Ooh, a new set! It looks like... something. There are now three levels of audience, which probably means more people to yell and scream and whatnot. The set and lighting looks very old-fashioned, like a jukebox from the '50s. The competitors enter, as usual, by walking down a long staircase. I'm going to save my comments about each couple for their dance, but I do have to mention that I don't know what Ron "Metta World Peace" Artest is up to, but he's ruining the flow of the entrance with his shenanigans. Oh, this first night is my favorite. Someone will be terrible. Someone will be surprisingly good. Probably someone will fall down or otherwise embarrass him or herself. Who will fall into each category? There's only one way to find out. Let's do it.
First up tonight is Ron Artest who, at least tonight, is going by his original name. If he makes it far in the competition, you know he will make them call him Metta World Peace and that is going to crack me up. How will they put that up on the scoreboard? Mr. Peace? His partner is one of the new dancers, Peta. She's pretty, but generic. Ron looks like a Dennis Rodman clone, right down to the bleached hair and the weird clothes. Anyway, he's a basketball player. He's doing this for his daughter, who survived cancer. Okay, now I feel bad making fun of him. As they start rehearsing, Peta is worried that Ron is too tall and stiff, and to his credit, when he watches video of himself, he sees that it's not good. So he's already ten steps ahead of Kate Gosselin.
So here is their cha cha cha. Well, he is tall and stiff. Peta was correct there. He seems to hit most of the steps for the first two thirds of the routine, but his hip action is awful and he's got no musicality. He does have personality to spare, but I just don't feel like people ever learn hip action. They either get it naturally, or they don't. He looked like an old arthritic white man out there, which is not a great start. And it was weirdly low energy for the first dancer on the first night. The pros were that he remembered the routine (hey, the bar is low in the first week) and he did try to project fun to the audience. To the judges, and can I add a sidebar here? I'm so grateful that the show hasn't tried to mix up the judges. They ruined Idol with that bullshit. This show messes with everything BUT the judges, and thank you. Len thinks they did too much faffing about and not enough cha cha. Bruno thought it was wild but he can improve with his technique. Carrie Ann liked "the fun factor" but thought it was lacking technique also. I always skip the Brooke interviews unless something shocking happens because Brooke is useless. Scores: Carrie Ann 5, Len 4 and Bruno 5. That seems about right.