One dancer stood out from the crowd, as the men took the floor for the premiere of Dancing with the Stars 6.
A group performance by the DwtS pros kicked off the evening. Since Maksim Chmerkovskiy wasn’t around to wear a vest with no shirt underneath, Tony Dovolani and his hairless chest happily took on that solemn duty.
Penn Jillette & Kym Johnson — Cha Cha Cha
Kym was initially struck by how much shorter she is than Penn. Making the show’s first ever reference to Pompeii, Penn said, "If there were a volcano and we were preserved, archaeologists in the future would assume that you were my dinner."
Penn enthusiastically slid across the floor during their Cha Cha, only he did it on his belly instead of his feet. The big guy can move, but not smoothly. There’s plenty of room for growth. Mercifully, he limited the magic tricks to pulling some flowers out of his vest at the end of their routine, presenting the artificial buds to Kym.
Len Goodman told Penn, "I thought you captured the flavor of the Cha Cha Cha. Your problem was your feet." Bruno Tonioli agreed: "It was like watching a trailer for ‘Shrek Goes Cha Cha Cha’." Carrie Ann Inaba commended Penn for his "great energy…great attitude."
Judges Scores: Carrie Ann…5, Len…6, Bruno…5 = 16/30
Jason Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska — Fox Trot
The teasing began as soon as pro football player Jason announced that he’d be ballroom dancing on TV: "My poker friends gave me a tutu. A pink one."
For a big, macho guy, Jason is surprising fluid in his movements. And his wide wingspan highlights his great extension. Most importantly, he and Edyta looked like they were having fun together.
Len joked with Jason, "You are a good looking guy. It’s like looking in a mirror," before adding, "You’ve got great posture. Now you’ve just gotta try and act the dance a little bit." Carrie Ann said, "I love the detail with your hands." Bruno recommended "a little bit more drive. Romance. Heat."
Judges Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…8, Bruno…7 = 22/30
Cristian de la Fuente & Cheryl Burke — Cha Cha Cha
Upon learning that Cheryl was his partner, Cristian cheered, "I have a chance to win!"
Cristian’s stellar footwork made his hunched posture look that much worse. But once Cheryl applies some of the same posture correcting techniques that worked on Drew Lachey, Cristian will be in great shape to succeed in the competition.
Carrie Ann told Cristian, "You gotta watch your shoulders." Bruno added the visual, "It looks like you’re riding a bike." Len warned Cristian, "Work on it for next week. You’re doing the Quickstep. If your posture’s no good, you’re gonna get terrible marks."
Judges Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 21/30
Adam Carolla & Julianne Hough — Fox Trot
As they rehearsed, Adam asked Julianne, "Are there any dances that favor the guys with the rolled shoulders and the low self-esteem?" Dances that require chemistry could be a problem, given Adam’s concern about their age difference. He told Julianne, "I feel like your dad’s watching the show, and I’m gonna try to suck his daughter into my groin. I was raised better than that."
The dance started out a little slow, and Adam’s posture was stiff. But halfway through the routine, Julianne included a choreographic masterstroke: she made Adam high kick. This made him laugh, which loosened him up for the last few measures of the performance.
Bruno said, "There is a lot of work to do." Len told Adam, "Your footwork was good. You’ve gotta just relax a little bit." In response, Adam asked Len, "I’m supposed to get in a 9-piece suit in front of 25 million people and relax doing something I’m horrible at?" Carrie Ann said, "You had these moments when I thought, ‘Ooh, almost’."
Upon receiving their scores, Adam told Julianne, "Good news! You can hit the road and promote the country album early this year, ’cause there ain’t gonna be no three-peat in your future, honey."
Judges Scores: Carrie Ann…5, Len…5, Bruno…5 = 15/30
Mario & Karina Smirnoff — Cha Cha Cha
Things were going well in rehearsal until Karina had to have surgery on a herniated disc in her neck.
Karina looked to be in tip-top shape during their performance. None of the men are even in the same league as Mario, and despite his protests to the contrary, I think his experience dancing hip-hop is an asset.
Carrie Ann exclaimed, "Dang! You can dance!" Len warned Mario about his "heel leads," which is Len code for "I couldn’t find anything else to criticize." Bruno asked, "Karina, do you have a monopoly on hot Marios?"
Judges Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…8, Bruno…8 = 24/30
Steve Guttenberg & Anna Trebunskaya — Fox Trot
Steve is a fan of the show, and he was a little starstruck when he met Anna. He remained upbeat during practice: "I’ve nailed the Fox Trot in my mind, and now my body just needs to get on board."
Speaking of Steve’s body, dude is ripped for a guy about to turn 50. He started off a little stiff and slow, but he just looked so damned happy to be out there that you can’t help but root for him. His potential started to show as the routine progressed and he relaxed a bit.
Bruno said, "It started a bit shakily. It was a little bit like a graduation from the Billy Ray Academy of Dance." Carrie Ann told Steve he was "charming," but warned, "Watch your musicality." Len said, "Your smile is infectious. You’ve gotta work on your technique, but as a performance, it was really, really good."
Judges Scores: Carrie Ann…6, Len…6, Bruno…6 = 18/30
Before the show concluded, Tom Bergeron chatted with the female stars, who will dance Tuesday night. He gave Marissa Jaret Winokur and Shannon Elizabeth a hard time for allegedly betting on what the judges would say after each of the men’s performances.
24 — Mario & Karina
22 — Jason & Edyta
21 — Cristian & Cheryl
18 — Steve & Anna
16 — Penn & Kym
15 — Adam & Julianne
Mario was undoubtedly the standout performer of the night. But all of my votes are going to Adam Carolla for one simple reason: Kenny Mayne.
Kenny, you may recall, was a terrible dancer. He was the first celebrity eliminated from Season 2, and his partner, Andrea Hale, never returned to the show. But he’s since hosted several hilarious editions of Dance Center.
So, based on what we know about Kenny now, would you still have voted to keep Tatum O’Neal on the show instead of him? Giselle Fernandez? MASTER P?!
People, this is our chance to right the wrong we all unwittingly committed against Kenny Mayne four seasons ago. SAVE ADAM CAROLLA! Only one mediocre dancer can go home each week, and there are several to choose from. Let’s keep the funny guy around, at least for a few more weeks.