The 10th season of Dancing With the Stars cha-cha'd into town tonight, wagging its ratings-hungry tail behind it.
Eleven famous people—ranging from celebs we're sick of (you know who you are) to ones we've missed (hi, Shannen!) to those we can't help but see lots of (whoa, Pamela!) to one we're seeing for the first time (good to know ya, Aiden Turner!)—trotted out their beginner ballroom moves Monday for the start of the most stunt-casted season yet.
As usual, the future stars of season 10 instantly separated themselves from the pack, while the rest ranged from promising to hopeless as they took on either the cha-cha or Viennese waltz.
Here's a recap:
Chad Ochocinco and Cheryl Burke: We've got another NFL mover-shaker on our hands here! In the grand tradition of Emmitt Smith and Jason Taylor, the never-shuts-up Ochocinco showed tremendous potential with his opening cha-cha. And because we can, we're awarding him bonus points for looking darn hot alongside Cheryl. "You're a rough diamond at the moment," head judge Len Goodman kicked off the criticism, but it was all in the gutter from there, though: "I can see you have a huge, huge, huge [pause] talent yet untapped," Bruno Tonioli offered, and then Carrie Ann Inaba told him he had to "work on extending things." Oh, those smutty judges…
Shannen Doherty and Mark Ballas: The Beverly Hills 90210 ball-buster doesn't exactly glide across the floor just yet, but her Viennese waltz was a good start to what could be a positively charmed run. She needs to learn how to keep her arms graceful when she's not in hold, but we can't wait to see her in fierce Latin dance mode. All of the judges gave her kudos for tackling such a tough piece of choreography and Len noted that she showed "ease and elegance throughout." (He also complimented Shannen on her fleckerl—love that word!) Most important, however, Shannen's performance brought tears of joy to her dad's eyes.
Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Maks' partners always hold a special place in our hearts due to his taskmaster's reputation ("I asked for Tony!" she exclaimed early on). But Erin doesn't need our sympathy. Not only does she have the leggy blonde thing going for her already, she's also quite good. And kudos to the ESPN reporter for not letting that nightmare of a stalker situation make her too shy to shimmy. Len called her a "funky monkey" and Carrie Ann admired her "great connection" with Maks.
Jake Pavelka and Chelsie Hightower: They had him dance to "Kiss From a Rose"? Really? Anyway, despite some posture issues, Bachelor star Jake was no slouch when it came to cutting a fine figure on the floor. The dashing pilot certainly attacked the waltz—"What are you going to do in the rumba? Kill her?" Bruno wondered—and, above all, looked thrilled to be there. Carrie Ann complimented him on his easy-to-watch "bravado." And in case you were wondering, fiancée Vienna was indeed watching adoringly from the audience.
Niecy Nash and Louis van Amstel: Wow! The Clean House host, brimming with bravado herself, had great rhythm and displayed an impressive lack of nerves. Which may have resulted in her bursting into tears as she stood in front of the judges, but still. Carrie Ann found the performance totally sassy and gave her a 7. Bruno thought it part sass, part "born-again virgin" and wielded a 6. Somehow, Len thought that "for a bubbly character, this was a flat cha-cha-cha," and gave her a 5, his lowest mark of the night at that point. (Simply put, dude was just wrong.)
Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya: If the ballroom spins were making the reigning Olympic gold medalist dizzy, this stuff must be hard. Still, we were expecting great things from the decorated figure skater… and we were so not disappointed. His waltz was graceful, elegant, extended—we have no idea where that "I feel like a klutz" nonsense came from. This swan made Jake Pavelka look like a battering ram. The judges took care of the "watch your toes, work on your footwork" stuff, leaving us nothing to do but sigh. Evan does need to watch his connection with Anna, however. "You're used to dancing alone. You're a couple now," Len warned him.
Buzz Aldrin and Ashly Costa: Dancing with the stars? Been there, done that. So we're not really sure why he felt the need to do this. Oh well, the second man to set foot on the moon admirably busted his 80-year-old butt to perform that cha-cha, and though he's probably not going to win any disco balls, we applaud every bit of effort the pioneering astronaut put into it, including that wee moonwalk toward the end. "How can I possibly criticize a hero and a legend?" Bruno wondered, though he did suggest it looked as if Buzz was dancing with his moon boots on.
Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough: Another potential-packed performance. To our untrained eye, the Pussycat Doll looked great doing the waltz and could do no wrong with Derek's masterful-as-always choreography—though her free arm did whirl around, Pete Townshend-style, a few times. Bruno and Carrie Ann saw what we did and each gave her 9. "Apparently, the bar has just been set," the latter commented. So leave it to Len to tear her apart, saying there was "no footwork."
Aiden Turner and Edyta Sliwinska: Unfortunately, the smokin'-hot Brit's dancing wasn't as good as he looks. (Seriously, a real shame. We want to see lots of him.) He kept time OK, but his hips and arms were stiff—or, as Bruno said, it was "a cha-cha-cha with nothing going in the groin." It did sort of look like he was just hitting on the scantily clad Edyta by lurching at her and spinning her around. Carrie Ann liked the "gusto" but found it "really disjointed." And the routine was "full of everything I don't like," Len said.
Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani: To her credit, Kate did not try to lead. We didn't think she was awful (her pale pink dress was, though), but her desperate fear of not being in control was stamped across her terrified-looking face as she waltzed across the floor. "The technique was terrible," Bruno said bluntly, though Carrie Ann, who reminded everyone that Kate's not a performer or an athlete (took the words right out of our mouths!) admired the reality-TV mom's "sweet vulnerability."
Pamela Anderson & Damian Whitewood: They saved the breast best for last! The teeny-voiced, big-busted babe had a ball with heir cha-cha, really throwing herself into it and making the audience love her. (In fact, they may want to bring some dollar bills next week.) We've never seen a better performance by a head of hair in our lives, but the true test of Pam's abilities will come next week when she's tasked with the fox-trot and forced to leave the imaginary stripper pole at home. "I can only think of sex, sex and more sex," marveled Bruno, who gave her an 8. "You were fully engaged," observed Carrie Ann, "but that was a little much."
First of all, thank you, ABC, for having them all perform on one night and not selfishly separating the sexes for a two-night premiere. Second, Monday's premiere also featured Brooke Burke's debut as cohost and backstage inquisitor, and we thought she was a perfect, sunshiney fit.
All 11 contestants return next Monday for another dance, then the two scores will be combined before someone is booted on next Tuesday's results show.
Here's the rundown of tonight's leaderboard:
Nicole & Derek: 25
Evan & Anna: 23
Erin & Maks: 21
Pam & Damian: 21
Jake & Chelsie: 20
Chad & Cheryl: 18
Niecy & Louis: 18
Shannen & Mark: 18
Kate & Tony: 16
Aiden & Edyta: 15
Buzz & Ashly: 14
Go ahead, tell us what you really think of Kate, Pam, Evan, Nicole, Jake, et al in our comments section.
Just because you're in our gallery of Reality Stars We're So Sick Of, it doesn't mean you can't be on Dancing With the Stars.