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The 12th season of Dancing With the Stars is underway, featuring what Tom Bergeron calls “the widest ranging collection of stars we’ve ever assembled.”

That’s code for saying “there’s no huge ‘get’ like Bristol Palin or Kate Gosselin this season, but get to know these folks and give them a chance! Please!”

We kid, but if that was what he meant, we obliged, and it was a pretty entertaining night overall. The surprise leader after this non-elimination round?

Yes, that’s really The Karate Kid! And he’s really in the lead!

Now 49, Ralph Macchio still has the moves. He had the technical merit and the showmanship to earn “best of the night” designation from Len. Not shabby.

Another relative old-timer, Kirstie Alley, 60, cha cha cha’d to Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You” and landed both a high score and some jabs at her own expense.

“If I was a size zero and 22, it would be easier,” she said, next to partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, adding, “If you told me to haul ass, it would take two trips.”

She impressed with “sizzle” nonetheless, while Disney star Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas won praise for a “fresh, young” dance and Hines Ward was “nimble.”

In the middle of the pack where Romeo, who danced his way to a 19 with Chelsie Hightower, and Chris Jericho, who admitted he was “nervous as all heck!”

Petra Nemcova’s foxtrot was elegant, but not great enough to be among the leaders. Kendra Wilkinson’s energy couldn’t muster more than an 18 either.

Sugar Ray Leonard’s foxtrot was slammed a bit for bad posture, drawing a 17 from the judges. But the bottom two spots were saved for even worse efforts.

Wendy Williams’ awful cha cha cha was Kate Gosselin-esque, and she knew it, too, but 14 points? That was a little harsh. Yet she beat Mike Catherwood.

At least Mike made up for his low score with this dig: “What I lack in ability to dance I make up for by being the least well-known person in the cast.”

The scores from last night’s Dancing With the Stars premiere …

  1. Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff: 24.
  2. Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 23.
  3. Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas: 22.
  4. Hines Ward and Kym Johnson: 21.
  5. Chris Jericho and Cheryl Burke: 19.
  6. Romeo and Chelsie Hightower: 19.
  7. Kendra Wilkinson and Louis van Amstel: 18.
  8. Petra Nemcova and Dmitry Chaplin: 18.
  9. Sugar Ray Leonard and Anna Trebunskaya: 17.
  10. Wendy Williams and Tony Dovolani: 14.
  11. Mike Catherwood and Lacey Schwimmer: 13.

No one will be eliminated this week, which is good for Mike and Wendy. They will all have a chance to build on their scores – and more importantly, their fan bases.

The show returns on Monday and the first star will be sent home the following night, Tuesday, March 29. Right now, at least a few pairs appear to be at risk.

It’s early, but who do you think looks like they’ll win it all?