Tonight's premiere of Dancing With the Stars is introducing us to a pretty crazy cast of characters. Let's get right to it.
First up is Disney star Chelsea Kane, who is partnered with Mark Ballas. Their first dance is the foxtrot. For all of her ZOMG-dancing-is-so-hard intro drama (she says her dancing experience is limited to some musical theater box-steps), she is pretty darn good. Head judge Len Goodman says they are a young, fresh and new couple and their dance had fresh appeal to it. He says some of it was Peter, Paul & Mary, and then a bit of it turned into the Black Eyed Peas. Bruno Tonioli says it was a "one-and-a-half minutes of pure afterglow." He suggests she learn to extend her movements. Carrie Ann Inaba says she has a lot of potential and flair, but she needs to watch her shoulders and her extension. Scores: 7-7-7, for a 21/30.
Second is talk-show host Wendy Williams, paired with Tony Dovolani. When they are introduced, she asks Tony, "What's your name?" So, uh, a big fan of the show, eh, Wendy? They do the cha cha to "I'm Every Woman." Throughout the performance, she is being very tentative about her foot placement, which I suspect the judges will say something about that. Bruno: "You are a sultry, luscious, delicious woman. Why are you marking??" He says she needs to show her fire and personality. Carrie Ann says she saw real fear in her eyes before the performance, and Wendy says she didn't know their segment was going to air right before their performance. Uh, again, to everyone who agrees to go on any reality show ever: WATCH IT FIRST. Gah! Carrie Ann says she needs to unleash the beast. Len says she's loud and proud and has "her dumplings boiling over," but she didn't bring her personality out to the floor at all. Scores: 5-4-5, for a 14/30.
Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward is paired with Kym Johnson. Their first dance is the cha-cha, and he has what Wendy was missing: total confidence and swagger. His technique is not perfect, but he's got the performing part down, especially for someone who claims he doesn't do touchdown dances because he can't dance at all. Carrie Ann says that was "the sparkliest cha-cha she's ever seen" because he was lighting up the stage with his smile and "total control." Len says it was clean, crisp and confident, and he adds, "Your bottom's the tops!" Bruno says he was nimble and light-footed with great timing. But he adds that he needs to work on his posture and his hip action. Scores: 7-7-7, for a 21/30.
Next are supermodel Petra Nemacova and Dmitry Chaplin. Petra was in the news a couple of years ago when she survived the tsunami in 2004, during which she broke her pelvis in four places. We see footage of her on the day of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, trying to recover her focus and deciding to dedicate her dance to the people of Japan. They foxtrot to Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why," and it's quite flowy and lovely, but the song is sped up, which makes it seem like they are moving faster than they are. Len says the routine had charm, grace and elegance. He wants her to work on her posture, especially in hold. He's concerned about her doing the jive next week, since she is so tall. Bruno says there were some moments of extreme beauty and sophistication, but she needs to work on the in-between. Carrie Ann says she is stunning and brings natural grace out through her movements ... but she thinks there was a long drag that had a little bit of a lift, but she isn't going to penalize them tonight. Scores: 6-6-6, for an 18/30.
Romeo and Chelsie Hightower are paired up this season. Romeo was supposed to be on the second season of DWTS, but he twisted his ankle and was replaced by his dad, notoriously low scorer Master P. They cha-cha, and I don't think Romeo has to worry about his dad beating his scores. (First off, he's actually wearing dancing shoes!) I predict that Len will not love the silly dance breaks in the middle, but they dance well together. Bruno says he is vibrant, playful and energetic, though very messy and flat-footed, but he has potential to do it right. Carrie Ann says he has sex appeal for days, but he didn't nail his posture. But she agrees about the posture. Len says he attacked the dance, but it was casual and not as careful about technique. Performance: Nailed. Technique: Gotta step it up. Scores: 7-6-6, for a 19/30.
Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard is working with Anna Trebunskaya. In rehearsal, he is having trouble with his posture and shoulders -- after all, he is used to having his guards up. They dance the foxtrot to "The Power of Love." His posture still looks a little off, but he is working the performance side big-time. Carrie Ann says he had some performance moments that reminded her of Ben Vereen, but "posture, posture, posture, please. That's what my note is." Len says the foxtrot is fine wine and caviar, but this was beer and pizza, dancing technique wise. Bruno asks if he can call him Sugar. He says yes. Bruno says during hold, he was great, and out of hold, he turned into a Ninja Turtle. Scores: 6-5-6, for a 17/30.
"Girls Next Door" star Kendra Wilkinson and Louis Van Amstel try to get Kendra more on the classy side of things and away from booty-shaking club dancing. Their cha-cha is a little ... chaotic? Disorganized? She seems a tad tentative, except for the moments when she is shaking it. Len says they held his attention from start to finish, but not always for good reasons. He says they performed it well, but she needs to work on her legs -- they were never straight through the whole routine. Bruno says she can strut her stuff and work it, but she needs to straighten her legs. Carrie Ann loves her spunk and she doesn't think Kendra missed a step, but she has some things to work out. Scores: 6-6-6, for an 18/30.
"Karate Kid" star Ralph Macchio still looks exactly the same. How is this possible? He is paired with Karina Smirnoff. (In fact, Karina says immediately, that he looks "exactly the same!") Even after this, when he says he is 49, I freak out and almost fall out of my chair. I thought it was bad enough last season when I realized Baby from "Dirty Dancing" was 50. They foxtrot to "Ain't That a Kick in the Head." (Ha!) There are a few loosey-goosey moments in the performance, and his posture's not great, but they have good chemistry, and the performance side is totally on point. Surprisingly so for week one. The crowd goes wild. Bruno says he had great showmanship, confidence, musicality and more, but he needs to watch his hands because sometimes they got a little "creepy." Carrie Ann says it was an amazing surprise, and a truly gorgeous performance. Len says he's rough around the edges, but he loved it and calls it the best foxtrot of the night. Scoeres: 8-8-8, 24/30.
WWE star Chris Jericho is partnered with Cheryl Burke. He is totally game and ready to win this thing. Their biggest challenge is that Chris is so muscular, he has to watch his posture really carefully, because otherwise, he looks neckless. They cha-cha to "Should I Stay or Should I Go," and he's clearly having a great time out there. Not a bit tentative, but a tiny bit sloppy. Carrie Ann says it was like a Chippendales cha-cha. She says he didn't miss anything, but he needs a little more "content." Len thinks his hips are allergic to music, but he liked the energy and the action. Bruno says it was at times messy, at times unsteady, but always entertaining. Scores: 7-6-6, for a 19/30.
Dr. Drew sidekick Mike Catherwood (aka Psycho Mike on Loveline) is partnered with Lacey Schwimmer (and her roots). He has zero experience, and it shows. They foxtrot to "Cooler Than Me," and pretty much through the whole thing, he's so stiff, he looks like a Ken Doll. But he's trying. Len says dancing is movement to music, and he was moving, and there was music. But other than that, there wasn't much dance quality. Bruno says this is a smooth, gliding dance, but this was ungainly. Carrie Ann says he kept up, but yes, he was pretty boppy where he was supposed to be smooth. Score: 5-4-4, 13/30.
Kirstie Alley tells her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy that she is "a Dancing With the Stars ho." So what I'm saying is, she recognized her partner. They cha cha to "Forget You," and Kirstie is full of attitude and works the stage. They're pretty adorable and hilarious together, actually. Bruno purrs at her and tells her he likes what he sees. He says her foot placement in the cha cha was the best of the night. Carrie Ann says she is working it, and she had sizzle. Len thinks it was fun and cheeky and full of the "feel-good factor." (She gets a bunch of cheers from Jennifer Grey and Florence Henderson in the audience.) Scores: 8-7-8, for a 23/30.
OK, seriously, if you had told me before the show that the top two scorers on this premiere would be Kirstie Alley and Ralph Macchio, I would have said you had lost your mind. But that's what's happening. What a strange, funny, entertaining night.
What do you think about the premiere?