'Dancing With The Stars' Season 17 Premiere: Dance By Dance Recap
The glitter, the sparkle, the bling, and yes, the mirror ball are all back! It's time for another round of "Dancing with the Stars."
To freshen things up for this 17th season, some changes have been made to the ballroom: the "celeb-riquarium" is gone, and the dancers are now front and center behind the judges; the pace is faster and the music snappier. And from the get-go, this cast is throwing down and ready to compete! This is easily the highest-scoring first episode ever ... triple nines on week one? Crazy!
Here's a rundown from highest score to lowest:
Amber Riley and Derek Hough -- 27 out of 30
The member of the "Glee" ensemble is ready for her solo time in the spotlight! Last season's champ, Derek Hough, loves his new celeb's charisma and desire to learn how to dance. Their first assignment is the Cha Cha Cha and these two go all out. Amber is focused, and knows how to play to the camera. It's also nice to hear her say that she wants to serve as an inspiration to all the girls who aren't a size 6.
The duo blows the judges away, with Bruno Tonioli calling Amber "the tigress of season 17" and Len Goodman calling for a medic to help his heart. Carrie Ann Inaba actually bowed down to the couple in admiration!
Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy -- 24 out of 30
The "Saved by the Bell" and "Showgirls" star admits she danced when she was young, but it's been a long time since she showed off any moves. Berkley also says she's missed it, and her emotions come out on the dance floor. There's a nice chemistry with her and Val Chmerkovskiy; seems he learned English watching "Saved by the Bell." (Although, we do learn later that he was a bigger fan of Kelly Kapowski aka Tiffani Thiessen!)
Elizabeth and Val do a stylish Contemporary routine, and the judges are mesmerized. Len complimented the light and shade of the routine; Carrie Ann called her a gorgeous, sensuous angel; and Bruno told Elizabeth she has the wings, she can fly high.
Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff -- 24 out of 30
The "High School Musical" star knows people have placed expectations on him because he has a musical theater background. He also knows Karina Smirnoff will challenge him every step of the way! Karina choreographs a smashing Contemporary routine that pushes the boundaries of what we might expect from week one. And good for her; she's never done contemporary before. Never! Carrie Ann praised the dance as passionate "emotion in motion."
Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke -- 23 out of 30
We saw Jack's sister Kelly shine in season 9. Now it's little brother's turn to give the dance floor a spin. Jack has a bigger purpose for tackling this obstacle; he lives with Multiple Sclerosis and wants to raise awareness about the disease and inspire those who might also be living with it.
Cheryl Burke is thrilled with her partner selection this season and teaches Jack a flowing Foxtrot for their debut. Jack's folks are in the audience, and while Ozzy is on his feet cheering on his son, Sharon can't hold back the tears of joy. Awwww! All three judges praise his posture and footwork.
Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Sasha Farber -- 23 out of 30
I expected Snooki to be a little spitfire and she did not disappoint! But she's also a good dancer and knows how to play to the crowd. Snooki knows people like to think of her as a "hot mess" (her words!), but she's out to prove she's grown up a bit and can handle the pressures of "DWTS."
Sasha Farber is her pro partner, which thrills the 4 foot 9 inch Polizzi. (He's not the tallest dancer in the pack, by far) They perform a Cha Cha Cha to the song "Wild Ones" and it is filled with fire and content. Carrie Ann was most impressed that Snooki went all out; then a clueless Len called her a "Pocket Rocket" and things went off the rails.
Christina Milian and Mark Ballas -- 22 out of 30
Here's another celeb who knows that people have certain expectations about her talent. But Milian insists she's a singer who has danced, and says she's never before danced with a partner. That job goes to Mark Ballas and he teaches Christina a moving contemporary number. The judges remarked about her intensity and her style but want to see her open up a bit more.
Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd -- 22 out of 30
This "Pretty Little Liars" actor had his partner Peta Murgatroyd blushing from their first meeting. She was excited to see him because she heard he was "hot." He did not disappoint. He was endearing when he told us his Mom, a huge "DWTS" fan, was "freaking out in Wal-Mart" when he told her he'd been cast.
They had the routine that opened the show and their song was the tune of the summer, "Blurred Lines." Peta's Cha Cha Cha was a great way to kick off the season. Bruno told them they showed a sizzling teaser of things to come this season; and Carrie Ann told Brant he has definite "double threat" potential in Hollywood.
Valerie Harper and Tristan MacManus -- 21 out of 30
Give Ms. Harper the sweetheart of the ballroom prize right now. Just do it. She's lovely, she's gracious, she's courageous and she has the kind of attitude we all should: attack life! Go for it! Just dance!
Valerie has Tristan MacManus to show her the ropes of the ballroom. He designs a Foxtrot that just perfectly fits her talent. Bruno called her radiant and an inspiration; Len praised her ease and elegance on the dance floor; and a teary Carrie Ann thanked her for being an example to us all.
Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani -- 21 out of 30
Leah admits to her partner Tony Dovolani that she is no "Queen" of the dance floor. But she's not scared of things and jumps in ... with the caveat to Tony that she doesn't look silly. Their Foxtrot has a very mature feel to it. Len said the routine was clean and precise; Carrie Ann called Leah "sass and class ... a great combination."
Bill Engvall and Emma Slater -- 18 out of 30
The member of the Blue Collar Comedy circuit feels like he's a bit out of his element with this fancy ballroom stuff, but that could all be part of his act. He's really trying, and has an easy chemistry with newcomer Emma Slater. Bill's goal: To be the redneck dance king. Carrie Ann called their Foxtrot a happy surprise; Bruno asked him to dig a little deeper next week.
Keyshawn Johnson and Sharna Burgess -- 17 out of 30
The former Super Bowl champ has to climb one big hurdle right off the bat: He describes ballroom dancing as sometimes "effeminate." His partner, Sharna Burgess, is out to change that perception. They two tease one another throughout rehearsals but its all business on the dance floor. The judges score their Cha Cha Cha well for its attitude and confidence; not so much for technique.
Bill Nye and Tyne Stecklein -- 14 out of 30
Along with Valerie Harper, Bill Nye the Science Guy was a clear audience favorite. No one else had the audience cheering their name both before and after their dance! Ever the gentleman, Bill brought his partner, newcomer Tyne Stecklein, a flower to their first rehearsal. Then he quizzed her on the type of bottle he put it in! Flask or beaker?
Bill does Swing dancing in real life, so he has no fear of the dance floor. But maybe he should have a little ... the fun was there but not the steps for their Cha Cha Cha routine. Len called him "ready, willing, but not that able."
All twelve couples return next week to dance again; one will be eliminated next Monday night!
Who do you think is going to win this season of "Dancing With The Stars" and who is going home first? Vote in our poll below!