So begins another season, and with that comes power rankings For those of you unfamiliar with these rankings, they’re basically a measure of how likely a certain couple is to stick around during a particular week – the higher the ranking, the less likely a couple is to get voted off; the lower the ranking, the more likely they are to get voted off. Keep in mind that this takes several factors into account – not just score, but also likeability, fan base, how memorable a couple was, etc. The most exciting part is that these rankings can change dramatically week after week – very interesting to discuss & debate
Each season, I do a preliminary power ranking of all the couples before we’ve actually seen them dance live on the show – I actually predicted the top 5 couples of season 10 without every seeing any of the couples dance. My preliminary rankings for season 11 were crap, but then again, last season was pretty unpredictable But let’s get on with season 12, shall we? I’ll begin with the bottom half of pack – the couples that I don’t see making it past the midpoint of the show. As an aside – this has definitely been the hardest season for me to “forecast”, as I think the playing field is unusually level this season – no immediate stand-outs in terms of dance experience. However, there does seem to be some disparity in levels of fame & popularity, which I think may play a bigger role this season than it has in the past.
11.) Petra Nemcova & Dmitry Chaplin – I’m afraid this season’s “prettiest” couple is also in danger of being the first to go, unfortunately. Judging from the rehearsal videos, it looks like Petra may be this season’s worst dancer…she definitely seems to be suffering from Awkward-Moving Model Syndrome, and seems like her long arms and legs are just all over the place. So Dmitry’s got some work to do…and I think he might struggle with it. Dmitry did well with Mya, yes, but Mya was already an experienced dancer; I think Petra is going to be more along the lines of never-really-danced-before-in-my-life Holly, who only made it to week 3 of her season. These two seem like they’re very relaxed and get along well, but that could also pose a problem – there’s some bigger, more famous personalities on this season, and these two are really going to have to make an impression in order to stand out. Can they do it? I’m skeptical. Overall, I think the biggest problem these two are going to face is just being memorable – if they fade into the woodwork, they’re goners.
10.) Wendy Williams & Tony Dovolani – Does anyone else find it odd that there has been very little practice footage of these two so far, and that Tony has been uncharacteristically quiet about their progress? I also thought it a bit weird that Wendy seems to tweet more about her show & getting her hair and nails done than she does about actually practicing. Who knows – it could be these two just wanting to suprise everyone come showtime. But I’m starting to get the impression that these two may not be as invested in the show as some of the other couples are. It’s one of the reasons I think these two may be an early exit – another is Wendy’s big mouth. She’s dissed a good number of celebrities on her show, and makes no apologies about it. Some controversy can be a boon to a contestants success on the show; but sometimes, it does more harm than good. Then there comes to problem of Wendy’s height – the last time Tony had a partner this tall with no dance experience whatsoever was Kathy Ireland, and she was gone during week 2. Ladies of height have traditionally not done so well on the show, as many of them seem uncomfortable moving with their stature. And after seeing the rehearsal footage of these two – yikes. Tony’s definitely got his work cut out for him, as Wendy seems to be not only an awkward mover, but also a timid mover…did you guys see how badly she freaked out just over falling back into Tony’s arms? Wendy’s fans may save her from elimination the first week, but unless she has some miraculous (and I do mean miraculous!) improvement from what we’ve seen so far, I doubt she’ll make it past week 2.
9.) Mike Catherwood & Lacey Schwimmer – I definitely don’t think Mike will be the best dancer we’re gonna see this season, and he’s definitely the “Who?” of this season’s cast – but I think these two will dodge at least the first two elims based solely on Lacey’s popularity and Mike’s charm. As I’ve said in the past, Lacey’s got a rabid, young fan base that seems extremey motivated to vote, and that alone could save these two from the deathly bath of the red lights…for a little while. As less popular couples fall, though, they’re going to have to step up their game to stick around – and judging from what we’ve seen and heard so far from Mike, I doubt he’s going to have the judges whipping out the 8′s, 9′s, & 10′s anytime soon. What he does have, though, is an decent amount of charm – which could have female viewers picking up the phone for him for at least a few weeks. One thing that could hurt these two: Lacey’s budding singing career. I see her tweeting more and more about “being in the studio” and “laying down vocals” – and it’s reminding me of Mark last season, who seemed more excited about his singing gigs than he did about his progress with Bristol (not that I fault him too much for that one ;-)). I just hope that Lacey hasn’t already checked out of this season, because I would like to at least see a few weeks worth of dancing out of her and Mike.
8.) Ralph Macchio & Karina Smirnoff – It’s definitely interesting to me how support for Ralph has really jumped in the past week or so – enough of an increase to catch the attention of the Vegas oddsmakers. I think Ralph is definitely going to be a sentimental favorite for those who grew up watching The Karate Kid trilogy, but for those who haven’t seen it (perhaps the cross-section of younger viewers) or don’t remember it too well, Ralph could be a bit of a “nobody”, considering he really hasn’t done a whole lot since the trilogy. From what we’ve seen in the rehearsal footage thus far, I think he definitely has potential and is already much better than some of the other contestants this season (see above ;-)), but he does seem to struggle with confidence and does move with a certain degree of caution. As for his pro – I think he may be at a bit of a disadvantage, as Karina seems to be the most polarizing female pro on the show this season, and perhaps the one with the smallest fanbase. He may have some residual athletic skill from his karate days, but I don’t know that it’s going to be as significant as, say, Hines or Chris’ more current athleticism. I really do hope Ralph is able to come out of his shell and get voters’ attention, because the guy seems totally likeable I’m excited to see more from these two.
7.) Sugar Ray Leonard & Anna Trebunskaya – Isn’t it funny how Anna always ends up with partners that are total teddy bears? I definitely can see these two being one of this season’s most well-liked couples, but I don’t think they’ll likely have enough steam to make it past the midpoint of the competition. Yes, Sugar Ray is a living legend in boxing and will likely get quite a few votes from boxing fans; however, boxers tend to really take a beating during their careers, and those effects seem to show up later in life…and he’s 54. Watching their rehearsal videos, it’s clear that Sugar Ray has some rhythm, but he also seems like it takes him some time to really pick up on some of the moves – so Anna might have to really “drill” some of this stuff into his head. The good news is that Sugar Ray also seems to have the most intense focus of any of the celebs this season, and is really willing to work hard and put in the effort in order to perform well. I just hope he remembers to have fun at the same time
So there’s the bottom of the pack…what do you guys think? Anyone else you think should be there…or anyone you think will go way further? Let’s hear it! Be sure to stay tuned for part II, when I reveal my predictions for the top 3…and who I think will take the MBT this season