'Dancing with the Stars' recap: Season 14 premiere

TOM BERGERON!  It's so great to see you again! Oh, hi, Brooke, you're there too.

Introductions: Notable for Gavin's fedora, Maks' open shirt and Martina looking more glam than I could have ever imagined.  And now they tell us no elimination this week, everybody will be back next week. Way to kill some suspense there.

Maria Menounos & Derek Hough

Derek: "I want as many mirrorball trophies as I have chest hairs.  That would be four."  Maria's got tomboy tendencies and a laugh you'll find either endearing or INCREDIBLY irritating. (Guess where I fall on the spectrum?) They're dancing  a cha cha cha to Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)." Oh, dear. Maria's got the body for dancing but not the coordination and definitely not the grace. If her partner were anybody but Derek Hough, I'd be very, very worried for her. Len wants more "hip action" but says it's great.  Bruno shows Maria how to work her hips.  Carrie Ann wants her to work on her transitions.
: Carrie Ann: 7 Len: 7 Bruno: 7
(That's a week 1, couple 1 generous overscore to me.)

New this season: If you're tweeting, be sure to use the #DWTS hashtag - ABC is putting selected tweets up on screen during the kiss-and-cry filler time.

Jack Wagner & Anna Trebunskaya
I am totally OK with Jack Wagner now looking like a cross between David Bowie and John Elway. Jack's excited to be with a redhead because he's been partnered with a lot of blondes. (Cough, Heather Locklear, cough?) Foxtrot to Nancy Sinatra's "Sugar Town." There's a lot of weird business at the beginning with them lying on fake grass and doing leg lifts? Anna is wearing the yellowest shoes that ever yellowed. As Tom notes, the routine appeared to have two endings. Not sure if that was intentional. Bruno calls it "springtime romance at its most uplifting," adding "Week 1, what will you do week 2?" Nothing but praise from Carrie Ann. Len liked the feel of the dance but is critical of Jack's posture and footwork, calling it "haphazard."
: Carrie Ann: 8 Len: 7  Bruno: 8
Anna's "Call, text, and vote" hand gestures are just adorable.

Donald Driver & Peta Murgatroyd
Donald Driver has some cute, cute kids. Donald has skinny legs and has bunched up his track pants so high in rehearsal they look like Shakespearean poufy pantaloons. Donald is lip-syncing or talking into a microphone at the beginning of their cha cha routine to "Dedication to My Ex (Miss That)" by Lloyd (Thank heavens for Wikipedia - I am way too old and nerdy to have ever known that song). Donald is 100 percent going for it in this routine. I love it when the big tough guys throw off the shackles of "macho" and get into the spirit of dancing.  He's even wearing the high-heeled shoes.  Carrie Ann says Donald "kicked that cha cha's booty." Shots of Donald's kids in the audience and they are still supercute. Len says Donald's excitement got him off his timing a little bit. Bruno calls him a "diamond in the rough" and " a rooster chasing a hen." Donald admits to being a DWTS superfan, having watched since Season 1.
: Carrie Ann: 7 Len: 7  Bruno: 7
BOO! I thought he was way better than Maria.

Gavin DeGraw & Karina Smirnoff
Gavin is doing "DWTS" because he wants to get out from behind his piano at concerts to make himself "more vulnerable." In case the fedora didn't tell you already how sensitive he is. They're foxtrotting to Lady Antebellum's "I Run to You." I may spend most of this routine trying to figure out if Karina's wearing a dress or  really really wide-legged pants. AHA - the spin reveals: PANTS! With a top made from chandelier crystal strings. It's nice that they've gone green and recycled lighting fixtures for her costume. For Len, the dance wasn't the greatest. Bruno wants Gavin to work on his transitions. There's banter about "stiffening up at the wrong times." Florence Henderson is involved somehow. It's all slightly distressing. Brooke can't understand how a performer can be shy. Gavin does the aw shucks head duck and says, "You're so pretty."
: Carrie Ann: 7 Len: 6  Bruno: 7

Roshon Fegan & Chelsie Hightower
Roshon is the youngest dancer and has been a "hip-hop freestyle" dancer for a long time. Chelsie thinks he looks like a "lost puppy dog" trying to pick up the steps. The kid makes some funny cute faces, I'll give him that. Their cha cha to "Glad You Came" by The Wanted is definitely young feeling, and Roshon's got some serious flexibility and fluidity; he whips his legs around like some of the pros. Chelsie's got some great raw talent to work with here. Bruno's a fan, says Roshon was "laser sharp" on the beat. Carrie Ann says they did the "coolest spin" in a cha cha cha she's seen in all 14 seasons. Len wants more traditional steps - I'll wait while you recover from the shock of that - but says Roshon is a good dancer.
: Carrie Ann: 8 Len: 7 Bruno: 8

Sherri Shepherd & Val Chmerkovskiy
Sherri says she's going to "laugh all the way to that mirrorball." My preview predicted that might be her strategy.  And then she goes absolutely NUTS when she discovers Val is her partner. They've got the foxtrot to "Sherry" by The Four Seasons, which I will admit made me giggle. Sherri pulls a lot of faces when she dances, but she's more elegant than she predicted in her pre-dance segment. Carrie Ann calls Sherri the "happiest contestant" they've ever had. Sometimes I worry about the judges' memory problems. Len calls her "fun, fun, fun" and Bruno says she's light on her feet with good timing. Sherri practically skips across the floor to the interview area. Sherri apologizes to everyone she ever criticized as a viewer of the show.
: Carrie Ann: 8 Len: 7 Bruno: 8

Tom cracks that Sherri will be giving Gavin lessons on how to get over shyness.  Love you, Tom.

Melissa Gilbert & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Melissa says she's had a few rough years, mentioning her divorce (from Bruce Boxleitner) and that she broke her back. She's excited to have Maks as her partner. Melissa cracks that there was no "cha cha" on the prairie. Their music is "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and Melissa's wearing a dress that plunges extremely low in the back. Pa Ingalls would not approve. She's trying so hard, but the moves are a little awkward. I hope her dance next week is something more along the lines of a waltz or foxtrot. Len wanted more "hip action" and called the routine "ambitious," saying she coped well with a "difficult dance." They're giving her very, very technical criticism, which I always think is a good sign. If they speak in generalities, they don't think there's room for improvement and that you're going home soon. I just noticed after the scoring reveal that Maks' hair tonight looks just like Don Draper's.
Carrie Ann: 7 Len: 6 Bruno: 7

William Levy & Cheryl Burke
The crowd goes wild before Tom can even say William's name. He and Cheryl got started a week later than everyone else because of his work schedule. He balks at the shoes Cheryl's laid out for him; dude, if Donald Driver doesn't bat an eye getting into heels, neither should you.  It's a cha cha cha to Chris Brown's "International Love" that, naturally enough, has a nightclub feel to it. Cheryl's not a dummy  - he's in a sleeveless shirt that's also cut short enough for us to ogle what my mom would call "his buns." However, Bruno tells William that he's overdressed. Carrie Ann thanks ABC for her job and felt like their freestyle stayed in the spirit of the cha cha cha. Len miraculously agrees.
Carrie Ann: 8 Len: 8  Bruno: 8

Martina Navratilova &  Tony Dovolani
Martina describes herself as an athlete and breast cancer survivor. And says after breast cancer she didn't see any reason to fear dancing. Tony says, "I'm not the bad boy or the bad boy's brother" and that he's ready to win the trophy. It's a Dovolani/Chmerkovskiy feud! Martina says that what scares her the most is the "high heels." Now, see, Martina can get away with saying she's not very feminine waaaaay more than a traditionally beautiful woman like Maria. I absolutely love the way the announcer says "Navratilova."  Whoa, the back of Martina's dress is almost entirely sheer and she is still in tremendous shape.  You can see her trying to remember the steps in  her head, as they foxtrot to "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby," but she looks great and her athletic background means she's not visibly panting in front of the judges.  Carrie Ann compliments her beauty and wants her to work on her spins.  Len wants more wow, less caution.  Is that Chris Evert in the audience?  I remember watching tennis as a kid when their rivalry was so huge.  Martina has a sense of humor when Brooke compliments her on her appearance saying, "With all this hair, with all this makeup … If I don't look good now, it's over."
Scores: Carrie Ann: 7 Len: 6  Bruno: 7

After Martina's comment about their scores matching what they got in rehearsal, Tom clarifies that they have judges in rehearsal but not the "real ones."  It's like a glimpse behind the curtain. I'm heady with forbidden knowledge.

Katherine Jenkins & Mark Ballas
They show Katherine's appearance singing on Season 12. I can't be rational about Mark Ballas, but I like her enough that I'm going to grit my teeth and cheer for them anyway. The only thing more yellow than Anna's shoes earlier is Katherine's dress -- it's showing up very, very canary on my screen.  One thing I will say for Mark -- his choreography is very, very camera aware, as evidenced by this routine to Lenka's "The Show." It's savvy, making the routine pop for the voters as much as or more than the judges. Len says it was "crashing" which is apparently older English guy for "good." He gives her some very technical advice, which as I said earlier is a good sign.  Bruno says she's set the bar very high on Week 1. Carrie Ann says she thought she was watching two pros.
Scores: Carrie Ann: 9 Len: 8  Bruno: 9
I warned you - she's a wildcard! Taking the lead from William Levy, who if the screams in the ballroom are any indication, will be an audience vote juggernaut.

Gladys Knight & Tristan MacManus
"I'm music legend Gladys Knight. I'm known as the Empress of Soul."  Yes, ma'am. She's going to "Make like a Pip and dance." Gladys is happy to have the cha cha cha because it's rhythmic. Gladys's rehearsal T-shirt features a bedazzled high heeled shoe. Want. Gladys's smile is brighter than any sequin they could ever sew on her as they dance to "Best of My Love" by The Emotions.  She's fumbling a bit and it's not the fastest routine, not by a long shot, but her spirit is infectious. I'm giving Tristan's red spats a very dubious eyebrow, however. Leave those kind of sartorial shenanigans to Ballas, MacManus. Standing O in the ballroom for Gladys and it's taking a while for the crowd response to die down.  Bruno's standing and calls Gladys a star. Carrie Ann is moved to dance and then lean across the judges' table in a way that really messes up her microphone. It's how you know it's live tv, folks!
: Carrie Ann: 8  Len:  7 Bruno: 8
Those are some very generous scores - I can't help but think if she'd gone earlier in the evening those scores would be lower.  Brooke feels the need to translate Tristan's English for us because she assumes we've never seen a movie with Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan or any number of Harry Potter's character actors.

Jaleel White & Kym Johnson 
Kym reminds us ladies to be "nice to the geeky boys" because they grow up to be handsome men. What a leap to start the foxtrot.  Jaleel is fantastic; the judges may have some critiques about his shoulders, but he's smooth and graceful.  I'm standing by him as one of my picks for finalist. The spin they do just before the end of the dance was remarkable for them not breaking their handhold AT ALL.  It's the first dance of the night that I've wanted to immediately rewind and rewatch, and it's only in small part because I love "The Way You Look Tonight." Carrie Ann calls him "smooth"; Len thinks the dance had elegance and sophistication and praises Jaleel's getting in and out of turns. Carrie Ann and Bruno both compare Jaleel to Gregory Hines - high praise indeed.
Carrie Ann: 9  Len: 8  Bruno: 9

Jaleel's delighted to hear they got a reaction shot of his mom, as she's the reason he decided to do the show. Awww.

I think it's obvious from Tom's and the judges' comments throughout, and especially toward the end of tonight's show, that they're relieved not to have any obvious "villains" like a Bristol Palin or a Kardashian and that all the contestants are either good dancers or good sports.  I'm happy with this season's cast too. With the lack of an elimination tonight, I'll see you next week!