Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars' kicks off with tough judging
We're back with an all-star season of "Dancing with the Stars"! So, it's double-starry, since they were stars to begin with (by the definition of this show and, in some cases, only this show) and now they are all-star stars. I think everyone should get a little star sticker for their forehead, don't you? There isn't a lot of time to dwell on the starriness of the proceedings, though, because thirteen performances must be shoehorned into two hours. Still, that doesn't stop co-host Tom Bergeron. He blithers about how fabulous our dancers are. They’re the best of the best! Creme de la creme! The people you most want to see dancing! Okay, okay, if we're already watching, Tom, there's no further need to sell us. All-stars, got it.
We dive right in with a cha cha for Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson.
The Background: He was beaten by Apolo Anton Ono in season 4, and he wants to beat him this time. I don't think that's realistic, because Joey appears to be about the same size as he was during season 4. He moves amazingly well, don't get me wrong, but he's not exactly an Olympic athlete. And, well, Apolo is.
The Dance: Hey, the Fat One jumps over Kym! He is surprisingly light on his feet for a big guy, really. I love that we’re starting out at a higher level, given that it’s an all-star season. None of those color-by-numbers dances we usually get i the first week.
The Judges: Len tells us the judging will be tougher, plus they’re going to have half-points this season. Anyway, Len loves watching Joey dance, even though his posture was a little funny. Bruno likes a man who brings it large. Still, he thinks his foot placement was off. Huh, actual critiques in week one! Carrie Ann giggles. She thinks it was a great start to the season.
Scores: Carrie Ann - 6.5; Len – 7; Bruno - 7. Total: 20.5
Next, we have season 8 champion Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough.
The Background: She feels like she’s cheating on Mark Ballas, her old partner. Derek is just thrilled to have a young person to dance with! You can tell he wants to elaborate, but he's not going to tell us exactly what he didn't like about his old, creaky partners. Shawn can walk on her hands, which Derek thinks they need to work into a dance. I agree, though I bet Len wouldn't like it.
The Dance: She hasn’t forgotten much, it seems. This looks great, but it's not really a foxtrot, is it?
The Judges: Bruno thinks she’s a blonde scorcher. It was like two dances for the price of one! But she needs to work on definition of the style. Carrie Ann thinks it was what all star season is all about. She loved it! Len thinks what she did, she did well. But… it didn’t feel like a foxtrot or look like a foxtrot. But she’s a good dancer.
Scores: Who knows? My Internet connection crapped out right during scoring, but hey, I'm sure she did very well.
Next, we have Sabrina Bryant, who will dance with Louis Van Amstel
The Background: She was the 13th member voted in by viewers, though I'm still a little surprised about that. Kyle Massie was a very strong dancer and Carson Kressley was more fun. Sabrina was eliminated in week six of season four, and she says being a front runner is a lot of pressure. Why is she a front runner? She barely squeaked in. Anyway, she'll be dancing a cha cha cha.
The Dance: This is making my head hurt. It's a little frantic. Still, she appears to be having fun, I guess.
The Judges: She sometimes over dances, but she's incredible according to Carrie Ann. Len thought it had a lot of impact, but it needed more finesse. But he liked it. His favorite dance of the night… thus far. Bruno thought some of her passes could have been cleaner, but he's glad she's back.
Scores: Carrie Ann - 7.5; Len - 7.5; Bruno - 7.5
Now we have Helio Castroneves with his new partner Chelsie Hightower.
The Background: He won season 5, but he wants to do it again because he'd like his daughter to be a dancer and not a car racer. Fair enough.
The Dance: They'll be doing a foxtrot, and it does seem a little more traditional than Shawn's. But yes, it's a little dull because of that. The key really is that he seems to be having a grand time, which makes a huge difference.
The Judges: Len thinks he should be proud of it, but he needs to turn out his feet. Bruno thinks he's so engaging no one notices how crappy his footwork is. Carrie Ann thinks his charm is infectious, but she'd like to see more body contact. Wow, the judges are reallyjumping right into constructive criticism in week one. I love that!
Scores: Carrie Ann - 7; Len - 7.5; Bruno - 7
Pamela Anderson is dancing with Tristan McManus.
The Background: Tristan is all excited about Pamela, and I mean excited in that nerdy, high school boy kind of way. Pamela tells him he needs to contain her a little bit. Flirt, flirt. Oh, Pamela with the double entendres! I was surprised she didn't last longer in her season, so I hope she does better this time.
The Dance: They're tackling the cha cha cha. To Amy Winehouse. She blows some steps, actually a lot of steps, but she smolders effectively. It looks a bit like they just met and he just pulled her onto the dance floor. C'mon, Pam!
The Judges: Bruno thinks she looks like a girl who could go all the way, but she needs to practice. There wasn't enough work there for him to praise her. Carrie Ann thinks she lived the drama, but it was a little uncomfortable because there's no technique. Len thinks it was a bit shaky, but she got through it.
Scores: Carrie Ann - 5.5; Len - 5.5; Bruno - 6
Melissa Rycroft will be dancing with Tony Dovolani
The Background: Since she's been on the show, she's had a baby and now has a career she never imagined. No kidding -- she was just some chick from "The Bachelor," and yet we can't get rid of her. She wants this mirror ball!
The Dance: They'll be doing the foxtrot, and it's fine. She does look like a dancer, but it hardly seems like she's in the same room with Tony.
The Judges: Carrie Ann thinks she has exquisite lines, but she needs more body contact. Len thought it was a bit theatrical, but he liked it. Bruno wants them to work on body contact and the framing.
Scores: Carrie Ann - 7; Len - 7; Bruno - 7
Apolo Anton Ohno is working with Karina Smirnoff.
The Background: He wants two mirror balls! And I wouldn't rule that out, really.
The Dance: They are party rocking. With glow-in-the-dark bracelets. This is like a Disney version of a rave. But once you get past that, it's really not bad at all. Apolo is, yet again, pretty darn slick.
The Judges: Len proclaims it a bronze medal performance. Bruno thinks his side extensions were exquisite. Carrie Ann was blown away by the hip action.
Scores: Carrie Ann - 7.5, Len - 7 Bruno - 7.5
Gilles Marini is paired for the first time with Peta Murgatroyd
The Background: He almost won season 8, so he's hoping to get it right this time. Peta is a friendly type, as she straddles him hello. Gilles does not mind this one bit, as he thinks she has a great effect on men (meaning himself). There seems to be a mutual fan club in place already.
The Dance: It's a foxtrot, and I do love watching this guy dance. He's got a sense of old school style that works perfectly for this. He's just so graceful.
The Judges: Bruno thought it had old time glamour and wants to see it again. Carrie Ann thought it was poetic and gorgeous. Len thought it was sophisticated and terrific. Not a single criticism. I expect these scores to be a little higher than what we've seen.
Scores: 8, 8, 8. Highest scores of the evening thus far, whoot!
Next, Bristol Palin reunites with Mark Ballas.
The Background: He thinks she looks amazing, and she is quite a bit thinner than she was during her season. She can't get over how crazy Mark is! He wants her to shake her butt! But she'll do it. She's grown up so much, blah blah blah.
The Dance: She still seems a bit timid, but she's definitely trying. She's doing far better than she did during her previous season, in that she appears to be dancing this time. During her season, she always looked like she was trying to judge how long it would take her to run screaming off the floor to hide under the nearest chair.
The Judges: Carrie Ann is taken aback and says Bristol is the most improved. Len thought she seemed far more confident. Bruno thinks she seems refreshed, revived, refurbished! But she needs to keep her focus.
Bristol feels more grown-up, and really, she does look more grown-up, even though I still think she needs to pursue a line of work that doesn't involve being in front of a camera.
Scores: 6.5, 6.5, 6.5
Drew Lachey will be dancing with Anna Trebunskaya
The Background: He won season two, but Anna is quick to tell him that doesn't count for much these days.The show is different six years later, in that it's a lot harder. Drew doesn't care -- he can do it! He says Anna's dancing style is tough love.
The Dance: He's still got it, but this looks a little wooden. Relax, Drew, relax!
The Judges: Len thought it was too hard and hectic. What does he expect when he's working with Anna? Bruno thought it was wonderful, even though he stiffens up sometimes. Carrie Ann thought his shoulders were great, which was new. But it was a little rigid.
Scores: 7, 7, 7.5
Kelly Monaco, the season 1 winner, will be dancing with Valentin Chmerkovskiy, otherwise known as the nice Chmerkovskiy.
The Background: Her season was only six weeks long, so there are some dances she never tried -- like the cha cha cha. Valentin is very impressed with her, although he needs to comment on how all of her is very petite except, ahem, her chest. Kelly doesn't mind. She's focused on the dance, dammit!
The Dance: This looks pretty slick! And sexy. I think she's one of the stronger winners back in the game, really.
The Judges: Bruno thinks she was a stunner. Carrie Ann thinks she got a whole lot sexier this season and she thinks she has crazy chemistry with Valentin. Len tells her she wasn't this good season one. But watch the shoulders!
Scores: 7, 7, 7.5
Kirstie Alley gets her beloved Maks Chmerkovskiy.
The Background: She informs him she's not fat anymore. Well, okay. I hate to say it, but she doesn't look that different than she did at the end of her season (at which point, yes, she was much thinner than how she started). He informs her that for this dance, she has to keep her boob always on him, which makes her laugh. I like the two of them together, in that she was the only one who didn't seem to be permanently traumatized by dancing with Maks.
The Dance: This is so short -- they walk around the floor and it's over. And it's a little dull. It really is walking more than dancing.
The Judges: Carrie Ann thinks she has a sensual quality, but she wasn't up to speed tonight. Len says she needs to lift her ribcage. The dance needed refining. Bruno loves the drama, but he agrees with Len.
Then, Kirstie kisses Tom, hard. "That's for your Emmy!" she yells as she flies off the stage. She's giddy! For some reason! Not that she was particularly happy when she needed to be -- while she was DANCING.
As they wait for scores, Maks checks her pulse. They're so happy and cute and WHY WAS THE DANCE SO BORING? Please don't tell me they're saving the charisma for off-stage.
Scores: 6.5, 6, 6.5
Finally, season three champs Emmit Smith and Cheryl Burke return.
The Background: He and Cheryl are going to have a lot of fun, as they seemed to in his season, too. He wants to impress her, and there seems to be a genuine fondness there.
The Dance: They're doing the cha cha cha, and he is doing a very good job with the hip swiveling, really. I'm always amazed at how well he moves -- he's a football player, for crying out loud!
The Judges: Len thinks it was the best dance of the evening. Bruno thinks he has truckloads of charisma. Carrie Ann says yabba dabba doo! He was born to dance!
On a side note, tomorrow Pitbull AND Justin Bieber will be performing. I want to know if they're performing together.
Scores: 8, 8.5, 8 - Highest scores of the evening!
At the top we have Emmit, at the bottom we have Pamela. But it's up to America to vote, I guess. Remember, it's not about the best dancer; it's about your favorite dancer. I know, that's "So You Think You Can Dance," but same rules apply.
Who are you rooting for? Is there anyone you wanted to see return to the show? Is there anyone you wish didn't make the cut?