It’s a new season of “Dancing With the Stars,” there’s a new mega-ballroom, and co-host Brooke Burke has a new last name. “It’s the first night of the premiere week event that everyone’s been talking about,” Brook Burke Charvet beams triumphantly.
We’re not sure that anyone has really been talking about it, but that’s alright. There’s no time to waste with 12 contestants, so Tom Bergeron and Brooke bring out the 12 contestants. For those keeping score, we’ve got:
basketball player Ron Artest
actor David Arquette
activist Chaz Bono
George Clooney ex-girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis
reality star Kristin Cavallari
Kardashian family member Robert Kardashian
commentator Nancy Grace
style expert Carson Kressley
former talk show host Ricki Lake
actor J.R. Martinez
singer Chynna Phillips
soccer star Hope Solo.
The professional dancers appear, most of the women in strategically cut, glittery dresses, and everyone dances awkwardly to the intro music for an uncomfortably long few minutes. First up!
Ron Artest and Peta Murgatroyd
Dance: cha cha to Pitbull’s “Krazy”
LA Lakers player Ron Artest was in the news last week because he legally changed his name to Metta World Peace (first name Metta, last name World Peace). Thankfully, he’ll be known as Ron Artest on the show. That’s a relief, because we definitely weren’t planning to call him by his new name.
Anyway, Ron says he signed up for the show because his daughter (a cancer survivor) wanted him to. He feels very comfortable dancing, and is convinced he’s quite good at it. Unfortunately, he is not. He thinks people will laugh at him because he’s supposed to be a tough guy, but really, if they laugh, it will because he looks wildly out of place on the dance floor. Even if he is rocking a sparkly burgundy vest and a fedora.
After the performance, Ron fixes Bergeron’s suit jacket. “I can’t believe I’m getting grooming tips from Ron,” Bergeron cracks. We love him.
The judges are back! Len Goodman calls the footwork “atrocious.” Bruno says Ron has issues because he’s so tall, but tells Artest to go for it, and calls him “dancer-tron.” As usual, Carrie Ann is the nice one, and says the performance was eccentric and sexy, though technically terrible.
Over in the celebriquarium, Ron flirts with Brooke, who loves it. Then the scores: 5, 4, 5 for a total of 14 points. Ron is outraged.
Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke
Dance: Viennese Waltz to Rogue Wave’s “Lake Michigan”
Tom Bergeron tells us this place is crawling with Kardashians, and sure enough, there’s Kim and Khloe, along with Khloe’s husband, Lamar. Bergeron reminds us that Kim “shook her assets” a few seasons ago. She was eliminated fairly early on, and Rob tell us he hopes to better in this competition, and also get out of the Kardashian family shadow.
Cheryl bosses him around in rehearsal, but Rob says he likes that, because he’s used to his mom and sisters telling him what to do. For the performance, he’s wearing a very dapper suit and bowtie, but dances pretty robotically.
Bruno notices, and says he danced the waltz like he was “ordered” to. He says he knows Cheryl’s tough, but Rob has got to relax. Carrie Ann nicely says he has potential, though he came off very rigid. Len isn’t impressed, but it’s not the worst he’s ever seen (see: Ron Artest). He advises Rob to stop thinking so much. We’re guessing that will not be hard for Rob to accomplish.
Celebriquarium time: Brooke says his sisters have been trying and yelling on the sidelines, but Rob insists growing up in that house has made him a gentleman. Scores: 6, 5, 5 for a total of 16 points.
Kristin Cavallari and Mark Ballas
Dance: cha cha to Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite”
“I’m Kristin Cavallari and I’m not a bitch,” Kristin declares right up front. She wants everyone to see the “real” her, which is different than she was portrayed on MTV reality show “The Hills,” playing villain to Lauren Conrad’s good girl. Doesn’t she know that the “real” her is probably more boring?
Mark says Kristin is a natural. She shakes and shimmies all over the dance floor, and appears to have a sense of rhythm, which is already an improvement over the first two contestants.
Carrie Ann says Kristin has the body to ballroom dance, and has great movement. Len calls it lively, but that she looked better in rehearsal footage than the actual live show. Bruno says he loves a bad girl. That’s relevant, because he knows she has that “bad girl” energy, and she should bring it on the dance floor.
Scores: 7, 6, 6 for a total of 19 points. And she takes the lead!
Chynna Phillips and Tony Dovolani
Dance: Viennese Waltz to Alicia Keys’s “If I Ain’t Got You”
We get some stellar old-school footage from the group Wilson Phillips to introduce the next contestant, Chynna Phillips. She gets her husband Billy Baldwin to weigh in. “She’s very special, very unique, very different,” Billy Baldwin tells us, so that should help.
Sadly for Chynna, the steps to the dance were coming faster than her brain could process them (her words). She clumsily practices, which involves accidentally kicking Tony Dovolani in a very unfortunate place. Dressed in a princess-esque dress, Chynna dances cautiously, though she does manage to spin around for a floor routine with some impressive solo moves.
Len says it wasn’t the best first dance he’d ever seen (dramatic pause)..but it was close! Bruno thinks Chynna looks like she was stepping out of a dream, and she has the talent to go far. Carrie Ann agrees it was gorgeous, magical.
Celebriquarium: Chynna modestly diverts a question from Brooke about how she did a 15-second solo, and just says she hopes her kids are proud of her. Scores: 8, 7, 7 for a total of 22 points.
Nancy Grace and Tristan Macmanus
Dance: cha cha to Cee Lo Green’s “Cry Baby”
Calling herself cable network HLN’s most fearless prosecutor, we see some footage of Nancy mocking an accused criminal film. She tones it down and says she just wants to show her three-year-old twins that “Mommy can dance.”
Tristan grills Nancy on what she knows about the cha cha. She shows off some moves, and he concludes she knows nothing about cha cha. Nancy says she knows she’s not the youngest, prettiest, or skinniest contestant, but she has the most heart. Then she makes fun of Tristan’s accent.
Nancy whirls around in a super shiny dress, but seems too concentrated on remembering the steps to show off at all. Bruno says Nancy’s got the moves, but she doesn’t seem to believe it. “You’re so cute! I think you might be the happiest contestant I’ve ever seen,” Carrie Ann says, a little condescendingly we think. She points out Nancy forgot her choreography, but saved herself with a big smile. Len calls it underwhelming, and all the judges start arguing, so Tom Bergeron cuts them off.
Celebriquarium: Nancy tells Brooke that her toughness in the courtroom doesn’t mean anything on the dance floor. Scores: 5, 5, 6 for a total of 16 points.
David Arquette and Kym Johnson
Dance: Viennese waltz to Queen’s “Somebody to Love”
A very put-together David Arquette says he’s been sober for almost eight months, and how he’s going to put all his energy into dance. David says he’s romantic at heart, so the Viennese Waltz is the perfect choice.
Kym’s wearing cloth strips on her arms that keep flying up and hitting David in the face during their waltz, but he manages to keep up with her. David cuts off all the judges and says he got lost in the dance, and Carrie Ann agrees. “You need to relax a little,” Carrie Ann urges. Len tells everyone he was impressed, and we get a shot of David’s adorable young daughter, Coco, and ex, Courteney Cox. Bruno talks way too long about how each dance is a scene of a movie, and David needs to only choose one role.
Celebriquarium: Brooke brings up how adorable Coco is, so it’s time for another shot of Coco and Courteney Cox. Scores: 6, 6, 6 for a total of 18 points.
Elisabetta Canalis and Val Chmerkovskiy
Dance: Cha cha to Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”
“Most of the people identify for my past private life,” Elisabetta says coyly as a picture of her and Clooney flashes on the screen. Her partner is Val, “DWTS” professional dancer Maks’s brother, and the show immediately tries to start a rivalry.
Elisabetta and Val flirt in rehearsal but hit a language barrier over phrases like “the ball of your foot.” Staying true to Katy’s Perry’s lyrics about waking up with a stranger in the bed after a crazy Friday night, the pair starts off in the bed on the side of the stage, and Val jumps out of the bed shirtless. They meet up in the middle of the stage, but Elisabetta looks confused the whole time.
Len calls the bed bit “malarkey,” and says once it got going it was better, but that Elisabetta lost confidence. Bruno, however, liked the bed, but echos the lack of confidence problem. “Channel the model in you,” Carrie Ann suggests.
Celebriquarium: Brooke asks how difficult the language barrier is, and then gets right to the Chmerkovskiy brother “rivalry.” Val says he just wants his brother to do well. That’s not fun! Scores: 5, 5, 5 for a total of 15 points.
Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Dance: Viennese Waltz to Dave Matthews Band’s “Satellite”
Hope Solo, known for being the goalie on the U.S. women’s soccer team, makes some soccer puns about blocking the competition. She and Maks warm up with some soccer, and then Maks worries that the Viennese Waltz is too dainty and girly a dance for a hardcore athlete like Hope.
Hope tries to dispel this by wearing a pink, flowy dress with lots of jewels, and does a decent job keeping up with Maks. Bruno likes it, and thinks Hope has a bright future ahead of her, even though at times it looked like she was about to hit Maks in the face. Carrie Ann says the body contact was impressive, and that the couple was connected like glue. Len loved the moment, but wants to see Hope get a little more feminine and softer. And hopefully not injure Maks.
Celebriquarium: Brooke asks Hope if the show’s hair and makeup team helped her get ready for the “glitz and glam” of the ballroom. Hope thankfully ignores her and dedicates the dance to all female athletes. Scores: 7, 7, 7 for a total of 21 points.
Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya
Dance: cha cha cha to Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger”
Carson says he was disappointed at first that his partner wasn’t Maks or Mark Ballas or Derek Hough...but once he realized Anna was gorgeous and talented, he decided she would do. Carson admits he’s not the most coordinated dancer. “I put the ‘c’ in ‘Caucasian’,” he says, and his shimmy looks like he’s having a seizure. But he hopes his enthusiasm will make up for his lack of skill.
The routine is passable until he starts going off on a solo dance that makes him look like a chicken. Nonetheless, it’s highly entertaining. Carrie Ann calls it her favorite dance of the night because of all the energy and sparkles, even if technically it wasn’t quite “perfect.” Len hopes Carson’s not going home because he’s so entertaining to watch. Bruno goes with “outrageous fun.”
Celebriquarium: Carson says his sparkly brown jacket isn’t a costume, he just happens to have it at home. Scores: 6, 5, 6 for a total of 17 points.
J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff
Dance: Viennese Waltz to Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway”
An Iraq war veteran who eventually joined the cast of ABC’s “All My Children,” J.R. starts off his rehearsal with Karina by telling her how he got the scars on his face. While in Iraq, he was in a truck that went over a land mine, was burned over 40% of his body, and had to have 33 surgeries. “I’m proud of my scars, I’m proud of my journey,” he says. Karina calls him a hero and inspiration.
J.R. keeps falling over in rehearsal and says there’s one thing the army didn’t teach him -- the Viennese Waltz. The routine involves a lot of spinning, including one where J.R. whips Karina around on the dance floor. Len says J.R. stands for “just right,” and was right up there with one of the best performances of the night. Bruno raves that he can’t believe someone who never danced before did so well. Carrie Ann was touched by the performance because of how much emotion J.R. brought to the dance. J.R. will definitely be here next week.
Celebriquarium: Brooke asks if J.R. ever guessed while serving Iraq that he would one day be in a ballroom in front of millions of people. “Absolutely,” J.R. deadpans. Scores: 8, 7, 7, for a total of 22 points.
Ricki Lake and Derek Hough
Dance: Viennese Waltz to David Gray’s “This Years Love”
Ricki Lake’s goal for being here? “To get my slamming body back.” Kirstie Alley’s weight loss was, in fact, her inspiration for joining the competition. Ricki looks like she had a couple brief meltdowns in rehearsal, but Derek also appears to have the patience of a saint.
The pair moves smoothly together, and sure enough, Bruno says there was great chemistry. Carrie Ann admires the way the couple finished each others moves. Len -- not as impressed with the end of the dance, but overall thought it was very elegant.
Celebriquarium: Brooke asks Ricki why she seems so emotional, and Ricki says he just loves the David Gray song. Scores: 7, 6, 7 for a total of 20 points.
Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer
Dance: cha cha cha to “Dancing in the Street”
And of course, they save the buzziest contestant for last, also known as Chaz Bono, the first transgender contestant on “DWTS” and Sonny and Cher’s only child. Chaz says being in his 40s and overweight makes all the dancing a lot harder, but he’s glad that Lacey brings out the kid in him, because he has a tendency to be too serious.
Chaz proves to move very quickly on his feet, and Carrie Ann is thrilled that he can dance, because people have waited all ngiht to see him. Len is happy that Chaz came out with the right attitude and good footwork. Bruno is thrilled to learn that Chaz is so “cuddly and cute,” and that Chaz should be proud.
Celebriquarium: Brooke points out that there’s been a significant amount of media attention on Chaz leading up to tonight, and demands to know how he’s holding up. Chaz says the pressure is intense, but he’s having the tie of his life. Scores: 6, 5, 6 for a total of 17 points.
So, high score: a tie between J.R. Martinez and Chynna Phillips. Low score: Ron Artest. Tomorrow, someone’s going home.