Returned tonight. Notes from the telecast, including a good night for Sabrina Bryan, below, after the grand jete ...
Tom Bergeron promises this is "the most exciting cast ever." It may also contain the most people I've never heard of -- ever. And for three nights! Women tonight, men tomorrow, results Wednesday.
Since Samantha Harris had a baby yesterday, the fill-in is ... Drew Lachey. A nimble man, to be sure, but not a tall one.
The pros dance. Very well, of course. I sometimes wonder why they let the pros dance on their own like this, since the celebs will for the most part suffer by comparison. It takes me a bit to spot the faaaaabulous Cheryl Burke. New 'do this season. Julianne Hough has gone very Marilyn. Flashy redhead? Apparently Anna Trebunskaya, wife of pro Jonathan Roberts.
Introduction of the celebs. And first up to compete ... Jennie Garth with Derek Hough, older brother of Julianne. Tape of When Jennie Meets Derek; he claims to have had a crush on her when he was young. Their dance: Cha Cha. Garth not comfortable. (She told People magazine she hadn't danced for 20 years except with hubby Peter Facinelli.) But before her performance ... commercials.
Commercials include one for "The Bachelor." The bride is sees the guy and is ... impressed. With the pecs, not the face.
Ms. Garth at last. Cha cha to "Uptown Girl." Very thump-thump arrangement. Garth sways adequately, manages some stunts, but it's not a dance as much as a series of set pieces. The bride is impressed with the hip-swiveling ... by Derek.
Judging time. Len, aka Grumpy Old Judge, says Jennie needs to work on her "leg action." Bruno calls her a "yummy mummy." But in HD, not exactly. More leg instruction. Carrie Ann says she did "really really well" but "not quite there yet." Drew does the post-dance interview; he sounds kind of nasal. Scores: Carrie Ann, 7; Len, 7; Bruno, 7.
Next up: "Model and actress" Josie Maran. Famous for being in Sports Illustrated, apparently. Partner is Alec Mazo. Josie thinks he's "hunkety hunk hunk." The bride also approves. Alec calls Josie "deceptively unfit." They foxtrot. She's really awful! Terrible posture at times. Hammy wink. Nothing deceptive about this unfitness.
Len says she looked "fantastic" but notes that Alec was running the dance, and she wasn't good. Audience boos. Audience is wrong. Carrie Ann says she "did a very good job." Ha! Bruno calls the foxtrot "a very very hard dance" and that she looked like a ship "stranded on a sand bank." Scores: CA, 6; Len, 5; Bruno, 5. Which gives Drew an excuse to push for viewer votes.
Next: Sabrina Bryan, best known for the "Cheetah Girls" (Disney stuff), so a young-demo seeker for the show. Partner: Mark Ballas Jr. He tries to explain differences between hip-hop moves and cha-cha, before giving up and letting her do some hip-hop moves. The actual dance: She's the first one tonight who really knows how to dance. Not exactly cha cha, but definitely showy. And the Ballas kid is very good.
Judges: CA calls her "fierce," but says "too much hip-hop ... this is about learning ballroom dance." Bruno calls her a "bewitching blonde dynamo." Len calls it "very, very good" but warns "I don't want to see any hip-hop" and that he will be knocking off points.
Scores: CA, 9; Len, 8; Bruno, 9.
Next: Marie Osmond. Partner: Jonathan Roberts. Foxtrot practice. Marie struggles. She jokes around. He is not amused. She vows not to joke -- then says she'll because of 25 million viewers, 22 million are Osmonds. Actual dance: Her footwork's not great. Lots of teeth and presence. And he's too department-store-mannequin for my taste.
Bruno notes "your acting covers a lot of technical shortcomings." Len calls it "lovely." CA calls her "incredibly adorable." Scores: three 7's.
Next: Mel B. Partner: Maksim. She is not an easy partner. "Don't squeal at every step," he advises. The actual dance: This is a cha cha? She moves well, but a little awkward in spots. Not as good as Bryan. Judges: CA calls her "a better dancer than I thought you would be." Len praises. Bruno calls her "right on the money." Scores: CA, 8; Len, 8, Bruno, 8.
Weak banter between Tom and Drew.
Jane Seymour. They push her Bond girl connection, "Dr. Quinn." But hey, "Wedding Crashers"! Partner: Tony Dovolani. Jane notes she is the oldest woman ever to have done the show. But hey, "Wedding Crashers"! (Also, she is a smart, savvy woman.) Foxtrot: Very old-school elegant, especially in the context of this night. Maybe not the best steps, but it's a style that will appeal to a lot of older viewers. I said she was smart.
Judges: Bruno calls it "the essence of elegance ... lovely detailing" (but watch the turns). CA "elegance personified." Len, also "elegance personified" (with another warning about the turns). Scores: CA, 8; Len, 8; Bruno, 8.
(Final rank -- Sabrina, 26; Jane/Mel, 24 each; Jennie/Marie, 21 each; Josie, 16. I don't have a problem with that. I'd top-three Sabrina, Mel and Jane.)
Hype for the men's competition tomorrow night. Recap of tonight's dances.