Has it really been four long, dance-free months since the famous Mirror Ball trophy slipped through Ricki Lake’s (er, I mean Rob Kardashian’s) fingertips and landed in the hands of the ridiculously charming and undeniably inspiring J.R. Martinez?
Well your fasting period is over, ballroom revelers, because Dancing With The Stars returned for its 14th Season tonight, and it was a corker of a kickoff! Which couple is poised to make us weep? Who’ll seize the role of the entertainer? And who’ll incur our wrath? The early votes are already in!
I’ll be upfront, I entered the night partial to my girl Sherri Shepherd (with a soft spot for legendary tennis ace Martina Navratilova). If my all-time DWTS diva Kirstie Alley (the hottest mess ever to have multiple wardrobe malfunctions on live TV) managed to literally transform her body, soul and career on the ballroom floor, then is it wrong for me to hope for the same for my favorite sassy co-host on The View? (Sorry, Whoopi!)
Here’s everything you need to know about Week 1 of DWTS — which shockingly ended with head judge Len Goodman calling it the best first-week show of any season ever — all tidied up in three finely bundled packages:
Jocks in the Spotlight | Green Bay Packers star Donald Driver (pictured, top) already has a Super Bowl ring, but he’s made no bones about his desire for the Mirrorball Trophy. He and blonde bombshell partner Peta Murgatroyd set the ballroom floor on fire with a positively bootylicious Cha Cha (fussbudget Len said it was “overexcited,” but eh, whatever), and that spark helped ignite the rest of the night. Then it was Martina’s turn. Her old pal Monica Seles may have been a ballroom bust in Season 6, but I hope nine-time Wimbledon champ Navratilova manages to stay on the floor a little longer (um, practice up for next week, girl!). Beyond that, the 50-something Grand Slam champ looked absolutely fabulous, and hey, legendary rival Chris Evert was in the audience cheering her on! Sweet!
One-Liners of the Night | “I sometimes stiffen up at the wrong times, too.” That was Gavin DeGraw’s priceless response after Bruno noted that he shouldn’t “stiffen up at the wrong places” during his fox trot with Karina Smirnoff. Carrie Ann, for her part, went directly to the happy place after that one. And I loved Sherri’s “Woo, God is real!” after partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy told her to tighten up her butt and then encouraged her to feel his buns for inspiration. More priceless Sherri, post-dance: “Short of birthin’ my child, this is the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life… I think I left a boob on the floor; if somebody finds it can you give it back?!” And as for audience response, has a crowd ever gone so lasciviously wild as it did for telenovela hunk William Levy (pictured, below)? Yowza!
Len Still Resides in Cranky Town | Our favorite curmudgeonly judge Len Goodman didn’t miss a beat heading into Season 14. Early on, poor Jack Wagner and Roshon Fegan got the beat down, and even though Donald Driver’s high-octane moves drove the audience into a frenzy, Len didn’t tamp down his best Debbie Downer impression. That said, should we expect anything less? I just wish he’d stop the “well done” schtick after the verbal spankings.
Judges’ Leaderboard (Carrie Ann, Len, Bruno: Total)
Jaleel White and Kym Johnson: 9, 8, 9: 26
Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas: 9, 8, 9: 26
William Levy and Cheryl Burke: 8, 8, 8: 24
Sherri Shepherd and Val Chmerkovskiy: 8, 7, 8: 23
Jack Wagner and: Anna Trebunskaya: 8, 7, 8: 23
Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower: 8, 7, 8: 23
Gladys Knight and Tristan MacManus: 8, 7, 8: 23
Maria Menounos and Derek Hough: 7, 7, 7: 21
Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd: 7, 7, 7: 21
Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff: 7, 6, 7: 20
Martina Navratilova and Tony Dovolani: 7, 6, 7: 20
Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 7, 6, 7: 20
Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the Season 14 debut? Who’s your early favorite so far? Who’s most likely to trash talk the judges (will Gavin make this a habit) next week? And who got overscored/underscored? Leave your comments! –Mitch Rustad