Dancing with the Stars, Season 25, Week 1: Dancetown, USA
Jordan Fisher & Lindsey Stirling tie for the lead in a night so crowded, there isn’t time for full judging remarks.
It’s the 25th season of Dancing with the Stars, and they’re not going to let us forget it anytime soon. The opening number starts with Len Goodman rescuing a couple stranded in the desert while sporting a “DWTS25” license plate, and he takes them to Dancetown, USA, where there are 25s everywhere, as well as much Dancing in the Streets, before Len directs everyone into the ballroom.
We’re back down to three judges, with Julianne Hough off doing other things. Although after the first couple, Tom announces that due to the need to get through thirteen couples, only one judge gives proper comments after the dance. Though naturally the other two can’t help but throw words in when giving their scores.
And while we may have lost Julianne, we got back two big pros, and we even start out with one of them:
Terrell Owens & Cheryl Burke: Cha Cha Cha; “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” – The Temptations
They meet on a football field, and Cheryl evaluates his touchdown dance moves. They end up opening the dance with him doing them there too. With that out of the way, the rest feels more like just about Cheryl being back than anything else. Though Terrell is bright and bouncy and can more or less hold his own, even if his legs look off. Len, giving the critique, zeros in on that even as he calls him entertaining. Carrie Ann and Bruno more or less voice their agreements as they give him straight Fives for 15.
Debbie Gibson & Alan Bersten: Foxtrot; “Lost in Your Eyes” – Debbie Gibson
He shows up at one of her concerts, where it comes out he wasn’t born until her heyday was mostly passed. She wants to be an inspiration for other people with Lyme disease, but it’s a real issue in their rehearsals. Still, when she gets the moves down, she also projects elegance and connects well with her own song, and when the right kind of lighting comes up, their dancing manages to capture the kind of magic a good 80s movie has. But the judges have a lot of technical criticisms to make; Tom has to stop Bruno due to time, and he and Carrie Ann give Sixes. A more critical Len gives them a Five, so they total 17.
Sasha Pieterse & Gleb Savchenko: Cha Cha Cha; “Like That” – Fleur East
They note up front that her parents were professional dancers, but she says she has no former training. She also talks a lot about being nervous about performing live. And indeed, when she appears alongside her name in lights, the nerves initially get to her and she gets ahead of the music. Once she fixes that and relaxes a little, though, she’s properly aggressive and makes for good watching. Carrie Ann’s a little rambly. Bruno sums it up better as straight Sixes come up: pretty hot, but she couldn’t make that mistake. It leaves her with 18.
Drew Scott & Emma Slater: Cha Cha Cha; “Our House” – Madness
She seems to be a bit of a fan, and he promises to renovate her kitchen if they win. But, brother Jonathan tells us in the fluff, Drew can’t dance. The routine has them coming in through a door and he does some shimmying and adaptation of karate moves, all of which is great. But his actual cha cha chaing is not good at all, especially when he makes a big mistake and struggles to recover. Len decides to be optimistic about it and calls Drew a “fixer-upper.” Bruno compares him to “Demolition Man,” as he and Len break out the Fives. But Carrie Ann gives him a Six, so they get 16.
Barbara Corcoran & Keo Motsepe: Salsa; “Money Maker” – Ludacris feat. Pharrell Williams
She says before the reveal she’s hoping for Keo. And once it turns out to be him, she humorously hits on him like crazy. The number appears to take place in some weird semi-literal shark tank, and she is clearly enjoying the hell out of herself. It’s enough you have to grin. Except that, as Bruno points out, she really isn’t making good use of anything below her chin, and sums it up by saying she needs more attack. The most telling thing is really Len only giving them a Four, though they gets Fives from the other two for 14.
Jordan Fisher & Lindsay Arnold: Tango; “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” – Shawn Mendes
They’re both quite delighted to be paired with each other, with her noting she’s finally gotten a partner her own age! She’s got to be even happier about his being such a good dancer. Expectations are high going in, and when he takes to the floor, he meets them. It’s a difficult and attention-grabbing routine, he pulls it off very well technically, and also with an ease and performance we’ve been missing up until now. Carrie Ann is initially incoherent, and finishes by calling them a “partnership to watch.” She breaks out the Eight. Len and Bruno also praise him, but they only break out the Sevens for a total of 22.
Nick Lachey & Peta Murgatroyd: Cha Cha Cha; “Come Get It Bae” – Pharrell Williams
In both a pre-fluff interview and the fluff itself, Nick points out her can only tie his season two-winning brother, and that would require him to defeat his wife, so he calls it a “no-win” for him. He also reminds everyone that 98 Degrees was the boyband who didn’t dance. So when he comes out, he can’t really rock it the way most former boybanders on this show have. He can still sell it hard, and he has some presence, but he’s still stiff. Len praises him for going for it and is generally nice, but the scores are still straight Sixes for another 18.
Vanessa Lachey & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Cha Cha Cha; “Woman” Kesha feat. The Dap-King Horns
She’s been doing everything, she says, for her children and husband, and wants to do this for herself. Then the routine has an absurd opening involving baby dolls and strollers. But once they put all of that behind them, it turns out Vanessa has as much presence as her husband on the floor. Plus she’s actually better than him in terms of her dancing, looking much more natural out there. Bruno even showers praise on some of the technical aspects of her cha cha cha, though he concedes it wasn’t perfect. She gets straight Sevens for 21.
Frankie Muniz & Witney Carson: Foxtrot; “Sign of the Times” – Harry Styles
She gets more excited than you might expect about dancing with “Agent Cody Banks.” He puts up with being called his characters’ names, but says he wants to show himself. And it seems she listens, because she choreographs an intimate routine that allows him to do so. When he brings the emotion in, this simple affair is a very moving one. Carrie Ann even calls it “the type of performance fans fall in love with,” and she’s definitely right. It’s enough to get them a Seven from her. But with Bruno noting the feelings in it were far better than the technique, he and Len only give Sixes, for 19.
Nikki Bella & Artem Chigvintsev: Tango; “So What” – Pink
The fluff has him coming to a WWE event, her taking him into the pen, and promptly body-slamming him. She spends the rest of it talking about she is not used to what the ballroom demands of a girl, but Artem notes the tango’s a good fit for her. It is; it allows her to be her aggressive self on the dance floor, and she even body-slams poor Artem again at the end of the routine. But her dancing isn’t clean, and Len has to note one of her early mistakes, and also tells her not to look down so much. Still, he liked it enough for a Seven, as did Carrie Ann. But Bruno cites the errors to give only a Six, for 20.
Derek Fisher & Sharna Burgess: Salsa; “Basketball” Kurtis Blow
This is his mother’s favorite show, and her reaction when he tells her he’s on in via Skype is priceless, especially when she then tells him to control his feet. Sharna notes the weak record for basketball players on the show, and the producers do not help by saddling them with this song, which gets annoying quickly. But he’s enthusiastic, dancing with both a basketball and with Sharna. It’s is a delight to watch, however faulty his technique might be. Bruno praises them for bouncing the balls in sync but notes he was doing the wrong type of hip action, and they get a set of straight Sixes for 18.
Victoria Arlen & Val Chmerkovskiy: Cha Cha Cha; “Born Ready” The Disco Fries feat. Hope Murphy
The fluff mostly covers her illness, and how she went from being in a vegetative state to walking again. Even now she has no feeling in her legs; she has to move them around without that. That makes it all the more impressive what she ends up doing with them on the floor. It’s a routine he choreographs to create a feel of slowly building up from the ashes, and that she has no trouble pulling off. Carrie Ann calls it, “one of the most joyous performances I’ve ever seen” and breaks out the Seven. Faulty technique keep the men’s scores down to Sixes for 19, but Bruno says she’ll keep getting better.
Lindsey Stirling & Mark Ballas: Cha Cha Cha; “Don’t Worry” Madcon feat. Ray Dalton
Mark comes to her when she’s practicing with her violin, and ends up getting a choreographic idea, though not one he uses this week. This week, it’s just lots of stars, a bit more fancy lighting and lots of technical content. While Lindsey says beforehand she might be nerves, she shows none of that tackling all of it and doing it all well, as well as anyone tonight has. Len even calls their routine “the dance of the night and breaks out the Eight. But Carrie Ann and Bruno only break out Sevens, so they tie Jordan & Lindsay for the top.
No eliminations this first week, but next week it’ll be a two-night event, and each night will have an elimination. Hopefully after that there’ll be room for all the judges to comment properly again.