‘DWTS’ Premiere: Surprises at the Top

Petra and Dmitry (Photo: ABC)

Petra and Dmitry (Photo: ABC)

Dancing with the Stars” Season 12 kicked off Monday night … so who put their best foot forward, and who had two left feet?

Ageless actor Ralph Macchio, aka “The Karate Kid,” scored the highest of the night with a 24 for his Fox Trot, a routine that made judge Bruno Tonioi squeal words of praise, Carrie Ann Inaba blush, and Len Goodman declare it the “best Fox Trot of the night.”

But Disney star Chelsea Kane (formerly Chelsea Staub and star of Disney’s “Jonas L.A.” and “Fishhooks”) and partner Mark Ballas (Team Kanenball as ABC is calling them) were equally entertaining with a foxy Fox Trot that brought to mind Stacie Keibler from Season 2. “Great start to the season,” co-host Tom Bergeron said.

Though it’s a bit too soon to declare a clear frontrunner, one thing is clear – it’s not necessarily E! reality star Kendra Wilkinson. While the former “Girls Next Door” came out strong with a super sexy Cha Cha, Ralph and Chelsea fared much better.

And they weren’t the only surprises of the night: Hello Hines Ward! Len Goodman’s line of the night was directed at the Pittsburgh Steeler star, saying that his “bottoms are the tops.”

Who else did surprisingly well? Read on, as we take you through the two-hour season premiere of “Dancing with the Stars.” (And take a look at the monikers ABC.com is giving each of the teams. Love? Hate?)

Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas (Team Kanenball):
The Disney star kicked off the opener with a darling Fox Trot that showed true chemistry with her partner, a joyous attitude, and not bad dancing skills. Len said they were a “young, fresh couple,” but thought it got a “bit cranky” and turned into the Black Eyed Peas a bit. Bruno loved that she “started on your back and ended on your back.” Uh, inappropriate! And, Carrie Ann sees potential and loved her “youthful and elegant” vibe. Pretty good start.
Score: 21

Wendy Williams and Tony Dovolani (Team MY TONY how you dancing):
How did Wendy do? Well, seeing that today’s episode of her talk show was all about her and “DWTS,” regardless of how she does, that fan base of hers will most likely be dialing in. But cuing the tears in her video blog and her rehearsal footage could work against her. As for her dance, her steps were lacking energy, she seemed lost or distracted, and that trademark Wendy Williams’ pizzazz was just not there. Bruno yelled at her to show her fire and personality more. “Where’s Wendy?” he asked. “I saw real fear in your eyes…. You are a bigger than life spirit. You need to unleash the beast,” said Carrie Ann. Len said the one thing on everyone’s minds: “You got your dumplings boiling over…” but said she didn’t wow us enough.
Score: 14

Hines Ward and Kym Johnson (Team HineKym):
Athletes typically do pretty well on this show and this Pittsburgh Steeler was no exception. Taking on the Cha Cha Cha, he showed off a winning smile, infectious charm, surefire rhythm and an overall cute personality that made him one of the surprise hits of the night. Those of us backstage were actually laughing out loud at his adorable persona. The judges dug it too. “That was the sparkliest Cha Cha,” said Carrie Ann, who called him exuberant and loved how his smile lit up the whole stage. “It was clean, it was crisp, you were confident,” said Len, who said “your bottoms are the tops.” Bruno compared him to a piston, and then wiggled his hips to and fro in support.
Score: 21

Petra Nemcova and Dmitry Chaplin (Team Dmitra):
First, welcome back Dmitry! He couldn’t have been paired with a better partner for his return to the ballroom. Hands down, Petra’s the one you want to see do well, in large part due to her heartbreaking story of how she barely survived the 2004 tsunami and lost her fiancé in the disaster. She dedicated her Fox Trot to the Japan tsunami/earthquake victims. And she danced beautifully. Len liked the movement, but said she had to work on posture. “Well done. It was a charming dance,” he said. Bruno said, “There were some moments of extreme beauty and sophistication.” Carrie Ann added, “You are absolutely stunning…You bring this natural grace…It’s truly breathtaking,” but criticized a little lift at the end.
Score: 18

Romeo and Chelsie Hightower (Team RomeoTower):
Seeing that his father, 2006 contestant Master P, was arguably one of the worst dancers on the show (scoring the lowest ever on the show with 2’s), beating out dear ol’ dad wasn’t exactly a tall order for Romeo (the artist formerly known as Lil Romeo). His Cha Cha was not exactly “ca ca,” but it did seem to go on for-ev-er. He just needs to loosen up a bit and not be so self-conscience. Bruno said it was a very good performance but he “lost it a couple of times” and was flat footed. Carrie Ann said, “You have sex appeal for days.” Len loved his energy but thought it was too carefree. “The performance side, you nailed. Now just work on technique and you’ll go a long way,” said Len.
Score: 19

Sugar Ray Leonard and Anna Trebunsakaya (Team Sugar & Spice):
Sugar and Spice, indeed. He’s sweet. She’s a firecracker. Together they didn’t quite bring a flavorful Fox Trot to the dance floor at first. But about midway through, the prize fighter’s personality shined through and made up for his initial stiffness. “You’re obviously going to be a fan favorite,” said Carrie Ann, who liked his sparkle and glitter. Len called it “beer and a pizza” when it should have been fine wine and caviar. Bruno said he “turned into a ninja turtle.” Huh?
Score: 17

Kendra Wilkinson and Louis van Amstel (Team Kendra ‘n Louis):
Being called the frontrunner before the first dance is always a nerve-wracking experience, but Kendra Wilkinson didn’t seem phased by it. All those years of shaking her booty at a club or “booty-popping” in her “Go Kendra!” intro to her E! show or, yes, hitting the stripper pole, has paid off. The reality hottie delivered a sexy Cha Cha that, yeah, had a few missteps and, yeah, we caught her counting steps, but overall it makes us want to see more. Len said, “very entertaining. Well done.” Bruno said she “can definitely strut your stuff,” but it wasn’t clean and she bent her legs too much.
Score: 18

Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff (Team Kamacchio):
The “Karate Kid” star has two things going for him: a friendly smile and a beloved past. Can he move? Yes. Does he age? Apparently not, as the 49-year-old actor still looks like a twenty-something guy. His Fox Trot was charming and technically spot-on … clearly one of the more complicated routines of the night. Bruno squealed something we couldn’t figure out, but basically said he was a big hit.
Score: 24

Chris Jericho and Cheryl Burke (Team Chericho):
We have our Rock Star of the season: wrestler Chris Jericho brought the black leather and bad-boy moves with an amazing romp to “Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?” Carrie Ann called it a “Chippendales Cha Cha.” Len liked the energy and the “fun of it,” and called him a “great big boy.” Bruno called him a “dancing beast. I haven’t had so much fun with leather and PVC since the Village People.”
Score: 19

“Psycho” Mike Catherwood and Lacey Schwimmer (Team Schwimmerwood):
The socially awkward radio DJ instantly charmed viewers with his self-deprecating ways and school-boy smile. But can he dance? Not so much. And does anyone care? Not yet, but they will. Those dimples and his goofball antics might charm some of the voters. But kudos for the first “DWTS” double-cheek spanking I think we’ve seen on the show. The judges weren’t grooving on him. Len said there was “very little dance quality about it.” Bruno said he was uncoordinated and looked like he was constipated. Carrie Ann said he was a “little jerky.”
Score: 13

Kirstie Alley Sexes Up “DWTS”:

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Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy (Team G-Mak):
One second into this season and Maks was already sporting a shirtless, oiled up torso… Nicely, done. Now, onto the dancing. Kirstie’s goal was to stay upright through the whole dance. That, she did. She also proved that a 60-year-old woman can be super sexy. “Kirrrrrrrstie! I like what I see. Look who’s dancing,” purred Bruno, who called her foot placement the best of the night. “Are you over 40? Is that true? Cuz honey you were working it,” said Carrie Ann. Len called it fun and cheeky.
Score: 23

Week 1 Leaderboard Totals:
Ralph and Karina: 24
Kirstie and Maks: 23
Hines and Kym: 21
Chelsea and Mark: 21
Romeo and Chelsie: 19
Chris and Cheryl: 19
Kendra and Louis: 18
Petra and Dimitry: 18
Sugar Ray and Anna: 17
Wendy and Tony: 14
Mike and Lacey: 13

The first elimination show will be next Tuesday, March 29.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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