Well, we can confidently say that there are no ringers this season when a seriously overweight 60 year old with no particular dance experience is the second best dancer of the field.
Actually, the season looks pretty mediocre, which means there’s real room for improvement and the possibility of a real contest.
Chelsea and Mark - she’s young, flexible, and used to performing. Mark is a champion teacher, although his wins have been to some extent permitted by the initial excellence of his partners. I think they have a shot.
Wendy and Tony - The judges were right; she was far too tentative, especially given her brassy (not to say abrasive) personality. I think she probably won’t hold on for long. As a side note, my heavens! she’s rather over-endowed! It’s a miracle her back holds up.
Hines and Kym - He has excellent potential. Good performance, good hips, lots of personality, and the football players on this show have generally had a really good work ethic. I think he’s a contender. (I spent half the time the camera spent on his face thinking “is he black 3-4 generations back? But wait - his eyes look kinda Asian. What is this guy’s background?” only to find out this morning that he is the product of an African American dad and a Korean Mom.)
Petra and Dmitri - meh. She was seriously a supermodel? Because while she’s certainly quite attractive, I’m not seeing spectacular beauty here. Anyway, she was a little lacking in fluidity and flexibility (some of which may be due to the broken pelvis), and this show usually chews up models and spits them out.
Romeo and Chelsea - he was supposed to be on the show ten seasons ago, and still doesn’t get that Latin dancing involves moving his hips? I suspect he’s too bound up in a Super-Macho Black Man[sub]TM[/sub] attitude to relax enough to dance well. A pity, because he’s got the looks and the apparent innate ability to move. I hope I’m wrong.
Sugar Ray and Anna - my biggest disappointment of the night. He was so quick and graceful and smart in the ring (from what I remember from press about him at the time - I don’t watch boxing personally) that I really hoped it would transfer over the the dance floor. But he was hunched up like a turtle for most of the dance. If he could get over that, he’d be pretty good - he’s athletic enough and has plenty of charm. But as he is now, not a shot.
Kendra and Louis - Louis, you’ve never won because while you may well be the best dancer of the bunch, you over-choreograph your dancers and from time to time drastically misjudge what the audience is willing to accept. Kendra sounds like she was a successful stripper, which suggests some dance background, and she moved well. Einstein she isn’t, but she’s personable enough. A possibity.
Ralph and Karina - who knew? He looked almost as good as Donny Osmond. The big question is, how will he do in Latin? Definitely a contender.
Chris and Cheryl - the musclebound wrestlers and total-fighting champs don’t usually do very well here. He’s a showman, but if he can’t develop some technique, he’s out. Right now, he’s all sizzle, no steak.
Mike and Lacey - I didn’t think he was as bad as the judges did, but he wasn’t good. A good candidate for the first to go home.
Kirstie and Maks - Amazing! No “comedy,” no shtick, just good solid dancing. My question is about her stamina. If she can maintain her level of performance, she’s a lock for the finals. As aceplace noted, the two dances a week may be her breaking point.