Recapping Television's Hottest Shows with Monkeys as Critics

Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars' Season 11 Premiere

The 'star' of the show delivers, but a surprise dark horse emerges, too

<p>Bristol Palin gets a 'Dancing with the Stars' hug</p>

Bristol Palin gets a 'Dancing with the Stars' hug

Credit: ABC

Bristol, Bristol, Bristol. “Dancing with the Stars” hasn’t even started yet, and I’m already pretty sick of hearing about the younger, less interesting Palin. This is not about politics, mind you. Regardless of whether you love or hate her mom, if you’ve seen Bristol on television, you know she always looks a little shell shocked, as if she’d like to say “You know, I’m not really a public figure, if you could just get that camera out of my face,” and would gladly hand off her fifteen minutes of fame to any mouth breathing reality TV show idiot in a heartbeat. Which is normal behavior, yes, but makes for pretty awkward TV. And while this show has always played fast and loose with the definition of celebrity (I mean, Audrina Patridge? The friggin’ Situation? Can we have a snuff round of “DWTS”?), isn’t just being the spawn of a well-known person a little faster and looser than necessary? All I’m saying is, if Amy Carter shows up next season, I’m boycotting.

Oh wait, my bad. Bristol isn’t just famous spawn, she’s a “teen activist.” Well, that changes everything, because that’s why people are tuning in – an appetite for teen activism, not the hope of seeing a car wreck of anything. And can I just say Florence Henderson looks shockingly good? How old is that woman, anyway? But it’s time for dancing, so let’s get to it.
 
[Full recap of Monday's "Dancing with the Stars" premiere after the break...]
 
 
Audrina Patridge and Tony Dovolani
They’ll be doing the cha cha. Audrina is like, super excited. She’s not partying or like, anything because she’s being very serious about this dancing thing.
 
As she’s the party girl on “The Hills,” I was expecting a little more mojo in this routine, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a bad case of nerves. She seems coordinated, though, and if she can relax her back and put some heart into it, she might be pretty okay. But this week she looks like she’s about to have a stroke.  
 
Len thought she had good technique, but needed to be more feisty. Bruno thought she looked like a beautiful show pony and she needs to be sexier. Carrie Ann says she has the right body, but needs to connect to it.
 
Backstage, Brooke asks the usual meaningless questions. Blah, blah, blah
 
Scores: 6, 7, and 6
Total: 19
 
Not awful. But I don’t see Audrina going far in this.
 
 
Kurt Warner and Anna Trebunskaya
He’s a Super Bowl champion and has seven kids. Anna wants to win that damn mirror ball, but she’s got Kurt, so she may have her work cut out for her, because he can barely walk in a straight line during rehearsal.
 
Okay, I’ve got to hand it to Anna, because Kurt doesn’t look half as stinky as I thought he would. He’s got an easy smile, but he does look stiff, his arms seem wooden and we won’t talk about footwork, since there’s no point during week one. But it’s not a lost cause at all.
 
Bruno says he’s a natural. Carrie Ann sees potential. Len thought the performance had very little to commend it. Carrie Ann and Bruno want to throttle Len. But come on, Len wasn’t wrong.
 
Scores: 7, 5 and 7
Total: 19
 
 
Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer
Kyle is best known for his Disney show “Corey in the House,” which means no one who knows who he is can vote in an election or drink. Lacey is now blonde, and I think she’s going to have to wear a lot of make-up for it to look right.
 
First off, lockers, geek glasses? Len will hate that part, Lacey, what were you thinking? But the good news is that Kyle is the first dancer of the evening who looks like he’s not only having fun, he’s hamming it up and ripping up the dance floor like he’s at a club. Good for him, because seriously, the show was getting a little dull.

Carrie Ann declares him her first crush of the season. Len liked it, although, as expected, he wasn’t a fan of the props. Bruno calls him an entertainer, and says some other things with great enthusiasm which are really almost impossible to understand.

Scores: 8, 7 and 8
Total: 23
 
Brooke asks how it feels. What does she expect the guy to say? “Well, Brooke, it sucks that it wasn’t a 30, but I’ll take it”?
 
 
Rick Fox and Cheryl Burke
Rick Fox is humongous. That isn’t a revelation or anything, but I swear he makes Cheryl Burke look like a midget. I fully expect her to have whiplash by the end of the season. Cheryl thinks wearing heels that are an inch higher will help. Good luck with that, Cheryl.
 
It’s actually hard to judge Rick’s dancing when he appears to be on the floor with Tinkerbell. I keep thinking one wrong move and he’ll squish Cheryl like a bug.
 
Len thought Rick did a great job. Bruno thinks Rick and Kurt are equally matched. Carrie Ann thinks Rick is a fox (Ha. Ha. Ha.) and she was blown away. Carrie Ann seems to be a little hormonal this season, doesn’t she?
 
Scores: 8, 7 and 7
Total: 22
 
Brooke has to act Rick if he’s really as charming as he seems. The producers need to stop feeding Brooke stupid questions.
 
 
Margaret Cho and Louis van Amstel
I’m rooting for Margaret Cho, I’ll be honest. I always like dancers who underscore the inherent silliness of this show.
 
Why is she wearing Imelda Marcos’ old housecoat? With a cape? Oh my God, she got caught in the cape. Was that on purpose? This is a train wreck, either way. 
 
Bruno thought she was going to eat someone. Carrie Ann thinks it was a bold choice, but she wasn’t sure how the goofy stuff worked. Len thought it was going to be lovely, but then it went haywire.

Coming back from the break, we are reminded, again, that Bristol Palin is going to dance. Stop it, ABC.
 
Scores: 5, 5 and 5
Total: 15
 

Brandy and Maksim Cherkovskiy
Brandy wanted to do the show to get over her fear of doing the show. And to make people forget she creamed a guy in a Toyota in 2006. Maksim is going to try to be a good boy this season, which sounds boring to me. But Brandy is going to go for it, so Maksim may have another Erin Andrews on his hands, which can only be good.
 
Brandy can dance. This looks fluid, she seems comfortable on the dance floor. An early contender.
 
Carrie Ann says she’s a little strong but it was beautiful. Len says she made a fantastic impression. Bruno liked it in his incomprehensible way.
 
Brooke asks Brandy how much dance experience she has. Brandy denies having any. Riiiiight, Brandy, I’m sure you never did choreographed dance numbers in support of any of your music.
 
Scores: 7, 8 and 8
Total: 23
 
Brandy breaks into squeals. I think Brandy is a type A personality.
 
 
Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas
Bristol is just a regular girl. Who happens to have a famous mom. Mark wants his mirror ball trophy back, but no way he’s getting it with Bristol, who is painfully shy. Because, ahem, she’s not a public figure. So the solution to that? A gimmicky song (“Momma Told Me Not to Come”), an outfit reminiscent of something her mom would wear on the campaign trail and a “sexy twist.” Did Bristol’s mom possibly suggest she shouldn’t come on the show? Because that might have been a good suggestion. The producers kind of deserve a slap on the hand for this. This is the kind of crap they did with Kate Gosselin, too.
 
Mercifully, Bristol looks like she’s having a good time doing this, unless that’s a rigid grimace of fear. You never know. That being said, she shakes her hips and her head and doesn’t look too uncomfortable out there. Really, no worse than Audrina, and that girl would lick the floor for extra TV time.
 
Len thought it was very acceptable. Bruno says she’s not a performer, but she’ll get better. Carrie Ann thought she’d suck, but she was wrong.
 
Oh, Lord. Brooke asks Bristol how much her life has changed, considering she was a receptionist in Alaska a four weeks ago. Bristol replies it’s changed a lot. And all the media trained celebrities, including her dance partner, laugh. C’mon, guys, don’t be mean. She answered the question like (shocker!) a normal person.
 
Scores: 6, 6 and 6
Total: 18
 
 
Florence Henderson and Corky Ballas
She’s 76. Go Mrs. Brady! Let’s hope she doesn’t do the crazy Cloris thing. She hopes people like her. How can we not?
 
This is like watching that cute little retired couple who are still in love after fifty years tear it up on the dance floor of a cruise ship. Which isn’t so bad, really.
 
Bruno thinks she’s still got it, but she has to work on her technique. Carrie Ann said she looked like she was having fun. Len thought Corky did miraculous things with Flo.
 
Scores: 6, 6 and 6
Total: 18
 
Flo urges the audience to be interesting. And makes a dig at Len. Oh, that crazy Mrs. Brady!
 
 
Michael Bolton and Chelsea Hightower
Michael Bolton seems like he has a chip on his shoulder for whatever reason. He wants to prove to everyone he can do it. Um, that’s fine Michael, but you know, it’s not a big deal to us either way. Maybe he’s cranky because Rod Stewart has the same voice and still manages to sell gobs of cheesy cover albums to the baby boomers, I don’t know.
 
It looks like Chelsea’s swinging around an old guy mannequin. This is a little painful.
 
Carrie Ann points out Michael let Chelsea lead. Len thought he moved around the floor well, but his posture blew. Bruno wants him to take it easy.
 
Scores: 6, 5 and 5
Total: 16
 
Brooke asks how it feels to be sucking at the bottom. Michael admits he’d like a higher score. Scintillating.
 
 
Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and Karina Smirnoff
I know everyone’s busy staring at his muscles, but hasn’t anyone noticed that this guy looks like Pauly Shore? Karina is freaked because they have no rehearsal time thanks to “Jersey Shore.” Yet another thing that show is doing to ruin the universe, I suppose.
 
Amazingly, The Situation gets through the routine without any Kate Gosselin-level standing in place and freaking out. But it’s not good.
 
Len thinks he has potential. And that he has the guns but not the ammunition. Bruno hates the star shaved in his hair and wants him to apply himself. Carrie thinks there’s something there and wants him to get rid of the finger pointing.
 
Scores: 5, 5 and 5
Total: 15
 
The Situation tells Brooke he tried his hardest. And he put it all out there. I’m not sure I would have admitted that, honestly.
 
 
Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough
Jennifer wants to reclaim some of the joy she had in dancing. And they’re dancing to a song from “Dirty Dancing.” Which, of course, makes her cry, because hello, Patrick Swayze is dead, people. Although I heard they hated each other during filming, but I’m sure that’s the kind of thing you get over after your movie becomes a monster hit.

This is actually very nice. Jennifer can dance, no surprise.
 
Bruno thought Baby is back where she belongs. Carrie Ann cries. Len said the dance suited her.
 
Scores: 8, 8 and 8
Total: 24
 
Highest score of the night. I’m hoping this is because of the dance and not because she cried, though.
 
 
David Hasselhoff and Kym Johnson
It seems that the Hoff, post hamburger incident, has really embraced the funny thing. I mean, you can’t sign up for a Comedy Central roast without being willing to make fun of yourself. But this may be hard to watch. Still, he seems to be approaching this with the right attitude. Which is that it may be a disaster, but he’ll go down smiling.

And this is… awkward. I mean, he’s trying, he’s into it, but it’s just walking around and wincing in a sexy grandpa way.
 
Carrie Ann said it reminded her of Donny Osmond mated with Jerry Springer. Len says it’s never too early to panic. Bruno thought it was a potpourri of insanity disguised as dance.
 
The Hoff tells Brooke he had fun. And his family is watching. So, while some people would find that embarrassing, good for him that it gives him a nice, warm feeling.
 
Scores: 5, 5 and 5
Total: 15
 
 
So, early predictions? I think Kyle may be the sleeper to keep an eye on, as he’s so fun to watch – though his being an unknown to people who don’t watch the Disney Channel may hurt him. Otherwise, Brandy and Jennifer stand out, and you can never count out the athletes, as they seem to go the distance on this show (though I give the upper hand to Kurt, only because he isn’t four heads taller than his partner – Rick is smoother, but he looks like the Jolly Lakers Giant next to Cheryl).
 
As far as who’s going home first, I’m tempted to say The Situation. But that may just be my total aversion to his “Saturday Night Fever” routine.
 
Who are you voting for? Who do you think is going home first? And what did you think of Bristol?

 

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