A Pretty Little Liar, a Property Brother and a pair of Lacheys — who are married(!!!) in case you missed that part — were among the new crop of contestants introduced Monday in Dancing With the Stars‘ 25th season premiere.
I’m not about to get too nitpicky about technique, etc. in the first episode — the scores also speak for themselves — so what you’ll find below are my initial (and occasionally troubling) reactions to the 13 pairs competing this season:
* Terrell Owens and Cheryl Burke: I knew this first dance was going to be a rollercoaster of emotions as soon as the NFL legend started miming. Normally, I’m terrified of mimes. Untrustworthy scoundrels, the whole lot of ’em. But Owens’ miming was smooth, certainly more so than his dance moves. The judges issued him a measly 15/30 for his sparkly-yet-sloppy performance.
* Debbie Gibson and Ellen Burstyn: In the years following her career as a pop star, Gibson has faced a number of terrifying Syfy creatures — including Mega Shark and Giant Octopus — which explains how she managed to keep her cool around that rowdy rascal Bruno Tonioli, who did little to boost her and Burstyn’s overall score of 17/30. (And, yes, I know that Gibson’s partner’s name is Alan Bersten. Just let me have this one, OK?)
* Sasha Pieterse and Gleb Savchenko: For someone who starred on Pretty Little Liars, Pieterse was surprisingly honest about her reason for doing Dancing: “It’s a really good way to get in shape for my wedding,” she admitted. The judges weren’t super in love with her first performance (18/30), but does it really matter? The PLL Mafia (aka Pieterse’s massive social media following) will keep her in the competition for the foreseeable future, judges be damned.
* Drew Scott and Emma Slater: I hope the Property Brother wasn’t too discouraged when Len Goodman called him a “fixer-upper” of a dancer. They said the same thing about Kristoff in Frozen, and he’s well on his way to becoming a Disney prince. (Follow-up thought: If he hopes to get higher than a 16/30 next time, Scott could always pull a Sister, Sister with his brother and not tell anyone.)
* Barbara Corcoran and Keo Motsepe: Her technique may be a fright (hence the 14/30), but the Shark Tank star immediately became my favorite contestant (maybe ever?) when she followed Tonioli’s critique with a totally sincere, “Who is this guy?” I’m also a big fan of way-too-literal performances, so I enjoyed that Corcoran danced in front of a shark tank. Full of golden sharks.
* Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold: The evening experienced a mild surge of talent with the arrival of Fisher and Arnold — this season’s youngest dancers — who snagged a 22/30 with a dance that Tonioli called “slick!” and “smooth!” and… something else. I don’t know, I get nervous and stop listening when Tonioli starts overheating.
* Nick Lachey and Peta Murgatroyd: The former 98 Degrees frontman (who is married!) lowered the bar back down with an 18/30 (while his wife watched from upstairs!) as the judges criticized him for his “boring” performance. (For real, though, it’s like neither Lachey nor his wife exist outside of their marriage on this show. Do you think they’ll get eliminated on the same week, too?)
* Vanessa Lachey and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: Lachey fared a little better than her husband, scoring 21/30 — enough to earn bragging rights around the house, I guess.
* Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson: Malcolm found himself back in the middle tonight with a score of 19/30. For what it’s worth, if this show handed out points for enthusiasm, Muniz would have gotten, like, 100/30.
* Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev: With a score of 20/30, this duo fared decently on the dance floor. But Bella shone more brightly behind the scenes, explaining that it’s difficult to move around in heels because she’s “used to body-slamming girls for a living.” Not many people can say that.
* Derek Fisher and Sharna Burgess: Honestly, I would have scored this one higher than 18/30. Not since High School Musical‘s “Get’cha Head in the Game” have I seen such exquisite basketball-related choreography.
* Victoria Arlen and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: After bestowing upon her the nickname “Queen Victoria,” the judges handed this living inspiration a 19/30 for her “joyous” first dance.
* Lindsey Stirling and Mark Ballas: This spunky violinist definitely, ahem, struck a chord with the judges, earning a score of 22/30 — tying with Fisher and Arnold for the highest score.
OK, it’s time to weigh in: Who are your favorite (and least favorite) contestants after watching the Season 25 premiere? Vote for your favorites below, then drop a comment with more of your thoughts.