Are you foresightful? Do you find yourself calling off the end of people's sentences before they even start them? Do you win the lottery every other week in the safety of your own head (because taxes are so much better there)? And can you call off an elimination order on a live results show, with no spoilers of any kind to work with, before the training even starts?
If so, you may be qualified to play this season's Picks To The End game. If not: give it a try anyway, because there may or may not be a prize. That's right: there might be a prize for the winner of this thing. Or there might not be. And yes, I can keep that up for the entire season.
Your task is simple: predict the order our couples will go out in, from the first elimination to the last. Your list must be posted by midnight on March 8th. You may freely revise your list without penalty up until that deadline as we learn about training injuries and the like: after that, it's going to cost you.
The goal of the game is to avoid points, and you score one point for every place you miss an elimination by. For example, if you pick Jewel to go out in fourth and she goes out in fourth, that's a perfect pick: no points. But if you decide her husband Ty goes out the week before her in fifth and he hangs on all the way to second, you missed it by three places: 3 points to you. (Gee, that's gonna be an interesting fight...) And if your first-place prediction goes out in Week Two or vice-versa, you're going to be hurting.
Everyone starts off even at zero points: Taffnic's win last year is good for initial bragging rights, but brings no game advantage other than psyching the rest of you out.
Because this reality show has a tendency towards (and history of) injury, there's a couple of special rules in place. If the celebrity half of a pair has to step down due to pain and isn't replaced by the show, for game purposes, that elimination never happened: no one gets any points for it no matter where that celeb is on their list. If it's early enough that they're replaced by another celebrity, you get one free slide: the new pairing can be relocated on your list at no points cost, but they're the only team you can move. (If a professional dancer gets injured, just change the other name on your entry line and move on.)
1. Fanbases play a part, but it has more of an effect in the early going than the later stages. The less obscure tend to last longer -- but at some point, talent takes over. By the same token, predicting who Vote For The Worst is going to back and boosting them in your rankings might help you for a while: it's just not going to last.
2. You're effectively trying to predict the following: basic talent and the ability to develop same, chemistry with the professional partner, the way America will react to the couple, fanbase influence, and -- don't discount this -- the fanbase of each professional dancer: some have their own loyal followings. It's also worth looking at professions: does the celeb have a lot of training time available? Professional dedication? Lingering injuries from the day job?
3. Remember: the judges only account for half the scores. America can and does save a poor performer if that person has a lot of appeal in some other way -- just not forever.
4. There are some historic precedents. Athletes tend to go a long way. Older dancers don't always see midseason. Not everyone loves a clown, and models should stand close to the door. Don't judge based solely on trends -- but don't forget them either.
This season's teams. (R) denotes a rookie in the professional ranks.
Belinda Carlisle & Jonathan Roberts
David Alan Grier & Kym Johnson
Jewel & Dmitry Chaplin (R)
Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas
Lil' Kim & Derek Hough
Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke
Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower (R)
Steve-O & Lacey Schwimmer
Nancy O'Dell & Tony Dovolani
Denise Richards & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Lawrence Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska
Chuck Wicks & Julianne Hough
Steve Wozniak & Karina Smirnoff
Pick 'em. All of 'em. If you dare.
There may or may not be consequences, too.