Welcome, fellow Dancing fans! Our Dancing with the Stars season 17, week 1 recap recounts the events and performances of the premiere episode.
We are about to embark on a ten-week journey of glitter and gyrating, of tears and tango! Judging by the premiere, we are in for a spectacular season. The new batch of celebrities has an average age of half the Dancing with the Stars norm; even more unusually, I actually know half of them! And more bizarrely still, most of them seem like good dancers! I won’t give odds on elimination yet; I need to get a feel for how the season will work.
The night started with a large opening number featuring all of our couples – some of it was slightly awkward, but I’m ready to overlook it because of the awesomeness of the judges dancing! In other news, the Celebriquarium has been done away with in favor of the couples sitting around the judges. Not really a fan of this – it feels too confining for the couples to have them just sitting there. But the streamlined scoring from the judges is a plus! Brooke seems oddly purposeless now, to the point that she had to announce who people on Facebook were talking about. Who is she – Ryan Seacrest?
In terms of pros, of last year’s three newbies, only Sharna Burgess stuck around. Both Gleb and Lindsay were demoted back to the Troupe, which is only four people now. Budget cuts, perhaps? I don’t see the necessity of the Troupe at all, since we have all the dancing plus an elimination to fit into two hours now. Meanwhile, we have three new pros, and all of them are paying their dues with less-than-desirable partners. And sadly, for only the second time since she started in Season 3, we are without Kym Johnson! How I miss her relentless cheeriness – it’s almost as bereft as I felt when Derek skipped Season 12! But let’s focus on the positive, and let’s welcome our stars!
First Place, 27 points: Amber and Derek (Cha-Cha). What a performance! This dance was insanely high-energy, and Amber can really move. Her movements were sharp and precise, which is impressive at that speed. Sure enough, they received a 27, which ties the ten-season-old record set by Kristi Yamaguchi (Season 6) for highest score in Week 1. Quite a way to start! (For comparison, last season the first 27 came on Week 4.) Amber also seems like an awful lot of fun, with a crazy sense of humor that’ll surely complement Derek’s goofiness. Derek must be eying a second set of back-to-back wins now, even though his partner doesn’t have the body of a pro dancer. And thank heavens Amber’s a plus-size girl who isn’t here with a weight-loss storyline – that trope’s been played out too many times. (As a bonus, at least half a dozen Glee cast members came to watch Amber. Considering the cast of Glee is big enough to fill the ballroom, perhaps they’ll rotate new cast mates in every week?)
Second Place (tie), 24 points: Corbin and Karina (Contemporary). From what I can tell, this was a very good contemporary dance. (Though, aren’t they all? And why do we still have them around?) It seemed more in Corbin’s wheelhouse than Karina’s; I’ll be interested to see them do a proper ballroom dance next week. Honestly, these two have absolutely fantastic chemistry – I’ve not seen Karina alight like this since JR three seasons ago. That could take them far. So could good editing, like including the clip from High School Musical 2 of Corbin saying, “I don’t dance.” They have to do an HSM tribute dance at some point! Monique Coleman did back in Season 3, and got to the semifinals; we’ll have to see if Corbin can match or even surpass that. I also refuse to acknowledge that this is Corbin Bleu without his signature HSM-era hair.
Second Place (tie), 24 points: Elizabeth and Val (Contemporary). Another seemingly good contemporary, that was very in sync. Val is back in his element, without a shirt and with great chemistry with his partner. He’s also back digging holes for himself when he speaks. Elizabeth and Val were the last couple in the superb first half (the sevens-plus club), the dancing kind of derailed after them.
Third Place (tie), 23 points: Jack and Cheryl (Foxtrot). This dance was really good – Jack’s technique is great! I don’t remember Cheryl ever being so free with her praise for a dancer at the start, so she must be as impressed as I am. Jack’s sister Kellie was one of my absolute favorite DwtS contestants back on Season 9 – the show meant the world to her, but she never reeked of desperation, and she and Louis poured their heart and soul into getting to the finals (a first for him), to the point where I wanted them to win. So hopefully Jack lives up to his sister’s legacy.
In fact, the Osbourne siblings are VERY reminiscent of the Osmond siblings. In both cases, the sister went on the show first, and came in third place. In the Osmonds’ case, Donny joined two years later and won; doubtless Jack is hoping to echo that. Will Kellie’s specter haunt Jack as Marie (sometimes literally) haunted Donny? We’ll see. But Jack is also dancing to raise awareness for MS; between him and Valerie, Personal Story week will be absolutely heart-breaking.
Third Place (tie), 23 points: Snooki and Sasha (Cha-Cha). I’m pleasantly surprised by Snooki’s dancing – it was actually competent! Sasha worked really hard to put content in, ensuring Snooki actually danced. She’s also better spoken than I would’ve thought, given what I hear about Jersey Shore (and the mess that was The Situation in Season 11 – I have to believe Snooki will outlast him by making it past Week 4). With all of that said, she is still a “hot mess,” to use her own words. I find it hilarious that she wants us to call her “Nicole” now, because “I’ve had a son and I’m a woman now.” Tom half-obliged by calling her “Snicole,” and no one else bothered. Sorry, it’ll be a long while before she’s anything but “Snooki” to me. And I have to wonder, why was she the one closing out the show? Wouldn’t Valerie have been more appropriate?
Fourth Place (tie), 22 points: Christina and Mark (Contemporary). Another solid contemporary. Mark looked quite presentable tonight. Christina, meanwhile, has a magnetism about her when she dances; I couldn’t look away from her when she was moving. She is also sufficiently weirded out by Mark’s choreography… aren’t we all?
Fourth Place (tie), 22 points: Brant and Peta (Cha-Cha). There were only three cha-cha moves in this entire routine – I counted – but those three were done very well. Otherwise, there was no substance in this routine, and consequently it was the only one of the night I felt was overscored. Honestly, I don’t know what Peta’s playing at – she seemingly started to get lazy with choreography last season with Sean, but Brant has far more potential, and it shouldn’t be wasted. Peta is positioning Brant as the hunk of the season, since there’s a dearth of guys to drool over. That’s the only reasonable explanation for the awkward flirting we were shown; if that’s not an intentional showmance, then maybe Peta was just desperate. The camera also seems to love Brant, as it kept panning to him throughout the night.
Fifth Place (tie), 21 points: Valerie and Tristan (Foxtrot). Valerie seems like the awesomest person ever – inspirational and brave and fun, worth every standing ovation. Her dancing was really good – elegant with a good flow of movement, even though a few moves were wonky. It reminded me of Jane Seymour (Season 5), another classy older lady. I predict Valerie will have Carrie Ann crying every single week.
Valerie and Tristan are pictured below:
Fifth Place (tie), 21 points: Leah and Tony (Foxtrot). This was honestly the least memorable couple for me. They went second, so by the time the show closed, they were forgotten. Hopefully that won’t cost them, because Leah’s dancing was solid, and she has an interesting sense of humor that I look forward to seeing more of. Just as long as she doesn’t take to heart Bruno’s suggestion of twerking – even Snooki was sternly disapproving of that comment, to say nothing of the disdain every else showed. Bruno, this is Dancing with the Stars, it’s still just a tiny bit classier than the VMAs!
Sixth Place, 18 points: Bill and Emma (Foxtrot). I thought this was a tango, not a foxtrot – it was very staccato for a foxtrot! While not the best dance, this was still a thoroughly enjoyable number to watch. Also, how have we not had at least one dance a season set to “Hot Stuff”? It’s like the perfect song for DwtS! I hope Bill and Emma aren’t eliminated. Emma did her time – three seasons with the Troupe – and should have another couple of weeks to work on Bill. But the level of dance is so high this season, they might be in danger.
Seventh Place, 17 points: Keyshawn and Sharna (Cha-Cha). Ugh! Everything about this was terrible. For starters, the dance – Keyshawn stood around for the first two thirds while Sharna danced around him (in fabulous golden pants), then he made some garbled attempts at cha-cha. But worse than his dancing is his attitude – he’s positively insufferable. “Dancing is feminine.” “English and Australian is the same thing.” “Sharna is like the quarterback, she makes mistakes.” I CANNOT WAIT to be shot of him! Let’s pray it’s next week.
Last Place, 14 points: Bill and Tyne (Cha-Cha). Oh, we were doing so well in the first hour, and then this happened! The concept of the performance was great – there were ginormous beakers and flasks on the dance floor! And no one can fault his enthusiasm, but Bill Nye’s dancing was terrible. Terrible enough for Len to whip out the elusive 4 paddle on a night of sevens and eights. Normally, Bill would be the lovable goof who made it for a couple weeks (a la Andy Dick last season), but with the level of talent this season, I wonder how far his fanbase will take him.
So, who are your early favorites? Who do you think might be heading home next week? And will you honor Snooki’s request to call her Nicole?