Magic And Unicorns Herald The Return Of Dancing With The Stars
It's the 400th episode, and the premiere of the 24th season, so why not celebrate with mythical creatures and extremely long hair extensions?
The big opening number on opening night is a great chance to see which celebrities can move fairly naturally (Heather Morris, Rashad Jennings, David Ross) and which ones are a little stiff OR that the choreographer gave little to do because they can't move (Chris Kattan, Mr. T). Seeing the pairings also gives a little glimpse into who the producers expect to go far: the professionals with some juice (Maks and Val especially) get partners who are almost guaranteed to make it to the second half of the season or further. I was surprised neither of them got Simone Biles, but she's so short that it would have looked weird.
And let's lay it out right here: they might as well send everyone else home, because Simone Biles or Heather Morris is going to win this season, right? Simone is an Olympic gymnast, and three Olympic gymnasts who have competed have won the whole thing and the fourth made the finals. Heather Morris is a professional dancer, so I'm not even sure why she gets to compete, although I enjoy watching her. But if I were one of the other contestants, I would be pissed. I hope to be happily surprised by some of the other contestants, but this one looks like a done deal. Prove me wrong, show!
On to the rankings:
12. Mr. T & Kym: Cha Cha
I love that Mr. T hasn't changed his shtick since 1982. He's still got the beard and the gold chains and the muscles and the Mohawk (although he might be getting a little help with the Mohawk).
He messes up the first section, and I think it throws him off a little. He doesn't do any actual dancing -- he just walks around in formation, which works for this routine because it's set to the theme from The A-Team and sounds military, but that's not going to work every week. It's great to see him, but I don't know if he needs to be on the show for more than three weeks maximum. The judges are kind, but tell him that he might want to try, you know, dancing. Scores: 20/40.
11. Chris Kattan & Witney: Cha Cha
Witney has never seen Chris Kattan do any of his SNL characters, but they are still dancing to "What Is Love?" That's because they know he won't be on the show long, so they've got to maximize his votes in the early weeks.
Also, Chris Kattan broke his neck at some point in his life, which makes movement even more difficult for him. Doing this routine was a mistake because Kattan can't do the patented head bob anymore, and it's making me sad. He once had great comic instincts, and still might, but like so many of us, his body just isn't what it used to be. This routine is pretty terrible. The judges all tell him to be himself and focus on the choreography next week, because they're all rooting for him. I don't know if they've turned down the audience microphones or if the audience is just baffled, but he is getting silence for both his performance and his jokes. Scores: 17/40.
10. Bonner Bolton & Sharna: Cha Cha
Like Chris Kattan, Bonner broke his neck but he retained some flexibility. Also, they are trying REAL HARD to make Bonner the hottie of the season and also tease a relationship with Sharna.
Bonner can move, and his footwork is fine, but he has long legs, and the steps he takes are way too big, so he just looks awkward. If he can learn to control that, he might do fine. Carrie Ann is wetting herself over how hot he is, and he's fine, but I don't get it. But he does have chemistry with Sharna. The rest of the judges are equally enamored with him, but think he needs to work on his dancing. Erin Andrews gets so flustered by him that she turns everything he says into a double entendre. He must be something else in person. Scores: 22/40.
9. Erika Jayne & Gleb: Salsa
I do not watch any of the Real Housewives shows. It's one of those things where I just never started watching it, and now there's so much of it, with so many women in so many cities that I just can't. Anyway, Erika Jayne is forty-five, but you could have told me she was twenty-five or fifty-five and I would have believed either one. I can't tell if she's for real, or if this is high camp. I hear she's got a big gay following, so perhaps it is the latter. Joe Reid assures me that she's in on the joke. Well, she's real good at any move that looks like an exotic dancer might do it, so that's something.
Her posture is terrible and she doesn't seem to have much rhythm, but Gleb works around her limitations. The judges think she was a little wobbly, but they loved her confidence. I hope to see in the future why so many RHOBH fans love her so much. Scores: 24/40.
8. Charo & Keo: Salsa
Guys, how old is Charo? Because I remember watching her on The Love Boat in the '70s, and she doesn’t look THAT different today. I looked it up, and unsurprisingly, her birthdate is somewhat in dispute; she could be anywhere from age sixty-six to seventy-six. Regardless, she looks and moves great.
She has more hip action than most of the men and some of the women. And she draws your eye -- I didn't even look at Keo through most of the routine. I don't know how she'll do with a non-Latin dance, but this was really fun to watch. The judges love her energy and vitality, and tell her to work on content and choreography. Scores: 21/40.
7. Nancy Kerrigan & Artem: Viennese Waltz
God, I wish they would do a dance reenacting her attack. I know Nancy never would, but that would go viral in like ten seconds. Nancy looks great for forty-seven, although don't we all look better without those '90s high bangs? I expected Nancy to be really graceful from her years of skating, but she's a little stiff.
I don't know if it's nerves or if she just doesn't have a sense of rhythm. Her footwork gets a little off when she has to move quickly, but she's not used to having to do footwork. The judges all give her very specific feedback, which means that they think she did well and can do better. If she were awful, they would just give her platitudes and talk about how brave she is. Scores: 28/40.
6. Normani Kordei & Val: Quickstep
She is in Fifth Harmony, and while I don't know a ton about her personally, I am familiar with their songs because I live in the world. She has a cute story about watching the show with her grandmother since the first season, and her grandmother would have a log book and score the dancers each week. I love her grandma already.
Their quickstep is fast and sharp, and shows a lot of promise. Going first on the first night has to be tough, but Normani doesn't seem nervous at all. She needs to work on performing a little more -- ironic, given her profession, but nerves and worries about the choreography probably didn't help. The judges disagree over whether or not it took too long to start dancing, but they all agree that it was fantastic, but Normani and Val need to work on being a partnership. Scores: 27/40.
5. Nick Viall & Peta: Cha Cha
I didn't watch The Bachelor or any of the other seasons Nick was on, so I don't know anything about him other than my usual low-level disdain for any of the men on that show. Also, Peta JUST had a baby like two months ago. I could barely get out of bed two months after giving birth and she's doing this show.
Nick is better than I anticipated. His dancing weirdly reminds me of Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights. You know the scene in the disco where they all dance together? That's what Nick looks like. Sometimes he forgets what to do with his hands and arms, but he could improve with practice. The judges want him to come back next week, but to calm down a little bit. Scores: 24/40.
4. David Ross & Lindsay: Quickstep
Man, they are giving a non-dancer a tough routine the first week. Anyway, just in case you didn't know, he played on the World Series-winning Cubs, and he's the first pro baseball player to be on the show. And he is super-goofy, so I love him. You know what? He's actually pretty good!
He's dancing to the Chicago Cubs theme song, which is a needless gimmick, because he actually does choreography and pulls it off. It's a fairly slow quickstep, to be fair, but I am impressed with him and can't wait to see him in the future. The judges are all also pleasantly surprised. They go live to Ross's former teammates and one of them congratulates him for having the balls to go on the show, which I don't think the producers love? But it's funny. Scores: 28/40.
3. Simone Biles & Sasha: Tango
Simone, like Laurie Hernandez before her, has a ton of experience learning choreography and performing, but she's nervous about trying something new.
Her posture is amazing and she doesn't miss a step on some fairly complicated choreography. But I wonder why they got the tango this week when no one else did. They're in hold the entire time, as the dance dictates, and it does seem like Sasha is leading her pretty strongly. I'm interested to see what she does when she has to dance out of hold. I mean, this is great, but it doesn't really show what she can or can't do. The judges think she was the best of the night, but I thought she could have projected her emotions and personality more. The critiques they gave Heather Morris should have gone to Simone. Scores: 32/40.
2. Rashad Jennings & Emma: Cha Cha
Rashad plays in the NFL and says that, during each off-season, he picks up a new craft; this time it's going to be dancing.
I think this dude can move. He's really great, although he's much better dancing alone than in hold. When he's in hold, he gets a frozen look on his face like he's counting steps. He also needs to learn to point his toes. With a few tweaks of his technique, he could be a contender: he's natural and loose and looks like he's having a lot of fun. I also think he had the most content of any of the cha cha routines tonight. The judges call him a revelation. He's good, but I wouldn't say that his technique was better than Heather Morris's. The judges went a little overboard. Scores: 31/40.
1. Heather Morris & Maks: Viennese Waltz
Heather and Maks address her ringer-ness right up front, but don't really defend themselves other than to say that Heather has never done ballroom. They know people will have high expectations of them.
What to say? I mean, it's week one and she is perfect. Her form is lovely, her footwork is spot on, and she is filled with grace. I don't know where she can improve except to give her more difficult choreography and perhaps up her performance level. They look like two pros together (because they are). The judges love it, but want to see more of her personality in the future, and heavily underscore her in my opinion. Scores: 28/40.