There were no shortages of surprises from the celebrities (and a nasty shock for one of the contestants) in the season 23 opener of the dancing competition last night. After a high energy, pre-taped opener at the Griffith Observatory, the stars came out and showed off what they got. There were a couple of competitors who were as good, maybe even better, as expected, but there were a few celebrities who came out and amazed. This season is not going to be boring. Let’s hop into the recap starting with the lowest scores to the highest.
Rick and Emma (Cha Cha) – The former governor of Texas wanted to come on the show to improve his image learn to dance for his daughter’s wedding. I had very low expectations for the politician in his dancing ability and he wasn’t great, but he was fun to watch. He was so stiff and dorky, it made him endearing. The good news is there is some potential there for him to improve. There is a very real possibility he will get the boot next week, but I’m looking forward to seeing how much he will improve for the next dance. Score: 20/40
Jake and Jenna (Jive) – The former Wizards of Waverly Place star immediately had some good chemistry with his first time pro partner. They have that so-adorable-they’re-almost-annoying thing going and if the two of them milk it right, it will take them far. The audience loves it when a pro and star hook up on the show. As far as his dancing skills go, Austin was okay. I think the jive was a bit too much for him on week one and couldn’t keep up with Jenna. He had some good extensions and lines, but his feet need some serious work. Score: 22/40
Maureen and Artem (Cha Cha) – There is always one crier each season and the original Marsha Brady is going to be it for season 23. Dancing has been a source of insecurity for the actress, but she is a huge fan of the show and wants to challenge herself. Artem is a perfect partner for her. He is calm and patient. It is evident his cool composure helped her during their dance. Maureen looked elegant and confident in her moves. She has a ways to go with her foot work and lines, but I think she and Artem will make a good showing. Score: 22/40
Ryan and Cheryl (Foxtrot) – I didn’t know what to expect from the disgraced Olympian, so I was a bit surprised as to how light he was on his feet. There was a gracefulness about him that could improve with time and some nice footwork. Of course not too many people are going to be talking about his routine so much as they will be talking about what happened after. While I may not agree with Lochte being allowed to participate in DWTS, I thought the gentlemen rushing the stage was dangerous and in bad taste. Bravo to the security staff for doing a great job. I still hope he is the first one booted off the show. I would rather see another dorky routine from Rick Perry than Ryan Lochte get any more press than he has been given. Score: 24/40
Amber and Maks (Foxtrot) – With two such strong personalities, I expected the talk show host and pro to butt heads. So far they seem to be getting along and have a pleasant chemistry going. Her dance was also quite unexpected. Amber was smooth, confident, and connected emotionally with the dance and Maks. There is room for improvement, but if she keeps it classy, the former model can go far. I felt like the judges were too harsh on her scoring wise. Score: 24/40
Terra and Sasha (Jive) – The first ever little person to compete on DWTS came out of the gate strong. There are some limitations in how she can move with her legs and arms being smaller than average, but that didn’t stop her from putting on a great jive. Terra had such boundless energy and was having the time of her life out there. She and Sasha are the perfect fit, a joy to watch. I cannot wait to see more. Score: 25/40
Vanilla Ice and Witney (Cha Cha) – The 90’s rap star had never even seen the show and for some reason I find that wonderfully hilarious. Rob Van Winkle has some natural rhythm and fluidity, but not enough to look comfortable with the more traditional steps. When the dance veered into the old school hip hop moves (much to Len’s horror), Rob was in his element. The second he had to actually cha cha, he was stiff and awkward. The reality star has a lot of enthusiasm and Witney is an excellent teacher so there is a good chance he could be sticking around for a while. Score: 25/40
Calvin and Lindsay (Cha Cha) – With all the rancor the NFLer received after he was announced on the show, I was kind of hoping he would get on the floor and shut his critics down. And man, did he bring the goods. The routine was simple with little content, but that is fine for a first dance. There is room to add more. He looked natural on the floor and his interaction with Lindsay was on point. I can see those two cracking everyone up. Calvin’s thousand-watt smile put such a big one on my face. He lit up the ballroom with it. Score: 26/40
Babyface and Allison (Foxtrot) – The legendary music producer came to the show wanting to make his mother, who passed away a few years ago, proud. His stylish and confident foxtrot was a great first step in making that happen. Even though his routine was very old school in nature, he moved around on the floor with an ease of a man younger than his 60 years. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do with the faster dances like the jive or the salsa. Score: 26/40
Jana and Gleb (Viennese Waltz) – Holy wow the country music star and her pro have some serious chemistry. The singer/actress’s home life has fallen apart, but her ex has to be steaming mad over how sexy that Viennese waltz was. Jake and Jenna have the adorable thing going, but Jana and Gleb have the sex type thing going. Score: 27/40
Marilu and Derek (Jive) – These two started out the night right with their high energy and entertaining jive. The Taxi actress made it look effortless and that is not an easy thing considering how full of content the jives usually are. I can see her going to the finals. Her fangirling over Derek was so adorable. Score: 27/40
James and Sharna (Foxtrot) – The Indy car driver came out and amazed everyone with how effortless and graceful he looked on the floor. He is definitely going to be the dark horse of the competition. James may not earn as much attention as the flashier competitors will get, but his good moves and easy chemistry with Sharna are going to carry him far. The fact that his is super adorkable won’t hurt either. Score: 31/40
Laurie and Val (Cha Cha) – Are any of us surprised the Olympic gymnast killed it out there? She has a natural showmanship that is perfect for the show. And unlike the other gymnasts who have competed, she is actually learned the proper dance steps instead of relying on her athleticism to get her thru the first dance. Laurie and Val have some fun vibes going. He looks at her like she is his favorite little sister and I think that is going to work against them when they get to the sexier dances like the salsa and Argentine tango. Even so, I said it before and I’ll say it again, she is going to be hoisting that Mirror Ball Trophy at the end of this competition. Score: 31/40
What did you think of week one of DWTS? Were you shocked Ryan Lochte had haters in the audience? Who do you think was the biggest surprise? Do you have a favorite to win? Talk to me in the comments section below.