Dancing With the Stars season premiere recap: Cha-cha-cha Changes!

Season 18 gets a 'Star Wars'-themed upgrade courtesy of Billy Dee Williams (but, more importantly, Emma's Princess Leia costume)
Ep. 01 | Aired Mar 17, 2014

ABC

Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas: 25/30 Anyone other than TV's D.J. Tanner, and I might've checked out after Candace aggressively made sure Mark knew, "I'm not gonna be your sexy girl." Ugh, what kind of show does she think she's on? Vanity Bulbs will not tolerate such irreverence for Our Lord and Savior, the Tissue Paper Two-Piece. Oh, well. Mark can work on that. (He won't have to for long, considering The Switch!) These two still lit up the stage even without the sex factor during their contemporary dance set to Ellie Goulding's "Burn" -- I liked the cool ending as they glanced back at each other under a dim blue haze. That's so Mark. Candace, who has excellent rhythm, is very competitive and insists, "Excuses are for losers!" It's crazy that I'm only becoming aware of this now -- but Candace Cameron turned out to be such a Deej!

Totally awkward and somewhat intriguing but just overall no: Back in 1988, Jeremy Miller a.k.a. Ben Seaver on Growing Pains DUMPED Candace Cameron in order to date Danica McKellar! Like, of course he did; who wouldn't? And that is how the Deej must feel every single day in this cruel world in which Winnie Cooper exists, now just a few box steps away. My internal TV just exploded. I blame the earthquake, and Erin Andrews.

Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 24/30 "How are your spins?" Sex on a Stick demanded to know from his new partner before acknowledging it was the dumbest question he could ever ask. The weird thing with Meryl is that she seems like a child whenever she speaks alone or with ice dancing golden boy Charlie. But throw her on a bench with Maks, and suddenly….

Meryl: "I'll give you all I got."
Maks: "I got a lot to give."
Meryl: "I can tell."
Maks: "Be careful what you ask for."

Instant adult! Thanks, Maks. Our favorite ass "interrupted" Meryl and Charlie's "gold medal ceremony" at the start of their explosive cha cha cha -- get on outta there, you fluffy-haired kiddo, they could do this all night!

"You're nice on ice, but you're good on wood," Len heartily approved of Meryl's prowess. They pretty much looked like a professional couple, same as Charlie and Sharna.

Danica McKellar and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 24/30 "My first impression of Val is that he's way cooler than I am," admitted Danica. But the fact that she even gets that, plus she gets other stuff, like complicated mathematics and wry humor -- appeals mightily to Val. This is an EXCELLENT partnership! Can they just be exempt from the big Switch? Please? I might like him even better with her than I liked him with Kelly. I loved his little "I agree" eyebrow raise after Carrie Ann acknowledged their "great energy" together during the foxtrot. Carrie Ann worried, though, about Danica's over-expressive mouth. Eh, give her a week to shake out the guppy-face tendencies. She's just that excited to be here. And perhaps she was warming up for her big, unprecedented-on-Week-1 kiss for Bruno.

It's hard to believe the author of math books for girls doesn't know what "geeking out" means. Tom Bergeron Quip of the Night: "When Val starts translating people, it's probably a sign of the apocalypse."

I did think it was slightly annoying that Danica announced her intended character arc -- "I've seen other people go on a journey on this show where they find their womanliness" -- because ugh, can we please not SPOIL a liiiiiiiiiive reality show? But I'll deal with it! Love her.

NEXT PAGE: The first fringed pants of the season and Drew Carey (mutually exclusive, don't worry)

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