Has it been three months already? Season 8 of Dancing with the Stars kicks off with some very interesting renditions of the Viennese waltz and the cha-cha, along with two new (but not-so-new) faces.
No, your eyes are not deceiving you: Mickey is no longer around these Dancing parts, and so, I have inherited his quite large shoes to fill. I know, I'm mourning his absence too, but I hope you'll bear with me. My Dancing background: size 7 shoe, rhythmically challenged, and avid Olympic fan - thus, I only started watching when Apolo Anton Ohno killed it (random side note: I screamed his name when I was drunk a few years ago, but that's a story for another time). Kristi Yamaguchi made me squeal, but Misty May-Treanor made me cry. And so, I'm automatically partial to Shawn Johnson this season (join me in convincing her to go to London 2012), now more than ever with Nancy O'Dell out.
Speaking of, Nancy and Jewel, Season 8's first two casualties (Did I use that correctly, Jewel? Sorry, I don't have my Night Without Armor near to consult) are sporting pouts on the sidelines as we await the first dances of their heretofore unofficially announced replacements. But first - the healthy folks!
Lil Kim & Derek Hough: Cha-Cha
"Black Barbie" Kim tells us about discovering Dancing during her days behind bars and she dedicates her first dance to all the gals at the federal detention center. What up! They cha-cha to "Ms. Jackson" and "Nasty." Anyone else see the irony in Mormon boy getting "Nasty" with an ex-convict? It's fun and sexy, if a little shaky. Tom dedicates his hosting to everyone at Riker's Island. Len thinks it was first-class and a job well done. Bruno says she's nasty but tasty (and you would know?), but Kim needs some precision. Carrie Ann says she has great potential.
Belinda Carlisle & Jonathan Roberts: Waltz
Belinda told me she was uncomfortable with the waltz and that she was. They kick it off with some pretty spinning... and then it gets not-so pretty. She's a tad slow and tentative, and you can tell she's counting the steps in her head... or maybe just hoping her boobs don't pop out. Did ya see her shaking those things in the clip intro? Bruno says she looks like Julie Andrews, but then turned into Cloris Leachman, which I personally don't think so at all. If she reminded me of anyone, it's Priscilla Presley. Carrie Ann says it wasn't Cloris-esque, but Belinda needs to trust Jonathan. Len says there was grace and elegance. The curmudgeon hasn't reared his ugly head yet.
Lawrence Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska: Cha-Cha
Edyta gets another football giant (no pun intended), and LT wastes no time dissing Jason Taylor. He feels uncoordinated in rehearsal and doesn't wanna look like a fool. He doesn't, but he's no Jason Taylor either (that's a diss) - or any other Dancing football great. Their cha-cha is blah-blah. I'm over it after 15 seconds. Carrie Ann tells him he needs to get on the offense and down and dirty (you're single now, aren't you, CA?). Len says he has a naturalness about him. Bruno says it was very laid-back and LT needs to perform. Duh-duh-dun!
Steve-O & Lacey Schwimmer: Waltz
Johnny Knoxville and Wee-Man are in da house! Still on the mend, a clean-and-sober Steve-O tells us he's using Dancing to show that he didn't lose his mojo in his darker days. His biggest problem? He's very "Caucasian," but he wants to prove this Jackass can be a gentleman. Watching him waltz is like watching Britney & Kevin: Chaotic. It's weird and uneasy, yet you can't turn away. Unlike B&K, Steve-O is actually interesting and good. Let's face it: There will always be something odd about watching Steve-O do ballroom, but it's also slightly endearing. Now he just needs to get all the moves down pat. He gets a partial standing O. Len admires his commitment, but calls him out on some technicalities. He expected much worse. Bruno echoes the tecnique. Carrie Ann was oddly mesmerized by his beauty and awkwardness. "I wanna put my foot in the waltz's butt," Steve-O says afterwards.
Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke: Cha-Cha
Side note: I met Gilles last year and he is quite dishy and hairless in person. The Sex-y star knows he's a nobody and hopes he doesn't succumb to the "model curse." Well, I think most people have something besides your dancing to remember you by. This is definitely the best dance, let alone cha-cha, by far - fast, sexy, lots and lots of hip action. Gilles is a natural in the vein of Brooke Burke. He looks like he's been there for weeks. Standing O. Samantha would be proud. Carrie Ann says he has great potential (isn't this what you told Albert Reed?). Bruno sounds jealous of Cheryl and expects "explosions." Len thinks it's the best of the night so far. Dirty exchange backstage:Samantha: How hard was it really getting a sexy dance out of the guy known as the sexy, naked neighbor?Cheryl: Well, all I can say is look at him! C'mon, it's not that hard!Gilles: It's hard! Trust me! It was hard. Uh...
Chuck Wicks & Julianne Hough: Waltz
I can honestly say I had absolutely no idea who Chuck Wicks was until he hooked up with Julianne... and I still don't quite know who he is. They "baby" each other in rehearsal, reminiscent of Michael and Jan "babe"-ing each other. The grapefruit growing out of Julianne's ass is mildly distracting. The lovebirds ebb and flow. It looks like their first dance at their wedding - you know they rehearsed for it, but it's not without flaws. Bruno feels Chuck was chasing Julianne at times (aren't we all?). Len concurs and says he needs to refine his dancing (um, could you be more general?). Carrie Ann says he's one of the most graceful men, but she spotted an inadvertent lift. Ruh-oh.
Injury break! Jewel says she'll be back to sing for her hubby (next week!) since she can't dance. Nancy has matched her knee brace to her dress and she's jealous of Tony's new partner. She's disappointed - but the folks at Entertainment Tonight are happy, Tom says. Oh snap! And now for our first replacement...
Holly Madison & Dmitry Chaplin: Cha-Cha
They have one week to prepare, and so Dmitry has no time to teach her technique. And apparently no time to teach her words either. "Cha-cha-cha, walk, walk?" Holly's nervous about winging it in front of America. She's no worse than some of her predecessors tonight and is definitely more "offensive" than LT. But then again, is it surprising Holly has no problem shaking it? Tom prefaces the judges scores by telling us the trio isn't going to take the duo's lack of prep time into consideration. And so naturally, what's the first thing out of Len's mouth? It's not bad considering she had one week. Le sigh. Carrie Ann says she has charisma. Bruno says she's easy on the eyes (Jewel isn't?) and notes that there's hope for her. By the way, lay off the spray-tan, Holly.
Back from commercial, Tom tells us it is, indeed, Bachelor's No. 1 woman scorned, Melissa Rycroft, who has replaced Nancy. She will have 48 hours of rehearsal under her belt - the shortest in show history.
Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower: Cha-Cha
Time to do Jewel proud. Ty looks like an older and taller Kevin Connolly. He's approaching the whole thing like bull-riding: You're never quite ready and then it's just your turn. And Ty is way more than not-quite ready. He's awkward and stiffer than my drink right now (Kidding! I haven't drunk... yet), which was exactly what I expect of a cowboy dancing. Bruno says it looks more like an army drill. Len likes that he tried... and then gives him a 4. Carrie Ann's hitting on Ty, too.
Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas: Waltz
Glittering balance beam! Mark's got some sort of 5 o'clock shadow. Trying to be a man? Mark tells her to show emotion, which she is struggling with because it's a sign of weakness in gymnastics. Their waltz is sweet and graceful, a far cry from her powerful gymnastics self. It's definitely the best female dance of the night so far. Carrie Ann is truly moved and says Shawn has "dyna-na-namism." Bruno says it's surprisingly refined for someone so young and warns her of "gymnastics arms." Len finds it all very appealing and fantastic.
Steve Wozniak & Karina Smirnoff: Cha-Cha
Woz! Am I the only one who finds it amusing that the Woz is healthy in this, while Jewel and Nancy are not? Woz overthinks it in rehearsals (left-brained, analog, thinking breaks). He wants to prove nerds can dance. Pink boa! Who-a! Woz can move, y'all! But not exactly in step. He looks like he's half-seizing in places, but I give him props for shaking all his junk that's not just in his trunk. How adorkable is he?! Len likes that it held his attention and enjoyed the knee spin, but says overall it was a disaster. Bruno says it was a teletubbie gone mad. Carrie Ann likes that he makes us cheer for him. Karina calls him the nicest man alive. But what about Maks? Sexiest Man Alive?
David Alan Grier & Kym Johnson: Waltz
David's hoping to get sexual favors outta this. About time someone says it! Awkward first meeting between the two. Guess the humor was lost Down Under. Har har. Their waltz is controlled, light and there's not much to laugh about. He fudges the final extension a little. Bruno wants him to choose one character per dance. Fly Girl Carrie Ann warns him about his face, too. Len says his "bun" is sticking out because he's not doing something or other.
Denise Richards & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Cha-Cha
I must preface this performance with this tidbit, only because I tell everyone this and I have an obsession with birthdays: Monday was Denise's daughter Sam's 5th birthday, as well as my dad's birthday. Dancing first premiered on June 1, 2005 - the day her second daughter, Lola, was born. June 1 is my birthday, though I'm not 3. OK, just had to get that off my chest. Denise was excited to get Maks because she loves bad boys (we know), but like all bad boys do, he's reduced her to tears. Why does Maks always make his partners cry (OK, not literally, but you know)? Denise is clearly nervous and seems to be rushing through everything. She's way too emotional for this. Don't worry, Denise: You're gonna beat Charlie in the ratings. Carrie Ann says she looks terrified and wants less shoulder action. Len says she needs to tone up. Bruno says she's got it, but she doesn't know what to do with it. It's like acting - you can't drop something after you commit. Can she really relate, Bruno?
Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: Waltz
It's America's Sweetheart! I know they use the term "stars" loosely on this, but really? Yeah, yeah, Trista Sutter was on it (though I know many want to forget that), but that was the first season with, like, half ABC vets. Her 11th-hour casting means another reason to show "Jason is a Douchebag" again. "Boo!" the crowd hisses. "People skills," Tom tells Jason. Melissa and Tony don't even have an intro piece. Well, who needs one when you're the most famous person in America not named Octo-Mom? Their waltz is fluid and serene. It's obvious her ballet background (and probably her cheerleading one too) has helped. Time for more Jason-hatin'. Len says Jason's loss is Dancing's gain. Bruno calls Jason a loser, hand-L and all. Carrie Ann says she's a beautiful dancer. She's overwhelmed... or maybe scared she'll get dumped again somehow.