Dancing with the Stars is back for its eighth season and what an interesting mix this is. The show set out to be the season of the couple - with one real life couple dancing together and two competing against each other.
A third of that equation was lost when Jewel had to drop out due to injuries a week ago. That left husband rodeo star, Ty Murray to go on without her and I don't think his heart is really in it.
Ty is partnered with new Dancing With The Stars pro Chelsie Hightower whom you may remember from So You Think You Can Dance (which is rapidly becoming the Dancing With The Stars training ground.)
Sadly, since this is her first season, I don't think Chelsie will be seeing much floor time. Her cha cha with Ty was sweet but that's all you can say for it. He may survive to dance again though because I think Apple computer founder Steve Wozniak was much worse.
Wozniak is dancing with Karina Smirnoff, one of my least favorite pros. Their cha cha was horrendous. I think it was Bruno who compared him to a lumbering Telletubby. Sorry, but I'm not a fan of the ones that have to be funny in order to pull it off ala Adam Corolla. I hope they're the ones eliminated next week.
Speaking of funny, Steve-O was incredibly - not! And I mean that in a good way. I thought for sure the Jackass star would go for a slapstick routine, especially with wild girl Lacey Schwimmer as a partner (a perfect match) but they went for Tim Burtonesque and it was one cool waltz! Dressed in that pinstripe suit, Steve-O reminded me of Raul Julia in the Addams Family movies. I'd love to see Lacey done up as Morticia when it comes to tango time -- that would be fabulous!
David Alan Grier's humor was his downfall as he met up with partner Kym Johnson for a waltz. The rehearsal package made it clear that she didn't understand his jokes and I don't think the audience did either. On the floor he kept pulling funny faces during the dance. It was very distracting. I'd put him in my bottom three.
Lawrence Taylor with Edyta Sliwinska also fall in the bottom half of my favorites list. The former football great isn't living up to the reputation of past NFL stars. His cha cha was boring and plodding and I don't see much of a future for him on the show.
In the middle of the pack for me is Denise Richards with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Their cha cha fell flat and I expected better from her. I think it was nerves, which is not surprising since I imagine that Maks isn't that easy to work with.
I'm not sure Denise has the hardened personality needed to fall into step with him. Maybe they should have paired him with Lil Kim.
Lil Kim was one of the highlights of the night doing a cha cha with partner Derek Hough. A good dance for her to begin with since she could make good use of her booty shake. She's so tiny, it'll be interesting to see how she does with the slower dances that have more holds such as the waltz. Good job though. She'll be around for awhile.
I also really enjoyed Go-Go singers Belinda Carlisle and her partner Jonathan Roberts. Okay, so it wasn't the best dance of the night but I think she's got some real talent there, she just needs to loosen up. The waltz has lots of spins in it and I know I'd have trouble keeping my head on straight after that. Belinda was really worried about it and I think it showed in her performance. I think she'll do fine in the next few weeks. You go, girl!
Chuck Wicks and Julianne Hough are dating in real life and I can't believe they agreed to do Dancing with the Stars. They must be in that early, my love can do no wrong stage, of the romance. Julianne is a tough competitor and she's not going to let Chuck off easy as they rise through the stages of the competition. Their waltz was sweet and elegant, didn't wow me but it was very nice. I'm looking forward to seeing much more from them.
A big surprise was Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and partner Mark Ballas. Shawn is the youngest competitor ever but it didn't show in their waltz. She looked like a little princess out there gliding across the floor. Give her a couple more weeks to get comfortable and she could win this thing.
Now, as I mentioned at the start, there were two casualties before the show began. Jewel was supposed to dance with Dmitry Chaplin, another recruit from So You Think You Can Dance. She was replaced by Playboy model Holly Madison of The Girls Next Door. Yes, I know she only had one week to practice but I think Holly suffers from the same problem that afflicts many models on Dancing With The Stars, she can't dance. It's always so odd to see these very pretty girls flounder but she was a hot mess on that stage.
The lack of rehearsal time didn't hurt Tony Dovolani and his new partner. Nancy O'Dell dropped out only last Friday and was quickly replaced by The Bachelor reject Melissa Rycroft. With only two days to practice for Dancing with the Stars, I was expecting a disaster of the first order but they were marvelous! Much of the credit goes to Tony's clever choreography that played into Melissa's ballet training, even still, their waltz was incredibly smooth and elegant. Tony is one of my favorite pros and I think he's got a real shot with Melissa. Kudos to the both of them - way to bounce back!
There's no Dancing with the Stars results show this week. Instead, everyone will dance again next Monday, March 16, then the scores will be combined for the elimination on Tuesday, March 17.
All photos: ABC/KELSEY MCNEAL
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