On Monday night, ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” kicked off its 25th season with 13 celebrity competitors; sparkly costumes; and a few gimmicks, including a married couple competing against each other. We ranked all the contestants from best to worst:
1. Victoria Arlen/Val Chmerkovskiy
Best known as: ESPN host and former swimmer who won a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Story: It’s inspiring. At age 11, Arlen slipped into a vegetative state for four years. After she turned 15, she started to recover, but spent a decade in a wheelchair. She started walking again about 18 months ago, and she still doesn’t any feeling in her legs. As she explains, she has no idea what her lower half is doing, and puts all her trust in Val.
Performance: Victoria is a delight to watch, beaming through the entire routine. “I’ve seen some incredible routines on this show … but that was one of the most joyous performances I’ve ever seen,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba says
2. Jordan Fisher/Lindsay Arnold
Best known as: Disney and Broadway actor who also played two roles in “Hamilton.”
Story: Fisher loves a challenge — can his competitive nature help Arnold earn her first “DWTS” trophy?
Performance: At first, Carrie Ann just shrieks and can only say “Wowza!” She gushes that they’re the pair to watch, and she loves his confidence on the dance floor. Len Goodman goes with a simple “Well done,” a high compliment.
3. Lindsey Stirling/Mark Ballas
Best known as: Electronic violonist and YouTube sensation.
Story: She’s performed on the show several times as a violinist — can Stirling triumph as a dancer? As she’s the last dancer of the night, it’s safe to assume producers have high hopes.
Performance: As it turns out, dancing comes naturally for Lindsey, and she earns a rave from Len: “It was crisp, it was clean, lovely leg action, nice hip action — that was, for me, the dance of the night.”
4. Derek Fisher/Sharna Burgess
Best known as: NBA star who played 18 seasons, mostly with the L.A. Lakers.
Story: In the past, basketball players haven’t done very well — can Derek change that?
Performance: Derek starts with a fancy basketball dribbling routine. Bruno offers somewhat nonsensical criticism, though says Derek had a command of the dance floor. Carrie Ann loved the intro, while Len liked the technique but not the performance.
5. Vanessa Lachey/Maks Chmerkovskiy
Best known as: TV personality from MTV’s “Total Request Live.”
Story: She’s a mom. She has three kids. Did we mention she’s a mom? This comes up many times in her intro package. Maks warns her that she can’t be in mommy mode in rehearsal — even if her husband, singer Nick Lachey, is rehearsing next door.
Performance: “That’s a yummy mummy with a sexy carriage!” yells Bruno, because of course he does. He compliments Vanessa on her “proper” cha cha, while Carrie Ann goes with “Boom, Mama!”
6. Nick Lachey/Peta Murgatroyd
Best known as: Member of ’90s boy band 98 Degrees, reality TV star.
Story: People assume he can dance because of his boy band roots; in fact, dancing terrifies him. He wants to try something new. Oh, and he’s competing against his wife, Vanessa Lachey.
Performance: Len is pleased that Nick didn’t hold back, even if he made some small errors. “It was strong,” he declares. Carrie Ann thinks it wasn’t bad at all for a self-proclaimed non-dancer.
7. Terrell Owens/Cheryl Burke
Best known as: T.O., the NFL wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles.
Story: While he’s known for his celebrations on the football field, he says his confidence is often mistaken for arrogance. Can he shed that misconception?
Performance: Len finds T.O. extremely entertaining, fun and full of energy — except his feet were kind of a mess. Carrie Ann agrees that his “sparkle game is on point,” but needs to clean up his moves.
8. Sasha Pieterse/Gleb Savchenko
Best known as: One of the stars of “Pretty Little Liars.”
Story: She says she’s trying to get in shape for her wedding. Plus, as an actress on a scripted series, she wants to see if she can handle the rigors of live TV.
Performance: Carrie Ann is very complimentary, saying Sasha is on the right track and has excellent technique, even though she got ahead of Gleb on a couple moves. Len orders her to control her nerves.
9. Frankie Muniz/Witney Carson
Best known as: Malcolm, the gifted teen in a family of weirdos on Fox’s “Malcolm in the Middle.”
Story: He’s nervous, because he’s not a dancer, and may face some challenges after a back injury from his gig as a racecar driver.
Performance: For someone so scared, Frankie dances well. “I was screaming like you were in a boy band!” exclaims Carrie Ann.
10. Nikki Bella/Artem Chigvintsev
Best known as: WWE wrestler, model and actress; she is engaged to wrestler John Cena.
Story: She’s completely out of her comfort zone. “I’m used to body slamming girls for a living,” she says.
Performance: Len is somewhat impressed, and lectures that Nikki needs to stop looking down at the floor and her moves need more “sizzle.” Carrie Ann loved it: “You owned that dance floor.”
11. Debbie Gibson/Alan Bersten
Best known as: 1980s pop icon
Story: Four years ago, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease, which causes a lot of muscle pain and other unpredictable symptoms. She wants to prove to everyone that even if you face challenges, you don’t have to hide away.
Performance: Bruno compliments the chemistry between the two and critiques her form. Carrie Ann, on the other hand, urges Debbie to utilize Alan more in future performances.
12. Drew Scott/Emma Slater
Best known as: One half of HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” the renovation show he hosts with brother Jonathan.
Story: He claims he can’t dance. Drew is getting married soon and wants to improve before the wedding.
Performance: Yeah, he’s not great. Len calls him a “fixer upper.”
13. Barbara Corcoran/Keo Motsepe
Best known as: Real estate mogul and one of the investors on “Shark Tank.”
Story: Barbara says she’s always competed against men, so it will be very different competing against so many women. She’s always wanted to learn to dance.
Performance: What she lacks in skill, she makes up in enthusiasm and lip syncing.