The short answer? Best. Premiere. Ever.
Well, first, congrats to ABC for not casting any a-holes or clowns. I'm actually looking forward to seeing a group of maybe-not-quite celebrities but at least nobody objectionable. That being said...
1. Bruno's suit? Shiny much?
2. Congrats to Bruno for namechecking Sofia Vergara--she should be on next season!
3. Bonus! An episode of 'Castle' set on a faux 'Dancing With the Stars'!
4. A surprising number of '8's--and two '9's!
And now, on with the show...
Maria Menounos: I don't know exactly who she is, but her laugh is amazing and she seems pretty capable on dance floor. Being paired with Derek is a plus, too.
Jack Wagner: I neither followed his singing nor his acting career., so I pretty much came in blind. Overall, better than I expected, and looks to be in pretty good shape for the long haul.
Donald Driver: Funny family man, and on fire on the dance floor! Wow--hell of a first night performance! And extra points for the adorable kids!
Gavin DeGraw: Seriously; is the hat crazy-glued to your head? Not bad on the floor; a bit unsure, it seemed, but he's got a strong partner in Karina.
Roshon Fagan: Well, he clearly comes in with an unfair advantage, but his awkwardness in rehearsals disappeared once he hit the dance floor. If he can keep that up during the slower, more elegant dances, he's got potential.
Sherri Shepherd: Freakin' hilarious, and pretty light on her feet, too. I hope she sticks around just for the entertainment value. "Short of birthin' my child, this the hardest thing I've had to do in my entire life..."
Melissa Gilbert: This season's Jennifer Grey--the injured cougar? A bit worried to hear she 'broke her back', which might be problematic in the long haul. No apparent formal training, but did quite well in the face of probably the evening's toughest choreography. A few rough edges, but a good start, and I like her attitude.
William Levy: I'll admit--I did have a bit of trouble...er...concentrating. But despite what looked like a disastrous rehearsal, he redeemed himself quite gracefully on the dance floor, and having Cheryl Burke as a partner doesn't hurt, either.
Martina Navratilova: An "A" for effort, but clearly some issues with fluidity and musicality compared to the other female contestants. Better than I expected, but, hey, someone's gotta go first...
Katherine Jenkins: Well, that's quite a set of pipes...but not your typical stuffy classical singer. Fun to watch, and a really nice job with the foxtrot. Her biggest challenge will be the "Who the heck is she?" factor--but high score of the evening so far!
Gladys Knight: Is the Irish guy always going to get the older women? Good chemistry between her and Justin, she moves great (I hope I can move like that at her age), and I suspect she'll be getting the popular vote for a while, too.
Jaleel White: This was the big finish? I was skeptical--but, to paraphrase Kim, "Be nice to the geeky guys." Graceful, elegant, with an honest and open smile on his face the whole time.
At this point, I'm going to have to break with my tradition of calling the top four; frankly, there's no one really bad and there are quite a lot of good people. I'm willing to dismiss Martina and Gavin early on, but it's a hell of a horse race.