amstel danced the foxtrot to "Baby Love," and it was quite lovely. I was weirded out at first because everyone was going on and on about their lack of chemistry and that they needed to be more romantic -- she's best known for being in High School Musical, and her possibly-underaged-ness was worrying me. Turns out she's 26, though. Anyway, the judges liked the shapes and the flow, but asked for more chemistry in the future. Score: 20/30.
  • All-time leading rusher in the NFL Emmitt Smith was up next, dancing the cha cha cha with Cheryl Burke (Drew Lachey's partner from last season) to "Son of a Preacher Man." I was floored. He was light on his feet, having a great time, didn't seem to miss a step and looked 100 percent comfortable on the dance floor. I was shocked and impressed. So were the judges and the audience -- he got the first standing ovation of the season, and Carrie Ann called him over, shook his hand and said, "YOU. CAN. DANCE!" Bruno called him the king of "effortless cool." Score: 24/30.
  • Willa Ford keeps getting called "the bad girl of pop," which, what? She had a song called "I Wanna Be Bad," but that doesn't make her actually bad. Whatever, anyway, she was teamed with Maksim Chmerkovski for the foxtrot, and they got rave reviews from the judges, though Len said sometimes her "feet were a bit bizarre." Carrie Ann said it was graceful and effortless, and Bruno said, "It was like watching a love story develop on the dance floor." Score: 22/30.
  • Mario Lopez (aka A.C. Slater from Saved by the Bell) said he signed up for his mom because she loves the show. He cha cha cha'd to "Walking on the Sun" with his partner Karina Smirnoff. They were pretty good, but I was mostly marveling at the idea of doing the cha cha cha to Smashmouth. The judges, on the other hand, thought he was amazing. Carrie Ann said they were the couple to beat, and Bruno brought out this little gem: "Super Mario! ... Do you have extra batteries in your pants??" Hmm. So yeah, they adored him. Score: 26/30.
  • Shanna Moakler was up next, with partner Jesse DeSoto. She's best known for being a beauty queen and for being on the reality show Meet the Barkers with soon-to-be-ex-husband Travis Barker of Blink-182. Before her foxtrot to "Savin' All My Love," she said she hoped her 10 years of roller dancing would help her out. They did OK, but Bruno correctly noted that they didn't sustain their energy and technique for the whole dance. He also said at times she was like an "ice queen" on the stage. Score: 19/30.
  • Harry Hamlin, who was all over last season, cheering on his wife, Lisa Rinna, was paired up with Ashly DelGrosso, who seemed over the moon to have a partner who cared. (Last season, she was with Master P, who shuffled his way through a few too many episodes.) But poor Harry was nervous during their cha cha cha to "Disco Inferno," and the judges all pointed it out. Score: 17/30.
  • Vivica A. Fox, who said she wanted to show women over 40 that they can be hot and sexy, partnered with Nick Kosovich for the foxtrot. Bruno gushed, "Viva la diva! You made the spicy quite dirty." (Is that allowed in ballroom?) Carrie Ann said it was spicy, but the technique was a little lacking. Score: 22/30.
  • And then there was Springer. Jerry couldn't seem to believe he was actually there, but he said he wanted to learn to dance for his daughter's wedding. So he did the cha cha cha with Kym Johnson, and I'll say this for him. He threw himself into it with everything he had. He didn't seem embarrassed (In fact, as he said, "I've made a fool of myself so many times, this will just be a footnote."), and that definitely helped. But still, it wasn't pretty (and I was perplexed by what appeared to be a giant satin sash around his tuxedo jacket). The judges gave him credit for trying and being game, but not a high score. Score: 16/30.

My predictions: Tucker Carlson is out (please, oh please?), and Slater and Joey from Blossom are going to become archenemies!