Dancing with the Stars kicked off Season 29 on Monday night…
… via a commercial that featured the family of Carole Baskin’s missing husband asking for leads about his whereabouts.
Yup: things looked rather different this year on the ABC franchise.
Baskin, of course, starred on the Netflix documentary Tiger King and is widely believed to have murdered Don Lewis in 1997.
Early on in the premiere, an ad appeared across the screen that depicted Lewis’ daughters, Gale, Lynda and Donna, his attorney John Phillips, and his former assistant, Anne McQueen, asking for any information that would help them find the missing millionaire.
“We need to know what happened to our father,” his oldest daughter, Donna, said in the footage.
“Do you know if Carole Baskin was involved?” the lawyer asked, adding that the family is offering a $100,000 reward for information.
So… that was awkward.
And so was the debut of Tyra Banks as host.
Taking over for Tom Bergeron, the former lead of America’s Next Top Model appeared very nervous and stiff, messing up many words, reading off a teleprompter and asking basically the same question of every contestant after his or her video package aired.
Is it too late for Bergeron and producers to make up and for Tom to take back over?
As for the tandems, which were finally revealed on Monday? And who leads the competition after opening night?
We gotta start with Baskin, right?
Teamed with Pasha Pashkov, the polarizing reality star and alleged killer danced to Eye of the Tiger (because of course she did) and earned a combined 11 points.
Dancing a Jive, meanwhile, AJ McLean and Cheryl Burke were the first couple to take the dance floor.
The Backstreet Boys singer scored a six from all three judges and walked away wiith a total of 18.
Not awful for his first-ever effort on the program.
On the flip side, Chrishell Stause and Gleb Savchenko struggled.
The Selling Sunset star came across as anything but natural during her Tango.
She was anxious. She was nervous. She stumbled a bit.
She scored a total of 13 points.
Vernon Davis and Peta Murgatroyd Foxtrotted on the premiere.
The former came across as charismatic and, well, extremely strong, putting his muscles to use during the performance.
They got 17 total points.
On the Salsa front, Jeannie Mai and Brandon Armstrong were full of pep and energy.
And lime green outfits.
There were also two lifts on the pair’s way to 18 points.
Anne Heche and Keo Motsepe displayed a whole lot of joy for their Cha Cha, with the latter clearly leading the way… but that’s to be expected, right?
It was a strong debut for the team and it also earned them a six from all panelists.
Another 18, folks!
Jesse Metcalfe and Sharna Burgess did a Quickstep, easily the hardest dance on the premiere.
The actor was able to keep up pretty well, though, impressing viewers with his light and deft touch.
Still, he couldn’t break 20. We’re looking at yet another 18.
Skai Jackson and Alen Bersten raised, the bar, however.
They did a Tango and Jackson attacked it with passion.
There’s an evident chemistry between these two and some serious talent on Skai’s part.
It was then on to a Cha Cha from Kaitlyn Bristowe and Aretm Chigvintsev.
The two were in sync throughout and the former Bachelorette definitely has some ability. She just showed some nerves on opening night.
Who can expect perfection so soon, though?
Nev Schulman and Jenna Johnson dressed all fancy and made us feel like we were watching a 1940s movie.
The Foxtrot looked gorgeous across the board — and Nev blew us away with his hand extension! And his height!
They also earned a total of 20 points.
For their Cha Cha, meanwhile, Johnny Weir and Britt Stewart weren’t exactly sharp… but they also displayed a great deal of chemistry.
Weir, an ice skater used to the big stage, was as confiident as any celebrity on the premiere and was having a blast throughout.
They picked up 18 points.
As for Justina Machado and Sasha Farber, the former looked totally at home on the dance floor. They did a Cha Cha and we marveled over their footwork.
Farber does not lack for enthusiasm, either. Wow!
They garnered 21 points and a spot near the top of the leaderboard.
The same can’t be said for Charles Oakley and Emma Slater.
This Salsa featured the former NBA star mostly being used as a prop.
He was stiff. He had no sense of timing and, well, Oakley is really gonna need to rebound next time if he wants to stick around.
They got a trio of 4s and 12 points overall.
Monica Aldama and Valentin Chmerkovskiy made a strong opening impression.
They totaled 19 for their Foxtrot for a dance that asked a lot from the star, most notably when it came to the need for quick feet.
But she did not disappoint.
Finally, we close with Nelly and Danielle Karagach.
This Salsa included the fifth lift of the night (gotta be a record, right?), along with the rapper needing to sink down and take more advantage of his legs.
He was a little out of of control at times, but Nelly has potential and obviously a lot of rhythm.
They got 16 points.