Astronauts, athletes, actresses and more — if nothing else, the cast for the 10th season of "Dancing With the Stars" is diverse, and thankfully, they're also filled with plenty of promise, judging by their first performances in a season premiere filled with laughs, tears and dropped jaws.
Kicking the season off was NFL star Chad Ochocinco and partner Cheryl Burke with the cha-cha-cha, a dance Burke described as "fun and flirty, just like [Ochocinco]." Returning judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Anne Inaba all agreed Ochocinco has great potential, with Goodman describing him as "a rough diamond" waiting to be sharpened. With a score of 18 out of 30, Ochocinco told new co-host and former "Dancing With the Stars" champion Brooke Burke that he felt good on the dance floor but still has "a long way to go."
Following Ochocinco was "Beverly Hills, 90210" veteran Shannen Doherty and partner Mark Ballas. Doherty revealed that she joined the show in support of her father, who is currently recovering from a stroke. Despite her best intentions, the actress was a self-described nervous wreck, but Ballas jokingly promised that he'd keep her nerves down and have antihistamine on hand. The pair, like Ochocinco and Burke, earned an 18 out of 30 but received compliments from the judges for showing "ease and elegance" in their performance of the Viennese Waltz. After the dance, Doherty tearfully said the proud expression on her father's face was all she needed to feel accomplished.
ESPN host Erin Andrews took the stage next alongside the outspoken Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who chastised Andrews during rehearsal: "My only pleasure in life is to bitch at people, and you're taking it away!" Performing the cha-cha-cha, Andrews received a strong 21 out of 30, despite some criticism for lack of control over her arm and leg movements.
Fresh off the heels of his stint on "The Bachelor," Jake Pavelka traded in his rose for a pair of dance shoes alongside partner Chelsie Hightower, who said Jake would get a lot of votes from the female audience because "he's hot." The judges were torn on Jake's performance, with Inaba saying he worked romance into his dance, while Bruno argued he was too rough. Despite the disagreement, Jake waltzed away with an admirable 20 out of 30.
"Reno 911" star Niecy Nash, the next competitor, made it a point to flaunt her "jiggly parts" with the following mission statement: "I want to be the nice, thick, grown woman that stands in the front, not the chubby girl that sits in the back." Alongside partner Louis Van Amstel, Nash impressed Inaba with a lot of sass and personality, but Goodman wasn't as kind, going so far as to call the dance an uneventful and "flat" cha-cha-cha. Nash walked away with 18 out of 30, dedicating her performance to "thick girls everywhere."
Without the aid of his trademark ice skates, Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek braved the dance floor with his partner Anna Trebunskaya. Lysacek acknowledged that his experience as a skater could prove beneficial, but he had trouble acclimating to certain spin styles during rehearsal. Even with these difficulties acknowledged, Lysacek scored the second-best result of the evening with 23 out of 30. Goodman praised the skater for his musicality and elegance but agreed with the other judges that he needed to work on his "clumsy feet."
Lysacek's clumsy feet were hardly problematic compared to world-renowned astronaut Buzz Aldrin's own difficulties. Although Aldrin received loving tributes from colleagues in space, all three judges agreed that the spacewalker's moves needed some work. "How can I possibly criticize a hero and a legend, but I have to do my job," Tonioli offered before he and the judges bestowed Aldrin with a 14 out of 30, the lowest score of the evening. Aldrin accepted the result gracefully, declaring: "I'm looking forward to the future."
The lowest-ranked performance of the evening was swiftly followed by the highest, as Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger and partner Derek Hough blew the judges away with their Viennese Waltz. Tonioli described the performance as having "startling finesse," while Inaba said Scherzinger and Hough set the bar for the rest of season 10. Goodman was much less impressed, telling Scherzinger she needed to work on her finesse. Despite the criticism, the pair managed an impressive 25 out of 30, the best score of the night.
If Scherzinger set the bar for the competition, "All My Children" actor Aiden Turner completely missed it. Along with partner Edyta Sliwinska, who finished in last place during last season's competition, Turner failed to impress the judges with his cha-cha-cha set to the tune of "Hungry Like the Wolf." Inaba enjoyed Turner's approach and bravado but felt he and his partner didn't hit the mark. "I gave it my all," he sighed after receiving a score of 15 out of 30. "The crowd had my back, but it's nerve-racking out there."
Kate Gosselin, tabloid target and mother of eight, was the next star to grace the dance floor with longtime "Dancing With the Stars" competitor Tony Dovolani. Performing the Viennese Waltz, Gosselin revealed that her eight children laughed at her when they found out she'd be performing in the dancing competition. The judges didn't join Gosselin's eight in mocking the reality star, but they did acknowledge that she would have her work cut out for her in order to go deep into the contest. Gosselin left the stage with 16 out of 30, declaring that while she feels honored to be part of the series, she's equally "glad that it's over and glad that my kids can rest easy tonight."
Finishing the first night of competition was "Baywatch" actress Pamela Anderson and partner Damian Whitewood with the cha-cha-cha. True to her reputation, Anderson performed aggressively and sexually with Whitewood, tearing his shirt open midway into the dance and chewing on his hand afterward. "I can only think of sex, sex, sex, the dirtier the better," assessed Tonioli before he and the judges gifted Anderson with a final score of 21 out of 30.
Because the votes and scores will be combined with next week's results, none of the 11 dancers are in imminent danger of expulsion from the dance competition. While there were certainly some fits and starts, nearly every competitor exhibited an enviable amount of enthusiasm, personality and, in many cases, skill. Without a doubt, this season of "Dancing With the Stars" will be one to watch.
Who was your favorite dancer? Are you excited for this season of "Dancing With the Stars"? Sound off in the comments!