PureDWTS Season 17, Week 3 – Power Rankings

Well apparently I missed the memo that Hollywood night was really “Gatsby Night”, as last night’s show seemed to borrow pretty heavily from the new movie…if Baz Luhrmann was going to be a guest judge this season, last night would have been a good night for him to do it! Overall, almost everyone did well and got a rather generous score from the judges – but the unfortunate downside to that is that we may have seen our first glimpse of the puppet strings from the men upstairs, as there was some suspicious overscoring going on that may or may not have contributed to Bill Nye’s exit.  Granted, I think it was his time to go, due both to his injury and the fact that he wasn’t really progressing at the same rate as his fellow contestants.  But Heidi’s numbers post should be exceptionally interesting this week…

…and once again, my rankings are about as clear as mud :-P I’m seriously having a hard time determining who is the most likely to get sent packing – I’m getting some “struggling with votes” vibes from a few of the couples, but nothing that screams “This person is going home next week!”; I’ve also got the added complication of anticipating the modus operandi of TPTB, who now have the power to influence the outcome since they know exactly how many points each couple needs to stick around.  A rather scary pall cast over an otherwise lovely season to watch, no? For that reason, I could see anyone in my bottom 5 potentially getting sent home – depending on how things go down next week.

1.) Corbin & Karina – I think Corbin had, by far, the highest level of difficulty in terms of choreography in his routine last night – and for what it’s worth, he actually handled it pretty well.  There seemed to be a few issues with wobbly frame, and I saw a couple “deer in the headlights” looks, but he kept up with the footwork decently well and delivered a great quickstep, reminiscent of the quickstep Karina did with Apolo a year ago.  But, like the quickstep she did with Apolo, this one didn’t seem to get the love it deserved – or rather, the love it did get was overshadowed by some suspicious overscoring of another couple.  It also confirmed a fear of mine that has been brewing since week one: that Corbin seems to thrive more in the Latin dances, and loses a bit of his sparkle in the ballroom dances.  He’s got a lot of room to improve, but last night was the first time I’ve seen him be less than confident on the floor – hopefully he can hit a groove with the next ballroom dance he gets.

2.) Amber & Derek – Judging from some of the comments I’m seeing on the show discussion post, seems like there’s a debate raging over who had more “Charleston content” in their routines last night – Amber or Christina.  To be honest, I don’t think either was bona fide Charleston - first off, there aren’t that many Charleston steps that exist; secondly, Amber’s music dictated that she do something more than just Charleston, and Christina had Mark’s tendency toward the theatric to contend with.  I would say Amber had more Charleston basics, but the overall mood, steps, and theme of Christina’s routine fit the Charleston better.  And at the end of the day, I’ll be honest: I didn’t particularly care for either one.  Amber unfortunately got saddled with a song that was really more hip-hop than Charleston, and with a ridiculously long intro that didn’t allow for much dancing – and the dancing she did do was just ok for me.  She seemed to hit a bit of a wall with the foot action of the Charleston (which isn’t easy – they ended up using a dance double for Tobey Maguire for a few scenes in Gatsby), but I will give her this: ever the showman, she sold the performance well…even if she wasn’t really nailing the steps.  Anyone else find it totally trippy that Len was the one that seemed to gush about this routine – and it was Bruno & Carrie Ann complaining about the content? :-P

3.) Nicole & Sasha – These two are quite possibly the most underappreciated couple so far this season, for me – Nicole is actually pretty good, and she’s hilarious to boot.  Saw a few issues with her frame getting wobbly, but really – the poor thing is like, 4 foot something, and she may be the only person in the world that makes Sasha look like a giant :-P But really, she sold the routine well – I think she got lucky with the Marilyn Monroe theme, as it really seemed to play well to her skills as an entertainer.  I actually loved the cartwheel – was visually very cool to watch, and they handled it flawlessly (despite the comedy of Nicole trying to do it in rehearsal).  The only odd thing about them for me so far? Sasha just seems very…sedate.  Like the exact opposite of what we saw from him in the troupe – and yes, I know I complained about him bouncing off the walls in the troupe routines, but I was hoping that some of that enthusiastic energy would carry over into his partnership with Snooki – but so far, it seems like her trying to bring him out of his shell by cracking jokes and giving him a hard time.  Maybe he’s just taking his job as a pro very seriously, maybe he’s trying to keep the focus on Nicole – but crack a laugh and a smile every now and then, dude.  This is supposed to be fun :-)

4.) Leah & Tony – Still having a bit of a hard time warming up to Leah, but it was nice to see a little more character out of her in this rumba.   She’s actually not a bad dancer – she was handling a lot of the hip action well, and actually seems to grasp the concept of transferring her weight from foot to foot; she seems a little bit wonky on her turns, though, and still doesn’t seem to be 100% confident when out on the floor.  She sells the routine fairly well, but there just seems to be a lingering tinge of “oh crap, what am I doing?” with some of the steps she does.  Not sure what Tony was thinking when he threw in that silly roll at the end, as it seemed to take a pretty serious performance and render it silly, but I guess if that’s my biggest gripe about this routine, they’re doing pretty well :-P

5.) Jack & Cheryl - A little bit of an off-week for Jack, but for what it’s worth, even his “off week” was still technically pretty good, and seemed to be more a struggle of showmanship and really selling his dance.  Like Corbin & Leah, I think his biggest struggled seemed to be with confidence – this was the first time I think we’ve seen Jack get a little to into his own headspace, and focusing too hard on the steps and forgetting to enjoy himself and interact with the audience.  He actually had some good footwork and a good lead in this cha-cha – in a pleasant change of pace, Cheryl seems to have gotten a partner that can actually lead, as opposed to being back-led. He kept up with her, and was there for her every step of the way – which is more than I can say for some of the other male contestants this season.  Overall, I think he’s doing quite well, and if he can get back into enjoying himself when he dances, he could stick around for awhile.

6.) Bill & Emma - Since other Bill is out – I think I’m safe dropping the E. when referring to this Bill, right? :-) I think these two are my favorite couple right now – he’s improving each week, he’s enjoying himself, and he & Emma just seem to click really well together…and none of us saw it coming! Really and truly, Bill actually kept up quite well in this paso – granted, it was pretty simple, but he didn’t get off-time (even with a potentially disorienting song), he was perfectly in-sync with Emma, and he seemed to sell his Lone Ranger character well.  I think Emma is making some pretty wise decisions, choreographically-speaking, and she must be a good teacher as well, because Bill seems to be grasping what she’s teaching him…and having fun while he’s at it :-) They got all my votes again this week – and I’m hoping that the tide is turning for these two and TPTB are recognizing that they’re an asset to the show.  Part of me still worries that they may see Bill as expendable, and may try to backdoor him in order to keep a contestant they think appeals more to the younger demographic (namely Brant, but possibly Elizabeth or Christina).

7.) Elizabeth & Val – Let me say this: Elizabeth is a great dancer.  And she seems to great showman as well.  But there is just something about her that BUGS. I’m not sure if it’s her intensity, or those eyes (which freak Mama Spence out), or a lack of chemistry with Val – but there is just something about her that prevents me from really connecting and getting attached to her.  Her foxtrot last night started off well, but she seemed to hit a snag and get a little ahead/behind the music; she has a good frame, but needs to drop her chin a bit.  The floor sweep at the end seemed like it was a little heavy, but overall, it was a nice foxtrot – so why did I struggle to remember it without my notes??? I’m still getting a real Chynna Phillips vibe off of her – a great dancer that just can’t seem to connect with the audience or her partner.  If anyone is cannon fodder for a surprise elimination, I’m afraid it might be Elizabeth – she’s a great dancer, but I fear she’s getting lost in a sea of bigger personalities.

8.) Christina & Mark – Like Elizabeth, Christina is a good dancer & performer that I’m just having a hard time really connecting with.  This was the first week I think she really got comfortable out on the floor, which was nice to see; but at the end of the show, I’m finding myself mentally running through the list of couples, and she’s always one of the last I remember.  While I think she had a bit more Charleston in her Charleston than Amber did, I didn’t like Christina’s quite as much, because it didn’t seem as energetic and enthusiastic as Amber’s.  I also thought Mark’s clown face was a little distracting, and may have shifted focus away from her and onto him.  The fact that she was one of the “in jeopardy” couples was interesting – like Elizabeth, I think she may be struggling with votes, and may also be getting lost in a sea of big personalities.  And like Elizabeth, I think she may be at risk of a surprise elimination.  However, I think TPTB may try to save Elizabeth, in order to keep around a really strong dancer; but I’m not sure they’d take the same pains for Christina.  I would  not be surprised to see her in jeopardy again next week…or even heading home.  We’re entering surprise elim territory, kids….

9.) Brant & Peta – This quickstep was pretty good – but it was NOT 27 points good, and that just makes me a little suspicious of why he got so blatantly overscored…especially since he was also one of the “in jeopardy” couples.  Remember, kids – TPTB now know EXACTLY what score the couples need to get to stick around, so it stands to reason that they COULD potentially save Brant from elimination by urging (or outright telling) the judges to give him a rather generous score.  “Could” being the operative word.  And this one is especially fishy to me, considering that there were some major technical issues in this quickstep – Brant dropped his frame on several occasions, he nearly collided with Peta when trying to get into promenade position, there was some iffy footwork that may have been off-time, and the level of difficulty was not nearly as high as Corbin’s routine, which Corbin arguably handled better…yet Brant still bested Corbin by a point.  Even Peta looked shocked when the judges whipped out the 9′s – I think she even knew deep down that quickstep was not 9-worthy.  It all just bugs a bit.  I like Brant (and I tolerate Peta), but if he’s not getting the votes, he’s not getting the votes – and I’m gonna be royally pissed if one of my favorites (like Bill E. or Snooki) gets sent packing as collateral damage from keeping Brant (or any of the other struggling celebs) around.

10.) Valerie & Tristan – Oh, Valerie :-) Still such a joy to watch, even when she’s forgetting the bulk of her choreography.  God bless her, she was trying – but I didn’t see a whole lot of cha-cha here, and I think Tristan’s Freddie Mercury ‘stache may have stolen the show for me :-P I know she’s likely still getting a lot of votes from supportive fans, but I think we may be reaching the point where the judges have to start getting real with her and recognizing that, while she’s an inspiration to watch, she may be a bit in over her head now.  She’s injured, she is likely getting tired, and before long, she may be sticking out like a sore thumb amongst much stronger dancers.  For that reason, I would not be too surprised if we saw an attempt by TPTB to (gently) backdoor her – then again, I also wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to prolong her stay as well.  I can’t decide what’s more important to them: the potential ratings from having such a high-profile, currently-notable celeb on the show; or keeping younger, stronger dancers around in an attempt to draw in the young vote.  I’m just not quite sure how this is all going to play out.

So what did you guys think of last night’s show? Was Bill Nye the right person to get sent home? What do you think the coming week holds?