“Dancing With the Stars” premiered tonight, pitting 12 celebrity performers against each other in their bid for the season 17 championship and bragging rights.
At the end of the show, “Glee” star Amber Riley was the top scorer, with 27 out of a possible 30 points, while scientist Bill Nye brought up the rear with 14 points.
The field of competitors includes actors, a pop star, a reality TV star, a comedian and a former NFL player.
In a departure from previous seasons, there will be only one, two-hour show per week.
Viewers can vote for their favorite performance each week. Beginning Monday, Sept. 23, judges’ scores from the night of each live show, along with the public votes from the previous week’s show, will be combined. The couple with the lowest combined total will be eliminated.
The dancers tonight performed a cha-cha-cha, a foxtrot or a contemporary routine.
Brant Daugherty: The “Pretty Little Liars” star began the night with a strong cha-cha-cha that found favor with all three judges and drew a standing ovation from the ballroom audience. Judge Bruno Tonioli said he saw a small timing error by Daugherty, and called the actor and his pro partner, Peta Murgatroyd, “very hot stuff … .” Carrie Ann Inaba said she saw “a lot of potential” with Daugherty, while head judge Len Goodman had the highest praise: “Well, I tell you, some of these couples are going to have smooth sailing on calm waters. Others are going to sink without grace. Brant, sail on. That was fabulous!” he said. Daugherty earned 22 out of a possible 30 points.
Leah Remini: The star of “The King of Queens” turned in a smooth foxtrot that also drew approval from the judges. “You are sass and class,” Inaba told the actress. Tonioli said Remini’s performance was good, considering she’d never danced before. Goodman added that, while the routine was “a little bit careful in places,” he loved that it was “clean and precise.” Remini earned 21 points.
Corbin Bleu: Bleu, who starred in the hit TV movie, “High School Musical,” also earned a standing ovation from the audience with his contemporary performance. The contemporary style was the first ever for his pro partner, Karina Smirnoff, and Inaba praised Smirnoff’s choreography. “That was beautiful and passionate. Karina, well done for your first contemporary ever,” Inaba said. Tonioli told Bleu that he blended strength, power and athleticism with a tender, expressive touch. Goodman said Bleu’s dancing had good attack and attitude, and he praised the lifts. Bleu earned 24 points.
Jack Osbourne: The TV personality’s bubbly foxtrot pleased the judges and his famous parents, rock star Ozzy Osbourne and TV talk show host Sharon Osbourne, who was brought to tears by her son’s performance. “Jack, I’m telling you, you can dance!” Goodman said, praising Osbourne’s posture and footwork. Tonioli described the routine as “joyful, playful” and “uplifting,” while Inaba said Sharon Osbourne should be proud of her son’s performance. “Jack, you are a ballroom dancer,” Inaba said. “That was nothing but class. You were so smooth … I’m blown away.” Osbourne earned 23 points.
Amber Riley: The “Glee” star’s funky, high-energy cha-cha-cha drew roars of appreciation and a standing ovation from the ballroom audience, and judges were equally impressed. Inaba bowed to Riley over the table at the judges’ podium, telling her “You turned that cha-cha out!” Tonioli called Riley “the tigress of season 17,” while Goodman joked that he needed medical assistance. “I’m palpitating, perspirating and flatulating. I’m telling you, week one and you come out to dance like that? Incredible, full on, flat out fabulous.” Judges awarded Riley 27 points.
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren: The “Saved By the Bell” star drew unanimous approval from the judges and the ballroom audience for her elegant contemporary routine. “I tell you, it was lovely … there was speed and then there was quiet. It was just lovely to watch,” Goodman said. Inaba was equally struck by Lauren’s routine. “You were like a gorgeous, sensuous, beautiful, passionate, poetic angel,” Inaba said. Tonioli praised the choreography and called the performance “a great piece of dancing.” They awarded Lauren 24 points.
Bill Nye: The star of “Bill Nye the Science Guy” had the audience cheering for his wacky, mad scientist-inspired cha-cha-cha, but judges found many faults. Goodman summed it up this way: “It was like being waxed: it was painful when it happened and lovely when it was over,” adding that despite some fun and comedic moments, there wasn’t enough cha-cha content. Tonioli quipped that Nye’s formula wasn’t going to win him the Nobel prize, but Inaba had some encouragement. Even though she acknowledged that Nye needed to loosen his hips and improve on his footwork, she said he was the kind of contestant that made the show special. The audience erupted in a chorus of boos when judges awarded Nye 14 points.
Keyshawn Johnson: The former pro football player’s cha-cha drew mixed reviews. Inaba said he was “a little stiff” in the beginning but loosened up as the routine progressed. Saying dance was a mix of attitude and technique, Goodman said he thought Johnson’s attitude was terrific, but his technique needed work, which he could be taught. Tonioli referred to Johnson’s imposing size, saying “it’s like having the Empire State Building try to be a Rockette …,” adding that Johnson sometimes lost timing. Johnson earned 17 points.
Christina Milian: Judges approved of the “Dip It Low” singer’s contemporary routine but they said they thought she could do even more. “You move beautifully but I think that you’re better than you think you are,” Inaba said, adding that Milian was looking down for the first half of the routine. Goodman said he liked the choreography, adding that he thought the dance suited Milian, and Tonioli pointed out a few flaws with how Milian held her hands, but said he loved the routine’s intensity. They gave Milian 22 points.
Bill Engvall: At the end of his foxtrot, the comedian expressed relief that he was able to get through it and Goodman praised him for that. “I think week one is all about holding your nerve and remembering the routine and you did exactly that,” he said, while pointing out that the routine needed a bit more fluidity. Tonioli said he sensed a hint of sophistication and elegance that were very “well hidden,” while Inaba said she was pleasantly surprised to see that Engvall had a good frame and musicality. They awarded him 18 points.
Valerie Harper: In the introduction to the legendary TV actress’s practice video, she said she’d had a good life and career and had accepted her diagnosis of terminal cancer, and when she finished her foxtrot, she had tears in her eyes. “It’s good to be alive, and it’s even better to be dancing,” she said before the judges’ critique. Tonioli told her she was “an inspiration to the nation,” adding that she was radiant, stylish and light on her feet. He did point out that a few minor issues regarding the set of her shoulders and balance. Goodman said her dance had elegance and ease, and Inaba said Harper brought her to tears with her courage. Harper earned 21 points.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi: The star of “The Jersey Shore” won judges’ approval with her peppy cha-cha-cha. Inaba said she was impressed, and told Polizzi that her form was great. Len called Polizzi “a little pocket rocket,” and added that he loved her footwork. Tonioli, too, was impressed by Polizzi’s legs. They gave her 23 points.
Amber Riley and Derek Hough: 27
Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff: 24
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 24
Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke: 23
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Sasha Farber: 23
Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd: 22
Christina Milan and Mark Ballas: 22
Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani: 21
Valerie Harper and Tristan MacManus: 21
Bill Engvall and Emma Slater: 18
Keyshawn Johnson and Sharna Burgess: 17
Bill Nye and Tyne Stecklein: 14