‘Dancing with the Stars’ premiere: Smiles abound for Jaleel White

Jaleel had a great start.

Get on your extra-sparkly ballroom shoes! This season of “Dancing with the Stars” has finally arrived, and we are here to provide you analysis on every step, and every single time that Bruno Tonioli crosses the line with his criticism.

So how did these contestants fare? Let’s analyze both with the judges’ and our take. We should note first and foremost that there is going to be no elimination this week, and that these scores from the judges will be added to the ones from next week.

Maria Menounous and Derek Hough – …And we’re off! We wish we could say that this dance was electric, but the first dance of every season always manages to be some sort of solid-but-unspectacular cha-cha from someone who could be a contender down the road. While Maria’s footwork was far from the worst on the night, we did learn here that she still has plenty of work to do. Score: 21

Jack Wagner and Anna Trebunskaya – Jack looked a bit out of his element in his powder blue suit, but surprisingly the “Melrose Place” actor turned out be quite good. We enjoyed seeing a different side to the guy, and we’re actually hoping that Jack sticks around for a little while based on curiosity alone. Score: 23

Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd – Has there ever been an athlete on this show who is as much of a “Dancing” fanboy as Donald? More than anything else, this is what we were surprised to see from the guy during the premiere. We were not so surprised to see that he was a good dancer, and we hope that he gets plenty of opportunities with a partner (in Peta) who was eliminated early last season. Score: 21

Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff – We really want to love Gavin, mostly due to the fact that he is a singer that is completely out of his element in doing this show. He also managed to actually be an okay dancer despite some of his nerves. Really, this is what could end up holding him back more than any actual ability on his part. Score: 20

Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower – We were actually a little surprised by this, maybe because we were hoping for Roshon to be the next Kyle Massey. Instead, he really didn’t have as much charisma as we were hoping. His dance was all right, but he didn’t really have much in the way of chemistry with Chelsie. As for his dancing, it was solid but unspectacular. Score: 23

Sherri Shepherd and Val Chmerkovskiy – Hats off to Sherri for being the most entertaining person so far! We didn’t know how she was going to end up doing, but the “View” panelist was more than just a fantastic dancer — she was also a blast in a glass (with a quote via Deena Cortese) to watch. Sure, we’ve heard the controversy about her maybe having past practice time … but since this is also the show that once cast Nicole Scherzinger, we won’t hold that against her too much. Score: 23

Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy – Unfortunately for Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Melissa may be his least-exciting pairing in some time. As great as she was on “Little House on the Prairie,” Melissa is so easy to forget about that we were tuning her out just minutes after she performed. Score: 20

William Levy and Cheryl Burke – Did anyone see this sort of reaction coming? William’s arrival in the ballroom was akin to The Beatles (or One Direction, for the younger fans) showing up at a concert. The good news was that William lived up to a salsa that was chock full of flavor. Score: 24

Martina Navratilova and Tony Dovolani – Would Martina be the first boot if this season ended this week? Probably. Not only is Martina a rather unrecognizable name to many younger fans, but her dance to be frank was overscored. We really do want Tony to go far, so we hope she sticks around for his sake. Score: 20

Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas – Score wise, Katherine’s performance was the best we’ve ever seen in the first round (at least based on our recent memory). When you consider that the opera singer even started training a little late, this foxtrot (which featured Katherine in a bright yellow dress) was sleek, elegant, and well-done. Score: 26

Gladys Knight and Tristan MacManus – First things first, we loved Tristan referring to himself as “the hot one” on the show. (Somewhere, Maks begs to differ!) We really wanted to see Gladys do well, and we’re at least happy to see that this first dance went rather well. Someone also needs to give Tristan a medal, as he has managed yet again to turn a surprising star into a good dancer. Score: 23

Jaleel White and Kym Johnson – We were looking forward to Jaleel’s performance for pretty much the entire episode, and we’re so thrilled that he didn’t disappoint. Even though he’s not Steve Urkell anymore, there is just something about the guy that makes you want to smile — he’s just a natural entertainer, and he has such a sense of humor about his own comedic past. Score: 26, which tied Katherine for first place.

Who is your favorite from this episode, and did you think that this was one of the best premieres you have ever seen on the show — as per Len Goodman’s assessment?

Photo: ABC

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