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PureDWTS Season 19, Week 3 – Power Rankings

Well, I guess the euphoria of having my dream contestant on DWTS would finally wear off – and this was the week that it happened.  What a three-ring circus of nitpicking, wonky scoring, and overall chaos.  From what I saw from the judges – crack is whack, and so is meth, heroin, and bath salts, apparently.  Julianne wins the “twatwaffle of the night” award, for generally just being a bit of a cranky b*tch – so in other words, she was filling in for Len.  Hooray.

Sorry, but the wrong person went home – Randy may not have been the best dancer, but he was not nearly as bad as the score he got last week OR this week…but hey, the judges need their scores & critiques justified, so they had to screw him somehow.  Absolutely no reason that he should have been forced to go first TWO weeks in a row, basically making a mad dash from the opening  number to the quickchange; and to add insult to injury, this week he had to do it after being told he was in jeopardy.  Classy, Wade. I just might have to spoil a bunch of sh*t early to get back at you…

…as for Kevin, I actually think he turned out being a pretty decent judge.  I liked that he didn’t seem like he was out to really critique anyone, and tried to see the positive in everyone’s routines.  Also enjoyed his humor, and thought it was kinda cool how he seemed genuinely moved by Bethany & Derek’s dance.  He can come back anytime and enthusiastically yell out scores ;-)

1.) TIE: Bethany & Derek and Janel & Val – So the first two perfect 40’s of the season.  I feel one was deserved; the other? Meh. Felt like an awful lot of emphasis was placed on Janel & Val’s struggles with switching the routine, there was a lot of futzing around at the beginning of the routine, and then the score was almost given as a consolation prize for putting up with the crap.  Sure, Janel handled what she was given decently well – she should, given her background – but a 40? For wiping Val’s abs with a towel? Sorry, not buying it.  But hey, they seem bound & determined to make Vajanel happen, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.  As for Bethany – I had been worried, after hearing that her ankle injury was still very much an issue; but thank the lord Derek was able to choreograph something that was true to Singin’ in the Rain while being feasible for her to execute.  God bless umbrella work that doesn’t go awry :-) And Bethany kept up, and for the first time, she really seemed 100% invested in the routine, which is what I’ve been wanting from her since the first week. I don’t see either going anywhere for awhile, but it should be interesting to see who fares better next week…

3.)  Alfonso & Witney – *sigh* I’m stumped on what this guy has to do to get anything more than an 8 these days.  As I mentioned to someone else earlier – I have to wonder if he & Witney may have inadvertently screwed themselves in week 1 by coming out of the gate so strong, because now it seems like he gets nitpicked to death by the judges (particularly Julianne) no matter how well he does.  Say what you will about  Bethany & Janel and their perfect 40’s – but if they both deserved them, then Alfonso did too, because he’s dancing at a level that’s far more technical and with an off-the-charts sense of musicality.  That’s actually what I love most about all his routines – he finds the most clever ways to accent different beats in the music with his movements.  Loved “Mini-Alfonso” and was also very impressed with how Witney managed to meld quickstep and disco – it was a tall order, but she pulled it off.  He was a bit stiff at a few times, but all things considered, that was a pretty minor problem. All I can say is that Alfonso better rock the socks of his “It’s Not Unusual” jazz, complete with the famous Carlton dance, next week – the stars are aligned for another perfect 40 ;-)

4.) Sadie & Mark – Ok, I may have teared up a little bit watching this one – it was just so SWEET.  Loved how it payed homage to Up, while still being a proper Viennese waltz, and thought it was very appropriate for Sadie – I have to give Mark props for really tailoring the routines to be appropriate for her age and also her personality.  Sadie isn’t a sexpot like Janel – she’s a bit more reserved, and I appreciate that Mark’s not trying to push her to take on that persona.  And unlike Julianne, I actually think Sadie’s long, floaty arms are an asset – like her legs, they just seem to go on and on and on, which makes every line look that much better. Very impressed with what I’ve seen from these two so far, and glad that Sadie didn’t let Carrie Ann’s stupid comment or being in jeopardy last week get to her :-)

5.) Lea & Artem – Here’s my dilemma with Lea: each dance she does seems to start off quite strong, but fall apart somewhere in the middle. That was definitely the case with her cha-cha – she actually started off with some great leg action and really sold the dance well, but about 30 seconds in, something seemed to get off-kilter and never fully recovered.  Not sure if she lost her balance or forgot some choreography, but something seemed to lag.  I will say this, though: she sold it well the whole time.  Still really like her as a dancer – just hoping she can be a bit more consistent in her routines.  She’s got the talent – she just needs to focus, I guess.

6.) Tommy & Peta – Praise Jeebus – Tommy remembered his choreography!!! Deep Throat had mentioned that he had yet to get through the entire routine without forgetting something as of rehearsal today, so he must have dug deep and made something happen out there on the floor…and the result was actually quite charming.  It actually did remind me a bit of the famous tango scene in Scent of a Woman – wasn’t overtly sexual, but just a rather charming tango between a young woman and an older man.  And it wasn’t like Peta went easy on him, either – I saw some tricky footwork in there, which he actually handled well.  Lotta unexpected finesse from Tommy as a dancer, and also Peta as a pro…even if she does “smell like Maks”, according to Tommy…but that’s none of my business…*sipping tea like Kermit the Frog* 8-)

7.) Michael & Emma – And this was the week that Mike actually managed to pull something together and have a halfway decent dance :-) Sure, he’s still a pretty awkward mover, and Emma has to do quite a bit of backleading – but something actually seemed to kind of “click” in Mike’s head this week, and his dancing came across as rather charming and earnest…even if he looked like Buddy the Elf in his Robin Hood getup.  :-P I do think viewers find him charming, and are likely to keep him around for a little while longer – now that he actually seems to be catching on, it could give him a bit of extra momentum.

8.) Jonathan & Allison – Part of me wonders if his appearance in jeopardy this week was a bit of a warning rap across the knuckles to Allison for getting a bit too creative with their cha-cha last week.  Or maybe he’s not getting the votes, who knows.  Was a bit puzzled by their tango – I had said that I thought “Back to Black” was a bizarre song for it (or at least the Gatsby version), but I actually found that the routine ended up a bit bizarre as well…almost “stuttery”? That’s the best word I can use to describe it – seemed like a lot of strange starts and stops, and it looked like Jonathan might have garbled the footwork at one point.  His frame could also use a bit work.  The scored seemed a bit kind, too – really, the same as Alfonso? Yeesh.  My man just can’t seem to catch a break…and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jonathan  in jeopardy again next week.  Just having a bit of a hard time clicking with this couple…

9.) Betsey & Tony – Betsey is just so darn cute :-) Love how excited she seems to be each week to just be on the show and to be dancing with Tony.  Thought they gave Ghost a good shot, and the routine was actually quite pretty – was impressed with the lift Tony did holding Betsey on her back above him while he slid around in a circle on the floor, and then Betsey did a back walkover out of it.  The lifts were the highlight of the routine for me – well, they were all of the routine for me, as there really wasn’t much else in between; seemed like it was just Betsey vaguely gesturing and walking from place to place, waiting for each lift.  But can I really fault a 72-year-old woman for not doing a whole lot in a dance where she was being lifted and showing off her flexibility? I still enjoyed it :-) But I do think  Betsey’s days are likely numbered – she just can’t keep up with some of the younger contestants this season.

10.) Antonio & Cheryl - While Antonio is getting slightly more tolerable by the week, if I’m being honest, I would have much rather kept Randy and sent Antonio packing this week.  Just felt like Randy was embracing the journey more gracefully than Antonio has been, but whatever.  He did alright with his foxtrot – some wonky shoulders and that weird I-need-to-turn-my-whole-body-in-order-to-turn thing that Bruno & Julianne were talking about, and that choreography seemed pretty dumbed-down…but it wasn’t terrible.  I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either :-) But I do wonder if he’s maybe getting lost in the shuffle, and the appearance in jeopardy was a bit of a warning that he might not be getting the votes…but who knows.  I never would have guessed that Randy would have gone home this week, so I could be totally off.

So what did you guys think of tonight? Were the scores deserved/undeserved? Did the right person go home? Let’s hear it!

September 30, 2014 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

PureDWTS Season 19, Week 2 – Power Rankings

Well, the buzz from week 1 has worn off – and just as Deep Throat had predicted, seems like the overall performance level tonight was not as good as what we saw last week. Just about everyone seemed to struggle, and while last week seemed to garner a lot of praise for the boys, this week seemed to earn them some tough love from the judges, while the girls seemed to get praised, on the whole.  Not sure if that was deliberate or not, but I feel as though the judges are already getting a bit cockamamie – particularly Carrie Ann, who seemed to get progressively less coherent as the night wore on, and was only just barely able to conceal her disdain for young, attractive female contestants.

So next week sounds interesting – Movie Night, and you can check out Heidi’s live discussion post as well as PureDerekHough for a few early spoilers ;-)

1.) Bethany & Derek - Seems like Bethany is quickly becoming one of the most buzzed-about contestants on social media – hell, even Taylor Swift is tweeting about her! I also think that, despite her injury, they handled this foxtrot pretty well – they made it traditional enough that Len enjoyed it, but still “funky” enough to be crowd-pleasing. I still think she’s holding back a little (maybe it’s the injury, maybe it’s nerves) and we have yet to see her 100% in the dance, but I do think she’s got a lot more to show us, and ended up looking the best of any of the celebs this week.

2.) Alfonso & Witney - Ok, yes, I’m totally biased because I love Alfonso – but this guy didn’t exactly have an easy row to hoe this week: there was the pressure to deliver after his fantastic first week showing, a crummy song for a samba that was also wayyyyy too fast, and a young, new pro that is not yet used to the expectations that come with getting a very talented partner. I still say this was technically the strongest performance of the night, even though it wasn’t the highest-scoring; and I’m still astounded by Alfonso’s musicality and the way he doesn’t “waste” the music – he pays attention to every little beat and accent, and knows just how to move in order to express it. Thought the judges were a tad harsh – still think this was better than both Janel & Lea. But whatevs – they needed to level the playing field a bit after last week, and I guess saddling Alfonso with a tough song & dance was the way to do it.

3.) Sadie & Mark - A cute, very age (and Sadie)-appropriate jazz routine with a unique twist – I kinda dig that Mark was able to step out of his comfort zone and choreograph to a country song. Thought Sadie handled it well enough – maybe a bit unsure of herself at times, but overall her confidence really pleasantly surprised me. Love that she could roll her hips without fear. Seems pretty obvious to me that Carrie Ann is not a fan, but you know what? I know a lot of people that don’t particularly care for Carrie Ann, so that’s ok :-) Kinda felt bad for Sadie after she got her critiques – she seemed a bit disappointed. But I think she & Bethany are generating the most buzz amongst the female contestants, so I doubt she’s going anywhere anytime soon.

4.) Lea & Artem - Lea handled the jive much better than I thought she would, for sure – but c’mon. A 35??? The high score of the night, and only one point behind Alfonso’s showstopping jive last week? Even though Lea attacked it with zeal, I still saw some pretty major posture issues, some very limp kicks & flicks, and some definite loss of connection. I may have given it a 32, tops. Yeah, she’s got moves – but I don’t think she was as fantastic tonight as the judges made her out to be.

5.) Janel & Val - Second week in a row where I feel like these two got saddled with a song & dance that didn’t really give them the opportunity to show what they’re capable of. Mama Spence asked about 15 seconds in, “Is this a tango? It feels like a tango.” And sure enough, they were doing a foxtrot that was so staccato that it really did look much more like a tango. Janel handled it well enough, I guess, but there were a few minor bobbles where she lost a bit of balance. Again, I’m left with an overall feeling of “Ok, that was decent…but what else can you do?” Besides perpetuate fauxmances, of course. ;-)

6.) Randy & Karina - If Alfonso got a bit hosed this week, so did Randy – no way in HELL his cha-cha deserved the same score as trainwreck Tavis’! Sure, he wasn’t quite as fluid or at ease as he was last week, but hell, at least the guy remembered his choreography, and there was actual cha-cha in his cha-cha…he was a tad stiff, but so was Tavis, and Tavis managed to get off much more easily.  And then twatwaffle Carrie Ann starts whining about wanting Randy to be sexier, and then I lament that, by going first, Randy has gotten a bit low-balled in his score, and overall I’m left feeling a bit indignant on behalf of these two.  Randy’s still super charming and is (calmly) doing the best he can – he’s not having Tavis meltdowns, or whining like Antonio, or  beating himself up like Alfonso.  Give the guy a break, judges!

7.) Tommy & Peta –  Y’know, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think Tommy might be my favorite partner of Peta’s – and that’s saying something, considering I loved Donald Driver! But on the real, I kinda dig that he’s bringing out a more fun, light-hearted side of Peta – she doesn’t have to be the sex kitten when she’s around him, and she doesn’t have to push, push, push him to do great because he might be a contender (I doubt anyone thinks he’s gonna win the whole damn thing at this point :-) ) She seems to be genuinely enjoying this season, and she & Tommy just have a great rapport. And really, the Chonger does have rhythm – seems to have some musicality, and isn’t afraid to shake what he’s got (manboobs, apparently). Love that they’re still giving us dances that are fairly technically sound, while still hilarious to watch. Definitely hope they stick around for awhile.

8.) Mike & Emma - There’s really not much point in critiquing Mike’s dancing – he’s bad. Like, REALLY bad – and his samba this week was no exception. Very little content, and he barely handled the little that he had with any sort of proficiency. But as I said last week, his appeal doesn’t lie in his dancing – it lies in his ability to say “f*ck it” and give it his best shot, and still maintain a sense of humor about things. THAT’S his not-so-secret weapon in this competition: charm. And y’know what? I’m ok with that – we have Alfonso, Janel, Lea, Bethany, & Sadie to give us the great dancing this season. There’s room for celebs like Mike & Tommy, who provide the comic relief :-) And that’s why I think he’s still got a few weeks left in him…

9.) Antonio & Cheryl - Antonio does SLIGHTLY better this week than he did last week, but something about him still just BUGS. I don’t know if it was the whining at Cheryl during the rehearsal, or the generally pained expression he gets when he’s dancing sometimes, but I just get the feeling that he’s not really having fun with the overall experience of DWTS, unlike Mike & Tommy. I guess it was a decent rumba – seemed like Cheryl was doing most of the work, though, and the chemistry between them seemed almost non-existent. Loved the song – that was about the only thing about this routine that I could stand up and shout about. Otherwise – just meh. Definitely fading into the woodwork for me.

10.) Jonathan & Allison - And Allison makes a rookie mistake: veering too far off the beaten path in choreography of very basic dances. Sorry, but this routine was all about Allison – and poor Jonathan was just there every now and then to offer her something to lean on, whilst literally fading into the background while wearing a black costume on a very dimly lit stage. Was it cool to see Allison dancing full-out? Sure. She’s a great dancer – but we already know that. I want to see her turn a non-dancer into a good dancer…and she really didn’t accomplish that in this case. Hopefully people continue to vote for them, so they have a second chance to impress…because if not, I think the former Mr. Aaron Samuels could be in some trouble in the coming weeks.

11.) Betsey & Tony - Awwww, could Betsey be any more stinkin’ adorable? Loved how excited she was about her hair, her makeup, and her costume. And thankfully, they opted not to do anything with props this week, and their foxtrot went off without a hitch. Sure, Betsey didn’t really knock it out of the park (and the choreography wasn’t very hard), but she kept up with it respectably, and seemed to be enjoying herself…which is more than I can say for some of the other couples this week. 8-O Don’t think she’s out of the danger zone, though, yet, and I would not be surprised to see her in the bottom 2 tomorrow night. But at least this week’s routine was an improvement on last week’s, and I think some people might throw her a few sympathy votes.

12.) Tavis & Sharna –  Deep Throat had mentioned that Tavis had little to no rehearsal time, and that it showed – and boy, did it. He was mechanically stomping around, clearly looking at Sharna in order to remember the choreography, and it didn’t look like he was having fun at all – plus he didn’t exactly get a flattering edit in his package, where he was throwing a bit of a tantrum about “complicated steps” and “having a meltdown” instead of just listening to his partner. Like Lolo last week, I think Tavis’ mouth may be the thing that ultimately does him in – he just does not know when to SHUT UP. He just keeps prattling on, harping on the same thing over and over again, and it ultimately screws him. I think the judges were very, very kind with his score, but I don’t know that it’s enough to keep him around another week. Seemed to get a bit lost in the shuffle, and didn’t exactly come across as Mr. Charming this week. If not him, then Betsey – but my gut is saying Tavis is leaving us tomorrow night.

So what are your thoughts on tonight’s show? Favorite? Least favorite? Who’s going home? And what are your predictions for next week? :-)

September 22, 2014 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

PureDWTS Season 19, Week 1 – Power Rankings

Rob Wade, I tip my hat to you, sir…I haven’t enjoyed a first episode of the season this much in a LOOOOONGGGG time :-D  I may have been on the struggle bus in the moments leading up to the premiere, as I had to hunt for a live feed for the first time ever (of course the Colts would play their first Monday Night Football game since 2010 on DWTS premiere night, the year ABC took over MNF from NBC); but the bulk of tonight’s dances more than made up for it.  I quite literally agonized over most of my rankings – with the exception of maybe 2.5 dances that I would consider “not good”, I felt like everyone else really brought their A-game and delivered some solid routines.  This was HARD, guys!

Other random things I enjoyed? The fact that they’re putting a lot more emphasis on the pros’ professional experience, and rattling off various titles they’ve won over the years – I think we sometimes lose sight of the fact that the bulk of our pros are CHAMPIONS in what they do.  Also enjoyable? The fact that they cut the judges off if time was running tight 8-) Honestly, the bulk of what they say is just mindless prattling to me, so I’m more than thrilled that they opted to cut that out in favor of spending more time with the couples.

On with the rankings!

1.) Alfonso & Witney – First of all, a bit of a dorky confession: I may have teared up just a TINY bit watching Alfonso’s jive :-P Alfonso has been my dream contestant for several years now, and watching him out there just KILLING it and the crowd going nuts felt to me like Heidi probably did watching Derek win his Emmy: I was just so daggone happy for the guy.  It was kind of a dream come true, and he looked like he was having so much fun – so if you’re reading this, Alfonso – thanks for letting me live vicariously through you :-) But anyway! As I said on Twitter – still any naysayers out there that think Alfonso isn’t the one to beat this season? 8-) He is just a consummate performer – he was 100% invested in the dance, his technique was as close to perfect as any of the jives tonight, and he really sold the performance.  I won’t dwell too much, but I’m EXTREMELY excited to see what we’re gonna get from these two in the coming weeks…and I’m glad Alfonso seemed to let go & enjoy himself.  Best night I’ve had since finding out he was going to be on the show :-D

2.) Bethany & Derek – One of many pleasant surprises of the evening – and prior to tonight, I had only maybe seen one or two clips of Bethany, so I wasn’t sure quite what to expect; was impressed by how grounded and mature she acts for being only 18.  Was also impressed by how well she handled the jive technique – I agree with Julianne that jive really is kind of cruel in week 1, but Bethany seemed to get the hang of the bounce and did a great job of extending her legs.  I will agree with Carrie Ann, though, too, and say that there were a few points where she seemed to lose a bit of steam – chalk it up to exhaustion or first night jitters, but overall, I think she did a great job and has both room for improvement and some nice momentum for the season.  Plus, she shares a name with my lil sister, so that’s got to be some kind of good karma ;-) Read more..

September 15, 2014 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

PureDWTS Season 18, The Finale – Power Rankings

Well, that’s that, I guess – just go ahead and give Maks Meryl her MBT and let’s be done with this.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a finale tip its hand as much as it did last night – it was made quite clear who they wanted to keep far away from the MBT (Candace), who they wanted to make the final two (Amy & Meryl), and who they ultimately want/need to win (Meryl & Maks…duh).  I was rather disgusted that everyone (including Erin & the judges) seemed to jump on the ridiculous Meryl & Maks showmance bandwagon, but then again, I’m not at all surprised – I will forever remember season 18 as the season that DWTS decided to adopt the “tabloid sleaze” angle.  It won’t be a pleasant memory.

And I know it’s not just me, as a jaded DWTS viewer/blogger, that was put off by last night’s show – the bf actually had a rare day off yesterday, after being tied up with a competition over the weekend, and he came over for dinner and decided to stay & watch the show.  Those of you who follow me on Twitter got to hear some of his gems while watching the show last night – but for those who didn’t, I think this quote best sums up his feelings about the whole thing: “This is such a waste of my life right now.” He was appalled at the judging (“When did this bimbo ever do ballroom in her life???”), appalled at the teaching (he was especially taken aback by Mark forcefully moving Candace’s head during rehearsal – and he’s even friendly with Mark!), appalled at the choreography (“Why the hell is Maks doing contemporary? He’s a ballroom dancer!”), and was oddly disturbed by the fact that none of the pros seem to wear the proper footwear to teach in (“They could seriously hurt themselves…Argentine tango is not meant to be done in Nikes.”) He did seem rather impressed with one thing, though: how good Amy is, despite her disability.  He didn’t even realize she was missing the entire lower portion of her leg until I explained her story – and then he was just floored.

Can’t say I’m terribly surprised that James just couldn’t make his way past Candace last night – I think he unfortunately had a bit of an unmemorable week last week, and Candace does seem to have some fervent fan support.  Was left feeling rather puzzled by both of his dances last night – his tango felt a little bit chaotic & desperate (hello, kiss – guess everyone was trying to make a ploy for showmance votes last night), and his freestyle just felt…aimless.  Guess we now know how Peta does with freestyles when she doesn’t have any outward assistance from other pros.

Gonna do things in reverse tonight – start with 3rd place and work up to the winner…

3rd place: Candace & Mark

I think the judges all but ensured that Candace will wind up in 3rd when the chips are down tonight – while I agree with most that she’s the weakest dancer left, I don’t think she’s as bad as some of the scores she was given last night.  I guess I agree with her quickstep score – there still seemed to be a few frame and body contact issues, but really, it’s the finale – would it have killed them to give her just one 10? Or is she pulling in THAT many votes that they’re afraid she might overtake Amy or Darling Meryl? I just get the impression that Candace has been one variable that TPTB hadn’t planned on this season – she seems to have a lot more support than they thought she would, and that has led to some serious hosing over the weeks.  As for her freestyle – I don’t think it was nearly as bad as being 8-worthy across the board.  9-worthy, maybe.  I thought she connected well to the music and gave it a good effort – seemed like she was having fun out there.  Sure, maybe she was a little clunky coming out of some of the lifts, but it didn’t detract from the performance THAT much.  In the end, I’m left feeling a little torn on Candace: I feel bad for her, with some of the unnecessary hosing she’s gotten this season; but in the same token, I think she’s lucky to have gotten as far as she has, and should feel proud to be a finalist.  I think she’s had great journey this season :-)

Runner-up: Amy & Derek

If they gave the MBT to whoever overcame the greatest odds in order to end up in the finale, Amy & Derek would be a shoo-in, for sure.  But unfortunately, there seems to be a different agenda at play this season, so I think the best these two can end up with is second place.  Loved both of their routines last night – thought their salsa was a nice step-up from the one she did with Mark, and had plenty of content; and Derek STILL reigns supreme in the freestyle – I think the edge Derek has is that he’s better able to tell a story than some others with his choreography; I understood the theme and plot he was trying to convey with that routine, and he managed to still do some pretty awesome lifts and creative stuff in it.  Thought the rope was genius at the end – kinda symbolized for me the journey Amy has taken on the show, and her ability to handle things that no one would ever guess she’s capable of.  Of course the naysayers will claim there wasn’t enough content – what they fail to realize is that, just because she wasn’t necessarily on her feet for every single step, does not mean there “wasn’t content”; hell, I think doing that rope spin was far more difficult than any pirouette or pique Derek could have had her do on the ground.  But whatever – these two have already won this season for me, and I daresay Amy has a bright future ahead :-)

The winner: Meryl & Maks

Since the focus of this partnership all season long seems to be Maks (with Meryl as an accessory), I’ll respond in kind and make this critique about him, since I don’t think Meryl is the problem (other than the fact that she herself seems to have bought into the hype of “Maks has never won, Maks deserves to win” and is falling into step with it instead of actually standing up for herself).  Meryl is going to dance whatever she’s given FLAWLESSLY.  The problem is (and has been all season), that what Maks has given her has not been all that impressive.  And I stand by that statement tonight, because even the redo Argentine tango he gave her (which I guess is his favorite dance) paled in comparison choreographically to what his lil bro gave her over a month ago for me.  And here’s why: Maks seems to have a lot of “moments”, but isn’t quite adept at stringing them altogether to make a coherent routine.  Val, on the other hand, seems to see the whole picture: he understands that a dance, like a story, needs a beginning, middle, and end, plus some fluid transitions to make it all flow together seamlessly.  Plus, Val did his thing with a far more difficult song, and with a partner that he had only worked with for a few days.  And then there’s the freestyle: looks like Maks’ idea of being “creative” and doing something “never before seen on DWTS” involves creating a derivative, watered-down version of a winning freestyle from a year ago and acting as if it’s something brand-new and ground-breaking.  I actually don’t even think this was choreographically as strong as their rumba from a few weeks ago – and that was barely a rumba.  I think if he really wanted to showcase Meryl’s abilities, he would have shunned the ooey-gooey showmance-promoting route and choreographed something more upbeat and full of both lifts and energetic dance steps.  Show us how versatile she really is, instead of rehashing what we’ve already seen from her.  And for Pete’s sake, do something that actually seems to illustrate her journey on DWTS. Hell, at the beginning of the season, I had envisioned some wild, celebratory freestyle to “Gypsy” by Lady Gaga (which would have even appealed to the shippers on some level, while still nodding to all the traveling she & Maks have done together this season). So given what I just said, you’ll have to forgive me when I ask “So WHY does Maks ‘deserve to win’?” He’s struggled with choreography, he’s struggled with crafting routines that showcase his partner, and he’s struggled with his own behavior.  “But Courtney, it’s not about Maks – it’s about MERYL!!!!” I’m sure some of you are going to cry – to which I say “She’s an Olympic gold medal ice dancer that hasn’t been truly challenged all season long.  Should she win the MBT for (no pun intended) skating through the season without much of a struggle?” I look at all the tough stuff that Amy & Charlie in particular have had thrown at them throughout the season by their respective pros – and how they’ve struggled, and toiled, and still overcome those obstacles.  There’s just no comparison for me.  But everyone is going to vote how they’re going to vote (and that’s fine), and I think the die has already been cast that this was “Maks’ season” from the get-go – and everyone has just kind of fallen in line with that mindset.  It will be a hollow win, though, IMO – and it’s one I’m sure we’re going to be hearing about for the next 5 years, a la Donny Osmond.  But whatever helps Maks (and his fans) feel validated, I guess.

So there’s my two cents.  What’s yours? :-) Just as a side note: I still do post here at PureDWTS in the off-season, but with America’s Got Talent starting up next week, you’ll probably see more of me over at Pure AGT this summer.   If you’re a fan of the show, come join us! We’re a small (but entertaining) group ;-)

May 20, 2014 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

PureDWTS Season 18, Week 8 – Power Rankings

Much ado about Abby Lee Miller – and honestly, for as bad as I thought she might be, I think she scores she gave were (for the most part) fair, even if she was nitpicking to death on any technique flubs she could find. It was as if the producers had told her “nitpick all you want, but you can’t give any score below an 8″. And a few of the scores seemed a bit too perfect, if you ask me – as if they had be predetermined, because some of the critiques were not matching the scores AT ALL. What I don’t think the producers had planned on, though, was Abby being a bit of a loose cannon – she said a few things that made me go “Ooh, pretty sure the producers didn’t want that broadcasted.” Watching rehearsals??? Pretty sure the judges have always vehemently denied that they do that…yet Abby admitted it like it was a commonplace thing. And then there was Abby sorta-kinda outing Danicanotadancer as a highly trained dancer…I had a good chuckle on that one…

…speaking of Danica, did anyone else get the impression that she was not all that upset about getting eliminated? Maybe she kinda had an idea that her number was up and had already made peace with it, maybe she is just exhausted and eager to get back to her son, maybe the tiff with Maks during duel rehearsal left a bad taste in her mouth…but I didn’t see the emotional display from her I thought we would see when she got eliminated. I was expecting Brandy & Elizabeth Berkeley-esque tears and displays of desperation, given how Type A Danica seems to be…was pleasantly surprised to see her so gracefully accept the whole thing. Maybe in the end, she was glad to have all that pressure off of her to do well…can’t say I blame her.  And this season more than ever, I see the difference between the Chmerkovskiy brothers: Val seems to “get it”, while I’m not sure Maks EVER will.  I think Val is starting to understand what it takes to do well on DWTS, and is developing a more clever, out-of-the-box, Derek-like attitude about things; Maks, on the other hand, seems like an old dog who can’t learn new tricks – and he’s hellbent on winning the show on HIS terms or he’s gonna die trying.  I’ve always felt like Val was the better choreographer, but now I feel like he’s also got the right mindset to win this show someday – and I think Maks is just too set in his ways to really get flexible enough to win (unless he gets a ton of help from the men upstairs).

Which brings me to the “I don’t care about anything she says” heard ’round the world.  *sigh* Do I agree with the sentiment? Yes.  Do I think Maks was just saying what the rest of us were thinking? Yes.  Do I think it was smart of him to say? Errrrr…yes and no.  As I mentioned on Twitter, I wish he would have waited until after their duel had been scored to say it – because saying it after their first dance meant that there was a target on his back for their second dance.  Abby Lee was a complete jerkwad, no doubt – but she was also a jerkwad holding the scoring paddles, and a vindictive jerkwad at that.  What’s to say that Abby might have given them a 9 on that samba instead of an 8, had Maks not said what he said after their rumba? Sure, it was only one point, but you just never know – and this is why I almost always think it’s a better idea for the pros to just bite their tongue when they get the urge to talk back to the judges.  You just never know what the consequences might be…and often, its their celebrity partner that’s paying the price.  At least Val was smart enough to wait until the scores for their second dance were already locked in before talking back to Abby… Read more..

May 6, 2014 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

PureDWTS Season 18, Week 6 – Power Rankings

So as predicted, the show took a few liberties with “party anthems” last night – I can’t speak for you guys, but I’ve never been drunk off my heiny at a frat party and gone “OMG!!! This is my JAAAAAMMMM!” while toasting my Keystone in the air to “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease.  But hey, that’s just me :-P I’m also not quite sure that “Feels So Close” is even popular enough to receive “anthem” status, but maybe at 29 I’m just getting too old to know what’s popular…

Anywho…so Redfoo (aka Berry Gordy’s baby boy) did about as well as a guest judge as we expected him to – he was there more for entertainment value, comic relief, and self-promotion more than any sort of constructive input on the dances, but I was oddly ok with the whole thing because I don’t think it really affected the scores or critiques for better or worse.  I’d much rather hear Redfoo’s incoherent analogies about crustaceans running in the sand and NeNe being an entrepreneur than Donny Osmond’s self-centered prattling (or worse yet – the hellfire which I imagine the insidious Abby Lee Miller will be raining down on Derek & Mark two weeks from now 8-O ).  I can’t imagine he’s up to a whole lot since LMFAO decided to go on hiatus a year and a half ago – I have a feeling that the call he got from TPTB went something like this: “So Redfoo, we want you as a guest judge on DWTS!” “Sounds cool, but what’s in it for me?” “$100 bucks, a sammich, and your own personalized set of neon zebra print paddles!” “I’M SO THERE!!! Let me just go tease my hair real quick…”

Kinda sad to see Drew go, but I think he was ready – seemed like he was getting really tired and burnt out, and hadn’t been able to recapture the magic of his switch week dance with Witney in these past two weeks with Cheryl.  Really & truly, I wish it had been NeNe – and I guess I’m hoping that the novelty of her is beginning to wear off and we might say goodbye to her next week.  She may be fun to watch, but at this point, I feel like she’s not really even picking up legitimate choreography – it’s just a lot of booty shaking and “NeNe-ing” around the floor and getting absurdly high scores, while others doing appropriate choreography (namely Candace & Charlie) just can’t seem to catch any breaks with the judges.  What gives??? Read more..

April 22, 2014 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

PureDWTS Season 18, Week 5 – Power Rankings

Well Disney week went just as predicted, for the most part – overall, it was a pretty feel-good evening in terms of scores and critiques, (minus one or two puzzling comments here and there), and the rules seemed to be relaxed a bit; the animations dancing along the couples were not as intrusive as they were made to sound; Donny, of course, managed to make every critique all about himself instead of the dance he just saw; and Erin (who looked like she was going to the prom and her bff had done her hair & makeup and let her borrow a “super expensive” Claire’s rhinestone necklace) did not call a moratorium on obnoxious questions in honor of Disney week, and continues to bug.  The opener was probably the best we’ve seen so far this season – tons of fun and a good use of the Disney songs they were actually able to clear (more on that later).

So what did we learn tonight? That if you give the impression of not really caring about being on DWTS, then the audience won’t really care about voting for you.  Such is the case with Cody, our first “shocking” (but not really, when you think about it) elimination of the season – I think many of us had commented that he seemed rather blase about the whole experience, and just didn’t seem to be very invested or enthusiastic about learning the dances.  I know many had assumed that he was getting “tons of votes” from his teenybopper fans, but once again, I reiterate: it’s not how a small (but vocal) minority is voting; it’s how the main demographic (middle-aged women) is voting that will determine long-term success on DWTS.  I doubt Cody is too disappointed about getting sent home, though – his pride may be wounded, but I’m sure he will be right back to donning his genie pants and admiring his hair in the mirror while singing “Surfboard” to his supermodel girlfriend in no time.  :-P He got his exposure, he’s good to go – I just feel bad for Witney, who made a pretty damn good showing for her first outing as a pro and just suffered from having a partner that didn’t connect with viewers, despite her best efforts.  Thank god for the switch-up – I think her week with Drew was just a taste of what she’s capable of as a pro. She’s got a thumbs-up from me if they want to bring her back as a pro next sesaon! ;-)

So now that we’re at the halfway point of the season, how are things looking, overall? Hate to say it, but I’m starting to get the William Levy-vibe from Meryl – somebody that the judges/PTB seem intent on jamming down my throat as the be-all, end-all, and someone who manages to avoid negative critiques altogether despite making technique mistakes that other couples get called out on in a heartbeat.  I’m also still not quite sure what the deal is with Charlie – the judges seem to be much harder on him than Meryl, despite him not really being inferior to her in terms of skill; can’t decide if they’re setting him up for more of a “journey” arc or what.  Danica seems like she  might still be in the mix as a potential contender, but the judges seem to run hot & cold on her; James, however, has solidified his position as this season’s “dark horse” in a BIG way – I would be nervous if my name were Meryl, Charlie, or Danica, because James is HUNGRY for that MBT. Read more..

April 15, 2014 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

PureDWTS Season 18, Week 4 – Power Rankings

Tonight’s episode of Sesame Street was brought to you by the phrases “these are the couples you chose!”, “keep it all in the family”, and “incestual”.  :-) I know I can’t be the only one that thought they were trying to drive the point home just a bit too hard that the couples we saw last night were the ones that we voted for – defensive much? Had they actually given Meryl to Derek (as the voters had), it would have created an entire cascade of partner changes that I think would have created an entirely different outcome last night.  But that’s neither here nor there – I guess I’m just sort of over the entire partner switch at this point. It’s over and done with, and it’s hard to dwell on what a turd the whole thing was when we’ve got Disney Week  next week :-)

I do feel the need to touch on the phrase “keep it all in the family!” though – on the surface, it seems innocuous enough, but I feel like it’s yet another barrier the Chmerkovskiy brothers (and Tony, to a lesser degree) put up between themselves and the other pros on the show.  I know they seem to have a sort of “us against the world” mentality, but more often than not, they themselves are the ones creating that environment.  “Keep it all in the family” says to me “I don’t trust the other pros.  I refuse to associate with the other pros.  I am better than the other pros. Don’t let the other pros near my partner…mine, mine, MINE!” It implies that the only family that matters is theirs – and the relationships with the other pros that they’ve cultivated over the years are worthless.  The Chmerkovskiys are a family, but so is DWTS – when the cards are down, the pros do look out for each other. I guess the reason I’m bringing it up is because I was rather surprised to hear Meryl repeat it in her package – I think it was probably just out of politeness to Val & Maks, but in the spirit of the switch (which so many of the other pros embraced with open arms – including Tony), it just seemed almost like self-segregation.

I’m left feeling rather puzzled by the judges’ comments & scoring last night – there were certain couples that got raked across the coals that I didn’t think were that bad (Candace & Tony, Charlie & Peta), couples that got treated with kid gloves (and this is probably gonna get me in trouble, but Amy & Mark), and couples that just did not really register at all with the judges (Danica & Maks, Cody & Sharna). And apparently there was fallout backstage last night after the show – a source says that Peta was in tears and was being consoled by Charlie & Sharna, and Mark was allegedly overheard saying that he thinks he’s “as good as done” next week thanks to Tony (which I don’t agree with…at least not the reasoning).  Tough day at the office for those two :-(

On the upside, we got a pretty cute opening number (that was perhaps a little heavy on the “switch” theme, but whatever), and the Macy’s Stars of Dance segment returned triumphantly with a pretty cool flamenco-infused number by Derek, Artem, Sasha, Henry, Jon Platero, & the beast that is Kathryn McCormick.  I smell some potential Emmy fodder, if the Stars of Dance segments in the coming weeks measure up to the one we saw last night! Julianne also returned as a judge, to both cheers and jeers – and WTF was up with her eyebrows??? Somebody get Anastasia Soare on the phone, because somebody is using the wrong color pencil on Miss Hough…

Bear with me as I try not to repeat too much of the stuff I said in the live discussion post last night – guess I should have held back a bit for my power rankings :-P I went ahead and put the original pro partner names in parentheses here, as they will be the ones potentially at-risk to be eliminated next week. Read more..

April 8, 2014 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

PureDWTS Season 18, Week 3 – Power Rankings

I apologize that this is so late – I got caught up figuring out the results of the hashtag tracking yesterday (which was pointless, it turns out) and just got burnt out and didn’t want to bombard everyone with these right after posting them.  So here they are now :-)

“Most Memorable Year” week has never been my favorite, and I think Monday night was the weakest show they’ve had so far this season – just some very odd song choices (which makes me wonder if they were ASSIGNED certain songs, as opposed to actually picking them), some lackluster choreography, and some elimination fishiness.  Sad to see Billy Dee go, but if he really did have to withdraw due to injury (more on that in a post coming later tonight…), at least he got to leave on his own terms.  Then again, after some murmurings I’ve heard, I’m not so sure he left voluntarily…

 

1.) Amy & Derek – The bf came over after work to watch the Walking Dead season finale (since he doesn’t have cable), and he ended up rewatching DWTS with me afterward.  The only dance he asked to see a second time? This one.  :-)  He was fascinated by Amy’s “swimming legs” and how she was able to stay balanced on them so well, and how realistically they seemed to move.  We both loved the move where Derek pulled her through his legs and she did a sort of somersalt, and landed perfectly on her pointed toes – she looked like a ballerina on pointe.  Just a gorgeous routine that beautifully highlighted what Amy is capable of – I think she really won the night with this dance.  Thought it was underscored, though, and I’m wondering if they deliberately clustered the rest of the scores in order to allow Meryl & Maks to sit at the top, uncontested…makes for a better storyline next week, I guess. Read more..

April 2, 2014 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

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 ;-) Read more..

March 25, 2014 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!