Dancing With the Stars Season 13 Premiere Recap: Glitter Aftertaste

Welcome back to another season of Dancing With the Stars, where robots frolic in harmony with humans, where sequins are the most valuable currency, and where you can never can tell if a judge’s references to a woman’s twins are directed at her toddlers or her ta-tas. Let’s dive right in and see how our 12 couples performed, since one of ’em won’t even survive into Week 2!

Ron Artest and Peta Murgatroyd: Cha Cha Cha
Sometimes I question the logic of DWTS‘ producers employing a robot as cohost, but then Brooke Burke goes and reads a preposterous line off the teleprompter with such stunning seriousness that you can’t help but guffaw. “Last week he changed his name to Meta World Peace, but tonight he’s dancing as the NBA champion you know as Ron Artest!” she chirped, without even the slightest hint of a smile. And speaking of robots, Ron moved with all the fluidity and grace of The Tin Man before Dorothy arrived with her oil can, although I can’t say that on some level — maybe the level that can’t look away from a flattened pigeon in a Manhattan crosswalk — it wasn’t compelling television. I don’t think the massive height differential between Ron and Peta helps matters — “you’ve got such length of bone!” cooed Bruno — but I did find it amusing that Ron boasted he should’ve gotten 12s from the judges. Yeah, maybe a total of 12.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 5; Len, 4; Bruno, 5. Total: 14

Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke: Viennese Waltz
It can’t be easy for Rob that as he’s striving to “step out of the shadow” of his sisters, he manages to get upstaged by big sis Khloe (for the record, the only Kardashian that makes me chortle) shouting down Bruno’s critiques from across the ballroom. Rob’s biggest problem, though, is that he moves like a regular person, not an actor or musician who’s spent a lifetime being aware of his body’s movement in front of a camera. Then again, it’s tough to have musicality when you’re dancing to a dreadful cover of an already dreadful song like “Lake Michigan.” Rob is definitely at risk of being the first celeb eliminated, but maybe Cheyl’s hot cape from the Golden Compass Collection will earn enough votes to save him.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 6; Len, 5; Bruno, 5. Total: 16

Kristin Cavallari and Mark Ballas: Cha Cha Cha
“I’m Kristin Cavallari, and I’m not a bitch,” announced Kristin Cavallari, making a bold assumption that more than 10 percent of the viewing audience had any previous knowledge and/or opinion of her personality. But in her defense, the reality star got off to a respectable start on the dance floor, managing to hit most of her marks even as her partner put down five steps every time she took one. (Really, Ballas, it’s uncouth to try to outdance your partner in her very first performance. Settle down!) But putting the focus back on Kristin, her final dip-pose was spectacular. Bruno, naturally, was smitten by the “bad girl with hot hips who can give hot action.” Alrighty then!
Scores: Carrie Ann, 7; Len, 6; Bruno, 6. Total: 19

Chynna Phillips and Tony Dovolani: Viennese Waltz
Quick question: Am I the only one who heard Tony talking about how he’s known for “refinement, sophistication, and class” and translated it into “pedestrian and not a lot of fun”? Nevertheless, my least favorite pro brought out the best in Chynna, who was dressed like a Disney princess out for a spin in a verdant pasture, and who glided through her Viennese Waltz as if it was Week 5, not the season premiere. Tom Bergeron noted a “big, smiling Len face” when it was all said and done, and the scores — which placed Chynna and Tony in a tie atop the leaderboard — reflected that goofy grin.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 7; Bruno, 7. Total: 22

Nancy Grace and Tristan McManus: Cha Cha Cha
Things didn’t begin well for Nancy and Tristan, as she misunderstood her Irish partner’s use of “third” as “turd.” And really, who wants a turd reference so early in the season? That said, while Nancy was far from the most sure-footed competitor, and while she completely missed Bruno’s double-entendre — “How are the twins by the way, my darling?” — I agreed with Carrie Ann that the hard-charging TV hostess at least looked like she was having fun out there in her sparkly silver dress with an excessively fringe-y bottom. And that’s often enough to survive into Week 2.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 5; Len, 5; Bruno, 6. Total: 16

David Arquette and Kym Johnson: Viennese Waltz
For me, the most indelible image of the entire DWTS season premiere was the dramatic backlighting of Kym’s “wings” at the start of the dance, and everything that followed seemed to play into that mood of gauzy, dreamlike elegance. (Even the sight of Courteney Cox and Pee Wee Herman in the cheering section.) I agreed with Len it was nice to see a routine that didn’t have any “messing about,” and while David himself goofily admitted his own flub to the judges — “I messed up the contretemps!” — I thought his scores were egregiously low. Shouldn’t he have been atop, or close to the top, of the leaderboard, instead of a point behind Kristin and just one in front of Carson?
Scores: Carrie Ann, 6; Len, 6; Bruno, 6. Total: 18

Elisabetta Canalis and Val Chmerkovskiy: Cha Cha Cha
My bet for first ouster of Season 13 admitted “most of the people identify me for my past private life” without invoking the name of her ex (which rhymes with Forge Blue-Knee). Unfortunately, Elisabetta’s intro package and rehearsal footage didn’t really delve past reminding us she’s from Italy, and her performance had the uncomfortable vibe of a woman who’s deeply uncertain of the steps and keeps trying to catch glimpses of her partner’s moves to remind herself of the choreography. The whole mattress scene at the start didn’t add much to the dance, either, other than allowing Bruno to tell Elisabetta that she was “very good in bed” and when she was “handled by a man.” Here’s hoping she missed the ickiness in the translation, eh?
Scores: Carrie Ann, 5; Len, 5; Bruno, 5. Total: 15

Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Viennese Waltz
Half of the appeal of any Maks partnership lies in the tightness of his pants the rehearsal packages, and while it’ll be tough to trump his Season 12 pairing with Kirstie, Maksimus Gluteus is already engaging in that flirtatious macho-man-who-secretly-loves-a-strong-woman banter we’ve come to know and love. I giggled when Hope took little jabs at what Maks referred to as his “ginormous” arm muscle, and how she noted that she’s already “a better dancer than he’ll ever be a goal keeper.” On the floor, the duo displayed a lovely lyricism, and while the judges asked for a little more femininity (“I’ll work on it,” joked Maks), I’d be shocked if Hope isn’t among Season 13’s final five contestants.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 7; Len, 7; Bruno, 7. Total: 21

Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya: Cha Cha Cha
I was a little worried during Carson’s pre-dance package that his Queer Eye Turns Ballroom Guy quips — i.e. “Sale over there!” — were going to feel a little 2005, but I underestimated his skill as a physical comedian once he got on the ballroom floor. There was something so exaggerated about Carson’s moves, his facial expressions, even the head to toe sparkle of his otherwise drab brown suit, that I had to agree with Carrie Ann: Carson and Anna (the most comically gifted of all the pros) served up the night’s most enjoyable routine. Sure, it totally lacked in technical merit — Carson looked like a cruise-ship partygoer who’d downed one too many Mai Tais — but his comic skills alone might carry his DWTS dreams well into October. Question of the Night No. 1 from Brooke: “Do you feel at home in the over-the-top, flamboyant ballroom?” Oh, grrrrrl.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 6; Len, 5; Bruno, 6. Total: 17

J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff: Viennese Waltz
I loved that J.R. was able to make a joke about the disfiguring injuries he suffered while serving in Iraq — his 33 subsequent surgeries are “the reason I’m this cute,” he told Karina — since it allowed us to see him as a mortal rather than a sainted hero who somehow deserves our votes before he executes a single step of choreography. Luckily for J.R., he may do just as well — if not better — if he’s judged solely on his footwork and personality, and not just his backstory. That move where he dropped Karina to the ground and swept the floor with her proved he’s capable of a high degree of difficulty, and there was hardly a break in the flow of their entire routine. Bonus points for J.R.’s cheeky answer to RoboBrooke asking him if eight years ago in Iraq, he ever imagined he’d be a DWTS contestant. “Absolutely,” chuckled J.R., reveling in the ridiculousness of the query, but Brooke was initially too focused on her cue cards to realize he was joking.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 7; Bruno, 7. Total: 22

Ricki Lake and Derek Hough: Viennese Waltz
Ricki said that she was inspired by Kirstie Alley’s Season 12 weight-loss arc, but she’ll need to add an additional, unique aspect to her DWTS journey if she wants to make it all the way to the finale. Then again, she’s paired with judges’ fave Derek, so maybe she doesn’t. To her credit, Ricki created some truly elegant pictures throughout the duration of her routine, particularly those outstretched arms during that final spin. Let’s just hope Len has realized the lameness of “I don’t wanna be picky, Ricki” and doesn’t try to turn it into a Season 13 catchphrase.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 7; Len, 6; Bruno, 7. Total: 20

Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer: Cha Cha Cha
I wondered if producers would have Chaz perform last (the obvious slot for the season’s most buzzed-about contestant) or maybe try something a little more subtle and have him go second-to-last in the lineup. But nope, the show’s first-ever transgender contestant closed the show, and his intro package was refreshingly straightforward — touching on his transition from female to male, addressing his “tendency to be too serious,” and even owning the perils of joining the competition as someone in his 40s and overweight. Interestingly, Chaz’s cha cha cha has a lightness of foot and spirit that I hadn’t expected, and Lacey choreographed their piece with a flirtatiousness that refused to pander to folks who might have been uncomfortable with Chaz’s presence on the show in the first place. All in all, a much better start for Chaz than I’d expected.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 6; Len, 5; Bruno, 6. Total: 17

What did you think of the DWTS season premiere? Who do you think will go home on Tuesday? Who was the biggest surprise of Week 1? And who, if anyone, did your votes go to? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Gia says:

    Chaz was game! He obviously worked very hard on his routine, and I enjoyed it. J.R. also did really well, and Carson was so amusing, I didn’t care much that he missed some steps. Not a fan of Rob, David did better than I thought he would, didn’t care for Hope’s stiffness, thought Nancy was not bad.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Brooke is awful, awful, awful! I still remember last season when she couldn’t quite work out the nuances of a coin toss. I seriously hope the contestants mess with her like JR did in the interviews throughout the season. That will bring me much glee. She truly is a robot!

    • katie says:

      Yes Brooke Burke is the worst. I’m not sure why they haven’t gotten ride of her yet. But yes, it will make it more bearable if they poke fun at her!
      I wish they would get Melissa Rycroft back as cohost…

  3. Betty says:

    I enjoyed the premier. I thought that they didn’t really show too much about the pairs “first meeting”, then I realized that they will probably be showing that in the one-hour special tonight before the results show. I guess I won’t be seeing those first meetings. Anyway, I really liked David, Carson, Hope and Ricki. I think that Elisabetta will likely be going home tonight, followed by Rob and Ron. Great recap, Michael. Tony is also my least favorite pro, who knew. I thought that Brooke was slightly less annoying than usual and that the new set was pretty nice. All in all,a good start with some fairly interesting cast members.

  4. MissMel says:

    Chaz did a lot better than I thought he would! It wasn’t the best performance of the night but he looked like he was having a great time out there and he was WAY more entertaining than some other couples. I have a soft spot in my heart for David Arquette and was happy to see him do fairly well. I want to see Hope turn out to be a great dancer because Maks deserves a win!

  5. CA says:

    As always — a fun recap! I mentioned on another board that this is the first season in a long time that I’ve been this charmed by the celebrities. All seemed to be enjoying themselves, took it serious enough to try but not so serious enough to recognize what this show should be about…pure fun entertainment. Elizabetta is who I think will go home tonight. I applaud Chaz’s efforts and putting forth a decent first cha cha. Carson embraces the spirit of this show and J.R. embodies the inspiration. This looks to be one of those seasons where it is going to be sad watching anyone depart.

  6. Kosha says:

    DWTS is BACK!!! As the opening Ba Da Ba Ba Ba started, I was filled with joy! Season 13 is starting out better than most seasons – a few easy choices for first off, but overall mostly good performances. I loved Hope and JR’s performances, was pleasantly surprized by both David’s performance and more mature behavior. Mark is of course still trying to out-dance everyone in the room. And I’m glad Derek is back – he is so good at choreographing to his partner’s strengths and using his own dancing to compliment them. Whereas Mark just tries to draw all attention to himself. Loved you recap Michael – can’t wait for tonight!

  7. kellen says:

    Slezak, it makes me so sad to hear that Tony is your least-favorite pro. At least tell me that Derek and Mark are down there with him. They’re the worst!

    • chistosa says:

      Sorry Kellen, I respectfully disagree about Derek. He is the best of the pros and the finest choreographer. He makes his partners look good and does not try to upstage them. Agreed that Mark could learn from him about that.

      I like Tony. He seems nice but he has never had a stitch of chemistry with any of his partners. Now Kate Gosselin is understandable but he has had some amazing partners who could have won but his lackluster choreography and bland personality sink their chances.

    • wendeeloo says:

      Michael – I wish you’d elaborate on why Tony is your least favorite pro. I think he’s so professional and supportive of his partners – for the most part. When he had to endure Kate Gosselin – I mean, he deserves a break there. I think Mark Ballas is the one that is ego-driven. You rightfully pointed out that he is a big-time showboater. It’s a shame because he didn’t used to be like that – he is really talented. But now he flails about – bringing attention off his partner. Derek also is annoying when he thinks he is so funny – It’s like they have gotten too comfortable – the ‘Tyra Banks Syndrome’! But Derek is amazing and the best choreographer on the show, I think.

    • ESLKid75 says:

      I’m with Slezak on this one. There’s something so dumb and unpolished in Tony, and yet he thinks so highly of himself. Definitely my least favorite pro of the bunch. And by far…

      Maks is great, because he’s arrogant, but good, and he’s funny and caring on top. Tony is NOT funny.

      Derek is great (despite also thinking highly of himself) because his choreographies are THAT much better than everybody else’s.

      Mark is also getting on my nerves for always out dancing his partners. He still hasn’t caught on to the fact that it doesn’t work for him in the end. But he’s extremely talented and a great choreographer. Although, he did throw away last year’s game by pissing off Len consistently despite having one of (if not THE) strongest competitors of the season as a partner…

  8. NanCeE* says:

    Was hoping you’d be recapping The Sing Off. Sarah Bareilles is judging this year, and she was really funny last night. Kinda love that show. Haven’t watched DWTS for a couple years – probably not going to happen this year, either.

    • NanCeE* says:

      I will be interested in seeing how Artest does this year, though. I’m expecting him to be eliminated early. He won’t get many, if any, votes from Indiana. We remember the “melee” when he was with the Pacers – not a fan of his and never will be. He’s right on par with Charlie Sheen in the Grandiose Delusion department.

  9. Just an Opinion says:

    My vote is for Dennis Rodman’s doppleganger, Ron Artest. He was simply creepy.

  10. jleam says:

    I liked your recap. I hope Elizabetta doesn’t go home first just for Val’s sake. I think Ron’s Dennis Rodman act needs to be followed by a car waiting to take him home. I thought Hope and Maks did great. There is absolutely no reason for her not to show off all her hard work (muscle). Although I thought costume did try to cover most of it with the flowing sleeves. David is my least favorite of all people. So I say nothing of him. Mark still tries to outshine. No excuse for that. JR was great although he did say in one interview he was going to surprise people because he had a few moves. All in all it was a pretty good beginning. I do hope Ron goes home first.

  11. katie says:

    I hope the first few gone are Elisabetta, Rob and Ron. I liked Nancy Grace’s attitude, I was expecting her TV show personna I guess. Loved Carson, David and Chaz.

    And Tony D is my least favorite pro too! Well it’s a tie with Mark Ballas.

  12. MidLyfeMama says:

    Why has no one mentioned Bruno’s rather weird comment to Chaz “I didn’t realize how cute and cuddly you are.” Because I am sure that was what he was going for, cute and cuddly. But he did great, and you did a great recap, and like commentor Katie, I will be happy to see, in no particular order, Elisabetta, Rob and Ron go first.

  13. luke says:

    I hope Rob goes first – That talent-free family needs to be taken down a few notches. But Mama Kris has probably organized many calling parties in her quest to take the most advantage of her children possible. Ron is also unlikable – except for the story of his daughter’s cancer. And, yes, David Arquette’s numbers were too low. I thought he did well – and didn’t he look so handsome? Unfortunately then he speaks, and sounds like a nine year old giggling.

  14. Media Ho says:

    Wow! I’m thrilled that my three choices to go first — Artest, Elisabetta and Rob — are shared by so many! I also didn’t realize it until reading the other posts that, yeah, Tony is definitely one of my least favorite pros, but the crown for “most loathed” goes to SleazeBallas. I’d hoped that after his disasterous choreography for SYTYCD this summer, he’d lay low, but no such luck. The show has people who read these boards, so why hasn’t SleazeBallas gotten the hint that he’s not supposed to upstage his partner? Maybe he just doesn’t care about anything other than furthering his career (my guess). It does appear that the judges are not overscoring the dancers as they usually do at first, which skews things. Bravo! My three favorites (in order) were J.R., Chynna and Carson. Looks like another fun season!

  15. Jennifer says:

    J.R. Martinez all the way!

  16. Jen says:

    Did anyone else notice Coco and Courtney Cox after David’s performance? As he was gushing about his daughter, Coco looked to Courtney and I swear she said “He’s talking about you!!” as if to say “He still loves you Mom!!” I may me making that up but it’s totally what it looked like!!

    • cpintvc says:

      I caught that too and it was adorable. From what I saw eithe CoCo reacted to hearing her name and Courtney pointed and said “he’s talking about you” or they were pointing at each other saying mutually “he’s talking about you”. Either way it was a really cute moment.

  17. bittersweetsonata says:

    I love Tony. I think he’s a true professional who respects ballroom dancing as both a sport and as an entertainment form. He’s been handed a couple of really tough partners: Kate Gosslin, Wendy Williams, who he handled with true professionalism and grace, several partners who had potential in ballroom but not latin (Jane Seymour and Leeza Gibbons), and really only a couple of legitimate dance talents in Stacy Kiebler and Audrina Patridge, who didn’t have the fan base. He’s been a trooper and I really respect the way he keeps the spotlight on his partner and not on himself unlike other dancers (yes, I’m talking to you Mark Ballas).

    My guess is that Elizabetta’s going home tonight. She wasn’t strong enough and unless Val’s dancesport fans voted like mad, they won’t pull the votes to save them. It’s a shame, because Val is a beautiful dancer and I was really looking forward to watching him this season.

    I’m 100% voting for Maks and Hope. This partnership has everything I like: talent, dedication, humor, and sass. I can’t wait to see what happens.

  18. topsyturvy says:

    Yes, David Arquette was severely underscored (and was so adorable and charming), and Tristan McManus … YUMMY! Too bad he’s stuck with Nancy DisGrace.

  19. Virginia says:

    So disappointed by Hope Solo because I want Mak’s to win! I watched their dance about 12 times and it just got worse the more I looked at her feet and akwardness.

  20. Alli says:

    Your DWTS recaps are always so funny and thoughtful. I’ve missed them!

    I agree 100% with everything you said about Hope and Maks. They have a great dynamic and Maks always brings so much fun to the show.

  21. Lyndsey says:

    Tony usually gets the short end of the straw when it comes to partners: Kate, Kathy Ireland, Wendy Williams, Audrina (who danced well technically but had no passion for it). He had great chemistry with Melissa!!

    Derek can be annoying at times but at least he always puts his partner first. Mark is nothing but a Michael Jackson wannabe who absolutely has to be the center of attention at all times. I really wish they would replace him.

  22. pattywilla says:

    Maybe we could start a petition to ABC to get rid of Brooke? She is truly awful!

  23. Amber says:

    I have missed your DWTS recaps, Mr. Slezak, it is nice to have them back! You are always very funny and your commentary is always spot on.

    So far I think Ron Artest is horrible and should be the first to go. I really want to root for J.R. Martinez to take home the trophy, but I can’t freaking stand Karina. She is my least favorite pro. Her choreography is awful, and I can’t stand hearing her muppet-like voice. Chynna seems pretty good, and so does Kristin, though I really hate all things Hills-related. I think David is doing well for now, but he seems like the kind of person that wouldn’t be able to take the pressure of going a full season. Carson is extremely entertaining, though I don’t think his moves are that great. I think Rikki will do well. I was glad to see Chaz so happy during his performance. There was not a single ounce of fear on his face. I hope the guy continues to do well.

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