'Dancing With the Stars' recap: Let the trainwreck begin

Well, folks, first, let me apologize in advance: I'm having DVR troubles, so I missed the beginning of the episode, and it won't record, so my pausing abilities are limited. So what I'm saying is this might be a little less detailed than usual.

Let's get started.


Audrina Patridge and Tony Dovolani are up first with the cha-cha. Audrina says she's known for being the fun-loving party girl. I am not a frequent watcher of The Hills, but isn't she really known for total lack of inflection and kind of dead-looking eyes? Anyway, she dances pretty well, it seems to me, but she seems to lack a little verve. But for week one, she's showing some potential. Head judge Len Goodman says she danced with confidence and good technique, but she needs to be a little more feisty. Bruno Tonioli says she looks like a beautiful show pony who needs to be pushed to the limit and whipped into the shape. Carrie Ann Inaba says she showed guts by starting the first dance of the season with a solo. Scores: 6-7-6, for a 19/30.

Kurt Warner and Anna Trebunskaya are next. Kurt says he's got eight built-in voters -- his wife and seven kids, who are big fans of the show. They're doing the Viennese waltz, and Kurt is game, but he looks really, really clunky out there. But sweetly, he runs over and gives his wife a kiss at the end of the performance. Bruno, however, doesn't see what I see and calls him "a graceful quarterback" and "a natural." But he does acknowledge that the footwork was not good. Carrie Ann also sees potential in him and his connection with Anna. Len says the waltz needs grace and elegance, and it "had very little to commend it." Scores: 7-5-7, for a 19/30.


Kyle Massey is supposedly best known for appearing on Cory in the House, not That's so Raven, as I said in my intro post last week. (He was on that show, but he was the title character in the other.) He's paired with Lacey Schwimmer. They do the cha-cha to My First Kiss, and he performs the heck out of it, trying to get the audience worked up, almost constantly using his free hand to make the "come on" gesture so people will cheer. (Whoa, that was a tortured sentence. I'm hoping it made a little sense.) Anyway, he's clearly having a great time out there. Carrie Ann calls him her first crush of season 11. Len says, "Kyle, I liked it." He hated the intro but otherwise was a fan of his energy. Bruno loved his energy and enthusiasm. Scores: 8-7-8, for a 23/30.

Basketball player and actor Rick Fox is paired with Cheryl Burke -- and he is about 2 feet taller than her. But though their height difference is obvious and presents them with some challenges in rehearsal, on stage he looks to me like the natural that Carrie Ann and Bruno were calling Kurt. Len says he had elegance and amazing posture. Bruno says this is going to be a great season. He says he and Kurt are equally matched, but no way -- I'm giving this one to Rick. Carrie Ann says his posture and lines were ridiculously gorgeous. Scores: 8-7-7, for a 22/30.

Margaret Cho is partnered with Louis Van Amstel for the Viennese waltz. In rehearsals, she talks with him about how she did ballet as a kid until someone pointed out that she was the fattest kid in the class, after which she never danced again. She interviews that she thought she was going to put on pretty costumes and do little dances, but she didn't expect it to be therapy. Anyway, they dance to "We Are the Champions," and her dress ends up having these big gold lame wings that she manipulates in a way that reminds me of a marching band's flag team. But then she kind of messes up and gets stuck in the fabric. Or so I thought. Then at the end, Louis kind of drops her, but it appears to be (attempts at) comedy? I don't know. It was a little weird, and her dancing seemed decent up until that point, so I'm not sure what to make of it. And I blurt out in the middle that Len is going to hate the wing madness. Bruno: "What the hell was that?" He tells them that the "accidents" didn't work because she can dance. Carrie Ann says she is a lovely and talented lady, and she asks for clarification about whether these were accidents or on purpose. On purpose. Len says he was really encouraged at the beginning by the loveliness of it, but then it took a turn, and he thinks the Viennese waltz is an inappropriate dance to add comedy to. Scores: 5-5-5, for a 15/30.

Brandy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy are partnered this season, and he says he's going to try to be the good boy instead of the bad boy of ballroom. But he doesn't look too sincere about it. Anyway, Brandy looks lovely and at home on stage, but you can also tell she has been working hard. Carrie Ann says she looked comfortable, but she needs to work on smoothing it out a little more, but overall, it was beautiful. Len says she made a fantastic impression: "That was fabulous." Bruno says he can't wait for next week to see what else she can do. Brandy tells Brooke that she doesn't really have that much dance experience, "it just seems like I do." Scores:  7-8-8, 23/30. Brandy makes high-pitched noises.

Bristol Palin introduces herself thusly: "My name is Bristol Palin, I'm a public advocate for teen pregnancy prevention" -- oh, how did that come to pass? -- "but most people know me as the daughter of former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin." She's partnered with Mark Ballas, who says he's going to take back the trophy this season. Mark suggests that their song should be "Mama Told Me Not to Come," and Bristol immediately says it's just like her and Levi's relationship and how "mama told me not to do it, but I did it anyway." Mark has this look on his face like he's thinking, "Um, I was referencing your mom's ideas about you appearing on this show. But OK." They're having issues because she's really shy and not a performer, but she's here nonetheless. Anyway, in the performance, she has moments that are OK and moments where it's like she's just standing there while Mark dances around her, but she looks like she's having a lot more fun than last season's designated "just a regular person needing an image makeover after what the tabloids have done to me," Kate Gosselin. Len says it was "a very acceptable performance for week one." He tells her she just needs to loosen up a little. Bruno says she just needs to work on the performance and the focus, and she'll get better. Carrie Ann says she thought Bristol was going to come out here and be boring, but she wasn't -- she has great legs and undulated properly. Scores: 6-6-6, for an 18/30.

Florence Henderson has gotten kookier as she's gotten older -- she's 76, by the way -- and in one of the promos, we see her lifting her shirt and showing off her old-lady bra and abs as she trash-talks The Situation. She's paired with Corky Ballas for the cha-cha. She says she's sure she'll be compared somewhat to Cloris Leachman, but that while she hopes to be that funny, she also hopes to actually do the dances. In her cha-cha, she does, though her and Corky's pace is a bit slower than most of the other cha-chas we have seen this evening. Bruno says she's a "spunky lady." She says she's been waiting to her his voice talking about her. He says the performance was there, but at times she looked a tad insecure about the steps. Carrie Ann says it's great to watch someone having so much fun, but there were moments where she was a little out of step. Len says this is a dancing program as well as an entertainment program that this was entertaining. Scores: 6-6-6, 18/30.

Michael Bolton is doing DWTS while he's on tour. NO PRESSURE! He's paired with Chelsie Hightower. "Chelsie is an amazing dancer," he says, "but I have shoes older than her." Heh. In rehearsal, he is having posture and clunkiness issues. In the performance, he seems a little stiff in the Viennese waltz, but not nearly as bas as in rehearsal. Not great, but not awful for week one. Carrie Ann says he let Chelsie lead too often, and also, he needs to smile and chill out. Len says he has musicality (whew), but he needs to work on his posture. Bruno says it can be painful to try something new -- and he needs to relax and enjoy it. Scores: 6-5-5, for a 16/30.

Everyone has been training for three weeks, says Tom Bergeron, except Mike The Situation Sorrentino, who has only been practicing for five days. He says his dancing background consists of "many many nights of dancing at the club with your girlfriend." Heh. In his first rehearsal with Karina Smirnoff, it looks like a total disaster. In the performance, though, his cha-cha isn't as embarrassing as it could have been. Parts seem slowed to Florence speeds, and he misses a step here and there, but week one and with a third of the practice time as everyone else ... it could have been worse. Len says he's in an awkward ... situation because he's under-rehearsed and lacked polish. He says, "You have the guns, but lack the ammunition." Bruno says it was a bad start, but he has a faint spark there somewhere, "that may or may not be talent." Carrie Ann says she thinks something is there, and he needs to get rid of the 80s style of dancing, especially the finger-pointing. Scores: 5-5-5, for a 15/30.


Jennifer Grey says that we probably know her best as Baby from Dirty Dancing. Not that we'd be able to pick her out of a lineup as such, but I'm hardly the first person to point that out. She says she's doing the show to recapture something that brought her so much joy: dancing. She's partnered with reigning champ Derek Hough (and they're pictured above in rehearsal). They're doing the Viennese waltz to These Arms of Mine, from Dirty Dancing, which brought back lots of memories of working with Patrick Swayze, which freaked her out and she gets really upset. (In this interview, by the way, she looks a little bit more like herself, with less makeup on. And same once she hits the stage for the performance. Whew.) Anyway, the dance is not flawless, but she just looks like she's really in the moment and there for the dancing, even if she's a bit unsteady a couple of times. Bruno: "Baby is back where she belongs," and he says "someone up there" is going to be very proud of her. Carrie Ann says something very profound just happened and that she was so connected. Also: "Some things get better with age, and I definitely think you're one of them." (Cut to Jamie Lee Curtis in the audience, applauding like crazy.) Len says it was great, but he's waiting for next week to see how she can do a jive. Scores: 8-8-8, for a 24/30, the highest score of the night so far.

David Hasselhoff is paired with Kym Johnson, and he is ready for the challenge and the work this show requires. Hilariously, Kym meets up with The Hoff after he does a concert in Germany. (And here I thought that was just a punchline! He really is famous in Germany!) In rehearsal, he's having a hard time making his self-described "old body" keep up with his heart. They cha-cha to Sex Bomb, and while I might never get the image of him gyrating his hips out of my head (pass the brain bleach, PLEASE), he definitely performs the heck out of the dance. Footwork? Eh. It's The Hoff, does anyone care? Carrie Ann giggles and says he reminded her of "the offspring of Donny Osmond and Jerry Springer" and adds that he dances with his mouth, making all these noises and faces. Len: "It's never too early to panic." He says it was entertaining, but he fears next week and how he'd handle the quickstep and its intense footwork. Bruno: "We do love The Hoff, and we love the madness of it all, and all it was was madness; there wasn't any dancing. ... It was like a potpourri of insanity disguised as dance." Scores: 5-5-5, for a 15/30.

What just happened here? I don't even know who's going to be at risk, there was so much craziness going on. What did you think?

Photo by Greg Zabilski, ABC