'Dancing With the Stars': Nicole Scherzinger leads in Season 10 premiere

nicole-scherzinger-dwts0323.jpgWith the best overall cast in a while, I had high expectations for this tenth incarnation of " Dancing With the Stars" and they didn't disappoint.

Tom Bergeron is still our host (yay!) but there are some big changes this season. Former champ Brooke Burke replaces Samantha Harris as co-host, we've got a new title sequence and graphics, instead of a backstage there's what Tom refers to as a "celebqaurium," a new pro and a returning favorite, and, though a smaller initial cast, we've actually got a host of solidly intriguing celebtestants. But one thing that never changes is that one singer's head chandeliers.

Our first Descent of Doom is without incident, but we see a lot of interesting outfits. Before anyone dances, I'm going to make some predictions: Pamela Anderson will do better than expected and possibly be the dark horse of the season; Chad Ochocinco is going to be the front-runner eventually; and, no matter how she does, Kate Gosselin will be the first person to go home.

1. Chad Ochocinco and Cheryl Burke
Dance/Song: Cha Cha/"It's Just Begun" a la The Jimmy Castor Bunch
I love Chad. He amuses me greatly, and I really appreciate that he's got a great rehearsal ethic. His footwork is very good for the first episode. He had a few form breaks but had charisma and connected well with his partner. He's got a lot of potential.
Judges: Len called him a "rough diamond" and gave the tip to improve his posture. Bruno says he has untapped talent, saying he has to hit the beats with conviction. Carrie Ann says he also needs to work on his extensions
Score: 18 (all 6s) - A little low maybe but he is the first guy on the first episode...

2. Shannen Doherty and Mark Ballas
Dance/Song: Viennese Waltz/"The Killing Moon" a la Nouvelle Vague
Shannen's dad is recovering from "a massive stroke" and, as this is his favorite show, she couldn't say no to the opportunity. Aw...I really hope she does well. Despite being really nervous about dancing in front of a live audience, her performance was quite good. There was a really impressive sweeping spin at the end of the routine. She needs to improve on her extensions and the consistency of her posture but it's a great start.
Judges: Bruno said it was difficult first-week choreography and, though he essentially called her "monkey arms," he commends her on performing the routine. Carrie Ann was very impressed by the ambitious routine and the way she improved as it went on, adding she sees a spark. Len thought she portrayed ease and elegance and that she coped well with hard number.
Score: 18 (all 6s)

3. Erin Andrews and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Dance/Song: Cha Cha/"Tik Tok" a la Ke$ha (YARGH)
When they first meet, Erin says she's heard Maks is tough on his dancers, but she asked for that. When Maks says they always ask for him and then regret it, Erin responds, "I didn't ask for you, I asked for Tony." Hey-o! They're entertaining. Bruno and Len are going to slobber over those long legs of hers. The hip action was decent and she danced the routine clean. She definitely looked like she was having fun. It's not that she necessarily stiff but there's something off there. Maybe it's because she's pretty tall and still adjusting to the heels?
Judges: Carrie Ann was pleasantly surprised but her moves and gives the tip to work on her arms and hitting moves harder. Len said she had great movement and rhythm and gave technique tips. Bruno likes how she puts her feet down right on the beat. Strangely, this is the first time Bruno ever asked if anyone's danced before because, just be the way she walks, I can tell the answer is no and he should be able to tell as well.
Score: 21 (all 7s)

4. Jake Pavelka and Chelsie Hightower
Dance/Song: Viennese Waltz/"Kiss From A Rose" a la Seal
I guess Chelsie is the Dance Whisperer for Dudes, because Jake was really struggling in the rehearsal package. His technique is solid, but you can tell he's thinking a lot. He has some moments but his posture is a bit off, occasionally awkward, but bonus points for looking like he was leading. I don't quite see the same spark of potential as I've seen in the previous celebtestants but let's remember what Chelsie did with Ty Murray. Perhaps he'll do better in at Latin?
Judges: Len thinks Jake moved very well but he need to improve his posture. Bruno liked that he was leading but was a little rough and told him to take it down a few notches. Carrie Ann thought he had great moments and appreciates his bravado, adding that she agrees he needs to work on his posture.
Score: 20 (7-6-7) - I'm not sure he was better than Chad...

5. Niecy Nash and Louis Van Amstel
Dance/Song: Cha Cha/"Rescue Me" a la Fontella Bass
In the rehearsal package Niecy tell Louis that she likes her "jiggly parts" and has no desire to lose them. Her mission statement: not to be the "little chubby girl that stands in the back" but be "the nice, thick, grown woman who stands in the front and shakes [her] tailfeather." Heck yeah! She's easily the most charismatic so far. The technique is good, but she needs to make sure she's always pointing her toes. Surprisingly, I could've used a little more hip action but she certainly deserved the standing ovation.
Judges: Bruno advises to make sure her performance is consistent saying she went from sassy to "born-again virgin." Carrie Ann loved her energy, personality, and that the technique was clean. Len thought it was clean, clear, and precise but uneventful.
Score: 18 (7-5-6) - Boo Len!

evan-lysacek-dwts0323.jpg6. Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya
Dance/Song: Viennese Waltz/"I'll Be" a la Edwin McCain
Evan first met Anna while he was still up in Vancouver for the Olympics. His rehearsal problem was that all the spins and turns are in the opposite direction that he's used to going, making him dizzy sometimes. After three weeks of practice, he seems to have adapted well. He has the best extension and posture out of everyone so far. It was very elegant, great technique, very well done.
Judges: Carrie Ann loved his lines but he needs to point his toes and connect to the audience more. Len liked his musicality and artistry but agrees he needs to work on his footwork and chemistry. Bruno says he "moves with the grace of a swan."
Score: 23 (8-7-8)

7. Buzz Aldrin and Ashly Costa
Dance/Song: Cha Cha/"Cupid" a la Sam Cooke
Before Buzz's rehearsal package, he got a special good-luck message from two of the gentlemen in the Internationa Space Station right now. So cool. Buzz was counting half the time but I don't care because they're just so darn cute. Also, it's great to see Ashly back.
Judges: Len says that he commends Buzz's bravery for adventuring into space but there wasn't anything to commend in the dance. Tom then asks how Britain's space program is going. Bruno said it was a Cha Cha but it still "looked like [he] had his moon-boots on." Carrie Ann noted there was a little Moonwalk in there. She also said he inspired a lot of people to get out there and dance tonight.
Score: 14 (5-4-5)

8. Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough
Dance/Song: Viennese Waltz/"Hold You In My Arms" a la Ray LaMontagne
I'd actually hoped that lead Pussycat Doll Nicole would be paired up with Maks but she got the partner she wanted. She's got good extension and balance, as one would expect. Her posture wasn't consistent, which surprised me, but her technique was good overall. And she definitely exuded elegance.
Judges: Bruno said it was a performance of "startling finesse." Carrie Ann said she set the bar for the season, adding she's never seen a routine out of the gate like that. Len said that, once you look past the facade of a great performance, she had footwork issues and some other technique oddities.
Score: 25 (9-7-9)

9. Aiden Turner and Edyta Sliwinska
Dance/Song: Cha Cha/"Hungry Like The Wolf" a la Duran Duran
There may sadly be no Dmitry this season, but Aiden ain't half bad. Hello! He was a bit wobbly on his feet at times but it was a solid first outing. Honestly, it's hard for me to accurately evaluate this one, what with his prettiness and Edyta's shimmies-over-nude-material outfit. Both were very distracting for different reasons.
Judges: Carrie Ann likes the approach but it was disjointed. Len thinks there's a dancer in there but the routine was fully of things he doesn't like. Bruno pointed out there was no hip action, even going so far as to liken him to Kenny Mayne. Carrie Ann disagrees with that last part.
Score: 15 (all 5s)

10. Kate Gosselin and Tony Dovolani
Dance/Song: Viennese Waltz/"She's Always A Woman" a la Billy Joel
Based on the rehearsal package, Kate's definitely improved in the graceful department. The big glaring thing she needs to improve on is pointing her toes but I thought she did fairly well. Definitely not the best of the night but certainly better than I was expecting.
Judges: Len thinks her nerves got the best of her. Bruno really wants her to learn how to dance with a persona because it seemed like Tony was "pushing a shopping cart around." Ouch -- but Tom got in a good zinger. Carrie Ann is impressed by how well she did considering she was zero experience in any aspects of this type of competition.
Score: 16 (6-5-5)

11. Pamela Anderson and Damian Whitewood
Dance/Song: Cha Cha/"Gimme All Your Lovin'" a la ZZ Top
There's no Kym Johnson this time out, so first-timer Damian will be filling our Aussie quota for this season. Pam is definitely working the sexy vibe and she got a good partner for her - he's an aggressive performer and that will help her in the long run. Her hip action is actually quite good, but she needs to do the steps with more purpose/conviction. With more confidence, she could go far. I'm impressed actually.
Judges: Bruno was just kind of pervy. Carrie Ann said she's been waiting to see Pam the most and she didn't disappoint. Len thought the start was great but it was a mess.
Score: 21 (7-6-8)

Our first ep is in the book -- what did you think? Were the judges a little stingy with some of our celebtestants? Who do you think has the most potential? And what did you think of Brooke Burke? There's no results show this week by the way so there's one more dance before the first axe falls.


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