'Dancing With the Stars' returns with new couples, new stage

Sherri Shepherd leaves the 'Dancing With the Stars' rehearsal studios in costume (X17 Online)

Sherri Shepherd leaves the 'Dancing With the Stars' rehearsal studios in costume (X17 Online)

Everyone got their dancing shoes on? "Dancing With the Stars" is back with 12 new couples and a new old stage. How did everyone do in their debut?

Maria Menounos and Derek Hough: cha-cha
"I want as many Mirrorball trophies as I have chest hairs," Derek says. "And that's four." How many do you have if you don't wax? Five? Maria is worried about not being girly enough because she's a tomboy. Well, at least she's got the ladies out. She looks great, obviously, but she's too stiff with almost zero hip action. Her footwork and placement are sharp though and once she loosens up, Derek will have yet another serious contender.  Len thinks Maria coped well. A pleather (?)-clad Bruno wants her to work her hips and "open up the sex-bot." Carrie Ann calls it strong and solid.
Score: 21

Jack Wagner and Anna Trebunskaya: foxtrot
Jack looks extra... refreshed. Anna looks even more fab than usual, if that's possible. Anna defies all odds. They start off lying down with some weird synchronized swimming-type movements. Unsure. The rest of the number is all sorts of cute, and Jack is nimble and totally sells it. Bruno says it's beautifully acted and beautifully danced. Carrie Ann has gone to her happy place already. Len disses his technique, footwork, etc., but loves his performance.
Score: 23

Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd: cha-cha
Giants fan here, but I love me some Quickie. He and Tony need to engage in a shiny teeth-off, no? Donald, who's watched the show since Season 1, flashes his uber-skinny legs to Peta and works 'em like craaaaazy on the floor. Dude can move. He's got charisma and energy for days. The whole thing gets kind of messy toward the end and starts looking more like a freestyle, but I'll chalk it up to adrenaline. "You kicked that cha-cha's booty," says Carrie Ann, who is really in her happy place now. Len loves his attitude, but says he lost his timing. Bruno got the "full impact," but thinks he got too excited. "You're like a rooster chasing a hen." They get a 21 and we get our first boos of the season.
Score: 21

Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff: foxtrot
Gavin's doing this because he wants to move out from behind the piano. So... get up? "This is not the thing that is my forte," Gavin says. That basically encapsulates how awkward he is in rehearsals. On the floor, he's slightly better. There's an endearing quality to the dance, not quite on David Arquette levels of awesome, but he's way too stiff for what's supposed to be a fluid routine. Len says it lacked musicality. Bruno says he had a gentle quality and wants him to link the moves because he stiffens up at the wrong places. "I sometimes stiffen up at the wrong times too," Gavin says. "And Carrie Ann's back in her happy place," Tom quips. Carrie Ann disagrees with Bruno and Len. Of course, she does.
Score: 20

Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower: cha-cha
I've never seen this kid before, but I'm also old and set in my ways. Roshon tells Chelsie that he loves to freestyle and dougies for her. They do a hip-hop-inspired cha-cha and it's easily the best dance so far. If Donald can move, Roshon can dance. It's totally in sync, sharp with lots of hip action, and he's got fearless confidence you need for this kind of thing. Oh, to be a kid again! Bruno says he can go on and on and on. Carrie Ann calls it the coolest spin she's ever seen on a cha-cha. Len loves the performance, but hates on the hip-hop. Who didn't see this coming?
Score: 23

Sherri Shepherd and Val Chmerkovskiy: foxtrot
Let's just get this out of the way: Ham! Sherri doesn't believe she can be elegant, and Val tells her to squeeze his butt. "God is real!" she squeals. Can we just talk about how much happier Val looks with Sherri than he did with Elisabetta? (Side note: If you're not up on your celeb gossip, Elisabetta has gone from dating George Clooney to fellow "Dancing" alum... Steve-O.) Anyhow, Sherri is elegant and is beaming from ear to ear. She needs more polish, but her joy is infectious, and that ought to carry her far. Carrie Ann calls her the happiest contestant they've ever had.  Len sums it up with three words: fun, fun, fun. Bruno wants some Sherri every day of the week.
Score: 23

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Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: cha-cha
I take it back. Melissa looks more refreshed than Jack does. She's doing this because she's had a few tough years (read: divorce).  Maks dresses her in leggings. Interesting choice. But she's got nothing to worry about since her footwork is solid. She does need more hip action and is too hesitant at certain points. Len wants more shaking and hips, but finds the choreography ambitious. Bruno calls it "The Attack of the Woman in Black," but concurs with Len. Carrie Ann says Melissa's shoulders were too high.
Score: 21

William Levy and Cheryl Burke: cha-cha
Mr. "Mexican Brad Pitt" gets the loudest screams in the room before Tom is halfway done with the intro. Judging from this, he's gonna be more Gilles Marini than Albert Reed. He and Cheryl start rehearsals a week later than everyone else because of his work schedule, but who needs rehearsals when you look this hot? He spends most of the dance grinding on Cheryl and/or twirling her, but he's definitely got moves and musicality. Really, the only downside is that he didn't take off his vest. Bruno starts licking his lips. Down, boy. "'Dancing with the Stars' presents the hottest package of the season!" he proclaims. Carrie Ann is in the happiest of places. Len says he kept control.
Score: 24

Martina Navratilova and Tony Dovolani: foxtrtot
Martina's worried about the heels, but she handles footwork well, if perhaps too carefully. The routine is very age-appropriate (oh, Tony and his women of a certain age!), but Martina looks lovely and emanates warmth. Her BFF Chris Evert loves it! Carrie Ann calls her beautiful and wants her to work on her turns. Len says it was too insular. Bruno says she's never looked better and tells her to extend her moves.
Score: 20

Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas: foxtrot
If you remember, Katherine as a singer performed on Season 12. She's Welsh and 10 shades of adorable. They're dancing to Lenka's "The Show," which can only be associated with "Moneyball" now. Katherine is a natural. She's practically floating and has the best transitions all night. Even Mark has toned down his hamminess. A little bit. Good stuff all around! It will be interesting to see what kind of fan base she has though. Len likes the details and calls it crackin'. Bruno says it's exquisite. Carrie Ann says it was like watching two pros. They get a 26, the highest score ever on a premiere, Brooke says. Wrong: Kristi Yamaguchi got a 27.
Score: 26

Gladys Knight and Tristan MacManus: cha-cha
Yay! Tristan's back! First of all, I need to look like Gladys does at 67. Secondly, Gladys is shaking it! She's got tons of rhythm, sass and hip action. The routine is age-appropriate, but also lively and modern, not safe like Martina and Tony's. "The legend has got the moves!" Bruno declares. Carrie Ann wants to get up and dance, and then proceeds to lean over and show Gladys her girls while she muffles her mic giving her a compliment. Somebody sedate her. Len says there's a naturalness to her dancing.
Score: 23

Jaleel White and Kym Johnson: foxtrot
Kym immediately brings up Urkel's moves. "You want to win, right?" Jaleel says. "Then you don't want to see that." Jaleel insists he's not clumsy, as his famous alter ego would have you believe. And he most definitely is not. He's light on his feet, smooth, sophisticated and looks like the perfect gent you want to take home to mom. Carrie Ann calls him the icing on the cake. Len loves his holds and adds that this is the best first show of any season. Bruno says he felt like he was watching the late great Gregory Hines.
Score: 26

And that's that. Katherine and Mark, and Jaleel and Kym lead the way with a 26, while Gavin and Karina, and Martina and Tony are at the bottom with a 20. No one scored in the teens! The first elimination is next week, so the scores and votes from this week will be tallied with next Monday's.

What did you think of the premiere? Was it the best ever in Dancing history? Is there anyone who cannot dance in this group? How many times did Carrie Ann go to her happy place? What was Bruno's suit made of? How many bottles of spray tan did Maks use? Who's your current pick to win?

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View original Dancing with the Stars" Episode Recap: Monday, March 19, 2012 at TVGuide.com

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