If there is one take-home point I want you guys to glean from this season, it’s that THEME WEEKS OFTEN SCREW THE COUPLES! No exception here – I think only two couples managed to churn out something worthwhile from the pieces of music they were given, and the rest either muddled through or failed miserably. Consequently, I find myself cutting some breaks tonight, just due to some really bad music selections. And let’s just say there was some “creative” storytelling going on this week…warriors & mannequins & vampires, oh my! I am beyond relieved that it’s back to business as usual next week…no wacky themes to throw couples off their game. So there’s also going to be no excuses for subpar performances…game on, kiddies
Thoughts on the team dances: I thought Team Tango (aka Team Tiny Hat ) was quite a bit better than Team Paso (aka Team No Shirt, No Problem ;-)). I saw no timing issues or missteps on Team Tango – everything was in synch, and aside from a couple of small wobbles from Jaleel & Maria, I saw no glaring mistakes. I also thought they had the more interesting floor patterns – lots of visually-pleasing shapes and transitions. I do think Derek was right in his claim that more couples = more interesting patterns. It can be a good thing, if you can manage to get everyone in synch and on time…and I think that last thing is the real challenge. I would hearby like to dub Roshon the MVP of Team Tango – the boy was a revelation tonight. He came out with such determination and attack, and he KILLED his solo on Team Tango. Zero mistakes, 100% commitment, 100% attack. Bravo, Ro! Hell, I would even go so far as to say that he was the overall standout in terms of both teams – he was really the only one that made me sit up and go “WHOA!!! Where did that come from???!” As for Team Paso – I thought they had the more exciting piece of music and had more theatricality and drama than Team Tango, but they suffered in terms of synchronization and just overall cleanliness of their choreography. I kind of anticipated those two problems, as they had the added challenge of throwing in a lot of open work that Team Tango didn’t really have to worry about. I loved the parts of the guys’ cape section that were actually in synch (which I must say is a pretty impressive feat), but the parts that were out of synch just kind of reminded me of my cousins playing Zorro as kids – it was a little chaotic. I could’ve done without the shirtlessness (more on that later), but I can’t say I’m surprised that they did it. If I had to pick, I’d say Donald was the MVP of Team Paso – I loved how much control he showed in his solo, and his choreo was clean. In the end, I’d say the scoring was just about right – I might have deducted a point from Team Paso, since the objective of the team dance for me is to stay in synch, first and foremost, and they seemed to struggle with that a bit more.
1.) Maria & Derek – I think these two were the only ones who managed to really OWN their individual dance tonight, and not get pwned by the song they were given. I can’t say that I was wild about the vampire storyline (between Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, etc., I’m kinda over the whole vamp thing…), but they did make it work for them, and overall the choreography was clean, exciting, and a good representation of paso doble. Did it deserve a 30? I think so…with all of the overscoring we’ve seen this season for dances that I thought were nowhere near as good as this paso (or at least had nowhere near as much content as this paso), I can’t say that I think the judges were too far off in giving it the first 30 of the season. Given tonight’s spread, I think these two are safe.
2.) Katherine & Mark – I’m told their rumba was Game of Thrones-inspired, but as someone who does not have premium cable (and whose regular cable it only intermittently available these days – thanks again, AT&T!), I actually thought it looked more gladiator or Roman-y. Whatever it was – I’m afraid the costuming made Katherine look kinda out of her element, and although I thought her legs looked FANTASTIC and she was at least flirting with some nice hip action, I never felt 100% commitment from her, and the routine never felt super romantic or rumba-y to me. It tiptoed near being a good rumba, but never really reached it – and Katherine had another week of “deer in the headlights” eyes from time to time, I’m afraid. I also have to raise a bit of an eyebrow to some creative camera work I noticed – seemed like they changed the shot so you couldn’t see Kath’s legs whenever they went for a move that might possibly get called out as a lift. Possibly a “if the viewers can’t see it, they can’t get mad at Carrie Ann for not calling them out on it!” strategy? Who knows…but it just seemed a bit fishy to me, especially given a few other things I noticed tonight. Overall, I think these two are probably safe this week – but I’m starting to see some cracks in her facade. She’s not as flawless as the judges initially thought, methinks…
3.) Donald & Peta – This was the only other couple I thought really handled their piece of music well tonight, and I thought their “royalty at court” kinda theme was a cute interpretation. Although Donald gave it a valiant effort and I did see some really good moments (especially when he was out of hold), he did seem to have some footwork issues (a problem all of the VW’s this week seemed to have), and I thought I saw him get off time once or twice. Then again, it was hard to tell whether someone was on or off-time this week, as so many of the pieces of music had some wacky tempo changes. I wish Carrie Ann could have just praised them, instead of bringing up some non-issue about a lift that she herself didn’t see but thought might have been there anyway (seriously? WTF??? Just score what you saw and shut up about things you didn’t!), but I think the judges were about right in their scoring. I think Donald’s pretty safe, but I think he still has some work to do on his ballroom frame if he wants a shot at the finals… Read more..