DWTS 15, Week 8 – Power Rankings

Not a whole lot to say about tonight, other than that everything felt incredibly frantic as they rush, rush, rushed to fit 14 routines into 2 hours (which was no bueno, considering the ballroom round was drastically cut short and the danced seemed to be over before they even started), and that the judges did their usual wacky scoring (which really means nothing, considering how close the margins are).  Literally, guys, this is an even bigger battle of the fanbases this time, as there are even MORE points and even SMALLER margins than the week Sabrina got sent packing.  So if somebody’s not getting the votes – methinks they’re pretty much doomed.

1.) Shawn & Derek – They’ve got the 2nd highest point total from the past two weeks, and in perhaps an even bigger advantage – a bunch of pissed off fans.  Ok, so maybe there wasn’t a ton of samba in their trio – I still think there was enough there to warrant at least an 8, and it was still a wildly entertaining routine that actually evoked more of the excitment of a pro dance to me than just a regular dance with a celeb.  The way Len was acting, it was as if Derek & Mark had walked center stage and defecated or something…while Shawn watched.  And the whole “If you go home tomorrow night, don’t blame me, blame them!” comment? Was that REALLY necessary? Just felt like a low blow and not any sort of constructive criticism.  I really think Derek probably knew they were taking a risk and choreographed more of a crowd/audience-pleasing routine than a judge-pleasing routine, intentionally – it was a calculated risk, maybe to jump-start the fans into voting.  But I don’t think he was expecting Len to take it so personally.  As for their Viennese waltz – despite it being awfully short, I thought it was quite pretty and very fluid, and Shawn had some butter-smooth turns and showed a lot of emotion.  I think they’re probably the safest from the double elim tomorrow…seems like they’re getting a lot of votes and still pretty decent scores, in the great scheme of things.

2.) Emmitt & Cheryl – I find myself drawing a bit of a blank on his Viennese waltz, despite the fact that I have several notes written about it – “smooth & fluid, didn’t see the alleged mistake, not very high level of difficulty”.  I daresay that it probably left me lukewarm: no big problems, and pleasant to watch, but nothing particularly impactful or impressive.  Just as I said last week, I think the biggest problem I have with Emmitt at this point is just that he seems to have plateaued in terms of difficulty, and Cheryl really isn’t pushing him as hard as she should choreographically at this phase of the competition.  Most of the other couples are pulling out all the stops – but Emmitt & Cheryl seem to be sticking primarily to the “Do easy choreo and just charm everyone’s pants off!” method.  Their trio – ok, very cute, and I definitely enjoyed it more than I did Gilles’ trio….but 30? Really? I saw an awful lot of backleading & stationary ass-shaking going on…I think many other couples had much more difficult steps in their dances, and they did them with much more impressive execution.  I guess the judges were maybe judging more on entertainment value than level of difficulty and content (unless your name is Shawn, in which case it’s ALL about content).  I guess I’ve just kind of given up on trying to understand the judges’ motives at this point :-P Regardless, I think he’s likely safe tomorrow, but things could get dicey next week…

3.) Apolo & Karina – So yeah, they’re still 2nd from the bottom in points, but they’re only 1/2 a point below Gilles and 1 point below both Emmitt & Kelly.  And only 2 points off from Shawn…and in a week where we have 3 regular dances and 1 marathon dance factoring into who’s going home, those differences may as well be NOTHING.  So I do think Apolo still has quite a real (and pretty damn good) shot at surviving this double elim…especially since, like Shawn, he seems to have a lot of fans pissed off on his behalf, and they’re looking to even up the score.  But anyway – I liked their tango, and thought the zipline ended up being a nice touch (thought I was skeptical at first).  I feel like he gave it 100% and there were no huge gaffes – although I could see Karina audibly mouthing the counts to him as they danced, so I guess I just thank my lucky stars they got almost a perfect score on it, because if a pro is counting that loud as they dance? Odds are they weren’t even close to having it down by dress rehearsal.  As for their trio – all things considered, I think they actually had the highest degree of difficulty of all the trios in terms of choreography.  That was a freaking FAST song, and they were changing positions and cramming a ton of steps & tricks into a relatively short dance.  And best of all – even with a few small bobbles at the beginning, by the end of the dance, I was having a hard time telling Apolo & Sasha apart when they panned to the wide shot.  They were THAT in sync.  I guess that’s a testament to both Apolo’s skill as a dancer, and Sasha’s ability to reign in his own dancing when he needs to.  Yes, I did just give Buddy the Acrobatic Elf a compliment :-P I still think Apolo will probably be safe tomorrow, thanks to upset fans and teeny tiny baby margins :-D KEEP VOTING, THOUGH!!!

4.) Kelly & Val – Note to male pros: if you’re going to make the risky move of putting floats on your female pros costume (those filmy scarf things Kelly had attached to her sleeves), either make them so small that they barely move, or make sure your female celeb has an impeccable frame and arm styling, or else the dance is going to look like crap and she runs the risk of getting blinded by her floats when she turns quickly.  I can’t tell you how many times my boyfriend has had to talk his female students out of wearing ballgowns with floats for those very reasons.  So that was strike 1 with their Viennese waltz – strike 2 was the many turns Val had Kelly doing, which is becoming tiresome.  Yes, we know Kelly is good at turns – that doesn’t mean that 80% of your routine should be devoted to her doing them, and doing them rather frantically, at that.  The best word I could use to describe that Viennese waltz was “thrashy” – it just kinda gave me whiplash watching Val power Kelly through all of those spins & turns, and then it just struck me as awkward how forcefully they were punching their arms out.  What happened to the flowiness & fluidity of the waltz? I think they should be thankful the judges (Len in particular, except with Shawn) were feeling rather generous this week, because I would have called that out for being too repetitive & jerky.  Oh, and there was a lift…that Carrie Ann conveniently didn’t mention.  Damn smoke monster.  As for their jive – it was cute, but I still thought Apolo’s had more content and overall more energy, as it looked like Kelly didn’t really start to pick her feet up until the very end of the dance.  There were also a few rather frantic transitions – the Kelly-Val kiss seemed like it was almost a mouth-to-chin or mouth-to-nose kiss, since they didn’t quite land right.  Can’t say that I really noticed Louis much.  I’m gonna go ahead and call them safe this week, but I’m not 100% confident in that…I still don’t know that the soap fanbase can compete with the Olympian & NFL fanbases…but my gut tells me they’re likely getting more votes than at least Gilles, and possibly Melissa.  Bah…who knows.

5.) Melissa & Tony – I know some of you are probably slack-jawed at this one, but I’m getting a bad gut feeling that Melissa may be suffering from Sabrina Syndrome – a great dancer that’s getting near-perfect scores, but maybe isn’t getting the votes they feel she deserves.  I know people say “Oh Melissa is getting the votes!” but no one has really been able to specify where they’re coming from – is it residual fans from season 8? Bachelor/Bachelorette fans? Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader fans? None of those seem like large enough or general enough fanbases to compete on the all-star season. I just don’t know that Melissa has a very specific (and large) demographic voting for her.  But, she has almost near-perfect scores…even if I’m not sure her dances were quite that perfect.  I liked her quickstep much better than Gilles’, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t think the intro was rather rushed & frantic, and that I think I saw her lose sync with Tony a few times.  I also felt like you could drive a boat show between she & Tony when they were in hold.  I think I would have given it a 29 or a 29.5, relative to other routines tonight, but I don’t think it was perfect.  As for their trio – I actually think they best embodied the concept of “trio” tonight, as I felt like Melissa did a really good job of dancing with both Tony & Henry individually as well as with the two of them at once.  They also had a great deal of content – and impressive content at that, and she handled it well.  If someone had to get a perfect score for their trio tonight, I would have given it to Melissa.  I was a little confused by two things, though – the random yell in the middle, and Henry’s awkward, off-in-the-distance pose at the end.  Not sure I would have made the same choices, haha.  Anywho, I REALLY hope I’m wrong about Melissa, and that she’s getting the votes she needs to stick around – because I do think she belongs in the finale.  But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she wound up in the bottom 3 tomorrow.

6.) Gilles & Peta – Ai ai ai…what can I say about Gilles that I haven’t already been saying for 8 weeks, other than “I hope he gets sent home, because he irritates the crap out of me”?  Their quickstep – I don’t necessarily think it was BAD, because he did seem to stay on-time for the most part, and they did a lot in-hold.  But it just felt…HARD to me.  Like Gilles decided to forsake the bounce of it in favor of hard-hitting stomping.  He also seemed to get a little bit ahead of the music, and had to halt his feet a bit in order to catch up to Peta.  As for their trio – no big surprises here.  I think Gilles made it too much about himself and not enough about the trio as a whole.  The solos he did seemed to dominate the bulk of the dance, and I thought there was too much time spent having Peta & Chelsie do weird things in the background (sitting at tables, rolling around on the floor, flipping their hair) for this to be truly called a trio.  I also saw him almost drop Peta when he went to pick both ladies up off the floor at the same time.  Needless to say, I thought Emmitt’s was better – they at least tried to make the dance about the 3 of them.  As for their scores – they were overscored.  I don’t really have much more to say than that.  As for whether I think he’ll stick around – it could be wishful thinking on my part, being optimistic about him going home tomorrow, but at the same time, I have the same problem with Gilles that I do with Melissa: I have no idea where their votes are coming from.  If anything, I think Gilles has alienated a lot of people, and may have progressively lost voters as the season wore on.  I just don’t know – but wouldn’t it be a deliciously “shocking” elimination if the guy that wanted to win sooooo badly this season got axed two weeks before the finale? I’m fully expecting to either see him in a faux jeopardy or a real bottom 3.

7.) Kirstie & Maks – Sorry to say it, but I think Kirstie is likely toast tomorrow night.  Normally I’d say her fanbase could save her until next week, but the problem this time is that she’s got to surpass TWO other couples in order to stay…and even with small margins and decent fanbase, I’m not sure she can.  I liked her Viennese waltz, for the same reasons I like her rumba two weeks ago – very simple  and pretty, without any errors.  However, like Emmitt, I don’t think she’s really stepping up the choreography enough to be very competitive at this phase of the competition.  I had similar sentiments about her paso trio – it was a valiant effort, and she didn’t mess up, but I don’t really feel that there was a whole lot of content for her to mess up to begin with.  Granted, they handed her a pretty hard song (which I really think should have gone to Melissa instead), but when you look at it next to the difficulty levels of some of their other trios? It’s just not quite up to snuff…and I think that’s really what the judges are looking for at this point.  So I think we’ll probably see Kirstie getting cut first tomorrow night, barring any big shakeups – and yes, I do think there is potential for some shakeups.  Guess we’ll wait & see.

So what two couples do you guys think we’ll be losing tomorrow?