ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" was back with a vengeance on Monday night -- and a whole lot of cutting commentary from the judges. And while this fresh batch of celeb contestants will get a one-week reprieve to brush up their booty shaking (the season's first elimination takes place next week, after dance #2), it's easy to see that it's not easy being green on a show that has vowed to go back to basics and bring in "new blood" after last fall's recycled all-stars season.
The judges were in rare form on the Season 16 premiere, especially newlywed Len Goodman who faked us out at first with his softer demeanor. (That changed by the end of the episode.)
Reality star restaurateur Lisa Vanderpump may have had her precious pooch Giggy by her side, but the pup didn't garner her any extra points from Len, who barked that her foxtrot with new pro dancer Gleb Savchenko was "acceptable but not exceptional." Clearly Vanderpump didn't rule on her "Dancing" debut.
Comedian D.L. Hughley was also on the premiere night hit list. The judges offered him no mercy after his ill-timed cha cha to the Flo Rida song "Low." Speaking of low, D.L. was the low scorer of the night, raking in only 12 points out of a total of 30. Ouch.
"The Bachelor" star Sean Lowe was told his routine "lacked finesse," with judge Bruno Tonioli comparing the rose-toting hunk's foxtrot to "a Chippendale's version of a ballroom dance."
Funnyman Andy Dick wasn't laughing during the critique of his foxtrot. Len said the dance had all the "fluidity of 'Robocop,'" while Bruno said it was like "Woody Allen doing the foxtrot" complete with a "neurotic twitch." Tell him how you really feel, guys!
And a surprising slam came for Super Bowl star Jacoby Jones. While football pros usually score touchdowns on this show, Jones didn't get a free pass from the judges after his cha cha with Karina Smirnoff. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba called Jones' routine -- which included a side of Ray Lewis' squirrel dance -- "a big collection of touchdown dances." Len told him, "This was all icing and no cake. "It was all performance drive. Your technique was terrible... Your footwork was terrible."
There were some bright spots on Monday's show, though.
Country cutie Kellie Pickler and her partner Derek Hough sported matching blonde pixie haircuts and danced a sassy and classy cha cha, while Disney star Zendaya Coleman shook things up with a premiere-night perfect contemporary dance. (Hey, on premiere night, triple eights are about as perfect as you can get!) Meanwhile, Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill's elegant "Tiny Dancer" contemporary proved that she still has what it takes to be America's sweetheart.
"Dancing With the Stars" returns tonight with a recap of the premiere night dances, and then next week the stars will be back to do damage to the jive, quickstep, and jazz.
"Dancing With the Stars" airs on Mondays and Tuesdays on ABC.
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