Melissa Rycroft rebounds on Dancing with the Stars’ Jason-bashing premiere

The addition of Melissa Rycroft to Dancing with the Stars 8 may be ABC’s most brilliant move in a long time. For one, she can dance, and her score of 23 has her tied for second place after the first night of competition and after only 48 hours of rehearsals. She’s easily a front-runner, and her popularity among ABC’s audience means she’ll probably stay right until the end.

More importantly, though, it’s basically a way for ABC to apologize to her for using her last Monday night. Besides keeping her on the payroll, there’s the bonus of being able to rip Jason even more. The audience booed Jason when they showed a clip of Jason rejecting her, and Len Goodman told her that “The Bachelor’s loss is Dancing with the Stars’ gain.” Bruno called Jason “a loser,” while Tom said Jason needs “people skills.”

Beyond the Jason-bashing, while the first two hours of season eight had some decent performances (Shawn Johnson, Gilles Marini), some wooden performances (Ty Murray), and some entertainingly awkward performances (Woz, Denise Richards), it was kind of long and dull, and I had to temporarily entertain myself by trying to guess what Steve O’s blurred tattoo was (it’s a dripping penis with U.S.A. written underneath it).’

I think our hosts need some time to get back into things. Samantha repeatedly cut people off backstage in order to throw back to Tom, who’d make some kind of bad joke and clearly wasn’t under a time crunch, while Tom’s conversation with the injured former competitor Nancy O’Dell was punctuated with him saying “mmm” and trying to get her to stop talking. He seemed completely uninterested in both Nancy and Jewel, hoping they’d shut up, so now he knows how some in the audience feel about him.