So I’m guessing the judges either got laid or did shots in between JR’s paso and Rob’s samba, because they rather inexplicably got very generous very quickly with the points Definite overscoring of some parties going on tonight, although I don’t think there was so much underscoring – I thought most of the scores were right-on or kinda cushy. Oh, and in case you didn’t know, tonight’s episode of DWTS was brought to you by the reused song (if I remember correctly, all but the pasos and the cha-cha relay song were repeats) and patterned tights
1.) Ricki & Derek – Ricki was (quite literally, in her samba costume) the judges’ golden girl tonight, and managed to deliver 3 very clean, well-executed dances. Can’t say that the choreo in any of the 3 was particularly genius, but I think Derek was probably smart to keep the steps much simpler than the usual fare we see from him. Ricki’s been struggling the past few weeks, and I think it was wise to give her simple choreo that she could do well than really try to wow the judges with complex stuff. Their samba was cute, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much content it had – I think samba is my least favorite dance on DWTS, and even Derek’s choreo doesn’t usually impress me because he seems to do a lot of side-by-side, open work as opposed to real samba steps. But this actually had plenty of real samba! I liked the mood & execution of their Argentine tango, but felt a little let down by the choreo – again, I guess I’m just used to seeing dynamite A. tangos from Derek, so this felt a little…light. Their cha-cha, too, was rather simple; but compared to Hope & JR, who both looked rather sloppy to me, Ricki’s clean-and-simple cha-cha really worked tonight. Thankfully, there is a pretty good-sized points margin tonight, which should keep these two safe at the top of the leaderboard. And I’m glad – I think they very much deserve a spot in the finale. However, I don’t think they’re going to be able to go with “clean & simple” next week – with Rob busting major moves and JR likely on the road to recovery, they’re going to need to stand out.
2.) Rob & Cheryl – Gotta agree with some of you that the judges made it pretty clear tonight that they REALLY want Rob in the finale. Some definite overscoring going on here – his samba, while cute, energetic, and much better than I was expecting out of him, was just not 27-worthy. 25? Maybe. But I LOVED that he looked like he was having so much fun out there! I also give him an E for effort, for attempting a barrel roll – it was stiff, but he gave it the ol’ USC try. I was a bit more torn on his A. tango – it’s a dance that definitely seems to suit him well, and he was a good leading man with clean footwork. But I don’t think he had as much content as JR, and was maybe not quite as invested as JR, either. I will say that I think he probably had the best combination of content & execution in his cha-cha – Ricki may have had the better technique, but I think her choreo was bound to look a bit simple & boring next to some of the flashier stuff Cheryl gave Rob. In the end, though, overscoring or not – I do think Rob belongs in the finale, based on his dancing. He’s still somewhat lacking in the performance department for me, so he’ll really need to hone in on that if he makes it through to next week – and I think he will, given the margin of points.
3.) JR & Karina – I really felt bad for JR tonight – he seemed like he was in a good deal of pain after each dance, and I do think it negatively affected his performances. I’m afraid I set my hopes too high for his paso – I was so excited about him having that song, that I felt a bit let down when he really didn’t knock it out of the park. He wasn’t 100% in the dance like he usually is, and I gotta say – the choreo felt a bit repetitive to me, too. LOVED his Argentine tango – I do have to credit Karina with not going too easy on him due to his injury. She gave him a lot of difficult footwork and lifts to do, and I think of the 4 A. tangos tonight, his probably had the highest level of difficulty and the most content. And he handled it well, for the most part – caught him wincing in pain a few times, but he still managed to give a pretty damn good performance. It was just sooo fluid – where Rob & Hope seemed to have a few stops and stutters in between steps, JR didn’t. His cha-cha was just ok – I think by that point, he had soldiered through about as much pain as he could have, and was just tired. It seemed a little stiff, but again, I’m thinking that had more to do with his ankle than any lack of ability in the cha-cha. If he can knock the samba out of the park, he can handle the cha-cha, no problem. When it comes down to it, I definitely think JR belongs in the finale – he’s been consistently good all season long, yet has still managed to improve a bit each week as well. Knock on wood, I think his fans alone will keep him safe this week, and he may also get a few sympathy votes due to what looked like a pretty painful injury. His biggest hurdle heading into the finale will simply be healing – right now, his injury seems to be the most inhibiting of the remaining contestants. Hopefully this is something that he can shake in the next 24-48 hours!
4.) Hope & Maks – Well, tonight was unfortunatley an example of how overscoring a couple earlier in the competition can lead to a rude awakening later on when the judges decide to get serious. Hope stuck out like a sore thumb for me tonight – all 3 of her dances paled in comparison to those of the other 3 remaining contestants. Her paso doble seemed to take forever to get started, and once she started moving, she seemed to get wobbly in her turns and ended up on the floor for several counts while Maks danced around her…again. Did it feel like the team paso all over again to anyone else? Her Argentine tango was a bit better than I expected, but man – those KNEES. They’re always bent, even when she’s mid-lift! At one point, my mom even asked “Are her legs supposed to look like that?” If she had been doing a lindy or a jitterbug, it could have looked cool and flapper-esque; but in her tango, it just looked awkward. I thought she made a decent effort in her cha-cha, but once again, it looked like she powered through it so hard that it looked awkward – those arms could be lethal weapons, the way she flings them out when she finishes a turn! I think the judges were spot-on in scoring her – I have to think to myself “What score would this have gotten at an earlier stage in the competition?” Part of the problem a year ago with Bristol was that I think she thought by making it to the semifinals & finals, she automatically deserved to be getting 9′s & 10′s…and I’m of the opinion that just because it’s the semifinals, does not mean the judges should just be throwing up the 9 & 10 paddles left & right. If it’s deserved? Absolutely. But just because it’s a certain phase of the competition? No. Sorry Hope fans, but up against the 3 other couples tonight – Hope looked pretty amateurish to me, and it will only get worse in the finale. She simply has not improved enough in 9 weeks to deserve a spot in the finale, IMO. I want a finale that’s going to be as entertaining & competitive as possible – and for me, that’s going to be best achieved with Ricki, JR, & Rob as the finalists.
So we’re one step closer to the finale!!! Who do you guys want to see advancing this week? Who should go home? And is anyone else as excited about the Muppets as I am???