The 19th season of Dancing with the Who Are These People Stars kicked off in spectacular fashion Monday night, with a cast that proves the show is stretching further and further in its interpretation of the term "celebrity." It's clear from the get-go that new judge Julianne Hough is thrilled to be back in the ballroom — and her boobs seem pretty excited too. (Is this TV-14?) With 13 routines to cram into two hours, Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews waste no time in getting the performances underway — and we won't either:
Antonio Sabato Jr. and Cheryl Burke (Cha Cha)
The performance: Cheryl , who will "probably" leave after this season, is thrilled that she finally has a "sexy" partner (sorry, Jack Osbourne!), and Antonio's face and physique certainly smokes on the dance floor, even if his footwork is a little sloppy at times.
What the judges say: Len tells Antonio that he may have dancing in his blood, but unfortunately it hasn't reached his feet. Julianne (whom Tom classily says is clearly "bursting with enthusiasm") agrees with Len, while complimenting Antonio's extensions and lifts. Bruno flirts with Antonio and says Cheryl gave him a lot to work with, and Carrie Ann says they have great chemistry but not much else.
Score: 25 (out of 40)
Lea Thompson and Artem Chigvintsev (Foxtrot)
The performance: Can we pause for a moment and discuss the fact thatLea Thompson previously studied under Mikhail Baryshnikov? Anyone else stunned by this, or is it just me? Apparently she's retained some of the knowledge, as she's graceful and measured in her movements around the floor. Her cougar shtick makes me uncomfortable though.
What the judges say: Julianne loves it, but tells Lea to work on her posture and frame. Bruno agrees. Carrie Ann tells them they're both being too picky and it's one of the best first foxtrots she's ever seen. Len makes a poor attempt at a Back to the Future pun that ends in "well done."
Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy (Jive)
The performance: Their jive is pretty lively and inspired, though Janel slips up a couple of times and seems like she's struggling to keep up withVal on occasion. And, are they really playing up the potential romance angle this early in the season? Ugh.
What the judges say: Bruno says he felt like he was watching Jennifer Lopez, but he and Carrie Ann both say Janel needs to watch her kicks and flicks. Len calls the dance sharp and clean, if "untidy" on occasion. Julianne concurs.
Lolo Jones and Keo Motsepe (Cha Cha)
The performance: I'm immediately turned off by the text message bit at the beginning of the dance, and unfortunately it's only downhill from there. Not only do Lolo and Keo have no chemistry whatsoever, she looks completely like a fish out of water out on the dance floor — stiff, uncomfortable, and completely robotic. So much for former Olympians having an unfair advantage!
What the judges say: Well, Carrie Ann starts off her critique by awkwardly addressing Keo by the wrong name ("Ide"? See below.) Yikes. She calls the performance an "uh oh," and Lolo agrees, calling her own performance "awful" and blaming it on a text message mishap at the start. Len tells her not to get down on herself, as Lolo demonstrates that she can, in fact, do a cha cha walk. Julianne and Bruno also try to be encouraging.
Check out Lolo's face when Carrie Ann makes her name mishap. Priceless.
Betsey Johnson and Tony Dovolani (Cha Cha)
The performance: Personality-wise, Betsey Johnson may be my favorite of this bunch. Sure, her cha cha is a little rudimentary (okay, it's terrible), but the woman's 72 years old for crying out loud. I love that she accidentally pulls the costume rack (and then several boas) onto the floor as a horrified Tony watches, helpless — and tops the routine off with a delayed cartwheel/split combo. Brava. Hey, it's about the journey, not the destination, right?
What the judges say: Len loves the entertainment aspect, but finds the "disaster with the boa" upsetting. Julianne compliments Betsey's flexibility, and Bruno calls the performance "anarchic," while lamenting the boa mishap. Carrie Ann gets punished cut off before she can give a full critique, but had given them a standing O.
Tavis Smiley and Sharna Burgess (Foxtrot)
The performance: Tavis is so into this! I kind of love it. It's clear that he's a newbie to dancing, but I'd give him a 10 for enthusiasm, even if his footwork could use a little (or a lot of) work.
What the judges say: Julianne is thrilled with how comfortable Tavis looks. Bruno tells Tavis to work on his arm placement, but Carrie Ann calls him a "natural mover" and says he's going to be a tough competitor. Len rounds out the critique by praising Tavis' exuberance but telling him to work on his footwork and posture.
Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas (Cha Cha)
The performance: Not sure this is the best pairing — Sadie seems like she's basically relegated to dancing in Mark's shadow, just because he's so lively and natural. But she's up for the challenge and holds her own. It's not a bad outing for a first week, and she seems like a natural (especially compared to some of the other routines we've seen thus far).
What the judges say: Bruno says he's "gobsmacked" at how well Sadie does, and Carrie Ann is giddy. "You are a star in the making," she says, possibly forgetting the title of the show. Len compliments Sadie's hand placement and says she's guaranteed a spot in Week 2, and Julianne calls her "the entire package."
Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater (Cha Cha)
The performance: LOL. Love that Emma always gets stuck with the Dads of the group, sense of humor and all. Michael looks like he's having a great time at a distant relative's wedding out there. He's a little stiff, but gives good face throughout.
What the judges say: Carrie Ann compares Michael to Emma's former partner Bill Engvall (never a good thing as far as technicality goes). Len follows the racecar motif by saying Michael never got out of first gear. Julianne says he reminds her of her dad, and Bruno says he's like a golf cart trying to keep up with a Ferrari.
Jonathan Bennett and Allison Holker (Jive)
The performance: Jonathan is dedicating his dancing to his dad, who passed away two months ago and whose favorite show was Dancing with the Stars. Sadface. Aaron Samuels' got moves! The dance could use a little fine-tuning, and he's a little jerky at parts, but overall it's a good performance. And he obviously has the heartthrob vote cornered.
What the judges say: Len is mostly drowned out by screaming girls. Julianne says he seems like a natural. Carrie Ann loves the kicks and flicks. Bruno gets the shaft.
Tommy Chong and Peta Murgatroyd (Cha Cha)
The performance: I'm speechless. Everything from their intro package, from the arrival of a hooptie ride to Peta's 420-friendly costume — basically a glittery pot leaf — has my jaw on the floor. Tommy goes all out and gives us every cheesy thing we ever wanted in the spectacle department. It's not until I go back and watch the dance again (a must) that I realizeCheech Marin is driving the low rider. Unsurprisingly, Tommy is pretty loose and fluid out there. Tommy dropped it, popped it, locked it, and whatever else you want to call this performance. We'll have what he's having!
What the judges say: Julianne thinks Tommy's sexy and compares his moves to Rico Suave. Bruno calls him "Cool Grandpa." Carrie Ann loves it, and Len says he was apprehensive about the performance but ultimately enjoyed it.
Randy Couture and Karina Smirnoff (Foxtrot)
The performance: Randy's eager to show off his softer side. His lines need a little work, but he has great, smooth chemistry with Karina and really seems like he wants to take care of her out there.
What the judges say: Bruno nicknames Randy "Haute Couture," and Carrie Ann is almost too flustered to get her (completely positive) critique out. Len also has nothing but good things to say, and Julianne says Randy's "making [her] randy." Sigh.
Bethany Mota and Derek Hough (Jive)
The performance: Obviously an 18-year-old who's gained fame and fortune by posting her own talking head videos on YouTube is going to be comfortable in front of a camera, and Bethany doesn't disappoint. I've decided that being in Derek's confident hands elevates anyone's performance, but Bethany's would be strong even on its own.
What the judges say: Len predicts Bethany will be sticking around a while. Both Carrie Ann, Bruno and Julianne say she needs to work on her energy levels in between steps.
Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson (Jive)
The performance: Clearly, Alfonso's dance skills don't stop at the Carlton. His jive is energetic, controlled and completely entertaining. And he and Witney make a great team. Way to end on a high note for Episode 1, Dancing.
What the judges say: Len gives them a standing O and says it was the best dance of the night. Julianne digs the musicality and choreography, and Bruno tells Alfonso he's the king of the night. Carrie Ann is thrilled by his swagger.
So, what do you think? Any standouts on Season 19 so far? Did anyone surprise you? And who do you think will be the first couple eliminated on Tuesday's show?