Season 22's opener proves that the ballroom is most definitely boomin'
Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC

What a long, cold, sparkle-less four months it’s been since Bindi Irwin, human equivalent of sunshine, claimed the coveted Mirrorball Trophy. Thankfully, the time has come for us all to dust off that sequin-covered body suit sitting in the back of the closet (or the front, you do you) and get our ballroom on.

Season 22 of Dancing With the Stars has finally arrived and with it, the triumphant return of my future adoptive grandfather, Head Judge Len Goodman. But wait, there’s more: Edyta and her legs are back! Sasha’s been released from Crab Duty to become a Pro Partner again! Geraldo Rivera is… here. So many things!

In fact, the Mandy Moore-choreographed opening dance number in the street’s of Los Angeles gets me so excited for what is to come, that I’m already tearing up. Get ready, people. Your new DWTS recapper is a crier. Thankfully, season 22 kicks off with so many energetic dances that exceed most expectations, there was no time to cry. We’ll save that for “Most Memorable Year” week.

Enough chitchat, let’s see what the new crop of contenders has to offer.

Kim Fields and Sasha Farber

Cha Cha | “Sax” by Fleur East

My knowledge of Kim Fields is more Facts of Life than it is Real Housewives of Atlanta, but from what I can see, she seems to be a delight. The pairing of Kim and Sasha is spot on, and the two click right away. There’s lots of talk about Kim’s “treasure” and what her thighs are saying as they rub past one another, so these two being comfortable together isn’t going to be an issue. The chemistry is alive and real on the dance floor, too. Kim comes out all smiles and sass, and the judges applaud her confidence and ferocity, but want her to work on her foot placement and hip action. Her reaction after scoring a 20 is enough to want to see her make it past next week.

Judges’ Score: 20/30

Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas

Fox Trot |“Ain’t Got Far To Go” by Jess Glynne

Paige VanZant is a mere 21 years old and a UFC fighter. She also says things like “beast mode” and there are multiple photos of her covered in blood. All of these things are frightening. On the dance floor, however, Paige is graceful and lovely. Who knew? Not the judges, that’s for sure. Len, Bruno, and Carrie Ann are all blown away by her lady-like spins and elegant lines. She’s a natural, and no one, including Paige, was expecting that. Once she begins to feel a little more at ease in the ballroom, there may be no stopping her.

Judges’ Score: 21/30

Doug Flutie and Karina Smirnoff

Fox Trot |“Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond

You may know Doug Flutie as the Heisman Trophy winner, or as one of the NFL’s legendary quarterbacks. I know him from Flutie Flakes. Remember those?! Not surprisingly, as an athlete, Doug is extra hard on himself in rehearsals. He’s used to being the underdog, but he really wants to get this right for his wife and daughter. Doug’s not great. The judges commend his commitment to the dance and were happy to see him work through his stumbles. When Bruno tells Doug that he was fun but that he needs to work on his frame, timing, musicality, and partnering, Karina brilliantly quips, “pretty much everything.” Oh, Karina, you were missed.

Judges’ Score: 15/30

RELATED: Our Dancing with the Stars breakdown

NEXT: Everywhere you look, there’s another Full House parody

Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe

Tango |“Confident” by Demi Lovato

The best thing about this partnership is that Keo may finally last longer than two weeks. The second best thing is that we get Keo in a Full House parody right out of the gate. Basically, I love Keo and I’m thrilled, along with everyone else, that he’s been given a partner with real potential. Carrie Ann thankfully points out that Jodie’s doing something weird with her face when she tries to be aggressive (it was distracting!), but all three judges agree that her attention to the details of the dance and her saucy attitude were impressive.

Judges’ Score: 20/30

Geraldo Rivera and Edyta Sliwinska

Cha Cha |“Treasure” by Bruno Mars

Wait you guys, did you know what was actually inside Al Capone’s vault? It was long-lost pro Edyta Sliwinska! Not inside, unfortunately, were any dance moves whatsoever. Geraldo admits to being the only Puerto Rican in America who can’t dance, and he isn’t exaggerating. His cha cha was painful to watch. To soften the blow, Bruno calls the performance “minimalistic” and asks the newsman to maybe try dancing next week. Grumpy Ol’ Len is the only judge to offer any real critique and asks Geraldo to start with working on his feet. Easier said then done, Lenny!

Judges’ Score: 13/30

Marla Maples and Tony Dovolani

Quickstep |“Sparkling Diamonds” from Moulin Rouge

Marla is an actress, a mom, and was once married to He Who Must Not Be Named, a.k.a. the current front-runner for the Republican Presidential nomination. Let us never speak of it again, okay? Marla seems lovely and deserves to be known for her positive outlook on life, her shiny hair, and her affinity for sparkles. And, oh yeah, her dance skills. The gal oozes elegance on the dance floor. Carrie Ann thought Marla’s attempt at a quickstep (a tough pull for your week one dance) was great, and she’s excited to see more. Len loves that there was “no messin’ about” (my favorite Len-ism) and appreciated that they just went out there and danced. Could Marla be this season’s dark horse?

Judges’ Score: 21/30

Wanya Morris and Lindsay Arnold

Cha Cha |“Motownphilly” by Boyz II Men

Full disclosure: I’m a Philly girl. I was prone to love Wanya on principal alone. Then he went and immediately gave us some harmonizing time with Boyz II Men. Add on that his performance incorporated cheesesteaks. But what really made loving Wanya a no-brainer, was his confession that he’s been waiting to do DWTS for nine years. NINE YEARS. As someone who’s been watching the show since season 2, I feel beholden to root for such a fan. After seeing him dominate on the dance floor, I suspect a lot of people will be rooting for him. Wanya brought it. Traditionalist Len bemoans the lack of classic cha cha, but deep down in his heart, he must know that the side-by-side section was the standout sequence of a fun, energetic routine. Wanya also calls Lindsay his Z-Pak because she makes him better. What’s not to love?

Judges’ Score: 23/30

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Ginger Zee and Valentin Chmerkovskiy

Jive |“Move” from Dreamgirls

Bless you, Ginger Zee. Within moments of meeting Val, she demands to see his abs. (Let it be known that I accidentally wrote that sentence as “demands to see his Vals,” and I don’t hate that.) She’s spunky, bright, and will force Val to hold a baby at some point in this competition. She is a great gift to the ballroom. She’s also a great dancer! Carrie Ann compares her to Bindi, and she isn’t wrong. Ginger attacks her fast-paced, technically challenging jive with a high level of commitment and an even higher level of joy. Bruno only faults her for not stretching out the back of her knee, which, come on, is a great type of critique for your first dance.

Judges’ Score: 23/30

NEXT: California, here we come

Mischa Barton and Artem Chigvintsev

Tango |“In the Night” by The Weeknd

Hey! It’s the scary poison soup girl from The Sixth Sense. Apparently, she was also in some show called The O.C. Just kidding, you guys: MARISSA COOPER LIVES. It seems as though everyone wants Mischa to have a great time on the show except Mischa. Lighten up girl, it’s just dancing! Carrie Ann and Bruno encourage Mischa to keep on keepin’ on. She has the potential, but she seriously needs to work on her core. And maybe perk up a bit. Len gives the grumpy critique we’ve all been waiting for — and calls her out for just walking around. I thought there was a little more content than that, but, yet again, DWTS refuses to give me my own judging paddles. So here we are.

Judges’ Score: 16/30

Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd

Cha Cha | “Cake by the Ocean” by DNCE

Pardon me while I pick my jaw up off the floor. America’s Next Top Model winner Nyle DiMarco was worried being deaf would put him at a great disadvantage, especially when it comes to keeping time. Turns out, he has nothing to worry about. That was a phenomenal first week cha cha regardless of if he can hear the music or not. If Nyle and Peta have this much chemistry after a few weeks, think about the potential for the rest of the season. All three judges, the entire audience, every human with eyes, was blown away. Serious question: Did someone steal Len’s paddles marked eight through 10? Does he know there are higher scores than a seven?

Judges’ Score: 23/30

Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess

Quickstep |“Bad Man” by Pitbull

Admittedly, I’m not much of a football fan. I am, however, a fan of great touchdown dances, and Antonio Brown has great touchdown dance game. His charm is infectious, and he brings all of it to his quickstep. It’s fast and fun, and Antonio knows how to work it. Bruno and Len want the wide-receiver to work on harnessing his energy and putting forth a little more control, plus there were some frame and footwork issues, but Carrie Ann is all full-steam ahead. She loves the wildness and energy. Len somehow scores this dance with a six, but pay no mind: Sharna is Queen and she’ll make sure Team Boomin’ comes to win next week.

Judges’ Score: 21/30

Von Miller and Witney Carson

Fox Trot | “My House” by Flo Rida

Another serious question: Are these two the cutest or what? Even though Von towers over his partner, Witney isn’t afraid to show the Super Bowl MVP who’s boss in the dance studio. She’s his Barbie drill sergeant, and the dynamic serves them well in competition. He comes out of the gate a little stiffer than I was expecting, but his swagger is still there. Carrie Ann calls him soft and silky, and Len applauds the couple for performing so much in hold, which is tough with such a height difference. Now that he has one dance down, hopefully he’ll loosen up a little more. Also, how long until we get Von Miller and some chickens on the dance floor? America needs this, Witney.

Judges’ Score: 21/30

There you have it, ballroom babes. Week one ends with a three-way tie at the top of the leader board, which is exciting. It’s always more fun when there isn’t a runaway favorite to win. What did you guys think? Were you as pleased as I was with the potential for greatness in season 22? Any standout couples? Can we all agree that we need more of Keo in footie-pajamas?

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