PureDWTS Season 25, Week 2, Night 1 – Power Rankings


I’m sitting here, scratching my head, because I’m not entirely sure what I just watched. It was a normal show night, but with the exception of a few couples that actually came to play, last night felt like it was pretty half-assed – few of the couples seemed like they really wanted to be there, doing those dances, to those songs, in those costumes; and I’m fairly certain Tom was just sifting through Twitter and cherry picking material that fans were bitching about to base his (rather flat) jokes on.  The costumes even felt like an afterthought – with the exception of Lindsey & Mark’s butterfly ensembles, everything else just felt generic and thrown-together; for those who are fans of Rupaul’s Drag Race, we saw a lot of “shake-and-go” dresses last night – things that look like they were store-bought, pulled out of a shopping bag, and lazily thrown on and shaken out before hitting the stage. Was everyone just completely exhausted from trying to learn two dances as early as week 2, which is an absurd idea? Or were the couples told to focus on their more crowd-pleasing Latin dances? Whatever it was, I was pretty bored with last night’s show, on the whole…

…or rather, I was bored for the bulk of it, and then got pretty irritated once I saw some pretty suspicious scoring going on. I don’t know what kind of deal they had to make to get the Lachey’s (or, more specifically, Nick – who swore he’d never do the show) to do the show, but I’m beginning to wonder if they were assured a certain placement, because the judges seemed absolutely ENAMORED of a decent (but not great) Vanessa doing mediocre choreography from Maks, while at the same time low-balling Lindsey & Mark’s creativity, nitpicking Derek & Sharna for technique issues that were non-existent, and making petty observations about stylistic choices in Jordan & Lindsay’s dance. First of all, I would have been JUST FINE sticking with the “only one judge critiques” model of last week’s show for the remainder of the season, because 2/3 judges consistently seemed to spew nonsense last night – and more often than not, it was Len & Carrie Ann, who were playing bad cop to Bruno’s good cop routine. Second of all, TPTB are playing a dangerous game with who they’re nitpicking and who they’re propping up, because I’m seeing even the less-savvy viewers stopping and going “Wait a minute.  Something doesn’t seem right…” They’re being a bit too obvious about it – and like last season, when they attempted to lure viewers in one direction rather heavy-handedly, the viewers may bite back and vote in a way that’s not expected…which brings me to my next point: I think TPTB have been a bit thrown by the audience response to this season’s cast.  I think some couples are more popular (and better dancers) than they initially anticipated; I think others aren’t doing nearly as well as they had planned or hoped for. And it’s all throwing a big ol’ wrench into their master plan – the question is: will they continue with the charade, or opt to let things progress organically? My money’s on the former…

Sucked to see Barbara go – I thought she was having a genuinely good time, and really was trying; plus I actually found her hilarious, recreational outrage from some asshats on social media (and from some people in the comments here) notwithstanding. And some of what was being said with regards to a white woman expressing her attraction to a black man still does not sit well with me – on the upside, it definitely shed some light on who some of the closet racists & misogynists are in the DWTS fandom. Best believe I’ve seen some of your true colors, and that you might find yourselves called out on it…

…but let’s move onto more interesting things, shall we? 🙂

1.) Jordan & Lindsay – Despite another near-technically-flawless routine, I found it interesting that the judges opted to jump in right away with criticism – and I’m having a hard time taking them seriously, because they opted to nitpick on what I would consider to be more stylistic choices, than technical ones.  Make it look more “ballroom-y”? Errr, Jordan had probably the most proper technique of anyone we saw last night, so I’m not quite sure where that one is coming from, Carrie Ann. If you’re referring to the way he develops his arm lines, I happen to think they’re absolutely gorgeous – and probably superior to what one would expect from a ballroom male. And I totally disagree that he looked “staccato” – the guy moves about as fluidly as one can expect. Once again, I’m left wondering if they’re trying to make this more of a horse race, and make it not appear as though Jordan & Lindsey are already the front-runners to win this season – especially since they once again gave him the high score, while giving a pretty lukewarm critique. Tipping their hand a bit too much, methinks 🙂 Really interested to see how Jordan fares with a samba tonight – of the four couples doing samba (which is notoriously tricky), I think Jordan stands the best chance of actually knocking his outta the park.  I’m ready to see something different from him, after two ballroom dances.

2.) Lindsey & Mark – Getting saddled with 3rd in running order after dancing a showstopper (in the pimp spot, no less) in week 1? That was another head-scratcher for me, as running order positions #2-4/5ish (whatever fits in the first hour) tend to be a bit of a “no man’s land” – you don’t usually put your big hitters there. And this was one of the better dances of the night – not sure it was one of my favorites of all-time from Mark, but I appreciated the creativity of the butterfly costumes, and the choreography was fun and engaging.  I’m still noticing a bit of a strange bounce from Lindsey (I mentioned it last week), which worked in this dance, but I’m not sure it will work in other dances; and I agree with whichever judge mentioned Lindsey’s neck – she’s just not quite got the right position, and it looks a little stiff.  Something to work on, for sure.  I called Len calling out the broken hold on Twitter (and Mark knew it, too – was a calculated risk on his part), but I did notice that Len seemed a bit gentler about calling it out this time – like he knew exactly what Mark was doing and actually enjoyed it, but felt like he HAD to point it out. Still thinking Lindsey & Jordan will be the last ones standing, and I honestly think it’s going to come down to personality: both Jordan & Lindsey are good showman, Jordan is a slightly better technician, and I think Lindsey is slightly more relatable to the audience. Still no idea who comes out on top yet…

3.) Drew & Emma – I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel like everywhere I look, DREW IS IN THE NEWS. Whoever does Drew & Jonathan’s publicity, they need to give her (or him) a hefty Christmas bonus, because I feel like they’re doing the full-court press for Drew on DWTS, along with the cross-promotion of their new season of their show and their book.  Drew’s hamstring injury? Was on my local news at 6 PM last night. No mention of Frankie’s back pain or Vanessa’s big toe boo-boo, but yes – on the local news in Indianapolis at 6 PM, one of the big stories was Drew Scott’s hamstring injury on DWTS.  And it sure didn’t seem to hinder him much – he danced his ass off last night, and his performance was the first one that really woke me up after a pretty ho-hum first half of the show. He improved pretty drastically from last week – he stayed in-step with the troupe on the individual sections, and moved big; and his frame improved a bit from last week, as he seems to be a bit more cognizant of body contact and foot placement.  Sure, the dude is “gangly”, Len – he’s 6’4″; Emma is 5’4″. They are gonna struggle with height difference all season long – no getting around that.  My advice to Emma is to maybe try and get her hands on some tapes of Calvin & Lindsay from season 23 – they had the same height difference as Drew & Emma (1′ difference between them), and Calvin was unique in that I don’t ever remember him looking “gangly”, despite his height. Drew could probably learn a thing or two from watching Calvin, another lanky guy, really control his limbs and torso well and keep everything in check…because Drew looks a bit like Kermit the Frog flailing out there right now 😛 Definitely still a lot of potential in these two, and given how much publicity he’s been getting…I’d say they’ll be around for awhile.

4.) Derek & Sharna – Is it too early to wonder if Derek is going to be this season’s Nick Viall – just relentlessly picked on by the judges, no matter how well he does each week? Because for the second time in a row, Derek actually does a pretty awesome dance, and the judges really don’t give it much love at all. Listening to the critiques on this dance were where I hit the point of irritation last night – particularly when Carrie Ann was bitching about Derek needing to “move bigger”, when I actually think he’s been really moving to an impressive extent both last week and this week, and is really stretching out those moves.  I also have to commend Sharna on some pretty cute, pretty creative choreography – probably my favorite of the night – and was shaking my head when it seemed like Len was hemming & hawing and subtly trying to complain about the choreography Sharna gave Derek. The choreo was fun, creative, engaging, and dance-appropriate; I thought Derek was charismatic, didn’t miss a beat, and I’m actually of the opinion that he had the best frame of the night next to Jordan.  I just give up on why the judges aren’t showing him much love – is there no advantage in pimping him? Is he too big of a threat to one of the “chosen ones”? I think he was grossly underscored, and judging from the expression on Sharna’s face as they were getting their scores – she agrees.  This was the most off-the-wall score/critique of the night for me – just completely at odds with the actual dance we saw.  I would have given it at least a 22; I’m guessing enough probably agree (and will come out to vote) that we could see Derek sticking around for awhile.  I hope he does – he’s rapidly becoming one of my favorites.

5.) Vanessa & Maks – Is it just me, or do TPTB really seem to be trying to make Vanessa “happen”? I feel like she got far more screen time than any other contestant last night, between her bizarre tears over Peta while she & Nick were getting their scores, and then more tears in her package after her toe boo-boo, and then even MORE tears after finishing her dance.  Damn, Vanessa cries a lot. She also kind of babbles, to the point where I feel like saying “Girl, you actually don’t have to be talking every time the camera is on you.” Did she do well with her foxtrot? Ehhh…sure, okay. She did the moves, she didn’t go off-time, she looked like she was having fun.  But man – how much actual foxtrot did we even see, what with all that fussing around and posing at the beginning? I think Maks choreographed maybe 10 bars of actual in-hold foxtrot, total, and I did notice that Vanessa seemed to get this weird, hiccup-y quality to her basic step at times – definitely not what I would consider equal in score to Jordan, who was damn near technically flawless in his dance last night. I generally like Vanessa as a person (although I did find myself mildly annoyed by her nonstop talking last night), and I definitely find her to be a better dancer (and more personable) than her husband, but I’m just left thinking “So…what’s so great about Vanessa, that they’re short-changing much better dancers in order to prop her up?” It may be too early to tell what the agenda is, but my guess is that they’ve either invested too much in the whole “married couple vs. married couple” gambit and have a vested interest in at least one of the pairs going far, or they’re trying to make it look like Jordan & Lindsey aren’t running away with the MBT already, and Vanessa’s just kind of a pawn in the attempt to make it a horse race. I’m having a hard time believing it’s because they want lackadaisical Maks in the finals. For now, I think all the attention may be working – but a part of me wonders if she really might be struggling with votes and needs help…

6.) Victoria & Val – Just a side note: I absolutely hate that new Taylor Swift song. Sure, it’s got a good beat for a tango, but I just find the whole thing hokey…and I’m just over Taylor beefing with just about everyone, and acting like she’s going to exact revenge in some menacing way.  Sit down, Becky. Ok, rant over – I find myself just really liking Victoria’s personality, and the way she seems to see the big picture; seems like she figures “Hey, I basically defeated some daunting odds to walk again, there’s not much that could phase me!” and just rolls with the punches well. And given that Val has had to really adjust his choreography drastically to accommodate her needs – he’s having to focus more on on-the-spot actions and avoid sweeping moves across the floor – this was still a pretty good tango, and whatever Victoria couldn’t do with her legs, she made up for with the rhythm in her head and arms. I will say that on the moves that actually progressed across the floor, she seemed to take some pretty wide, stilted steps – you can tell she doesn’t always know where her feet are, and does her best to adjust, but it can look a tad off-kilter…will be interested to see if this gets pointed out as the season advances, or whether the judges are going to give her a bit of a pass and focus more on what she’s doing with her upper body. I’m also wondering whether or not we’re going to see her do quickstep or jive at all – those were the two dances that Noah was excused from in his season, given that they would have been exceptionally tough for him to do on his prosthetic leg; I’m wondering if the struggle will be the same for Victoria, who can’t really feel either leg.

7.) Nick & Peta – If there were a gif that could describe my feelings about Nick’s dancing, it would be this one – I see that he’s trying, and he did improve slightly over last week, but I’ll be damned if this guy is just not a natural dancer AT ALL, and it’s just painfully awkward to watch at times. I agree with whatever judge described the dance as “frail” or “brittle” – it just felt like both Nick & Peta were made of glass and were avoiding any big movement that might cause them to shatter, and everything just felt very tentative and cautious. Nick’s frame seemed like it had potential, but the spin in the middle was an utter mess; I didn’t quite catch what wardrobe malfunction happened with the dress (did it get snagged?), but the dress was matronly and unflattering on Peta, anyway – she may have just had a baby, but she’s not attending a retirement party! Ditch the Bea Arthur ensembles, Peta – you’re a Blanche, not a Dorothy 😉 Not a whole lot else to add – kind of a non-event, in the grand scheme of last night, and I think 19 was actually a pretty kind score, given that Derek actually killed his routine while Nick limped through his, and they both got the same score. Not sure anymore that Nick is going to make it further than Vanessa – I think the tides could be turning.

8.) Frankie & Witney – Once again, I’m left really impressed by Frankie – he’s done far better than I anticipated, and he seems like he is improving week to week. Frame looked good again last night, he stayed on time, and he seemed focused.  I just think he needs to relax a bit more, and hopefully a more fun dance like his cha-cha tonight is going to show a more playful side of him, since he’s had two relatively serious dances so far. Not much else to add, other than I hope he finds a way to separate himself from the pack, personality-wise – right now, he’s part of a cluster of about 3-4 couples that I worry are getting lost in the shuffle (to no fault of their own, really) and need to break away from the pack a bit and establish more of an identity on the show. He could go far, if he can show a bit more personality – he and Derek are my two dark horse picks for the season.

9.) Nikki & Artem – Unfortunately, another member of the “lost in the shuffle” gang this week, and once again, not really her fault – the tango may have screwed her a tiny bit last week, and I think the waltz really screwed her this week, on top of getting a crappy running order position and a terribly sedate, sleepy song. Seriously, “Come Away With Me” just makes me want to take a nap – not watch a waltz. On top of that, waltz is the ballroom dance that seems to show issues the clearest, because it moves so slow and you can see EVERYTHING – Nikki was actually decent, but there did seem to be a few minor frame and rise-and-fall issues that probably got unnecessarily magnified because everything was so slow.  I’m really hoping she shuts the house down with her samba tonight, because so far, she’s been pretty middle-of-the-road, and I think she & Artem are capable of being contenders – they just need the right songs & dances to do it with.

10.) Sasha & Gleb – Couple #3 in this week’s “lost in the shuffle” gang, and unfortunately, someone possibly on-the-bubble for elimination.  As cool and down-to-earth as Sasha seems to be, I just am finding her dancing to be a complete non-event. It’s neither terrible nor great, and personality-wise, she’s just rolling with the punches so well that we’re not seeing anything that really sticks with us – hell, T.O.’s tantrum, Vanessa’s toe boo-boo, Drew’s hamstring issues, Derek’s mom – these are all things that help people stand out in viewers’ minds. Sure, Sasha’s parents came to her rehearsal, but that all seemed relatively tame compared to some of the things the other couples were doing.  This wasn’t my favorite piece of choreo by Gleb, either – seemed a little bit sexy-fied, with the rolling around on the floor, the feather fans, some kinda flail-y moves…eh. It was all just ok, and I saw a few thrown-away arms lines from Sasha. Moving more than last week, which is an improvement; but I have yet to see anything from her that screams “contender”. I thought 23 was an awfully kind score – but then I realized that it was just announced that Sasha will be starring in a PLL spin-off with (who else?) Janel Parrish, and I’m guessing they may want to keep ABC family around a bit longer to promote the new show.  Or not…who knows. Just need to see more from these two at this point.

11.) Debbie & Alan – Last member of this week’s “lost in the shuffle” crowd – although I think she was slightly more memorable by virtue of a better running order position and a more energetic dance. Debbie looked a bit tentative (and tired) at times, but overall, she kept up well and seemed to have fun – and she also minimized the mention of her Lyme Disease, which I had heard complaints from some fans about last week. I’m just still not really sure where she stands in terms of votes – Alan’s not likely to bring in a ton to help, yet, by virtue of being a first-time pro; and I’m not sure how much of the nostalgia vote she’s getting, either.  I’m thinking two kinda similar dances, back-to-back, could be problematic in terms of being memorable – I’m just feeling not very sure about Debbie, if I’m being honest.  I neither love nor hate her – she’s just there, so far.

12.) Terrell & Cheryl – Y’know, when it comes to T.O., I think it really is as simple as this: he would have a lot fewer problems in his life if he could simply SHUT THE F*CK UP. Which is more or less what I recommended last week – if he just learned to bite his tongue and nod politely instead of launching into a tirade, he could perhaps avoid some of the bad press he’s gotten.  But given the content of his rehearsal package last night – oof. I don’t know that the dance he did is going to be enough to redeem him in the viewers’ eyes for basically shading Barbara and throwing a tantrum at Cheryl. If I didn’t already feel for Cheryl in that respect, I had to kind of pity her for the song they threw them – “Pillowtalk” is about as un-foxtrotty as you can get, and lyrically, it’s a VERY suggestive song. So I can’t fault Cheryl too much for going a bit of the smutty route with choreo – really, the dancing wasn’t bad, and given T.O.’s vehement aversion to the foxtrot, I think the fewer traditional foxtrot steps she gave him, the better, even if Len was not about it…lord knows Carrie Ann was. I think it’s absurd that he ended up with one point more than Derek, one point less than Lindsay, and ended up tied with Drew & Emma…but in the same token, he was already in jeopardy last night, AND had a pretty unflattering package to boot. I’m not sure the jeopardy scare is going to be enough to rally his/Cheryl’s fans to save them. At this point, I think I’d be shocked if he survived tonight’s elim…and if he somehow does, I doubt he’ll be long for this competition and we’ll probably see him leave within the next week or so. Terrell, I was actually rooting for you…and so far, all you’ve done is sh*t all over the opportunity. 🙁

So what are your feelings about ballroom night? Did the right person go home? Who do you think is headed home tonight? And what are your overall feelings about the season so far?