PureDWTS Season 17, Week 8 – Power Rankings

Did anyone else feel like the dances were a bit…I don’t know, MECHANICAL last night? Almost every dance I saw felt a bit wooden and robotic…like you could practically see the couples counting out the steps as they danced.  Once again, I’m going to chalk it up to all the couples feeling stressed and burnt out, which is unfortunate because I feel like several of them are forgetting that this is supposed to be fun.  Also mechanical? Cher as a judge, as more often than not she seemed like she was out to lunch and just threw in a generic comment and threw up the “9″ paddle when prompted (unless, of course, your name is Bill, in which case she managed to locate her “8″ paddle…convenient.) Say what you will about Julianne as a judge – but at least she was coherent in her critiques, and I understood why she gave the scores she did.  Cher? Not so much. 

Once again, we have a “shocking” elimination that isn’t all that shocking when you really think about it – I’m guessing that Brant’s fanbase, which seemed to be sustaining him sufficiently well since his bottom 2 scare early in the season, just finally gave out this week…with several people left who are likely pulling in a lot of votes, I think anyone with a “young” fanbase is probably in some degree of jeopardy, by comparison.  I guess all I can hope for at this point is that someone like Bill can somehow edge out an older fanbase like Leah’s…because that woman has GOT to go. 

1/2.) TIE: Corbin & Karina and Amber & Derek – Another not-quite-100% night for both couples, and due to the immunity challenge, there’s some trade-offs that seem to level the playing field between these two.  Corbin & Karina’s Argentine tango, while pretty good technically, just left me wanting a bit more emotionally – not sure if it was the strange song or the fact that these two were pressed for rehearsal time this week, but it just felt really cold and obligatory to me. Corbin seemed to be laser-focused on remembering his steps, and seemed to lose a bit of entertainment value as a result. Amber & Derek also had a strange song to contend with, and while I think they actually handled it well, the choreography just felt a little odd to me – like “rumba by numbers”, if you will, with a few sequences of Amber strutting around in a sassy fashion to fill it out.  Did the music necessitate it? Maybe.  But like Corbin’s Argentine tango, it just kinda left me wanting more, and it wasn’t Amber’s best dance.  Now here’s the kicker: while Amber may have gotten the immunity, Corbin actually got the 3 extra points that came with winning his dance-off against Liz.  Amber is still the cumulative points leader for the season – but with Corbin a mere 3 points behind her, one off-dance could shift the balance of power: say Corbin gets his first perfect 30 next week and Amber falters a bit a gets a 26.  That could mean the difference between picking first and picking second in the next challenge.  And as we’ve seen – that can mean the difference between getting a good song vs. a sh*tty song, or a good team vs. a sh*tty team.  It all adds up, kids…

3.) Jack & Cheryl – I feel a little odd putting these two so high, but after last night, I think Jack may actually be the dark horse that sneaks his way into the finale over Liz or Leah.  His journey this season is reminding me a lot of Rob’s journey in season 13 – kinda flying under the radar for the first half of the season, then slowly creeping his way up the leaderboard in the 2nd half.  Jack actually had the strongest routine, both technically and performance-wise, for me last night – he handled his tango well and I enjoyed watching it.  Maybe a little bit “deer in the headlights” at a few spots, but still the best overall package last night.  I think he may actually have the dual benefit of having both a young and an old fanbase – I’m guessing he’s getting the middle-aged female vote courtesy of mommy Sharon, and getting a portion of the young vote courtesy of young Ozzy fans and those who remember him from The Osbournes.  In a season like this where the youngin’s seem to be dropping like flies – I think that could be a big advantage.

4.) Elizabeth & Val – Wow…well, ummm…if Elizabeth set out on a mission to make everyone forget her Showgirls days, I think this jazz routine may have been a bit of a step back for her :-( It was the same sort of angsty, flaily, hard-hitting stuff you see her do in the fictional “Goddess” show in that movie.  And here’s the kicker – a lot of that choreography was actually more coherent than what we saw from her last night.  I don’t know if changing the song at the last minute really threw them or not, but I found this routine kinda hard to follow – like random sections of choreography that got chopped and cleaved back together in a different, illogical order.  It was a lot of angst and flail and not a lot of dance…and the fact that the judges didn’t seem to have any qualms with giving her a significantly lower score than she’s been accustomed to these past few weeks seems to indicate that she could be in some danger.  My gut says she’s PROBABLY ok next week, as long as she doesn’t completely bomb again…but there’s a nagging voice in the back of my head that thinks she could be toast, much in the same way that Snooki & Brant have been in the past two weeks. And I’m now pretty dubious about her making the finale, too – depends on whether the judges/PTB decide to prop her up or not and keep the finale full of “strong dancers”, or if they opt to let the chips fall where they may and let Jack, *cringe* Leah, or even Bill into the finale. 

5.) Leah & Tony – Say what you might about Leah “improving” and “having a good journey on the show” – I just find this woman (and her partner) wholly unpleasant to watch, given their smug sense of entitlement and elitist attitude.  Leah proclaiming that “Cher will like us” and “score us well”? Leah opting for a makeup touchup while every other couple was rehearsing for the face-off backstage? Leah & Tony both scowling at the judges when they were handed a more realistic (but still rather kind) score of 25? I’m over it all – we don’t see this kind of behavior out of ANY of the other couples.  And given the fact that Leah still moves in itty-bitty steps and never really dances full-out, I don’t really see why she suddenly thinks she deserves stellar scores based on her “artistry”.  I don’t even really need to comment on Tony’s choreography, because  we know how boring it is, but I will anyway – this Viennese waltz was very kindergarten-y, and the he seemed to conceal the fact that she’s not very good in-hold by putting in a LOT of hokey open work…which she also bungled up at times, along with the footwork.  I’m still baffled as to why this woman is still in the competition, but I guess we can thank a combination of the judges coddling her and people buying into her bogus “journey”.  And yes, I think the threat of her actually making it into the finale only grows by the week…

6.) Bill & Emma – Prime example of a couple being hip to the fact that “Cher week” is kind of lame and they may as well just have fun with it.  Was their disco off-time? Sure.  Did Bill struggle with some of the lifts? Sure.  But as always, I still found it a joy to watch, and thought it was the most fun routine of the evening.  :-) Is it any coincidence that the only time Cher set down her omnipresent “9″ paddle the entire evening was to give Bill an “8″? I think the judges still clearly want him gone, which is fine – because he’s obviously proven that he’s got the votes on his side.  ;-) Will he go home next week? If the judges can do anything to help it, probably – but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw another shocking elim, perhaps Elizabeth.  I think the fact that Bill has made it this far indicates a bit of a shift in attitude amongst the voting viewers – it seems to indicate that some are becoming less concerned about who’s the “best dancer”, and more concerned about who they actually ENJOY watching.  If that’s the case – I’m happy about the shift.  This show has never been 100% about the dancing – people actually have to LIKE you, too.  And in Bill’s case – if they REALLY like you, they can maybe overlook some sub-par dancing.  ;-)

Thoughts on the Face-Off Rounds:

I think Corbin could have EASILY beaten anyone he picked – but I rather enjoyed the fact that he picked Liz, who probably is the one that would have given him the biggest run for his money, and more or less schooled her on cha-cha.  Liz may have gotten a perfect 30 on her individual cha-cha – but Corbin’s 29-scoring individual cha-cha was leaps and bounds better…as was his face-off cha-cha.  I think the fact that Corbin’s dancing has a lot more finesse to it than Liz’s is what puts him ahead.  Brant vs. Leah in the rumba? Leah winning this one is the biggest load of malarky I’ve seen in quite some time on this show.  Everyone gushing about the “emotion” of her performance? The woman had the same smug expression on her face that we see all night, every night.  And she barely moved! Clearly the fix was in on this one – which makes me wonder if Leah knew beforehand that she was going to win the dance-off, and that’s why she opted to rest on her laurels and have the makeup staff freshen her up backstage while everyone else was furiously trying to fit in more rehearsal time.  Maybe they decided that Brant was disposable at that point – who knows.  I thought the Bill vs. Jack face-off was a bit bogus, too, just because they stuck him with disco AGAIN and then were like “Well you’ve already done disco once tonight, you should have owned this one!” I’ll admit that Jack was better, and that Bill probably fared better with disco than he would have with cha-cha or rumba, but really…why even have disco as a choice, anyway? Just to throw in another Cher song? I just think Bill was screwed from the get-go no matter what. 

So what did you guys think of last night’s show? And what are your thoughts on Cher as a judge? Any early predictions for who makes it to the finale?