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'Dancing With the Stars' kicks off (again)

Is it really this time again? It would seem so. A new season of Dancing With the Stars is upon us. Joining host Tom Bergeron is Drew Lachey, filling in for Samantha Harris, who gave birth yesterday.

I feel like this cast is a little more full of unknowns than usual -- typically I can identify almost everyone, but this time, there are a ton of people I'm not familiar with. The Spice Girl? The 90210 star? Wayne Newton? No problem. A bunch of these other people? I'll be looking up their names on the ABC web site all night.

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The show kicks off witha performance by all the pros, who rule and do a better job together than most of the first-time contestants will do this evening. I'm just saying, the non-pros have a lot to live up to after that.

Tonight, the women will dance foxtrot or cha cha cha, and tomorrow, the guys are up. Wednesday is the results show. Yes, it's on three times this week, which is making me really regret this papercut even more.

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First up are Jennie Garth and Derek Hough (Julianne's brother). In the interview footage, is it just me, or does she suddenly have super-blue contacts on in the last clip? Anyway, she looks nervous as they prepare for the cha cha cha. They dance to "Uptown Girl," and she seems to largely get over her nerves, but you can tell she's still a little freaked. Len Goodman says she overcame her nerves and that she had great hip action and to work on her leg action a little more. Bruno Tonioli says she is a "yummy mummy" and that she looked like "dessert." Carrie Ann Inaba says she did really, really well even though she's "not quite there yet," but that for a first-timer, it was a great job. Scores: 7-7-7, for 21/30.

Josie Maran, supermodel/actress, is partnered with Alec Mazo for the foxtrot. In the interview, Alec says Josie is both klutzy and "deceptively unfit." During the actual performance, she doesn't trip or stumble or anything (although she gets a little stompy in the middle). Len says she looked very elegant but that the whole dance was "in hold," which was probably Alec trying to compensate for her inability to free dance. Carrie Ann says she thinks she's a little out of her element but that she did a great job. Bruno says the foxtrot is difficult because it requires control and has to look easy. He compares their dance to "a beautiful sailing ship stranded on the sand bank." OK, I admit that I have missed Bruno. Scores: 6-5-5, for 16/30.

Cheetah Girl Sabrina Bryan (one of the people I couldn't identify at first) is partnered with Mark Ballas Jr., a new pro. They decide to add some "hip-hop" to their dance (or at least a Disney version of hip-hop). They dance to "Don'tcha" by the Pussycat Dolls. She's definitely the most comfortable on the stage thus far, but it might have strayed from cha cha. Carrie Ann says she has never, evern seen a cha cha like that on this show, but that it had too much hip-hop. Bruno: "You were a bewitching blonde dynamo. ... Your footwear had almost surgical precision. I could not believe my eyes." Len tells the other two to "take a chill pill." He says it was great, sharp, fast and exciting, but that he doesn't want to see hip-hop. Scores: 9-8-9, for 26/30.

Marie Osmond and Jonathan Roberts start their season with the foxtrot to "I Hear a Symphony." She has fun and works the stage, but it's definitely not as precise as, say, her predecessor. Bruno says her acting covered some technical difficulties, but that she was very professional. Len says every performance is like a Christmas present because you never know what you are going to get, and that they got elegance. Carrie Ann says she agrees and that the foxtrot suits her. Scores: 7-7-7-7, for a 21/30.

Mel B and Maksim Chmerkovskiy work on the cha cha, which they perform to "A Deeper Love." She looks pretty comfortable on the floor (and by the way, what on earth is Maksim wearing -- it's like a sheer turtleneck with a couple of shiny strips of fabric). Carrie Ann says she was a better dancer than she expected, but that they should work on getting back in sync on their turns. Len says they sold it and performed really well. Bruno says he was worried because she is a feisty kitten, but that she was "right on the money." Scores: 8-8-8, for a 24/30.

Last up are Jane Seymour and Tony Dovolani, who will be doing the foxtrot. Tony says Jane is very, very hard on herself; she is trying to make her dancing dreams come true (she had to stop ballet lessons because of an injury as a child). She makes it look easy when it comes to performance time. Bruno says it was the essence of elegance and had "lovely detailing." He adds that she needs to watch her turns, but otherwise, bravo. Carrie Ann says a lot of people get stiff during the foxtrot, but that she didn't and gave her chills. Len agrees with the elegance and also tells them to work on their turns, too. Scores: 8-8-8, for a 24/30.

(Strangely, during Jane and Tony's interview, Sabrina is cracking up over her shoulder, and Jennie has a couple of moments, too. Weird.)

Then the guys do a lot of trash-talking and remind us that they will be on tomorrow night.

What did you think of the premiere? Unless one of the guys really messes up tomorrow, I think Josie will likely be out on Wednesday.

And as for me, I'm off to watch Heroes. WOO!

(Photo courtesy of ABC)

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