For the season premiere of Dancing With the Stars, the female celebrities perform first, with the Cheetah, Spice Girls and a Medicine Woman coming out on top

By Annie Barrett
Updated September 25, 2007 at 10:42 PM EDT
Craig Sjodin

The ”Dancing” season premiere: All-girl action

Whee! They’re back! It only took a sea of red sequins, a closeup of Maks taming his eyebrows, and a few swingin’ bars of a song I would never listen to in real life to remind me — only seconds into the show — why I’m such a ”Dancing Fool.” (Whaddya know, has its own little DWTS photo gallery devoted to that very topic!) How killer was the pro dancers’ opening number? Two new boys! The return of my lady love Anna Tre-BUN-skaya! No Samantha Harris! I thought I was in heaven. But then Drew Lachey kept telling me to ”get on the horn,” and I realized I was just in my apartment.

Since DWTS is apparently now modeling itself on Olympic figure-skating competitions, the women and men are performing on separate nights this week. I actually like this method a lot; it keeps us from judging the amateur women against the flashier female pros, and vice versa. But it’s just a one-week deal. We’ll be comparing the shape and jigglability of Wayne Newton’s ass to Alec Mazo’s in no time. It’ll be awesome. Now onto the ladies, in ranking order:

Sabrina Bryan: 26 out of 30 points Sabrina is something called a ”Cheetah Girl.” There were paw-print-size holes in her sequined, fringed skirt that I’m guessing served to denote ”cheetah.” She injected hip-hop moves into her first televised ballroom dance because, as she put it, ”I know my Cheetahlicious fans out there are gonna love it!” My gut reaction to all of the above is: No. No no no no no! And yet, yes. As much as this person’s speaking parts made me want to hit fast-forward while continuing to refrain from looking up ”Cheetah Girls” on YouTube, Sabrina danced the cha-cha incredibly well. She certainly has the ballroom ”Look at me! You’re not looking!” persona down pat. I’d rather not listen to any more of her, but I do want to see more dances from Sabrina and new pro partner Mark Ballas. They kind of rocked.

Jane Seymour: 24/30 First of all, I adored Jane’s taped introduction to Tony Dovolani. It was so cute to see the seasoned actress squeal like a teenage girl upon meeting one of her big-time TV idols, Tony Dovolani. (He was excited, too!) The pair’s theme for the season will be ”Class and Grace,” and to prove it, Tony kept his tie on during rehearsal. Their practice footage emphasized Jane’s knack for self-punishment, but the pressure seemed to pay off in a lovely fox-trot. Carrie Ann and Len both called Dr. Quinn ”elegance personified.” Awww!

Scary Spice: 24/30 In a clear ploy to lord animal-print seniority over Cheetah Girl, the Spice Girl came out cha-cha-ing in her signature leopard-like fashion. I didn’t think the dance itself was fantastic — it looked exactly like what Maks did with Laila last season, except Mel B. has more energy and a better performance face. The pair’s behind-the-scenes drama should be more exciting than their dances. I loved how her first line to Maks was ”Oh, I’m glad — you’re hot and in love with yourself and cocky.” And same to you, milady! As payback, Max instituted what I hope will be a permanent rule during rehearsals: ”Don’t squeal.” They’re gonna fight so much. I can’t wait.

NEXT: Girls on the bottom

Kelly Taylor: 21/30 Her name’s actually Jennie Garth, and I’m just going to pretend her little Disney-princess intro segment, in which she sprayed perfume on herself and flopped back into a billowing pink throne, didn’t just happen. Poor Jennie had to perform first. I’ve never seen anyone — except maybe Ian Ziering — so freaked out. She continued to look scared throughout her cha-cha, maybe because it was set to a horrifying rendition of ”Uptown Girl,” but she danced it just fine. She even did the splits! I like to think the spangly ”Garth” patch worn by her partner, newcomer Derek Hough (Julianne’s brother), helped in some way.

Marie ”Life Is a Blast” Osmond: 21/30 Marie happens to be on face-lift 21 out of the 30 she will have in her lifetime, so this was an especially apt score. Honestly, this woman looks so much like So You Think You Can Dance‘s Mary Murphy that I might have to start calling her that, except maybe people don’t want to be reminded of Mary Murphy. So forget it. Marie’s fox-trot was nothing outstanding, which the judges artfully attempted to disguise by commenting on things like ”storytelling.” Again, this is just like figure skating! Maybe there should be separate scores for technical and artistic interpretation. Dramatic pauses combined with anticipatory tears would work perfectly backstage. And Drew could use the extra time to talk about himself!

Josie Maran: 16/30 I have a feeling that just like season 4’s Paulina Porizkova, who was also paired with Alec, this lovely and funny swimsuit model will be the first to go. Josie truly has no sense of rhythm — in fact, my first and only note about their fox-trot was ”She should never snap again.” I hope they stick around anyway, just for the rehearsal banter and hilarious proclamations from Alec like ”Josie is deceptively unfit.” Um, I’d like to be that deceptively unfit. But then I probably couldn’t type at the atrociously impractical angle my sturdy core has my body propped into right this second. Trade-off!

It’s extremely unfortunate that the last visual I remember from tonight’s show was a teaser of Mark Cuban’s face saying, ”I’m comin’. I’m comin’ hard.” I’d better rewatch the pros’ opening number again before going to sleep. The men perform tomorrow night. Be there. And get on the horn!

What did you think of the women’s performances? Fave new pro: Derek or Mark? And who else had to Google half of the male ”celebrities” before tonight’s show? Post your comments on the message board below, then go to our TV Poll and vote for the Dancing With the Stars contestant you’re rooting for (even if you did have to Google him or her first).