LAST EDITED ON 03-02-11 AT 11:34 AM (EST)
Now that we know what kind of fresh torture we're dealing with (and given some of the torture the show was actively pursuing, we got off easy), let's see if we can place it in some kind of potential-based order.
For now, rankings are based on how the contestants might do individually. (The professionals do add their own fanbases, but it's harder to pick out on some than others.) This means we're looking at natural voter followings, pickup potential, base talent, recognition -- all the usual things which stop working once VFTW gets involved. And since none of this ever comes true anyway, all predictions are solely made for the purpose of being laughed at later. Might as well curtsy to the inevitable...
This season finds us facing:
Kirstie Alley (actress) w. Maksim Chmerkovskiy (fresh off his own Bachelor season)
Pros: Thanks to the endless efforts of the tabloid press, her status has not faded. It's gone mostly background and it's all about weight flux, but a slow week means the rags will always use her as their go-to headline. Has a sense of humor about herself and gawds, she's gonna need it.
Cons: Physical conditioning may be questionable here. While she's a known name, hasn't actually performed that much since reality competitions got started. Will be harassed by the pseudo-press more than most of the field.
Wild cards: Cheers reunion, live! (And the band will kill that song too!)
Prediction: I don't think she gets past seventh place, but it'll be scoring problems more than votes.
Mike Catherwood (radio talk show host) w. Lacey Schwimmer (who will spend two hours a day talking about her love life)
Pros: National following which includes a small TV gathering from those appearances and a little substitute filling-in for Regis. Not unattractive and should lure in a few votes based on that. In good shape. Has the built-in redemption angle. Gets a constant forum to promote his longevity.
Cons: Still really not known and as with a lot of radio personalities, most of his fans still have no idea what the man looks like. Amateur bodybuilder who hasn't necessarily gone for flexibility. Might be the biggest question mark in the cast. No one mocks radio people like other radio people, and his competitors are going to be all over him from Day One.
Wild cards: Will fix your love life for one easy payment of eleven votes.
Prediction: He'll need to build fast with natural talent. If he does and he gets a few swooners, he could reach the second half of the season. Without talent... g'night.
Chris Jericho (wrestler, actor, game show host, musician, whatever someone will pay him for) w. Cheryl Burke (who is guaranteed one trip to the ring)
Pros: About as close to being a renaissance man as anyone in the field: has at least dedicated amateur status in many skills and can bring some of them to the dance floor. Gets around to just about every part of entertainment media and could call in help from sectors most people can't reach. Considerable stamina, existing ABC connection. Can be charming. Has shown ability to learn scripted physical routines before this.
Cons: Name a wrestler who doesn't have lingering injuries. Bad media-perception reputation from main profession tends to follow people into this kind of arena. Some minor lingering controversies in past. Most of his fanbase doesn't necessarily watch this kind of show.
Wild cards: Tom gets to make jokes about whether any given performance will be Chris' -- downfall!
Prediction: I think he'll get through the early stages, but his ceiling is around fifth place.
Chelsea Kane (disney channel actress) w. Mark Ballas (so it's official: Chelsea is the ringer)
Pros: Part of the Mouse Promotion Machine! Dancer's build.
Cons: Who? And yes, I made that same comment last time for the Disney performer and look what happened there -- but for her, the most frequent role comes from voice work. She's had a few guest appearances on other series, but has held down practically nothing of her own on a regular basis. May have been thrown into the cast on orders from the ownership.
Wild cards: Princess dresses could work into competition with relative ease.
Prediction: Might ride 'wholesome cuteness' factor for a while, but she's the finish-anywhere random factor in this group. No one knows her, so no one can really predict her -- time to wait and see.
Sugar Ray Leonard (boxer, retired) w. Anna Trebunskaya (and she must break him!)
Pros: One of the best-loved personalities in his field. Has reality show experience on the other end of the panel from his Contender involvement. Natural movement skills may exceed those of everyone else in the competition. Charisma.
Cons: As with his wrestler counterpart, lingering physical issues from career may be following him -- and he's fourteen years older. Boxing footwork isn't going to translate over and he'll need a lot of adjustment.
Wild cards: You pretty much can't be a boxer on his level if you don't know how to self-promote -- but that could backfire quickly. Kardashian connection, which will.
Prediction: I think he's F4 with a chance to win.
Ralph Macchio (actor) w. Karina Smirnoff (so expect one Smirnon, Smirnoff joke)
Pros: While he hasn't had a major role in some time, a couple of generations still know who he is and might tune in just to see what's become of him. As a child star who got out in one mental piece, should be equipped to handle the pressures of the ballroom. Has shown he can master a role based largely in physical movement...
Cons: ...but showed that a couple of decades ago.
Wild cards: Will get ESPN's Bill Simmons following the show, leading his vote charge, and making endless references in his columns. (This will start as a pro and backlash to con after the first month.)
Petra Nemcova (model) w. Dmitry Chaplin (so much for built-in dancer fanbase)
Pros: Tough. Tougher than tough. The strongest person you have ever seen on this show. After what she's survived, any Len bashing is going to bounce off and take out band members. (Which can only help the show.) Multiple connections through entertainment fields due to her charity work: guest star potential is higher than you'd casually suspect.
Cons: Collective memory of American public means the country has to meet her all over again. Recovered from broken pelvis and is presumably at full movement potential, but... Models tend to flame out early. Smallest initial fanbase.
Wild cards: Not much. This is going to be about how quickly she can build support.
Prediction: I'll figure her for the model jinx: one of the first three out.
Romeo Miller (rapper, actor) w. Chelsie Hightower (welcome to Team Young Guns)
Pros: Has been performing since kindergarten and he's still the youngest male in the cast, which means he brings a wealth of spotlight experience and has no stage fright whatsoever. Basketball skills should give him a degree of control in floor movement -- and unlike prior contestants from that field, he's not going to have a major height differential problem with his partner. (He's 5'11".) One of the relatively few rappers without a reputation cloud following him.
Cons: Fame has been on downslope for some time: has shown signs of a rebound, but his national sales still need help. Not the world's best basketball player either. Was originally slatted for an earlier season, but suffered an injury and had his father fill in for him. And his father? Is Master P.
Forgiveness? Yeah, right -- forgiveness...
Wild cards: Could potentially become the first-ever generational VFTWer.
Prediction: If the dance skills are genetic, then he's out in the middle. (Worster love never truly goes away.) If he's an improvement on his father, might go deep.
Hines Ward (thug, cheap shot artist) w. Kym Johnson (free Kym!)
Pros: The more time he's in the studio, the more he's kept away from the general public. Has the city of Pittsburgh behind him and it's only partially from fear that he might attack. Professional football players historically do well on the show.
Cons: On the other hand, he's perfectly qualified to break that streak. If he's not on your team, you probably hate him. In fact, if he's not on your team, there's a good chance he's taken a swing at you and he made sure he did it while you weren't looking and no referee was within forty feet. If any other contestant is removed due to injury, will need to provide alibi. And he will be lying.
Wild cards: Does Korea get to vote? Does some admirable charity work aimed towards getting mixed-blood children accepted in that part of the world. And remains a thug.
Prediction: Can't go out soon enough. Probably won't. (I want to support him for his off-field work, but I can't separate his playing personality from everything else -- and others may have the same problem.)
Kendra Wilkinson (playboy model, reality star) w. Louis van Amstel (talk about changes of pace...)
Pros: Natural athlete who loves all kinds of physical activity and got back in shape post-pregnancy in the blink of a camera cut. May laugh it up in rehearsal, but will be taking this very seriously: she wants to win. Husband is a professional athlete and all training regimens will be enforced home and away.
Cons: Female viewers of this show typically respond to Playboy denizens by shooting to kill. (So does Len: I'm predicting he will never rate her higher than a 6.) May actually have The Most Annoying Laugh In The Universe. Anyone who hates the Eagles will vote against her as a two-for-one special. Has no taste. (She loves Olive Garden. She has no taste.)
Wild cards: Advice from Holly? No... Bridget? Um... And help from what remains of the Playboy empire on a family-aimed show is always a double-edged sword -- just ask Olive Garden.
Prediction: May be lovable in her way, but not when so much of the viewership already decided they hate her: has a real chance to go out first.
Wendy Williams (talk show host, self-titled queen of all media) w. Tony Dovolani (improvement over Kate, but who wouldn't be?)
Pros: Multiple public forums and a dedicated viewership who will happily vote for her based on sheer love with no worries about how the performance actually went. Has already promised to film her efforts, blog, Twitter, and generally turn her time into a full-fledged multimedia festival for as long as she lasts. Gave the wardrobe department permission to do whatever they want. On her good days, is Fun Personified: if you loved Niecy and Marissa, you may start dialing now.
Cons: On her bad days, gets so many celebrities hating her as to become the potential victim of the world's first-ever dance-by shooting -- and if she's offended a celebrity, that person's fans typically follow. Doesn't have what the judges (Len) expects in a dancer's build plus has already described herself as being spastic and with two left feet while being afraid of lifts -- her words. Could go overexposure in a hurry.
Wild cards: Y'know, giving the wardrobe department total freedom may not be the best idea... Has already been seeking advice from prior winners, but what she gets may not apply directly. Needs a partner who can keep her under control.
Prediction: Can potentially rally her fanbase enough to reach F4.
At least the politicos stayed home.