S13:E1 The thirteenth season of Dancing with the Stars premiered tonight, and it was the typical first episode of a typical dance show: not very impressive. Everyone went out on the dance floor hoping to take home a whopping 30 points out of 30 on the first dance, and everyone was a little shocked when they only received scores in the low twenties and high teens. And even though none of the dances were for longer than a minute and 30 seconds, the episode itself was still enjoyable because some front-runners were definitely established. David Arquette received praise from the judges for being honest and sincere in his movements, J.R. Martinez tied with Chynna Phillips for the highest score of the night with his emotional Viennese Waltz, and Phillips wowed everyone with her grace and poise. But the most anticipated performance came from Chaz Bono, who said it was really important for him to do well because he wanted to give thanks to everyone who supported him over the last weeks. All in all, it was a pretty solid first episode, and the majority of the celebrities showed major promise. But lets take a look at exactly what happened.
Ron Artest (and his partner Peta Murgatroyd) was up first with his Cha Cha Cha. In the clip before the dance, we learned that he wanted to do the show as a way to pay a tribute to his daughter, who beat cancer at the age of 4. But when the time came for him to perform his routine, he behemoth size meant he had difficulty performing the short and brief steps…which is usually the main problem athletes have on this show. The judges weren’t very impressed: Len Goodman said it was “all sizzle and no sausage,” and Ron earned 14 points.
Next were Rob Kardashian and his partner Cheryl Burke. Rob’s motive for doing the show was to break away from his famous sisters Kim, Khloe and Kourtney, and establish a career for himself. He also expressed an interest in lasting longer on the show than his sister Kim, who competed on the show’s 7th season and was eliminated in the third week. Rob’s Viennese Waltz was pretty minimal, but you could tell he was making an effort. He wasn’t very graceful, and the judges encouraged him to relax. He earned 16 points for his routine.
Then Kristin Cavallari and Mark Ballas took the floor, and Kristin said that she wanted to prove to people that she wasn’t really a bitch like she was on The Hills, AND to find something to take her mind off the fact that her engagement to some guy ended because she wouldn’t fly back to his hometown of Chicago with him. And so for her Cha Cha Cha, Kristin wanted to make an effort to use her body to make herself look more friendly an approachable. During rehearsals, Mark said she had “natural dance talent,” and this was something Kristin didn’t understand. Their dance was decent, but Kristin needs to work on making her movements more extreme and expressive. The judges were pleased, though, and gave her 19 points.
Chynna Phillips was the first celebrity last night to get a score of more than 20 points. She and Tony Dovolani’s first dance was the Viennese Waltz, and Chynna danced it very well. As I’ve said before, these types of dances seem boring to watch because there’s no real distinct movement. But in any case, it was well received and Chynna’s score of 22 meant she became an early front runner.
Nancy Grace was quick to make the distinction that she’s “not the skinniest, prettiest or youngest” woman in the competition, but that she is a fierce prosecutor who gives moms who kill their children cute nicknames. She told her partner, new pro Tristan Macmanus, that her main goal was to show her twins that she could still dance, and their Cha Cha Cha wasn’t that special. Nancy often appeared lost and wasn’t steady enough to do her movements without looking at Tristan for guidance. The judges told her she needed to be more confident in her movements, and gave her 16 points to give her the foundation to that would lead to that kind of mindset.
Kym Johnson was very surprised to learn that the David Arquette she met was nothing like the one who called into Howard Stern’s radio show and described what sex was like with Courteney Cox. In fact, the David Kym met was one that said things like, “the Viennese Waltz is like an amusement park ride in your heart.” It’s clear that in David’s 8 months of sobriety, he’s undergone and incredible transformation, but what was equally as obvious was that he’s doing this show to get Courteney back. David seemed pretty confident in his movements, and I’d say he was one of the most at ease people of the night. Len said he was very impressed, and David earned 18 points for the night.
Elisabetta Canalis and Valentin Chmerkovskiy were up next, and Elisabetta was very sweet in thinking we would know her for her Italian TV hosting duties. She also smartly acknowledged that we really know her from dating George Clooney. But unfortunately, it seemed like none of Clooney’s suave attitude rubbed off on Elisabetta because throughout her whole Cha Cha Cha, she looked lost. She also had no personality. None whatsoever. The judges complimented Valentin on “making her look good.” The pair got 15 points.
Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya’s Cha Cha Cha followed Elisabetta’s, and Carson firmly established himself as having the worst footwork of the night. It was as if we were just watching someone’s feet clap clap around the dance floor, without any body attached to them. But Carrie Ann said it was her favorite dance of the night. The best part was, though, when Brooke Burke asked him how comfortable he felt in a room as flamboyant as the new DWTS ballroom. The judges gave him 17 points.
J.R. Martinez was partnered with Karina Smirnoff, and their first dance was the Viennese Waltz. J.R. was in the army and survived an explosion that burned 40% of his body. But he came home and began an acting career by appearing on All My Children, and is now a dancer in this year’s DWTS cast. On the dance floor, J.R. seemed very comfortable and he looked like he was enjoying himself. The judges were impressed and J.R. tied Chynna for first place with 22 points.
Ricki Lake is partnered with Derek Hough this season, and right off the bat she told him she wanted to pull a Kirstie Alley and lose a bunch of weight on the show. Their Viennese Waltz was pretty amazing for a first dance, and after it was over, Ricki cried because she wanted so very much to make Derek proud of her. The judges said it was great and rewarded them 20 points.
Last to dance was Chaz Bono, who said he was really motivated by both the people who supported his presence on the show and those who adamantly disagreed with it. His and Lacey Schwimmer’s assigned dance was the Cha Cha Cha, and it kind of looked like Chaz was making Lacey do all the work. All the movements were very minimal, and this made it seem like Chaz’s range of motion was very limited. But the judges praised the pair and gave them 17 points.