(Spoiler alert: Please do not read on if you haven’t watched Monday’s Season 23 premiere of “Dancing With the Stars”)
And the race for the Mirror Ball trophy is officially back on!
While “Monday Night Football” was kicking off on sister network ESPN, the 23rd season of “Dancing With the Stars” pitted an iconoclastic cast against each other.
Among the colorful contestants this season are currently banned Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte, ’90s rap sensation Vanilla Ice, model and self-proclaimed activist Amber Rose and Golden Globe nominee and former “Taxi” star Marilu Henner.
Tom Bergeron returned as host with sidekick Erin Andrews, and Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli reunited on the judges’ table.
Pro dancer Derek Hough also made a welcome return after taking a season off, and opened the latest episode with a very lively performance opposite actress, Henner.
“Full of energy, full of vitality … and absolutely fabulous,” Goodman said of their spritely jive.
IndyCar racer James Hinchcliffe — who had a terrifying brush with death in a crash before the Indianapolis 500 last year — proved that he was far more graceful and smooth on the dance floor than the judges’ expected from a manly race car driver. “First lap, first class,” Tonioli quipped about his ballroom performance.
After his former Detroit Lions teammates proved they could hold their own against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, recently-retired NFL star Calvin Johnson Jr. had to prove the rumor that he (and his size 15 feet) can’t dance wasn’t true.
“You have that footballer magic and you lit up the whole room,” Inaba told Megatron, and while he was far from perfect, Johnson boasted the foundations of gifted dancers.
Having covered the wide receiver in college and the NFL throughout his career, Andrews told him: “Sequins bring out a different side of you.”
Maureen McCormick, who played Marcia on “The Brady Bunch,” cried during her rehearsals, cried after her performance and shed a few more tears when she got her so-so scores. Oh, Marcia, Marcia, Marcia …
Veteran pro dancer Max Chmerkovskiy had his hands full with Rose in more ways than one. The outspoken model was told she needed to connect more, “Don’t switch on and off like a light bulb,” Tonioli told her.
Vanilla Ice didn’t have any trouble remembering the words to his theme song, and he did a cha-cha to “Ice Ice Baby” … by Vanilla Ice (is that cheating?!?). The crowd loved it — and so did the judges. “I’m so happy!” Inaba giggled, while Tonioli said he thought it was “absolutely ace,” even thought the cha-cha was somewhat disguised in his performance.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry needs to learn how to dance before his daughter’s wedding but described his skills as “a lump of coal.” Sadly, the judges agreed. “It was a little bit pedestrian at times,” Goodman told him. “You were in your own time,” Tonioli said.
Terra Jolé marked the first little person to be on any version of “Dancing With the Stars.” But while she is “small in statue, you’re big in heart,” Goodman told the new mom, “you just delivered twice in a month.”
Some viewers disagreed with the casting of Lochte following his scandal down in Rio, and the gold medalist swimmer admitted in his monologue that “recently I’ve been in the media for the wrong reasons … my biggest regret is letting people down.”
As for his dance, “Your limbs are not quite used to dry land … there’s a lot of work, no more swimming around,” Tonioli told him. Inaba was interrupted in her harsh judgment of the swimmer by an outcry from the audience, which led ABC to jump to a swift commercial break.
“We had a little break because we had a little incident,” Bergeron said. “I would like to personally thank our security team for staying in shape.” However, he did not detail exactly what the unrest was caused by.
“We are only here to judge your ballroom dancing,” Inaba went on to tell the swimmer.
See the full cast with their pro partners and the songs they danced to below (list care of ABC).
Jake T. Austin and Jenna Johnson, jive, “Kiss You” by One Direction
Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Allison Holker, foxtrot, “Deed I Do” by Ray Charles
Laurie Hernandez and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, cha-cha, “American Girl” by Bonnie McKee
James Hinchcliffe and Sharna Burgess, foxtrot, “Live Life” by Zayde Wølf
Calvin Johnson Jr. and Lindsay Arnold, cha-cha, “That’s What I Like” by Flo Rida featuring Fitz Lunchmoney
Terra Jolé and Sasha Farber, jive, “Stuff Like That There” by Betty Hutton
Jana Kramer and Gleb Savchenko, Viennese waltz, “Dangerous Woman” by Ariana Grande
Ryan Lochte and Cheryl Burke, foxtrot, “Call Me Irresponsible” by Michael Bublé
Maureen McCormick and Artem Chigvintsev, Viennese waltz, “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” by Mary J. Blige
Rick Perry and Emma Slater, cha-cha, “God Blessed Texas” by Little Texas
Amber Rose and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, foxtrot, “Here” by Alessia Cara
“Dancing With the Stars” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC