DWTS Season 15, Week 2 – Power Rankings

Oh jive/quickstep week – a week that usually has the potential to make me cringe and shake my head.  Unfortunately, this season was no different :-( The lines have been drawn, and the judges are making some pretty clear distinctions in their scoring – at the top we have the “chosen ones” who can do no wrong in the judges’ eyes (Gilles & Peta, Sabrina & Louis), then the good dancers that the judges seem to critique/score more harshly to give the impression of “wanting them to improve” (Shawn & Derek, Apolo & Karina, Melissa & Tony), the mediocre-to-good dancers that the judges seem reluctant to really critique/score harshly (Kelly & Val, Emmitt & Cheryl, Helio & Chelsie), the mediocre-to-bad dancers that don’t really get love from the judges but still get the votes to stay (Joey & Kym, Kirstie & Maks, Bristol & Mark)…and then you have Drew, whom I’m almost convinced the judges/TPTB don’t really give a rat’s ass whether he stays or goes.  All in all, this illustrious all-star season is beginning to leave a bad taste in my mouth – and we’ve still got 8 more weeks to go after tomorrow! And please tell me I’m not the only one that’s getting sick of seeing that damn 7.5 paddle…

1.) Gilles & Peta - As great of a dancer as Gilles may be, I just find myself getting rubbed the wrong way by some of his behavior so far this season – and I’m beginning to feel the same about Peta, too.  He complains about how injured he is and how much pain he’s in all week, then performs one of the most intense & forceful jives I’ve ever seen on the show – and then he has this bizarre, kinda choked-up “moment” up in the celebraquarium that just kinda left me going “Huh?” Not gonna lie – it was bordering on Jaleel levels of awkwardness.  While I do think he did a really good jive (notice I didn’t say “great”), I think Gilles may have caught a bit of the Sabrina Bug this week – every kick & flick just felt so HARD and deliberate.  And I’m not sure if it was just the fringe on her costume or what, but Peta seemed to be dancing extra forcefully, too – and as trivial as this may seem, I seriously hope the makeup team dials back the eyeliner next week, because it gives Peta this very harsh, glaring look when she’s not smiling widely. Anywho, these two seem like they’ve got several weeks of safety ahead of them, with the level of favoritism they seem to be getting from the judges & TPTB.  I guess I just hope Gilles can have some sort of breakthrough and regain some of the charm that made him so endearing in season 8…

2.) Shawn & Derek – This jive was pretty much everything I expected – cute, high-energy, clean, & entertaining.  Even though I had already gotten a bit of a heads-up that Shawn had much better endurance than Derek, I was still kinda impressed by how…not winded she was afterward.  Just sort of a “Meh…ain’t no thang!” look on her face :-P Now while I enjoyed the Hairspray theme and a lot of the choreography that went with it, I have to say – I found myself wanting a little more basic, in-hold jive content, a little bit less of the 60’s-y themed open choreography.  And I wonder if this may be a problem with pretty much everyone who goes for a themed routine this season – everyone feels so compelled to keep the bar high that they feel the need to throw in a lot of unique choreography.  I guess that’s one way in which I agreed with Len a bit in his critique – everything in this routine was satisfactory, but I don’t know that any of it really exceeded my expectations.  Guess I’m just hoping to be blown away during iconic dances week next week, since the couples have been instructed to “push the envelope”. I just hope Derek can “push the envelope” while still including a lot of basic choreography.

3.) Sabrina & Louis – In quite possibly the biggest judging gaffe of the night, Gilles & Peta’s biggest competition for “most off-putting” couple this season managed to walk away with the high score after doing a quickstep that, while good, left me confused.   I will give Sabrina credit for calming down quite a bit this week – there wasn’t nearly as much overdancing this time.  But I did notice a couple instances where she seemed to fight the urge to really hit things hard, and a couple flicks seemed to come out a bit harder than they probably should have.  My other big complaint? I felt like they stopped every 5 seconds for Sabrina to pose in a picture line!!! Talk about disrupting the flow of a dance – I liked what she did in-hold and she did have great posture, but it just felt so disjointed because Louis seemed to be throwing her into an oversway every other measure.  For that reason, I think she was grossly overscored – considering that Apolo had, IMO, much more difficult content, which he executed with far more finesse than Sabrina did her content.  And WTF was up with that beginning sequence when they came running in??? If it was accidental, they must really be in la-la land; if it was intentional, WTF?! But as I saw many of you saying, I feel like the fix is in – somebody with influence really wants Sabrina to stick around.  Which makes me wonder if maybe Sabrina isn’t exactly “killing it” in the votes department.  But I think time will tell, as we whittle down the weaker dancers…

4.) Apolo & Karina – Best routine of the night for me, no doubt – the choreography was both PROPER quickstep as well as being eye-catching and entertaining, and Apolo handled it with complete control & confidence.  He neither overdanced nor underdanced – the power & impact were there, without getting overwhelming & sloppy.  Of all the couples tonight, I feel like Apolo & Karina probably looked the most comfortable and natural out on the floor, and gave the best example of what a quickstep on DWTS should look like.  And Gilles, take note – Apolo has got both the right attitude and work ethic this season.  He’s working hard without burning out, and is excited without seeming desperate.  And best of all – he doesn’t really have to force the chemistry with his partner.  Everything about Apolo & Karina just feels so organic to me – as if they just clicked immediately and their work ethic is exactly the same.  If there’s any guy this season that really poses a credible threat to Gilles’ quest for the MBT – it’s Apolo.  Now if only the judges could wake up and see that…

5.) Emmitt & Cheryl – A bit of a backslide for these two this week – for as at-ease and “in the groove” as Emmitt was last week, I think he looked equally as uncomfortable and off-time this week.  I’m having a hard time remembering how Emmitt did with the ballroom dances on his original season (all I can really think of was that comically bad tango), but I seem to remember Latin really being his bread-and-butter…and ballroom? Not so much.  The biggest problem I noticed here was that Emmitt always seemed to be about 1 beat off from Cheryl – if she was bouncing up, he was bouncing down.  The result was a little bit of a jiggly, off-kilter frame – which is never a good thing in the ballroom dances.  He also seemed a little hesitant on some of the Charleston sequences – he never really seemed to get a decent bounce, and the end result looked a little half-assed.  For being the “Cool Cat in Town”…Emmitt looked a little unsure of himself.  It’s not really a good look for him, either – but I do think this week may have been a wake-up call for him that charm alone will not carry anyone this season.  The judges may love you one week, but the next? You could be toast.

6.) Kirstie & Maks – Well, no big surprises here – jive is just not Kirstie’s dance.  It kicked her ass in season 12, and I think kicked her ass only slightly less this time around.  I think she was really trying this time, and maybe got a little bit more movement in her legs – but not enough to avoid getting picked at by the judges.  While I can’t really blame Maks too much for building in a lot of “acting” time in this routine in the hopes that would distract from Kirstie’s clearly subpar jive technique, I think the routine ended up being a lot less fun than her last jive to “La Bamba”.  But thankfully, I think Kirstie is still getting a slew of votes, and will likely just be able to cross the jive off her to-do list and move onto next week’s dance without much worrying.  But sooner or later, all of the weaker dancers with smaller fanbases will be gone – and then it’ll be time to see what Kirstie’s really made of.

7.) Helio & Chelsie - I can admit when I’m wrong – and I think I may have undestimated Helio’s appeal prior to this season, especially his chemistry with Chelsie.  These two are just so freakin’ CUTE to watch – I think Helio had more fun in his jive than anyone else this week, and like Apolo, he came across as having a lot of finesse, and generally just seemed really comfortable and at ease out on the floor.  And really, his legs looked pretty fantastic to me – those kicks and flicks were sharp and bouncy, and arguably more elastic than Gilles’ karate kicks.  I have to laugh that the judges called him out for his legs being “too high” – 9 times out of 10, a celeb is barely picking them up off the floor, so I’m pleased as punch if they’re actually getting them off the floor an adequate amount…and I’m certainly not going to nitpick about them being too high :-P I think Helio’s charm may be getting him a little bit more love from the judges in terms of scores, as I thought Helio was a bit more sloppy (and had a little less content) than Drew…but I also think he was more fun to watch than Drew.  Oh, trade-offs…

8.) Kelly & Val – I’ve gotta say – dancing with Val is bringing out something in Kelly that I never saw in season 1.  And it’s a good thing! Kelly seems to actually be relaxing & enjoying herself on the floor, and it consequently seems to actually be improving her dancing – and even if it isn’t, she’s still very pleasant to watch, and the connection she has with Val out on the floor (and off of it, too…) just seems effortless.  While Kelly did seem a little bit more hesitant tonight, and seemed to struggle a bit with her frame, I daresay she was better than both Emmitt & Joey – her movement was both cleaner and more fluid than both men.  Her song also seemed to suit her well – I know some were poo-poohing it on Twitter, but I actually thought it rather nicely reflected the partnership she’s forged with Val…who seems to think just about everything Kelly does is perfect.  ;-) I wish there were an emoticon for puppy dog eyes…

9.) Joey & Kym – Holy hot mess of quickstep, Batman! A song choice that I had high hopes for seemed to fall flat, and Joey just seemed all over the place in this number…and in an unusual twist, I felt like Kym wasn’t 100% into the dance, either. I just felt like there was a major disconnect between just about everything in this dance – the music, the choreography, the props, even Joey & Kym themselves.  The biggest problem? Technique – of which Joey unfortunately had little to none.  His feet were atrocious and stomping all over the place, his shoulders were hunched, and you could drive a boat show in between he & Kym.  The song? Felt odd and a little whiny.  And I think it’s wayyy too early to be busting out couches as props :-P But all that said – it was still a least a little bit fun to watch :-P And I think that’s come to be Joey’s trademark – “Yeah, I’m a big guy with crummy feet and slouchy shoulders.  But I’m tons of fun!” I think the judges kinda took that into account as well, and probably scored him a bit kinder than they should have.  Add to that the fact that Joey’s kind of the Forrest Gump of the celebrity reality tv circuit (he’s everywhere!), and I think he’s got some longevity – even if his feet look like boats.  :-P

10.) Melissa & Tony – Oh, Melissa – every move you make is just so easy on the eyes and pleasant to watch.  It’s also not particularly impactful, and unfortunately I think that may be your undoing.  This jive was cute and on-time – and I’ll admit the choreography is good FOR TONY.  But I still think Melissa has the opposite problem that Sabrina has – rather than hitting everything too hard, Melissa seems to soften the edges of everything to make it look nice & pretty & ballet-y…which is fine for dances like the rumba or waltz, but not particularly helpful in more high-impact dances like the jive.  And at this point, I feel like I would rather have Melissa be hitting everything TOO hard, rather than not hard enough, because she’s blending into the woodwork for me.  First isn’t the worst running order position – but it sure doesn’t do much to help me remember her strongly, and the effect is compounded when her jive turns out rather…soft.  I hope Tony has some sort of tricks up his sleeves in the coming weeks to make Melissa stand out – because each week that goes by where she just barely makes in impact, the more likely it is that she won’t even make it to the halfway point of the season :-(

11.) Bristol & Mark – Oh boy.  Not a whole lot to say that hasn’t already been said – while I appreciate that Bristol seems far more relaxed & comfortable dancing this season, this quickstep was as hot a mess as Pam’s cha-cha last week…possibly even bigger, as I don’t even think Mark could be bothered to care about this routine.  The biggest problem: where was all the quickstep??? I saw a lot of country line dancing, and a smattering of shenanigans – but very little in-hold quickstep.  And the little that we did see? Pretty unimpressive, compared to the strong showings we saw from Apolo & Sabrina.  Given what we saw from Bristol this week and last, I think she’s the weakest dancer left and deserves to go home this week.  Score-wise, she’s in the gutter – but after a quick glance at some of the nearby scorers, I think it’s possible she could overcome at least 2 of them in order to stick around.  This is one week that I hope I’m proven wrong, and just being paranoid – because I will be upset if we lose…

12.) Drew & Anna – I was hoping these two could get their act together this week and really blow away the judges, and to some degree, I think they did – Drew seemed a lot less tense in his jive this week, and I think he & Anna may have bonded over their despair at being in the bottom 2 and maybe warmed to each other a bit.  I also think they had more content & overall better execution than both Helio (who scored .5 points higher) & Kirstie.  And yet, they’re still locked into a 3-way tie with Emmitt & Cheryl and Joey & Kym, who I both found to be weaker in their respective routines than Drew in his jive – and it’s that 3-way tie that I fear could send Drew packing.  I think everyone tied with or underneath him on the scoreboard could easily get more votes than Drew, even if there is a bit of a surge in voting from him being in the bottom 2 last week.  Which sucks, but unfortunatley I think we all came into this season knowing that many of our favorites were likely to do worse than they did on their original seasons.  But I think Drew has made a great showing, and if he does go home tomorrow night, I think he will go out on a high – but that doesn’t mean I’m not still hoping for Bristol to get bumped out ;-)

So what did you guys think of tonight? Do you think there was over/underscoring going on? Who’s headed home?