The “Dancing with the Stars” All Star season premiered September 24 on ABC with the all-new, all-oldster cast. Here’s a complete run-down of the night’s action.
The two-hour episode started off on a high note: Co-host Brooke Burke actually looked good in a glittering black dress. New stylist? Better glasses? Who knows. But it’s good stuff so hopefully she’ll keep it up. Emmy-winner Tom Bergeron looked like… well, like Tom in a suit.
After the usual welcome, blah blah, yadda yadda remarks, the All-Stars made their way down the staircase and into the ballroom. Quick hit reactions? Sure. Tristan MacManus looked a little too Tommy Lee for this gal, and we’ll just ignore Tony Dovolani’s blink-and-ya-missed-it stumble on the stairs. Oops! Bristol Palin looked amazing! And wowzers, classy sexiness in da house with Gilles Marini and Peta Muragtroyd. It’s almost overload seeing so many former winners in one place! But I think I can hack it. I hope.
Tom called the season “a celebration of the best of the best”. And then he spared us further chit chat and got on with the main event.
Up first to hoof it were season 4 runners up Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson. The former partners met up again wearing matching purple sweats. And Joey grabbed her bum. Uh, yeah. Since a little butt grabbing is good for ratings. Or something. Kym promised to “bring the fun” to this season. But it wasn’t all about the fun — Joey told her to make the steps to their Cha Cha as hard as possible. And he said we could “bet” our posteriors that he’d do all he could to win this time.
It only took a few bars of “PYT” for me to realize a crucial detail: none of these performers will suck! Yay! And he didn’t suck. He looked as slick as he could look in a glittering black jacket. Post dance, a little office work: Head judge Len Goodman said the judging would be “a little bit tougher”, and revealed that they’d be adding half-points to the mix. And then he moved on to Joey. Len told him “I love watching you dance” but knocked his posture, calling it “a little bit funny on occasion”. Bruno Tonioli said “you always bring it on and give it large” and appreciated his “Michael Jackson touches”, but also noted posture and footwork issues. Carrie Ann Inaba called him “one of my favorite showmen” and said “that is the way to start off the all star season”. And then Tom cut her off. Whoops.
The scores? You want scores? Oh, ok. 6.5, 7, 7 = 20.5.
The first funky half-mark of season 15, folks.
Second up were Olympian Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough. She said she wouldn’t “settle for anything else than my very best”. She admitted to feeling torn over having Derek as her new partner –she won season 8 with Mark Ballas– but said she was excited. She called the end of her gymnastics career “really heartbreaking” but hailed “DWTS” as her “chance to compete again”.
Shawn was cute in yellow and Foxtrotted her little heart out with Derek. Bruno called it “like two dances for the price of one” and was very impressed with her increased performance skills, but said she needed to be more “defined” as an all star. Whatever that means. I guess that’s why I’m not an all star. Carrie Ann declared “that is what all star season is all about”. She called it “the perfect package”. Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Len said “what you did you did well” but spoiled it all by adding “I’m merely a cup of tea in a world of lattees” and “quite often it didn’t feel like a Foxtrot to me”. People booed. Not enough booing, if you ask me. But there was a smattering of boo-behavior. He’s a crazy old man. And this was probably the most egregiously underscored dance of the night.
Shawn and Derek’s scores: 8, 6.5, 7.5 = 22.
Sabrina Bryan and Louie van Amstel followed with their debut performance as a couple. She said “I have a lot to prove” as the 13th contestant, and found the notion of being a frontrunner nervewracking. She finished her rehearsal segment by noting “I know better than anybody” that anyone can go home at any time. Uh, yes.
Oh. My. Gravy. They’re such a fun, funky, flirty couple! I love Sabrina and Louis together! They were great. Full of energy, and I loved how Louis sang along with the One Direction song. Woot! The only little thing that irked me a little was, well, Sabrina just might’ve been a little too into it. But hey, A for effort, girl. Carrie Ann said “you are on fire” and “there’s nothing like a woman scored”. “You kicked that dance’s booty” but cautioned her against “overdancing”. Len called it “clean” and “precise” but told her she needs to add “finesse”. But he did like it. Bruno called her “an unleased fury on the dancefloor” but agreed that “some of the passes could’ve been cleaner”.
Sabrina and Louis’ scores: 7.5, 7.5, 7.5 = 22.5.
Season 5 winner Helio Castroneves followed with new partner Chelsie Hightower. He said he was motivated to do the new season because he now has a daughter and he’d like her to be a dancer. Chelsie called him “the perfect student” because he takes direction well. Helio, always good-natured, said he’d work hard to win again, but that no matter what, “I’m going to have a blast”.
I totally remember the heart and soul that Helio brought to the ballroom during his first go-round. He brought that same spirit to his Foxtrot with Chelsie. Len called it “a joy to watch mostly” but noted “one or two incidents throughout the routine”. Bruno enjoyed his “bright and engaging stage presence” but noted he’d “messed it up quite a bit tonight”. Carrie Ann loved his “infectious charisma and charm” but asked for a bit more “body contact” between them to help with his leading. That’s fair.
Helio and Chelsie’s scores: 7, 7.5, 7 = 21.5.
A decidedly nervous-looking Pamela Anderson followed with new partner Tristan MacManus. The two were very pleased to work together: Tristan called working with her “every young man and old man’s dream” while Pam circled the Irishman, noting his tattoos, and declaring “this works for me”. Pam said “Tristan needs to refine me and I need to rough him up a little bit”. She admitted to feeling “a little under-doggy”, noting she’s in the company of athletes and Bristol Palin “and that whole Tea Party thing”. Nice.
Okay, so something was way wrong with Pam during that Cha Cha Cha. She was either incredibly nervous, on something (if you catch my drift), or she didn’t know the dance at all. That was just not good. Oof. Bruno told her “you look like a girl who could go all the way” but chastized her for not working hard enough. He encouraged her to “do it for me”. Carrie Ann appreciated how she’d lived “the drama” but told her to come back strong. Len said “it was a bit like a kid on a bike when you take the training wheels off”. He praised her for not falling over, but that was about it.
Pam and Tristan’s scores: 5.5, 5.5, 6 = 17.
TV host Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani rekindled their partnership next. Tony called Melissa “arguably the best partner I’ve ever had” and blamed himself for failing her during season 8. She said she really, really, really wants to win, so she hopes to “knock a lot of really good people out of the way”.
Their “Hey Big Spender” Foxtrot was very good! She seems more at ease in the ballroom than she did during her first go-round. Carrie Ann called her lines “exquisite” but told them they needed “more body contact”. Over and over again. Len said it was “a little bit theatrical for me” but agreed that Melissa’s lines were great. Bruno appreciated her “silk smooth fluidity” but agreed with Carrie Ann about the body contact.
Melissa and Tony’s scores: 7, 7, 7 = 21.
Olympian Apolo Ohno, who won season 4, returned next with new partner Karina Smirnoff. He immediately told Karina “I don’t remember anything”, and said his first impression of Karina was that “she moves very fast”. He called her “out of her mind”, noting how picky she is, but vowed that he “didn’t sign up to get second”.
So their neon outfits were a little scary in a “whoa, who let you out of the 80s?!” way at first, but Apolo and Karina worked it! He may’ve been “rusty” at rehearsals, but they got it done. Stodgy Len called it “a bronze medal performance” and wished for more hip action. Bruno likened him to “an eager beaver” and loved his side arm extentions. Carrie Ann asked “is it just me or did you just get three thousand times more sexy?” and loved his hip action and legwork.
Apolo and Karina’s scores: 7.5,7, 7.5 = 22.
The super sexy Gilles Marini returned next, this time with Peta Murgatroyd. He said he was “surprised” to find he had a new partner, but was very excited after meeting Peta. Peta said “I think I hit the jackpot” with Gilles, calling him “good looking” and noting his ability to dance. He hoped to bring something to the Foxtrot “that’s never been seen before” courtesy of their great chemistry.
And their “Call Me Irresponsible” dance was awesome. They do indeed have amazing chemistry and they look so good together. Uh, Cheryl who? Bruno gushed “style, panache and finesse drenched with old-time Hollywood gloss and glamour” and asked to see it again. Carrie Ann said “I missed you!” and called it “just ridiculous”. Len appreciated his balance and sophistication and called it “a terrific job”.
Gilles and Peta’s scores: 8, 8, 8 = 24.
Bristol Palin, again paired with Mark Ballas, who she called her “security blanket”, was the next all star to perform. Mark noted that she looks amazing, and pressed her to let go of her timidity. She vowed to “shake my butt, have a smile on my face… and perform this time around”.
So she’s not the best of the bunch. But she was better than Pam! And it was obvious that she was really trying to nail her “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” Cha Cha. Carrie Ann admitted to being “kind of taken aback” and voted her “most-improved”. She appreciated her sassiness but told her to add a little more pop. Len praised her for her newfound confidence and liked her leg and hip action, but told her to work on her arms’ fluidity. Bruno called her “refreshed, revived, refurbished” and said she has “all the elements” but told her to add “power and focus”.
Bristol and Mark’s scores: 6.5, 6.5, 6.5 = 19.5.
Season 2 winner Drew Lachey and new partner Anna Trebunskaya –who finished second to Drew and then-partner Cheryl (awk-ward!)– followed. Drew called Anna’s teaching style “very much tough love” and noted that she’s very bold about letting him know when he’s making mistakes. She said she’d hard on him because she knows he has potential, and Drew was quick to assure viewers that he’s “still got it”.
Their “Love Song” Foxtrot was so much fun. (I know, I’m running out of great things to say. With the exception of very few… cough… Pam… they’ve all been so good!) It was cute. Len called it “too hard and hectic” but said he “liked it”. Bruno called him “dynamic Drew” and said it looked like they’d danced together “forever”. He had criticisms, but he “loved it”. Carrie Ann admitted that she was worried about his shoulders entering the show, but that her worries were unfounded after all. He told him to heed the guys’ advice.
Drew and Anna’s scores: 7, 7, 7.5 = 21.5.
Up next we got into the Way Back Machine and pulled out soap star Kelly Monaco, who won the first season, and new partner Val Chmerkovskiy. She called Val “awesome”, but she worried about all of the dances she’d never done before. Then she and Val had this really awkward conversation about her big boobs but otherwise petite frame. He looked like he might pass out. Or eat them.
The dance? Good. Bruno called her “sexy and hotter than ever” and praised her for being a “stunner” despite having never done the Cha Cha. Carrie Ann called her “a whole bunch sexier” and thought their chemistry was “insane”, but noted some points to improve. Len enjoyed the choreography but told her to lower her shoulders.
Kelly and Val’s scores: 7, 7, 7.5 = 21.5.
Uber popular season 12 runners up Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy were up next. Kirstie said she was “ecstatic” to be partnered up with Maks again, and was especially grateful for their “great friendship”. Maks promised “a wild ride” and admitted that he had no idea what’s going to happen in the months to come.
There was something oddly tentative about her “Set Fire to the Rain” Foxtrot. It’s not that it was bad, per se, because it wasn’t. It was as if Kirstie held something back. Carrie Ann appreciated her “beautiful, sensual quality” and energy, but said she didn’t feel like it was “as sharp in the edging of the movements” as it could’ve been. Len told her to lift her ribcage, and told her she needed refinement. Bruno appreciated the looks and drama, but agreed that she needs to improve her technical details. Maks goofed around. Kirstie kissed Tom for his Emmy. It was awkward.
Kirstie and Maks’ scores: 6.5, 6, 6.5 = 19.
Closing out the first performance show of season 15 were NFL star Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke, who together won the season 3 title. When they met up again, she noted that he must be her “lucky charm” because she hasn’t won since season 3. Emmitt wanted to “impress right out of the gate” and promised their Cha Cha would “knock you out of your seat”.
They rocked out to “Chain of Fools”. The beginning was awesome, though for me the degree of awesomeness faded as the number went on. But no matter. They went last. They could probably have fallen down, mooned the audience and still gotten better marks than Shawn and Derek. Len said “you can’t teach flair. The last dance of the evening and the best”. Bruno called it “uplifting fun for everyone to enjoy”. Carrie Ann just said “yabba dabba do, twinkle toes is back” and welcomed him back. See?
Emmitt and Cheryl’s scores: 8, 8.5, 8 = 24.5.
Double see? Really? Better than Gilles and Peta? Insanity.
One performance show down. One celeb gets the boot Tuesday night. So who should it be? Common sense says “duh, it oughta be Pam”. She wasn’t good. But then I remember that she’s the, well, special dreams of many a man, so yeah, she’ll probably be in the clear. And that would mean that someone who earned another shot at it won’t get that shot. And that’s the kind of thing that grates on my poor nerves so I won’t dwell.
The first “Dancing with the Stars” All Stars results show starts September 25 at 8 PM on ABC.