So ends the first night of season 12 :-D Overall, I think I’m fairly happy with what transpired – I think some favorites emerged, some not-so-favorites fell from grace a little, and some personal growth was made that was really kind of cool to watch! I have to admit, this is the first season in quite some time where I went in without a clear favorite – seriously, I was watching tonight with a completely open mind. No Kelly’s, Pam’s, or Situation’s to root for from day 1 :-) But I think I definitely have some favorites now…I’ll let you guys figure out who they are ;-)
Thankfully, there is no elimination this week, so those couples who didn’t do so hot tonight at least have one more chance to redeem themselves and hopefully avoid next week’s elimination. But just for fun, I’m going to rank anyway, as if there were an elimination tomorrow night – just to see how these couples stack up :-) ONWARD!
2.) Ralph & Karina – I hearby retract my previous statement that Ralph was “awkward” and “might not get very far” – this was my favorite performance of the night! Ralph must sleep in a hyperbaric chamber or something, because he looks almost untouched by time – and he’s retained that boyish charm that made him so loveable in the Karate Kid movies. I have to give Karina props, too – she really seems to have a knack for foxtrots (remember the potentially disastrous “Boom Boom Pow” that she managed to make really cool last season?), and this was no exception – loved the classy, traditional feel of it. Man, Ralph can really move – he was jumping, kicking, extending, and twirling with incredible ease – I felt like I was watching an old Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers movie. He was clean, crisp, & cool. Ralph also seems to have the same self-deprecating sense of humor that Kirstie does, which seems to appeal to the masses – he doesn’t take himself too seriously, and isn’t afraid to have fun out on the floor. Now that Ralph has caught everyone’s eye, I think his fanbase will grow exponentially – as long as he & Karina can keep up the momentum they started this week.
3.) Hines & Kym – I was expecting Hines to wow me after watching his rehearsal footage, and the man did not let me down :-) This was fun, cool, and a nice first “taste” of what Hines is capable of. I like that he’s not afraid to really move (like Romeo), and he can really work the crowd. However, he does seem like he might have a bit of the same problem that Warren had initially – he tends to be a bit clunky when he places his feet, and may struggle with more refined foot movements. But luckily for him, Kym has dealt with this before, and will get him on the right path for continued success. I thought this was a bit underscored – I would have given it at least a point higher. But I’m sure the Steeler Nation will pick up any slack in scores with their power voting ;-)
4.) Chelsea & Mark – This was a bit odd for me (and apparently Heidi & a few others who I was discussing the show with on Twitter), because at times this routine felt a bit more like something Derek would have choreographed; then Mark would inject some of his signature “spazz” into it and ruin it. I really liked the parts of it that felt fluid – mainly the parts where they actually stayed in hold – but there was wayyyy too much open work for my tastes, and it seemed…jerky. Chelsea seems like she has great potential – she actually seemed to keep up with Mark’s energy and not look totally ridiculous – but she does seem a bit wobbly, especially on her turns. However, she has a great smile and a sunny disposition, which I think will carry these two far…at least to the quarter-finals. Overall, I’d say it was pleasant, but not fantastic; and I think Mark needs to either reign it in a bit or Chelsea needs to step it up a bit so they don’t look so lopsided energy-wise.
5.) Kendra & Louis – I’m afraid these two were the biggest letdown of the evening for me – with all of the talking Louis’ been doing about Kendra being a “frontrunner”, I was expecting major moves to be busted in their routine…and unfortunately, it was just more…bust. Kendra seems to have inherited Wobbly Model syndrome, as she seemed to waver through every turn, and it actually made me a bit nervous – at one point, it looked like Louis might have almost dropped her. And I agree with whatever judge said that Kendra does everything with a bent knee – she should have a look at Kirstie, who in my opinion almost NAILED the characteristic bending & straightening action of the knees in the cha-cha…and while she’s at it, Kendra can also learn how to be “sassy” and not have it look forced & uncomfortable. And maybe it’s just me, but these two came across as the one of the least likeable couples tonight – a couple of things Kendra said just came across as a bit coarse to me, and I am already sick of Louis talking about how great Kendra is & how he deserves the MBT. Tonight, I feel like Louis took a shovel, dug a small hole, and then handed the shovel to Kendra and let her dig them into an even bigger hole. Oy vey…I hope these two can clean up both their dancing & their personalities!
6.) Ray & Anna – I hearby declare “Ray” the acceptable abbreviation of Sugar Ray’s name here at PureDWTS :-) I got a bit worried watching their package, when I saw how seriously Ray is taking this competition – made me worry that he might have a hard time enjoying himself. But I got such joy watching him ham it up out there during his foxtrot! It started off a bit slow & stiff, but as the music played on I think he loosened up & started to have fun. Looks like Ray’s got some major issues while in dance hold, though – very stiff. He seemed to fare much better with the open work. Hopefully he’ll be able to cut loose & have fun with the jive next week. My main worry about these two is that Ray is going to get so “in his own head” in each dance that it’s going to make him forget to also HAVE FUN. But it looks like he & Anna are very well-matched, so hopefully she’ll loosen him up.
7.) Romeo & Chelsie – Ok, I think we can all admit that Romeo is nowhere near as bad as his dad :-) That said – he still has LOTS of room for improvement. He seems way too apprehensive about cutting loose & “looking silly”, which is something he’s going to need to get over – FAST – if he wants to stick around this season. I really think that might be the one thing that’s hindering him…I saw shades of great dancing in his cha-cha tonight, as if he may have forgotten for a split second to “be cool”, and then he’d catch himself and go back to being “walls up, too cool for school” Romeo. He seems like he does have moves…somewhere underneath all that bravado. As for Chelsie – honey, maybe you’ve been spending too much time with Mark, because you’re starting to dance around your partners more & more. Make HIM dance to YOU :-)
8.) Chris & Cheryl – I’m gonna give these two a slight benefit of the doubt tonight, because I think they may have gotten stuck with the crappiest song of the night for their cha-cha…too many awkward rhythm changes. That said – I really wanted to like these two, but this was lackluster. I can see what direction Cheryl was trying to go with it – playing on the edgy “rock star” persona Chris has – but it just felt kind of awkward & tacky to me. Chris, god love him, seems to really be trying – I’m just not sure he’s succeeding. He’s a bit “stompy”, as he tends to pound his feet into every move, rather than placing them – but the poor guy is a huge bundle of muscle. I’d also like to see him really “pick up” his posture & present his chest more, because dude has a nice chest…and I like nice chests. I’m hoping he can clean up & refine some of his movements a bit more for next week, when he has a ballroom dance. I think there are less-skilled dancers with less-popular pros and fewer fans that will likely go before him, which will hopefully keep him around long enough to improve.
9.) Petra & Dmitry – Let me start of by saying this: Petra is a SAINT. Someone who just seems so thankful to be alive, and wants to share that joy with others in any way she can. I think that’s an attitude we call can aspire to. I just wish that joy translated into great dancing, because this was…well, okay to marginal. The poor girl is just so tall & lanky, with limbs that go on forever, and she seems to struggle with where to put them – makes me very, very worried for her jive next week. She also seemed to get off-time a bit, which resulted in some telltale shuffling on Dmitry’s part to compensate. The choreography was pretty, but wasted too much time at the beginning and end for me – I would rather Dmitry use that time to do some sort of trick with Petra, instead of just walking around with a jacket. And unfortunatley, this song was pretty, but sleepy; the overall result was a pretty-but-sleepy dance. I’d like to see her improve, because tall, willowy ladies like her are STUNNING when they can really nail a dance – so let’s hope this performance and next week’s are enough to keep her around.
10.) Wendy & Tony – These two are just one big enigma for me. One minute, Wendy seems to be having fun and being goofy; the next, she’s somber & in tears. And it’s only the first week! Her cha-cha kind of felt the same way for me – she started off looking like she was ready to have fun & cut loose, and then she’s making these tiny, timid little movements the whole time. If Wendy is known for injecting major attitude into everything she does, then I’m sorry, but there must have been an imposter out on the floor tonight. Tony was a total non-event in this dance for me – I forgot he was even there. I’d say these two are probably the most awkward pairing, as neither one seems to mesh very well with the other – and I feel like neither is 100% invested in the show this season, and it shows. I’m tentatively putting these two as safe, because I think Wendy’s alleged “huge fanbase” (we’ll see about that) might rally to keep her around if she sucks again next week. But she could be interchangeable with…
11.) Mike & Lacey - FACT: DWTS viewers have, historically, not really been huge fans of comedians (think Penn Jillette, David Allen Grier, Jeff Ross, Ashley Hamilton, etc.). FACT: They also don’t seem to like celebs who don’t seem to be taking the competition seriously. I think Mike may have violated both of those rules tonight by putting off the “I’m a funny perv who doesn’t really care about how I do on the show” vibe. I thought the guy was hilarious (and I will save my detailed opinion for the cheesecake ;-)), but some less laid-back viewers could just take it as Mike being an ass. And this foxtrot didn’t do he or Lacey any favors – there are no words. It was just…”special”. And an all-around hot mess. I would say this dance could be the final nail in the coffin for these two, but something tells me that if Lacey can pull out a decent jive (and Wendy can be timid & tearful another week), then they may get a “get out of jail free” pass. But I’m skeptical, considering that people are still saying “Mike WHO?”
Woohoo! My first rankings of the regular season are donesky – so what do you guys think? Who are the front-runners, who’s in the middle of the pack, and who’s bringing up the rear? Let’s hear it! And stay tuned for some cheesecake later in the week…Heidi & I are already preheating the oven…;-)