Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dancing With the Stars: Back Again!

I almost didn't want to watch "Dancing With the Stars" this season. As much as I enjoy the craziness of watching D-List celebrities ballroom dance, I just wasn't sure I had time this year.

But, in the end, I couldn’t resist the siren song of glitter, sequins and pseudo-celebs. And so, Monday night, there I was, in front of the TV, watching “Dancing With the Stars.”

This season we have a new cohost with Tom Bergeron, and a new band and musical director. And there are going to be guest judges later in the season. Who cares, though! But what draws me to DWTS is what draws everyone: the spectacle.

And so we begin with "Real Housewife" NeNe Leakes, partnered with Tony Dovolani, dancing a cha-cha-cha to "Give It 2 U." NeNe is a little stiff and doesn't really have the technique, like, at all. She looks like she's dancing at a club or a wedding reception. However, she has quite the personality and she looks like she's having an absolute blash. There are definitely worse ways to start out a season of DWTS! Len thought the dance was "the way to get the party started." He thought it was fun, though he thought she flung her arms a bit. Bruno called her "sassy," and said he loves her energy. Carrie Ann complimented her personality too, and told her she needs to give it her all because she's such a big woman (taller than Tony!). Score: 21. 

James Maslow, of "Big Time Rush," & Peta Murgatroyd were next up. There was some initial drama, because apparently James and Peta went out on a date! DRAMA. But they danced a foxtrot to "Story of My Life," and it was good! Part of it is probably that they went into the dance with some chemistry already established, but James also is just a very graceful guy. Bruno really liked the effort he put into the dance, although he said it needed to be more effortless, with more precise footwork. Carrie Ann has a "big time crush" on James. (Oh, Carrie Ann.) She liked his natural elegance, too. Len thought it was a good dance, although his footwork and his frame was a little messy. Score: 21. 

Next was Danica McKellar, Winnie Cooper from "The Wonder Years," and Val Chmerkovskiy. I immediately loved Danica, because she is giggly and dorky, but also super smart. They danced a foxtrot to "Walk Away." She has tons of personality, and she really kept up well with Val, which is impressive. I can already tell that Danica is going to be one of my favorites. She's just plain adorable and fun! Carrie Ann thinks she's adorable and enthusiastic, even though she got dinged for her shoulders and her overexpressive face. Len's first impression was "terrific." And Bruno called her "saucy," partially because she kissed Bruno at the end of her dance! Bruno was also glad she played well off of Val. Score: 24. 

Bad-boy hockey player Sean Avery and Karina Smirnoff danced a contemporary dance next, to "Somewhere Only We Know." It was a pretty good dance, though I thought they depended too much on cool lifts that Sean could do because he's a big strong hockey player. However, there were definitely some moments in there that showed how Sean could emote a bit while he dances, even though he's kind of stoic most of the time. Len thought the dance was full of intensity, though he thought it needed more finesse. Bruno thought he was powerful, focused and connected, but needed more continuity. Carrie Ann thought it was fascinating. Score: 20.

BILLY DEE WILLIAMS!!!!!!!!!! and Emma Slater were up next!! Billy Dee was one of the major reasons I wanted to watch this season, and so I was absolutely THRILLED when it was his turn!!!! He did a cha-cha-cha to "Star Wars Disco." It was predictably horrible and fantastic. Billy Dee doesn't dance terribly well (mostly because he's 77 and has problems with his back and hips), but he clearly had fun, and he was just happy to dance! Frankly, he could have stood out there and posed, and I would have been perfectly happy, because I love Billy Dee! Bruno thought he was too dainty, and that he needs to dance more powerfully. Carrie Ann thought he was "relaxed," but she wanted a little more from him. Len thought it was entertaining, and thought he did a good job despite everything. Score: 15. 

Ice dancer Meryl Davis and Maks Chmerkovskiy were up next. They danced a cha-cha-cha to "All Night." It was really good, and not just because Maks had his shirt open (though that helped). Meryl is adorable and moves really well, of course ... she's an ice dancer! They had a nice connection, though, and that also helped their dance. Still, Meryl seemed just a teeny bit too posed and poised, with a bit too much of a plastered-on smile. She'll need to get out of the "happy ice-dancer" thing just a bit in order to connect with the ballroom and make her connection feel authentic. Carrie Ann was extremely impressed with her technique. Len called her "terrific," and Bruno was happy with her spins and the lyricism of her arms. Score: 24.

"Full House" star Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas danced next, with a contemporary to "Burn." It was a super, super cool dance, with a lot of really neat moves that had to be done right in sync, and they did a great job at it. I wasn't sure what to expect from Candace, because she felt a little perky and fake in her pre-dance package, but she really had a lot of great emotion going on the floor. It was a wonderful dance, and very well-executed! Len said it was "well done." Bruno called it "dynamic." Carrie Ann called her an "incredible dancer." Score: 25.

Next up was Australian singer Cody Simpson and Whitney Carson, a new pro, danced a cha-cha-cha to "Timber." Cody really knows how to move, but he was a little too clubby and not ballroomy enough. Still, he definitely understands rhythym and he can really move his hips. Plus, he's adorable! Bruno thought they were the "poster couple for the energy of youth." He warned them to watch their basics, though. Carrie Ann thought the upper body was great, but the feet were all over the place. Len liked the confidence and attack, but said the technique needed work. He liked it, though. Score: 22. 

Comedian/"Price Is Right" host Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke danced a fun Monopoly-themed foxtrot to "Money (That's What I Want)." Drew has a lot of personality, and is just a very likeable guy. He actually did a very good job with his moves, too, though. He was a little ploddy on some of his moves, but he really did a pretty good job dancing in additional to his charm. Carrie Ann liked his classic approach. Len thought it was "very watchable." Bruno liked the style and the content, and his special personal touch too. Score: 21.

Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy and Derek Hough danced a cha-cha-cha to "Counting Stars." She did an excellent job, and even though she couldn't entirely do the things with her feet that someone who has legs can do, she made up for any issues with really great body movement and a wonderful personality. I thought she did an excellent job dancing. Len thought she deserved a gold medal. Bruno loved her timing, shapes, and performance level. Carrie Ann cried, of course. She said she is a "beacon of light in this world." Score: 24.

Swimmer Diana Nyad and Henry Byalikov, a new pro, danced the foxtrot to "Beyond the Sea." It wasn't the toughest or most impressive dance, but it was a very classic foxtrot that she did very well. It had some nice style to it, and Diana was very pretty and classic, but also fun and funny. She is just an OK dancer, but she seems like a fantastically fun person. It was an elegant dance. Bruno said she needs to be a bit lighter and smoother, but said she is going in the right direction. Carrie Ann enjoyed watching her get more comfortable as she danced. Len wanted some more finesse, but thought it was a good dance. Score: 18. 

Ice dancer (and partner to Meryl Davis) Charlie White and Sharna Burgess finished off the show with a contemporary to "Let Her Go." It was a very pretty, passionate dance, and I was very impressed with Charlie's strength. Just like the dance with Sean Avery, though, I thought they depended just a bit too much on the man's strength and ability to do lifts. It was still a pretty great dance, though. Carrie Ann called it "poetry in motion." Len thought it was a good dance for Charlie, but he is interested in seeing his ballroom and Latin. Bruno liked the attention to detail and the story arc in the choreography. Score: 27.

Final thought? I'm glad I watched. This is a good cast! 

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