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Recap: ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Season 12 Premiere

“Dancing with the Stars” is back! Whoot! Did you know that, because we survived a long, cold winter that we deserve dancing? I did not know this! I thought maybe people deserved space heaters, generators and emergency kits in case of future massive power outages, but hey, dancing, that’s good, too. Anyway, hopefully a cha cha cha or a foxtrot will warm your frostbitten fingers. Let’s get to it!

I like Brooke Burke’s dress except for the witch hat that’s been stuck onto the side. Oh, wait. That’s supposed to be a rose. I think.
We meet our dancers, who all look a bit like they want to throw up. Has Ralph Macchio decided not to age? How old was he when he did “The Karate Kid” anyway, four?
[Full recap of Monday’s (Sept. 21) “Dancing with the Stars” after the break…]

Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas
Chelsea Kane is a Disney star. She kissed Joe Jonas. She wants a boy dance! She’s fun and bubbly and thoroughly adorable. And it seems like she can dance, if the rehearsal is any indication.
Chelsea looks pretty damn good for a rank beginner, gotta say. She wobbles a little here and there, but she’s having fun and I see the glimmer of good lines if she works on her posture. I don’t see her going home too soon.
Len Goodman says it was young and fresh but he didn’t like the Black Eyed Peas moment. Huh? Because she shimmied? BrunoTonioli says it was one and a half minutes of pure afterglow and he wants her to work on her lines. Or at least that’s what I think he said. You can never tell with Bruno. Carrie Ann thinks she’s strong and has flair but her shoulder hunches a bit. Carrie Ann gives her actual notes, which suggests to me she thinks Chelsea is good enough to take them and go the distance. Just saying.
Brooke asks Chelsea if she liked dancing with a boy. Sigh. Why oh why do we have to have these little post-game interviews? You can practically hear the producer yelling stupid questions in Brooke’s earpiece.
Score: Carrie Ann = 7  Len = 7 Bruno = 7 for a total of 21. Not bad at all for the first week. Chelsea can sigh with relief knowing that Disney isn’t going to banish her to being back-up Cinderella in the Main Street Electric Light Parade for shaming the Mouse. Hey, it could happen.
Wendy Williams and Tony Dovolani
Wendy Williams has always been told she’s too much, too loud and too fast – thus, she’s perfect for “DWTS.” Wendy cries during practice. A lot. Into her weave. This, she says, is because she cries to relieve stress. Wendy is very, very stressed.
Wendy may be too fast and too loud, but she’s not too great at this dancing thing. I expected lots of shimmy and, if not talent, a lot of feisty attitude. But she’s stiff and looks hugely uncomfortable. This is kind of a shock, sad to say.
Bruno says she’s luscious but says he can’t see her fire. He says something about a virgin and marking and I don’t know what the hell. Carrie Ann saw the fear in her eyes and wants her to unleash the beast. Len says her dumplings were boiling over, but her dance was timid and introverted. Thank Len, I may never eat dim sum again.
Score: Carrie Ann = 5 Len = 4 Bruno = 5 for a total of 14.
Brooke notices Wendy is already upset. I think Wendy is upset that Brooke just made her sound like a big baby. So she says she’s FINE.
Hines Ward and Kym Johnson
Kym doesn’t know who Hines is. I don’t, either, because I don’t give a crap about football. But he catches the ball for the Pittsburgh Steelers and I am told that wide receivers have to have great footwork so he has an edge, and Chad Ochocinqo was also a wide receiver and he did pretty well at this whole dancing thing. Hines wants hard choreography so he can intimidate the competition. Hines may be overconfident, as that seems like a recipe for disaster.
But surprise surprise, Hines is not bad. He’s smooth and relaxed on the dance floor, which I guess shouldn’t be a surprise given how well athletes have done in “DWTS.” Yes, he’s a little hesitant when it comes to some of the sexier moves, but I suspect that will go away after the first week. Strangely, he seems to get a little more self conscious as the dance continues instead of less. You can practically see the “oh, crap people are watching me on national television” moment.
Carrie Ann thought he was in control. Len says it was clean, crisp and confident. And he loved Hines’ ass. Oh, Len, you don’t go there. Bruno thought the timing was excellent and thought he had natural performance power. And his hips need to be a piston, which he demonstrates with some grinding of his own. You  have to hand it to Bruno; we may not understand half of what he says, but he’s always fun.
Carrie Ann = 7 Len = 7 Bruno = 7 for a total of 21. Three performances and two strong contenders. Either this is going to be a tough season or we’re up for some pure crap soon.
Petra Nemcova and Dmitry Chaplin
Her pelvis was broken in four places when she got pummeled by the Thai tsunami in 2004. Her flexibility is poor, but she figures the show will help her work on that. Petra seems like a happy, shiny person despite the fact she’s gone through an awful lot.
Of course, ABC is probably thrilled that she’s a tsunami survivor (she’s topical!) but she is understandably upset when she hears about the Japanese tsunami. What isn’t mentioned, of course, is that her fiancé died in the tsunami. This cannot be a fun time for Petra.
But anyone who can hold on to a palm tree for eight hours with a broken pelvis while waiting to be rescued is going to be a powerful contender in just about anything she sets her mind to, and Petra brings it to “DWTS.” She looks like she’s having a good time and is surprisingly graceful for such a tall woman (some other tall dancers, male and female, have looked like dying flamingos on the show).
Len thought it was charming and elegant, but wants her to work on her posture. Bruno thought there were moments of extreme beauty and sophistication, but wants her to work on her transitions. Carrie Ann thinks she’s stunning and naturally graceful, BUT she thinks she saw a lift. Amazingly, she’s not going to dock a point because it’s the first week.
Brooke asks Petra how she’s feeling. Petra is happy and smiley and spreading joy. I hope Petra does well in this competition, if for no other reason than they don’t give you awards for surviving tsunamis but that certainly seems deserving of something nicer than a broken pelvis.
Carrie Ann = 6 Len = 6 Bruno = 6 for a total of 18. Better luck next time.
Romeo and Chelsea Hightower
Oh, Romeo, Romeo. He was supposed to do the show in 2006 but tweaked his ankle. Thus, we had the joy of watching his dad Master P shuffle around the dance floor in sneakers like a spastic gorilla. Not that Romeo is shaping up to be a great talent on the dance floor, either. He is resistant to moving his butt. He doesn’t want to look like a goofball. Um, Romeo? This is “DWTS.” It’s ballroom. You’re going to wear sequins at some point. Stop it.
I’m sure Chelsea tried to veer away from goofy choreography, so there’s not much here demanding silliness from Romeo. He’s already a step ahead of his dad because he wears appropriate dance footwear, but he looks pretty good in any case. But I’ll be interested how he’ll deal with an inherently goofy dance like the jive.
Bruno calls him vibrant but flatfooted. Like father like son. Carrie Ann thought he had sex appeal for days but his posture was too far forward. Len says he had plenty of energy but seemed too casual. Still, everyone seems to think he’ll go a long way if he works at it.
Brooke tells him that his dad had the lowest scores in the history of “DWTS.” Thank you, Brooke. She really knows how to put the dancers at ease!
Carrie Ann = 7 Len = 6 Bruno = 6 for a total of 19
Sugar Ray Leonard and Anna Trebunskaya
Anna seems to genuinely like Sugar Ray. This is remarkable because Anna never seems to like anyone. Okay, she tolerated Kurt Warner but I thought she might kill Evan Lysacek in his sleep. But how can anyone not like Sugar Ray? He really wants to do well. Even Anna thinks he’s too hard on himself. Awww, Sugar Ray is just too darn sweet. It’s the name, I’m sure.
On the dance floor, his shoulders are gonna touch his ears if he isn’t careful. But the minute he releases Anna from his grip, his shoulders unhitch and he looks great. It’s like he wants to box Anna and can’t quite change his programming.
Carrie Ann says he reminded her of Ben Vereen but his posture blew. Len thought it was beer and a pizza. Bruno thought it looked great until he had to hold Anna, and then he looked like a ninja turtle. For once I can understand Bruno and totally agree with him.
Carrie Ann = 6 Len = 5 Bruno = 6 for a total of 17. Not great, but I expect Sugar Ray will improve exponentially.
Kendra Wilkinson and Louis van Amstel
Kendra wants to go balls to the walls and shows Louis she has great moves “for a white girl.” Oh, and she was a stripper, in addition to being one of Hef’s hoochies. That Kendra, all class!
Well, she nails the hoochie moves. The rest of it, not so much. She kind of clomps around a bit and seems awkward if she can’t be sexy. I swear at one point I can see her counting out the steps.
Len says she held his interest but she never straightens her legs. Bruno says she can work it but it’s not clean. Carrie Ann says she attacked it but she needs to work on her spots. I think Kendra is not going to get a lot of votes, as the Midwestern housewife block is not going to be down with the whole tacky former stripper-who-laughs-like-a-horse thing.
Carrie Ann = 6 Len = 6 Bruno = 6 for a total of 18.
Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff
He’s 49. Forty-freaking-nine. He even admits to Karina his face is young but his body is old. Maybe that’s the deal he made with the devil. “I will remain forever young, but my joints will crumble into dust and I’ll have high cholesterol.” Who knows. But he doesn’t look that rough on the rehearsal floor, either.
And on the dance floor, he’s shockingly good, especially for a guy who just complained about how creaky and old he felt. He has charisma and confidence and, yes, he has moves. There are a few weird hand flappy moments, but that’s not a big deal. He looks smooth. It’s all that wax on, wax off practice.
Bruno thinks he’s a great stonking hit. Or something like that. I don’t know what stonking means or what he was trying to say, but let’s just say he liked it. But he also thought his hands were very weird and creepy sometimes. Carrie Ann thought it was amazing. Len thought it was beautiful and the best foxtrot of the evening.
Carrie Ann = 8 Len = 8 Bruno = 8 for a total of 24. Holy crap, Ralph Macchio is the frontrunner!
Chris Jericho and Cheryl Burke
He’s a WWE wrestler. Whatever. Blah blah blah, he doesn’t know how to dance, blah blah blah he wants to win, blah blah. Cheryl wants a mirror ball, blah blah.
The performance starts with a lame stage jump and doesn’t really get better from there. Although I will say part of that is trying to dance to a song by The Clash. There is a ripping off of sleeves. This is not sexy. It’s just weird. Is this show over yet?
Carrie Ann says it was like a Chippendales cha cha. She thought he attacked everything and yet there wasn’t enough content. Len thought his hips didn’t move but liked the energy. Bruno thought it was sometimes messy but always entertaining. Really?
Chris tells Brooke it was the first time he danced, so it was, like, wow. Yes, these little after dance interviews, always insightful.
Carrie Ann = 7 Len = 6 Bruno = 6 for a total of 19.
Mike Catherwood and Lacey Schwimmer
I love Psycho Mike, who co-hosts “Loveline” with Dr. Drew, or at least that’s what ABC is emphasizing, since no one is going to give Kevin & Bean or 106.7FM a plug. Anyway, Psycho Mike will be the comic relief for the season. He tells Lacey he’s glad to have gotten an American dancer, because he hasn’t forgotten about the Cold War. Timely! Okay, maybe relief is overstating it, but he’s trying. After all, he’s scared and embarrassed, though he shouldn’t be, because almost no one watching the show knows who he is.
Alas, people might remember who he is just because he’s so sucktastic in the dancing department. I thought hey, maybe he’s underplaying it, it’s that false modesty thing. It worked for Ralph! But no, not false modesty. He truly, honestly blows. He actually looks like he’s having a stroke on the dance floor.
Len says Mike moved and there was music, but there was very little dance quality. Bruno says the foxtrot is smooth and that was ungainly and he looked constipated. Carrie Ann thinks he was jerky.
Brooke asks him if he was counting on the Latin roots to help him on the dance floor. Gee, Brooke, that’s kind of borderline racist, but okay. Lacey reveals Mike likes to disrobe during rehearsal. Mike agrees. So, I guess if the comic relief thing doesn’t work he might try the nudity angle. Nothing wrong with that.
Carrie Ann = 5 Len = 4 Bruno = 4 for a total of 13. Which is better than his dad Master P. Ha! I wish you could dance, Psycho Mike.
Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkosvskiy
Wow, they paired neurotic Kirstie with mean Maksim. I see disaster in the offing! Her biggest challenge is to move quickly. If someone told her to haul ass, it would take two trips. Hey, that’s what she said, I’m just quoting her. I read that Kirstie is so nervous about performing she thought about pulling out of the show altogether. Really? She starred in a show called “Fat Actress” and she’s afraid of embarrassing herself?
But surprisingly, she isn’t bad at all. Actually, she’s better than I expected, and I wasn’t even expecting her to suck. She needs to not grab her boob so much, but hey, that’s a personal preference. She looks like she’s having fun. Yeah, she was going to pull out like I was going to turn into a banana.
Bruno likes what he sees and says her foot placement in the cha cha cha was the best of the night. Carrie Ann thinks she was unbelievable for over 40. Len thought it was fun, cheeky and it made him feel good. Len seems to be a little loopy this season.
Carrie Ann = 8 Len = 7 Bruno = 8 for a total of 23.

So, for the finals I’m putting my money on Ralph. Yes, Kirstie got a high score, too, but I think for sheer likeability, Ralph has the edge. And for the first eliminated, I bet we can either kiss the wrestler or Psycho Mike goodbye. But with no elimination this week, everyone gets a chance to redeem (or ruin) themselves next week. Mwahahahaha!

Some early favorites emerge – and they’re not kids, either

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