Reality Check: 'Dancing With the Stars'
If you're not much interested in D-list celebs or ballroom dancing, then you probably won't be setting the DVR to tape "Dancing With the Stars" for the next few months, but last night's season premiere was eminently watchable.
Tacky costumes? Check. Big hair? Yep. Spray-on tans? Got 'em. Stars? Not so much. Faux-lebrities? Take your pick. While the show takes big liberties with its name (stars these are not), the dance-off is artery-clogging cheese TV at its best and last night's season premiere did not disappoint, despite the lack of any really big names or a Heather Mills-ish must-see moment.
Last-minute substitutions -- "Girl Next Door" Holly Madison for Jewel and "Bachelor" jiltee Melissa Rycroft for Nancy O'Dell -- failed to build much in the way of excitement. In fact, the show's wildcard -- recovering addict and "Jackass" alum Steve-O -- delivered a surprisingly tame performance and seemed genuinely psyched to conquer his waltz routine.
Although I won't be watching all season (I think overexposure to fake tans may be carcinogenic), I'll briefly recap the debut performances here, then take your predictions on who will emerge victorious during sweeps week.
Recaps and voting after the jump...
Lil' Kim (and Derek Hough)
Am I the last one to find out that the one-time jailbird and Notorious B.I.G. ex is a giggly valley girl? A valley girl who dedicates her performance to "all my girls at the federal detention center," but still... Her performance -- to Janet Jackson's "Nasty Boys" was solid, if shaky. With a little more confidence, she may develop into a contender.
Belinda Carlisle (and Jonathan Roberts)
The Go-Go frontwoman -- who herself said that "DWTS" was as far as she could possibly get from her roots -- seemed uncomfortable and embarrassed to be in the room. And after judge Bruno Tonioli's invocation of Cloris Leachman to describe her performance, I'm guessing she won't last long.
Lawrence Taylor (and Edyta Sliwinska)
The legendary New York Giant was out of his element on the dancefloor, but gets an A for effort. Unlike last season's Jason Taylor, who managed to turn his gridiron moves into dancing cred, LT was practically frozen in place as eastern European dynamo Sliwinska danced circles around him. My final analysis: A good sport.
Steve-O (and Lacey Schwimmer)
The first of two "stars" who found their stardom on previous reality TV shows, Steve-O was touted as the novelty act going into the season opener. But it turns out sobriety does wonders for coordination -- although a little stiff, the onetime out-of-control idiot buckled down and delivered a passable waltz as fellow "Jackass"-ers Wee Man and Johnny Knoxville cheered from the audience. I hope he hangs in there -- if for no other reason than proving to himself that reinvention rocks. Though he did manage to blurt out that he "Kicked the waltz's butt."
Gilles Marini (and Cheryl Burke)
In this couple, Burke -- a three-time "DWTS" champion -- is actually the bigger name, but you will probably remember Marini as the naked showering neighbor of Samantha in last summer's "Sex in the City" movie. Despite admonitions from Burke that he needed to concentrate on looking masculine -- and an unfortunate choice in costumes (reminiscent of "Saturday Night Fever") -- this couple may be headed for the finals.
Chuck Wicks (and Julianne Hough)
Okay, surely some kind of nepotism is at work here when Hough's real-life boyfriend -- apparently a rising country crooner -- is cast as her "star" partner. Truly a sign that "DWTS" may be running out of viable contestants. Their waltz was fine, if forgettable.
Holly Madison (and Dmitry Chaplin)
With less than a week to practice after stepping in for the injured Jewel, "Girl Next Door" Madison managed to deliver just about what you'd expect from a Playboy Bunny -- lots of cleavage and burlesque. Sadly, she forgot the routine about midway through and had to be borne along by Chaplin, whose seemed to consider a Playboy bunny ample compensation for a last-minute change in partner.
Ty Murray (and Chelsie Hightower)
Memo to Murray: I know you're some kind of big-time rodeo champ and married to Jewel and all, but a little less "aw-shucks cowboy" shtick and a little more dancing, please. I'm still not sure you actually have working knees. Oh, and lay off the Clash songs ("Train in Vain") -- Joe Strummer has enough to worry about in the afterlife.
Shawn Johnson (and Mark Ballas)
Again playing fast and loose with the whole "star" star thing, the 17-year-old Olympic gymnast is the youngest contestant to ever appear on the show. Although you'd think a trained gymnast would have a leg up on the competition, her waltz was pedestrian and she seriously needs to re-evaluate her costumes before next week's show. You're 17 -- look like it.
Steve Wozniak (and Karina Smirnoff)
What must Smirnoff have done to be saddled with the lumbering Apple co-founder and self-described nerd, who managed to make all of us uncomfortable as his attempts at humor fell flatter than a MacBook Air? Whatever the case, she struck back by wearing a strategically-fringed transparent body stocking and dancing like there was no tomorrow. (And there may not be -- I predict Wozniak will be cut during next week's elimination.) As Tonioli said, Wozniak looked like "a Teletubby going mad."
David Alan Grier (and Kym Johnson)
You loved him on "In Living Color;" now love him on the dancefloor. Grier's waltz was good enough to take him to the next show, but his humor -- he said he hoped to get "sexual favors" and a "swimmer's body" from his time on "DWTS" -- added a little levity to a show that can take itself a bit too seriously.
Denise Richards (and Maksim Chmerkovskiy)
Listen, we all know Richards is a little kooky, so it's no surprise that she was captured on tape bawling during her training. Said Richards, "I feel stupid sometimes." We understand. Paired with the Borat of ballroom, this couple will hopefully stay around long enough to help out Grier with the humor quota.
Melissa Rycroft (and Tony Dovolani)
Okay, she was unceremoniously dumped in what may -- or may not -- have been a staged "Bachelor" ending, but the former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader is clearly the one to beat in this competition. Not bad for only three days of practice. (Rycroft was a last-minute replacement for injured "Entertainment Tonight" host Nancy O'Dell.)
Now, make your prediction and share your reviews in the comments area below...
| March 10, 2009; 11:12 AM ET
Categories: Celebrities, Reality Check
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