They're back! Dancing with the Stars' long-awaited All-Stars is finally here. So how did these lucky 13 returnees do?
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First things first, folks. Massive kudos to the one and only Tom Bergeron on his Emmy win for Outstanding Reality Host. Long overdue, no? Also, who had one minute? That's how long it took before it was mentioned. Drink!
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Speaking of overdue, the show is finally adding half-points to the usual 1-10 scale. "I know the people who sell us the paddles were thrilled," The Berge quips. Worth every piece of that Emmy. I love this addition. Some dances aren't quite like, say, a 7, but aren't worthy of an 8 either, so now we get a happy medium. Plus, this will put more pressure on the judges to, you know, actually judge.
Anyhow, let's get to it.
Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson: cha-cha
Please tell me I'm not the only one who's depressed that Lance didn't come back for All-Stars too. 'N Sync showdown, people! What a missed opportunity. For me to indulge in my teenybopper-dom, that is. The self-professed Fat One has put on a few pounds since Season 4 and he's totally losing steam at the end of the dance. But overall, it's a lively, snappy performance, mostly because of Joey's "freestyle" moves. His footwork is all over the place though. "I can't breathe!" Joey declares afterward. Len calls him a boomerang. Bruno tells him to watch his posture and footwork. Carrie Ann says he had great impact and goes all diva on Tom
Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: foxtrot
Shawn! Missed you in London. Um, why the hell did they show her with a silver medal instead of a gold? Shawn feels like she's cheating on Mark, but Derek assures her that it's OK because he's her new husband. Shawn had reconstructive knee surgery two years, but she's A-OK here. She's also a lot more fluid than last time and not nearly as reserved as she was early on in Season 8. Bruno calls her a floor-scorcher and notes her improvement as a performer. Carrie Ann throws out her second "That's what All-Stars is all about." Cut her off again, Tom. Len says it didn't feel or look like a foxtrot.
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Sabrina Bryan and Louis van Amstel: cha-cha
Louis is already telling Sabrina that she's a front-runner. Sit down, dude. She's not up against a bunch of Chaz Bonos. Sabrina's brought the girls to play, which is fine and all except for the breakneck pace at which she's dancing and I'm all but ready for a wardrobe malfunction. Here's hoping ABC gave her one of Julie Bowen's nipple covers. Sabrina's picked up right where she left off: all technique and punch. And it's way too much for me. I admire her skill, but I've never been a fan of her power-dancing style. And as I type that, she spins out of a move. Carrie Ann says she's on fire and warns her not to over-dance. Len says it's his favorite dance of the night. Bruno concurs that she goes for too much, but he's happy she's back.
Helio Castroneves and Chelsie Hightower: foxtrot
Helio's doing the show again because he wants his daughter to become a dancer, not a racecar driver because only he can do that in the family. Examine the gender stereotype subtext in your own time. I was also never into Helio that much, but I can see why people loved him and why he won. He's all charm and cheesy smile, with some good schmaltzy dancing thrown in there. Len says he's a joy and points out a few "incidents." Bruno says he did well. Carrie Ann wants more body contact.
Pamela Anderson and Tristan MacManus: cha-cha
Tristan's got the tats and the chest hair out. I'm done. "This works for me," Pam tells him after undressing him with her eyes. It works for us too, Pam. Maybe Tristan's bringing the extra pretty to take our eyes off Pam's non-performance? This is basically the polar opposite of her eye-popping Season 12 cha-cha. I'm pretty sure she's sleepwalking. What happened, Pam? Spent all your energy running on the beach? Bruno says there wasn't enough work there to praise her. "I know," she admits. Carrie Ann tells her to come back strong. Len makes a bike without training wheels metaphor.
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Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: foxtrot
"Melissa is arguably the best partner I've ever had," Tony says. Oh, Tony. Too bad you'll probably get another Woman of a Certain Age next season. They're going for the sex appeal and it half-works. Melissa's smooth and sophisticated, but not completely polished. She should be able to get far on talent, but her fan base is another story since she no longer has the Bachelor sympathy. Carrie Ann wants more body contact. Is this gonna be the new "no lifts"? Len and Bruno concur.
Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff: cha-cha
If you're new to these parts, I am obsessed with the Olympics and Apolo is the reason I started watching Dancing, so you can guess who my favorite is this season. They do a fluorescent, glow-in-the-dark ode to LMFAO, which should get 10s across the board alone. It's dynamic, flashy (literally and figuratively), and Apolo's working the hips. Len gives him a bronze. Bruno calls him an eager beaver. (Not a euphemism.) "Did you just get, like, 3,000 times more sexy?" Carrie Ann asks. On the prowl for a new cub, huh, C.A.? And it's taken one hour, guys, but Brooke's finally made her first big blunder: "You've won eight Olympic gold medals! What?" Er, no. It's eight medals overall, two gold.
Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd: foxtrot
"You are not getting second place this season," Peta assures Gilles. After this, it's hard to argue. This is the best dance of the night so far: lyrical, elegant and just all-out glamorous. Gilles is such a natural that it almost puts everyone to shame. Bruno wants to see it again. "I missed you," Carrie Ann purrs before name-dropping Jon Hamm and his Emmy loss and how that's a sign that Gilles will win. Yeah, I don't get it either. Len hearts it too.
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Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas: cha-cha
Sarah and Todd in the house! "I just forgot how over-the-top Mark was," Bristol says. Quoted for truth. She promises to shake her butt, and lo and behold she does. Who would've thought Bristol would be better than Pam? This is far from the greatest cha-cha ever, but by Bristol standards, it's her best dance. She's still stiff in parts, but she's attacking the moves and isn't fazed by Mark's turbo-speed hamminess. Carrie Ann says she's the most improved. Len says she's got great legs. Bruno loves her confidence.
Drew Lachey and Anna Trebunskaya: foxtrot
"No hard feelings," Anna tells Drew about him beating her in Season 2. Drew says he's insulted when people say the show is harder these days than it was back then. "I still got it," he says. And he does... sort of. I didn't see Season 2 (except for his world famous freestyle, obviously), but Drew's got good musicality. He's so compact (read: short) that Anna looks like she's out of his reach sometimes. But it's a nice number overall. Len likes it, but found it too hectic. Bruno loves the synchronicity. "It looks like you've danced with each other forever." Take that, Cheryl! Carrie Ann says his posture was fabulous.
Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: cha-cha
Fun fact: The show premiered on my birthday way back in 2005. So we're meant to be! Because Season 1 was six weeks long, Kelly has never done six of the dances, including the cha-cha, which is weird, no? I would think that would be one of the season staples. You crazy Season 1 kids! Anyway, maybe Kelly should just keep doing dances she's never done before because this is hot. She's sultry, sassy and is nailing the steps. She still looks understandably rusty, but I feel confident in saying that Val will actually make it past Week 3 this time. "Wham, bam, thank you, ma'am!" Bruno proclaims. "Apolo isn't the only who has gotten a whole lot sexier," Carrie Ann says. "You weren't this good in Season 1," observes Len, master of the backhanded compliment.
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Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: foxtrot
Can someone explain why they always have Val and Maks dance back-to-back? We get it, guys. They're brothers! I got the message from their last name and waxed chests. And cue utter hilarity between these two. "Your boob is constantly on me," Maks tells her. And that's a problem because...? Carrie Ann will love the body contact! There's no boob-touching (during the dance) as far as I can tell. Kirstie's a little shaky, but like last time, there's something so joyful and moving about her dances. Carrie Ann calls it beautiful, but didn't think she turned it up to full speed. Len wants her to "lift it and shift it" — her ribcage, that is. Bruno loves how emotive she is, but agrees with Len. Critique, schmitique! Kirstie plants a big, fat, wet one on Tom. "That's for your Emmy!"
Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke: cha-cha
"I haven't won since you, so you're my lucky charm," Cheryl tells Emmitt. Is that why he's dressed in green? Again, I never saw Emmitt's first season outside of his freestyle, but I can see why he won. He's a total charmer and showman and has that effortless, light-on-his-feet technique. Is he gonna be the fourth-straight bald winner in a row? Len says it's the best of the night. Bruno loves it. Carrie Ann goes prehistoric ("Yabba dabba doo!") and religious ("Hallelujah!")
So Emmitt and Cheryl top the leader board, with Pam and Tristan last with 17.
That's that. What did you think? Was All-Stars all that you dreamed of and more? Do you like the new scoring system? Are you shocked at Bristol's improvement? Is Pam a total goner? How much body contact does Carrie Ann want? Would you congratulate Tom with a 10-second smooch? Who do you think will get the boot tomorrow?