Dancing with the Stars debuts with a demure Palin, shuffling Hoff and sorry Situation
Here's the good news about this fall's edition of Dancing with the Stars: Unlike past seasons, there's no one so good you can crown them the winner after the first dance.
The bad news? That's because almost everybody on the show is just different kinds of awful.
As proof, consider the judges' scores after the season debut Monday, where no less than three celebrities were tied for rock bottom at 15 points each: comic Margaret Cho, Jersey Shore star Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and The Hoff himself, schlock TV star David Hasselhoff.
Sarah Palin didn't show to cheer her daughter Bristol through her first dance, where she stripped off a sparkly suitjacket to reveal a sporty red dress that showed off her legs. Even pro dancer partner Mark Ballas admitted Palin wasn't a performer before the dance segment, foreshadowing the dance itself -- which mostly consisted of her striking poses in motion while Ballas danced around her.
The Situation blamed just five-days practice for his halting performance, which led judge Len Goodman to pronounce "you've got the guns but not the ammunition." Pop crooner Michael Bolton, who is trying to tour and dance on the show, came off so wooden and ill at ease, he seemed to be regretting agreeing to appear on the show from the second he stepped onstage. "Trying something new can be painful," judge Bruno Tonioli said, in an attempt to commiserate that more closely described the audience's experience watching Bolton -- who just missed rock bottom by one point.
Brady Bunch mom Florence Henderson struggled to fill more than the senior citizen comic relief role Cloris Leachman avidly jumped into last fall and Cho failed to be funny flapping around huge golden wings sprouting from the sides of her dress. Hasselhoff looked a bit like Elvis in a leather jacket, sunglasses and lurching gait; when his dance was over, Tonioli pronounced it was "a potpourri of insanity disguised as dance."
In this diminished field, Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey came out on top -- small surprise someone with a dance background would get the top score -- though her emotional reaction when rehearsing to a snog from the film, saying it reminded her of co-star Patrick Swayze who died just over a year ago, felt odd. Judge Carrie Ann Inaba teared up while talking to Grey, making the whole thing feel a little icky and contrived.
R&B star Brandy, another performer who actually dances as part of her job description, seemed the next best performer; energetic Disney Channel star Kyle Massey, former NBA player Rick Fox, former Hills star Audrina Patridge and former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner all rounded out the better also-rans.
If Dancing's audience didn't have so many middle-aged women, I'd say Bolton was going home, because he frankly performed the worst. But Cho, who doesn't have much cachet with the show's traditional audience and wasn't very funny Monday, is probably the one who'll take the long walk.
Whoever leaves Tuesday, it looks as if viewers are in for a looong season.