So ends the first night of competition in season 13 :-) I must say, tonight was…interesting, as far as premieres go. On the downside, the bad performances seemed to outweigh the good ones; on the upside, even some of the bad ones were still pretty entertaining! The judges are still under the influence, the new stage still looks like a tripping hazard, and Brooke…is still the same old ditzy Brooke, just with a fancy new hyphenated last name. But on with the rankings!
1.) JR & Karina – I know I had already pegged this guy as the one to win this season, but man – I still got a little slack-jawed (and misty-eyed) watching him tonight :-) He’s extraordinarily fluid in his movements – he was the only one I saw who really finished his lines tonight – and wasn’t in a hurry to do so. Everything felt like a piece of cake to him, while the level of difficulty impressive. And Carrie Ann was right – JR was one of the few tonight that managed to connect both with the dance AND their partner/the audience. I find that highly impressive at this stage of the competition, when so many celebs can only either dance or connect, and not do both. He did seem to get a bit thrown off by some of the fancier turns, but considering how fluid the rest of the dance was, it’s not a huge deal. Personality-wise, I can honestly say I’m inspired by how positive and grateful JR is in his attitude towards life – in a society where we place so much emphasis on looks, it’s incredibly refreshing to see someone who can be secure (and even crack jokes!) about a very traumatic and disfiguring injury. Not only do I feel inspired, but Karina seems inspired as well – it’s nice to see the smile she had with Ralph last season, back again even brighter this season :-D I think these two have a long, hard, gorgeous journey ahead of them on the show…which I can’t wait to see!
2.) Ricki & Derek – Another couple who I still found myself very impressed with, even if I had already expected them to do well. Ricki, like JR, was very fluid and had an unexpected finesse to her movement – granted, her lines weren’t quite as pretty as his, but Ricki is also quite a bit smaller, and with less limb length to extend. I’m honestly a little puzzled that these two actually scored a point less than Hope & Maks – I found the latter to lack some of the ease that made Ricki’s dance so appealing to me. Personality-wise, I think Ricki’s got the right approach to this season – she’s competitive, of course, but underneath that I think she’s really here to prove to herself that she can do this, and to improve herself both physically and emotionally. Derek seems a bit more reserved this season, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing and I’m sure he’ll pull out his inner goofball for the jive next week :-) I think these two had a pretty good advantage in going 2nd to last, and being only 1 of 4 couples (yikes) to actually break into the 20’s tonight. Barring any huge disaster, I can see them sticking around while we separate the wheat from the chaff.
3) Chynna & Tony – I must admit – I was surprised at how well Chynna moves. Not that I thought she was going to be bad, per se, but I more worried that she was going to be a non-event – and I think I was justified in that worry, to some degree. It was a lovely, airy performance – it felt like a leisurely stroll in the park and nothing really seemed to hinder Chynna. She & Tony seem well-matched, both in personality and appearance. However, I’m still concerned that they’re going to struggle with really standing out in the crowd this season. Chynna had the same ease of movement that made Ricki & JR stand–outs tonight; however, while they also managed to nail the emotional connection of the dance, Chynna seemed to keep a smile pasted on her face throughout her dance – as if she was completely connected to the movement, but not necessarily the feel of the dance. The overall result was quite pleasant to watch – but not as impactful as others. I’m having flashbacks of Audrina at this time last year – a pretty good dancer, who failed to really make an emotional impact in her performances. I’m actually hoping to be proved wrong – I really wanna see Chynna knock the jive out of the park next week and show me she’s got some attitude. As I said before, she’s probably safe for now, while we get rid of some of the less skilled dancers…but sooner or later, she’s gonna have to come out of her shell.
4.) Hope & Maks – Not the worst performance of the night, but man – I think Maks has got his work cut out for him this season. Hope was pretty much what I feared she’d be – a very athletic, muscled woman who really seems to struggle with more refined, graceful movement. I actually found myself cringing a few times during this waltz – she just looked like she was pushing through each step with such force, it appeared as though she was trying to lead Maks, rather than the other way around. Maybe the precise movements of the jive will really force her to focus on the detail of her steps, rather than the power behind them. Personality-wise, she seems fairly pleasant; she does have a certain bravado that most female athletes seem to possess to a certain degree, but I didn’t necessarily find if off-putting – yet. ;-) It may start to grate on my nerves after awhile – we’ll see. Maks seems to have retained a bit of Kirstie’s humor from last season, which is good; however, a bit of the intensity from season 11 seems to have crept back in, so hopefully it won’t result in any major blow-ups between them. Again, another couple likely safe while the weaker couples get weeded out…but there’s work to be done, and I really hope Hope (hehe) can tap into her more feminine side.
5.) Chaz & Lacey – Were they the most skilled couple of the night? Of course not. But the fact that Chaz was out there, unafraid to have fun and somehow keeping up with Lacey? WOOHOO!!! It was just the right performance to end the show with – light, fluffy, and carefree :-) Not to say that Chaz doesn’t have a lot of work ahead of him – he’s got some definite issues with range of motion & stamina, which hopefully will get better as the weeks wear on and he’s able to get comfortable really moving his body; however, the fact that he was out there, comfortable in his skin, and fearlessly moving with Lacey? That speaks volumes, and could give him a real edge this season. Lacey seems uncharacteristically calm & centered this season, which is a pleasant surprise – and the rapport she has with Chaz seems very genuine and strong. They may not have the scores to go tete-a-tete with Ricki, JR, or Hope, but they do have heart, and a decent portion of viewers that want to see them do well. I think they’re gonna stick around longer than expected ;-)
6.) Carson & Anna – This dance, for me, was like an English Bulldog: so ugly that it’s adorable. :-) Honestly, I can’t think of another dance in the history of the show that was so comically bad that it was actually quite entertaining – and the best part? Carson & Anna were fully aware of how ridiculous they looked – and they EMBRACED it. It’s like some movies: if it’s bad but takes itself seriously, it’s REALLY bad; but if it’s bad and it knows it, it can end up kind of…good. And yes, I know the further I progress through these rankings, the less sense I will likely make :-P Long day at the office, kids. Anywho! Carson is exactly what I predicted him to be: an extraordinarily awkward mover that relies wholly on personality to carry him through – and it works. And Anna looks like she’s having a ball – I think they both realize that there’s no way they’re going to walk away with the trophy this season, so they’ve just said “F*ck it, we’re gonna have fun!” The problem: how is Carson going to be able to carry the over-the-top personality into very subtle dances, such as the rumba or waltz? He’s gonna have to pull something else out of his bag of tricks for those dances. I could see these two probably lasting until the midpoint of the season, but beyond that? I don’t think they’ve got the skills to keep up with some of the couples above. But hey, let’s enjoy the ride while it lasts ;-)
7.) David & Kym – This was a very odd one for me: it wasn’t terrible, and it wasn’t great, but David seemed to rush through it with a sort of frantic desperation that left me kinda…I don’t know, skeptical? The guy really seems to be trying (and sort of succeeding), I’ll give him that. But he seems to be trying so hard that it’s a little off-putting – it’s exactly the same problem I had with Brandy a year ago: so desperate to win that it actually turns you off a bit. I worry that David will suffer the same fate, and be completely devastated if he doesn’t make the finals. I saw some real potential in his movement – he seems to do really well in-hold, and has a nice long stride to help him move through the ballroom dances; but he seemed to kinda fall apart when doing open work, and really rush through the parts he wasn’t good at. I’ll chalk it up to nerves this week, but if he continues to get ahead of the music in the coming weeks, I think Kym is gonna have a serious problem on her hands – because homeboy has got some timing issues. I’m not writing these two off just yet, but I think David’s going to really have to bring some intense focus to the jive next week in order for me to believe he’s a contender.
8.) Kristin & Mark – Maybe it was the fact that they danced so early in the show, maybe it was the fact that Mark seemed quieter than normal, but these two really got lost in the shuffle for me tonight – which kinda stinks for them, since I really didn’t think Kristin was terrible. Yes, she moved like a lot of the other young, pretty reality types we’ve had on the show, but she didn’t seem quite as timid and at least mastered the Pam Anderson hair flip :-) Mark actually seemed to reign in the jimmy legs a tiny bit this week, although the omnipresent spats still shouted “Look at me!” next to Kristin’s ballroom shoes. Kristin seems like a fairly agreeable individual who won’t butt heads with Mark too much – although I’m still kinda scratching my head at the “I’m not a bitch!” comment. Overall, I think this was a decent first week effort for them – but they, like Chynna & Tony, seem like they may struggle with fading into the woodwork if they don’t step up their excitement factor.
9.) Nancy & Tristan – I had a feeling that Courtroom Nancy & Ballroom Nancy would be two very different individuals – and I was right :-) While this dance may not have been a huge success for Nancy, I daresay she did manage to show the viewers that there is more to her than just a fierce mommy-type with a law degree and a set of brass balls – she came across as positive, upbeat, and excited, and ready to really learn how to dance. As for her actual dancing – what she did do wasn’t terrible, although she seemed to forget quite a bit of her choreo; but I was impressed with the fact that, even when she totally blanked on her choreo, she never once had that “deer in the headlights” look on her face. She just kept smiling and shaking her bonbons :-) She, like Chaz, may have an advantage in being able to look calm & carefree in the face of humiliation. Tristan, as always, is such a delight; that accent could keep me entertained for hours, and he doesn’t seem like the type that gets all bent out of shape over a few mediocre scores. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of these two yet – hopefully the quickstep will give Nancy a chance to get through an entire routine without looking like she’s forgotten her routine, at the very least. And if nothing else – those two could just keep smiling and probably stick around anyway :-)
10.) Rob & Cheryl – To be quite honest, I actually think this was tied with Ron for worst performance of the night; however, the judges seemed to heap some unnecessary praise on Rob that they didn’t on Ron, despite them being roughly equal in performance, IMO. Rob, just as I suspected, seems pretty disinterested in being on the show; he has one expression that I can see, and that expression is some sort of strange composite of bored/sheepish/apathetic/hungry. There really wasn’t much technique here – his feet were gadawful & shuffly, and I think Rob’s frame is about as solid as a wet noodle. Honestly – I’m missing all this “potential” Carrie Ann apparently sees, because in my eyes potential only matters if you actually have the drive to cultivate it – which Rob does not appear to possess. Honestly, I would say these two are going home, but I think those damn Kardashians (combined with Cheryl’s fans) might just have enough juice to save Rob this week. But unless he does some miraculous 180 in the next 7 days…he could be gone next week.
11.) Elisabetta & Val – The minute I saw shirtless Val coming down the stairs – I knew there was trouble in paradise with this season’s prettiest couple. I’m sorry, but this routine was a mess from start to finish – due mainly to the fact that Elisabetta seemed to completely forget her choreo AND let it show on her face. Complete deer in the headlights. The parts that she did remember seemed pretty awkward & flaily – I was actually seeing shades of Denise Richards there for a minute, as awkwardly as she was flinging her arms & legs around. Valiant effort by Val for trying to shape her into a dancer, but Val,” tsk tsk” on the bed, dude. Maks surely must’ve warned you that “mucking about with props” is not Len’s “cup of tea”. I know he likely didn’t have a whole lot to work with, but resigning yourselves to using props so early in the competition? Yikes. So when we get down to brass tacks, Elisabetta’s US fanbase is next to non-existent, and Val is likely still contending with some degree of vote-splitting with big bro – although Val did encourage his Twitter followers not to split votes between he & Maks, and just give the votes to Maks – such a valiant little bro :-) And with the points spread being so close, it’s very possible these two could go home over Ron & Peta – Ron doesn’t need a ton of votes to stick around over Elisabetta. But I’m gonna put my faith in the fact that Maks fans may have tossed enough votes in Val’s direction to keep him around for another week…hopefully to redeem himself :-/
12.) Ron & Peta – Ummm….wow. I really don’t have the words to describe this cha-cha…if you could really call it that. It was special, that’s for sure – and bizarre. I understand now why they had Ron go first – complete trainwreck appeal. He’s kooky, he’s weird, he’s outspoken…and he’s blonde now, apparently. Maybe that’s what I really had a hard time wrapping my brain around – the fact that the blonde facial hair made him look like an old man, and the blonde hair on his head was reminiscent of Dennis Rodman. I’m gonna give Peta the benefit of the doubt and assume she just did not have a whole lot to work with – both in terms of music (which sucked) AND her partner – so she just kinda winged it with the choreo. Regardless of the motivations behind this “interpretive cha-cha”, I’m guessing there’s a good chance these two could go home tomorrow – especially if Ron has alienated enough viewers. Elisabetta may not have Ron’s fanbase, but she’s also not batshit crazy like he is :-P Sorry to see Peta go so early, but then again, maybe it’s for the best this time :-/
So who do you guys think will be the first to head home? And who do you think has the juice to go all the way? I wanna hear it! :-)