In the second season premiere of ''Dancing With the Stars,'' the women are generally red-hot, but Master P, Kenny Mayne, and even George Hamilton freeze up

By Abby West
June 13, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Dancing With the Stars: Bob D'Amico
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”Dancing With the Stars”: The men don’t lead

Let me be the first to cry foul. There’s no way that Master P’s Lurch impression earned him a score only one point less than Kenny Mayne’s Weekend at Bernie‘s impression. I know that the ESPN sportscaster spent weeks perfecting his wooden-puppet-boy stance, as judge Bruno Tonioli correctly described it. And I get that the hip-hop mogul only had a week or two, after son Romeo dropped out because of a basketball injury, to work on his intimidation skills. That must have been what he practiced, right? (He joked about breaking poor little Ashly DelGrosso’s fingers, people!) I didn’t see any of the ”gangsta cha-cha” he promised to do to brighten up the lives of Hurricane Katrina victims.

What I did see was a group of judges very concerned with couching their criticism of the night’s lowest scorer (12 out of 30) in enthusiastically supportive terms. ”You framed Ashly beautifully,” said Carrie Ann Inaba. Oh, okay. If that means he looked like the pinstriped door she danced around, sure, he framed her perfectly well.

At least Kenny was funny. And he learned a lot of the moves. It’s not his fault that he simply could not loosen up his shoulders…or his entire upper half.

Of course the one guy I was really looking forward to seeing turned out to be pretty good at shakin’ his tail feathers. I sort of expected the fancy footwork, but who knew Jerry Rice would be so darn cute doing the cha-cha? Methinks his gentle, polite demeanor belies a fire that his ”strong hip action” suggests lie below the surface. As much credit goes to Rice as to his drill sergeant and professional partner, Anna Trebunskaya.

Let’s face it, all of these partnerships really end up reflecting on the pros. So how about a hand for don’t-hate-him-because-he-thinks-he’s-beautiful Maksim Chmerkovskiy? You could have found it charming or ”deeesgusting” how hard he rode Tia Carrere to get their 20 points. (She had a baby less than two months ago, for goodness’ sake. I had one 60 months ago, and there’s no way my midsection could have held me up through the lovely twirls and dips she did.) But you can only call it impressive how Maksim managed to be among the first of the professionals to really show some personality this season and actually talk in the post-dance interview instead of smiling mutely. Now I might even remember his name — at least his first name.

Giselle Fernandez is a ringer I tell you! Ooops. Sorry. That was my Tourette’s moment. But come on. Her father was a flamenco dancer, and she’s only just now exploring her inner dancer? Yeah. Okay. Great leg extension, though, and man, can she ever glide.

As our girl Kelly Monaco proved last season, clothing choices are key. Though wrestler Stacy Keibler performed the waltz gracefully, what was up with that belly-baring black-and-pink-batwing outfit? It’s the waltz. It’s supposed to be classy, ya know? I’m not saying you have to go all the way down the spectrum to matronly like Tatum O’Neal’s emerald green concoction. Her poise did betray her Hollywood-royalty roots, but the dress just didn’t cut it. Soap Talk‘s Lisa Rinna hit the right tone and stride with her halter-top gown (and ridiculously flexible self).

Who knows why dancer Cheryl Burke expected 98 Degree alumnus Not-Nick — I mean Drew — Lachey to be better prepped for ballroom dancing? As she said herself, ”This is not boy band. This is ballroom.” But some of that old magic remains, because he was one of the only guys who didn’t look like they were terrified to be there, and yes, Len Goodman, it was ”the best dance of the night” and deserved the highest score of the night (24). It was good to see bro Nick playing second fiddle for a while and cheering in the crowd.

But you know the very first thought I had watching the show (other than that E! News’ Samantha Harris was a barely noticeable addition) was that dashing men of a certain age are not all created equal. Okay, I’ll spell it out: George Hamilton is no John O’Hurley. They both look like they belong on a dance floor, and they both have the wonderful, self-deprecating humor down pat. But something is different beyond the decade or so that separates them. It could just be because Hamilton is coming on second. Hey, I’m a fan. Time will tell — if Hamilton isn’t eliminated tonight.

What do you think? Were the dancers better or worse than you expected? Did you enjoy watching as much as you did last season? And will you tuning in for the results show? How about next week?

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