Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Dancing With the Stars S28E01: 2019 Season Premiere

DWTS Season 28 returns with a few fan favorites and a new scoring format
by Kim Krober

After a lengthy one-year hiatus, Dancing with the Stars finally returned with Season 28, an all-new glitzy set, some newcomers in the dance troupe, and everybody's favorite reality show judges (Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman, and Carrie Ann Inaba) and hosts (Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews). After some criticism and controversy over the scoring in seasons past, it was revealed there's a new voting format this season: we'll be able to see the results of our votes live at the end of next week's show. The judges are also "coming out of their shells" with a call for better technique and stricter scoring than in competitions past. They certainly seem to mean business, as nobody scored any higher than a 7 and some of the scores were the lowest I've ever seen (3's), which were met with boos from the studio audience. Let's see how your favorites did during this first week of competition:

Hannah Brown & Alan Bersten, Cha-Cha
Am I the only one out there who doesn't get the popularity of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette? It seems like it's the same shtick every season. However, it does produce some fierce competitors for Dancing with the Stars. I thought Hannah's Cha-Cha to Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" was a great start to the season. Len praised the dance for being crisp, clean, and confident, while Bruno claimed she had finally found her true love: dancing. He admired her for being enthusiastic but cautioned her about being too fast and frenzied with her turns and for being slightly ahead of the music. Carrie Ann believed she had the posture and attitude of a Latin dancer, saying she had great form and she can't wait to see what she has in store next week.
Score: 20

Kel Mitchell & Witney Carson, Tango
I was in middle school when All That premiered on Nickelodeon. I remember loving it the first few seasons, so seeing Kel was a welcome blast from the past. Kel has an awesome personality, and I'm looking forward to watching him grow in this competition. He's turned into quite the leading man coming out to a Tango set to The Jonas Brothers' "Sucker", and I loved his colorful suit! Tom quipped he was the first person in 28 seasons to begin his routine by sliding through his own mouth, referring to a giant Kel head on the backdrop's screen. Bruno loved seeing his serious side and focus, but said he was a little too jumpy and needs to work on his footwork. Carrie Ann is optimistic about his future on the show, though she said he still needs to find his groove. Len liked his attack and attitude, saying he has potential, although he would have liked to have seen a few more heel leads. It will be interesting to see what kind of tricks Kel has up his sleeves this season!
Score: 16

Kate Flannery & Pasha Pashkov, Cha-Cha
I loved Kate on The Office, and I'm so excited to watch her compete on DWTS! Kate was paired with newcomer Pasha Pashkov (who looks to be a fun addition to the dance pros!), and I thought she came out strong with a Cha-Cha set to Donna Summer's "She Works Hard for the Money". I've never seen Kate look so glamorous and beautiful. Carrie Ann was impressed with her defined movements, while Len commended Pasha for putting a special move in that he hadn't seen in years. He cautioned Kate on needing to straighten her legs, but said she came out and really sparkled. Bruno told her she could run his office any time, although she needs to work on finishing her movements with precise, sharp endings.

Lamar Odom & Peta Murgatroyd, Foxtrot
Two-time NBA Champion Lamar Odom looked debonair in a red velvet suit, coming out to a Foxtrot set to Michael Buble's "Feeling Good". This couple has a distinct height difference to overcome, but I thought they looked fabulous together. Len noted he did a terrific job but felt it lacked an overall finesse. Bruno admired him for giving it his all, acknowledging that the Foxtrot is a difficult dance to try to master during the first week of competition. However, he advised him not to overthink it and go with the flow more next week. Carrie Ann was thoroughly impressed with his ability to smile on cue and hit his lines, saying she knows how much former athletes without any background in dance have struggled in this competition. The crowd booed, as two of the three judges gave him a score of 3. I'll admit it wasn't the best dance of the night but were the 3's deserved? I guess Lamar can only go up from here!
Score: 11

Lauren Alaina & Gleb Savchenko, Cha-Cha
I don't watch American Idol, so I wasn't familiar with Lauren Alaina. Dancing the third Cha-Cha of the night, Alaina had a fun routine set to Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman". Bruno called her a sultry Southern belle giving him a steamy Cha-Cha with sharp finishes, but he said her hip action was hindered by having locked knees. Carrie Ann told Gleb he took some risks but they paid off for her and she admired her looseness. Len liked the rhythm but thought the beginning was a bit long-winded with the chairs as props. It was one of the more polished performances of the night but maybe not super-memorable.
Score: 19

Sailor Brinkley-Cook & Val Chmerkovskiy, Foxtrot
'80s supermodel Christie Brinkley was one of the ones I was most excited about in the cast reveal, but she was abruptly removed from the competition when she fell during rehearsal and broke her arm. Luckily for her, her daughter Sailor (also a model) has taken her spot. However, she had only three days to learn the routine (versus the three weeks everybody else had) set to Christie's theme song "Uptown Girl". Was it as flawless as the Brinkleys' complexion? No, but it wasn't a bad effort. Carrie Ann was blown away by her poise and carefree spirit, telling Val he's hit a gold mine with this partner. Len said she floated his boat with beautiful movement, but that it was a bit stumpy and she'll benefit from more practice. Bruno said she has the looks and talent to go far in this competition and is looking forward to seeing what she can do with proper rehearsal time. Christie looked great rooting for her daughter, but I cringed at her description of her injury.
Score: 18

Karamo Brown & Jenna Johnson, Salsa
Queer Eye's Karamo Brown was probably the most genuinely thrilled contestant I've ever seen - he looked like he was living his best life from start to finish of his Salsa routine set to Lizzo's "Juice".I loved his purple suit and his enthusiasm for the competition. Len thought it was a bit disappointing because it didn't have enough hip action or rhythm. Bruno commended him for his good looks, style, and lifts, but agreed with Len about needing to see better hip action. Carrie Ann thought it was an alright performance but was a little underwhelmed because she felt he was too reserved and didn't let enough of his personality pop through on the dance floor. Can he redeem himself next week?
Score: 17

Ray Lewis & Cheryl Burke, Salsa
Footballer Ray Lewis came out to Nelly's "Hot N Herre" with this crazy little shuffle that made me smile. Athletes are always a mixed bag on this competition, as you never know how stiff or natural they'll look on the dance floor. I thought it was a commendable effort for the first week, and so did the judges. Bruno loved that he turned on the heat, saying he was charismatic, although he pointed out some missteps. Carrie Ann said he brought his "A" game turning on this audience, calling it pretty damn good. Len noted there were a couple of serious mistakes but told him he has potential. For Carrie Ann's comments, I was a little surprised she didn't pull out a 6.
Score: 15

Mary Wilson & Brandon Armstrong, Foxtrot
Love The Supremes! Mary Wilson looked absolutely stunning; I'm in disbelief that she's 75! Her Foxtrot set to her signature hit "Baby Love" was inspirational, as she's the oldest competitor this season, but you couldn't tell by her appearance or dance moves. Carrie Ann told her she was built to Foxtrot on their dance floor, calling her elegant and a legend. Len is the same age as her and complimented her on her ability to come out and dance a Foxtrot that good because he didn't think he'd be able to pull it off. Bruno was starstruck, telling her she knows how to sell it and commended her for doing a heel turn. Tom quipped he'd never heard anyone so happy about 5's.
Score: 17

Ally Brooke & Sasha Farber, Cha-Cha
Am I the only person not familiar with Fifth Harmony outside of this competition? I'm happy for Sasha though - he got a partner who can obviously dance! Len didn't care for all the hip gyrating and thrusting, likening it to Beyoncé. However, he thought she was a very competent dancer anyway. Bruno loved her sense of attack and flair, but he could tell she was missing the beat. He called it a bit muddled but a great performance overall. Carrie Ann felt she needed to find her balance but said she has potential. I didn't recognize their Cha-Cha song choice at all - turns out it was set to Fifth Harmony's "Work From Home".
Score: 16

Sean Spicer & Lindsay Arnold, Salsa
Former Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer was out to score points for his damaged reputation ... on a dance reality show. Yes, you read that right. His Salsa set to the Spice Girls' "Spice Up Your Life" wasn't as stiff as I was expecting. Bruno quipped he went bonkers with the bongos and said his hips looked like they were set in cement, but felt it was strangely entertaining anyway. Carrie Ann called it the best fluorescent shimmy of the night and admired his boisterousness, although she pointed out that he was off beat most of the dance. Len told him he brought fun to the ballroom, showing more reserved constraint with his commentary than usual. He was committed to having fun, although I don't see him lasting long in this competition.
Score: 12

James Van Der Beek & Emma Slater, Tango
I don't wanna wait for this dance competition to be over to say I'm rooting for Dawson Leery! It was so good to see James Van Der Beek back in the spotlight (along with all of his adorable lookalike children). They definitely saved the best for last. I was mesmerized from the moment he hit the dance floor, and I'm so excited for Emma to have such an amazing partner this season. James will clearly do "Whatever It Takes" to remain in it to win it. Carrie Ann praised his style, technique, and flavor, calling him the leading man of this season's competition. Len said it had drive and purpose, stating it was a terrific number. Bruno called it charismatic and strong, complimenting it for being so in control and in character. With three 7's from the judges, James was quickly thrust to the top of the leader board.
Score: 21

I'm a little sad a few of my favorites seem to be missing this season: Derek Hough and Mark Ballas. However, I am looking forward to watching this season unfold and seeing how the new scoring and elimination system works. The best part of the night for me though was that winning commercial from KFC touting a fictitious Rudy II with Sean Astin reprising his Rudy role and taking on the role of the Colonel. It was inspired advertising to say the least.

And that's a wrap until next week! How did your favorites fare? Tell us who you're rooting for in the comments section below!

Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8:00 PM on ABC.

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