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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!

PureDWTS Season 18, Week 1 – Power Rankings

So season 18 – the season of “lots of big changes”, and I’m not so sure I’m liking them.  Right off the bat – skeptical about Erin as a cohost.  Seems like she isn’t about playing 2nd banana to Tom – felt like she was just waiting for her turn to talk, and was trying too hard to be clever and funny when asking her questions…which, by the way, were exactly what I worried they would be: pointed, uncomfortable, and at times, salacious.  Not sure if it’s her asking those questions (or somebody up in the booth feeding them to her), but I’m not liking the gossipy, almost tabloid-y direction the show is taking – suddenly, we have to know who’s dating who, and what their significant others think about their partners, and who stole who’s boyfriend in the past, etc.  Seemed especially evident when Erin was needling-er, interviewing Cody & Witney – didn’t really enjoy the tone of that one in particular, as it sounded to me like Erin was throwing some serious shade in Witney’s direction (“Well, I think you’re a distraction!”).  Just SHUT UP, Erin – I had my fill of you channeling Regina George back in season 10.  Remember: those who stir the sh*t pot should have to lick the spoon. ;-)

And then there’s the “rivalries” – ugh.  The three major ones that they seem to be pushing are Meryl vs. Charlie, Cody vs. James, and Candace vs. Danica.  And while Conrad may have referred to them as “healthy rivalries” in his press release – I would hardly call dredging up 20-year-old drama about stolen boyfriends to be “healthy”.  Are we sure the Muppets in the production office haven’t been replaced by high school girls? Because some of this stuff is seriously immature.  But hey, if they’re gonna continue pushing the rivalries – guess I’ll do a weekly scorecard of them, too, since these things seem to be UBER-IMPORTANT on DWTS these days.  But anyhow…shall I get on with the rankings? :-)

1.) Charlie & Sharna – Can’t say I’m too surprised here, as we had heard that Charlie’s routine was “REALLY good!” and we all kind of expected both he & Meryl to easily handle their routines.  Was pleasantly surprised at how well he handled the (pretty short) section of side-by-side contemporary choreography – he seems to really get the “pulse” of contemporary, and knows how to use his limbs properly.  He’s obviously SPECTACULAR doing lifts, and he handled the many ones Sharna threw at him without so much as a bobble…but that’s probably my one big critique of this routine: it was very, VERY lift-heavy.  Seemed like most of the routine was either prepping for a lift or doing the lift, as opposed to doing any separate steps.  Contemporary does NOT mean “do all sorts of lifts!” I would caution Sharna not to get tempted to throw every lift she knows into any routine in which it’s allowed, simply because her partner is quite possibly even a better lifter than Tony.  Beyond that, I really enjoyed it, and I’m excited to see what else this partnership can do. Read more..

March 18, 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 17, The Finale – Power Rankings

*sigh* Well kids, all good things must come to an end – and last night, the inspired run that Bill had on DWTS this season came to a close.  As soon as the judges handed out that first bullsh*t score, I think I knew there was no way in hell they were gonna let Bill even get within striking distance of the MBT – but thankfully, Bill went out on a very high note: I don’t think Emma could have choreographed a more perfect routine for him than his freestyle :-) Just wish that the judges had given him just ONE pity 10, but again, I think they were afraid that giving him any excessively kind scores was going to prolong his stay…but it just became even more glaringly obvious when you take into account that each of the other couples got a perfect 30 on their freestyles.  I’m trying not to be bitter about it, but the fact that Len admitted that Bill “did improve” on his Viennese waltz, and then proceeded to give him the SAME SCORE as he got the first time around, just doesn’t compute for me.  Grrrrr.  But alas, I don’t know that poor Bill had the energy in him for more dancing tonight, so I’m partially relieved that the guy gets his life back now…now I just have to work on getting mine back.  Gonna miss Bill & Emma :-(

Speaking of that blasted “judges’ choice” dance – I don’t know what the hell was going on with the scoring & commentary there.  They tell Bill he improved, but give him the same score as the first time he did the dance; they tell Corbin he didn’t improve, but give him a higher score than the first time he did his dance.  I thought both improved, but from the way the judges were talking, you would have thought both had completely bungled their dances up even worse than the first go-round.  But once again, I think the judges had an agenda there, and the scores and commentary given for those two dances in particular had little to do with the actual quality of the dance.  The secret judges’ mission statement of finale week, night one seemed to be “make sure Bill goes home at all costs”. Oh well.

Gonna do my rankings in reverse order tonight – starting with 3rd place and working up to the winners.

3rd place: Corbin & Karina

Corbin’s a fantastic dancer, no doubt, and he definitely delivered in all three of his dances last night – but I’m still left just a bit chilly after watching him dance, and it seems to be a sentiment shared by many of our readers.  Something about Corbin’s dancing just doesn’t feel connected to me – it’s as if he’s dancing for himself each time, rather than for an audience, and the end result just seems to create a barrier that prevents me from really connecting to him.   As I said before, I thought his quickstep was an improvement, but I still felt a bit of a disconnect in it – like he was more in his own head than interacting with the audience.  He handled the samba pretty damn well for not having done it before – and while I do agree that he deserved to win the samba relay, I can’t really say that his samba was my favorite or the most fun to watch; it was just very technical.  His freestyle was pretty impressive and very ambitious – taking on MJ is no easy task, but both he & Karina did rise to the occasion.  Wish they could have made it their own a bit more, as opposed to just throwing in a small section of tango before breaking into a hodgepodge of MJ moves; I also could have done without the extra people, as they only came in for a small portion and they damn near dropped Karina during the one stunt they assisted with.  I think he’ll probably handle his cha-cha/foxtrot fusion decently well, but when it all comes down to it, I just have a feeling that he’s going to end up in third place – between the way the judges run hot & cold with him, to the way some of the viewers haven’t been able to connect with him, to a fanbase that I’m really uncertain about, I just think the best he can hope for is third.  Amber’s got the judges on her side, and Jack seems to have the viewers – not a whole lot left for Corbin :-(

2nd place: Jack & Cheryl

For what Jack lacked in terms of technique and energy last night, he more than made up for in heart :-) As I found myself tweeting more than once last night, I think poor Jack is just absolutely drained at this point – as someone who lives with someone with an autoimmune disease, I can tell you that the fatigue is neverending; sure, those suffering have good days and bad days, but most days they do just feel kinda sluggish…and on really bad days, they can barely get out of bed.  I think after 13 weeks, Jack is just plain pooped – and as a result, his first two dances got a bit bungled.  You could tell he was really trying hard with his jive, but he just didn’t quite have the energy to pick his legs up and he may have gotten a little foggy on the choreography.  At the very least, he admitted it wasn’t his best and he was mad at himself – I don’t think I would have been as sympathetic if he had acted like that jive was better than his first attempt.  I agree with Len about their samba relay – it felt a tad safe and slow-moving, but I’m wondering if that was an intentional choice by Cheryl in order to somewhat preserve his energy for the freestyle.  But man, was that freestyle something to behold – Jack seemed to come alive again, and I actually found that the Fred Astaire theme fit him remarkably well.  And the tears both he & Cheryl shed after getting through it flawlessly? Just precious.  If I think Bill & Emma were the best-matched couple of the season, I think these two were a very close second – I think Cheryl needed Jack just as much as Jack needed Cheryl, and this season has been an epiphany for both of them.  I gave all my votes to Jack this week, and I could have sworn that I saw Bill whisper “Now you win this mofo!” in Jack’s ear as the credits were rolling last night.  I actually think he’ll do quite well with his paso/salsa fusion – I think Corbin was pretty kind in giving him that, as he would have ended up with jive again, otherwise.  I think Jack may benefit from the fact that he’s the only remaining finalist that has really had a strong “growth” arc on the show, and also the fact that he’s fighting with an incurable disease as he’s been learning.  Saw a lot of Bill fans tossing their votes to Jack – I’m hoping it helps him pull out 2nd place.  Although seeing him hoist that MBT would be nice ;-)

 Winner: Amber & Derek

Amber was flawless last night – I don’t think she could have done any better with her Charleston or her freestyle. They must have really drilled synchronization when rehearsing that Charleston, because I didn’t see them out of step at all.  While they handled their samba relay routine well, it seemed to get a little repetitive to me – a lot of samba runs and pivots – and I think that may have been what Len was referring to when he said that one couple had “almost” nailed it.  Loved the concept and execution of their freestyle – the stepping was definitely something that’s never been done before for the freestyle, and this was one instance where the extra dancers actually served to enhance the routine as opposed to just being in it.  And best of all: it highlighted Amber and what she is capable of.  I doubt the samba/quickstep fusion will give them any trouble – just hope they don’t try to pull out “Sir Duke” yet again. Given their scores and the undoubtled large Glee fanbase,  I would be surprised if they didn’t win – still think there’s an outside chance that Jack maybe gained some support after last night, and there’s enough “Derek doesn’t deserve a 5th MBT” naysayers out there that it could make a difference – but at the end of the day, I think Amber deserves to win.

So what did you guys think of last night’s show? And who do you think will be walking away with the MBT tonight?

November 26, 2013 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 17, Week 10 – Power Rankings Headed Into the Finale

I’m a happy girl for two reasons – most of you can probably guess the first: Bill & Emma made the finale :-) The second? Leah & Tony did NOT make the finale, which I find myself even more thankful for after witnessing yet another night of Leah dancing like she’s made of glass.  Did she do the steps and stay on-time? Sure.  But I wasn’t excited or entertained by her dancing, and the choreography she was given wasn’t exactly hard-hitting or particularly challenging…which is funny, because the way she & Tony were acting, you would think they were dancing at a Nicole Scherzinger level of difficulty.  But alas, the judges finally seemed to call attention to her cautious performances, and ultimately she got sent home.  Darn, guys – I know you are all as disappointed as I am that we won’t get to see J.Lo & Chelsea Handler in the audience again ;-)

As for Maks judging – I’d say he was definitely much better than Cher, but maybe not quite as constructive as Julianne.  Chalk it up to nervousness or whatnot, but he seemed to ramble a bit – then again, at least the rambling was mostly praise and support for the couple he was critiquing.  And much like Julianne & Cher, he tended not to rock the boat a whole lot in terms of scores – there were a couple deviations here and there, but I don’t think they’re going to matter much in the great scheme of things.  I know, Amber & Derek fans, you’re pissed about the “9” he gave them for their jazz – but really, it’s one point amongst 350 that were given out last night, and her score was near-perfect.  Was it petty of him? Maybe.  But is it going to affect the outcome of the competition? Likely not.  I’m big into being selective about what I get upset about these days ;-)

On the whole, I think we got the best group of finalists we could ask for – we’ve got a high level of skill (Corbin), a high level of entertainment (Amber), a guy who’s really improved (Jack), and a funny guy that just seems to appeal to the masses (Bill).  There’s a little something for everybody, and I feel like all the couples left genuinely like each other and there’s not an ounce of bad blood between any of them, celeb or pro.  I’m calling this the “feel-good finale”, because it’s the first time in a long time (possibly EVER) that I don’t really care who wins – I’d be fine with any of the four walking away with the trophy.  Sure, I’d love to see Bill hoist that trophy, but I know that it’s not likely to happen, and I’m just thankful that he’s gotten this far :-)

1.) Amber & Derek – I’m giving Amber a slight edge over Corbin this week, simply due to cleanliness – both of her routines were near flawlessly executed, with a lot of synchronization in her jazz in particular.  I really enjoyed it, although I knew right off the bat that at least one of the judges (likely Len) was going to bitch about “too much sitting down” – to be fair, the opening section, as cool as it was, was really more of a hip-hop/tutting section than it was jazz, and I think that’s why Len just couldn’t really process it…even if he did think it was as cool and visually stimulating as I found it to be.  But it was a clever way for Derek to keep Amber off those injured knees, so I appreciated it, and once they finished it they did move into some more traditional jazz choreography.  I thought their Viennese waltz was very pretty, if not a tad repetitive – but then again, I’d rather take well-executed & repetitive over the “barely moving, dancing on eggshells” vibe I got from Leah & Tony.  I still think these two will be one of the last two standing with Corbin, but I’m not really sure which direction the odds are going to tip in – I think it could hinge upon the freestyle.

2.) Corbin & Karina – Two potentially perfect routines from these two last night – but the first one seemed to suffer from “excited puppy syndrome” and I think they may have tried to jam-pack a little too much into their tango, as it seemed to get a little hectic & sloppy at times.  Loved the theme and mood – but the execution wasn’t quite there.  Several frame issues, a couple bobbles on some dips and and trick moves – I’m just hoping that they can resist the urge to pack too much into their freestyle, because I could see them having similar problems…and I think it really could come down to the freestyle this season.  Their rumba was much better, and I’m thinking the slower pace allowed Corbin to really focus more on the technique and overall performance, which was beautiful & haunting.  I love Karina’s rumbas :-) As I said before, I still think it’s going to come down to these two and Amber & Derek in the final two, and it may come down to who has the better freestyle – Amber may have the edge there by virtue of having Derek, but I think Corbin may have the edge in that he isn’t injured and can do a bit more than Amber.  Will be interesting to see who comes out on top.

3.) Jack & Cheryl – As I was watching Jack dance last night, I found myself saying “I’m gonna be really, really disappointed if this guy does not make the finale.” And this is coming from someone that has rooted for Bill all season long – after Jack had danced his 2nd dance, I had resigned myself to the fact that I probably was not going to get both Jack & Bill in the finale, and was ready to forego having Bill if it meant Jack could stay, because he really has had a lovely journey this season.  And the best part: Cheryl’s been there with him every step of the way.  I seriously think Jack was what the doctor ordered for Cheryl – seeing her in tears last night after dancing with him showed me that she’s got a newfound investment in the show, but also that she does have feelings…feelings that had been hard to see underneath a perceived indifference I saw from her the past few seasons.  But all that aside – I think Jack had a pretty good night last night.  While his jazz wasn’t my favorite (likely because Jack is just downright MAJESTIC in-hold, and this was predominantly open work), he still looked really invested in it, and I did enjoy some of the lifts.  His Argentine tango was the dance of the night for me – once again, Jack comes alive in-hold, and really seems to lead Cheryl; and those lifts were both creative and well-executed.  Even his footwork was looking sharp and on-point…and I loved every moment of it :-) I think Corbin & Amber probably have 1st and 2nd place on lock this time, but I’m hoping that Jack really gets the chance to wow us with a freestyle to pull out 3rd place. 

4.) Bill & Emma – What can I say about Bill & Emma that I haven’t already been saying all season? He just makes me smile when he dances :-) It’s not about technique or rhythm when I watch him dance – it’s all about how invested in the dance he is, despite any difficulties he’s having with the technical aspects of the dance.  Was his cha-cha off-time? Sure.  But it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of it.  I actually thought his Argentine tango was kinda impressive, though – he had some nice leg lines and handled the lifts and the character of the dance well, and I have to commend Emma for some Derek-esque cleverness in choreographing a good portion of the dance around a chair, since Bill was fighting with a groin injury. I’m both shocked and thankful that they made the finale (even though I know the Rioters are a force to be reckoned with ;-)), and I’m actually really looking forward to what Emma pulls out for a freestyle.  I think I read somewhere on Twitter last night that this is the first time since Lacey in season 7 that a first-time pro has made the finale – cool to see some new blood showing off their freestyle skills.  I doubt Bill & Emma can hope for much more than 4th place, but at least we get to see them dance one last time and they get to say they’re finalists :-)

So what did you guys think of last night’s show? Did the right people make it into the finale?

November 19, 2013 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!