Brant Daugherty & Peta Murgatroyd: 22/30 The panic attack that washed over me as Peta's giant ponytail threatened to overtake not only her body but her partner and their entire cha cha was a great re-introduction to the series for me. FAKE HAIR. IN HER FACE AND IN YOURS. Dancing With the Stars is back! That's when I knew it. I do hope this couple will tone down the blatant showmance efforts -- but as dancers, they've got major potential. I doubt whether anyone will remember this first dance, though. It's worth a rewatch. Brant's capable, cute, and just the right amount of confident. And his hotness made Bruno apologize for the first time ever about his own creepiness?! This dude has got to stick around.
Christina Milian & Mark Ballas: 22/30 Hmmm. I'd call their contemporary number a mediocre So You Think You Can Dance routine, which is to say I don't think Christina would seem terribly out of place on that show. Physically, she strikes me as a larger-scale Snooki who can already dance, so that's not too exciting. Mark made excellent use of the smoke machine and fulfilled his fantasy of personifying raw pretzel dough with another person in that final, wrapped-up-in-each-other pose. It's a big win for Mark this week. I'm not sure anyone will care bout the pair of 'em.
Valerie Harper & Tristan MacManus: 21/30 I didn't see a dry eye in the room following this totally classy foxtrot, after which our majestic tenderhearted Irishman opened up his arms and walked away in reverence of his brave partner. Valerie had been delivered a "death sentence" via brain tumor this January, but is still around, dancing her goofy heart out. That alone makes her worthy of a standing O (not to mention watery eye-darts in the front row from Leah Remini and Bill Engvall of all people. What a weird show!) but honestly, Valerie was pretty light on her feet for a 73-year-old. Sob story aside, I'm a big fan of the overall vibe of this partnership.
And she's a loose cannon to boot! Hidden gem: Tony's reaction in the background after Valerie jokingly called Tristan a "little slave-driver."
She didn't mean it like that! A national treasure can say whatever she wants!
Leah Remini & Tony Dovolani: 21/30 "Here's the thing. I talk a lot of crap, but I don't know if I can dance," Leah said up front. And before Tony could even reply: "No! No! I need to lose weight." Ugh, no, not another one! Luckily there seems to be more than enough Other Drama going on that this will not be an entire season about Leah Remini's stunning weight loss. Their foxtrot was nothing special aside from Tony's textured pleather jacket (a festering marvel!) and the utter oddity of having the DWTS house band bisected by the two technicolor staircases. Leah was NOT amused when Bruno said he wanted her to "twerk" next week like Miley. Nor was I.
"Can I go?" demanded Leah right after the judges awkwardly delivered their scores just a few feet from the dancers. She couldn't wait to sit down. Go right ahead! Try the bus stop.
NEXT: Bill Nye, the 'Sexual Tension' Guy