Host Tom Bergeron billed the 10th season as the most-talked-about one of "Dancing With the Stars." He also called it a landmark season.
At first look, this season seems a triumph of casting. During tonight's season premiere, an astronaut legend fell to earth, a Pussycat Doll blossomed, and a "Baywatch" babe brought new electricity to the dance floor.
ABC's most popular series saved Pamela Anderson and Kate Gosselin for the end. The scores from tonight will be added with next week's numbers before the first celebrity is ejected. (Anderson is pictured with dancer partner Damian Whitewood in this ABC photo by Adam Larkey.)
Former champ Brooke Burke joined Bergeron in hosting. Hyperbole inflated the introductions; Bergeron billed Gosselin as "the hardest-w0rking mom in show business." Don't hurl. Then we got to the dancing:
Football star Chad Ochocinco showed some fast footwork and suave moves on a cha-cha-cha with former champ Cheryl Burke. It was a very good start for the season's first dancer. Len Goodman praised Ochocinco but asked for better posture. Score: 18 points, 6 apiece from the judges.
Shannen Doherty said she was doing the show for her dad, who suffered a massive stroke. Partner Mark Ballas said he saw promise in her despite her nerves. They tackled the Viennese waltz, and her nerves were all too evident. Bruno Tonioli said it was too difficult choreography for the first week. But Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba praised Doherty's potential. Score: 18 points.
ESPN's Erin Andrews drew the tough assignment of dancing with demanding Maksim Chmerkovskiy. They ripped into the cha-cha-cha. Andrews can shake her hips and kick her long legs. Inaba praised her moves, and Tonioli celebrated Andrews' zest. "As a debut, wonderful," Tonioli said. Scores: 21 points, 7 apiece.
Jake Pavelka of "The Bachelor" was lucky to have Chelsie Hightower as a partner. His fiancee, Sanford's Vienna Girardi, watched from the audience. Pavelka feared that he wasn't a good dancer, but he exhibited good posture, ease and a big smile on the Viennese waltz. Goodman said Pavelka moved very well. Points: 20. "Proposing to Vienna was the honor of my life," Jake said, after his score was announced.
Actress Niecy Nash of "Reno 911!" merrily took on the challenge of working with Louis van Amstel. She announced she didn't want to become just another thin dancer on the show, thank you very much. Niecy and Louis attacked the cha-cha-cha. Inaba loved the energy. Goodman wanted more personality. Points: 18. "I'm dedicating my performance to big girls everywhere," Nash said. She jazzed up the show.
Olympic figure skater Evan Lysacek said he wanted to display his dancing ability by joining the ABC show. Anna Trebunskaya put him through his moves on the Viennese waltz. Dancing isn't skating, but the judges mostly liked what they saw. Inaba praised his lines, but said he needed to point his toes. Tonioli was wowed by his potential. Points: 23 points. And Lysacek has charm, too.
Risk-taking Buzz Aldrin, who is 80, took on the challenge of dancing with Ashly Costa. How would they do on the cha-cha-cha? He had a lot of personality on a ragged, herky-jerky dance. "It looked like you still had your moon boots on," Tonioli said. Inaba praised him for inspiring the audience. Points: 14.
Pop singer Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls drew Derek Hough as her partner, and they are a potent team. They pulled off the night's most elegant Viennese waltz. Tonioli was "astounded" by the "startling finesse," and Inaba said she had never seen a routine that good out of the gate. Goodman criticized the technique, even as he said it was an overall great performance. Huh? Points: 25 points -- 9 apiece from Bruno and Carrie Ann.
Daytime actor Aiden Turner tried to demonstrate his animal magnetism on a cha-cha-cha with Edyta Sliwinska. The judges were scathing. "The cha-cha with nothing growing in the groin," Tonioli complained -- the line of the night. Scores: 15.
TV mom Kate Gosselin looked like a challenging partner for Tony Dovolani. She said her insecurities were eating her alive, but added she was dancing for all the moms out there. Sounded like a ploy for votes. Gosselin looked lovely but moved stiffly on a Viennese waltz. Goodman spotted the nerves, and Tonioli said the technique was terrible. Yet Inaba praised a "sweet vulnerability" to Gosselin's performance. That's the first time those words were applied to mother Kate. Scores: 16 points.
"Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson clearly inspired good-natured dance partner Damian Whitewood, who is a new pro this season. It was the night's sultriest dance. All Tonioli said all he could think of was "sex, sex and more sex." "You do not disappoint," Inaba said. Goodman found the technique messy. Still, Ms. Pam jolted the show -- and in a promising way. She is unpredictable, funny and game. Points: 21 points.
It was a good start for an old show, and Disney-owned ABC desperately needs "Dancing" to do well this spring.
Dancing With the Stars: Pamela Anderson and Shannen Doherty Bring it
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