So ends the last chance our couples have to redeem themselves before the first (and most embarassing!) cut of the season :-) On top of that pressure, tonight seemed to take its toll on our couples with the two most physically-demanding dances of the season – the jive and the quickstep. And lucky us, it also marked the return of the bipolar, no-rhyme-nor-reason-for-some-of-it judging/scoring, which left me slack-jawed on more than one occasion…and not in the good way. More often than not, if I hated it, the judges seemed to adore it; if I loved it, the judges tore it to shreds. One of them needs some fiber, one of them needs some quaaludes, and one of them needs a cold shower, in my opinion…I’ll let you figure out which. ;-) ONWARD!
1.) Ralph & Karina – Another strong performance from these two, which seemed to go largely uncredited by the judges. Was their jive perfect? Of course not, but it was pretty damn good for it only being week 2, and I think it was miles ahead of any of the other jives we saw tonight. I think I officially became a member of Team Kamacchio tonight – I just love these two together. Ralph is easily the most likeable guy this season, and I think some of that has rubbed off on Karina – she seems to be a lot more approachable and upbeat this time around. And really – Ralph is, at least to me, the most natural mover this season…nothing he does feels forced or unnatural. Plus, he has fun when he’s dancing and isn’t afraid the let loose – I saw shades of his Karate Kid 2 dance scene tonight in their jive. Such a ham! These two have the highest combined score from last week and this week, plus he’s still got quite a few people buzzing about him, so these two ought to be safe tomorrow night.
2.) Kirstie & Maks – Ok, so maybe a bit of a slip from their dynamite cha-cha last week, but I daresay Kirstie is still the most popular female this season – if not the most popular contestant, period. Their quickstep had great potential – Kirstie kept up pretty well, and managed to keep her footwork pretty clean. I think she got a bit off-time, but it wasn’t horribly noticeable. I think the biggest difference between her performance this week and her performance last week was her confidence – she didn’t seem to be at all self-conscious when she was turning up the sass for her cha-cha, but this week it’s like she all of sudden became very aware of her weight…which is unfortunate, because Kirstie looks FABULOUS and can really move! But it’s understandable, and I hope she can bounce back from it next week. And homegirl has already carved out a niche for herself on the show – the kissing bandit!!! Love it. Kirstie’s still got a lot of people pulling for her (and great scores), so she’s safe in my eyes.
3.) Hines & Kym – This quickstep wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either – Hines kept up and had some really good “moments”, but he seemed to have a hard time staying in step with Kym and was bouncing a bit too much. But what was a bit of an eye-opener for me was the fact that these two danced last – TPTB don’t hand out the coveted “Pimp Spot” to just anyone. They save it for those who are pulling in an impressive amount of viewers, as it gives people incentive to stick around for the entire show. This leads me (and Heidi, who mentioned it on Twitter) to believe that Hines is getting a substantial amount of votes – and on top of that, he’s getting decent scores, too. These two are cute together – he reminds me of a bit more laid-back version of Warren. I look forward to seeing Hines improve – and thankfully, I’m convinced that he’s got the staying power to do so :-)
4.) Chris & Cheryl – Umm, WOW. Strongest quickstep of the night for me – and it came completely out of left-field! I don’t think anyone was expecting such a clean, pleasant, well-executed performance out of Chris after his awkward cha-cha last week. But apparently something miraculous happened in a week, and Chris delivered a quite pretty quickstep – and seemed to enjoy himself while he was dancing it! I think Cheryl was wise to go with a fairly traditional, no-nonsense, simple routine, rather than an edgy, out-there quickstep like certain other contestants – it seems to please Len, and proved once again that Cheryl knows how to “play the game”. I think he ought to be okay for at least a few weeks, especially if he continues to improve…and if not, well, I’m sure we can count on Carrie Ann the cougar on steroids to overscore him enough to keep him safe anyway.
5.) Romeo & Chelsie – Another vast improvement from last week…I think some of Romeo’s walls definitely came down in the past seven days, as he seemed to really let loose this time and allowed himself to actually get into the character of the dance, even pulling a few faces during his quickstep! As I said on Twittter (and in my preseason power rankings), I think Romeo could be a dark horse this season – he might start out slow, but I think he could gain momentum as the season wears on as he taps into his unrealized potential. I think he does have some moves – but Chelsie may have to smooth them out a bit, as he definitely seems more accustomed to hard-hitting hip-hop than sleek, refined ballroom. And speaking of Chelsie – anyone else think Romeo’s harboring a bit of a crush on her? ;-) Somebody better warn Mark…then again, he may be busy with a crush of his own…
6.) Chelsea & Mark - I was definitely a bit worried when our show insider, Buttercup, mentioned that this jive was not very conventional – because I think we all know by now that in DWTS-Speak, “unconventional” translates into “Len’s head will likely explode”. And explode it did – although I have to say I actually kinda liked this jive. Was definitely unlike any other jive we’ve ever seen on the show – edgy, intriguing, and with a much different theme & costuming than we’re used to from Mark (although he did manage to sneak in his signature jive polka-dots on Chelsea’s spanky pants :-P). I think the judges’ blatant dislike of anything “untraditional” seemed to blind them to the fact that there was actually quite a bit of meat-and-potatoes jive steps in this routine – echoing Mark, I too saw changes of place, back-to-back, fallaway throwaways, and much more. I don’t think I even need to say it, but I will anyway – I think this one was underscored. But luckily for Mark, I think he chose a good time to break the rules – early on in the competition, when there’s still lousy dancers around to get sent home first. These two ought to be ok…this time. But Mark had better stick to more “Len-pleasing” routines for the next few weeks to be sure!
7.) Kendra & Louis - On the other hand, I think the judges were just talking out of their asses when they gushed about how much Kendra had improved this week with her quickstep. I’m calling bull on this one – this was one of the most unremarkable, award dances of the night for me. Everything felt slow & cautious, and for the second week in a row, she looked off-balance and almost fell over. Ok, before everyone tries to label me a heartless bitch, I will say this – I did feel a bit sorry for Kendra during her lead-in. I do feel like she came out with a lot of pressure on her to fulfill the expectations everyone (including her partner) had for his this season as a “frontrunner”. But I’m not gonna lie – she’s been a big disappointment, and I think she’s got a long way to go before she’ll be rubbing elbows with high-scorers like Ralph & Kirstie. Can she make it that far? I’m not positive…like it spoke volumes to me that Hines went last, it speaks volumes to me that Kendra & Louis went second – traditionally, a very crappy running order position usually given to contestants that TPTB don’t seem to see as a big ratings draws. Luckily, I think Louis managed to reign in his mouthiness this week, so they’ve got that working in their favor.
8.) Petra & Dmitry – Ok, Petra actually did better than I expected at the jive – she actually had a few good moments of flicks & kicks. But aside from that…erm. This was another awkward non-event for me. Granted, it was “cute” and “pleasant to watch” – but there wasn’t anything particularly hard-hitting about it, and like their foxtrot last week, it just felt like a leisurely stroll across the floor to me. And Dmitry – tsk, tsk, tsk. I counted not one, not two, but THREE lifts in this routine – which Carrie Ann seemed to conveniently ignore, likely because Dmitry makes her nether-regions feel all tingly. :-) I hate to say it, but these two are quickly becoming the most boring couple for me – I keep forgetting them whenever I have to list all of the couples this season. That’s not good…because if there’s anything worse than being a bad dancer on DWTS, it’s being a forgettable one. I think they may have another week or two of juice left in them (due mainly to crappier dancers getting sent home first), but their number may be up sooner than we think.
9.) Wendy & Tony – If it were up to me, these two would be headed home this week, and I feel like neither of them would really care, either – I just get the feeling these two have already checked out of the competition. Last week’s cha-cha was awkward & uninspired; this week’s quickstep was slightly less awkward and uninspired, and easily the weakest quickstep of the evening. Granted, Wendy didn’t mess up; but what was there to mess up? It just seemed like a very slow walk across the floor, with a few ever-so-gentle hops, as if they were afraid that Wendy would shatter like glass if she hit the ground too hard. And no excuses about big boobs getting in the way – Kendra’s got a rack on her too, Wendy, and that didn’t stop her from hopping in her quickstep! These two just don’t seem to have really done anything impactful so far – which I would otherwise say is the kiss of death, except Wendy seems to have a fairly large fanbase rallying to keep her around. I think she may dodge the red lights for this week, but a fanbase can only carry you so far…
10.) Ray & Anna – It makes me very, very nervous that these two went first tonight (typically another spot given to less-popular contestants, votes-wise), and that the judges just seem to LOVE ripping into Ray. Once again, I think Ray was underscored, and the judges are chosing to overlook the obvious joy he brings to the floor in favor of bitching about everything from his footwork to his posture. Am I on crazy pills?! I didn’t think his jive was that bad – on the contrary, I think it was quite cute and certainly more entertaining than “So timid, I may as well be crawling across the floor” Wendy or “I’ve (allegedly) got moves…for a white girl” Kendra. I feel bad, because I feel like Ray does want to work hard and really do well, and I think Anna is more than willing to work with him, but I think these two could be in danger this week…stranger things have certainly happened. Let’s just hope they don’t this time around…
11.) Mike & Lacey – Valiant effort by Mike to redeem himself this week, but I think it may be too little too late for these two – 30/60 is a tough score to overcome with votes, especially when you’re a guy that STILL has people saying “Who?”, and the ones that aren’t just think he’s offensive. I actually felt bad for him this week – he did seem like he was trying, and, like Petra, did have a few really good moments in his jive – but the rest was just rather awkward & chaotic, and he seemed like a lot less of a jokester this week…which I actually found to be a redeeming quality of his. Oh well – if nothing else, I think he had fun this week, and really – Mike came into this knowing he was already at a big disadvantage, and he went out guns blazing. Bon voyage, Team Schwimmerwood – it’s been fun :-)
Alright all – so we come to our first elimination. Who do you think is headed home tomorrow night? Who do you think will have the encore? And will Chris Brown avoid destroying the set? LET’S CHAT!!! :-)