Welcome to Dancing with the Stars: All-Star Edition. Yes, Dancing with the Stars has now been around long enough for the show to give its former competitors another whirl. So its producers collected the winners, losers, finalists and fan favorites (and Pamela Anderson) and figured out a way to keep Brooke Burke-Charvet gainfully employed for yet another year. But like any happy homemaker knows, these aren’t last night’s leftovers if you add enough parsley and paprika. So they shook things up by switching around some partnerships and adding a sparkling new half-point score, which means approximately seven times the math. But the real story is that it’s an exciting return to the spotlight for the recycled stars (the show is eco now!) who all claim they are in it for another shot at the precious Mirror Ball trophy, but we know what they are really in it for: another chance to wear glittery hot pants in public.
Here’s what happened this week:
Winningest Moment: On Sunday night, one of the Dancing with the Stars hosts won the Emmy for best reality-show host. One hint: It wasn’t Brooke Burke-Charvet. Congratulations, Tom Bergeron!
Best Change: To up the excitement level, the show has a new scoring system — now with twice as many paddles! Len Goodman promises that the extra half-points the judges can add or subtract will mean tougher judging. Or maybe, you know, actual judging.
Breaking the Ice: First to hit the dance floor is least popular ’N Sync member Joey Fatone. He came in second during Season 4, losing to Olympic skater Apolo Anton Ohno. Fatone gets in touch with his inner Scarlett O’Hara and vehemently swears to the camera that he will do whatever it takes to win the trophy — even dance a cha-cha to an atrocious cover of Michael Jackson’s “P.Y.T.” while wrapped in what I assume are head-to-toe Spanx and a glitter jacket.
Best Bruno Bon Mot du Jour: In response to Joey’s dance, Bruno announces that he “likes a man who brings it large.” Some day the FCC will catch up with Bruno and give him a fine the size of Rhode Island’s GDP.
Silence Is Golden: Fatone, wanting to maintain his family-friendly facade, announces, “I’m giving heck with Apolo.” The judges give him a 20.5, clearly not for his way with words.
Most Golden Moment: Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, who won Season 8, appears in a gold dress, with a golden spray tan and gold accessories in her golden hair to complete the look. If the look she is going for is Mrs. Butterworth in heels.
Creepiest Compliment: While Shawn was paired with Mark Ballas in the past, for the all-star season she has been teamed up with the perennially smarmy dreamboat Derek Hough. He assures Shawn that he just loves to find new partners to look at.
Best Shout-Out to the Demographic: After Shawn’s dance, Tom Bergeron announces, “That’s what a retiree can do!” So when your nana in Boca calls to ask if you have any sequined hot pants she can borrow, that’s why.
Best Len-ism of the Night: Len whines that he’s “a cup of tea in a world of lattes!” as he disses Shawn’s foxtrot for not being foxtrotty enough. No one knows what that means, which makes it that much more charming.
Worst Omen for Civilization: Season 5 contestant Sabrina Bryan, a former Cheetah Girl (which has to be a euphemism for something), was cut in one of those “shocking” eliminations in which a not very popular celebrity is eliminated early in the competition because no one has any idea who or what a Cheetah Girl is. However, she was the fan choice for the all-star DWTS, so you have only yourself to blame when you watch a grown woman in pink sparkles dancing to One Direction.
Best Audience Stacking: Perennially famous person Nick Lachey sits in the audience to support his perennially less famous brother Drew, who is clearly the Johnny Drama to his Vince. What, we’re not making Entourage references anymore?
Biggest Overreaction: Race-car driver Helio Castroneves gets a standing ovation before doing anything. Sure, he won Season 5, but he’s not that memorable. However, he has clearly already carved out a niche as the Roberto Benigni of the competition. Sorry, Kirstie Alley, you’ll have to get another shtick.
Best Payoff: Tristan McManus notes that all the years of his being teased for being a male dancer have paid off in a fortuitous pairing with Pamela Anderson. The newly formed couple seems well matched, as they spent the first 10 minutes of their segment objectifying each other.
Second Best Bruno-Being-Bruno Moment: When Pamela finishes her lackadaisical, sloppy routine, Bruno announces, “You look like a girl who could go all the way.” The only bright side is that Anderson’s dancing is so dismal that Bruno won’t be able to say inappropriate things about her for long.
Most Repetitive Performance: Melissa Rycroft has a career based exclusively on failing to find love on The Bachelor and then repeating that feat on The Bachelorette, then Dancing with the Stars and now Dancing with the Stars again. What color is her parachute? Reality star!
Greatest Achievement: Ohno may be an eight-time Olympic medalist and the Season 4 winner, but clearly his proudest moment is when he gives the DWTS house band the chance to cover LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.”
Worst Assessment: Carrie Ann Inaba can’t believe that Apolo got “a thousand times more sexy.” I’ll guess it’s the high-waisted blue polyester pants, pink suspenders, ever expanding soul patch and glitter-induced blindness on the part of Carrie Ann.
Weirdest Compliment: When professional heartthrob Gilles Marini ends his dance, Carrie Ann shouts, “It’s like Jon Hamm couldn’t win it last night, because Gilles Marini had to come out and win it tonight!” Um … what? I’m going to go write a doctoral dissertation on that.
Biggest Upgrade: Between seasons, Bristol Palin was promoted from “teen activist” to “reality star.” Congratulations! Adding to her gold stars, Carrie Ann gives her a Most Improved award — an accolade her mom Sarah Palin applauds loudly from the audience.
Man Least Likely To: After winning Season 2, Drew, the creepier Lachey brother (which is its own stiff competition), has been loitering around Dancing with the Stars for years like a high school quarterback reliving his glory days. While his new partner, Anna Trebunskaya, thinks he can win, he probably can’t.
Best Accessorizing: Season 1 champion Kelly Monaco proves she is serious about this competition by wearing a giant belt with her leggings. That’s how they do it in L.A., ladies!
Worst Rerun: Within a minute of returning to the DWTS rehearsal room, Season 12 runner-up Kirstie Alley is making cracks about her weight. Sigh.
Biggest Spark: After her dance, Kirstie runs and kisses Tom hard. “That’s for your Emmy!” Tom earned next year’s Emmy nod by smiling politely and fake-smoking a postkiss cigarette.
Man Most Likely To: NFL legend Emmitt Smith took the title way back in Season 3. Based on the strength of his return to the dance floor, he’ll do it again. If I keep saying that, will he be my best friend?
Best Reason to Come Back Tomorrow: One of these numbnuts (not you, Emmitt) will go home!
Second Best Reason: Justin Bieber and Pitbull will be performing.