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PureDWTS Season 24, Week 9 – Power Rankings

In season 12, it was Ralph.  In season 18, it was Charlie. In season 20, it was Nastia. In season 22, it was Wanya…and in season 24, it was Simone. Following the precedent they set back in 2011, the show has managed to screw a worthy contestant out of a spot in the spring finale for four consecutive seasons now – and more often than not, it seems to happen in order to lend a hand to one of the Chmerkovskiy brothers.  It’s getting BEYOND predictable, to the point of the spring season almost following a template: let things happen organically for the first few weeks, then determine who needs to make the finale (must take mandatory Chmerkovskiy quota into account) and be sure to start neutralizing any threats (read: other good dancers that might prevent a Chmerkovskiy from making it into the finale) by having the judges underscore, nitpick, and generally demean said threats until the generally gullible cross-section of the voting audience (the “sheeple”) actually start to believe that contestant really isn’t any good after all and ceases voting for them. And because of this template, I have ZERO sympathy for the judges – practice your shocked faces all you want, but what happened last night was a direct result of all the meddling you’ve done.  The blood is on your hands, and I better not hear implications of “The audience has to vote! You guys sent Simone home!” next week – you don’t get to pull the puppet strings all season long and manipulate the viewers, and then blame Simone’s elim on them.

But I’m guessing that’s inevitably going to be part of the narrative next week, as they seem to be gunning for a 3rd MBT for Prince Joffrey Val – the “we’ve sent two of the best dancers home – don’t let it happen again!” strategy seems to imply that viewers should vote for the best dancer left, which if you believe the judges’ scores and critiques, is Normani (I don’t agree). If the audience is more woke than I give them credit for, it may more broadly imply “vote for one of the good dancers”, which would mean Normani & Rashad, and imply that voters should not be voting for David.  I’ve gotten several questions about how things are going to shake out next week, and I’m not 100% sure (like just about everything else this season), but I feel fairly confident in stating that they will likely lowball the sh*t out of David – as Heidi has stated multiple times before, the judges like to be RIGHT, and a season of gushing about pro dancer Normani only to have halfway-decent dancer David take the MBT makes them look…dumb. I think David is going to get the Noah/Alek treatment relative to the other two – scores several points lower on his two night 1 dances, to the point where votes won’t be enough to bridge the gap between him and Rashad/Normani.  As for the other two – who knows. The fact that they seemed a bit more lukewarm on Normani last night makes me think they’ve already accomplished what they really wanted – ensure Val makes the finale, to continue the narrative of Val being the “star of the show” and hopefully gain some younger viewers from Normani’s fanbase – and they won’t care quite so much about what happens from here on out.  The other part of me thinks they’re saying “Go big or go home!!!” and will continue the OTT gushing in an attempt to secure MBT #3 for Val. There’s just so much funny business going on that I just cannot state with certainty what exactly TPTB are trying to accomplish.  However, if you’re trying to be strategic with your vote (and some of you have expressed a desire to do just that), I would recommend tossing them to Rashad – and I’m not just saying that as a Shad fan 🙂 As I mentioned above, I think they’re going to score David such that it’s going to be a huge uphill battle to catch up to Shad & Normani, and I think there’s at least a decent chance that Normani is going to continue to get pimped right up until the MBT is handed out – so if you’re looking to really stick it to TPTB, I think Shad’s your best bet.

As for poor Simone – I think the thing that made me the saddest about the whole thing is that she almost seemed relieved to be heading home.  That speaks volumes – the fact that she had a meltdown in practice about doing the best she can and it not being good enough for the judges tells me that this show had long since stopped being fun for her.  This show BROKE her, to the point where not continuing seemed like a better bet than continuing on in the competition. So I guess if that’s what she really wanted at the end of the day – I’m happy for her, and glad she could go out on a high note. Other random thoughts? SO. MUCH. FILLER. LAST. NIGHT. If we cut out the two guest performances and cut back on mic time for random people (i.e. Normani’s grandma), I’m willing to bet we could have shaved a half hour or more off the running time. And I feel like every pro, current or former, that isn’t tied up with the DWTS tour is now trying to pull a Derek & Julianne and start their own tour…and each kinda feels like a less fully-realized version of MOVE. Yeah, it was kinda cool seeing Cheryl doing something really different for her – but it felt more like contemporary by numbers, than a truly creative, connected performance. Read more..

May 16, 2017 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 (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 24, Week 7 – Power Rankings

Y’know, if I felt so inclined, I’m thinking I could probably set up some phony-baloney psychic hotline and bilk people out of hundreds of dollars an hour, because predicting this season and its manipulation has gotten SO EASY that I could probably convince some of the less-bright viewers that I’m the second coming of Miss Cleo.  Who da fathah of de bebe? 😛

But in all seriousness – my god, was last night a shitshow. The powers that be didn’t even seem to be trying to hide their hand – from the moment they started mentioning the immunity and perfect scores, you just knew they were setting it up to serve Normani on a silver platter. Poor Simone & Shad, who both had fantastic nights and were every bit (if not more) as deserving as Normani, never even stood a chance of coming near that immunity. But the fact that TPTB went out of their way to keep Normani safe does give me hope – because it seems to point to her not being able to stay safe on her own. Think about it: for the past three weeks, she’s either gotten perfect or near-perfect scores, regardless of the actual quality (or content) of her dances – and this started happening after all of our low-hanging fruit (Chris, Charo, & Mr. T) was gone.  The judges turned on the gushing, and Normani has had a decent points cushion ever since. She has never really been in a position of imminent danger of getting sent home, by virtue of her scores (and the relative underscoring of others). But now that we’re getting down to the wire, and all that’s left are people who can hang in terms of votes – it’s going to take more and more drastic measures in order to keep Normani safe.  And during a precarious week with a *gasp!* double elim, what better way to ensure her safety than granting her immunity to this week’s elim? Just food for thought – it’s entirely possible that Normani could have been one of the two headed home when you added up last week’s scores and votes. But if they handed her immunity, the next person up on the roster would have gotten sent home in her place – and I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that the most likely person she would have bumped is Nancy, who probably has more support in the main viewing demographic than Normani does. So for those of you trying to make sense of this week’s elim – I honestly think that’s a valid theory of what may have happened.  Nancy could have been the sacrificial lamb because someone else had to stay. Or hell – Normani could have actually had the lowest combined total of scores and votes, but got saved by the immunity. Don’t think it’s possible that such an awesome and “popular” contestant could have gotten sent home? How quickly some are likely to forget Heather. Just a warning: don’t assume Normani is raking in votes because she’s been sticking around. She has yet to really have her fanbase tested on this show…

…as for our two eliminees, I think Nick & Nancy both did an extremely respectable job this season, and will be missed. As I’ve said before, I found myself liking Nick & his self-deprecating sense of humor way more than I thought I would, and he was actually a pretty decent dancer, too – but I think he was understandably beginning to tire of being berated week after week for dances that weren’t really all that bad, and I think Peta is just tired, period, and needs a nap. I could not have asked for more from Nancy & Artem – she was really finding her footing and starting to take shape as a contender, and I just LOVED seeing how grateful she was for the experience; and Artem absolutely blossomed this season as a pro – it was nice to see him so supportive and connected with his partner (after a chain of iffy partnerships), and his choreo took a turn for the better. As I said before, I think they may simply have been the victim of the machinations to keep Normani around, and I do believe Nancy actually had more support within the main viewing demo of the show than Normani did; I think Nancy & Artem may just have been at a bit of a disadvantage by quietly improving week after week, rather than swinging wildly from high-highs to low-lows like some other couples did.  Their journey may not have been dramatic, but it certainly was memorable and fun to watch 🙂

And now we move on to the elephant in the room: Bonner. Saw a lot of questions of “Who the hell is voting for Bonner????” floating around, and I’ll admit, it baffled me initially, too.  But once I got to thinking about it, it started to make more sense – I’m not sure that people are so much voting for Bonner as they are Sharna.  And this, kids, could be a bit of an unforeseen side of effect of multiple seasons of screwing Sharna out of a win – more and more fans seem to be adopting the “it’s [insert pro here]’s turn to win!!!!” philosophy, and I still see quite a bit of talk from fans who thought last season should have been Hinch & Sharna’s (hell, I’m one of them). It’s possible Sharna’s still experiencing a ground swell from last season, that’s carrying she & Bonner further than expected; they also had a comparatively decent week last week, with a pretty kind score and a rumba that wasn’t altogether terrible (along with being part of a really, really fun team dance). And to reiterate a point Heidi brought up to me earlier – when you’ve got the same 2-3 people getting the lion’s share of the votes each week (likely Rashad, Simone, & David), the situation at the bottom of the leader board can vacillate from week to week. If the same 3 couples are getting the most votes week after week, and the rest of the couples are each getting roughly the same fraction of votes as one another each week, then actual rankings can vary quite a bit based on their dances.  Bonner happened to have a relatively “up” week last week, while Nick got dragged and Nancy slipped a bit. Those little fluctuations, no matter how small, have the potential to shake things up quite a bit if those further down the leaderboard are all fighting for the same fraction of votes.

Other than the obvious stuff? Mandy was an ok judge, but seemed to be just another “yes” woman and was following instructions from the control booth on how to score; I did kinda like how she seemed to frequently give a point more than the other judges, though, especially for those dances were the judges were being particularly nitpicky/stingy. I thought the opener was kinda lazy, though – was Mandy too busy getting debriefed on the responses she was to be giving each of the couples as a judge to choreograph something more interesting? Seemed like everyone got caught up a bit in some time-wasting in their dances, just by virtue of the theme, so I guess I’m giving everyone a bit of a free pass this week. The dance-offs were kind of a non-event, and seemed to be very much predetermined, down to who would win each one. Is it too much to ask to let things unfold at least a little bit organically on this show??? Read more..

May 2, 2017 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 (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 24, Week 6 – Power Rankings

Anyone else missing Derek & Mark (and their choreography) something fierce right about now??? Because my god – if last night wasn’t an exercise in choreographic futility for some of our pros, then I don’t know what the hell it was. On top of that, the judges seemed eerily kind to just about everyone (except Nick, which we’ll get into later), which left me with this unpleasant sense of foreboding for most of the show – like I was waiting for something bad to happen, but I wasn’t sure what.  Basically, the same feeling I had while watching the first 20 minutes of last season’s Game of Thrones finale – but thankfully, when it all played out, I felt less like Margaery & more like Cersei, because something that Heidi & I had be predicting would happen eventually, happened: Heather got outsted in a “shocking” (but not really, if you actually think about it) elimination. We had been saying she was the most likely candidate for the token “shock” elim this season, but I don’t think we were anticipating it happening this early on – I myself had her making it to at least week 7, I think. But when you take into account the turd of a routine her pro foist upon her last week, and the fact that most of the general viewing audience couldn’t really get past her basically being a professional dancer herself, she followed the basic formula for getting “Sabrina’d”: the minute a skilled dancer dips below a certain score threshold, they get sent home because they Just. Aren’t. Getting. The. Votes. If you want to see a breakdown of just how few votes Heather was getting (or rather, just how much better than Heather everyone else was doing), go reread Heidi’s Dancing By the Numbers. I wish I could say I was disappointed by a good dancer getting sent home before some less-skilled ones, but I made no secret of it that I never really found myself enjoying Heather’s performances – and it was a combination of lack of connection to the audience on her part, and just plain subpar choreography from Maks on the other. Add in the fact that Maks managed to find TWO ways to proverbially spit in Alan’s face last night, and I’m left saying “Toodles, Heather & Maks – don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya!” Not gonna lie, though: part of me would love to see Alan as a pro next season, and have Maks left out in the cold – karma could be such a perfect bitch 😎

Which brings me to a few notes on demographics.  I think I warned everyone a month ago that Chris, Erika, Heather, & Normani were the four most likely to struggle with fanbase issues this season – three of them are now gone. You Harmonizers still feeling so confident about Normani’s voting fanbase? I saw quite a few folks wringing hands after it was announced that everyone on the girls’ team was in jeopardy, and many of them seemed convinced that Nancy was the one headed home.  You guys do realize that she aligns almost perfectly with the main viewing demographic of the show, right? A middle-aged Olympian with an inspiring backstory? Please help me understand why you thought a C-list-at-best, 30-something professional dancer from a 2-years-defunct teen tv show that was being given highly mediocre choreo by her partner was somehow going to outlast that Olympian, who so far has thrived and been given solid routines by her partner? It’s important to remember that sometimes, this show is about everything EXCEPT the dancing – in this case, the fact that Heather was already a great dancer didn’t matter to a lot of folks. If anything, it seemed to turn them off. They seemed to prefer Nancy’s journey to Heather’s already-professional polish. I also think Nancy has come off far more relatable and down-to-earth than Heather ever did on the show – and trust me when I say that can make a bigger difference than a few points, sometimes.

As for the rest of the show – Nick was an ok guest judge; seemed excited to be there and tried to give insightful critiques, but I think he came across a tad disingenuous at times. He also seemed like a bit of a yes-man, and had been fed a list of instructions on what to say and to whom (“Make sure you mention that Normani could win this whole thing! And don’t go easy on Nick V.!”) But I was pleased to see he gave Rashad a “10” when the other judges were whipping out 9’s – seemed to make up for Carrie Ann’s uncalled-for “7” last week. Opener seemed bland, like it was an afterthought – “Crap, what are we gonna do for the opener this week??? IDK, just…line everyone up or something…” Can’t say I missed Julianne too much – guess the Move Beyond tour didn’t leave any time for the “Ballroom is soooo different than what Heather does!” apology tour this week…and now Heather’s gone. Wuh wuh wuhhhhh. Read more..

April 25, 2017 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 (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 24, Week 5 – Power Rankings

Well, thank god that’s over – yes, kids, I actually hate Disney week. Sue me. The first time they did it (in season 18), it was cool; but each successive season got progressively less…magical, and more…of a chore to watch. I find that, out of all the theme weeks, it’s the one most likely to force the songs to fit the wrong dances, and to get so caught up in production value that the dance becomes a bit of an afterthought, and the costumes/sets/animations/etc. dominate. Much like my general opinion of Disney these days – just overwrought with commercialization. And I kinda felt that commercial aspect last night more than previous Disney nights – some of the dances felt more like advertisements for upcoming Disney movies, or promotion for lesser-known musicians. I guess when Disney owns ABC, this is to be expected – if it don’t make dollas, it don’t make sense, kids. But I did like the intro, because it was something different – and say what you will about Alfonso, but he has ALWAYS been there for the show when they need him, whether it’s filling in for Tom when his dad died, actually giving insightful critiques as a guest judge, or just being supportive and being in the audience week after week.  I feel like he really gets a bum rap sometimes, as well as the unfair label of being the biggest male ringer the show has ever had – but that’s a discussion for another place…

And now we move onto the “stay woke” segment of the rankings – because there was some serious manipulation going on last night, and you didn’t exactly have to be a rocket scientist to see it. There was gross underscoring, gross overscoring, vague criticism not really rooted in anything substantial, vague praise not really rooted in anything substantial, and strategic placement of people in jeopardy and in safety. The funny thing is, you can really tell that there’s new EP’s at the helm – Conrad & Rob were both a lot stealthier with this kinda stuff; with Joe & Ashley, it’s amateur hour. They’re the B-squad puppeteers that were thrust into lead roles as Muppets, but we can totally see their hands up the asses of some of the contestants.  If you haven’t yet read Heidi’s post about manipulation, you totally should – it’s eye-opening. So what do I make of all of it? I think David, Rashad, & Simone are probably running away with the bulk of the votes, Heather & Normani may not be getting as many as TPTB had anticipated they would, I don’t think they’ve decided what to do about Nancy yet, and Bonner & Nick are pretty disposable to them at this point. Will their machinations work? Not to the degree they’re hoping, I don’t think. Time will tell, and I get the impression that the viewers may be wisening up to the funny business – I know a lot of the readers here have.

So Erika left us…and I’m left without a ton to say other than “oh well…it is what it is.” Her elimination has been the LEAST disappointing one to me so far this season, mostly because I tended to forget her week after week – that kind of thing tends to happen when you basically do the same dance each week, with just a few tweaks. I enjoyed her Viennese waltz last night, and was glad we FINALLY got to see a different side of her (and she even showed vulnerability!) – but it was unfortunately too little, too late. Really hoping we don’t get another “look at how rich & sexy I am!” dance at the finale. Interesting to note: her exit left us with perfectly even numbers of men & women left for the girl groups vs. boy bands team dance next week.  Coincidental or intentional? You decide. Read more..

April 18, 2017 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 (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 24, Week 3 – Power Rankings

So Vegas week – I was predicting a “Cirque Du Soleil Week” redux, so my expectations were pretty low.  I think that may have helped, because while I wasn’t blown away on the whole by the dances we saw last night, I also didn’t end up really hating any of them, either. Thank goodness for small miracles 🙂

Now that we’re three weeks in, I think the narrative for the season is taking shape – and I don’t think it’s necessarily what TPTB had intended/hoped for. I think the main problem they’re having is that the viewers as a whole seem to be eschewing the female ringers (particularly Ringy McRingerson herself, Heather) in favor of the ridiculously charming male contestants with no dance experience but a ton of heart (read: David & Rashad). Additionally, with Maks’ injury, Peta looking like a sleep-deprived zombie, and Val being jet-lagged, I think the original intent to make Maks, Peta, & Val the focal points of this season is kinda falling apart – and it seems like the better story might be a finale with the other engaged couple that hasn’t gotten a whole lotta respect until this season (Sasha & Emma), and an extremely talented pro that has made it to at least the semi-finals the last three seasons (Lindsay). Now because it still is very early, and I only trust TPTB as far as I can throw them (and I have little to no upper body strength), I wouldn’t put it past them to try and shock some life back into their original plan to prop up the C-bros plus Peta – but I’m beginning to wonder if they’re starting to see the writing on the wall as far as the viewers are concerned…that maybe the audience cares less about another MBT in the Dance with Me trophy case, and more about a likeable, entertaining celeb winning.

Other thoughts? The opening number was cute, but perhaps a tad sloppy; loved the showgirl costumes (even though the last traditional Vegas showgirl act took a final bow in February of last year – RIP, Jubilee!), but what were supposed to be bachelorette costumes looked more like prostitute costumes to me 😛 Julianne & Derek, as always, were a revelation – that dance felt like the sequel to the “Elastic Heart” routine, and I found myself really appreciating the elite quality of movement and artistry they both have.  Kinda makes the regular routines we saw last night pale in comparison, but still worthwhile 🙂 Carrie Ann idiotically decided to resurrect the lift police, calling out everyone EXCEPT HEATHER. Coincidence? Doubt it. Charo getting eliminated? Slightly shocking, because I felt like they kinda padded her score last week while T got kinda hosed; but given the whole drama with her allegedly threatening to quit last week, and some of the backlash I saw on social media from her behavior, I guess it’s not a complete shock. Was she eliminated or did she leave on her own accord? You decide. Just kinda sucks that her best dance (and the strongest piece of choreo we’ve seen from Keo since Jodie’s season) came during the week she was eliminated. But I gotta give him major props for dealing with a pretty unruly partner – he’s definitely come a long way since his first season as a pro. Read more..

April 4, 2017 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 (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 24, Week 1 – Power Rankings

And so begins another season 🙂 Admittedly, I found it hard to psych myself up for this season – I wasn’t really looking forward to it, after the 3-ring manipulation circus of last season, and didn’t really feel super-invested in any of the couples until last night.  While the talent this season seems almost unfairly stacked in favor of the female celebs, unfortunately for them, I think the guys may have actually ended up more enjoyable and memorable – perhaps the female pros see the writing on the wall, and know they’ve gotta compensate for a lack of experience by having their partners be really, really entertaining?

Generally, aside from maybe 3-4 dances last night, this felt like a pretty tame premiere – the first hour was kind of a bear to get through, as the energy really slipped before picking up around the 9 PM hour. Other observations? The opening number was cool and not something we had really seen yet, but the preponderance of Maks & Val was eyeroll-inducing – they’re really trying to drive the point home that these two are the “stars” this season, huh? I feel like we only saw quick snippets of the female pros, with those two idiots mugging shamelessly in between. The sexism of this show is blood-boiling, at times. Glad to see that the judges were kinda stingy with the scores for the first night, as this tends to stem a lot of potential b*tching from couples down the line who are given cushy scores for weeks before the judges get real and drop the hammer. Getting really tired of them reminding us in one breath that Heather danced backup for Beyonce, while in another launching into this big apology tour about how “different” ballroom is from what Heather does. The cognitive dissonance…it hurts.

Just as a refresher for the regulars and a quick explanation for the newbs, the power rankings are a ranking of who I think is the least likely to get eliminated next week (#1) to who is the most likely (#12). It takes into account how well they danced, how memorable they were, how big I think their voting fanbase is going to be, how big their pro’s fanbase is, how likeable they are, etc. Is it NOT a ranking of how well they danced or how high they scored, so if you’re here to piously tell me that “so-and-so should be higher than so-and-so because they got a better score”, prepare to be called out. Shall we begin? 🙂 Read more..

March 21, 2017 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 (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

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 (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

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 (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

Dancing with the Stars Season 23, Week 7 – LIVE BLOG!!

Court covering for Heidi this week, who is on vacay in Hawaii and currently 6 hours behind EST – so while those of us in the eastern time zone are settling in for DWTS, it’s only 2 PM in Maui, and Heidi’s probably posted up on the beach, on her 3rd or 4th mai tai 😛

Site rules in are effect – don’t hit refresh every 2 minutes, make sure you’re not posting one-liners, etc. Thank you. 🙂

Early predictions: team dances may end up closer than you think – source said that while Team Future may have the more talented dancers and Derek’s choreographic skill, both Derek & Val seemed pretty stumped by the music, and consequently seemed to spin their wheels for awhile before starting to choreograph the routine.  Team Past, however, seemed to hit the ground running, and got a lot more done on the first night and generally seemed more enthusiastic about their music and theme.  I’ll be interested to see who actually comes out on top. Team dance spoiler post HERE for those who need a refresher.

A little bit of a late-breaking spoiler for week 8: next week is instant face-offs, per Hinch on the local news (posted vid on my Twitter, too frazzled to upload here). Since there will be an odd number of couples left, I’m guessing whoever gets the high score in the individual dance round will likely be immune from elimination, leaving the remaining 6 couples to face-off in one of 3 different dances, with the winner of each face-off probably getting a couple additional points.  This should be very, very interesting – especially who gets immunity from even having to dance-off in the first place.  I’m already thinking it might be a way for TPTB to buy Jana a way into the semi-finals.

Fave costume: Terra’s fluffy pink ballgown.  Mo looks uncomfortable in her 80’s punk rock getup. WTF is Erin wearing??? A Picasso painting?

Cute dance from Laurie, but that felt like it took FOREVER to actually get into hold.  Might have to watch a second time, but frame seemed kind of bouncy, too.

Source is saying Team Past is actually going first in the team dance round. No, I don’t have an explanation.

Kinda surprised at the scores they gave Laurie – I thought they were all gonna pull out the 9’s.  Seems like the hammer might be dropping.

I don’t think that rumba was meant to be funny, but I’m cracking up 😛 I don’t know if it was the lighting or what, but it was making it look like Ryan had a beard drawn on with a brown Magic Marker. Not much hip action, but I was amused.  Anyone still wanna nitpick James’ rumba from next week after watching this?

Anyone else catch Len not-so-subtly shading Val’s tendency to just generally waste a bunch of time instead of actually getting down to business and dancing?

Very cute dance from Marilu, but it looks like she may have gotten a bit behind the beat a couple of times.  That song was FAST.

Catching my breath for a second, and I could have SWORN I heard Tom say earlier that there were 4 weeks left in the competition.  So…11 weeks, again?

I’m standing here in my living room, clapping like an idiot.  Calvin MURDERED that jive.  Didn’t waste time, footwork was fantastic, legs looked great, he sold it, and his topline was everything that Laurie was missing in her quickstep.  I want him as one of the last two standing. C’mon, 40…

I would have given that at least one 10, but I guess I KIND OF get why they gave it 9’s.  They’re pickier about the core ballroom & Latin dances than they are the “extra” dances.

Sorry, but Mo has just kinda become a drag for me to watch – the heavy conversations with Artem in rehearsal are just tired at this point.  Pretty big stumble in that tango…but I bet they give her a pretty kind score nonetheless.

Very cute foxtrot from Terra, and I’m back to being sold on her again – she seems to really thrive in dances where she can really sell a character: jive, samba, & foxtrot have all worked well for her.  Really hope I’m wrong about feeling a tad worried for her tonight…

34 is probably fair.  I better start paring down details, cause I’m gonna run out of sh*t to  say in the power rankings…

Still not sure what the big deal is about Jana. Not a whole lot of samba there, and what I saw struck me as stiff.

Hinch has a cute dance that suits him well.  Maybe not as explosive as Calvin’s, but fun nonetheless.  Sharna definitely limping, though.

I enjoyed Team Past thoroughly, but I’m sure some of the younger crowd will complain that it was “boring” and will favor Team Future.  I loved it simply because it was different – I don’t think we’ve ever had a team dance quite like it.

A score of 38 leaves a nice 2-point bubble for the judges to score Team Future higher, so they probably will.  Sigh. Not loving how complicated this set is looking, and Terra crying in rehearsal is just eating me up 🙁

Ok, granted, that was a very odd piece of music, and that kind of dictated the routine – but that was one of the strangest team dances we’ve seen in DWTS history.  A bit too post-modern, I’m afraid.

Jana & Gleb and Maureen & Artem in jeopardy.

Maureen & Artem eliminated.

Look for the power rankings sometime tomorrow. I’m beat.

October 24, 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 (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

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 (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog