The female celebrities' premiere-week performances leave most of the guys looking like stiffs
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Kristi Yamaguchi, Dancing With the Stars
JENNA JOHNSON, ADAM RIPPON

”Dancing With the Stars” recap: The women lead

You choose which awe-inspiring line to sum up the women’s fairly solid week 1 performances on tonight’s Dancing With the Stars. In the immortal teleprompted words of Samantha Harris, ”It’s ladies’ night and the feeling’s right!” Ugh. In the single word that Priscilla Presley mouthed during the group pan for the second night running, ”Woo.” Eh. I’m going with ”Woo.” It says everything and yet nothing at all. Let’s make it our new DWTS mantra. Note: ”Woo” is best imagined if Priscilla is wearing Sabrina Bryan’s hideous purple paso doble frock, as she was in Tuesday night’s intro package. (Really? Out of all the costumes? That one?)

Tuesday night offered us some hints of potential season 6 male-female doppelgängers. There are the front-runners with lots of choreographic experience (Kristi Yamaguchi and Mario). The ones who still can’t believe they’re on their all-time favorite show! (Marissa Jaret Winokur and the Gute). The ones who didn’t live up to expectations but are pretty and show promise (Shannon and Cristián). Nobody wants a complete sentence comparing Adam Carolla to Monica Seles, so enough of that nonsense, and let’s get to the ladies…

Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark: 27 out of a possible 30 points I should get this out of the way now: I. Love. Kristi. I have since the very early ’90s, and people who spent their formative years inexplicably obsessing over figure skaters simply never lose that obsession. So I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible about her this season. That said, Kristi and Mark’s fox-trot was undeniably awesome, and was the highest-scored week 1 performance in DWTS history. Mark choreographed it specifically to her strengths, which appear to be everything. I don’t remember any contestant having such quick yet controlled footwork right off the bat. I’ll admit that every time Kristi made a ridiculously perfect arm extension, I thought, ”Ooh, just like she did on the ice!” And no one was buying her feigned cluelessness about pointing her toes and working with a partner; both are skills she’s certainly mastered during her skating career. But who cares? Maybe after five seasons, people can quit harping about who’s ”the ringer” and just enjoy it. (Or change her title to pro if you have to; I’d gladly watch her in results-show exhibitions instead.) Kristi is this season’s best prospect to be the first female winner since Kelly Monaco.

Priscilla Presley and Louis: 24/30 Color me surprised to learn that Priscilla’s the oldest female DWTS competitor ever. She doesn’t look a day over 22! Even more shocking than Priscilla’s decision to do this show is the fact that she’s actually pretty good at dancing. All of my friends who watch this show (granted, that’s like two people, and they’re both family members) were prepared for a Bride of Frankenstein performance. Instead, Priscilla pulled three 8s after letting Louis fling her around like a sparkling sack of decaying leaves. I’m a bit worried about next week’s mambo because she may be required to look excited. I’m guessing she has a clause in her contract that prevents the judges from calling her out on a lack of facial expressions. No joke. It actually wouldn’t be a bad idea. What’s she supposed to do at this point, apologize? I say good for her for deciding to ”start participating [pause] again.” Loved that.

Marlee Matlin and Fabian: 22/30 Whoa! I’d have thought Marlee’s first performance was killer even if she wasn’t ”profoundly deaf”; the fact that she is makes it almost unbelievable. Marlee had the most convincing hip action of the night besides Tony’s and was confident enough in her partner’s lead (”Fabian is my music”) to even dance solo while looking away from him for significant stretches. Fabian Sanchez is the new kid, by the way, or shall I say the King of the Mambo, who’s gonna ”show all these young men what a real man dances like.” Yay, he must have received Jason Taylor’s ”Real Men Ballroom Dance” interoffice memo this morning.

NEXT: Getting a leg up

Shannon Elizabeth and Derek: 21/30 The pair performed a cha-cha to an abysmal version of Rihanna’s ”Shut Up and Drive.” Shannon could have taken some hints from the lyrics, though: She definitely could have the moves if she would just silence the computerized voice in her head that alerts her when to execute which steps. We seem to have another Stacy on our hands, as all three judges gushed over Shannon’s legs (while telling her she was using them incorrectly). If Shannon can exude the same confidence in the ballroom as she did doing the Running Man in front of a digitized backdrop of a poolside at dusk (it sounds like I’m describing an acid trip — nope, just DWTS!), she and Derek should be able to stick around. I wonder if Derek’s comment that ”in the past, the beautiful girls have gone home early” will help or hurt their chances with voters. Another question: Do we like Derek’s industrial-strength mop of hair, or should Shannon trim it with her scissor-like gams?

Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony: 18/30 Can one even begin to discuss this couple’s first performance without suffering a lengthy full-body shudder at the mere recollection of Tony’s outfit? I could not focus on anything except his lower body, which was lovingly sheathed in sparkly, almost certainly radioactive black pleather. Not to mention his sheer ”shirt.” The judges reamed Tony for choreographing what was essentially something you’d see two overzealous clubbers whip out just after last call. I see their point, because I have no idea if Marissa is good at ballroom dancing after that mess. I’ll go out on a limb for Tony here — after two seasons of controlled precision with Leeza Gibbons and Jane Seymour, I think he just felt like letting his freak flag fly, and I kind of love him for it. But come on, this wasn’t the freestyle. Who knows, maybe he couldn’t stand another minute of Marissa’s delighted screeching during rehearsals and decided to phone it in. Kidding! Sort of. She really needs to tone it down.

Monica Seles and Jonathan: 15/30 Nothing about their fox-trot was breathtaking except my utter disbelief that Jonathan choreographed such a story-driven dance for someone as completely out of her element as tennis star Monica. Still, I didn’t think their fox-trot deserved to be tied with Adam’s for the lowest score of week 1. I liked how they kept the dance really slow, and Monica seemed much more contained and less gangly than I’d expected. Okay, maybe it was the long dress. And maybe Jonathan had to choreograph so slow because of her limitations. Whatever the case, Monica could definitely improve. I liked the way Carrie Ann gave Monica criticism she could relate to: She told her to ”move the space” on the dance floor with the same energy she does in tennis. (I swear, that line made sense five hours ago.) I hope Monica doesn’t get viciously backhanded from the competition right away. You don’t ditch a girl on her very own prom night! DANCMSTR, this is not Full House. This is DWTS. There are rules.

Okay, that’s it from me — I gotta rack up a solid 1.5 hours of beauty rest before meeting Maksim in the morning. Look for our video interview on Thursday!

What did you think? Was week 1 as electrifying as week 2’s promos will say it was? Which elegant lady-moves surprised you the most? And which couples would you miss the least if they got the boot next Tuesday?

Episode Recaps

JENNA JOHNSON, ADAM RIPPON
Dancing With the Stars
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