Dancing With The Stars Watch: Opening Night

New season, new rules. And a new fan favorite.

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'DWTS' rehearsals: Bill Nye, Tyne Stecklein

Welcome to the season17  premiere of Dancing with the Stars. A whole new group of C-list celebs are suiting up in their finest Spandex to enter the Glitterdome and strut their stuff on the fabled dance floor. This season’s lineup includes the usual DWTS pupu platter of Disney star, former athlete, reality star and where-are-they now type. This season’s ringers include High School Musical star Corbin Blue, Glee star Amber Riley, performer Christina Millian and Showgirls star Elizabeth Berkley Lauren.

As you might expect of a show in its 17th season, DWTS is shaking things up a bit. While there will still be dancing with stars, the show is shifting format and only airing one night a week. The show’s hosts also had new digs: Tom Bergeron moved in next to Carrie Ann Inaba instead of Bruno Tonioli, while Brooke Burke-Charvet “interviewed” the stars on the ground floor instead of her aerie.  Plus, the stars will get their scores right after the judges make their critiques. While everyone is dancing this week, no one is going home until next. Got all that?

Here’s what happened on Dancing with the Stars:

Best Love Connection: In the first three minutes of the show, pro Peta Murgatroyd announces that she is single, meaning that she and erstwhile pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy broke up—and that she and her partner, Pretty Little Liars star Brant Daugherty, (also single) will probably be portrayed as a blossoming couple. People are into that.

Biggest Sigh: The first dance of the season is set to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” Bruno calls their cha-cha “very hot stuff” and a “sizzling teaser” and filled with “plenty of hot morsels,” which could also describe dim sum. They earned a total score of 22 out of 30.

(MORE: Meet the New Cast of Dancing with the Stars)
Wackiest Couple: Tony Dovolani immediately dubs Leah Remini, the former King of Queens star and recent refugee from Scientology,  “a force of nature.”  And he’s not talking about a sunbeam.

Best Gratuitous Audience Shot: Jennifer Lopez and her boyfriend Casper Smart are in the crowd, presumably to cheer on her BFF Leah Remini. (Someone reads a lot of EW, okay?)

Sneakiest Ploy: Tony’s tuxedo—made out of a combination of velvet and what seem to be plastic garbage bags—caught the light in such a way as to be completely distracting, so no one noticed Leah’s footwork. She earned a 21 for her foxtrot.

Worst Moment To Miss: According to Bruno, at some point during her foxtrot, Leah “went Miley Cyrus for a minute.” She twerked hard for her 21, off-camera apparently.

Most Likely To: The producers paired Katrina Smirnoff with High School Musical star Corbin Bleu. They’re going to win, right? If they don’t, it’s just because people don’t like a ringer (or know who Corbin Bleu is). After their polished contemporary dance, Judge Len Goodman said it best, “This is week one, right?” They earned a 24.

Best Genetics: Jack Osbourne joined the cast of DWTS to show a different and more danceable side of multiple sclerosis. His parents Ozzy and Sharon sat in the audience and watched as Jack’s partner, Cheryl Burke, tried to convince herself that Jack can dance because his father is a musician. Has Cheryl heard Black Sabbath? Jack and Cheryl earned a 23 for their foxtrot.

Worst Compliment: Glee star Amber Riley teamed up with Derek Hough for a crowd-pleasing cha-cha (the crowd was filled with her Glee castmastes) that floored the judges. Bruno crowned her “The Tigress of Season 17″ and Carrie Ann Inaba crawled over the table and Len announced that he was “flatulating” in his excitement. The judges doled out three 9s during the first night of competition.

Most Showgirls References In Five Minutes: Elizabeth “Showgirls” Berkley Lauren and a nearly shirtless Val Chmerkovskiy performed a slow and sultry dance to “Imagine.” Bruno said, “The original showgirl is back and she means busines,” and another dozen or more Showgirls references. And it’s only the first episode. They earned a 24.

Best Diss: Val claimed that he learned English by watching Saved by the Bell, and added that he always preferred Tiffani Amber Thiessen’s Kelly Kapowski to Berkley’s Jessie Spano.

Best Costume: Bill Nye the Science Guy (pictured) wore a blue lab coat, white shirt, and a bow tie. We’re guessing so that his partner, new pro Tyne Steickland, would recognize him.

Contestant Most Likely To Kill Your Childhood: After Nye introduces himself to Tyne, he mentions “Beauty and the Geek” (the concept, not the reality show), talks about sexual tension and then curses. Then they danced a cha-cha to (what else?) “Weird Science.”

Biggest Cry For Fan Votes: The in-studio audience gave Bill a standing ovation and started chatting his name, which hopefully fortified him against Len’s criticism: “It was like a wax: painful when it happened and lovely when it was over.” Big of Len to admit he gets waxed on national television. Bill earned a low 14/30, but has emerged as a clear fan favorite .

Most Likely To Improve: NFL star Keyshawn Johnson delivered a cha-cha that was so lumbering it was like he was wearing partner Sharna Burgess’ ultra tight gold spandex pants. Carrie Ann kindly dubbed the dance “a little stiff.” They earned 17/30.

Best Omen: Pro Mark Ballas managed to reduce singer Christina Milian to tears during the very first rehearsal.

DWTS Milestone: Mark filled the stage with smoke for his contemporary dance. Overcoming this potential safety hazard, the couple earned a respectable 22/30.

Biggest Self-Professed Red Neck: Blue Collar Comedy Tour member Bill Engvall didn’t let the taunts of friends keep him from competing on the show. He’s determined to capture the title of “Redneck Dancing King,” a mission that seemingly requires him to don an iridescent pink vest. Len gave a thumbs-up to his foxtrot with new pro Emma Slater (who was bumped up from the troupe)—they earned an 18.

Best Sight For Sore Eyes: Rumors of Valerie Harper‘s demise have been greatly exaggerated. While it’s true that Harper has terminal brain cancer, she has far exceeded the three months she was given to live and was ready to not embarrass herself on the dance floor with pro Tristan McManus. The 74-year old declared, “It’s good to be alive and even better to be dancing.”

Judgment Proof: Bruno was squeamish at crushing the dreams of a terminally ill national treasure, but then pointed out her timing was slightly off. Carrie Ann just cried and Len stayed mostly mute. 21/30.

Strangest Choice: Instead of ending on a sentimental note (with Harper), producers to close the show with … Snooki.

Most Important FYI: During her brief hiatus from television, Snooki became a woman and prefers we now call her Nicole. She’s also okay with “Snicole.” During rehearsal, the Jersey Shore star made a steady stream of inappropriate jokes while declaring that she’s “not a hot mess.” She held it together on the dance floor, though, managing not to embarrass herself or her partner, Sasha Farber, and earning a very respectable 23/30.

Best Exchange: When Len called Snooki a “pocket rocket,” Carrie Ann stopped him to ask, “Do you know what a pocket rocket is?” “No.” “Well, I’m not going to tell you.”

Number of Times “Blurred Lines” is Played: 3.

MORE: Q&A: DWTS Judge Carrie Ann Inaba Thinks the Winner Will Be…
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