DWTS13 Preliminary Power Rankings, Part II

So we had some good discussion over part I of my rankings, where I predicted the couples who wouldn’t make it past the halfway point of the show.  Now let’s move onto the good part, shall we? Here’s the couples I see advancing further in the competition…

6.) Kristin Cavallari & Mark Ballas – Do I think Kristin will be a great dancer this season? No.  But I do think she’ll be at least an ok dancer, and having Mark will likely keep her in the competition until at least the midpoint of the season – provided he doesn’t make an ass of himself the way he did last season.  He may have gotten away with it because Chelsea was a good dancer and he could rely on some inflated scores from the judges, but I don’t think he’ll have the same safety net with Kristin – she seems like a nice, very pretty girl, but not the same sparkling personality that Chelsea was and likely not as good of a dancer.  I think Kristin will be more on-par with a Melissa Joan-Hart or a Shannen Doherty – nice enough, and an ok dancer…but won’t make much of an impact.  As for fanbase – we saw how well The Hills/Laguna Beach fanbase came through for Audrina, and I daresay Audrina is probably going to end up being the better dancer of the two…so I don’t think she can rely much on the MTV crowd for an assist.  Mark’s fanbase (and some less popular contestants) will probably keep her afloat for a little while, but up against more vibrant, popular couples? I don’t think she’ll have the juice.

5.) Elisabetta Canalis & Val Chmerkovskiy – I doubt they’ll be the best dancing couple this season – but they’ll certainly be the prettiest :-) Val certainly lucked into getting a partner who’s quite easy on the eyes (and single!) his first season…I’m already hearing showmance murmurings, which usually piques viewer curiousity and by extension, votes.  And while I doubt she’ll be the next coming of Nicole, Elisabetta does seem to have a few moves – or at least isn’t afraid to really get out there and perform; she also seems like a bit less awkward of a mover than most of the models we’ve seen on the show.  Now the shortcomings: first off, Elisabetta’s notability in the US is flimsy, at best.  She’s best known to most as Clooney’s ex, and maybe as a model - her acting career has definitely got a bigger following in Italy.  She’s also retained a pretty thick Italian accent, and her English is a bit broken at times.  It may have been cute on Petra, but Petra was also a saint with a courageous backstory :-) And then there’s Val – he is a new pro, so he doesn’t have a huge fanbase of his own; however, unlike Peta & Tristan, he has a family member that’s one of the most popular pros on the show, and it’s sounding like a lot of Maks’ fans are planning on voting for Val, too.  Now here’s where it can get dicey – vote splitting is generally a baaaad idea, kids.  However, I’m thinking that it’s probably going to be okay for the first few weeks, while much weaker, less popular celebs get weeded out – as long as either Elisa & Val or Hope & Maks don’t fall into the bottom of the leaderboard.  But once the Robs & Rons & Chaz’s are gone – put all your eggs in one basket, kids.  Decide who you’d rather see making it to the finals and vote for them and only them – HARD.  I’m interested to see if people actually heed this one…and if so, which brother goes home first.  I think it’s gonna be highly doubtful that both brothers will make it to the finals, but if they do – that’s when things get really interesting…

4.) David Arquette & Kym Johnson – Yes, this guy is a bit of a headcase at the moment and has a laugh that makes me want to punch babies, but the one big advantage he has that I’m not sure any of the other celebs this season do is that he has NO SHAME WHATSOEVER.  Seriously – if Kym told him to wear a monkey suit and go out there and do the shittiest jive the show has ever seen, I’m sure he’d do it…and likely take it a step further by flirting with Bruno while he’s at it :-).  This may seem like more of a disadvantage than an edge, but when it comes down to it – a celeb that is not afraid to go out there and give a performance 110%, no matter how silly they might feel, is a force to be reckoned with…especially when surrounded by celebs who are shy or afraid of looking dumb. David hasn’t had any dance experience, per se; however, he’s had a few movie roles where he’s goof-offish semi-dancing.  Advantage? Meh, maybe.  And whatever he’s got, Kym can certainly mold it into something useful – she’s definitely earned her spot next to Cheryl as the most decorated female pro on the show, and someone who can push their partners farther than anyone imagined.  So what could be problematic? Well, that same erratic, goofball behavior that gives David the edge? It could also annoy the crap outta people, and that verbal diarrhea of his (see his recent Howard Stern interview) may turn some off completely.  There’s also his recent marital & substance abuse problems – there might be some who have already written him off as a drunk and a cheating dog; there’s also some that may find his struggle to clean up his life endearing, a la Steve-O, and vote for him as a result.  It’s a bit of a wild card…however, I think these two may fall just short of the finals, especially if the next 3 couples really do well…

3.) Hope Solo & Maks Chmerkovskiy – I’m not quite sure how to place these two…along with the other 2 couples I have advancing to the finals :-P Seriously – I think I’ve rewritten  my final 3 at least 10 times, and I’ve gone back and forth on who will win, and I still don’t really feel confident in my predictions.  I think these two will most likely make the finals, by virtue of Maks being Maks :-) Honestly, before I even knew who this season’s celebs were, I thought to myself “Whoever has Maks or Derek likely has a ticket to the finals this season…as long as they don’t completely suck!” Seriously – those two seem to have perfected the formula for getting their celebs to the finals.  And while I don’t think Hope is necessarily going to be a great dancer, I do think Maks will be able to showcase her athletic strengths well enough to take her far this season – if anything, she could be his “make-up” season for Misty, since they seem to be at roughly the same level of athletic ability.  Plus she’s young & cute, and I heard a rumor that she thinks Maks is “hot”. ;-) Those Chmerkovskiy boys and their showmances! Haha.  The downside: seems like a lot of folks don’t particularly care for Hope…more specifically, her attitude.  Can’t tell if that’s going to play much of a factor at this point, but hopefully Hope steers clear of pulling out any ‘tude for the next few months…it didn’t work for Erin Andrews, and I doubt it would score Hope many points with viewers.  There’s also the Chmerkovskiy vote-splitting I mentioned earlier – if too many people are trying to vote for both Maks AND Val, we could lose both of them sooner than we want to :-( If and when these two make it to the finals, I think their biggest struggle could be the freestyle – I don’t think Maks has really created his “magum opus” yet.  He’s getting closer, but I don’t think he’s quite tweaked his freestyle formula to get jaw-dropping results yet.  Interesting to see if this will finally be his season :-)

 2.) Ricki Lake & Derek Hough – I know I can’t be the only one that thinks Ricki is just cute as a button :-) I remember watching her talk show whenever I was off school when I was a kid, and I still love the original Hairspray.  It’s sounding like a lot of folks have the same fond memories of her that I do – which is why I think she’ll end up being a fan favorite, even if her dancing is only so-so.  She might have a slight edge in the performance department from her Broadway days, but it does seem like she is still struggling a bit with her weight and it could limit her mobility a bit.  She also seems like she might be a bit accident prone – hopefully she walks away with just a few bumps & bruises, and nothing serious! She, like Hope, has the advantage of having a powerhouse pro – and the added boon of Derek’s return after a season-long absence, since some are salivating to see him dance again ;-) If it does indeed come down to both Maks & Derek in the finale, I think Derek has the edge in the freestyle department, but Maks may have the edge in terms of people wanting to see a different pro winning – I know many of you have been very vocal about wanting a pro who hasn’t won yet take the MBT, and a lot of folks seem to think Maks is the most deserving.  A lot also seem to want “anyone but Derek!” to win. :-) While I too would like to see Maks win, I personally couldn’t vote for him solely based on his not  having won yet – now if he and Hope are fantastic? That’s another story.  But I do fear there could be a bit of Derek backlash this season, even if he and Ricki are great…but again, time will tell.

1.) JR Martinez & Karina Smirnoff – I don’t think I’ve been this pleased about a celebrity contestant since…well, I don’t know :-) And based on what I’ve seen & heard so far from the rehearsal videos – I think JR may have the juice to take the MBT this season.  First, the obvious advantage: he’s got a touching, heroic backstory.  This guy is a legitimate star in my eyes, the way he served and sacrificed for our country.  I think his story could really bring out the patriot in a lot of the viewers.  Secondly, he’s a soap star – and the demographics of soap viewers and DWTS viewers align perfectly.  Third, it seems like the guy can actually dance – of all the rehearsal videos I’ve seen, his are the ones that are impressing me the most.  I’m wondering if, growing up in a El Salvadoran household, he’s done a bit of salsa or merengue – he looks like he knows how to lead a bit, and already has somewhat of a dance frame; and if he’s got the work ethic & discipline of some of the military friends I have – he will work tirelessly to perfect it.  And perhaps best of all – he and Karina actually look like they’re having FUN.  Their promo pic was the most relaxed and natural-looking of the bunch, and JR is one of those folks that just seem grateful for the opportunity to learn how to dance.  This guy has the potential to be an audience darling, methinks.  Some possible hurdles: JR is definitely this season’s “Who?”, so he’s going to have to make a splash with viewers right off the bat, since his name is not as familiar as some of the other celebs this season.  He’s also probably not going to be able to rely a whole lot on Karina’s fanbase for a boost if he’s up against pros like Maks & Derek – she’s got fans, but I’m not sure she can compete with powerhouses like them.  But after the great discussion we had in part I of my power rankings, I’m convinced that, barring any huge disaster, JR will win this season…and I have absolutely no problems with that :-D

Alright guys, so I’ve locked in my preseason predictions :-) What are yours? Who will make it to the finale? Who will fall short? And who will take the coveted MBT? Only 3 more days until the journey begins!