Monthly Archives: September 2007

Ox Notes: September 28, 2007

There’s never an end to news about Dancing with the Stars. Victoria Beckham was going to be fellow Spice Girl Melanie Brown’s personal costume designer for DwtS, but those plans may be put on hold since Posh’s father-in-law suffered a heart attack on Thursday.

To wrap up the first week of DwtS, here’s a clip from Entertainment Tonight following Tuesday night’s Performance Show, and video of Josie Maran on Jimmy Kimmel Live after she’d been eliminated from DwtS. Josie sounds a little flaky — she gave birth to her kid in her backyard on purpose — but she is launching a line of earth-friendly cosmetics, so she’s cool in my book.

If you wondered what Tom Bergeron was talking about when he mentioning a new DwtS book, he was referring to Dancing with the Stars: Jive, Samba, and Tango Your Way Into the Best Shape of Your Life. Fans can have copies of the book signed by Joey Lawrence and Elena Grinenko at the Borders in Torrence, CA on October 2 at 7 p.m. — which is a horrible time for a book signing, since the Results Show airs at 8.

I’m glad I stopped watching Kid Nation, so that I didn’t have to endure graphic footage of the kids killing chickens on the most recent episode.

NBC’s plan to combine ratings from two airings of the Heroes season premiere has forced Nielsen to review that ratings loophole.

I caught a rerun of the series premiere of Reaper on the CW last night, and I loved it. Plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and a great supporting cast made of veterans of other nerdy shows, including Missy Peregrym (Heroes), Ray Wise (Twin Peaks), and Tyler Labine (Invasion), who should get a Best Supporting Actor Emmy nomination for his work in the premiere.

If only the CW would reschedule Reaper so it didn’t have to go up against House and the DwtS Results Show.

Tonight, I’ll be watching one of the strangest collections of shows imaginable: Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Moonlight, The Soup, and Bill Moyers Journal.

I’m excited for the debut of Moonlight because I know one of the staff writers (it’s her first, but long overdue, Hollywood gig), and because it marks the return of Jason Dohring, aka Logan from Veronica Mars. Further, the show’s star, Alex O’Loughlin, confirmed that Moonlight only deals with vampires, and not the rest of supernatural pantheon. That should serve to separate it from other otherworldly series like Supernatural and Blood Ties.

Survivor China: Episode 2

On this week’s Survivor, the Zhan Hu tribe lost one more member — and all of its lip rings.

Dave’s offer to take charge of the listless Zhan Hu tribe turned out to be a mixed blessing. Sure, he helped them build a fire pit and gather firewood, but he was a total jerk about it. Or, as his tribemate Ashley put it, Dave was a "tool."

His efforts didn’t help the team win challenges either, as he took so long crafting his dream barbecue that he wouldn’t let his tribemates build a cooking fire until after the Immunity Challenge. The team wanted to go into challenges hungry — just not that kind of hungry.

As for the challenges, this week’s Reward Challenge would be a big hit if CBS chose to release a Survivor China: Uncensored DVD. Three members of each tribe faced off against one another trying to 1) roll a huge ball across a mud pit and into their team’s goal, and 2) stop the other team from doing the same.

In order to keep their only sets of clothes clean, most of the Survivors competed in their underwear. And as they wrestled in the mud — wouldn’t you know it — most of their underwear came off. Amanda rolled a ball into Fei Long’s goal as her teammates cheered, "Put your top back on!"

Amanda covered her chest and said, "My mom’s going to kill me!"

The challenge was a best of three. In round two, James was able to seal the victory for Fei Long pretty quickly. The tribe was rewarded with fishing gear and the opportunity to kidnap a member of the other tribe until the next Immunity Challenge. They nabbed Zhan Hu’s only upbeat member, Jaime.

On the way to her temporary camp, Jeff Probst handed Jaime a special package to be opened in secret. A note inside instructed Jamie to give a sealed clue to the whereabouts of a Hidden Immunity Idol to a member of the Fei Long tribe.

She made the shrewd decision to give the clue to Fei Long’s weakest player, Christian radio host Leslie, in the hopes that she would stick around at the expense of someone stronger. Leslie accepted the clue as a gift from God, as opposed to from Jaime.

Leslie then made as stupid a move as Jaime’s was smart. She shared the clue with Todd, in the hopes that they could find the Immunity Idol together and then share it. Todd was evidently so crafty that he’d been able to convince Leslie that he was trustworthy, while simultaneously forming an alliance with Amanda and using Aaron as his puppet dictator.

Needless to say, as soon as Todd heard the clue from Leslie, he started planning on how to get rid of her and keep the Idol for himself.

He wouldn’t have that chance, though, as Zhan Hu lost the Immunity Challenge and headed back to Tribal Council again. After three days of constant bickering between Ashley and Dave, it was clear that one of them needed to go.

Everyone on Zhan Hu seemed to like Ashley better, but they feared losing Dave’s strength. So they took the opportunity at Tribal Council to tell Dave that he was patronizing and rude, and gave him one more chance to straighten up.

They gave Ashley the hook instead, and as she left, she pointed at Dave and said, "I’ll see you soon."

She’s probably right, because next week Dave becomes even more frustrated with his lazy tribemates. Something tells me that Dave, who rolls his eyes as naturally as he breathes, won’t be able to keep his frustrations to himself.

Ox Notes: September 27, 2007

TV Guide’s backstage report from last night’s Dancing with the Stars Results Show features a reminder of why Dolly Parton is so cool. While filming her performances, a fan in the balcony yelled out, "I love you, Dolly!" Dolly replied, "I told you to wait in the truck!"

People also filed their own behind-the-scenes reports from Monday’s premiere, Tuesday’s Performance Show, and last night’s Results Show, which won the night with 16.62 million viewers.

Dance fever seems to have taken over the networks, as both ABC and NBC are planning scripted series about young New Yorkers trying to make it in the performing arts.

I’m not sure NBC will be as lucky with two other shows it’s working on. First is a reality competition show called Phenomenon, in which illusionists perform live tricks that are judged by the Mindfreak, Criss Angel. And the second is a remake of Knight Rider. As if you can improve on the original.

Speaking of things as stupid as a show about a talking car, the contestants on America’s Next Top Model didn’t get the eco-friendly message that producers tried to impress upon them — although one of the models did try to make sense of it: "It really is important to just be aware of what keeps our earth good."

In other modeling-related news, Project Runway 4 premieres on Wednesday, November 14.

Finally, farmer Steve "Chicken" Morris gave an interview to TV Guide after becoming the first contestant eliminated from Survivor: China. Even though he didn’t last long in the game, the Survivor experience gave Chicken the travel bug: "…when a neighbor or friend used to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to Scotland next week,’ it kind of went in one ear and out the other. After you’ve traveled one time and you hear people tell about their trip, now I’ve got my ear cocked: I want to hear about it." Happy travels, Chicken.

DwtS 5, Week 1: Results

The fans agreed with the judges, and the couple with the lowest score became the first couple eliminated from Dancing with the Stars 5.

This season’s first results show got underway with the traditional judges’ encore. Sabrina & Mark took the honors for their high-scoring Cha Cha.

After the encore, Dolly Parton performed her classic country hit, "9 to 5," as professional dancers Cheryl, Derek, Julianne, and Mark took to the floor.

Then, fans who’d been in the studio audience for this week’s two Performance Shows gave their opinions of the dancers. The other members of the Cheetah Girls said they wished they looked as good as Jane Seymour does now. Chris Harrison, host of The Bachelor, could only mutter, "Josie’s pretty." And a female fan said of Cameron, "I wanted to skinny dip in his eyes."

Then it was time for Drew Lachey to chat backstage with the first four couples who were announced as safe for this week: Sabrina & Mark, Jennie & Derek, Helio & Julianne, and Albert & Anna. Drew noted that Sabrina had tied Mario Lopez for the highest first week score in DwtS history, although that didn’t wind up helping Mario at the end.

And Albert revealed that he and Anna have a plan to win: "We’re gonna keep it fun — keep it sassy."

Drew deadpanned, "Gonna keep it sassy. I can hardly wait."

New this season was corporate sponsorship for the guest dancers who perform at the Results Shows. Tonight, "Stars of Dance, sponsored by Macy’s" presented a performance by tap dancer Savion Glover.

The tap dance was followed by another song by Dolly Parton, who sang "Better Get to Livin’," from her upcoming album.

Kenny Mayne stole the show with his comedic look at "The Origins of Dance." He strolled along the beach in a sparkly ballroom shirt, examining cave drawings in the caves of "Africa, which looks amazingly like Malibu, California." Mayne ultimately determined that dance originated on British TV with Len Goodman. Then it came to America, where fans tuned in to see if George Hamilton is still alive.

Finally, it was revealed which couples received the lowest number of votes on Monday and Tuesday nights: Josie & Alec and Mark & Kym.

Ultimately, Josie & Alec were unable to counter their low scores with audience votes, and they were sent home. Tom Bergeron pointed at the judges and asked Josie if she’d like to say anything to anyone. She looked at the judges’ table and said, "Thanks for your… honesty?"

After Josie thanked Alec, he urged everyone who had voted for them to shift all of their future votes to his wife Edyta — and Cameron. And then Alec and Josie danced to The Cars’ incredibly melancholy "Drive."

DwtS 5, Week 1: A Second Opinion

Season 5 of Dancing with the Stars is off and running. After two nights of surprisingly competent performances, it’s clear that the ladies have blasted out of the starting gate, while the men, with the exception of Helio, are still finishing their warm-up laps. Here’s my take on this season’s field of celebrity dance teams.


Sabrina & Mark
This Cheetah Girl totally delivered the fresh edge that she promised, courtesy of a dynamic and explosive Cha Cha Cha routine. This number was the hands-down best performance of both nights. Sabrina exuded confidence and high energy with her sharp crisp actions, strong hip movement, and precision footwork. Her partner, Mark, was no slouch either. Their great synchronization and infectious smiles captivated the in-house audience and earned them a well-deserved standing ovation.

Mark’s decision to incorporate hip-hop into the routine’s demanding choreography was a resounding success and certainly added to this duo’s appeal. In fact, their fierce performance likely won them a whole bunch of brand new cheetahlicious fans. Clearly this pair has already gelled and is well positioned to go the distance, leaving many of their competitors in the dust!

Jane & Tony
Dr. Quinn’s prescription for a Foxtrot that embodied the English Rose was beautifully filled by Tony’s charming routine. Jane was elegance personified, as she effortlessly floated across the dance floor. Her lovely arm extensions and delicate yet expressive hand movements showcased this pair’s enchanting performance.

Tony’s superb choreography incorporated a wonderful balance of steps in hold and steps apart. Their well-rehearsed delivery and graceful synchronization secured them a first place position for the Foxtrot. This is another well-matched team that is likely to qualify in a number of heats before the quarterfinals.

Helio & Julianne
This charismatic Indy champion reaffirmed his racing expertise with a bewitching Foxtrot performance. Helio was the only male celebrity to deliver convincingly on the dance floor. He was surprisingly relaxed and smooth, not to mention personable.

Once again, Julianne’s choreography shone through. The chemistry between this pair was tangible, and their performance contained just the right mixture of playfulness and elegance. Even their facial expressions deserve accolades, right down to Julianne’s nose twitching at the end of their "Bewitched By You" dance number. As Len proclaimed, Helio is firing on all four cylinders. And, based on his racing history, this challenger is determined to claim the checkered flag.

Mel B & Maksim
Scary Spice flaunted her feline prowess with both a leopard print dress and a feisty Cha Cha Cha number. Mel B’s energetic delivery included all the key fundamentals characteristic of this Latin dance: crisp movements, good hip action, smooth turns, and cheeky interplay. Mel displayed a strong sense of rhythm and movements that were well synchronized with her partner. This Spice Girl’s entertainment background gave her an experienced edge that promoted a relaxed and confident performance.

My only negative observation pertains to the choreography. Too much of this pair’s routine was reminiscent of Maks’ partnership with Laila. Even though the steps were competently performed, the number came off, for many returning viewers, as somewhat stale. Still, this duo certainly has the horsepower to maintain a leading position.


Jennie & Derek
This "Yummy Mummy" delivered a pleasing and competent Cha Cha Cha routine that was overshadowed by the outstanding performances of Sabrina and Mel. Jennie’s rendition of this dance was what viewers typically expect on the first night of the season. Her hip action was adept, her turns relatively smooth, her synchronization fairly solid, her footwork slightly unsteady, and her arm placement proficient.

Despite being the first competitor on the floor, Jennie managed to control her nervousness and appeared relaxed and comfortable. Consequently, Derek’s choreography, while somewhat complicated, was well executed and produced an overall good performance. Jennie’s partnership with Derek, though not as stable as some of the leading couples, showed promising potential. Even though she’s not one of my favoured contenders, I expect Jennie will last a few more laps before exiting the field.

Marie & Jonathan
This Osmond entertainer who was "a little bit country" has definitely moved uptown! Marie’s performance of the Foxtrot was classy, playful and elegant. She moved confidently around the ballroom, demonstrating mastery of the basic steps, with beautiful lines and nice arm extensions.

Jonathan, of all the male pros, consistently does a superb job choreographing numbers that showcase his partners. His efforts with Marie produced a smooth and pleasing routine that created a beautiful story on the dance floor. In addition, Marie’s infectious smile, charming wit, and natural rapport positively enhance her popularity. Hopefully, this duo will garner enough votes to keep them in the race for a few more heats.

Cameron & Edyta
This All My Children heartthrob lived up to his charismatic reputation by delivering a competent first performance. Canadian cutie Cameron danced a Foxtrot that rated midway between a Rolls Royce and a Volkswagen. The number included a mostly pleasing combination of hits and misses. For the most part, his posture was good but not perfect, his foot placement was adequate, his arm extensions were commendable, his floor coverage was satisfactory, and his execution was relatively smooth and relaxed. Cameron’s first night routine was another performance that fulfilled typical audience expectations.

Cameron and Edyta are an enjoyable pair to watch on the dance floor. They have lots of potential, providing Cameron’s shooting schedule does not significantly interfere with their practice time. So far this duo can safely cruise along in the middle of the pack.

Mark & Kym
This bionic billionaire was another competitor who successfully embraced his inner dance essence. Mark’s Foxtrot was amusing and relaxed, and displayed a good sense of musicality. Although not one of my favourite off-the-dance-floor celebrities, Mark executed an unexpectedly enjoyable routine that featured more showmanship than anticipated. While Mark’s posture may have been a bit lacking, his footwork slightly off, and his lip-syncing annoyingly distracting, overall he was smooth and light on his feet.

Mark still needs to tone down his overly exaggerated facial expressions and work on his technique. But for a first-time performance, Mark definitely earned a passing grade. The Kym and Mark partnership forms another team that can coast around the track for a couple more laps.

Albert & Anna
Did this Abercrombie & Fitch model get lost on his way to a Chippendale audition? Albert’s pulsating, gyrating, and hip grinding movements were more characteristic of a stripper’s routine than a classic Cha Cha Cha. But whatever the explanation, Anna’s choreography certainly captivated the audience. This entertaining and amusing number was a real crowd pleaser and one of the more memorable entries of the night.

Technically, however, there were a number of flaws. The transitioning sequences were weak, the movements were jerky and the Cha Cha Cha elements were few and far between. Still, the performance was energetic and Albert was totally committed to its delivery. Perhaps some tweaking under this car’s hood will diminish the high-octane output that rendered Carrie Ann practically speechless.


Josie & Alec
This "deceptively unfit" supermodel looks fantastic on the dance floor…until she starts dancing! To put it kindly, Josie is not the most coordinated of competitors. Her rendition of the Foxtrot was jerky, tight, and lacked control. Alec attempted to conceal his partner’s weak dancing skills by performing most of the routine in hold but was quickly called out by Len.

Despite Josie’s shortcomings, she appeared relaxed and animated throughout her performance. The pair looked good together and displayed some lovely lines. On an optimistic note, Josie comes across as quite witty and personable. Here’s hoping that Alec’s Boot Camp produces some rapid results, otherwise this entry may be deemed no longer roadworthy and quickly put up on blocks!

Wayne & Cheryl
Mr. Las Vegas may be a singing icon but his dancing abilities fall more in the Average Joe category. While Wayne’s enthusiasm and work ethic are commendable, his Cha Cha Cha routine lacked flow, commitment, and overall appeal. Wayne’s movements were tight, his hip action was lacking, and his foot placement was weak. Furthermore, Wayne lacked the confidence and aggression exhibited by several of the other celebrities.

Unfortunately for Cheryl, injecting a flirty flavour into this dance was difficult and, for the most part, unconvincing, given the age gap between the two. Also, Wayne’s physical condition appears questionable. Judging from his sweat-soaked workout clothes, it seems that Wayne’s chassis is in need of a major overhaul. I don’t expect that this competitor packs enough under the hood to carry him very far in the race.

Floyd & Karina

The World’s Best Boxer faces a steep uphill climb in his pursuit of this season’s coveted trophy. Floyd’s performance of the Cha Cha Cha was not nearly strong enough to position him anywhere near the winner’s circle. His posture was all over the place, his synchronization was more off than on, and his partnership with Karina lacked chemistry and visual appeal. Although Floyd delivered in the energy and rhythm departments, his aggressive performance did little to complement his partner’s efforts.

Given Floyd’s demanding off-the-dance-floor commitments and Karina’s rather abrasive attitude, I have serious reservations about this competitor’s longevity. Retiring this entry from the field might be the most realistic and compassionate step.

Ox Notes: September 26, 2007

TV Guide’s backstage report from last night’s Dancing with the Stars Performance Show — which was watched by 18.34 million people — reveals that Monday night’s strong showing by the women sent many of the men scurrying back to the rehearsal studio for extra practice. It gave Mark Cuban time to perfect challenging moves like Churn the Butter and The Sprinkler.

Here’s an interview with Ashley DeForest, 23-year-old tap dancer from the Chicago suburbs who’ll be performing with Savion Glover during tonight’s DwtS Results Show.

Fox’s scripted reality show Nashville became the first show of the 2007-2008 season to be canceled, although it will return sometime later in October.

E! is adding to its own stable of scripted reality shows with Tales From the Hoff, a fictionalized version of David Hasselhoff’s life starring the man himself. As if laying on the floor shirtless while eating a cheeseburger isn’t entertaining enough.

NBC is planning to exploit a new Nielsen rule by reairing the premiere of Heroes on Saturday night with all of the same commercials that aired on Monday, allowing them to add their Saturday ratings to the Monday ratings and boost the premiere’s numbers. Nielsen needs to close that loophole before their ratings system loses even more credibility.

Mark Burnett would like to disabuse children of their belief that their dad is the best dad in the world by forcing fathers to compete against one another on an NBC game show called My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad.

And Katie Couric says that she was pressured by NBC not to ask politicians tough questions in the runup to the Iraq War. So, now that she’s the primary news anchor at another network, what’s she going to do? Pretty much the same thing she did at NBC: "Is it my job to go to Iraq and say this war is terrible and we should pull out? I don’t think that’s the case." You’re a real champion for truth, Katie.

DwtS 5, Week 1: Men’s Performance Show

Based on Tuesday’s DwtS performance show, there’s a clear frontrunner among the men, and five other guys who should be worried about tomorrow night’s elimination.

After a recap of the ladies’ performances, Len Goodman gave his assessment of the dances. He said the judges agreed that the ladies set an unbelievably high standard, and he was hoping their performances would stick, so it would be "bye-bye" to one of the boys.

Cameron Mathison & Edyta Sliwinska — Fox Trot
Cameron’s work schedule is tight, and so are his hips. But it didn’t show too much in this smooth performance. Besides, Edyta’s more than flexible enough to make up for Cameron. Overall, it was a charming first effort from the soap star.

Len joked, "Cameron, you remind me so much of myself: tall, good looking, muscular body. But enough about me. I thought it was a really good job first time out." Bruno said, "You have very good arm lines for a man. Not quite a Rolls Royce yet, but not a Buick either." Carrie Ann told Cameron, "I think you made a lot of women happy watching you."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 21/30

Floyd Mayweather & Karina Smirnoff — Cha Cha Cha
On the first day of rehearsal, Floyd gave Karina attitude and she walked out. But they came together to develop a routine with which they could both be happy. However, there were even more hip-hop moves in this routine than in Sabrina’s dance last night. If they want to stick around, Floyd’s going to need to fix his awkward posture and soften up a bit.

Bruno told Floyd. "If you channel that energy and you focus on technique, you could be an amazing dancer." Len advised Floyd, "It was good; it wasn’t a great first round." Then he pointed at Karina and said, "Trust this girl. She’s a great trainer." Carrie Ann wanted more "finesse" from Floyd: "You have to treat Karina with a little more tenderness."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…6, Len…6, Bruno…6 = 18/30

Helio Castroneves & Julianne Hough — Fox Trot
Helio was all smiles during his classy debut performance, complete with Julianne sporting a neat pants outfit. It’s very hard not to like a guy who lets his partner dip him at the end of their routine.

Carrie Ann told Helio, "You are a natural." Bruno said, "The King of Speed has become the King of Charm. I have to praise the choreography and the chemistry between you two." Len said, "That. Was. Great. It was like you were on cruise control."

As they waited for their scores, Drew Lachey asked Helio, "When I was doing this show, I didn’t smile until Week 6. You haven’t stopped smiling. Are you just that happy?" Helio smiled and replied, "I guess I had more fun than you."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…9, Bruno…8 = 25/30

Albert Reed & Anna Trebunskaya — Cha Cha Cha
The routine began with Albert posing and Anna ripping off his jacket, in a nod to his modeling career. Albert’s first performance was uneven: some cool moves mixed in with some not-so-cool moves. But he’s got real potential, if he can learn to tone down his exaggerated facial expressions.

Len enthused, "You gyrated, you rotated, and you pulsated. It was like watching a stripper!" Bruno said, "The crotch action was like a warp drive. I got a hernia just watching it! Great, great fun!" Carrie Ann gave more modest praise: "It was more other stuff than it was Cha Cha, but it was a lot of fun."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 21/30

Mark Cuban & Kym Johnson — Fox Trot
Mark was surprisingly loose for a guy with a new hip, and he was very light on his feet. He looked like he had a good time singing along with the music, although he needs to look at Kym more. It was a good first effort with room to grow.

Bruno called Mark the "bouncing, bionic billionaire. If you keep working the technique, you can do well." Carrie Ann said, "You’re more of a showman than I expected you to be. Just watch the tongue motions a little. Keep it in the mouth." Len "It wasn’t exactly a dance floor disaster. It wasn’t exactly ballroom bliss. It was somewhere in between."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 21/30

Wayne Newton & Cheryl Burke — Cha Cha Cha
Wayne stays fit by water skiing, playing tennis, and practicing karate, so he had no trouble keeping his feet moving. The performance was all the more charming because, based on the way Wayne looked at Cheryl, you can tell how fond he is of her. And for a guy in his sixties, he wasn’t any stiffer than most of the younger guys he was competing against.

Carrie Ann told Wayne, "You were so charming up there. I wanna see you open up your hips a little bit more. I think you’ve got more hip action waiting in your hips." Len said, "You came out and showed a lot of great basic moves. Well done to you, Cheryl." Bruno added, "It’s a great honor having you here, and hopefully you’ll stay with us for a long time.’

When Drew asked Cheryl what it’s like coaching someone 20 years older than any of her previous partners (himself included), she replied, "You know, I’ve been thinking about that, and, after all the seasons I’ve done, Wayne might just be the best partner I’ve had." As Drew gave the couple’s voting phone number, he said, "If you want Mr. Las Vegas to have another roll of the dice — not so much his partner, maybe — but Wayne…"

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…6, Len…7, Bruno…6 = 19/30

25 — Helio & Julianne
21 — Cameron & Edyta, Albert & Anna, Mark & Kym
19 — Wayne & Cheryl
18 — Floyd & Karina

While tonight’s scoring was pretty tight — apart from Helio’s clear victory — I think there may have been more difference in the performances. My ranking for the remaining five dancers is Albert, Cameron, Mark, Wayne, and then Floyd.

Since each phone number and email address get six votes tonight, I’d give three of mine to Helio and one each to Albert, Cameron, and Mark. Wayne and Floyd are on their own, although I’m sure Wayne is safe.

At Wednesday night’s Results Show, Dolly Parton and tap dancer Savion Glover perform. And Kenny Mayne returns, although no word on if he’ll be bringing "Dance Center" back. I hope so.

Ox Notes: September 25, 2007

TV Guide has a behind-the-scenes report from last night’s Dancing with the Stars premiere, and inside the ballroom, Sabrina Bryan was the evening’s clear winner. And the DwtS 5 premiere dominated last night’s ratings with 21.2 million viewers.

Also premiering last night were the reedited episodes of Discovery’s Man vs. Wild in which host Bear Grylls discloses which portions of the show were faked.

NBC is bringing The Biggest Loser back as a midseason replacement.

Chris Lowell — better known as Piz on Veronica Marsgave a charming interview to TV Guide about his new gig on ABC’s Private Practice.

Wired uses its vast amount of geek experience to critique this season’s geeky TV offerings, including shows like Chuck and The Big Bang Theory.

Finally, Variety’s Brian Lowry has an insightful editorial piece about the tribalism of TV audiences, and the lack of a common scripted series that everyone watches. These days, reality shows like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars are the closest things we’ve got to universal hits.

DwtS 5, Week 1: Women’s Performance Show

Dancing with the Stars 5 premiered with performances by the most talented cast of female celebrities in the show’s history. The men have their work cut out for them when they take the floor Tuesday night.

Tom Bergeron was joined by his special guest co-host, Drew Lachey, who’ll be filling in while Samantha Harris is on maternity leave. Samantha missed an exciting introductory performance by the cast’s professional dancers, who got to show off their chops before dancing with their amateur partners.

Jennie Garth & Derek Hough — Cha Cha Cha
Jennie said in her rehearsal footage that she wanted to look classy, and she definitely did. She’s not afraid to use her arms, which made for an expressive performance. With the help of her partner, Derek, Jennie’s already learning how to make a routine look polished. She’s got loads of potential.

Judge Len Goodman said, "You came out full of confidence. You had great hip action. I’d like you now to work on your leg action." In a nod to Jennie’s kids, who were in the rehearsal footage, Bruno Tonioli called Jennie a "yummy mummy." Carrie Ann Inaba said, "I can tell that you’re not quite there yet. But really, for the first time out there, I thought you did a really good job."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 21/30

Josie Maran & Alec Mazo — Fox Trot
Their rehearsal footage featured a clip of Alec saying, "Josie is deceptively unfit," and their first performance proved it. Alec appeared to be dragging her around the floor during some parts of their dance. But her technique was actually pretty good for someone new to dancing, and her face couldn’t hide the fun (and occasional terror) she was experiencing. Her charisma should shine through even more in one of the Latin dances.

Len told Josie, "You came out and you looked fantastic," but he called Alec out for choreographing so much of the dance in closed hold so that he could prop Josie up. Carrie Ann stayed positive, saying of Josie’s facial expressions, "You made me believe you were having a good time." But Bruno told Josie, "You looked like a beautiful sailing ship stranded on the sandbank."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…6, Len…5, Bruno…5 = 16/30

Sabrina Bryan & Mark Ballas — Cha Cha Cha
Sabrina has tremendous speed in her turns, and it’s going to be hard for any of the other women to match her in that regard. But Mark had his hands full trying to undo Sabrina’s extensive hip-hop training, and he wound up choreographing an abundance of hip-hop moves into their Cha Cha. Luckily, Sabrina’s a good enough hip-hop dancer that the moves looked like a part of the dance, rather than a separate breakdown section.

Carrie Ann shouted, "You were fierce! I’ve never, ever, ever seen anyone do a Cha Cha like that on the show!" Bruno poured on the praise: "Sabrina. You are a bewitching, blonde dynamo! Your footwork had almost surgical precision." Len told Bruno to "take a chill pill," before he warned Sabrina & Mark: "I don’t wanna see hip-hop, so for that I’m going to have to knock you off a few points."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…8, Bruno…9 = 26/30

Marie Osmond & Jonathan Roberts — Fox Trot
Marie’s strategy for winning? "25 million viewers. 22 million of those: Osmonds." And she’s going to need the help of all of them. Her performance was solid, but it was noticeably slower than those given by the other women. Jonathan’s really going to have to push Marie in practice if they hope to keep up with the pack.

Bruno said the performance was "classy, yet sassy. Your acting covered a lot of technical shortcomings." Len said that DwtS is a lot like Christmas, and "this was a lovely present." Carrie Ann told Marie, "You are just so incredibly adorable out there. You lines are beautiful; it’s not just the charisma."

Backstage as the couple waited for their scores, Drew asked Marie if she could be the woman to win to break the men’s winning streak. She didn’t say yes, instead saying, "I’m not gonna throw in the towel."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 21/30

Melanie Brown & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Cha Cha Cha
After predictable rehearsal footage of Melanie reluctantly relinquishing control to Maks, these two hit the floor with lots of energy. Maks, whose black turtleneck get up made him look like (in the words of my husband) the world’s fanciest cat burglar, worked just a couple of hip-hop moves into the routine as a concession to Mel. Their first performance was great, and Mel’s only going to get better.

Carrie Ann said, "Your energy was up there. You guys were a bit out of sync on some of the turns." Len, who suddenly developed an outrageous cockney accent, blurted, "I liked it a lot." Bruno said of Mel, "The feisty kitten was out tonight, and she was right on the money."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…8, Bruno…8 = 24/30

As Mel & Maks talked with Drew about their scores in a backstage interview, Alec sulked on a couch in the background, undoubtedly contemplating how it would feel to be the first pro eliminated for a second year in a row. (I hope it doesn’t happen, but he’s right to be worried.)

Then, as the show went to one last commercial break, Tom joked that the final contestant of the night was "going to use class and experience to get the edge on the half-naked 20-year-olds. But what will she use on the women?"

Jane Seymour & Tony Dovolani — Fox Trot
When Jane realized she’d been paired with Tony, she screamed with joy and ran at him. Tony was equally happy to have a partner who’s so self-motivating — and because it was a boyhood dream of his to dance with Jane Seymour.

Jane’s ballet background shone through in their performance. She really knows how to use her hands, and she and Tony make a lovely couple. Jane’s set a very high bar for the Ballroom dances, and it will be exciting to see what she can do with the Latin dances.

Bruno complemented Jane’s "lovely detailing. You really are very, very delicate and elegant." Carrie Ann agreed: "You were elegance personified." Len praised Jane’s partner for "a lovely job," but warned, "The turns are the things to watch."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…8, Bruno…8 = 24/30

26 — Sabrina & Mark
24 — Melanie & Maksim, Jane & Tony
21 — Jennie & Derek, Marie & Jonathan
16 — Josie & Alec

With so many great performances, it really is hard to choose a favorite. Jane was the best at the Fox Trot, and Sabrina clearly won the Cha Cha, so I’d have to split my votes between them — with a vote or two thrown Josie’s way just to see that she gets a second chance.

Tuesday night, the men perform the same two dances as the women, before the first couple is eliminated on Wednesday night.

Ox Notes: September 24, 2007

When Dancing with the Stars 5 premieres tonight at 8 ET, the show will be missing one of its key players. Co-host Samantha Harris gave birth to a baby girl yesterday, and will be taking some time off from the show.

TV Guide posted the last of its DwtS interviews over the weekend: Sabrina Bryan, Helio Castroneves, and Josie Maran.

The author of this article about Floyd Mayweather, Jr’s. bad boy reputation warns: "What the mainstream public doesn’t know about Floyd Mayweather, Jr. could hurt them."

And while every other star seems to need convincing to appear on the show, Sabrina Bryan may be the only contestant who had to beg for her spot on DwtS. When producers told her before the start of Season 4 that they thought she had too much performance experience, she responded, "Joey Fatone (from ‘N Sync) is on the show, what’s up with that?"

We’ll be starting our chat tonight as soon as the show goes live. Hope to see you there!