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PureDWTS Power Rankings Special – The Hairspray Live! Edition

Let it be known that this is the first time in PureDWTS history that my power rankings actually have nothing to do with DWTS 😛 But since some of you (bless your hearts and your desire to listen to me ramble on) requested it on Twitter, here it is – the first-ever non-DWTS edition of the power rankings!

So last night was Hairspray Live! on NBC – Vogue has spoiled all of us by and posted some post-show pix and media over at PDH if you want to check it out.  Overall, I liked the production – I didn’t love it, but I think a lot of that had to with the fact that I found myself mentally comparing it to the 2007 movie version of Hairspray quite a bit, and there were parts that I thought the movie did better, and parts that I thought the live show did better. This particular production seemed like it stayed more faithful to the play than the movie, although I did see them borrow from the movie at a few points, too.

So how am I going to parlay the power rankings into a pseudo-quasi review of the show? I’ve decided to look at the 11 main cast members and just analyze them (they’re really the only ones who had enough screen time for me to really judge).  I’m going to take into account how the character was handled within the context of the plot, as well as how that particular actor handled the role – and since nobody’s going home like on DWTS, just think of those at the top being the ones that handled it the best, and the ones at the bottom being the ones that fared the worst.  So away we go…

1-2.)  TIE: Derek Hough as Corny Collins and Jennifer Hudson as Motormouth Maybelle Stubbs – I think these two are a prime example of what can be done when you take a relatively secondary character and just play THE SHIT out of it, to the point where you kinda steal the show from the main characters.  Surprising almost no one here (but likely quite a few folks who either didn’t know much about him, or people who were skeptical about him), Derek could not have impressed more as Corny – the dancing was there, the singing was there, and the acting was there.  I cannot recall another actor playing Corny that has been as athletic as Derek, and that likely helped a lot – Corny’s such a dynamic character, that you need someone that’s able to spin, pose, belt, pull faces, and point & wink without breaking a sweat and without getting winded.  That’s all that cross-training and stage experience coming into play 😉 While I actually found a lot of the choreography to be a bit kindergarten-y for D (but probably plenty difficult for everyone else), he was still dancing the crap out of it, and seemed to steal my eye in any scene where they had him doing any sort of dancing. Amber & Link may have been the “stars” of the Corny Collins show, but Corny himself was the one truly worth watching.  As for Jennifer – daaaaaaaaamn, girl. I think anyone who is able to bring not one, not two, but THREE cast members to tears while belting out “I Know Where I’ve Been” in a style that would make even Whitney Houston jealous deserves a standing ovation.  Maybelle is a character that doesn’t get a ton of screen time in the grand scheme of Hairspray Live! – but I’ll be damned if Jennifer didn’t make the most of every second she got on screen. I actually really liked how she played Maybelle more as a feisty young mother and business woman fighting for a better life for her kids, since most of the actresses that have played her seem to play her as a bit older, and more subdued & wise.  All I could think about after the show was how many roles on Broadway she would just SLAY – Big Mamma Morton in Chicago, Teen Angel in Grease, Justice in Rock of Ages, anything in Ain’t Misbehavin’, the list goes on. She’s got real chops when it comes to stage work, and I’d love to see her really establish herself on Broadway. If I had to give one of them the edge over the other, I’d probably say Jennifer because she had a bit more gravitas in her performance – Corny doesn’t have too much serious material to work with.  But both were standouts to me in a great way 🙂

3.) Kristin Chenoweth as Velma Von Tussel – This was once instance where I preferred the Hairspray Live! actor to the 2007 movie actor – I liked how Kristin played her a bit more zany and humorous, while I found Michelle Pfeiffer’s Velma to be a bit more…cold and serious.  She was also one of the few that seemed to have a good on-screen chemistry with those she was supposed to be playing off of – she did ok with Dove (which I think is more a result of Dove being a bit off her game), but I loved the banter she had with Derek on the Corny set…you can tell those two are good friends off-screen.  But chemistry goes a long way, and I actually was very entertained when I watched those two play off each other onscreen. Also liked that she got creative with the vocals – “Miss Baltimore Crabs” had me chuckling.  Kristin’s such a seasoned stage pro, though, that I didn’t expect anything else – killed it, and made me laugh 🙂

4.) Harvey Fierstein as Edna Turnblad – To be fair, I feel like Edna is the role in Hairspray that usually stands the greatest likelihood of “stealing the show”, just by virtue of the novelty of it – it’s always played by a male actor in drag (with a LOT of padding), so right off the bat, the audience usually finds him/her hilarious. And Harvey was no exception – from Edna’s first line in that gruff, gravelly voice of his, I was entertained. But god bless Harvey, he makes one pretty hideous woman 😛 The makeup kinda reminded me of one of the makeover challenges on Rupaul’s Drag Race, where the queens are tasked with making over a regular guy into a drag queen in a limited amount of time – but it all just added to the overall campiness of the character, so it worked.  And I liked that he played Edna a bit louder and sassier than Travolta did in the 2007 version – I feel like Harvey’s Edna was a lot more “Baltimore”, while Travolta’s was more demure, quiet, and “Midwest”. Also loved the chemistry he had with Martin, and they both seemed to capture well the quirky affection Edna & Wilbur have for each other.  Good casting 🙂

5.) Ephraim Sykes as Seaweed Stubbs – I think Ephraim probably fared the best of the newcomers/unknown actors in this production – he’s another one that seems to be a triple threat (singer/dancer/actor) and didn’t struggle with onstage chemistry issues like several of the other newcomers.  He seemed to mesh well with Maybelle & Tracy, tried to vibe with Penny (but I blame the lack of spark more on Ariana), and stood out well in the dancing sections. Maybe didn’t stand out for me as much as, say, Lil Inez or Maybelle, but I was pleased nonetheless.  No complaints here 🙂

6.) Shahadi Wright Joseph as Lil Inez Stubbs – If you told me to pick one character from the show to give more screen time to, you wouldn’t even have finished your sentence before I said “LIL INEZ!!!” enthusiastically.  That little girl was giving me LIFE last night – adorable, energetic, and dancing her little heart out in “You Can’t Stop the Beat” in her little yellow dress.  Seriously, go re-watch that number – she is out-dancing most of the adults.  So it was kinda disappointing that they opted not to give her more screen time, like they did in the 2007 movie – in that version (spoiler alert), she actually is the one that ends up winning Miss Teen Hairspray when Link pulls her out onto the dance floor during the broadcast, and she gets a ton of phone votes by people impressed by her dance moves. I would have loved to have seen that in this version, if only to see Shahadi dancing more – plus I feel like this version ends just a bit too perfectly for Tracy, who ends up with the boy, the scholarship, the Miss Teen Hairspray title, etc., when all that really mattered to her was integrating the Corny Collins show.  Shahadi went above and beyond with the little screen time she was given – I just wish we could have gotten more.  But I daresay that girl has got a bright future ahead of her – real star-power, that one.

7.) Martin Short as Wilbur Turnblad – I only have one kinda strange gripe about this one: I almost feel like Martin is too “cool” to play Wilbur.  The thing about Wilbur, Edna, & Tracy is that they’re all square pegs – none of them really fit in, except with each other, and their weirdness is what bonds them together and makes them a family.  I think that’s why Christopher Walken worked so well as Wilbur in the movie – he was quirky enough that he carried off the offbeat-joke-shop-owner-with-a-daughter-and-a-wife-who-don’t-quite-fit-in-too role off well.  Martin Short has just reached a point that he’s so charismatic and at-ease with his humor that he seems a bit too normal to play Wilbur – there just wasn’t enough quirk there for me, although I did love his chemistry with Harvey.  I think Ty Burrell would have made a great Wilbur – he’s got enough of that nerdy vibe for me to buy him in that role.  But Martin did well, and there’s very little he does that I don’t enjoy.

8.) Maddie Baillio as Tracy Turnblad – It could just be that Tracy is the type of role with very little variation from actress to actress (same overall “look”), but while I don’t think Maddie did BAD, I don’t think she really did anything that really set her apart from other Tracy’s (like Ricki Lake & Nikki Blonsky).  Vocals were good, dancing was ok (she looked maybe slightly better than Dove – so generally not terribly confident or at-ease on the floor), acting was alright.  I think she tried to establish chemistry with Link, but he was just so damn flat that it all kinda fell apart.  I’m left without a whole lot to say about Maddie – she did good, but I don’t think she did outstanding.  I will give her props for coming into a huge national production as a relative unknown and doing as well as she did, but when we think back to all the actresses that played Tracy, I’m not sure I’ll remember her name.

9.) Ariana Grande as Penny Pingleton – I will say this: of all the characters that had to sing while doing heavy choreography during the show, Ariana was one of the only two actors who were actually managing to do both without appearing winded or their singing suffering (the other being Derek).  I would venture a guess it’s because she’s a highly trained vocalist who has probably gotten quite a bit of instruction on breath control.  And yes, she was probably the second-most talented vocalist in the cast, after Jennifer, and she sounded great – had she only had to sing, she would probably be much higher on this list; but she did actually have a pretty substantial speaking role, and the acting we saw was…tepid. I feel like she basically just rehashed this character she did on SNL (which someone on Twitter told me was basically her character from Victorious, too) and seemed too busy being awkward that it actually sabotaged any chemistry she might have had with Seaweed; Ephraim was giving good chemistry and trying to vibe off of her, but it seemed like Ariana got so caught up in being weird that she almost seemed afraid of him.  I much preferred Amanda Bynes’ take on Penny in the 2007 movie, where she managed to be awkward and dowdy while still having a good, flirtatious chemistry with Seaweed.  She’s an ok dancer, but if I were her, I’d stick to singing for now, and leave the acting and dancing to someone else.

10.) Dove Cameron as Amber Von Tussel – I had never heard of Dove prior to last night, and if someone hadn’t told me otherwise on Twitter, I would have guessed she was was primarily a singer that had little to no experience with acting or dancing, because she didn’t seem particularly confident in either one of those skills during the production.  Not much in the way of varying facial expressions, and seemed to be doing the dance moves pretty cautiously and timidly. Her interactions with other characters seemed a bit wooden, too – Kristin and Maddie were giving her plenty to work with, and Dove only seemed to kinda engage. Someone on Twitter mentioned that she may have been really nervous, because she’s usually quite a good performer, so I’m not sure what the deal was – she’s a very pretty girl, and she actually sounded great when singing (especially during “Mama, I’m A Big Girl Now”) but beyond that, I didn’t find anything about her performance to be remarkable.  Maybe she just needs to get used to live performances?

11.) Garrett Clayton as Link Larkin – Honest to god, I cannot think of a single memorable Link moment from last night’s show.  Perhaps it’s a combo of kinda robotic acting and a bit less of a front-and-center role than in the movie, but I almost feel like Link just got reduced to a stock character in this iteration of the musical – he was just there to kinda fill in the space of the dreamy male love interest for the female protagonist, and that’s about it. In the 2007 version of the movie (where Zac Efron played him), I feel like they at least made an effort to give Link more of his own identity – he was trying to become a rock star and had more performance numbers, you see him change his thinking about segregation, he makes a big move at the Miss Hairspray pageant that makes a statement, etc. In this version…he just seems to be following either Amber or Tracy around like a lost puppy, and there’s only a passing mention about him trying to get his “big break” on the Corny Collins Show. So to be fair – Garrett may not have had a ton of material to work with, but I found his acting to be unremarkable and kinda one-note. He just kinda seemed to be going through the motions, and didn’t really do anything to make the role his own.  And I’m not sure he could have had any less chemistry with Maddie if he tried – they felt more like two people on a mismatched blind date than teenagers in love.  Just…something really off about their vibe together.  I feel really bad saying that, considering they’re the two main characters, but I would argue that they had more screen time than the rest of the cast in order to establish chemistry…and they just couldn’t do it.

Other random thoughts about the show that don’t really fit anywhere else:

*Thinking through the celebrity cameos, I completely forgot about Rosie O’Donnell – probably because casting her as the slightly-butch gym teacher just seemed like wayyyy too much of a gimme. I would have rather had Ricki Lake play that role, instead of throwing a wig on her and shoving her in the background of one of the musical numbers to be forgotten.  Seeing her scold Tracy for her too-high hair could have been delightfully ironic 😉 Sean Hayes as Mr. Pinky? Didn’t even recognize him until 5 minutes after “Welcome to the 60’s” ended and it dawned on me. Would have rather seen Anderson Cooper play that one.

*Seemed like they were kinda rushing the curtain call and ended the show 5 minutes early…why? I have no idea, but it did make the ending feel a tad abrupt.

*The thing that has always bugged me about the original Hairspray script is the way that Penny’s mom has a sudden about-face in the finale about her daughter dating a “colored boy” and is suddenly thrilled to bits about it, after the very thought of such a thing nearly gives her the vapors earlier in the script.  While it’s a lovely (idealistic) notion to think of a family member letting go of a long-held prejudice simply because they see a loved one happy, it’s not realistic at all – I think that anyone that has grown up with a racist in their family can tell you that those tendencies don’t just change on a whim. I think the 2007 movie handled it more realistically – Penny’s mom sees her on TV, kissing Seaweed, and falls out of her chair in shock…and that’s it.  Better to leave it at that than either try to claim she suddenly came to accept it gracefully, or showing her dragging Penny home by her pigtails to beat her with a bible.

*Seemed like there were a few issues with the orchestra drowning out the vocals, particularly in “You Can’t Stop the Beat” and whatever the song was that Jennifer & Ariana sang during the curtain call.  I’m told that this was also an issue people noticed with Grease Live…maybe one of the caveats in filming on a huge back lot that has both indoor and outdoor sets? Hard to adjust orchestra volume?

So those are my thoughts…what are yours? Did you enjoy the show? Did you have a favorite character? What would you have done differently? Let’s hear it! 🙂

December 8, 2016 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, 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. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence

PureDWTS Season 23, Final Power Rankings – Who Will Win?

And so we wrap up another season of this show – and I’ll be honest: I’m pretty ready for it to be over.  On top of the general fatigue of writing each season, I’ve also been dealing with some medical issues (namely, trying to find a suitable form of prophylaxis for my migraines), additional stress at my 9-5 (the FDA just loves to make my job harder!), dating (something I haven’t done in quite awhile), the election and its fallout (just…ugh), and just a general uptick in the level of aggression and vitriol from some fans of the show…which is not quite as balanced-out by some awesome discussion with very intelligent, engaging fans of the show as it used to be.  I used to be able to say “Yeah, there’s assholes, but they’re far outnumbered by the number of really awesome people that I interact with as part of the show!” But at the rate the show is going, what with alienating core demographics with their manipulations and machinations in favor of pursuing more “desirable” demographics, they’re losing more and more of those really intelligent fans…and they’re gaining thin-skinned, entitled twatwaffles that label anything they don’t agree with as “bullying” and have a tendency to deliberately misinterpret things they either don’t like or aren’t quite smart enough to full comprehend.  The quality of discussion has really gone downhill…and I’m left in a similar position to how I was post-All-Stars: should I still be blogging this show? Or is it time to move on? It will be food for thought for me in the off-season, no doubt.

But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy this season – most of this season’s cast (minus maybe one celeb and one pro – not necessarily paired together) has been awesome to watch, and I even found myself liking Rick, Vanilla, Terra and Ryan far more than I thought I would! For what it’s worth, they found themselves a pretty likeable crop of celebs this season – people I could really pull for.  And a wicked little part of me got a kick tonight out of seeing basically everyone taking the mickey out of Carrie Ann’s inane lift-policing on live TV tonight 😛 It’s actually extra-funny to me, considering that I now find myself blocked on Twitter by Carrie Ann for asking if the lift police were off-duty last week (and admittedly, it was one of my tamer tweets!). Also nice having Len back, although I’m not sure his presence made a ton of difference in critiques & scoring – it was maybe SLIGHTLY less off-the-wall than normal, and things do get a little gushy & hyperbolic in the finals, anyway.  Train’s performance was weird and basically sampled “Heart & Soul” the same way that Pitbull samples pretty much every song popular in the 80s: poorly. Also found myself scratching my head at the La-La-Land performance. Erin, honey, you need to brush up on your A Christmas Story references – Randy can’t put his arms DOWN in the snowsuit, not up.  Pssssh, next thing you know, she’ll be mispronouncing “fragile” – it’s “fra-gee-lay”.  Which, of course, means it’s from Italy 😉 Can you tell I’m a fan?

Perhaps most satisfying was FINALLY seeing Jana given the boot, even if we were forced to endure yet another whiny, pity-party rehearsal package where she & Gleb bemoaned the various crap hands they’ve been dealt this season, from her rib injury to his flu virus, before witnessing two pretty gimmicky dances that didn’t leave a lasting impression. Her tango looked like just about every other dance she and Gleb did this season – too rushed, too trick-laden, too time-waste-y, too dramatic, and too bereft of solid, basic steps or good use of the floor (that damn platform needs to go).  Gleb, honey, your body of work this season has got me very, very worried for the future of this show if you really and truly are supposed to be the “new Derek” – you’ve been a one-trick pony, and you’re gonna have to be a jack-of-all-trades if you want to fill D’s shoes.  I’ll just say that Jana’s freestyle felt like the dance equivalent of a pumpkin spice latte: something pretty cliched that the average basic bitch probably loved, but wasn’t refined enough to realize is actually utter crap. It was a garden-variety contemporary, complete with over-the-top, angsty expressions and wild, flailing gestures, and with a gimmicky prop thrown in with a questionable degree of success.  Those two wrapping each other up in that diaphonous piece of fabric kinda reminded me of playing that Halloween party game where you wrap your friends up in toilet paper to look like mummies – it made me laugh but I couldn’t take it seriously 😛 Kinda like some of the lifts, where Jana got so much of a running start that I thought for sure she was gonna go for a full-on star lift or even the famous Dirty Dancing lift…and then she went for something…not very dramatic.  ‘Twas weird.  But anyway – I think it may have clearly illustrated to viewers that Jana really didn’t belong in the finale in the first place, and was a bit out of her element…the other 3 finalists danced circles around her last night.  I tend to think both Marilu and Terra could have given us more entertaining finale dances than Jana did.  But I will applaud her for how complimentary she was to the other 3 finalists when she got eliminated – I think she even knew that she was a bit in over her head, making it to the finals. Read more..

November 22, 2016 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, 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. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence

PureDWTS Season 23, Week 10 – Power Rankings

It’s nights like last night that make me seriously question why I continue to watch DWTS, let alone write about it – because there was some seriously skeezy, very manipulative stuff going on, and the agenda could not have been more clear.  Someone on Twitter asked me last week how we get our predictions about who’s going home/how the judges are going to score/who’s going to get pimped or hosed correct so often – and last night I found myself seriously questioning whether it’s the fact that we’ve been doing this for 7 years now, and just sharpen our skills each season…or if the show has just gotten more and more obvious with their agenda, thereby just making it that much easier to predict what’s going to happen.  It’s a very disconcerting thought to be having…

…so while we’re on the topic of disconcerting things we saw last night, I’ll go ahead and get this out of the way and leave it up to you whether you continue to read after this point or not: I was very, very disappointed (and kinda disgusted) with how Laurie’s package about her grandmother’s death was handled. And before some of you turn your moral outrage to a fever pitch, know this: BEING DISAPPOINTED IN LAURIE’S PACKAGE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW LAURIE HANDLED HER GRIEF, AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH HOW THE PRODUCERS EXPLOITED IT. The very fact that I have to even preface this commentary with that makes me seriously weary of how emotionally unintelligent some DWTS fans have become, as I witnessed on Twitter last night, and does not give me a whole lot of hope for continued intelligent discussion in future seasons. But I found the way they chose to hone in on Laurie crying, lamenting the fact that she didn’t get one more trip home to see her grandma, and then playing the clip of her grandmother wishing her good luck at the end seemed like “emotion porn” – taking Laurie’s genuine grief and cobbling it together in such a way that it seemed extra devastating, and only seemed to rub Laurie’s face in her own sorrow.  It looked like Val didn’t warn her not to watch the package before their foxtrot, because she did seem very thrown-off by it, and a little choked up during her dance.  So many people feel the need to remind me each week that Laurie “is only 16”; so yes – given that, maybe it wasn’t in the best taste of the producers to create a package that could very easily have compounded the poor girl’s guilt about not getting to see her grandmother one more time. Also saw a lot of folks on Twitter justifying it with “well they did the same thing to Bindi” –  sorry, but Bindi’s father had been gone for 9 years when she did her season; Laurie’s grandmother passed away just a few days ago.  Big difference in the way one interprets grief immediately after a death and then several years after a death, and Derek at least had the forethought to warn Bindi not to listen to her packages, lest they affect her performance. Laurie kinda got thrown headlong into it – she handled it well, but am I alone in thinking that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t in the best taste to create a package that hinged upon Laurie’s guilt about not getting more time with her grandmother…and then kinda ambushing her with it? It is possible to create a package with a theme of remembrance that doesn’t victimize those grieving – we’ve seen this show do it. And given that I’ve had people forwarding me links to interviews this morning where Val has said that he actually knew about Laurie’s grandmother dying BEFORE she did and that the interview with her grandmother happened 10 weeks ago (and not last week, as the package led us to believe), makes me all the more weary of how the show handled the whole thing.  It stinks…bad.

Moving right along to another bone of contention from last night’s show – wonky/inconsistent/agenda-filled scoring/judging that was clearly meant to shield some while disadvantaging others.  James got nitpicked, so as to justify not tying Laurie with a perfect score; Calvin got severely low-balled, so as to keep him from getting too close to Jana; Laurie got treated with kid gloves; Jana got overly kind scores & critiques.  The judges copped out and gave everyone the same score on their trio, which basically just made the margins a bit smaller – something that I don’t think would have happened if Len had been there, and needless to say I cannot WAIT to have him back next week…although I have to wonder if he will just follow the company line and only award 9’s & 10’s.  We had already kinda gotten the feeling that Terra was a goner headed into this week, and the fact that they gave her a perfect 60 for the night was the final nail in the coffin, I’m afraid – Rob Wade got his ideal finale, which did not include a little person who was actually more technically proficient than at least one of the finalists.  Sad to see Terra go, because she was a good dancer and I got the impression she really was having fun on the show – but as with many sh*ttastic things that happen on this show these days, not entirely unexpected. Read more..

November 15, 2016 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, 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. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence

PureDWTS Season 23, Week 9 – Power Rankings

As we head into what promises to be a very historic and contentious election day, I think we witnessed something relatively historic and contentious last night on DWTS: I think we might have just seen Derek bid farewell to the show, once and for all.  Because history does repeat itself: Marilu got Nastia’d.  Got the same “bad edit” treatment that they gave Nastia a year and a half ago, which resulted in her elimination from a season that on paper, she probably could have easily won, had there not been an agenda at work. And Derek was uncharacteristically vocal about how unhappy he was with the edit they were given – so was his partner.  If there are still any concern trolls lurking here that want to comment on the “tension” or “awkwardness” or “frustration” in Marilu & Derek’s package last week, do yourselves a favor and go read the two posts I just linked to first. Then go watch season 1 of UNReal on Hulu Plus. Let it sink in.  Start to question things.  Because I’m starting to think the line between reality and script is getting dangerously blurry for some of you…

…for what it’s worth, though, I thought Marilu went out on a high note.  I think her samba was the most relaxed and in-the-zone we’ve seen her since “Most Memorable Year” week.  I think she & Derek should be really proud of how they did – and both of them can leave with their heads held high.  I think Marilu left with a bit fewer stars in her eyes about DWTS (but with a much more grounded view), and I think Derek finally got the push he needed to leave a relationship that he has outgrown and has become toxic for him (the one he has with DWTS, NOT the one he has from Marilu – I’ve noticed the Marilu detractors are big fans of deliberately misinterpreting and twisting my words).  Onto bigger and better things for both of them. And I thought Mark did a spectacular Frankie Valli vocal.  🙂

As for those that remain – I found myself rolling my eyes and yawning more than usual last night, and the bulk of the eye-rolls and yawns involved the Jana & Laurie love-fest that we were subjected to.  Make no mistake – there was an agenda behind those perfect scores.  It all but guaranteed both would make the finals, although I’m having some pretty serious doubts about Jana – this is how many times we’ve seen her as one of the last two standing up there at the end of the night? Heidi would have to remind me, but the last time we saw consecutive repeat appearances of a couple in the last two standing was Apolo & Karina during all-stars, I believe  – and they were eliminated just shy of the finale.  With last night’s theme appearing to be “history repeating itself”, I don’t think it’s entirely out of the realm of possibility that Jana could be in some pretty deep sh*t, votes-wise.  Since all that was handed out last night was 9’s & 10’s, I’m going to venture a guess that the margins are actually going to end up being rather small – meaning it’s pretty much going to be up to the fans who advances to the finals and who doesn’t.  And there could be some surprises. Read more..

November 8, 2016 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, 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. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence

PureDWTS Season 23, Week 8 – Power Rankings

So for those just tuning in that may have missed the producers’ agenda that permeated last night’s episode, let me recap:

1.) Make sure you keep pushing for Jana to make the finals.

2.) DO NOT LET DEREK ANYWHERE NEAR THE FINALS!!!

3.) Create an emotional redemption arc for Laurie, complete with Val crying his eyes out on camera.

4.) Milk the drama of Sharna’s injury, but let Jenna have the spotlight tonight…we need her to happen!!!

5.) Keep Calvin in the running for the finals, but he needs to take a back seat to the others tonight.

The face-offs, just like the ones in season 21, were about as big of a sh*tshow as one could expect – mainly just a means to carry out the agenda of the moment, and pretend to give a sliver of power to the viewers so they can feel like part of the action.  I actually found myself profoundly relieved that James ended up with immunity – judging from his rehearsal package, it looked like he may have lost some rehearsal time learning the two face-off dances he hadn’t already done (jive & salsa), and I was very, very leery of him having to learn them from Jenna, whose teaching skills are…dubious, at best.  So the fact that he ended up not having to attempt them with someone that’s NOT his normal partner? Phew. And really, if they were going to give immunity to anyone, I would rather it be someone that was probably headed to the finale already (and not someone that genuinely needed a boost to stick around), so as to minimize rocking the boat too much – so in the grand scheme of things, I would have been fine with Laurie, James, or Calvin getting it, and oddly enough, they were the only three last night that ended up with perfect scores.

I think I mentioned last week that I was fairly certain that Ryan was on borrowed time – just couldn’t put my finger on when, exactly, the hammer was gonna drop.  Oddly enough, his tango last night was probably my favorite dance he did all season – the Cheryl Burke House of Pain method seemed to work, as he seemed more invested in that dance that any other one we saw from him all season.  It was fun to watch, but it was time for him to go – but overall, I’m actually glad he ended up doing the show, because I think I came out of it with a much better understanding of him.  He generally seems like a good guy, not the calculating type – but is simply too dumb to function sometimes, and that’s what gets him into trouble 😛 And then there were only 2 men, and I’m guessing they’re probably guaranteed a spot in the finals.  Which means we’re most likely gonna lose 2 ladies in the next 2 weeks… Read more..

November 1, 2016 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, 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. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence

PureDWTS Season 23, Week 7 – Power Rankings

Whenever I fill in on the live blog for Heidi, and also simultaneously tweet and take notes for the power rankings, I always worry that I’m gonna just end up repeating the same stuff over and over, and run out of things to say – but oddly enough, live blogging AND tweeting AND taking notes actually helped me work through week 2 of the Topamax brain fog this week, so I feel a lot more lucid now and I’m finding it a lot easier to form coherent thoughts.  Silver linings 🙂

There seemed to be a rather interesting line drawn between some of the pros tonight – that line separating the pros who tend to do a lot of “messing about” and time-wasting, and pros who are savvy enough to stay true a theme while still managing to waste very little time getting down to business and making sure their celeb is dancing for the bulk of their time on-stage. And that line did not go unnoticed by the judges – particularly Len, who seemed to be trying to get the train back on the tracks after they went a bit off the rails with some funky scoring in his absence. He not-so-subtly shaded more than one pro for “messin’ about” while praising others for getting down to business.  What I found a tad unnerving, though, was the way some of the pros seemed to get mouthy back at him, and dismissed some pretty valid points he was making with the usual “Len, you’re old and tired” cliches that have been done to death, but still get a chuckle out of the audience.  Actually found myself really bothered by the jet lag comment from Val, and the fact that Julianne backed it up – Len definitely wasn’t talking out of his ass, and they just kind of poo-poohed it away.  Not cool, and I would love to see someone call Julianne out for being a drama queen and hyperbolizer and have Len back them up on the air, and see how she likes it.

On the whole, I think those who ended up with “novelty” or “extra” dances (i.e. Charleston, jitterbug) probably were scored relatively a bit easier than those who got stuck with one of the core ballroom or Latin dances this week, as it seemed like it was easier to parlay the novelty dances to fit the eras theme than it was to make the stricter Latin & ballroom ones without sacrificing content.  And I think that’s something that probably needs to be spelled out for the pros as they begin choreographing the dances, and the judges probably need to spell it out at the beginning of shows like this – maybe explain what they’re looking for in terms of attention paid to the theme vs. amount of syllabus steps, explain whether lifts are allowed, etc. – because there did seem to be some confusion, not only among the pros, but the judges themselves.  Or that could just be them making things up as they go along, who knows 😛 Mo going home = seemed like the right time.  Like Amber, I just did not get the impression that it was fun for her anymore, and her relationship with Artem seemed pretty…strained. But next week’s elim will likely hurt, because if it is who I think it is – this person is still having a lot of fun and will not want to leave 🙁 Read more..

October 25, 2016 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, 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. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence

PureDWTS Season 23, Week 6 – Power Rankings

DISCLAIMER: As I write this, I am currently under the influence of some new migraine meds that have the unfortunate side effect of making me very, very foggy – if my struggle to find the word “paint can opener” the other day at Sherwin Williams was any indicator, I’m definitely experiencing some aphasia; additionally, the fact that I put a carton of coconut milk in my purse and put my iPhone in the refrigerator while putting away groceries yesterday probably points to some general absentmindedness.  So forgive me if the words don’t come as easily today as they usually do – I’m told this passes after about the two week mark, so fingers crossed…

…and perhaps it is the effects of the medication, or perhaps not, but I’m left feeling a bit unsure of what to make of last night’s show.  I guess I should have known by about the 20 minute mark that things had already gone completely off the rails – we had Pitbull prematurely scoring (and then being completely late scoring the rest of the night, and having a suspiciously hard time with those paddles), Erin making painfully obvious double entendres about Ryan’s “facials”, and Ryan trying to make black light paint a thing, but having it look more like sunburn art. Then there was that pinata that Erin was curiously insistent that everyone hit, but only appeared to be filled with glitter.  Go fig…but perhaps more peculiar was the scoring, which at times left me wondering what exactly the agenda really was.  Part of me thinks TPTB may be falling out of love with Laurie (or may at least be seeing that she may not actually be a sure thing for the win), they seem suddenly obsessed with Jana (after appearing to be rather lukewarm about her thus far this season), they seemed to very slightly ease up on their “underscore Calvin at all costs” edict of the past several weeks, they seemed to finally drop the hammer on Terra (after heaping sometimes over-the-top praise on her the first few weeks of the season), and they seem to kick their praise of James into overdrive (which even I, as a James fan, can agree was a bit too much).  Are they trying to shape their ideal finale? Or are they even taking it a step further, and shifting gears from gunning for a Laurie win…to gunning for a James win? I think it will be very, very interesting to see how things go once Len is back on the panel next week…when daddy’s away, the other three stooges seem to play; but when he’s back, they seem to get back to business.

Wish I could say I was sad to see Amber leave, but I got the impression that she really wasn’t having much fun anymore, and that she never really got comfortable being on the show – so I don’t think she was all that disappointed to go, either. I think Maks collected his paycheck and is happy to be back to being a stay-at-home-dad-to-be. I didn’t see too many fans outrageously upset, either – Amber’s exit was minimally disruptive. I’ll admit – at one point in the show, I told myself I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed if Jana left instead of Amber, but in the end, I guess I’m partially glad the former stayed, because I think Gleb is more of an asset to Marilu’s team dance than Maks ever would have been.  Speaking of which – if you haven’t yet, check out our team dance spoiler post, if for no other reason than to justify my waking up at 2 AM to reveal the teams 😛 Read more..

October 18, 2016 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, 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. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence

PureDWTS Season 23, Week 5 – Power Rankings

In a pleasant turn of events from last week’s near-universal Cirque dumpster fire, nearly everyone this week at least did ok-to-great with their dances – I don’t feel like anyone really stepped in it or f*cked up beyond help.  Truth be told, I think I’d rather forego switch week (and judging from the lack of chatter I’ve heard from our sources about the switch, we are probably gonna forego it this season) and let couples have a no-elim week during most memorable year/personal story week.  As I was discussing with some of my Twitter followers, the novelty of the switch has worn off, and it just seems like kind of a drag these days – it’s stressful for all involved, the judges seem inclined to “make an example” and score harshly during switch week, and height differences (a la Kim & Keo last season, and potentially with Calvin & Terra this season) seem like they could potentially screw over some pairings.  Next week is Latin week, and we’ve got confirmation that week 8 is Halloween week (again) – that really only leaves week 7 as a possibility for switch week, and there will only be 8 couples left by then…every time they’ve done the switch, they’ve done it with 9 couples.  Could they do it with only 8 couples? Yes.  Will they? I doubt it.  Can’t say I’m terribly disappointed.

As many of us predicted, there was no elim last night, despite TPTB trying to fake out the couples that there would be.  Seemed like every time I tweeted “I don’t think there will be an elim”, at least one person would tweet back with “But Court, James said they were told there WOULD be an elim!” Guess what: the powers that be LIE. They think they’re slick, the think they’re really pulling a “gotcha!” on both the contestants AND the viewers, and most of the time, those two groups don’t know enough to second guess them.  Thing is, we’ve been watching this show long enough to know that there has never been THREE eliminations based on one set of viewer votes (in this case, last Monday’s viewer votes).  That’s unprecedented, and has the potential to rile up a LOT of viewers – which is why it was kinda easy for me to see that they weren’t going to do it.  But maybe this thought hadn’t even crossed their mind, and they were actually planning on it – until someone actually sat down and thought about it.  Wouldn’t be the first time this show flew by the seat of their pants with plans week to week. If they had actually done it, I would put money on it that we would have seen Jana or Amber fall – and honestly, I wouldn’t have been upset if either left.  But they didn’t, so just keep this in mind: TPTB often fib for the sake of drama, and the other half of the time, they’re just making sh*t up as they go along.

Other random thoughts from last night? Was nice to get a proper pro dance at the top of the show, even if it felt a bit random and out-of-place – but I was glad to get an actual ballroom dance, without hair-flipping, or shirt removal, or low-brow “sexy” choreography.  Did TPTB (or Mandy) actually take a look at social media and see all the complaints about how we’re all just kinda over the “sexy” pro dances? And that we actually want to see the pros DANCING??? Seems like a possibility. I also had to raise my eyebrows at the fact that we currently have a 4-way tie for last place – and that 3 of the 4 in that group are what I would consider to be “on the bubble” and at-risk for being eliminated next week anyway, regardless of score. Keeping the margins awfully close, and throwing it to the fans, it seems… Read more..

October 11, 2016 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, 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. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence

PureDWTS Season 23, Week 4 – Power Rankings

“Cirque du Soleil Week” turned out to be more like “Cirque du NO WAY” week, I’m afraid – with the exception of maybe 3 couples, pretty much everyone got chewed up and spit out by the theme in some way or another.  This is what happens when you try to force a theme to fit a dance – things tend to get messy, and we end up bereft of a lot of good dancing.  You know it’s overkill when a source at the show last night texts you to tell you he/she is tripping over acrobats while trying to move around backstage 🙂

Also kinda sucks that, on top of the overkill of Cirque week, and the great Julianne vs. Amber “Uncomfortable-gate” non-controversy stealing the show, the bomb also got dropped that tonight is a surprise double elimination.  Had a lot of you on Twitter asking me if I thought this was in the same vein as the Sean Avery elimination – where Sean had butted heads with producers, and they rearranged the elimination schedule to allegedly send him home earlier.  Honestly, the only one I thought MIGHT fit into the same category as Sean might have been Amber, but given how they milked the Amber drama and then lavished praise on her dance last night, I’m not really inclined to think they would pull something like this to get her out.  I’m more inclined to think that they’ve rearranged the schedule in some manner, and need to make sure they have X number of contestants in X week and the easiest way to ensure that is to do a double elim this week.  FWIW, if they do a double elim this week (and a single elim each week from now until Halloween), they end up with even numbers for the team dances – not that they’ve ever really seemed to care about that, but just illustrating that I don’t think there’s anything particularly foul driving this decision, and it could be for some very innocuous reason.  We know there has to be a double elim at some point in the fall season – where it falls is up to TPTB, and maybe this was just the most convenient time to do it.

Kinda rolling my eyes that, for the 3rd week in a row, we have to deal with a 2-hour results show, which is basically a one-hour recap show with a few musical guests built into the 2nd half, in between results.  Anybody know what fall show got cancelled and left a gap in the schedule that they needed DWTS to fill? I’d kinda like my Tuesday nights back, thanks… Read more..

October 4, 2016 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, 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. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence

PureDWTS Season 23, Week 3 – Power Rankings

Well that was possibly the most breakneck speed episode of DWTS we’ve ever witnessed – trying to watch, tweet, and take notes proved to be pretty difficult when they were moving as quickly as they were, so if these are a tad late, I apologize…I may have had to rewind and rewatch.

As much of a cluster as we predicted the face-off dances to be, on the whole I wasn’t too disappointed – my expectations were set pretty low, and tonight’s show maybe slightly exceeded them.  With the exception of a select few dances, technique seemed to be sacrificed in favor of showmanship across the board, and I really only saw 3 couples who seemed like they were 100% in-the-zone when performing…the rest seemed to eke by with varying degrees of bewilderment. It is what it is – when you’ve gotta cram 12 dances into 1 hour, you’re bound to make sacrifices somewhere.  I will say that I really enjoyed not hearing as much meaningless blathering from the judges 😀

Just to recap how voting/eliminations work this week – those who won their dance-offs are safe from elimination tomorrow; those who lost are at risk of getting eliminated. So the rankings should really only be 6 couples this week – but I do want to at least touch on the ones who won their dance-offs, so I’m gonna do things a bit differently tonight. First set of rankings is for those who are actually eligible to be eliminated – with the #6 position being the one I think  is most likely to get the boot. The second set is just a ranking of how well the winners did.  Also threw in a general ranking of the face-offs and how well/not well I think they worked out. Read more..

September 26, 2016 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, 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. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence