PureDWTS Season 22, Week 2 – Power Rankings

Houston, we have a fairly unsettling problem (and no, it’s not Von’s insanely loud farting) – we have at least four pros who seriously did their partners a disservice last night with lackluster choreography. Whether it was misinterpreting the dance, throwing in too much extraneous stuff, or just wasting time, I saw a lot of issues that could have easily been avoided had the pros in question just buckled down and stuck to the basics. And this is a carry-over from last week, when I saw at least two pros giving their partners some kinda shitty choreography.  Part of me wonders if the fact that the show’s best choreographer, Derek, isn’t there anymore to help keep the standard high is partially to blame – since nobody has to go toe-to-toe with Derek anymore, maybe some of the pros don’t feel the need to work as hard, and feel more comfortable just settling for mediocre choreography that busting their asses and cranking out something great.  Just a theory – and probably not one that will make me very popular, but it is what it is.

Last night saw the giddy high of the premiere cooling off quite a bit, and the judges tending more towards the nitpicky where some couples were concerned. Part of me thinks Len being gone last season has done him more harm than good – it’s almost as if he forgot a bit about some of the pros’ penchants for “messing about” and it’s almost like reopening an old wound for him – he’s extra-cranky about it again, and I don’t get the feeling he’s having as much fun as he used to. Time will tell, I suppose.

To almost no one’s surprise, Geraldo & Edyta left us – I feel like the right couple went home, and if nothing else, they left on the high of giving us a ridiculously entertaining (or just plain ridiculous, depending on how you look at it) dance. And to Geraldo’s credit – I think he had a lot of fun on the show, even if he wasn’t a stellar dancer. I saw a few folks complaining that Edyta deserved a “better partner” and shouldn’t have had to leave so early, and it just kinda floors me because EDYTA WAS GONE FOR 6 YEARS AND THE CHANCES WERE SLIM TO NONE THAT SHE WOULD EVEN BE INVITED BACK. Edyta fans, I would just be thankful she was on the show at all – because the split she had with the show back in 2010 was a pretty acrimonious one, from what I hear, and she had basically torpedoed any chance she may have had at coming back.  Seriously, they could’ve given her Verne Troyer as a partner and I think she would have been thankful for the opportunity. More and more, I’m just convinced that there is no pleasing some fans of this show…

1.) Wanye & Lindsay – Once again, I felt like these two were the full package this week – they got along great (which is to be commended, since a lot of couples seemed to encounter interpersonal issues this week); they gave us a solid, entertaining dance (that was true to the style it was meant to portray); and perhaps most importantly – they were a complete JOY to watch.  Joy is a funny thing for me on this show – I can totally love a couple that clearly sucks from a technical standpoint, as long as they look like they’re having the time of their lives (such as Bill & Emma); likewise, I can completely hate a dance done with technical perfection if the couple dances it with a complete lack of joy (a few of Nick’s dances last season spring to mind). Luckily for Wanya & Lindsay – they have both joy AND skill 🙂 And once again, Lindsay knocked it out of the park with the choreography – felt like she maybe edged Mark out a bit, even, since her salsa felt cleaner and more basic, rather than throwing in every trick she knew (although the tricks she did throw in were relevant to the routine and well-executed).  Really excited to see what these two have in store for us the rest of the season – especially interested to see how Wanya does with slower dances.

2.) Nyle & Peta – Unfortunately, I think this couple was one that suffered from some of the aforementioned choreography issues – both Peta and Sharna just kinda left me scratching my heads after watching their rumbas last night, because it was as if both had forgotten that rumba is a slow, romantic dance where you really extend & stretch, rather than doing quick, short movements.  Choreo was just a bit too chaotic for me, I’m afraid – I’m all for light and shade in rumba, but I don’t need to see nonstop lightening-fast pivots and dramatic turn sequences in order to appreciate the rumba. In fact, I’m more likely to appreciate very-slow-but-focused extensions and attention paid to technique – which I applaud Nyle for, since I did see some really gorgeous arms and lunges from him…when he wasn’t whipping around the floor at warp speed. Not sure quite what it is about Peta & rumba, but I seriously can’t recall a good one she’s done since Donald in season 14. Could just be her Achilles heel, I guess.  The good news for these two is that I don’t think I heard any couple more praised by the fans than them since last week’s show – they’re definitely a name on everyone’s lips, and thus aren’t likely to go anywhere for awhile.

3.) Ginger & Val – And here we have culprit #3 in the Great Choreography Robbery of season 22 – once again, Val wasted a colossal amount of time at the beginning of the routine doing…pretty much nothing that actually enhanced the dance. Which sucks for Ginger, because the girl can actually dance and doesn’t need gimmicks like that, or just random, non-samba filler moves like I saw.  The little bit of real samba I saw her do, though, was actually pretty solid – was especially impressed with her samba walks, which actually looked semi-professional, and she actually seemed to grasp the unique timing of the samba. Just wish I could have seen her doing more actual samba, dammit, and could have done without the silly bit at the beginning with the flower. In that respect alone, I feel like Jodie actually out-danced Ginger this week – Jodie’s samba was chock full of content and did not waste any time. However, once again, I feel like TPTB want Ginger to stick around for awhile – she got the pimp spot and blissfully brief critiques from the judges (which I’m finding is another advantage to going last – you’re less likely to get picked apart by the judges, because they’re usually running out of time), and the Ginger & Val PR machine seems to churn daily on GMA.

4./5.) TIE: Antonio & Sharna and Von & Witney – Once again, not sure if it was all the pre-season hype surrounding these two or what, but both fell short again for me this week – possibly even shorter than last week, and both seem to have their own unique set of problems. Once again, I’m left having a hard time connecting with Antonio – and while one fan on Twitter urged me to “give Antonio a chance” and “not hate on Antonio all the time” (I’d hardly call what I’ve been doing “hating” – but given what I’ve seen from the Steeler Nation so far, they seem prone to hyperbole), I’m left seeing him doing very little talking, and when he does, his mouth seems to write checks that his dance skills can’t cash. So right off the bat, two personality issues: he’s not really letting we the viewers get to know him, and he’s coming across kinda cocky. And then on top of that, he & Sharna give us a really hectic rumba that doesn’t really give a chance to appreciate the extension and hip action characteristic of it – instead, we’ve just kinda got Antonio widely stepping all over the floor without much going on in his hips. I’ll give these two credit – they nailed the chemistry part.  No complaints here, but I was kinda expecting them to nail it, so I’m not sure it redeems the routine that much for me. But beyond that – there just wasn’t enough rumba here for me to appreciate, and I want Antonio to open up more…really hoping he does for most memorable year week. And then there’s Von – while I’m not getting as much of a cocky vibe from Von (and he tends to open up to the camera more than Antonio), I do question how seriously he’s really taking the show; sometimes seems like he’s just so easygoing that he’s not particularly bothered by not getting something right, or trying hard to fix it (and this may also be partially Witney’s fault, too).  And then there’s the $1500 he owes Witney for being late, the farting during rehearsal (what is it with Witney and gassy partners?),  referring to Witney as “drill sergeant Barbie”…it may not seem like much, but the goofing around just makes me wonder how hard he’s really willing to work on the show.  And when your pro is giving you cha-cha without a whole lot of cha-cha in it (but chock full of the more hip-hoppy moves that likely come naturally to you) – how hard are you really going to be willing to work, when it seems like your pro is phoning it in, too? FWIW, I would say I was more entertained by Von once again this week (the routine was cute, even if it wasn’t really a cha-cha), but I don’t know that Von is getting the same level of support from Broncos fans that Antonio is from Steelers fans; while Antonio’s current status on the show seems to make the news in Pittsburgh, according to my sister, not as many folks in Denver seem to give a rip about Von being on the show. I think both have room for improvement on multiple fronts, and have yet to live up to the hype we’ve heard about them – the good news is that I don’t see TPTB  cooling it on the Antonio vs. Von storyline anytime soon, so we may yet see how this plays out.

6.) Paige & Alan (Mark) – First off, I legitimately said a prayer last night that Mark would be cleared to dance with Paige for the rest of the season, because ugh – I was getting some bad, Henry-with-Nastia-type vibes off of Alan last night.  I commend him for stepping in and partnering her well, but his whole “I’m really sorry you hurt your back – BUT THIS HAS BEEN THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!” comment to Mark just kinda made my stomach churn.  And I daresay Mark is Paige’s best shot at making it to the back half of this season – both in terms of fanbase and choreography – and if she’s stuck with a newb from the troupe, her odds of sticking around suddenly diminish significantly, despite the fact that she’s really a good dancer.  Was impressed with her salsa last night – she kept up with every trick Mark threw in, and there were a lot (maybe a tad too many – I think I would have been fine sacrificing a trick or two in exchange for some more basics).  I think she rolled with the punches of having to switch partners at the last minute, which bodes well for her – but I’m reeeeallllllly hoping this week 2 partner switch doesn’t end up being a permanent thing.

7.) Jodie & Keo – *standing up clapping* It was as if these two actually read my rankings last week and took them to heart – because I saw a good deal of improvement from both of them. First, a nod to Keo – that samba had so much content, and was much more aligned with Jodie’s skill set than the awkward, kindergarten tango we saw last week. If memory serves, that’s the first samba we’ve seen out of him in 4 seasons – and I daresay it’s the strongest dance we’ve seen him do so far. And then Jodie – she may have had a bit of a meltdown during practice, but I do feel like she shed some of her nerves from last week and really served up a confident, entertaining samba…and girl looked SEXY. She’s still doing something kinda odd with her mouth, so I think Keo should maybe work on facial expressions with her, but she’s off to a good start.  I think the fact that they went from a crummy running order position (4th) to a halfway decent one (1st) bodes well for them, but I think Jodie also got underscored relative to Ginger – which worries me.  Still not 100% convinced that Jodie is a priority for TPTB this season, which means she could be in a bit of danger.

8.) Kim & Sasha – Once again, I found myself loving how Kim just sold her dance – if she was lost, it didn’t show, and she looked like she was having a ton of fun.  And I thought it was adorable how psyched she was to talk to Gloria Estefan 🙂 My only issue? She kinda got lost in the shuffle for me last night – between the hype of the football players, Mark’s injury, Wanya just SLAYING, and Mischa & Artem imploding…Kim unfortunately just didn’t stick out in my memory much. Thankfully, though, it sounds like they’ve got a memorable routine whipped up for “most memorable year” week, so I’m hoping she can make a comeback – like Marla, I love how sweet & chill Kim is. 🙂

9.) Doug & Karina – Gotta love that awkward moment when Doug, the NFL OG that got next to no hype in the preseason and got lost in the shuffle last week, completely SCHOOLED the two young guns in hard work in perseverance 😎 That paso may have been simple, but it was also clean, aggressive, well-executed, on-time, and a good representation of paso – which is more than I can say for both Antonio & Von’s dances this week.  And gahddamn, Doug is one SEXY man – not only is he still in great shape, but I loved seeing the devoted husband and father side of him in his package…to me, it doesn’t get much sexier than a guy who loves his family and isn’t afraid to show it.  Not sure how much time Doug has left on this season (especially since there seemed to be some confusion as to whether the 3 in jeopardy were a real bottom 3 or not), but I did throw a few votes his way last night in the hopes that it might prevent him from falling into danger again next week.  So far, I’m finding him far more relatable and likeable than either of the two NFL players this season – and that can go a long way.

10.) Marla & Tony – Can I please look as good as Martha when I grow up??? I just can’t get over how great she looks, and also how calm & at peace she seems to be at all times – nothing seems to ruffle her feathers, and even though she’s a devout vegan and really into healthy eating, I kinda loved how she told Erin “You look fantastic!” after Erin confessed to eating Cheetos for dinner 😛 I just love how POSITIVE she is. I liked her Argentine tango, but I think I preferred her quickstep to this routine – she looked great, but was maybe a tad soft in her legs and almost too relaxed…would have liked a bit more of an aggressive approach. Interestingly enough, at a few points it actually reminded me of Erin’s Argentine tango – maybe it was the costume, the blonde hair, or the long limbs, but it just had the Erin & Maks tango feel to me.  It’s a bit unsettling to me that she got shoved into the worst running order position, which makes me wonder if she either isn’t getting a ton of votes, or TPTB don’t really see her as worthy of something better. I like Marla, but I’m thinking she might not be getting the votes.

11.) Mischa & Artem – I feel like a saw an awful lot of fixation on this couple on Twitter last night, and I found myself doing a lot of defending of both Mischa AND Artem – which sucks, because it seems like some just kinda forgot about some of the really great performances we saw last night and really just honed in on the implosion of this partnership. So I guess I’ll say my spiel one more time, for good measure: I was told by a source that Mischa & Artem just don’t get along well, and are probably just painfully mismatched. Mischa is very sensitive and kind of fragile, and she feels like Artem is hard on her and seems to delight in making her not have fun on the show. Artem feels like he’s unable to really help Mischa learn to dance, because he can’t correct some of the errors she’s making without her getting really upset. And FWIW, I was also told they both were sick last week with colds, which just made everything that much worse (could also explain why Mischa couldn’t hear the music). From where I sit, these two are probably just not a good match – I don’t really blame either one for their partnership not working, but I do kinda lay some blame on whoever decided it was a good idea to pair them together.  I think recovering addicts need really calm, gentle, nurturing partners – which I just don’t see Artem being.  I think Mischa may have had a more positive experience with someone like Mark, Derek, Sasha, or Tony.  I keep going back to the analogy of Andy Dick – part of the reason Andy lasted as long as he did was because he had a really understanding, supportive partner in Sharna. Mischa – doesn’t really have that with Artem. But anyway – not much improvement from last week to this week, and I think they’re most likely on the chopping block next week (if Mischa doesn’t drop out, which judging from the look on her face when she was called safe last night, seems like a legit possibility), but if nothing else, I’m thankful for Carrie Ann and Erin being gentle with Mischa…even if her partner was unable to.

So those are my thoughts…what are yours?