By Annie Barrett
March 18, 2014 at 06:09 PM EDT
  • TV Show

Last night’s 18th season premiere of Dancing With the Stars (read EW’s full recap here) was chock full of cha-cha-cha changes — the tallest and loudest of which was new cohost Erin Andrews, who has swept in to give Planet Mirrorballus the sports-arena treatment it apparently deserves. Unlike the somewhat robotic (yet beautiful) eveningwear paper doll she replaced (Brooke Burke Charvet), Erin wasn’t afraid to muscle her way through post-dance chit chat with the couples and ask ask questions beyond “How do you feel?”

Throughout the show I think we saw much more of Erin than we did of Tom Bergeron! That is never a good idea, to edge out the Berge. But I get that they were giving Erin some wiggle room (metaphorically speaking — realistically there’s no way she could move in that red shellac gown) to test the Celebriquarium waters.

Erin’s presence definitely provides an energy boost up in the reconstructed Celebriquarium (or “skybox” to commoners). Or rather, Erin’s already-amped-up energy is able to match that of the dancers who just performed. One of the reasons Brooke’s skybox interviews never really worked is that she maintained such perfect composure — and yet the hoofers who come clomping up the stairs are out of breath and pumped up with adrenaline. They’re athletes! (They’re trying.) Erin is at home around athletes.

It was a good, if a bit trying-too-hard first effort. I think once Erin loosens up and understands it’s better to let people talk than nervously yell over them — because after all, the show is not about her — she’ll go over a lot more smoothly.

And it’d be great if Erin could start ignoring whoever is yelling into her ear to follow up with questions about the pairs’ burgeoning sexual chemistry. I cringed when she asked, “How was it dancing in front of your girlfriend with these distracting hips?” while gesturing to Cody Simpson’s bombshell partner Witney Carson. Ew! No. Why. We’d just sat through a rehearsal package painstakingly establishing the fact that Witney is single and Cody is attached — and now this? Note to DWTS: Viewers don’t want to see the on-screen partnerships mess with the behind-the-scenes relationships. That’s just nuts, and frankly a little insulting!

What’d you think of Erin Andrews? Vote below!

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