Film and TV

Dancing With the Stars: Week One, With "Wild Thing" Tom DeLay

Last night's episode of Dancing With the Stars was my first. I know what you're thinking: "Daniel, you idiot, how could you have resisted the magic of F-list celebrities wearing sequined shirts for nine (!!) seasons? What the hell is wrong with you?"

Well, what the hell's wrong with me is I like good TV, which would seem to rule out Dancing With the Stars. But when those who sign my checks said I should give the show a look, I had a change of heart. Besides, this season has Sugar Land's own Tom DeLay, since apparently not even being indicted on criminal charges of conspiracy to violate election laws can quell a man's urge to sparkle on the dance floor. I haven't decided if I'll refer to him as former House Majority Leader, Tom, DeLay, or Dazzle Me Dreamy.

Monday's two-hour opener was devoted to the male contestants, with the women performing Tuesday before two couples get eliminated Wednesday. That's a tough first week, especially for the viewers forced to watch five hours of TV for maybe 20 minutes of action. Onward!

After an opening rendition of "The Boys Are Back in Town" that host John Bergeron erroneously described as "fantastic," he and co-host Samantha Harris (demonstrable skills: none) introduced the dudes. There's Aaron Carter, younger brother of a Backstreet Boy, dancing with Karina Smirnoff, whose stomach is stronger than every part of me put together; UFC champ Chuck Liddell, looking for all the world like a bouncer who got lost, paired with Anna Trebunskaya; Iron Chef host Mark Dacascos with Lacey Schwimmer; Ashley Hamilton, son of the bronze George, with Edyta Silwinska; Donny Osmond (I know!) with Kym Johnson; some snowboarder named Louie Vito and his partner, Chelsie Hightower; Michael Irvin and Anna Demidova; and Dazzle himself, strutting in on the arm of Cheryl Burke. (Since this ep was about the guys, I'll introduce the ladies in tomorrow's post. Try to contain yourselves until then.)

The first dancer of the night was Carter, which is when the show deviated into one of many rehearsal clips. This happened all night, and was as predictable as you'd expect. Sample quote from Carter that says it all: "Learning all these steps is hard enough, but it's almost impossible to concentrate when I have such a hottie for a teacher!" I bet this little pisser lasts till the end, too. Their rehearsal also underscored that this is a cakewalk for the pros, or it would be if they didn't have to train rookies. You almost feel bad for them, and have to wonder if the pro dancing circuit refers to the show as Dancing With the Idiots.

The judges are interchangeable. There's the British Len Goodman and the Italian Bruno Toniolo, both of Strictly Come Dancing, the original U.K. version of Dancing With the Stars, and Carrie Ann Inaba, a former Fly Girl. So there.

Liddell was kind of terrifying on the dance floor, like he's one bad step away from hulking out and killing the tiny Russian woman in his arms. Dacascos did a cha-cha set to, seriously, "Kung Fu Fighting." Osmond's onscreen tag was "showbiz legend," and the crowd gave giant cheers when he had to place his hand on his partner's lower back. The snowboarder danced, but unless he sticks around, I can't care about him. Irvin, despite his ostensible happiness to be there, still scored pretty low.

And then, like the death we all know awaits us, it was Dazzle's time to shine. His rehearsal footage was like watching an injured animal beg for help. But oh, sweet sweetness, nothing could compare to his dance to "Wild Thing," complete with air guitar, ass shaking and angry pointing. It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen, at least insofar as some humor is defined by pure, abject horror. Bruno even squealed, "You're crazier than Sarah Palin!" (Which, come on, no way.) I hope he wins.

There was an intricately scored salsa relay that Donny won, which means he can legally commit murder for one week. Then there was a Viennese waltz relay that Aaron won despite the fact that DeLay was way creepier and should have won just for that. Come on, judges!

So that was it, and Aaron's in the lead for now. Sadly, the only way it could have been shorter is if they'd nixed the relay. Hopefully things will pick up once couples start getting dropped Wednesday. Next up: the ladies.

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Daniel Carlson
Contact: Daniel Carlson