The new season of Dancing with the Stars is here! For the 25th time, the couples will take the floor for the first time to show off their moves. Who will shine and end up on top of the leaderboard? Who will crash and burn? And who will emerge as the most entertaining?
Live, from Hollywood, this is my Dancing with the Stars season 25 premiere live blog!
The opening number, choreographed by recent Emmy winner Mandy Moore, introduces everyone in a huge routine on the studio backlot. The highlight is when Nick Lachey and Maks pull a literal wife swap for their partners.
Terrell Owens and Cheryl Burke: Cha-Cha-Cha
T.O. is known for his showy touchdown dances while Cheryl is eager to prove in her 20th season as a pro that she’s still got it. There’s a very big height difference that causes some issues in rehearsals. He has a huge smile and very fluid movements. There’s a lot of potential here. Len Goodman was very entertained, but he needs to straighten his legs and stand taller.
The judges point out that there were heel leads, which is a no-no in Latin dances. Erin Andrews is back to being a fabulous trainwreck, getting confused about whether heel leads are good or bad.
Judges’ Scores: 5+5+5=15
Wow, the judges are starting out VERY harsh this season. I didn’t think it was that bad.
Debbie Gibson and Alan Bersten: Foxtrot
The ’80s pop star is here because she was recently diagnosed with Lyme disease and wants to find the joy in performing again. It’s Alan’s first year as a pro and he was born in 1994, so he doesn’t really get her ’80s vibe. It’s classy, but Alan does most of the work and it’s hard to tell how good she’ll be since it’s just a lot of spinning. Bruno Tonioli loves their chemistry and wants to see them get nasty. He advises her to work on her arms and arching her back. I appreciate that the judges are offering constructive, technical criticism.
Judges’ Scores: 6+5+6=17
Hey, it’s better than T.O.
Sasha Pieterse and Gleb Savchenko: Cha-Cha-Cha
The Pretty Little Liars star is the daughter of professional ballroom dancers, but she doesn’t quite follow in their footsteps. She’s getting married next year and is using the show to get into wedding shape. The dance looks a little clunky to me and she tries to overcome it with a lot of sass. Carrie Ann Inaba loves her sexiness, but she lost her time at the start. Meh, I think the judges are going to like her a lot more than I do.
Judges’ Scores: 6+6+6=18
Well, the scores are going up very slowly.
Drew Scott and Emma Slater: Foxtrot
One half of the Property Brothers, Drew is very dorky. He’s getting married soon and even though there’s a big height difference, his karate background is helpful. His dancing is very fun to watch in a weird, silly kind of way, but it’s not very good. He’s too tall and thin, so he looks like a string bean flopping around. Len calls him a fixer-upper and he lacks finesse.
Judges’ Scores: 6+5+5’16
Either we’re starting with the bad dancers or this is not going to be a great season for actual dancing.
Barbara Corcoran and Keo Motsepe: Salsa
The Shark Tank businesswoman is a cougar who lusts after Keo. They are really playing up that she has the hots for young men. They dance to a Ludacris song while money rains down on them, and it’s just excruciating. She’s a mess and it’s kind of embarrassing that a successful businesswoman is reduced to a horny old lady. This is like the second coming of Charo, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.
Judges’ Scores: 5+4+5-14
Yikes, a 4.
Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold: Tango
He can dance and she hasn’t had a partner her own age in a long time, so she’s excited that she might have a shot at finally winning the Mirror Ball. The Tango is a tough first dance, but he’s intense and bursting with charisma and hot moves. The competition just officially began. Carrie Ann squeals with delight and praises that he was in control the whole time with a lot of swagger.
Judges’ Scores: 8+7+7=22
After nothing but 4s, 5s, and 6s, Jordan breaks through in a big way. These two should start planning their finale Freestyle right now.
Nick Lachey and Peta Murgatroyd: Cha-Cha-Cha
His brother Drew is in the audience holding his Mirror Ball from season 2 and they hype Nick up as the frontrunner. Both Nick and Vanessa get a combined package as the married couple meet their partners, another married couple. Peta brags about how she has two wins and Maks only has one. Dancing makes Nick a little uneasy, but he’s excited to challenge himself as an example to his kids.
Nick has solid natural rhythm and a lot of potential, but his moves definitely need some polish. This definitely looks like a first dance. Len admires that he went for it and he likes the strong attack, but there were a few issues.
Judges’ Scores: 6+6+6=18
Erin shows a clip from 2009 when Nick said he’d never do this show.
Vanessa Lachey and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Cha-Cha-Cha
Vanessa has a lot more personality than Nick and she’s excited to do this for herself because she spends so much time being a mom and a wife. Her personality reminds me a bit of Leah Remini, in a good way, irreverent and wacky. She has some sweet, sexy moves and I like the theme of a mother breaking free. Bruno likes that it was a proper Cha-Cha-Cha with a lot of solid technique.
Judges’ Scores: 7+7+7=21
After tonight, I kind of hope she lasts longer than Nick. Maks tries to play nice, but Erin wants to make Nick vs. Vanessa into a blood sport.
Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson: Foxtrot
Witney loves Agent Cody Banks and he’s OK with that. He broke some bones while racing cars and is trying hard to come out of his shell. They make a cute couple and he’s surprisingly good, with a lot of passion and amazing chemistry. Carrie Ann thinks it was endearing and beautiful.
Judges’ Scores: 7+6+6=19
The fact that he’s in the Top 3 after nine couples is impressive.
Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev: Tango
When they met, Nikki body slammed Artem in the ring. The WWE superstar is engaged to John Cena, but this is way outside of her comfort zone. She’s a sexy bad-ass who is basically wearing red lingerie and it ends with her tossing him to the ground. Len likes the body contact and tells her to stop looking down.
Judges’ Scores: 7+7+6=20
Did the judges get nicer as the night went on or did they just save the talented stars for the end?
Derek Fisher and Sharna Burgess: Salsa
Sharna knows that basketball players haven’t done well and she’s hoping to change that. His mom is a huge fan who freaks out over her son being on the show. Derek has energy and swagger, but the moves are a little awkward. Bruno thinks it lacked some roundness.
Judges’ Scores: 6+6+6=18
I suspect if T.O. got to perform this late, he would’ve gotten 6s too.
Victoria Arlen and Val Chmerkovskiy: Cha-Cha-Cha
This ESPN repor5er and former Paralympic athlete was paralyzed for 10 years but re-learned how to walk just one year ago. She can’t feel her legs and even being here is a miracle. She’s very impressive, all things considered, and it’s hard not to be inspired by her. But you can tell that her legs have issues and they don’t move as quickly as others. Still, Carrie Ann is impressed by her spirit and the joy of the routine.
Judges’ Scores: 7+6+6=19
Wow, I definitely thought the judges would be more generous with her, but I like the restraint.
Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas: Cha-Cha-Cha
The violinist has appeared on the show as a musical guest, but now she’s dancing. She’s kind of goofy and he’s already getting ideas for how to use her violin in routines. She came to win, with fantastic moves that are sexy and quick, and kudos to Mark for his creative and fun choreography. I’ve missed having him on the show. She reminds me a lot of another one of Mark’s partners, Paige VanZant. Len calls it the dance of the night.
Judges’ Scores: 7+8+7=22
She ties Jordan at the top of the leaderboard for the night, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up as the Top 2 at the end of the season.
22: Jordan Fisher, Lindsey Stirling
21: Vanessa Lachey
20: Nikki Bella
19: Frankie Muniz, Victoria Arlen
18: Sasha Pieterse, Nick Lachey, Derek Fisher
17: Debbie Gibson
16: Drew Scott
15: Terrell Owens
14: Barbara Corcoran
Next week is a double-header, with performances and an elimination on Monday, then more performances and another elimination on Tuesday. Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)