PureDWTS Season 18, Week 9 – Power Rankings

Things I learned from last night’s show:

1.) Running prostheses are a beautiful thing.

2.) Bruno Mars, a half-Puerto-Rican, half-Filipino pop singer who has only been popular in the States for about the last 5 years, apparently meets the criteria to be considered an “American Icon”. Somewhere, Ronnie Van Zant is spinning in his grave (Freebird rumba FTW!)

3.) There will never be another Michael Jackson routine as good as Shawn & Mark’s “P.Y.T.” cha-cha in season 8.

4.) If you need to justify Ralphing a certain male contestant in order to ensure that your chosen one makes the finale, just make him do a samba to a Biggie Smalls song…and then tell him he’s not “funky” enough.

5.) When someone “brings out the best” in you, you hurl mic packs in fits of joy.

Yeah, last night was an odd night – there was the low-energy, less-skilled end of the spectrum (Candace & James) that was called safe right away, and then the actual contenders were kept in jeopardy till the end of the show and we ended up losing someone that many of us had pegged as the winner of season 18 back in March.  Yep, just as we all feared – Charlie got Ralphed, and it breaks my heart…I found him far more fun and engaging than Meryl all season long, and I thought Charlie was Sharna’s best shot at the MBT so far (and probably ever).  Charlie seemed to take it all in stride, but I think Sharna may be hurting for awhile – and I can’t blame her.  She did everything in her power to make Charlie shine this season, but just kept getting smacked down by the judges for no good reason (other than to protect the Princess).  I’m kinda hoping Karina sits down with her and gives her a pep talk, because she’s been there – and I’m hoping Sharna can return next season with a vengeance, and claim what should have been hers this season (just like Karina did with JR in season 13).

I think Kenny Ortega was a pretty good guest judge – seemed to know what he was talking about and offered up some good advice, but was still sympathetic and pretty lenient when people made mistakes. The last Stars of Dance performance of the season was adorable and entertaining, and will probably garner an Emmy nod.  WTF was Erin wearing? That getup was librarian on the bottom, Kardashian on top.  Very odd.  Not a whole lot else to add, except that I’m glad this season is drawing to a close – just getting a tad burnt out on the drama, like every season.  And I’m ready for America’s Got Talent :-)

1.) Meryl & Maks – When people try to convince me that Meryl “brings out the best in Maks”, I have to wonder: does that include hurling mic packs across the studio in frustration? Because destruction of property solves everything, y’all.  :-) Seriously, I don’t think Maks has changed at all – he’s still the same overgrown manchild having the same emotional outbursts we’ve seen from him season after season.  He’s just managed to last a little bit longer before having them this season.  And the fact that Maks was getting all bent out of shape over a simple JIVE? A dance he himself has been doing for probably 20 years, and has been choreographing on DWTS for season after season (including one earlier this season)? Red flag – if he’s getting that upset over choreographing basic dances for Meryl, he’s toast in the freestyle round.  And after all that fussing – that jive was the best he could come up with? Seemed like he might have watched a tape of Candace & Mark’s jive in week 3, picked a few Elvis moves up from it, and then filled in with some really basic jive syllabus steps.  The end result seemed a tad low-energy to me – Meryl could have had more of a bounce and her legs could have been picked up higher.  And WTF was she doing with her hands??? Mama Spence said she looked like she was about to do the “bend & snap” from Legally Blonde because she had her hands up way too high :-P It was an ok jive – it wasn’t a great jive.  Then there was the Viennese waltz…and that gadawful huge lace skirt he put her in, and those boots.  Did he just get done watching a marathon of Petticoat Junction on TV Land before he went to their costume consult? Just seemed way too bulky on her frame and didn’t enhance her movements.  It was an ok Viennese waltz, I guess, but I felt like she got a tad flaily on some of the arm work, and of course, I’m totally over the sections of “let’s stand here and pretend we’re going to kiss” that seem to make their way into every dance of theirs anymore.  Pretty lukewarm evening for Meryl, IMO, but she still gets perfect scores – and a leg up over her fellow finalists headed into finale week, because Maks-er, I mean MERYL, must win at all costs.  She should have been paired with Val…at least then we would have seen some good choreography.

2.) Amy & Derek – Y U NO BREAK OUT RUNNING LEGS EARLIER??? Seriously, that’s all I could think of after this quickstep – those legs seemed to give Amy the perfect amount of bounce in order to handle the dance flawlessly.  If I had been watching this dance only from the waist up, I would never have guessed that she was not dancing on real legs – the movement was seamless.  And she was doing some pretty wild syncopation with her feet, too, so color me extra impressed.  Loved their jazz, too – the mix of “Too Darn Hot” that was used lent itself nicely to some pretty clever choreography – I loved the part on the table, as it reminded me of Neil & Sabra’s “Sweet Dreams” jazz routine from SYTYCD; the table slide was also a nice touch.  Of course there were the naysayers that said she “didn’t dance” – I just roll my eyes, because I think it’s far more challenging to choreograph a routine that minimizes the use of Amy’s legs and still have it be entertaining.  I’d rather watch a routine where Amy does cool sh*t on a table than one with half-assed jive choreography (see above).  It’s just hilarious to me that some of the fans complain about Derek choreographing to his partner’s strengths while minimizing their weaknesses – which is exactly what he does with Amy: she’s unsteady on her legs, so he finds ways to conceal that; but she’s got great musicality & core strength, so he utilizes that.  How is it any different than Maks utilizing Meryl’s skating skills – while trying to conceal her depth perception issues? Or Peta trying to compensate for James feeling ill? Anywho, these two got all my votes – while some other people on Twitter seemed to be losing their sh*t over my opinions of Maks, I managed to get 150 votes in for Amy.  It’s all about deciding what does and doesn’t matter, kids :-)

3.) James & Peta – Overall, a rather forgettable night for James – he did ok, but not great, and I think his illness was to blame.  He just didn’t seem very invested in either dance, although he did seem to give both his best try.  The cha-cha to Michael Jackson was cute and slick, but you could tell that James was not feeling 100%, and I think the fact that Peta was hitting every move pretty hard just made James stick out like a sore thumb even more.  And when you’ve got an MJ song, you have got to WERK it – and after watching it, I was left feeling a bit let-down, and still think Shawn & Mark are the only couple to really & truly do MJ justice on DWTS. The rumba actually turned out a lot less cheesy than I thought it would, given their song – seemed like the band was able to make it sound a bit more R&B-ish and a bit less twangy :-P I think Peta choreographed a proper rumba, but it seemed like she was doing most of the work and James was just kinda there for her as she was spinning & dipping all over the place; maybe that was the intention, since James was sick.  Thought her teased up “Dolly”hair was hilarious, but that they needed to add a lot more padding to the décolleté if they really wanted that authentic “Dolly” look :-P  Not sure what to expect from these two during finale week – Peta’s only choreographed one freestyle, and while it was pretty good – the idea actually came from another pro.  And will James be feeling good enough to really get invested in it? My guess is that we’ll see some more of the BTR guys in their freestyle…not sure it will be the best way to showcase James, but it’s just a gut feeling.

4.) Candace & Mark – As much as I love Candace and how we’ve been able to see her grow this season, I can acknowledge that she’s the weakest performer left, and the best I think she can hope for in the finals is 3rd place (but I think it’s more likely she comes in 4th). But she gave it a good shot last night – her Viennese waltz actually started out quite lovely; thought she melded well with the feel of the music and the swing & sway of it seemed to suit her movement style well.  Then there was the minor snafu with the dip, and she seemed to get thrown off her game – kinda wish she would work on being able to shake off the nerves following a mistake, because I feel like that one kinda stuck with her through the rest of the dance and she checked out a little bit.  Still a quite pretty dance, but I wish she would have kept her game face on the whole time.  Their jazz routine was cute and Candace handled it without any major mistakes – but it felt a little too simple to me, and Candace seemed to recede back into her head again.   Wish she would have focused a bit more on the performance and a bit less on the steps, if that makes sense.  Kinda wish Mark had thrown in some syncopation – just seemed like everything was a straight 8-count and repeat.  I think Candace could have handled it.  Not sure what to expect from these two in the finale – my gut says Mark will try to step up his choreography game, but I’m not sure that Candace will be able to keep up under the pressure.  But regardless of how things pan out, I’m glad she made it to the finale and I think she’s had a great season :-)

So those are my thoughts on last night’s show.  What are yours? And how do you think everyone will fare during the finale dances?