PureDWTS Season 17, Week 6 – Power Rankings

Tonight’s episode of Sesame Street was brought to you by the words “bullsh*t” and “inconsistency”.  :-) By the time they lined the couples up for elimination with a mere 5 minutes remaining in the show, my blood was boiling – Len was an absolute terror tonight, the other two stooges were more or less his accomplices when it came to completely contradicting things that they have said in previous weeks (or even earlier in the evening).  Seems kinda obvious that they’ve been told they need to shield certain couples from excessive criticism, while piling it on others like it’s going out of style.  Len in particular has lost all credibility for me this season – he’s not the “strictly ballroom” judge he once was; now he seems to have a personal agenda, and that dictates his scores & critiques far more than any actual ballroom knowledge.  Can we ship him back overseas next week and bring in a guest judge? Pretty please? :-)

As I had kinda guessed, the switch-up dance challenge was a complete turd of an idea – and I think it was quite possibly the most ridiculous-looking thing we’ve seen them make these poor celebs do in 17 seasons.  My best guess is that, immediately following the aftermath of last week’s production Muppet voting snafu, they knew they were gonna  have to forego this week’s elimination, but needed something trivial to fill time…enter this nonsense.  God I hope this one gets permanently scrapped, cause I felt seriously embarassed for some of the couples out there…except for Bill & Emma, who seemed hip to the fact that this challenge was complete bullsh*t and just decided to have fun with it :-) Thrilled that nobody got eliminated – I was seriously scared for Bill by the end of the show.  But likely thanks to the Muppets, we get him for another week :-D

1.) Amber & Derek – I’m convinced now that there is nothing Derek can do this season to please Len – “there’s not enough content”.  “There’s too much content & it’s repetitive.” The guy is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t – and he seems to be the only one that Len picks apart for these reasons, and the only one that gets legitimately punished as opposed to just getting a warning (looking at YOU, Tony).  And the worst part: Amber just seems to be collateral damage to Len.  I actually thought this routine was a good example of samba – had a lot of textbook steps, it traveled around the room, and Derek took out a lot of the “frippery” that Len has been complaining about this season…and Amber handled it well! But Len has the nerve to whine about it being “repetitive”.  Ok Len, I’ll take the bait: maybe it was repetitive because THERE’S A FUCKING SYLLABUS OF STEPS THAT YOU CONSTANTLY HARP ON, and samba in particular is rather limited in the sequence of steps you can use to get around the room.  And dammit, every single routine is going to be repetitive to some degree – if you want a dance to look like it should, you’ve gotta use a lot of basic, characeristic steps.  Bill & Emma’s tango? Yep, repetition.  Brant & Peta’s tango? Repetitive.  Jack & Cheryl’s paso? Repetitive.  Nicole & Sasha’s foxtrot? Repetitive, repetitive, repetitive. And yet none of those other couples got scolded for it…hmmmm.  I guess my only explanation is that Amber is getting the votes she needs to stick around, so TPTB don’t feel the need to “shield” her from elimination like they do other couples – and maybe, to give the impression of this being a close race, Len feels the need to knock this couple down a few notches.

2.) Elizabeth & Val – Lizzy, Lizzy, Lizzy…I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually starting to feel a bit sorry for her.  This woman just seems like she’s DESPERATE to do well, and might emotionally shatter at any given moment.  By extension, I think I might actually be feeling a bit bad for Val, too, just because I’m not sure that he really knows how to handle it when Liz has a meltdown like she did during her rehearsal footage.  But anyway – I thought her cha-cha was actually pretty good, but I don’t think it was 30-worthy – as I said to someone on Twitter, I MIGHT have given it one “10″ as a courtesy, and then maybe two 9′s.  I will commend Val on the fact that he must really drill proper turn technique into his partners, because Elizabeth, like Zendaya & Kelly, seems to know how to properly spot her turns, and the result is pretty nice to look at.  Can’t say I was wild about Liz’ solo at the beginning, but I guess I understand why Val put it there – it utilizes her ballet & jazz training.  My only other complaint: like a lot of other routines we’ve seen from Val, it just seemed a little bit “stop-and-go”, which interrupted the overall flow of it.  But overall, I enjoyed it, and Liz seemed to handle it well.  The fact that it was given a perfect score, however, makes me wonder if the judges are attempting to shield Lizzy from a Christina Milian-esque ouster – and I wonder if they’ve decided that she MUST be in the finale.  I get that they want to have a strong finale of good dancers, but I think anymore, it’s not just about the dancing anymore…you’ve gotta connect with the audience and really entertain them, and that’s one area where I think Liz & Val could take a page out of Bill & Emma’s book. Liz & Val seem to be more inwardly-focused and taking the competition more seriously; I think Bill & Emma, while still wanting to do well, seem more focused on putting on a good show and really making things enjoyable for viewers.  If Liz could do both, I could see her being more of a contender.

3.) Corbin & Karina – I think this was unfortunately another example of the “nitpick the good couples to death, we must make this look like a close race at all costs!” mentality the judges seemed to have tonight.  While I don’t think this Viennese waltz was by any means their best dance (that remains the paso doble, for me), I don’t think it was NEARLY as bad as the judges made it out to be – it certainly wasn’t worthy of a 23, the same score they gave Bill (who is admittedly the weakest dancer left).  I think Corbin, in his excitement about dancing to the Game of Thrones theme and getting to channel his inner Khal Drogo, may have gotten a little bit of “Excited Puppy Syndrome” and peed on the proverbial rug – he seemed to get a bit ahead of the music, and he & Karina seemed to miss a few connections and wobbled a few turns.  That said – I still found it to be my favorite routine of the night, and thought it was a very cool, artistic, entertaining dance.  But the judges still managed to throw in some inconsistent comments – not sure if Carrie Ann is now gun-shy about lift policing (since being called out on the inconsistency of it last week), but she more or less said “You guys did two deliberate lifts, but I understand why you did it!”…so I’m not sure if she actually docked them points for it or not, but after jumping all over Corbin & Karina for a non-lift last week, I would have at least expected her to scold them a bit more.  Who knows – maybe this was their “free pass” since she punished them for the non-lift last week :-P Still think these two are the ones to beat – but I think Amber & Derek could be giving them a run for their money, and if the judges continue to vet Liz, she could be a threat as well.

4.) Brant & Peta – I actually think this was my favorite of Brant’s dances thus far – he looked fantastic out there.  Great frame – very upright & firm, and he seemed to lead Peta pretty confidently around the floor.  I think he may have gotten a bit jammed up on some of the faster footwork (maybe a set of Viennese crosses?), but all-in-all, it was a pretty minor bobble in an otherwise very strong routine.  My only complaint? Bear in mind, this may just be my griping about inconsistency coming out – but if any routine seemed rather repetitive to me tonight, it was this one.  Seemed like a lot of “strong lead down the long side of the floor, stop in the corner, Peta does a dramatic contra check, turn, and repeat.” Granted, there’s only so much variation you can do in the tango (when you have to remain in hold the whole time), but if Len was going to call out Amber & Derek for being repetitive, he should have called these two out for it as well.  Basically, my point is that it’s a rather silly thing to get called out for, anyway, but if you’re gonna call somebody out on it, at least be consistent ;-) Anywho, I actually think Brant is improving nicely – hopefully he can stick around for a few more weeks.

5.) Nicole & Sasha – Not to harp on the whole “repetitive” thing, but this was yet another routine that was kind of…well, repetitive :-) Lots of swinging around those light poles…while NOT IN HOLD.  I know it seems like I’m picking on these two, but I’m really just trying illustrate how inconsistent some of the judging has been – Derek gets chewed up last week for not enough foxtrot in hold, and gets chewed up this week for being repetitive; Sasha does both this week and the judges don’t bat an eye.  Just sayin’ ;-) That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this routine, though – I thought it was quite cute and very “Snooki & Sasha”…would have liked a bit more meat & potatoes steps, though, and could have done without the many light poles peppered throughout the floor, which seemed to limit their mobility.  Anymore, really, I guess I just think foxtrot is a “fluff” dance on DWTS – the real deal can very easily look a bit boring, so I guess I’m a bit more forgiving when it comes to a lot of open work.  I’m having a hard time getting a feel for how many votes these two are getting, though, and I tend to worry that they could be headed home after one weak dance.  Let’s hope my gut is wrong…

6.) Leah & Tony - This is the part where I tell diehard Leah & Tony fans to put on their earmuffs, because you likely aren’t going to like what I have to say about these two this week :-) First of all, there’s the choreography.  Once again, another pro gets a free pass for basically doing the same thing that gets Derek rapped across the knuckles.  Tony more or less dropped a deuce on the quickstep rulebook when he came up with this nonsense – broken hold (multiple times), wasted time at the beginning and end, complete disregard for frame & posture, a lift, and a whole lot of non-quickstep choreography that, while semi-amusing, WAS NOT QUICKSTEP.  If you were one of the individuals complaining about a lack of content in Amber & Derek’s foxtrot last week, this routine should have also upset you. If it didn’t, you’re a hypocrite – because this had even LESS in-hold work than that one.  I counted :-) And quickstep should be almost ENTIRELY in hold – there’s no strict stipulation about foxtrot.  What do the judges say? Len takes some pansy route out and just issues a warning to anyone who hasn’t yet done quickstep about breaking hold, and how he’s been “lenient” thus far…and Tony doesn’t even get so much as a stern glance.  The other two stooges praise the sh*t out of sourpuss Leah for a mediocre-at-best performance, and she of the stank attitude smugly walks away with a 27.  And let’s talk about Leah’s attitude, shall we? Never, I repeat NEVER, has a celeb walked out of a rehearsal BEFORE REHEARSAL HAS EVEN COMMENCED.  And why? Because she doesn’t like the idea of a switch-up dance challenge and she’s “not a dancer”? Ok, I get it when a celeb maybe walks out of a long rehearsal in a moment of frustration with a certain step or something – but walking out before you’ve even given something a try, just cause you don’t like the idea of it? Inexcusable and childish. The rest of the celebs sucked it up as best they could, but Princess Leah the Non-Dancer wanted none of it and walked right on out.  And sorry, but the “bad week last week – better call J.L0″ strategy just seems desperate to me – you’d think if she was cognizant of how much of an ass she made of herself last week, she’d be more cognizant about not making an even bigger ass of herself this week by storming out of rehearsal…nope.  Somebody get this woman off my TV, because she is a buzzkill…but thanks to the judges/PTB (who likely enjoy having J.Lo on speedial), she probably has at least another week in her.  GAG ME.

7.) Bill & Emma – Can we please give these two the “roll with it” award this week? :-) Because I think they, more than any other couple, really embodied the spirit of really just accepting their circumstances and dealing with them as best they could this week – and they were dealt a seriously sh*tty hand with the song they were given, in which even I was hard pressed to find a consistent tango beat, let alone a tango mood.  I’ve gotta praise Emma for coming up with the storyline that she did, because I think the end result, though not technically the strongest, was very entertaining, and actually had quite a bit of content. Sure, Bill had a few bobbles, but given how tough the song was? I still enjoyed it.  And boy, did he take that god-forsaken switch-up challenge in stride – he was all about doffing his shirt, grooving, and just having a good time! While everyone else was obsessing about choreography and whatnot, I think these two just said “You know what? This is a stupid challenge.  So let’s just have fun with it!” Even if they had gone a more serious route, I doubt they would have done any better than they did this way – methinks the results of this challenge were somewhat predetermined, anyway.  I just worry that these two have now become disposable to the judges – while they seem compelled to shield Liz and Leah, they seem to have no qualms with lowballing Bill.  I just hope us “Rioters” can keep him in this game! #IfBillLeavesWeRiot 8-)

8.) Jack & Cheryl – I know this is probably a shocker to some of you, but let me explain.  I worry that Jack has gotten almost completely lost in the shuffle at this point – he’s neither doing really bad or really good, and I don’t know that he’s doing anything particularly memorable that would make a lot of people pick up the phone and vote.  Whereas Bill got kinda hosed this week, Jack didn’t get terribly hosed – and while Liz & Leah did really well, Jack just did ok.  Everything he’s doing right now is just kinda middle-of-the-road – which is a dangerous place to be, especially if we now have the situation where there’s a ton of points that are going to come into play next week, and the margins are rather small.  I’m having a hard time remembering a lot of his paso doble – I remember thinking he was trying hard, but that he seemed a bit stiff; and it, too, seemed to get a little repetitive.  As for the switch-up challenge – I remember thinking he looked really nervous and uncomfortable, and it if it had been me scoring, I probably would have tapped him out before Bill because Bill at least seemed to be rolling with it well.  I like Jack, but the fact that I seem to be having a hard time remembering anything specific that he did this week is troubling to me.  I hope I’m wrong…

Thoughts on the Switch-Up Challenge:

Not a whole lot else to add…it was a dumb idea, and just looked like a total hot mess on camera.  Even the pros seemed rather lost.  Of all the couples, I actually think Corbin & Karina and (oddly enough) Brant & Peta seemed to handle it the best -  both seemed to quickly adjust to the changes in music and crank out some amusing transitions.  Thought Amber & Derek maybe got a little hung up on trying to remember choreography, and hesitated a bit at each change in song in order to get their bearings; ditto for Leah & Tony, and Leah just looked totally defeated from the get-go.  I think Snooki & Sasha and Jack & Cheryl went more for the freestyle route, and it worked better for the former than the latter.  Bill reigned supreme for me – he was letting it ALLLLL hang out and didn’t give a hoot what anyone thought :-) Overall, it had an amusing trainwreck appeal to it – but I hope this is one idea they keep locked in the vault forever more ;-)

So what did you guys think about last night? Do you think the judges were particularly inconsistent? What did you think of the switch-up challenge? And how do you think the lack of elim this week is going to affect next week’s results?