'Dancing With the Stars': What the Critics Say

Adam Larkey/ABC

Did Kirstie Alley bomb? Is Wendy Williams the biggest diva? Experts weigh in on the 12th season premiere.

Dancing With the Stars returned for its 12th season on ABC Monday night. What did the critics think?

"Despite the shocking lack of a polarizing political figure, there was plenty of fun on Monday’s 12th season debut," writes the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes, referring to Bristol Palin's controversial turn on the dance floor last season. PHOTOS: How Bristol Palin was criticized on Dancing With the Stars

de Moraes sees talk show host and NYC-based DJ Wendy Williams "shaping up as this season's diva." (She's already become a trending topic on Google.)

Williams started the show by insulting her dance partner Tony Dovolani (she told him she had no idea who he was at their first dance practice), weeping before dancing to relax and sniping with co-host Brooke Burke. Judge Len Goodman appreciated her "dumplings were boiling over" in her gold-mini skirted outfit.

But it's Kirstie Alley who "steals the show," de Moraes says. "She has more footwork going on than a cattle stampede. She’s also 60 years old, we learn – which we think makes her season 12’s oldster." She's given 23 points for her cha cha cha.

Allyssa Lee of the Los Angeles Times says she was "pleasantly surprised" by the "swath of talent on display."

"Despite the dimmer star wattage that adorned the marquee this season, I thought this first episode was a pretty entertaining show, no?" she wrote in her recap. "The two-hour season premiere had its share of tears and laughter, pleasure and pain."

USA Today's Ann Oldenburg was surprised of the outgoing Williams' "awful performance."

"The talk show host was stiffer than Kate Gosselin when she took the floor for her cha cha cha," she wrote. Still, Oldenburg noted the show came back in its "full glory."

Host Tom Bergeron kicked off the show by saying, "This is perhaps the widest-ranging collection of stars we've ever had," and USA Today agreed: "So true."

"What a strange, funny, entertaining night," Sarah Kickler Kelber wrote in her Baltimore Sun review. "OK, seriously, if you had told me before the show that the top two scorers on this premiere would be Kirstie Alley and Ralph Macchio, I would have said you had lost your mind. But that's what's happening."