PureDWTS Season 18, Week 2 – Power Rankings

Hopefully everyone has had enough time to sleep off the whiplash you likely got from watching last night’s show – because seriously, kids, I don’t think I could have choreographed a sh*tshow that was sh*ttier than this show 8-O I felt sorry not only for the couples for a) not knowing when they were going to be dancing, and having to be prepared at a moment’s notice; but b) having the double elimination hanging over their heads all night.  Oh, and then there was the partner switch-up tweeting, too, which was haphazardly thrown in without a whole lot of explanation or clarification.  If the producers set out to turn last night’s show into the television equivalent of K-Mart on Black Friday, they succeeded – it seemed like total bedlam on the set last night.

I guess Erin improved only slightly this week – although I don’t really know if it was that she improved or that I was just waiting to get blindsided by more twists and turns and wasn’t really paying attention to her to begin with.  I do agree with the fans on one thing: she will NEVER look as good in those dresses as Brooke did.  WTF was she wearing last night? A discarded leotard from Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video? And my god, Erin (or whomever is pushing this stupid Jeremy Miller nonsense), just STAAAAHHHHP.  Both Cameron & Danica have clearly moved on, and let’s just say Ben Seaver hasn’t exactly aged gracefully…if you’re expecting a catfight over that doughy, average-looking washed-up actor, you’re going to be waiting for a very, very long time.

As for the eliminations – can’t say I’m too surprised about Diana & Henry.  I would have liked her to stay a bit longer, but I kind of wondered about both she & Henry’s respective fanbases – I doubt they would have been able to stick around for more than a week or two.  As for Sean & Karina – I’m honestly a bit shocked about that one, because I seriously thought Karina had the fanbase to at least pull her through the first few weeks, and I thought Sean was starting to finally open up.  Apparently he mentioned something about getting into an argument with Conrad & Co. over his rehearsal package last week during his elimination interview on GMA this morning (with the implication being “If you fight with the producers, you get sent home!”), but we’ll probably never know for sure if it was the votes that sent him home or Lord Conrad’s delicate ego.  I’d be lying, though, if I said I wasn’t THRILLED that Billy Dee & Emma get to stick around for another week ;-)

 

1.) Charlie & Sharna – Another really strong showing for Charlie this week, and I think I’m convinced that, as long as he keeps up with the momentum he’s had so far (and Sharna tightens up her choreo a bit), they will win this whole thing.  I was impressed with the amount of control he had – he was slick & tough without falling into the amateur pitfalls of gritting his teeth or having an unnaturally stiff frame, and he seems to just GLIDE through the steps effortlessly.  If I had one complaint about his actual technique, it would be that his steps seemed a bit large – I don’t think it affected the overall integrity of this routine, but it might be something he needs to reign in on dances like the Viennese waltz, where he’s not going to have time to take huge steps without getting off-time.  Also, another slight choreographic “tsk, tsk” to Sharna this week – it seemed like this tango was a bit “pose-y”: step, step, step, step, POSE! Step step step, POSE! I would have liked a bit more continuity. I actually didn’t mind the breaking hold – that rule has been enforced so subjectively over the past few seasons, I honestly didn’t think they’d get called out on it; but because they’re front-runners, they’re going to get needled.  Anywho, it was probably my favorite dance of the night, and I’m curious to see him doing some Latin in the coming weeks ;-)

2.) Amy & Derek – Amy seemed to get a bit more comfortable out on the floor this week, and we saw some more daring steps from she & Derek as they seemed to get more comfortable with what she can & can’t do on her prostheses.  I thought this was a fun, energetic routine – a nice mix of some Charleston, Lindy, and east coast swing, with a few signature “Derek” moves thrown in.  They seemed to fumble a bit on the famous “pretzel arms” move that Derek is fond of, but that seemed to be the only bobble in an otherwise pretty clean, entertaining routine.  I daresay they probably ended up delivering a more clean, on-time routine than Meryl & Maks, which was surprising, but I think they were probably wise to keep it simpler and cleaner than run the risk of trying to throw in a bunch of tricks with the potential to get fumbled like Meryl & Maks. Overall, very cute and impressive, and I think these two are going to continue to prove they’re contenders this season.

3.) Meryl & Maks – I’ve gotta be honest – I don’t think either of the routines we’ve seen from these two so far are as impressive as they could and SHOULD be.  I’m not sure if lackluster choreography is to blame, or a lack of focus on technique, or a lack of focus on character – but I haven’t really been able to feel invested in this couple so far.  Both their cha-cha last week and their swing this week have been good – but not great.  I think this week was actually a bit of a backslide for them, as they seemed to lose timing more than once and some of the lifts and tricks seemed a bit messy.  It was still better than what we saw from a lot of the other couples, yes, and overall, I would say it was “cute”; but I wouldn’t really call it mind-blowingly good or proof that they’re contenders right now.  I think I was just overall left wanting more.  Wish I had more to say – I like them, but I don’t LOVE them…and I think there’s definite room for improvement.

4.) Danica & Val – Anyone else getting a bit of an Elizabeth Berkeley vibe off Danica like I am? Just a bit too obsessive, and seems to create unrealistic and hard-to-reach expectations for herself? If so, then I’m not sure Val’s got an easy road ahead of him this season, because Danica seems a bit high-maintenance – it’s only week 2 and she’s already shedding tears during rehearsal? Ooh wee.  She handled her samba quite well – but here’s what’s bugging me: she was handling the hard parts of it (the samba rolls, the characteristic closing of the thighs that even Zendaya never seemed to master) like it was a piece of cake, but is still doing amateurish stuff like whiffing her arm extensions and not finishing lines.  If she’s trying to feign newb status as a dancer, then she’s got it backwards :-P She’s a good dancer – I’m just having a hard time understanding why she can handle difficult steps easily, and is having such a hard time doing easy stuff.  I’d also just like to see her RELAX and not put so much pressure on herself – that was part of what seemed to turn me off to Elizabeth last season: the perfectionism.

5.) James & Peta – A definite step up for James this week, and unlike last week, I actually believe now that he’s excited to be there.  I think my favorite part of his salsa was his enthusiasm – he seemed genuinely invested in it, and looked like he was having a great time.  Peta didn’t hold back – this was a pretty jam-packed routine with lots of tricky lifts and stunts, and I think James handled it pretty well…a few missed leads here and there, maybe, and a couple bobbles when executing a few of the lifts, but I’d say it was a pretty damn good effort for it only being week 2.  I’d caution Peta to not get tempted to throw the kitchen sink into every routine – this did seem a bit hectic, even though I thought they handled it pretty well.  I think their chemistry also improved a great deal this week – after the awkwardness of last week’s rehearsal packing and a rather strained foxtrot, I would say this was a big step up for them.  And while I said last week that I think Cody would be the entertainer this season and James would be the technician – I’m starting to wonder if James might be the whole package, underneath it all.

6.) Cody & Witney – I think this week was more of a “two steps back” for these two, as I’m starting to see some potential problems with this partnership that didn’t seem evident last week.  First of all, I think Witney is struggling to maintain a balance between being Cody’s partner and Cody’s pro – she knows the rules and is trying to abide by them, but isn’t quite sure how to “put her foot down” with Cody.  I think she’s handling Cody better than Lindsay handled Victor, but there’s still room for improvement. And then there’s the fact that I think Cody is trying to drive the bus – some of the “suggestions”  he was throwing out were contrary to what Witney was telling him they had to do, and he didn’t seem to care.  I’m beginning to think our friend Cody is not used to hearing the word “no”. :-P Cody didn’t seem really excited to do the tango, and it was a bit evident by his body language throughout the dance – a few bored expressions, some lazy posturing, and then the moonwalk thrown in at the end (yet another thing that makes me think of Roshon) just kind of left me feeling he was subliminally telling us “Screw the tango. I do what I want!” This may have just been an off-week for them, but I’m hoping that Witney can take back the wheel next week, and Cody will recognize her authority as the pro and start to fall in line.

7.) Candace & Mark – I know I leapt to Candace’s defense last week when some were accusing her of “throwing her faith in everyone’s face”, but after this week, I just have to groan and hope that she’s gotten it out of her system – because now I’m tired of hearing about it.  I have no problems with someone not wanting to dress in skimpy clothing due to their faith; I have no problems with someone not wanting to grind up on their partner due to their faith.  But I just feel like Candace wants to avoid being “sexy” altogether – and if that’s the case, then why did she sign up for DWTS? A certain degree of “sexiness” and “suggestiveness” are characteristic of quite a few of the dances.  I guess I’m just hoping she kind find a balance between being true to her faith and still delivering entertaining performances.  As for this rumba? It really felt more like an extra contemporary routine to me – especially since the music wasn’t a strong rumba beat.  Not a whole lot of basic rumba steps in this one, and in the little bit of real rumba she did, she never seemed to shift her weight properly – she seemed to get a little too front-weighted.  I guess I’m going to give Mark a little bit of a free pass on this one, as they saddled him with a crummy song and a partner that refused to be sexy in quite possibly the sexiest of all the dances.  Not a particularly strong showing, but hopefully they bounce back next week…

8.) Drew & Cheryl – I’m a bit ashamed to say that I don’t really remember a whole lot about this jive – maybe I was still trying to make sense of the double elim, maybe I was fidgeting with Keyhole, maybe I was just not very impressed…but relying on my notes, apparently it was pretty cute, but Drew (like most newbs to the jive) could have probably picked his feet up a bit more and he lost time during the swivel steps.  Overall, I’m liking he & Cheryl’s partnership, but what worries me is that, when I’m rattling off the list of couples in my head, they’re almost always the last ones I think of.  They’re not doing terribly, but they’re not doing great – and their chemistry isn’t explosively good or bad.  I worry that they’ve already become a bit of the “middle of the road” couple this season, and we’re only in week 2.  Hopefully they can make a splash in the coming weeks.

9.) NeNe & Tony – NeNe pleasantly surprises me once again, and actually handles her jive better than most of the partners Tony has had in the past few years.  Like James, I think what I appreciate most about her dancing is her commitment to it – she always seems like she’s having fun and is really invested in the dance she’s doing.  Was her technique perfect? No, but I think she still gave it a good effort.  One complaint: why was NeNe allowed to wear…umm, bedazzled Keds? While Candace was told by the producers that she had to wear ballroom shoes for her rumba.  I get it, NeNe is tall – but they make short ballroom shoes with only about a 1.5″ heel.  Just starting to get sick of the double standards on this show – so-and-so can wear sneakers, but this other person can’t.  It seems minor, but it seriously bugs when you think about the advantages/disadvantages it affords certain couples.  But anywho – not sure that NeNe has the juice to go all the way this season, but I have enjoyed her journey so far.

10.) Billy Dee & Emma – If you’re here to chastise me for being happy about Billy Dee staying “over a better dancer”, do us both a favor and just SPARE ME…I got enough flak on Twitter last night.  Once again, for me it’s not really about Billy’s dancing – I was just glad that a guy who seemed pretty sad about “looking like an old man trying to dance” during his package got to feel loved by the audience enough to stick around, even though he can’t move the same way he did back in his heyday.  Yes, his tango was basic; and say what you will about him having an “unfair advantage” by being allowed to use the troupe members in his routine (do you really think it gave him THAT much of an edge? :-P ); but I thought it was a decent effort and an improvement over last week.  I doubt his fanbase is going to carry him a whole lot further, especially since his scores don’t seem to be improving – but I’m just glad he wasn’t the first out.  :-)

 

The “Rivalry Scorecard” for the week:

Charlie vs. MerylCharlie again, for just being overall cleaner and more into the character of his dance. Running total: Charlie 2, Meryl 0.

James vs. CodyJames, for being more invested in his dance and handling complex choreography reasonably well. Running total: James 1, Cody 1.

Danica vs. CandaceDanica, for handling a pretty difficult dance reasonably well, and not getting hung up on things like wardrobe & goo-goo eyes.  Running total: Danica 1, Candace 1.

So who are your faves and least faves from last night’s show? Let us know! And keep an eye out later for my first update in my Twitter Switch-Up voting analysis.  ;-)