PureDWTS Season 21, Week 1 – Power Rankings

At the risk of making a pun at Victor’s expense, after tonight – I believe we have a horse race on our hands, kids πŸ™‚ Literally, seems like 5 (possibly 6) couples gunning hard for the top spot…and I don’t think it’s going to be an easy win for anyone.Β  Kinda nice to not have a firmly predetermined feel for who’s gonna win after the first night.

Other odd & assorted thoughts and observations from this evening: Bruno appears to be the “new Len”, as he’s now the nitpicking stickler and not nearly as wild and flamboyant as he once was.Β  Bit of a buzzkill, and not sure it feels natural πŸ™ Giving quickstep as a week 1 dance is kind of a crock – so Tamar and Paula, you both have my sympathy. Between Paula, Gary, and Hayes’ annoying brother Nash – I think Tom and the Muppets in the editing booth are going to be kept on their toes all season. And ho-lee-crap, Peanut Rademacher, aka the coolest celeb offspring ever to grace the DWTS ballroom, was back tonight after a 2.5 year hiatus…sitting in row 2, stage right, snacking on something while sitting next to Ingo…nonplussed as ever about the show he was watching. 😎

1.) Nick & Sharna – I think we all kinda expected him to do well, but I was still really pleasantly surprised not only by him, but by Sharna’s choreography.Β  Loved the slick feel of their cha-cha – wonder if Sharna’s boyfriend helped give it a hip-hop vibe. Got a bit worried after the screen dropped – the first few moves Nick did were a bit excited puppy-ish, but he reigned it in quickly and the rest was nicely controlled and clean. Might have a few posture issues – I think Sharna may have mentioned it in one of their rehearsal videos – cause I did see a few kinda hunched-over moves here and there.Β  Definitely fixable, though, if he works at it.Β  Still think these two are the ones to beat, between skill, choreography, and fanbase, but I don’t think they’re going to coast to the finals…especially not with the next few on their heels…

2.) Bindi & Derek – I think sh*t kinda got real for everyone when Bindi hit the stage – because WOW.Β  The girl can actually dance, and is a showman to boot. She kept up surprisingly well with some really fast choreography, and still managed to look like she was having a great time doing it.Β  Two small, potential issues: feet and legs could have been a skosh cleaner, and the lip-syncing – it was adorable tonight, but it’s gotta stop…trust me, judges will start to harp if it continues. But one thing I think she has going for her that nobody else seems to suffer from: this girl has ZERO fear. Literally, not one ounce of stage fright, that I could see – her technique isn’t perfect yet, and she may not be naturally as skilled as some others – but I’ll be damned if she doesn’t tackle every dance like she did this one.Β  A definite contender.

3.) Alek & Lindsay – Ladies and gents, meet your dark horse of the season. I’m not sure any of us saw this coming – the poor guy went from looking like he’d been shot out of a cannon at the cast announcement a few weeks back, to still looking overwhelmed but somehow pulling out a mind-blowingly graceful dance with confidence tonight.Β  I was seriously impressed by some of the lines this guy was hitting – his arms coming out into the first pass were GORGEOUS. A few small wobbles here and there, but damn – that was a really good first showing for someone nobody saw coming.Β  And Lindsay seems to have blossomed during her time in the troupe – she seems more confident and composed in her teaching methods this time around. I think both of them have a good work ethic, and could go far this season.Β  And I think America is gonna eat this guy up – a serviceman that took down a terrorist, that’s also soft-spoken and kinda shy, and can actually DANCE? Y’all can have your Hayes and your Nick – Alek is who I’m swooning over this season.

4.) Carlos & Witney – While Carlos & Alexa are adorable together, I really hope TPTB don’t harp for too long on this whole husband vs. wife thing…cause that could get annoying REAL quick. Carlos is certainly a showman – saw shades of Alfonso in his jive.Β  Not lots of shades, but…shades. πŸ™‚ Seemed to get a little messy on the footwork, and seemed like he might have gotten a tad off-time towards the end – but overall, a decent effort and a good start.Β  He certainly seems more at ease than James Maslow ever was, which is good – thinking he could be something like a Roshon Fegan, except with more votes. πŸ™‚

5.) Alexa & Mark – Honestly, if it were up to me, I probably would have given Alexa the higher score – I thought her technique was cleaner than Carlos’, although he probably edged ahead of her a bit in the showmanship department. Kinda wonder if she would have made more of an impact with a different song, but this one seemed to suit her well enough. She came across confident and her lines were clean, and I was kinda digging seeing a more laid-back Mark doing the jive – guess I was so used to seeing jimmie legs that it was kinda nice to see him reign it in a bit to match Alexa’s energy. I could see these two sticking around for awhile.

6.) Tamar & Val – The only reason I have these two as low as I do is because they seemed to get saddled with a seriously craptastic running order position – not sure why they stuck a decent routine in the #2 death slot.Β  I’m actually liking Tamar so far – she doesn’t seem content to sit back and just indulge Val’s every whim…which I dig, because I don’t think Val has had a very willful partner yet that was willing to step back and say “Hold on, time out, why am I doing this?”Β  Good learning experience for him, methinks πŸ™‚ Tamar actually seemed to have a lot of natural skill, and like Bindi, kept up with some seriously fast choreography really well. Two minor nitpicks: she seems to move a bit small, like she knows what she wants to do and goes for it, but just as she’s about to hit max extension, she backs off.Β  Move BIG, girl. She also seemed like she was in her head a bit – would like to see her really enjoy the dance a little more. Great effort for a sh*tty first week dance, though, and still a contender.

7.) Andy & Allison – I think I figured out midway through his rehearsal package who Andy reminds me of: a younger, less creepy Chris Isaak.Β  And Andy does seem like a genuinely good guy who really is excited to be on the show.Β  I guess I just wish his partner was a bit more adept at ballroom – still finding myself not super-impressed with Allison’s foxtrot choreography, which seemed a tad repetitive, with a lot of open work and dips.Β  Andy handled it well enough, but the rise and fall was really pronounced – almost like doing the stairclimber at the gym. Frame was ok. I think he was better than Hayes, though, and they got the same score…go fig.Β  So far, not really believing Allison’s preseason claim that they’re “gonna win” – need to see a bit more effort from both of them before I start entertaining that notion.

8.) Hayes & Emma – I’ll admit, my expectations were pretty low for Hayes, just due to his age…but he did alright tonight. Not stellar, but decent, and it at least looks like Emma’s got a little something to work with – maybe a bit of excited puppy syndrome, but certainly with more natural skill than Billy Dee or Mike. I just hope to god that they don’t continuously harp on Emma being “sooo much older” than him, and they ditch the teenager-y themed dances – we get it; he’s 15. Show us that he can dance like a grown man. And was I the only one that was getting annoyed really quickly with his brother? Seems like big bro wishes HE were the one that had gotten the invite to do the show, they way he was monopolizing camera time.Β  Go sit in the audience, dude – don’t really care what you have to say.

9.) Paula & Louis – God bless Paula – I do really think she was terribly nervous tonight. And saddling her with quickstep in week 1 is just downright mean – but I do think Paula framed it well by saying “Well at least I got the hard dance outta the way!” And really, she could have done a lot worse – she may have moved slowly and not done anything very difficult, but from what I can tell, she stayed decently on-time and didn’t seem to forget vast sections of choreography (looking at you, Chaka).Β  I don’t think she’s headed home next week – but I do think she needs to pull out a stronger performance than she did tonight, hopefully with a dance that isn’t as hard. If nothing else – it’s kind of fun trying to guess what outlandish thing is gonna come out of her mouth next πŸ˜›

10.) Gary & Anna – All in all, this could have gone a LOT worse – I was having visions of him just abandoning his choreography altogether and just making crazy faces into the camera the whole time.Β  But he actually seemed to stick to his routine, and put on a halfway decent show – I do get the feeling that he WANTS to be here, and is actually having fun, which makes it a lot easier to watch him…and listen to him say completely nonsensical, off-the-wall things. No doubt – the dude is eccentric. But he seems to like Anna, and she seems to handle his outbursts well, so more power to them πŸ™‚ Interested to see if he maybe handles the ballroom dances a bit better – seems like it might be easier to reign him in and keep him from wandering if he’s in frame.

11.) Victor & Karina – I wanted SO BADLY for this to go better than it did – but I’m seriously wondering if poor Victor really has just gotten a few too many concussions in his jockeying career and just doesn’t have the memory for choreography – although he seemed to remember more of his routine than Chaka did. I will give him credit for really making a good effort and having some surprisingly limber hip action – but I think he and Karina unfortunately also got saddled with a craptastic song and a craptastic week 1 dance.Β  Hoping they can pull out something a bit more cohesive next week, because I think Victor could be in a bit of danger.Β  I hope not, but who knows…

12.) Chaka & Keo – I’m gonna come out and say it, and no doubt the Keo apologists will descend and make all kinds of excuses for him (lord knows they did on Twitter): Keo has got a major problem with his partners completely spacing on choreography. And I don’t for one minute believe that LoLo, Charlotte, AND Chaka all three just have terrible memories – I’m seriously wondering if he is just not drilling them enough in rehearsal to the point where their routines are muscle memory, or making them do it enough so that they’re comfortable with it and don’t get stage fright. Hell, as someone else mentioned on Twitter – Patti may have been pretty vacant and not-quite-all-there last season on the show, but she never seemed to forget her choreography. It’s time to do better, Keo – because Chaka does actually seem to have potential, and seemed less nervous than Lolo and Charlotte.Β  If you manage to survive next week’s double elim, you’ve gotta reassess your strategy…because something is truly not working.

13.) Kim & Tony – As I said on Twitter – you know you did bad when you get outdanced by Gary Busey 😯 And it wasn’t even that Kim did bad, per se – she was just so TIMID.Β  To the point where the routine was almost a non-event – it was like watching a person in a full-body cast very gingerly do a slow-mo salsa, lest they break another bone. Hell, Gary was a hot mess, but at least he was an entertaining hot mess – this was just…boring. And it really just doesn’t compute for me, given how confident (almost cocky) Kim comes across on her show and on social media. I’m just left kinda going “WTF was that???” Is Tony to blame? Not the first time we’ve seen such a china doll routine from one of his partners.Β  Could we fly NeNe out to give them both some pointers on making an impact? Or have too many bridges been burned? I think these two are in serious trouble next week…

So those are my thoughts.Β  What are yours? Who made a good first impression tonight…and who bombed?