Monday, March 9, 2009

Dancing with the Stars - Season Eight Premiere!

I must have been living under a rock for the past few days, because I had no idea that the premiere of Dancing with the Stars was tonight!

Luckily, my mom reminded me, and upon watching it, I remembered why we've deemed it one of our favourite shows.

This season has a wide variety of contestants, from a controversial female rapper to an Olympic gold medalist, to a Jackass star and the co-founder of Apple.

Country singer Jewel and Access Hollywood host, Nancy O'Dell were set to compete, however, both of them experienced injuries during rehearsal, and were forced to drop out of the competition.

Last season's reigning champion, Derek Hough, opened the show with partner, Lil' Kim. The rapper revealed that the first time she watched the show was while she was in prison. Isn't it funny how drastically your life can change? She did a decent cha-cha, and definitely has potential, but I don't think she posesses that likeability that some of the other contestants have.

The frontrunner of the premiere was the man known as "the naked guy in Sex and the City: The Movie," Gilles Marini and his partner, Cheryl Burke. The judges adored his sexy, raunchy cha-cha, which left the women in the audience swooning. Although he did quite well, it pains me to think that Cheryl has the chance of winning that mirror-ball trophy for a third time. She always seems to get partners with great potential, except for Wayne Newton, which makes me wonder if this show is somewhat rigged.

Olympian champion, and youngest contestant ever to compete on the show, Shawn Johnson was paired with a former Dancing with the Stars winner, Mark Ballas. In rehearsals, she thought showing emotion would be a problem, but she proved herself wrong in her waltz. Being a gymnast, it's obvious that she would do well in dance, however, she says that it's completely different. Nonetheless, I'm ecstatic that Mark has gotten a good partner, unlike the one he had last season (Kim Kardashian). Johnson was given a score of 27, one below Marini and Burke, although I really think she should have gotten a 28.

Country singer Chuck Wicks also performed a solid waltz with his dancing and real-life partner, Julianne Hough. Obviously, there was great chemistry, and there's no doubt that he will be working extra hard to do well for his girl. He was very graceful, but it was obvious he was terrified of performing. Hopefully he can overcome his fear, and maybe bring Julianne to win for a third time.

Replacing Nancy O'Dell was The Bachelor's Melissa Rycroft. She proved that dancing beautifully, with only 48 hours of practice, and winning the hearts of everyone in America is the best revenge. Only one week after being dumped by her fiance on live television for the one he originally left behind, Rycroft was overwhelmed with emotion, but proved that she has the dancing ability to win the competition. Let's hope that her partner, Tony Dovolani will not fail her as he did with Stacy Keibler in season one.

Former Playmate, Holly Madison took Jewel's place in the competition, but unfortunately, lacked the skill that Rycroft had. She did only have five days of practice with partner Dmitry Chaplin (former contestant on So You Think You Can Dance), but she was very clumsy in her footwork. I hope she stays in the competition, but only to watch Dmitry!

Chaplin's not the only professional originally from So You Think You Can Dance. Newcomer Chelsie Hightower, a top 4 finalist from the FOX program, was partnered with rodeo athlete, (and Jewel's husband), Ty Murray. Although his dancing skills are not nearly as good as his rodeo skills, he put in a lot of effort into his performance.

Lacey Schwimmer is back this season, and is dancing with Jackass's Steve-O. The reality star is currently going through rehab, and I find it absolutely commendable that he is using the show as a way of turning his life around.

Actress Denise Richards, who is also notably infamous for her very ugly divorce from Charlie Sheen performed with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Chmerkovskiy's impatience caused Richards to experience a little meltdown during rehearsal. Her cha-cha was stiff, and she really just looked like a Barbie who was being pulled around by a real-life Ken.

One of the most memorable performances goes to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. The friendly, loveable, self-proclaimed "nerd" was paired with Karina Smirnoff, and although he simply could not dance (he received the worst score of the night), he brought joy and laughter to the dancefloor.

Other celebrities who performed were singer Belinda Carlisle (who reminded me a lot of Lisa-Marie Presley), actor David Alan Grier (who I found kind of creepy..), and the greatest defensive player in the history of the NFL, Lawrence Taylor.

My top picks are Shawn Johnson, Chuck Wicks, and Melissa Rycroft.

Oh, and a notable moment from the show: Newly engaged Karina and Maksim were getting cozy on-camera and received (jokingly?) disgusted looks from Derek Hough.

Karina's ugly side showed as she darted spiteful looks towards Cheryl (who was once romantically linked to Maksim) when host Tom Bergeron announced that Cheryl received the top score, and Karina the worst. If looks could kill, Cheryl would be in her grave by now.

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