13 couples performed in a “Dancing With the Stars” season premiere so jam-packed the judges didn’t always have time to judge. But through the fast-paced live broadcast, a frontrunner has already emerged.
In season 18’s premiere last spring, we could already tell that Olympic ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White would be major contenders (Davis ultimately won). Season 19’s opener also showcased a contestant who might be difficult to beat: “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” actor Alfonso Ribeiro, paired with pro dancer Witney Carson.
Their jive wowed the four judges – including Julianne Hough, a former “DWTS” pro dancer, making her debut as a regular judge. Bruno Tonioli called Ribeiro “the king of the night,” and Len Goodman thought he delivered “the best dance of the night.” He scored straight 9s, vaulting him to the top of the leaderboard with a total of 36.
Ribeiro might have tough competition from 17-year-old “Duck Dynasty” star Sadie Robertson, who surprised in her clip package by revealing that her school doesn’t allow dancing. But you wouldn’t know it from her cha cha with Mark Ballas. Bruno called her “a bird of paradise,” and Carrie Ann Inaba thinks she’s “a star in the making.” She finished a close second for the night with 34.
YouTube star Bethany Mota and five-time “DWTS” winner Derek Hough ended the night in third place, scoring 32 for their jive. Tying them were actress and self-proclaimed cougar Lea Thompson, who teamed with first-time pro dancer Artem Chigvintsev and performed an impressive foxtrot. In fifth place with 31 points were UFC champion Randy Couture and Karina Smirnoff, who surprised the judges with a graceful foxtrot of their own.
Two couples suffered from major mishaps that left them at the bottom of the standings. Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones and “DWTS” newcomer Keo Motsepe struggled after Lolo lost track of her choreography. She scored 22 points, but she was harder on herself than the judges were, admitting her performance was worse than any of her practices.
But at least she didn’t endure a wardrobe malfunction like 72-year-old fashion designer Betsey Johnson, who delivered a solid cha cha with pro partner Tony Dovolani until she tried to pull a feather boa off of a prop clothes rack. She ended up dropping and tripping on so many clothes that they couldn’t finish their routine. The judges gave them straight 5s, for a total of 20, leaving them in last place.
The stars’ week-one scores were as follows:
Alfonso Ribeiro – 36
Sadie Robertson – 34
Bethany Mota – 32
Lea Thompson – 32
Randy Couture – 31
Jonathan Bennett – 30
Janel Parrish – 29
Tavis Smiley – 29
Tommy Chong – 27
Antonio Sabato Jr. – 25
Michael Waltrip – 25
Lolo Jones – 22
Betsey Johnson – 20
Will viewers forgive Jones and Johnson for their mishaps and vote them through to next week? The season’s first elimination happens on Tuesday night.