PureDWTS Season 17, Week 4 – Power Rankings

 Overall, I think I enjoyed last night – liked that there wasn’t a particular theme, and everyone got a different dance, so as to avoid being compared against another couple.  Wasn’t particularly wild about the Ray Leeper-choreographed opening number – to quote Mama Spence, “That was a whole lot of nothing!” and goes to show that choreography created for ballroom dancers by non-ballroom dancers doesn’t always work well. 

I think Julianne actually ended up being a pretty fair judge – granted, I think it was decided before the show started that she was simply going to echo the same score that Carrie Ann & Bruno called out, but I still feel like she gave constructive criticism and didn’t put anyone down…which Len has a tendency to do on the regular.  Not gonna lie – I’m kinda glad it was Julianne judging instead of Len during the week that Bill & Emma did their samba ;-)

As lovely and inspirational as Valerie was, I do feel like it was her time to go – she seemed to be really struggling these past few weeks, and the poor woman is probably getting really tired.  But I’m SO glad we got to see her this season, and her foxtrot from week one is probably going to remain one of my favorites :-) And god love Tristan – there’s a pro that gives a whole new meaning to “being there” for your partner.  I don’t think there are too many male pros on this show that could handle both the physical and emotional strain that having a partner with terminal cancer can bring – and he handled it with such poise. 

 1.) Corbin & Karina – For all the ado about him dancing shirtless before last night’s show, he really wasn’t shirtless for long – and it actually did fit the routine, IMO.  After he and Karina stalked around each other and let the tension build, the shirt coming off was kind of a gesutre of “Ok, now I’m throwing my hat in the ring.  It’s ON!” and it worked with mood.  Anti-shirtless brigade, take note: this is an example of the correct way to go shirtless. :-) Really and truly, I thought this paso was fantastic – Corbin never missed a beat, he was invested in it, and contrary to what the judges said, I didn’t think “his hip-hop moves were creeping in”; I actually thought he was creatively styling some of his arm & hand gestures, which I’ll take any day over limp, apathetic, purposeless moves.  Anyone else think the judges were intentionally being REEEEEALLLLY nitpicky about this one? I’d say this worthy of at least one “10″ – it was that good, kids.  And I know there’s been some talk from some here about “Ehhh, I kinda don’t like Corbin & Karina, they’re desperate, they’re trying too hard, etc. etc. etc.” I’ll just say this: if this routine was the result of their “desperation” and “trying too hard” – then more power to them. :-)

2.) Bill & Emma – Remember how I mused last week about how I wanted the tides to turn for Bill & Emma? For them to become one of the “favored” couples over the “big dogs” like Corbin, Amber, Liz, & Christina? I think after last night, we can officially consider them “turned” :-)  He got the pimp spot, he got the audience cheering wildly, he handled his samba reasonably well, and he must have gotten a slew of votes last week…because they don’t often announce that a couple is safe prior to the actual elimination very often…then again, it could be wishful thinking on my part, but I think there was a lot of love for Bill in the ballroom last night ;-) His samba was actually a little better than I thought it would be – sure, he was off-time at some parts, and the hip action was dubious at best…but man, he sold it, and I couldn’t help but smile as I watched.  Favorite couple this season, for me – and I actually think they might have some longevity now.  Think about it: Bill has already gotten 2 of the harder dances (likely for him) out of the way – samba & jive.  And he’s bound to get a ballroom dance or two (which I think he’ll handle well) in the coming weeks.  I’m not calling him finale material just yet – but if he keeps moving with the momentum he’s had the past 2 weeks, I think he might actually be a contender ;-)

3.) Amber & Derek – Not a bad effort from a girl who had very little time to practice and a bum knee – she still was committed to it and really “sold” it.  I can’t say it’s one of my favorite routines Derek has ever choreographed – it was rather simple, though I’m guessing that was necessary in order to accomodate Amber’s limited practice time.  Thought the song choice was a little odd (is this the first time we’ve heard a Kanye song on DWTS?) but it worked for them.  Overall, not a whole lot to say about these two this week – I think they did alright, given the circumstances, but they weren’t really a stand-out couple for me last night.  Hopefully they can make a splash again next week. 

4.) Leah & Tony – I’m not really a fan of these two, but they seem to be getting all sorts of love from the judges so I’m guessing they’re gonna be around for awhile.  Leah kinda reverted back to her “small-moving” this week, as I felt like she really wasn’t doing a whole lot of extending or committing to her arms and legs; I also found the choreography to be a bit odd – seemed like a hodgepodge, like parts from several old cha-chas that Tony choreographed and he just kinda cleaved them together.  I think it caused some continuity issues that left me feeling “meh” about the whole thing.  And not only am I still having a hard time connecting to Leah (she just seems so dry & blase when she’s been interviewed!), some of Tony’s rather arrogant comments in recent interviews have turned me off of these two.  I’d rather seem them go before Jack, Snooki, Elizabeth, or even Brant – but I have a feeling we’re gonna be stuck with them until at least the middle of the competition.

5.) Snooki & Sasha – Snooks actually impressed the hell out of me this week, with the way she was picking up her knees in that jive – judges be damned, I’d much rather see a celeb picking up their knees too high than not picking them up at all :-P She also stayed well in-sync with Sasha, and like Bill, she really sold the performance – loved her as a spunky cheerleader, and I’m glad we got to see glimpses of acrobatic troupe Sasha as well…he’s just been kind of sedate the past few weeks.  I think these two are starting to prove that they’re contenders, and the judges are slowly starting to warm up – I just hope they’re getting the votes!

6.) Jack & Cheryl – Maybe I was only half paying-attention (I was stuffing my face with pasta salad) when they showed their rehearsal package, but I’m confused as to how the little couple’s spat started between these two.  Did it have to do with the posture bar? Was it because Cheryl didn’t know what a marionette was? Regardless, I don’t think it was anything big, and was probably their requisite couple’s fight that each couple has each season – and why don’t we just blame it on Cheryl’s PMS? Since she was kind enough to share it with us, y’know :-) I actually thought they handled their quickstep quite well – Jack kept his frame up, he stayed on time, he didn’t flub his footwork, and he actually did quite well on the Charleston portion, which has a tendency to trip up newbies.  I want to say that Jack & Snooki at are about the same level right now – it’s just that Snooki seems to handle the Latin dances better, and Jack handles the ballroom dances better.  Love both couples and hope they can outlast some of the others I’m not too found of…

7.) Elizabeth & Val – I think the best word I can use to describe Elizabeth is “eccentric”.  The whole “let me stare into your eyes for 45 minutes” bit in rehearsals was just…odd.  It may be her “process” to get into character, but the whole thing kinda struck me as awkward…particularly for Val.  I actually feel a bit sorry for Val, because I think he’s having a hard time really bonding with Elizabeth – I feel like he had a good, friendly bond with Sherri, Kelly, & Zendaya…but his interactions with Elizabeth just seem rather forced & uncomfortable.  Ditto for the mood of their Argentine tango – although Elizabeth may have been technically quite good, the chemistry just felt kind of obligatory and robotic…and Elizabeth was SERIOUSLY hunching over when in hold with him. Yet the judges were very complimentary, and gave her the same score as last night’s high-scoring couple.  Sorry, but a hunched-over Argentine tango that left me feeling chilly should not get the same score as a near-perfect paso doble that left me cheering, IMO.  I can’t tell if she’s being shielded by generous scores or what – but I would not be upset if she were a surprise elim.

8.) Christina & Mark – I think Mama Spence finally figured out the ambiguous reason I haven’t been able to put my finger on for why I just don’t feel drawn to Christina: she’s “sorority nice”.  Not to insult anyone who’s been in a sorority (I was one myself), but the I just feel like the sweetness and smiles we see from Christina is more akin to the polite, obligatory, overly-cheery demeanor you see from sorority girls during rush week, when they’re trying to woo potential pledges into joining their house – as opposed to the genuinely warm, kind vibe I get from Bill, Valerie, & Snooki.  It’s the “I’m popular and I want you to think I’m a sweet girl, but I don’t actually want to be your friend, k?” kind of vibe.  And when it comes to her dancing – I just find myself struggling to even remember what it was I saw.  She may have done a foxtrot, but I’m having a hard time remembering much of anything except the too-long bit with the bars at the beginning.  Whatever it was she did, good or bad, just didn’t interest me – and Julianne was right: there did seem to be quite a few moments where Mark was obscuring our view of Christina.  Of all the couples, Christina is the one that fades into the woodwork the most for me – which isn’t good. Better to be bad & memorable than decent and forgettable…so I’m definitely getting a Kristin Cavallari/Audrina Patridge vibe from her.  Would not be surprised if she was on the chopping block next week or the following one…

9.) Brant & Peta – On the flipside of the coin from Corbin & Karina, Brant & Peta’s salsa was a good example of how NOT to use shirtlessness in a routine.  Not only did it feel purposeless (he just kind of flung his shirt off and started dancing a few bars in), I agree with the judges that it actually revealed some flaws in his hip action, arm movements, posturing, etc.  Shirtlessness may titillate the female viewers (and sometimes Carrie Ann & Bruno), but it will magnify any potential mistakes.  On top of that, Peta seemed to fixate too much on the lifts – as I said on Twitter, “And people think KARINA is trying too hard??? Peta is forcing a man with an injured shoulder to hoist her over his head…because SALSA, that’s why!” There also seemed to be several instances where, like Mark, she seemed to be obscuring our view of her partner, and parts where Brant was basically standing still and we were watching Peta swivel and shimmy around.  I think Brant did the best he could with what he was given, but what he was given wasn’t much.  The fact that they ended up one of the last two standing for the 2nd week in a row? EEEEP.  Harbinger of doom, if you ask me.  I think they’re at the greatest risk of getting send home next week – especially since they have contemporary, which, to my knowledge, Peta has never choreographed before. 

So what did you guys think of last night? Are you sad to see Valerie go? Who were your favorites and least favorites?