For the next two and half months or so, I'll be here every week rehashing the eighth season of Dancing WIth The Stars in blog form.  And though I was tempted to brush up via wikipedia's season recaps and pretend I was the most qualified person possible to be bringing you said rehashing, I think its important I'm honest with you from the get go.  Tonight was the first time I ever watched it.  I'd like to think experiencing this season through my virgin eyes brings a certain uniqueness to what might transpire here, but that's probably stretching. Nonetheless, it's the deal, so here goes:

[Recap after the break...]

"As you may have heard, the drama's already started and the stars haven't even been introduced." With those words, Tom Bergeron ushers in my television relationship with "Dancing With The Stars." He's referencing the fact that Jewel and Nancy O'Dell dropped out due to injury, and have been replaced by Holly Madison and Melissa Rycroft. I learned this ten minutes before the show started, and I had no idea who Madison and Rycroft are. Honestly, as I watch all the contestants coming down the glamed up stairs, I'm struggling to find familiarity: Lil' Kim, yes. Steve-O, yes. David Alan Grier, kinda. I think that's Belinda Carlise. And while I certainly recognize Denise Richards, she looks like a exceptionally whorish Vegas showgirl complete with a bad tan and the pinkest outfit I've ever seen.

Bergeron introduces dropouts O'Dell and Jewel, who are sitting the audience, looking embarrassed. Bergeron: "Later, we'll introduce the two brave stars that will replace them!" Um, Tom, even I know this already.

Lil' Kim's up first, and they cue her intro video. "The first time I watched DWTS was when I was in prison," she laughs.  Classy. Lil' Kim dances  with partner Derek Hough (you're going to have to give me a week or two to have any idea who the dancers are) the Cha Cha Cha to, uh, "Nasty" by Janet Jackson. I think she's very good.  Energetic, poised, with the expected fun sluttliness. But again, I know nothing.  I'm curious to see if I'm totally off in my pre-having-met-the-judges opinion.

Len Goodman think it's "first class." Lil Kim needs to work on her posture, but thats the only bad thing he has to say. Bruno says "nasty but tasty. You can work wonders with that tushy."  His way with words is not working with me.  Carrie Anne thinks Lil Kim needs to "let it out" more.

Lil Kim dedicates the dance to her girls at the federal detention center as she awaits her score. I feel like this might end up being the highlight of the night for me. They all give her 7. I assume this is a good score. Lil' Kim seems happy with it.

Belinda Carlise is introduced as a "pop legend," which cues her video, full of GoGo's imagery. She's dancing with Jonathan Roberts, who immediately lets us know Belinda's having "trouble mastering the spin. "If we don't master your spin now, were gonna have trouble for the rest of the show," he says.  Belinda admits she's having "a problem processing so much information" and wants to make sure theres a bucket for her potential vomit.

Belinda seems very stiff for a former pop star, but theres no vomit and she's actually spinning. She also looks fantastic (but plastic).

The judges aren't loving it. Bruno: "You looked like Julie Andrews at her most regal. Then you turn into Cloris Leachman"; Carrie Ann: "It wasn't great, but it certainly wasn't Cloris Leachman"; Len: "There was some grace and elegance there..."

Belinda thinks she "did pretty good," and doesnt seem phased by the judges. She gets a 6 from Carrie Ann and Len, and a 5 from Bruno. "Hey, I'm happy I got through it," she says.

They are again playing up how they'll soon "reveal" the new stars.

I now learn Lawrence Taylor is an NFL "legend." And he's dancing with Edyta Silwinska, who always "brings seduction to the dance floor." I feel ashamed for now knowing this, and actually writing it down.

Taylor tries on the dancing shoes and "doesn't know what he's got himself into." According to Edyta, he's "afraid to look bad on the dance floor."  His fears end up warranted, as he still spends most of the dance twirling Edyta around and looking stiff.

Carrie Ann agrees, with the first of many football metaphors. "He needs to get more on the offence," she sayd. "You gotta get down, you gotta get dirty."  Len doesn't hate it, calling it "fun," while Bruno thinks he "has something in him," but they haven't seen it yet.  6 from Carrie Ann, 5 from the boys. Slightly lower than Belinda.

Steve-O is introduced for his "illustrious career in television and the movies." I'm not sure if Tom's being funny.

Steve-O's "Jackass" co-star Johnny Knoxville is the audience showing support, and they cue his intro video, which one-ups Lil' Kim for "how far I've come"isms.  "I was out of control," O says. "I checked into rehab. Im looking at DWTS as a way that even though Im sober I havent lost my mojo."

His dancer, Lacey Schwimmer, is at least effectively pretending to eat this up:  "Balancing DWTS and rehab is a lot to handle. So I'm proud of him." -

They dance the waltz, and Steve O opens with a very smooth hand stand, with Lacey flipping him over his shoulders. After that, it seems its more style than substance, with Steve-O attempting to let his charm do the dancing.

Johnny K gives him a standing ovation nonetheless, and Steve-O looks very proud.

The judges don't hate it, with Len making an oh-so-clever pun: "You came out fully committed. You weren't Jackass about it."

Bruno says it "was a big pile of slapstick, but you did make me laugh," while Carrie Ann " was oddly mesmerized by the weirdness."

"I want to stick my foot in the Waltz's butt," O says as he awaits his scores. 5 from Len, 6s from the others. Lil Kim is still by far the leader

Again, Bergeron plugs the non-surprise.

I knew I recognized the next guy.  Its the guy Samantha lives next door to in the Sex and the City movie. His name, as it turns out, is Gilles Marini. "I got my first big break in Sex and the City," he says in his intro. Great career move with this, Gilles.

"Gilles doesn't have the fan base so he has to work harder than everyone else," his partner Cheryl Burke announces. She is convinced to make their dances so sexy they're "hard to watch."

She brings that to the dance, immediately grabbing Marini's ass in the beginning (with the producers ready with a closeup). There's lots of thrusting and touching.  Gilles has moves though, and I assume this sexpot act may do him well here. They end off with a tit grab. Bookends.

Carrie Ann looks downright horny. "You have fire, you have the bravado," she says, drooling. Bruno and Len are equally impressed.  "Clothes on or clothes off, you certainly know how to strut your stuff," says Bruno.  "I thought it was absolutely fabulous," says Len.

Well waiting for the scores, I think Gilles just made an erection joke but I wasn't paying attention. Ooh: 8's all around. Lil Kim, meet your match. Battle of the sexpots.

Next is the "real life couple," Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough. Which one's the celebrity?

Allegedly, Wicks: "A new face on the country scene." I have never heard of him at all, and assume he's here because his wife is a DWTS dancer.

They bicker, expectedly, and she's finding "it really hard to teach him." I'm finding it really hard to care.

There's evident intimacy between the two, I'll admit, as they hit the dance floor. Lots of twirling. It seems very well orchestrated, but I could be wrong.

Carrie Ann agrees: "I think you might be one of the most graceful men we've had on our show in a long time."; Bruno not so much:  "At times it felt to me you were chasing her... You have to come down a little bit"; Len's on the fence: "It was a bit hectic, but I liked the footwork."

Hough "honestly thought he'd be worse." 6 from Carrie Ann, 7 from the boys.

Oh good, another hand for "injured stars" Jewel and Nancy O'Dell. Jewel's "will to dance wasn't stronger than my bones," apparently. Nancy matched her knee brace to her dress. Nancy will have 6-8 weeks of rehab. She "expects flowers." On there way, Nanc.

Next up: the big announcement! It's "reality star" Holly Madison of "The Girls Next Door," replacing Jewel. She only has one week to prepare, as Tom has now noted many a times. She's dancing with Dmitry Chaplin.

"Cha cha cha? Cha cha cha? So much to remember!" So far, Holly's not instilling confidence in me.

And it appearsthe cha cha cha can be danced to Lady GaGa. Holly doesnt seem to quite know what she's doing, as expected. I'll admit excited to see the judges be bitchy.

Aw, they have a pity party instead. Carrie Ann compares her to a "newborn deer." Len says ""I'm sure next week when you have more to practice, you'll be fabulous." Bruno says ""the shame is you lost timing quite a few times but there is hope, my darling!"

Boring.  She gets three 6s.

"Up next, we'll reveal the star that's stepping in after only 48 hours," Tom says, referring to the Melissa woman who I've since googled and learned was The Bachelor's almost-choice. ABC sure is milking that show.

Tom unveils her. She'll "perform a dance with the least amount of training in the history of the show!"

But first, it's Jewel's husband. "Some call me king of the cowboys" Ty Murray, I learn, is this man's name. And he's immediately annoying. "Guys don't do that! That's like a cheerleader thing."  I wonder how many times they cut homophobic slurs.

He's horrible on stage, standing there a lot as partner Chelsie Hightower does her thing. Bruno hates it. "It looked more like an army drill than the cha cha cha," he says. Carrie Ann, once again, can't keep it her pants. "I think you're one cute cowboy..."  Carrie's vagina gives him a 5, while he gets a 4 from Len and a 5 from Bruno.

Worst score yet.

Now its some Olympic gymnast, the youngest to ever go on DWTS. Shawn Johnson, dancing with Mark Ballas. She seems bubbly and irritating, and is smiling in every single shot. "In gymnastics, you're told not to show emotion," she says. "Emotion is weakness."

On stage, she wins me over. She's still smiling, but its working on her. She's very graceful. Carrie Ann is "truly moved," while Len found the whole thing very appealing." Bruno gives only her a 7, but she gets a 8 from the others. Second behind the Sex and the City guy.

"Oh, he's smart , but can he dance?" That's Tom's introduction for Steve Wozniack, Apple co-founder, wearing a silk pink shirt and driving a scooter in his intro video.

Steve is sweating a lot, but seems determined, Its potentially endearing. Dance partner Karina Smirnoff seems worried though.

They enter the stage with Steve wearing a pink boa and desperately trying. It's not really working, but Steve's definitely a likely fan favorite. Even if does simply twirl her and smile a lot.

"You're definitely going out on a limb," Carrie Ann says. "You make us want to cheer for you." That's his nicest comment, as Bruno confusingly announces "I don't know if it was hilarious or delirious... like a teletubby going mad at the gay  pride parade."  Nice metaphor, Bruno.

Steve nervously tells a bad joke as he awaits his scores: "I had so much fun, they're testing me for drugs tomorrow." No one laughs. "It's just a joke!" No one laughs.

Lowest score yet: 4 from Len and Bruno, 5 from Carrie Ann. Steve's smiling anyway. "This was the most incredible, fun, thing I've ever done." WAS is the key word there.

On to David Alan Grier, who hopes to get sexual favours out of the experience.

Dance partner Kym Johnson "doesn't get his jokes."

They waltz to "You Light Up My Life." David keeps making elaborate faces as if he's in an In Living Color sketch. Its annoying. Bruno agrees. "I was seeing about four or five characters while you were dancing," he says.  "One character will suffice." So does Carrie Ann, who has "worked with David" in the past but doesn't explain how. "You have to be careful with your face," she says. "It tends to distract us from your body."

Len's not totally hating it:  "Well done, David. There was far more good in that performance than there were bad."

7 from Len,  6 from the others.

Denise!

Introduced as a "former bond girl," there's lots of hair tossing in her intro. And ass shaking.

We learn Denise has no dance experience. But has a "tendency to like bad boys."

Denise keeps screwing up as partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy tries to teach her to dance. She just keeps saying sorry and then not getting better. And now, she's crying! "I can take the critciism and I can take all that but I feel stupid some times." New favorite moment of the night.

When she finally gets on the dance floor, Denise looks like a drunk girl at a high school dance who you know is goinna sleep with whoever asks  She does do the splits though...

But its not enough. "You look terrified out there," Carrie Ann says. Denise looks like shes gonna cry. Len thinks its "all a little bit loose" (like Denise!)

Bruno encourages her by saying dancing is "like acting" as if she knows what that is.

All sixs. I expected fours.

"Could be worse," Richards exclaims. Agreed.

One to go...

"The brave star whose fiance pulled the rug out from under her," Tom introduces Melissa Rycroft, of "The Bachelor" fame. She has her first training session Saturday morning, which luckily wasn't enough time to even get an intro video

She's not half bad...

Surprise! Standing ovation from Nancy O'Dell! And some very enthusisastic thumbs up.

Bergeron makes sure we know the judges aren't taking her late entry into consideration (or her "Bachelor" loss)

Here we go:

"The Bachelor's loss is Dancing With The Stars' gain," says Len.

She's crying.

"You are a revelation! It was like watching a beautiful bird just about to take flight," says Bruno.

"Youre just a beautiful dancer," says Carrie Ann.

Two 8s and a 7. She's not Gilles, but I suspect her 15 minutes have officially been extended

So that's all of them. I've survived a whole episode. Now Bergeron is recapping the performances, and I've already forgotten who some of these people are. I'm sure by mid-April, I'll be crying along with Melissa and voting for her two dozen times. Until then.... What'd you think of the premiere? Any favorites yet?

 

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