ABC’s hit television show “Dancing with the Stars” got off to a roaring start last night. The injuries continued at a break neck pace, causing two leading ladies to drop out of the competition just days before it began.
Country singer, Jewel, and television personality Nancy O’Dell sustained injuries to their lower extremities. While Jewel will likely be well within a matter of weeks, O’Dell faces surgery on her knee next week as well as months of painful rehabilitation.
The show kept the suspense going with regard to who would replace the two stars. The announcements weren’t made until several celebrities had already performed.
Belinda Carlisle, former singer with the girl group the Go Go’s, found waltzing with partner Jonathan Roberts exhilarating if not particularly easy. The star smiled throughout the dance and appeared to be having a good time.
While the judges weren’t particularly complimentary, with Bruno bordering on being unnecessarily rude, the couple seemed pleased with their first performance and accepted their score of 17 with style and grace.
Comedian David Alan Grier channeled his inner dramatic actor in order to give partner, Kym Johnson the performance she demanded. I thought he did a remarkably good job considering it was his first experience on the dance floor.
The judges were, once again, critical but also encouraging. Some of them thought Grier had raw talent that Kym could shape and mold over the weeks to come. Their score of 19 reflected the judge’s mixed emotions.
Gold medal gymnast, Shawn Johnson, continued the roll of Olympic athletes on the show. Her waltz with partner Mark Ballas was smooth, beautiful, and highly entertaining.
The judges rewarded the couple’s hard work with a score of 23. One other couple tied them and one couple scored higher with a 24.
Female rapper Lil Kym brought some of her earthy hip-hop moves to her performance with partner Derek Hough. She was ready to push herself to the limit with that mirror ball trophy on the line and the results were phenomenal with a score of 21.
Reality star Holly Madison, of “The Girls Next Door,” replaced Jewel after she was forced to drop out of the competition because of her injury. With just five days to practice with partner, Dmitry Chaplin, she threw herself into the dance and went for it. Her efforts were rewarded with a score of 18; a better result that some of her competitors who had more time to practice.
Dmitry, a new pro and former contestant on “So You Think You Can Dance” was lavish with his praise of the beauty’s work ethic. Both contestants hope to make an even better impression next week with a little more experience under their belts.
Gilles Marini, a relatively unknown actor whose claim to fame is a nude shower scene in the “Sex and the City” movie, proved his talent on the dance floor. He and former two-time DWTS winner, Cheryl Burke, managed an amazing routine.
The judges were pleased with Marini’s performance and declared him the “one to watch” this year. Their positive comments were well reflected in their score. They received three 8’s for a total score of 24.
Jewel’s rodeo husband had a rough night along with his partner, new professional Chelsie Hightower; another “So You Think You Can Dance” alum. Ty Murray let his nerves get the best of him more than once during the routine, making the dance come off sloppy and ill prepared.
The judges were not kind in their remarks and, unfortunately, that also reflected in their scores. The couple received one of the lowest scores of the night – – 14.
“Jackass” star, Steve-O, had some good moments in his dance with partner Lacey Schwimmer. The pro has a way of developing choreography that takes advantage of her partner’s strengths and minimizes his weaknesses.
While the judges were critical, they also recognized the chemistry between the pair as well as Steve-O’s obvious hard work. They rewarded both with a respectable score of 17.
Actress Denise Richards, a favorite going into the competition, didn’t really seem to have the right stuff after all. While her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy made the best of her considerable assets, the overall effect was much less than expected.
Of course the male judges had to comment on Richard’s beauty and sultry movements. Nonetheless they agreed with Carrie Ann that she has a way to go to become a dance contender. Still, the team’s score wasn’t that bad at 18.
Melissa Rycroft, the beauty who agreed to take Nancy O’Dell’s place in the competition, left her sad “Bachelor” days behind her. With the help of partner, Tony Dovolani, Melissa managed to pull off an amazing performance with just 48 hours of practice.
The judges recognized that Rycroft had some dance training, but were still pleasantly surprised at the petite brunette’s stage presence and raw talent. All of the was reflected in the final score of 23; landing the brand new couple in a tie for second place.
Football Giant, Lawrence Taylor, worried that he wouldn’t be able to perform up to the level of some of his comrades in the past. While the judges agreed that he wasn’t quite there yet, they also said they enjoyed watching him and that he had a natural charm.
With professional partner Edyta Sliwinska, Taylor only has one way to go – – up – – and he is bound to do that as soon as he sheds his on stage jitters. While a score of 16 wasn’t what the couple hoped for, they seem determined to escalate that number during next week’s rounds.
Real life lovebirds, Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough, sizzled on stage. I thought their romantic waltz was much better than the judges gave them credit for.
Perhaps they expected more from the two-time DWTS winner and her handsome beau, but I thought they showed a lot of potential. Their couple’s score of 20 definitely left them room for improvement.
Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniack, played the crowd for laughs in his routine with partner Karina Smirnoff. Unfortunately, the crowd wasn’t biting and neither were the judges.
The couple’s score was the lowest of the evening at 13. Even that might have been a tad on the generous side.
This early in the game, it is hard to predict the possible winner. However, there are some celebrities that seem destined to go far.
On the girl’s side, the beauties to watch include Olympic gold medallist Shawn Johnson, rapper Lil Kym, and jilted “Bachelor” star Melissa Rycroft. On the men’s side, watch out for sexy hunk Gilles Marini and country western singer, Chuck Wicks.
As for who stands to go home next week, my bet is on Wozniack. While he has great personality and a lot of heart, I just don’t see this celebrity going very far. If it isn’t Wozniack on the chopping block, it will likely be Steve-O, Carlisle, or Madison. But I think America will give those stars a little more time to improve before kicking them to the curb.