Dancing With The Stars arrived in the ballroom for its 29th season. There were declarations of an all-new, retooled series, and a brand new crop of celebrities willing to try their hands at fancy footwork. But despite the absence of longtime host Tom Bergeron, replaced by the smizing Tyra Banks, little had changed. Celebrities with dancing skills did well. The ones who tried hard were given their due. And then there was the lowest scorer of the evening... This video of Carole Baskin's first DWTS performance proves that training tigers does not equate to dancing skills.
The Dancing With the Stars premiere always has its share of those who tune in for the rubbernecking to see just how good or bad these celebrities are. The Sept. 14 premiere had its share of pleasant surprises. Backstreet Boy AJ McLean was paired with longtime pro Cheryl Burke for a competent jive. One Day at a Time's Justina Machado cha-cha-cha'd with her pro, Sasha Farber, to a front-runner position. Pro Daniella Karagach was paired with Nelly; their salsa was spicy. And Johnny Weir wore purple and a pompadour, and the ballroom gods smiled.
Then there was Carole Baskin. Her debut dance — a paso doble — to "Eye of the Tiger" (natch) had a lot of razzle-dazzle, but as the judges pointed out, her footwork was pretty much all wrong.
The paso doble is not an easy dance. That said, the resulting train wreck was worse than most could have foreseen. Baskin didn't have her head in the dance from the opening notes, and she seemed unable to keep from laughing as she and her partner, Pasha Pashkov, growled at each other through the cage bars. From there, it was a bunch of stiff parading and half-circles, and then a lot of relief when it was over.
Pashkov (Karagach's husband) is pretty new to the show; he became a DWTS pro in 2019, when he paired with The Office star Kate Flannery and made it to seventh place. This year he probably won't be so lucky.
The judges were brutal with their scoring, though they attempted to be encouraging with the comments. Both Carrie Ann Inaba and Derek Hough gave her 4s, and Bruno Tonioli even trotted out a dreaded 3. Even so, Tonioli is probably right that she'll be back next week once the viewer votes are counted. Every audience loves an underdog — or in this case, an undercat.