Reality Check: 'Dancing With the Stars'
If "Dancing With the Stars" hadn't debuted last night, I might have been tempted to write about this site. But ABC's wacky dance-off did return and gets our full attention today. Though, after watching the two-hour premiere, I'm thinking that site might have more entertainment value.
Even a soon-to-be ex-Beatle bride sporting an artificial leg (surely ratings gold) wasn't enough to keep the show from tedium. Easy-listening covers of already cheesy songs (Huey Lewis's "The Power of Love," Denise Williams's "Let's Hear It for the Boy") and annoying bio-clips of each contestant and professional dancer didn't do much to ramp up the excitement level.
Dancers were upstaged by over-the-top judge Bruno Tonioli (an Italian choreographer doing his best impression of Armand Goldman) and the entire show was eclipsed by the commercial break premiere of the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" trailer. The night's best performance came from former N-SYNC-er Joey Fatone, the only contestant with previous dancing experience. But even his spot-on moves were tainted by the stain of a radioactively-tanned partner.
If you DVR'd, fast forward to the the much-hyped moment in the last 15 minutes when Heather Mills -- wearing a hideous bargain bin pink and yellow princess Halloween costume and introduced as a "charity campaigner" -- took to the floor for her go at the foxtrot. The dance was smooth, uneventful and Mills's fake leg (which stayed firmly attached) was only mentioned about 156 times during the segment.
I'm not sure I can bring myself to devote two nights to this kind of torture each week -- it's a lot to ask of viewers already invested in "American Idol" and other varied reality offerings. What I will do is give a quick impression of each opening performance after the jump, then we'll vote to predict who will win this season's competition. We'll revisit our results at the end of the season to find out if we were right.
Click continue below to read on and cast your vote...
Ian Ziering (and Cheryl Burke)
The man formerly known as Steve Sanders turned in a solid performance and seemed to have a good sense of his post-"90210" career. Nothing special, though, and Ziering needs to loosen up his hips.
Paulina Porizkova (and Alec Mazo)
Not surprisingly, this former supermodel wins the hair/make-up/dress competition. She looked good on the floor, but didn't really transcend the pretty despite Tonioli's exclamation that she was "breakfast, lunch and dinner at Tiffany's."
Billy Ray Cyrus (and Karina Smirnoff)
This self-described "left-footed hillbilly from Kentucky" made Joe Dirt look like Thurston J. Howell III. Best-known as the father of preteen sensation Hanna Montana, Cyrus used his appearance as an opportunity to promote his new album and single, an ode to the mullet. The show's funniest moment came when Cyrus almost scalped partner Smirnoff when attempting to pull off a mullet wig.
Leeza Gibbons (and Tony Dovolani)
The former "Entertainment Tonight" host was introduced as a "newswoman" and struck a giddy note in her bio footage, describing her partner as a fabulous therapist. A Stepfordian smile hypnotized me into blanking out on her performance.
Joey Fatone (and Kym Johnson)
The former N-SYNC'er scored big points for self-deprecation, humor and an intentionally goofy costume -- a "Saturday Night Fever" reminiscent white slacks/vest combo with a rhinestone "FATONE" emblazoned on the back. The only "star" who looked comfortable on the dance floor and actually gave a true performance, despite losing his mike pack halfway through the routine.
Laila Ali (and Maksim Chmerovskiy)
No doubt, Ali has brains, brawn and beauty. Too bad a cruise-ship revue version of Marvin Gaye's "How Sweet It Is" ruined her performance.
John Ratzenberger (and Edyta Sliwinska)
Ratzenberger ("Cheers's" Cliff Claven) turned in an acceptable performance despite having only two weeks to train (he was a last-minute replacement for "Soprano" Vincent Pastore). No matter how good or bad the dancing, it is just bizarre to see Cliffy dancing with an almost naked amazon sporting pink flamingo pasties.
Shandi Finnessey (and Brian Fortuna)
Oh, you've never heard of her, either? That's because she's a former Miss USA who did not apparently party underage and cause a massive blowout between Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump. Her performance was just as memorable.
Clyde Drexler (and Elena Grinenko)
The 6-foot, 7-inch former NBA all-star wins the award for the best sport of the night. He took his comical pairing with the 5-foot, 4-inch Grinenko in stride -- though the dance did kind of look like a giant trying to step on an ant.
Heather Mills (and Jonathan Roberts)
"Hi, I'm Heather Mills. I have an artificial leg," announced Mills as she walked in the door for her first meeting with Roberts. This, of course, set the tone for the remainder of the segment in which we got to see Mills trying on various faux appendages, recount her accident and generally avoid all mention of her pending divorce from Paul McCartney. Her performance was the only one of the night to win the diabolical "6, 6, 6" score from the three judges. Dismissed as coincidence.
Apolo Anton Ohno (and Julianne Hough)
Ohno, he's wearing a "Karate Kid" bandana. Ohno, they're dancing to a song from the "Footloose" soundtrack. Ohno, he can't dance.
My prediction: Unless he's hobbled by another contestant, I predict Joey Fatone as this season's winner, closely followed by Ian Ziering and Laila Ali.
What do you think? Vote in today's poll to predict the winner.
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