Dancing With The Stars review: Chong’s Cha Cha Cha and Carlton’s Jive surprise

The lights are back on in the ballroom for Season 19 of
The lights are back on in the ballroom for Season 19 of "Dancing With The Stars." Photo: ABC

SAN DIEGO, September 15, 2014 – The Season 19 premiere of “Dancing With The Stars” raised the curtain on plenty of potential for great ballroom dance entertainment over the next few months.

All 13 couples danced either a Cha Cha Cha, a Foxtrot, or a Jive. In only a week we have some early front runners, some happy surprises, a few fails, and one awesome water cooler routine we know you will be talking about.

READ ALSO: Dancing With The Stars Season 19 preview and fearless predictions

Alfonso Ribiero danced last and ended up in first place with all nines for 36 points from the judges. Is he really that good? He is the class of the field in the first week without a doubt. Ribiero and pro Witney Carson gave the fans a Jive full of style and energy. No Carlton sighting just yet, but there is a long season ahead.

Right behind the King of DWTS are the two teenage competitors who fall into the happy surprises category. Sadie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame was sassy and shows a lot of style and energy. She needs to refine her dance skills but she has what it takes. She and pro partner Mark Ballas scored 34 points. In third is YouTube and beauty vlogger (yes, there is such a thing) Bethany Mota, who was thrilled to get 32 points for her Jive performance. It was full of attack and she didn’t suffer any nerves in front of the live audience.

Several of the grown-ups did a fine job in their first outing. Lea Thompson tied for third with 32 points for a beautiful Foxtrot with partner Artem Chigvintsev. Her early ballet training helped with beautiful arm movements and grace.

MMA champion Randy Couture and pro partner Karina Smirnoff exceeded expectations with a strong Foxtrot. Couture knows how to charm a crowd and danced with assurance and attack. The pair scored 31 points. Also scoring well, actor Jonathan Bennett and new pro Allison Holker gave it all in a strong Jive for 30 points.

READ ALSO: Live Chat Dancing With The Stars Results Show – Whose going home? Tuesday, 8:00pm ET

Actress/singer Janel Parrish and partner Val Chmerkovskiy were tagged as early favorites. Their Jive had snap but was a little ragged, perhaps a bit rushed. It might be nerves, it might be adrenaline. Their 29 points will keep them out of trouble.

Tied at 29 points was talk show host Tavis Smiley. No one seems to be happier to be on DWTS and it showed in his enjoyable Foxtrot with Sharna Burgess. NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip threw himself into his Cha Cha Cha with Emma Slater; he was a little less successful with his dance skills, but the audience will enjoy and support his fun-loving approach, just like they did Bill Engvall and Slater last season. They scored 25 points.

Antonio Sabato Jr. and Cheryl Burke also scored 25 points. They danced first and that’s a tough position to be in. Their Cha Cha Cha was passable, but appeared Sabato was working too hard to follow his choreography.

How to explain what happened to Olympian Lolo Jones and new pro Keo Motsepe? Their Cha Cha Cha was just plain painful. Jones was stiff and out of it. She didn’t make it any better with her rambling conversation with the judges after the routine. She scored 22 points. Her new partner deserved better.

Let’s remind ourselves that Betsey Johnson is 72 years old, a 70-something who is flexible enough to do the splits. She is a goofy, colorful burst of confetti whose costume wasn’t a lot different than her every day attire. But her dance skills leave a lot to be desired and a prop malfunction with a feather boa didn’t help. Johnson has a lot of fans, and it may be enough to save her and pro Tony Dovoloni for a week or two. She is at the bottom of the leaderboard with 20 points.

The undisputed entertainment highlight of the evening was 76-year-old comedian/actor/activist Tommy Chong. Emerging from a low rider convertible driven by his longtime collaborator Cheech Marin to the roar of the audience, Chong and pro Peta Murgatroyd danced to “Drop It Like It’s Hot” by Snopp Dogg.

Chong only added to his cultural hero status with a Cha Cha Cha full of swag and swivel. This is the one everyone will be talking about and the video of the night worth sharing. The score was nearly beside the point. For the record, it was 27 points, solidly in the middle group. Wow, man!

Week 1 Scores

Alfonso Ribiero and Witney Carson: Jive
Scores: 9-9-9-9 = 36 points

Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas: Cha Cha Cha
Scores: 8-8-9-9 = 34 points

Bethany Mota and Derek Hough: Jive
Scores: 8-8-8-8 = 32 points

Lea Thompson and Artem Chigvintsev: Foxtrot
Scores: 8-8-8-8 = 32 points

Randy Couture and Karina Smirnoff: Foxtrot
Scores: 8-7-8-8 = 31 points

Jonathan Bennett and Allison Holker: Jive
Scores: 8-7-7-8 = 30 points

Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy: Jive
Scores: 7-7-7-8 = 29 points

Tavis Smiley and Sharna Burgess: Foxtrot
Scores: 7-7-8-7 = 29 points

Tommy Chong and Peta Murgatroyd: Cha Cha Cha
Scores: 7-6-7-7 = 27 points

Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater: Cha Cha Cha
Scores: 7-6-6-6 = 25 points

Antonio Sabato Jr. and Cheryl Burke: Cha Cha Cha
Scores: 6-6-6-7 = 25 points

Lolo Jones and Keo Motsepe: Cha Cha Cha
Scores: 6-6-5-5 = 22 points

Betsey Johnson and Tony Dovoloni: Cha Cha Cha
Scores: 5-5-5-5 = 20 points

For the first two weeks viewers can vote via phone on Monday nights during and up to 60 minutes after the end of the “Dancing with the Stars” broadcast in each time zone. Online voting at www.ABC.com and on Facebook at https://apps.facebook.com/votedwts/ is open for 15 hours, beginning from the start of the episode on the East Coast at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and closing at 11 a.m. ET/8 a.m. PT the next day.

“Dancing With the Stars: The Results” airs Tuesday night, September 16, at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time on the ABC Television Network. Join our Results Show Live Chat, 8:00pm, ETC. here on CommDigiNews

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

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  • ricardoh

    I like Lolo Jones but she should go.