PureDWTS Season 24, Week 2 – Power Rankings

To begin, here is a list of things I’m totally over seeing/hearing about on DWTS this season:

1.) Explanations of how Heather doesn’t have an advantage due to being a professional dancer.
2.) Production/the judges trying to angle for a showmance between Bonner & Sharna.
3.) Len generally being cranky about anything that doesn’t fit a rigid set of standards, and scoring to “make a point” as a result.
4.) How tired Normani is/how jet-lagged she & Val are.
5.) Charo generally being unruly.

It’s only week 2, and already, all of the above items have been beaten like a dead horse. Time to find some new material, production.

Beyond all those low points, I’d rate last night about a 6/10 – not bad, per se, but still kinda bland in terms of what I’ve come to expect from DWTS.  Front half of the show was a pretty big snooze, and they seem to load the back hour with the stronger performances. One pleasant surprise: Rupaul himself in the audience, out of drag, and rooting for Charo. I daresay he’s probably wayyyy too big a get for DWTS (and given my recent talk about demographics, probably not someone who would be extraordinarily popular with the main viewing audience), but one can dream 🙂

Part of me is a tad sad to see Chris go – no, he wasn’t a great dancer, but he wanted to be there, and I had no idea he had such a serious injury.  Definitely explains a lot about why he disappeared from the public eye for awhile, and Witney sympathizing with him showed me a new, more mature side of her. At the very least, he went out on a high note, with a fun dance that he did decently well with. Maybe we can look forward to a more in-depth Night at the Roxbury-themed dance from him at the finale 😛

1.) David & Lindsay – Was this the strongest dance of the night, technically-speaking? HELL NO. But was it entertaining, highly-memorable, and done by a wholly-likeable couple? ABSOLUTELY. Smart closing the show with them, and honestly, kinda smart of Lindsay to get silly throw-away dances like this out of the way early in the season when there’s still cannon fodder to send home, and taking risks like this one is not quite so dangerous. No, there wasn’t a whole lot in the way of actual cha-cha, and the parts he did do were questionable-to-“ok, not terrible”, but he was having a ton of fun (which is actually in short supply with some couples this season), and just really went for it – he knew he was screwing up, and he just rolled with it. It actually kinda reminded me of a low-rent version of Lindsay’s “Motownphilly” cha-cha with Wanya, so I actually kinda enjoyed it, despite its many technical flaws 😛 However, I do find myself a tad concerned about his prowess in the Latin dances, moving forward – Lindsay won’t be able to get away with another dance like this, so I hope she’s got a game plan for getting his hips moving, cleaning up his feet, and working on his arm styling. But part of me wonders if David’s niche this season is going to be that of the lovable, goofy, iffy-dancer that is just so charming that you can’t help but toss a few votes this way…and that’s ok with me 🙂

2.) Rashad & Emma – I said this on Twitter, but I’ll say it again here for good measure: my god, Rashad is a beautiful man. Not just in physical pulchritude, but his attitude, the way he speaks – he is just…mmmmm. And it just makes his dancing that much more enjoyable to watch – I thought his Viennese waltz was lovely, and the added emotion from his backstory lent a deeper meaning to the dance itself. I’m glad Carrie Ann said something about how well he took care of Emma out on the floor – I find myself saying that a lot about male celebs, especially when they’re doing ballroom dances or rumba, where the man is meant to be more of a frame for the woman, rather than a focal point.  He did a great job being there to catch her on all the dips and drops, which is harder than one might think; he also basically made the dance Lift Police-proof, because he didn’t lift Emma too high off the ground. I would caution him to avoid clipping his arm lines, though – saw a few haphazardly-flung arms, and be careful of his timing…there were a couple sections where he seemed to get a bit ahead of the beat. Overall, though, I still think he’s the men’s best bet for playing spoiler to an all-female finale – and he got all of my votes last night 🙂 Also, gotta say I kinda loved how he looked to Sasha after the dance like “Was that ok?” after dancing with his fiancee – love the mutual respect he & Sasha have for each other.  I like bromances on this show 🙂

3.) Normani & Val – For as much as we were getting reminded of how jet-lagged these two were, color me shocked to say this: I actually thought this was the strongest dance of the night, from a technical perspective and just an overall presentation perspective. It seems like Val took heed of what the judges said last week, because this was actual, proper cha-cha from start to finish, and Normani was actually rocking it – she probably understood the crossover breaks better than any of the other celebs dancing cha-cha last night, and seemed at ease with the choreography.  The girl does have a lot of natural skill, and a certain ease in performing the steps.  And generally, she seems like a chill girl – doesn’t have the attitude we saw with Janel or Tamar, or Laurie’s shyness, or Elizabeth & Danica’s generally-anxious tendencies. But here’s the problem I’m having with her: aside from the fact that she’s in Fifth Harmony and she’s tired, I know next to nothing about Normani as a person. I have to put some of the blame on the producers, who only seem to want to hone in on the fact that she’s traveling and super-duper tired because of it; a smaller bit of the blame lies with Val, as he still seems to have a tendency to talk over his partners in critiques and talks with Erin. It’s coming up on week 3 – I want to hear more about Normani FROM Normani, and less about the jet lag and whatever blathering Val was doing about vampire venom & Chinese trade policies. I think once we start to see her, her dancing may reach an even higher level, because she’s going to seem more human to the audience – and if you don’t think that’s a big deal, you should go sit with Erika in her Lambo. Just sayin’…

4.) Simone & Sasha – I’m starting to think I’ve fallen victim to the pitfall of assuming that all gymnasts are automatically going to excel on this show, because so far, I’m feeling very…lukewarm about Simone, and it sucks. Granted, she seemed to fare better this week than she did last week, but I still don’t think she’s reached full potential yet – she’s getting MORE comfortable out on the floor, but she’s not 100% there yet. After listening to the obligatory “I’m young, so I’m not comfortable being sexy” spiel in her package, I had to kinda chuckle to myself, and wonder “Has there ever been a gymnast on DWTS that has actually been comfortable being sexy?” In order to help her channel that sexiness/sassiness, I think Sasha deliberately threw a lot of extra, non-cha-cha steps in this one – steps that I’m rather shocked that Len “My Hemorrhoids Are Flaring Up and It’s Making Me Uber-Cranky” Goodman didn’t call out, given the picky mood he was in last night. Is the fix already in? While she was better than last week, she still seemed a tad stiff to me, and perhaps a bit pose-y, like Laurie tended to be. I’m hoping she gets a fun dance (where she doesn’t have to be sexy) like jive soon, because I really think that’s where her strength is going to lie.

5.) Bonner & Sharna – Honing in on the shot of Bonner & Sharna holding hands at the end of their package??? REALLY, PRODUCTION?! They appear borderline desperate for this love connection to happen, and it’s pathetic. Especially since Bonner actually showed some impressive potential this week, and possibly won’t need to lean on the showmance to stick around this season. Because this week, he actually looked better than Nick, and his frame and extension were gorgeous. I could have done without some of the “watch us stop in our tracks and almost kiss” steps, but part of me wonders if Sharna is being pressured by production to do some of this stuff, given some interviews she’s done recently and this gem from the executive producers. I’ve seen some viewers casting some blame on Sharna, but I think she may be getting coerced into this to some degree. And it could also explain why Len seemed to be having a hard time articulating just exactly what his problem was with the dance – he kept making that sour puss face (that he usually makes when he’s having to go against his gut instinct – Len’s got tells, y’all) while he hemmed and hawed about the “romantic, lovey-dovey” parts of the routine, which seemed to be directed at Bonner…but really, it felt like something should have been directed at Sharna, or even the producers…which is why he was having a hard time verbalizing his real issues with the routine. There’s definitely some puppet strings being pulled here, y’all. But if nothing else, Sharna’s dress was the most gorgeous costume of the night 🙂

6.) Heather & Alan (Maks) – And the #HeatherNotAProDancer apology tour continues, courtesy of Julianne Hough *eye roll*. She’s basically said the exact same thing with regards to Heather for two weeks in a row now, so I hope she’s gotten it out of her system – it’s starting to look desperate and forced…kinda like the showmance angle with Bonner & Sharna.  Methinks Ashley & Joe are busy lil bees these days, pulling the puppet strings from the EP box. Anywho – of course, there was the requisite drama with Maks’ injury. What was odd to me, though, was that Maks wasn’t sporting the usual angsty expression that injured pros usually have on their faces when watching their partner dance with someone else from the skybox – he may have been putting on a poker face, but the impression I got from his body language and his talk with Erin afterwards was that he didn’t seem too disappointed with being out for at least a few weeks. Can’t say I blame him, if he wants to get back to that adorable baby – I think Peta wishes she could. As for the dance itself – of course #HeatherNotAProfessionalDancer handled it well, although her feet were looking kinda floppy at the beginning, and I think she could have been picking her knees up more. As for #SoloGate – I have to agree with Len, for the simple reason that it was unnecessary and it didn’t belong in the dance. If the object of this is to prove that partner dancing is different than what Heather does and it’s more challenging, then MAKE HER DANCE WITH A PARTNER FOR THE ENTIRE DANCE TO PROVE IT. Don’t bring in two girls from the troupe to basically recreate “Single Ladies” – and I had to smirk when Len brought up her dancing for Beyonce. On top of that, it wasn’t jive – heard a couple people claiming that it didn’t fit jive timing, so that’s why Maks did it (bless your pure and spotless hearts), but he could have very easily switched over to single or double-step jive to make it fit, or at the very least had Heather and Alan doing side-by-side work.  Sorry, but the hip-hop solo was NOT NECESSARY, and no amount of arguing will convince me otherwise. So what does this mean for Heather the rest of the season? I would assume Maks will still be doing all the choreographing (which means we will still see some of this bullsh*t in future dances), but Alan will be doing all the performing for at least a period of time…so I’m not sure much changes.  Which could actually be kinda bad. Random fact: this is the first time that two former SYTYCD contestants have danced together on DWTS as a pro and a celeb.

7.) Nancy & Artem – I just love Nancy’s attitude – I love how positive and grateful she is after she talks to Erin, even if the dance didn’t go exactly how she planned.  Kinda reminds me of Marla Maples, in that respect – just a very upbeat energy. Unless of course, it’s Artem giving her a compliment, and then she cries 😛 Everyone processes this show differently, but it just made me chuckle a bit to see Artem actually being really, really nice to his partner, and her crying because she wanted him to be tougher. The irony! This cha-cha was actually really nice – I have to commend Artem on actually sticking to legitimate choreo this season – I’m told this is closer to how he was on Strictly. Nancy actually looked really good – loved the shows of flexibility, and her legs looked great.  Like Erika, she seems to get a tad wobbly on turns, but she at least seems to spot a bit better and get back in control quicker. But she had fun, it showed, and overall, she really just needs to get comfortable and let loose a bit more out on the floor.  This was a definite improvement from last week, but she can still get even better – heck, I think she may actually end up being better than Lea, who has been Artem’s only other contender thus far. Thought this was a bit underscored, considering that Erika got the same score for doing a lot fewer steps and making a few more mistakes. Still trying to figure out why the judges are scoring the way are so far this season…it’s weird.

8.) Nick & Peta – Y’know, I’m finding myself really kinda puzzled as to what exactly Nick is doing to piss the judges off so badly.  This is the second week in a row where I actually said to myself “Hey, Nick’s actually not half-bad!” only to have the judges basically tear his routine a new one. Nick actually seems to be trying, and he did seem to improve from last week – sure, his frame and footwork need some work, but I generally thought he kept up well with the timing, and did the best he could with the busy choreography Peta gave him.  Which brings me to Peta…*sigh*. Prior to the start of the season, I found myself thinking “Damn, this seems awfully soon after having a baby for her to return to the show!”, but I shoved those thoughts aside and assured myself that she knew what she was doing, and would be able to balance a family and work without issues.  Now I’m not so sure that’s she’s finding a balance – she looks utterly drained, and it seems like her choreography is suffering as a result…along with her relationship with her partner. As the judges were ripping into Nick for choreographic issues that were really more Peta’s fault, I just felt the disconnect between them – as if Nick was trying to be supportive of his partner, but wasn’t entirely in disagreement with what the judges were saying. All that aside, though, I actually thought they low-balled him score-wise, considering that he had far more content than Charo and didn’t miss nearly as many steps. So the question I have is this: is Nick simply getting too many votes? Are they low-balling him to level the playing field? Or is this all a plan in order to ensure the new mom has a season that ends earlier rather than later? Or do the judges just really not like the guy as a person? I’m not sure, but if they keep this up, he may be out sooner rather than later…

9.) Erika & Gleb – Erika REALLY needed to stand out this week, and I’m not sure she & Gleb rose to the challenge. Dancing 2nd is the running order spot of doom – you only put people there that aren’t a major draw, so I’m inclined to think she’s fading into the woodwork in viewers’ minds like she is mine. For what it’s worth, I think she’s a far better dancer than Lisa Vanderpump was, and is more at ease on the floor.  But where I think she’s stumbling is that she’s not coming across as relatable – between the “It’s Expensive to Be Me” bit last week, and the Lambo onstage this week, she’s coming across as kind of a rich snob. Remember: DWTS is far more popular in rural areas, where income is typically lower, so this is kind of a bad problem to have.  I also think her sense of humor is just not translating well on screen – Deep Throat has said that Erica is actually very funny in rehearsals, and has a very dry sense of humor. I think that can easily get misinterpreted as arrogance, if you don’t provide context. As for the actual dancing – her frame actually looked quite lovely, although she is still looking wobbly in turns, and it looks like she missed a few hand-passes with Gleb in the middle. And sorry Gleb, but you get a bit of a slap on the wrist as well, because I still see you falling into the same choreographic traps that you did with Jana last season – going for the “sexy” moves, throwing in a lot of flaily, dramatic tricks, and generally being kinda gimmicky. Gleb has a lot of potential as a pro – I think he does care about his partners, but man…his choreo needs work. And Erika has a lot of potential as a contestant, but I think we need to see her do something really normal or silly (maybe having a Silly String fight with Gleb in rehearsal? IDK) in order to for the viewers to relate to her.  Because she’s extraordinarily forgettable at the moment…

10.) Charo & Keo – Remember how I said her schtick would wear thin before long? Well, it’s already thin, I think. I’m kinda gobsmacked that Charo was able to get a 25 for this mess – lotta forgotten choreography, and a lot of her standing in one spot stomping her feet and clapping. Yes, she’s probably the only celebrity we’ve had that has actual flamenco training, but this didn’t even seem like the hard flamenco stuff – just kind Charo…being Charo. She had good energy, and seemed to riff off Keo well enough, but I’m already over the out-of-control antics afterwards with the judges. And judging from some of the responses I’ve seen on Facebook, the older subsection of the viewing audience seems fed up with her – given that she was in jeopardy, I’d believe it. I think the jeopardy appearance may give her a tiny boost that may keep her in another week, but I’m not sure she has anything beyond that. I’d partially blame Keo, but I’m not even sure she’s someone that Keo can control – I get the feeling she’s kinda running the show in that partnership.

11.) Mr. T & Kym – Poor T – I just think the guy is not a natural dancer, and while he is trying, I just don’t know that he’s going to improve a whole lot more in the little time he likely has left.  This was an improvement over last week, but really – this was VERY simple choreography. Kym was smart to stick to moves that were basically just T posing, because I don’t think he has a good enough feel for the rhythm of the music to really do complex syncopations or anything other than straight 8-counts. It worked, because he didn’t miss any steps this week like he did last week, but I’m not sure there are a whole lot of other dances left that Kym is going to be able to do this with – it worked for the paso because it’s just basically a 1-2, 1-2 marching rhythm, but he isn’t going to be able to get away with it in a ballroom dance. He also got kinda low-balled in score (I think he did more steps on-time than Charo, Charo just had more energy), so I’m not sure if he’s gonna have the juice to make it through next week. Which sucks, because I was hoping we’d get Kym a bit longer this season. Oh well – it’s been fun having both of them, but I don’t know that they’ve got very many dances left in them.

So what are you thoughts? What are you tired of hearing about, and what is sticking out at you as weird this season?