Dancing with the stars Monday kicked off its 31st season in the weirdest way: by asking viewers on a watch button on Disney+ at exactly 5PM / 8PM “Tune” earlier and you’ll get a reminder – NO, it’s at 8PM ET, friend! Come back when it’s time. This is the new reality for dance fans who are used to watching their favorite competition show that used be on TBEN.
Otherwise, the live, two-hour episode of DWTS started as it was (before the pandemic) with a big opening number, an enthusiastic (but casually dressed) studio audience and a grand entrance by presenter Tyra Banks. A few more updates have been made to the aging franchise: DWTS veteran Conrad Green is back as executive producer and season 19 champion Alfonso Ribiero now provides much-needed help with hosting duties by posting softball questions in the Sky Box.
This is what happened on the first night:
Jason Lewis and Peta Murgatroyd. The Sex and the city actor greeted his two-time champion partner with flowers and a warning that he can only dance after consuming whiskey or tequila. He was very sober while performing the cha cha so use your imagination if you missed the show. “What I want you to do is breathe. That’s what’s missing. You have to breathe and relax,” Judge Carrie Ann Inaba said. Score: 18 out of 40
Vinny Guadagnino and Koko Iwasaki. The Jersey Shore alum says he’s a fish in water in the ballroom. Apparently he is much more comfortable with the Chippendales in Las Vegas, where he resides. Maybe he should have taken off his shirt during his salsa because his number was missing heat. “I don’t get it, Vinny,” Judge Len Goodman said. “This of all dances is a club dance and you didn’t show me. It was rough, your legs were too bent. I really wanted you to come out and blow my socks off.’ Score: 17 out of 40
Jesse James Decker and Alan Bersten. The country singer admitted to having been a long time DWTS fan, but expressed reservations about her chances since she was kicked out of dance class as a child. Fortunately, her cha cha to “Sweet Home Alabama” didn’t sour the jury. “You came out and sold it. The level of performance was very high,” said Goodman. Score: 20 out of 40
Teresa Giudice and Pasha Pashkov. The former Real housewives star said she does DWTS because she wants viewers to see the real Teresa – not the one who went to jail for fraud. She has also worked with a therapist to learn not to be triggered. That should be good news for the judges, I guess? Anyway, her tango on “We Found Love” wasn’t terrible, except the way she stared at the ceiling was just weird, man. ‘I saw you look up a little. Think very wide, not up or down or wide,” Judge Derek Hough said. To score: 20 out of 30
Sam Champion and Cheryl Burke. The former Good morning America weatherman was giddy to learn that Champion had been her partner since encouraging him to do the show 10 years ago. A gay man wanting to “step out of his comfort zone,” Champion made his ballroom debut by performing a foxtrot on “Tiny Dancer” amid a cloud of dry ice. “That was so tender and so sweet. You were a little nervous when you came out the gate,’ Inaba said. To score: 20 out of 40
Cheryl Ladd and Louis Van Amstel. The former star of Charlie’s Angels reminded us that she is 71, but was delighted to learn that Van Amstel, who has been absent from the show for 7 seasons, is her partner. He has done his work for him; Ladd admitted she is not a dancer and was careful with her cha cha. But she’s got some great wheels, so she’s halfway there! “Cheryl Ladd has swagger! You have an elegance for you. I think maybe the routine was too simple for you,” said judge Bruno Tonioli. Score: 21 out of 40
Trevor Donovan and Emma Slater. Apparently the 90210 actor has a fear of dancing. Like an ‘irrational phobia. There is something in my head that is preventing me from moving at all.” Of course, then do Dancing with the stars. What could go wrong? His first quick step to ‘Dancing With Myself’ perhaps? “It was hectic, it was manic. you just came out and flew across that floor,” Goodman said. Score: 21 out of 40
Joseph Baena and Daniella Karagacho. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son was lucky to score last year’s champion as a partner. His father wasn’t in the ballroom for his jive, but he paid tribute by bending his guns on top of his jive and performing a burpee at the end. “We all get jealous of the biceps! But actually your musicianship was good. You weren’t heavy. I’m telling you, you come back,‘ said Tonioli. Score: 23 out of 40
Heidi D’Amelio and Artem Chigvintsev. Most viewers probably won’t recognize D’Amelio – a YouTuber with her own family show. But the producers seemed to like the idea of both mom D’Amelio and her much more famous daughter Charli doing the show together. D’Amelio was the first for the family with a cha cha to ‘Lady Marmalade’. “Put all the energy and thought and interpretation behind every step. You really have to project your personality through your body,” Tonioli said. To score: 24 out of 40
Jordan Sparks and Brandon Armstrong The platinum artist reminded us she won american idol at the age of 19 and enjoyed a successful singing career. But one thing that has been missing in her life is a mirror ball trophy! She opened the evening with an impressive cha cha on Whitney Houston’s “I Want to Dance with Somebody”. “Jordan, you have such an amazing presence on the floor,” Hough said. ‘That crack in the middle, girl! I saw that. That was fantastic.” Score: 26 out of 40
Daniel Durant and Britt Stewart. The actor from CODA wants to show people that “deaf people can dance too”. (Oh, we knew That. Who can forget Nyle DiMarco, season 22 winner?) Dressed in neon green, Durant danced a neat tango that garnered much acclaim. “You moved well on the floor. I’m really excited to see you develop as this show progresses,” Goodman said. Score: 27 out of 40
Wayne Brady and Witney Carson. The Let’s make a deal host does the show to make his grandmother proud. That shouldn’t be difficult; his cha cha started with a bad bang and close that immediately served as a warning to his fellow contestants: Brady is coming difficult for that mirror ball trophy. “Welcome to Wayne’s dance floor! Performance level through the roof. You’ve got it and you know what to do with it,” Tonioli said. To score: 29 out of 40.
Shangela and Gleb Savchenko. Let’s hear it for changemakers! In addition to appearing as the first drag queen on DWTS, Shangela also announced that she will perform all rehearsals from drag (her pronouns are he/him). Finally two men dance together under the mirror ball! If only it didn’t need 31 seasons and a new digital home for true inclusivity. “You have so much energy, so much strength, so much charisma,” Hough said. “Well done.” Score: 28 out of 40
Gabby Windey and Val Khmerkovskiy. It is traditional for singles from the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise to appear on DWTS. And like her predecessors, Windey has some hoof experience. Her jive showed that she won’t be going home anytime soon. “For me, I think that was the best dance of the night so far. So sharp, so clean,” Hough said. “Your rotation was off the hook.” To score: 28 out of 40
Selma Blair and Sasha Farber. The longtime actress was diagnosed with MS in August 2018, so stiffness and balance issues will make it challenging to compete. But the judges were overwhelmed by her plight and her courage, so they were generous with their support. ‘So good to see you here. You really created magic tonight. It was beautiful,” said Tonioli. To score: 28 out of 40
Charli D’Amelio and Mark Ballas. The social media star (and daughter of Heidi D’Amelio) is this year’s ringer: She has amassed millions of followers on TikTok for her slick moves. She’s also a natural for the camera, which is why her cha cha was the last dance of the night. “Season 31 got really hot, really fast. It’s like I’ve seen 20 different people dance! You, it was kind of awesome,” Inaba said. Score: 32 out of 40
The bottom two were Lewis/Murgatroyd and Giudice/Pashkov. All the judges saved Guidice, so poor Lewis went home.
Next week it’s Elvis night!