'Dancing With the Stars' premiere: Ranking the contestants from best to worst
By Emily Yahr
Sep 19, 2017 | 3:01 PM
On Monday night, ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" kicked off its 25th season with 13 new celebrity competitors; lots of sparkly costumes; and a few gimmicks, including a married couple competing against each other. We ranked all the contestants from best to worst:
1) Victoria Arlen/Val Chmerkovskiy (cha cha, judge scores: 7, 6, 6 for a total of 19 out of 30 points)
Best known as: ESPN host and former swimmer who won a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
Story line: It's unbelievably inspiring -- at age 11, she slipped into a vegetative state for four years. After she turned 15, she started to recover, but spent a decade in a wheelchair. She started walking again about 18 months ago, and she still doesn't any feeling in her legs. As she explains, it's like dancing while blindfolded -- she has no idea what her lower half is doing, and puts all her trust in Val.
Performance: Victoria is a delight to watch, beaming through the entire routine. "I've seen some incredible routines on this show . . . but that was one of the most joyous performances I've ever seen," judge Carrie Ann Inaba says, adding that she can't wait how she evolves over the next 10 weeks, a hint that Victoria won't be voted off anytime soon. "You will keep getting better."
2) Jordan Fisher/Lindsay Arnold (tango, judge scores: 8, 7, 7 for a total of 22 out of 30)
Best known as: The Disney and Broadway actor who also starred in two roles in "Hamilton."
Story line: He loves a challenge -- can his competitive nature help Arnold earn her first "DWTS" mirror ball trophy?
Performance: At first, Carrie Ann just shrieks and can only say "Wowza!" in response. She gushes that they're the pair to watch, and she loves his confidence on the dance floor. Len Goodman goes with a simple "Well done," a high compliment, while Bruno Tonioli declares it "smart, slick and stylish."
3) Lindsey Stirling/Mark Ballas (cha cha, judge score: 7, 8, 7 for a total of 22 out of 30)
Best known as: Electronic violonist and YouTube sensation.
Story line: She's performed on the show several times as a violinist -- can she triumph as a dancer? Seeing as how she's the last dancer of the night, it's safe to assume producers have high hopes for her this season.
Performance: As it turns out, dancing comes quite naturally for Lindsey, and she earns a rave from Len: "It was crisp, it was clean, lovely leg action, nice hip action -- that was, for me, the dance of the night."
4) Derek Fisher/Sharna Burgess (salsa, judge scores: 6, 6, 6 for a total of 18 out of 30)
Best known as: The NBA star who played 18 seasons, mostly with the Los Angeles Lakers. Story line: In the past, basketball players haven't done very well on the show -- can Derek change that? The pressure is on, especially because this is Derek's mom's favorite show.
Performance: Derek starts with a fancy basketball dribbling routine, which gets the audience going. Bruno offers some somewhat nonsensical criticism, though says Derek had a command of the dance floor. Carrie Ann loved the intro, while Len liked the technique but not the performance.
5) Vanessa Lachey/Maks Chmerkovskiy (cha cha, judge scores: 7, 7, 7 for a total of 21)
Best known as: Actress and TV personality from MTV's "Total Request Live."
Story line: She's a mom. She has three kids. Did we mention she's a mom? This comes up many times in her intro package, as Vanessa's narrative is that she's usually so focused on her kids that she wants to do something purely for herself. Maks warns her that she can't be in mommy mode in rehearsal -- even if her husband, singer Nick Lachey, is rehearsing next door.
Performance: "That's a yummy mummy with a sexy carriage!" yells Bruno, because of course he does. He compliments Vanessa on her "proper" cha cha, while Carrie Ann goes with "Boom, Mama!"
6) Nick Lachey/Peta Murgatroyd (cha cha, judge scores: 6, 6, 6 for a total of 18 out of 30)
Best known as: Member of '90s boy band 98 Degrees, reality star from "Newlyweds."
Story line: People assume he can dance because of his boy band roots; in fact, dancing terrifies him. So he wants to try something new. Oh, and he's competing against his wife, Vanessa Lachey -- and he wants to live up to his brother, Drew Lachey, who took home the mirror ball trophy in the second season.
Performance: Len is pleased that Nick didn't hold back, even if he made some small errors. "It was strong," he declares. Carrie Ann thinks it wasn't bad at all for a self-proclaimed non-dancer, and Bruno says he just needs to loosen up a bit.
7) Terrell Owens/Cheryl Burke (judge scores: 5, 5, 5 for a total of 15 out of 30)
Best known as: "T.O.," the NFL wide receiver who played for the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles, among others.
Story line: While he's known for his celebrations on the football field, he says his confidence is often mistaken for arrogance. Can he shed that misconception on the dance floor?
Performance: Len finds T.O. extremely entertaining, fun and full of energy -- except his feet were kind of a mess. Carrie Ann agrees that his "sparkle game is on point," but needs to clean up his moves.
8) Sasha Pieterse/Gleb Savchenko (cha cha , judge score: 6, 6, 6 for a total of 18 out of 30)
Best known as: One of the stars of Freeform's "Pretty Little Liars"; she played Alison, a scary teen sociopath in a show full of them.
Story line: She says she's trying to get in shape for her upcoming wedding. Plus, as an actress on a scripted series, she wants to see if she can handle the rigors of live TV.
Performance: Carrie Ann is very complimentary, saying Sasha is on the right track and has excellent technique, even though she got ahead of Gleb on a couple moves. Len orders her to control her nerves.
9) Frankie Muniz/Witney Carson (fox trot, judge scores: 7, 6, 6 for a total of 19)
Best known as: Malcolm, the gifted teen in a family of weirdos on Fox's early 2000s comedy "Malcolm in the Middle."
Story line: He's very nervous, because he's not really a dancer, and may face some challenges after a back injury from his gig as a racecar driver.
Performance: For someone so scared, Frankie dances extremely well for the first week. "I was screaming like you were in a boy band!" exclaims Carrie Ann. "There was something so beautiful about that performance . . . that's the type of performance our fans fall in love with." Bruno likes his focus and intensity, and wants him to work on gliding more smoothly.
10) Nikki Bella/Artem Chigvintsev (tango, judge scores: 7, 7, 6 for a total of 20)
Best known as: The WWE wrestler, model and actress who is also engaged to wrestler John Cena. (She confirms her fiance is very excited she's doing the show.)
Story line: She's completely out of her comfort zone -- she's not accustomed to wearing a skirt and heels on a dance floor. "I'm used to body slamming girls for a living," she explains.
Performance: Len is somewhat impressed, and lectures that Nikki needs to stop looking down at the floor and her moves need more "sizzle." Carrie Ann loved it: "You owned that dance floor."
11) Debbie Gibson/Alan Bersten (fox trot, judge scores: 6, 5, 6 for a total of 17 out of 30)
Best known as: An '80s pop icon known for hits such as "Shake Your Love and "Lost in Your Eyes."
Story line: Four years ago, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease, which causes a lot of muscle pain and other unpredictable symptoms. So she wants to prove to everyone that even if you face challenges, you don't have to hide away: "You can get busy living."
Performance: Bruno compliments the chemistry between the two and also critiques her form. Carrie Ann, on the other hand, urges Debbie to utilize Alan even more in future performances.
12) Drew Scott/Emma Slater (fox trot, judge scores: 6, 5, 5 for a total of 16 out of 30)
Best known as: One half of HGTV's "Property Brothers," the renovation show he hosts with his brother, Jonathan.
Story line: He claims he can't dance -- Jonathan confirms that he saw Drew at their high school prom, and he has no moves. Also, Drew is getting married soon, and wants to improve before his wedding.
Performance: Yeah, he's not great. Len calls him a "fixer upper," noting that he made quite a few mistakes. "Work on trying to get a little bit more finesse," Len advises. Carrie thinks it was entertaining, though he has a lot of improvements to make.
13) Barbara Corcoran/Keo Motsepe (salsa, judge scores: 5, 4, 5 for a total of 14 out of 30)
Best known as: A real estate mogul and one of the investors/sharks on "Shark Tank," so you're getting some real ABC synergy here.
Story line: Barbara says she's always competed against men in her career, so it will be very different competing against so many women -- and she's always wanted to learn how to dance.
Performance: What she lacks in skill, she makes up in enthusiasm and lip syncing. "She can shake her moneymaker!" Bruno roars. Still, he tells her maintain her "bite" on stage. "The execution needed much more attack," he explains. Len goes with "all that glitters isn't gold," so in other words, he wasn't impressed.