In case you didn't know, this show is to Chorus Line what American Idol is to real singing. Now that you do know, I have to wonder what you're still doing reading this recap. All three of you. However, since you're still here, I have to conclude that you just don't care and you want your cheese extra processed and preferably without any dairy in it. I'll try to not let too many facts stand between you and your processed cheese. Besides, the facts of this show would put you right to sleep and I decided to
alter them as I see fitspare you as much as possible. I like my readers wide awake. All three of you. You may thank me later. In any case, you were at least smart enough to skip the actual show, which is more than I can say about myself. I should have been rearranging my sock drawer too.
Last week, fourteen
American Idol rejectshopefuls were lucky enough to make it to the top and perform on stage. This week, two of them will be sent home never to be seen or heard from again. Unless of course they audition for a future edition of So You Think You Can Dance.
Don't stop. I'll just turn the volume down.
Drew, who is probably kicking himself right about now for taking on this loser gig, tells us that Bruno and Carrie will be picking their teams live tonight, in addition to sending two people home. But before anybody can be sacrificed for the sake of ratings, our fourteen young dancer slash singers get to perform a live number to a musical medley featuring Don't stop till you get enough among a couple of other '70s hits straight out of AM nostalgia radio. Decked out in white and silver outfits of varying styles, the group sashays around the stage delivering a seemingly pointless choreography that borrows from either High School Musical or a standard Beyoncé Grammy-night eyeball scorching self-promotion extravaganza. Hard to say which example would be a worse to follow, but the kids seem excited by the deafening audience reaction at the end of their number. So the delusion building begins. Pretty soon they'll be walking slowly down Rodeo Drive expecting the paparazzi to jump out at them from alleys, snapping pictures for sleazy tabloids.
Drew informs us yet again that “one guy and one girl must leave tonight” and the audience boos loudly on cue. After Carrie and Bruno each pick their teams of six, Dance Wars will become a kind of inbred bastard second cousin twice removed of Dancing with the Stars and American Idol, allowing viewers to call in and vote for their favorite team. Yippee! They're of course assuming that anybody besides friends and families of the contestants are watching and willing to expend time and energy to vote. Ok, well, I am watching but I'm not sure they'd want my vote even if I were voterly (new word!) inclined, which I am not.
Bruno and Carrie finally make their way on-stage amid rousing audience screams that make me think that these people must have been either paid to act like this or there's something in the ABC KoolAid besides Orange51 and half a pound of sugar. Or maybe they think their kids will be the next... Hmm. The next what? I'm still not sure whether they're looking for the future cast of Hairspray: Beyond the Ozone Hole or a new artificially engineered lipsync professional a la JLo. Either way this is a hell of a fancy Chorus Line knock-off when you aren't even sure what the final job description is going to be.
Cloaked in a thick fake fog that a hair band would envy and red, white and blue lights, our two bigwigs stand with their backs turned toward each other like in the old Charlie's Angels intro missing only the guns, glaring into the camera while big glorious music swirls around them. You know, the kind you'd hear in Rocky right before he walks into the rink to get his face smashed in. Finally Carrie and Bruno take their places on the side of the stage and exchange some familiar banter that's designed to highlight their supposed rivalry. Teeth are gnashed, fists are raised and big showy mock-confrontational gestures are used because America needs visual cues to deduce that this is a competition between the two of them. Bruno says “it's like building a football team” while Carrie is looking for “three guys who can shine on their own but know how to collaborate”.
The lowest common denominator
The seven guys are up first: Tony, 23; Phillip, 24; Chris,18; Zack, 25; Maxx, 18; Bradley, 24 and Qis, 26. Dressed in military outfits of the MTV variety circa 1996, complete with either muscle shirts or bare chests under vests, they launch into a group number set to Hold on I'm coming. I guess they couldn't get the rights to any music from the 21st century but this is just a bit confusing. Are they aiming to hook the boomer set with the nostalgia tracks or screaming 13 year olds with Seveteen magazine subscriptions? Oh, who cares! With choreography this stale and predictable they need a bit of skin to keep their viewers awake, no matter what their ages. The singing is on par with what you'd get from your average high school boy band wannabes. Ladders at the side of the stage are strategically placed so that the boys can climb up close to the camera and to emote prettily for some of their screaming
family membersfans sitting on the balcony. Lance Bass eat your heart out.
Carrie thinks it was amazing but Bradley and Zack stood out for her in the moves department. Bruno declares that this was “a show stopper”. Vocally, he thought Chris and Phillip were standouts. Wait! Since when is Bruno a reliable arbiter of singing ability? Maybe I should just stop questioning the process and allow that there must be some method to the madness. Why else would ABC greenlight a show that so obviously requires such an unhealthy suspension of disbelief? Oh, wait... This show is “not scripted”. Unless you've been under a rock since last November, that should explain a lot.
Guy pageant: Part I
Since it's vitally important for any budding superstar to have the appropriately humble background paired with just the right amount of hardship and a supportive - or dysfunctional, whichever will generate more sales - family, we are given brief introductions of the Boys' Club. There's farm boy Maxx, 18, from Indiana, whose parents would love to keep him in the tractor, plowing away at the field. But what to do with a teenager who entertains his elders in their living room with a series of fouettés straight out of the Swan Lake grand pas de deux coda? Maxx talks to the cows, dances in the pasture and gazes dreamily into the setting sun. I'd vote for him purely based on his conversation with the cows. His fouettés are weak.
Next up is Qis, 26, who is from LA. While Qis is an unusual name, he's quite lucky by LA standards. I mean, with a little less luck, he could have been named Moon Unit or Suri, or something. Qis wanted to conquer the world as a football player but after an injury prevented him from earning millions wearing shoulder pads and prancing around in tights, he decided on the second best way to achieve fame, which is to become a dancer and singer. He wants to be on Carrie's team and he sees Dance War as his Superbowl. I wonder who is going to be singing at his halftime.
Chris, 18, is from San Bernardino. He plays the piano for his supportive family, especially for his mother who is afflicted with MS and can't play anymore. They sing Amazing Grace together and hug sweetly. Aww! Representing Nashville, TN is Bradley, 24, who claims a lifelong preoccupation with singing and dancing, which is a family affair in his home. Bradley wants to smile and shine on the show and entertain. Since I want to be entertained, that's good news for me.
Thus properly introduced, the first four guys launch into their showcase number set to Backstreet Boys' Larger than life. Damn! Nobody told me when I took this gig that I would be subjected to so much torture in the form of boy band music. I can only hope it won't negatively impact my IQ. The dancing is standard fare; nothing you haven't seen between NKOTB and Menudo via 'Nsync a thousand times before. Hands reaching out toward the camera, pleading puppy dog eyes and annoying, unnatural falsettos delivering lyrics that would make me puke if I weren't afraid I'd ruin my keyboard. I'll just have to listen to some real music later to restore balance to the Universe. Carrie thinks they're all fantastic but Chris stood out for her as well as Qis, even though he got distracted and made a mistake. I didn't see it because I was distracted by the puppy dog eyes, all that hair gel and the hands-on-hearts-while-crouching thing. Bruno feels they nailed the harmonies but thinks Maxx lacked impact. Bradley is a powerhouse but he's not focused vocally. Can't blame him. I couldn't focus either.
Guy Pageant: Part II
There are three more guys to be introduced and Zack, 25, from Utah, is up first. Zack has a brother with Down syndrome who is his workout buddy and best friend. Zack wants to be a dentist but if this dancing/singing thing works out he'll gladly let somebody else fit your for that Invisialign. He feels this is his last shot to become a performer. Tony, 23, claims he came to LA a year ago with $600 in his pockets and a trash bag full of clothes to pursue his dream of stardom. His hope is that Dance War will be his “big break”. Sigh. If he's been in LA for a year, he really should know better. Our last male contestant is Phillip, 24, from Virginia. Phillip is more into music and has had little dance experience. Looks like everyone in his family plays an instrument too. Phillip is shown in his HS football uniform and rock climbing at the gym, and in a voiceover he states that he loves adventure and competition. It looks like he's being cast as the pretty boy, kind of like a handsomer Justin Timberlake.
To distinguish these three from the other four, their group number is the Black Crowes' Hard to handle and they are outfitted in jeans, belts with wide buckles, vests and glittery boutique T-shirts, the kind that your man would not be caught dead wearing. Would the Black Crowes approve? Maybe they're better off not knowing that some dudes are murdering their song wearing sequined shirts on national TV. Ignorance is bliss. The audience shrieks dutifully and loudly and Carrie declares that these three musketeers have the best voices in the competition. Bruno fully agrees, because he's an expert. They both agree that the guys need to work hard because somebody will be going home. Though, I imagine, it's a bit late to start working now.
In a fierce montage, we get a glimpse into Carrie and Bruno's thoughts about the contestants. It goes something like this:
- Bruno: "I want Zack."
- Carrie: "I want Zack too. And I want Qis."
- Bruno: "I want Qis and Phillip."
- Carrie: "I definitely want Phillip."
- Bruno: "Phillip is mine."
In short there are reasons why both Carrie and Bruno want each of these “boys” on their team but I see no reason to clutter your brains with the details especially since they both utter stuff like “gloves are off” and “this is serious time” glaring menacingly at the unseen cameraman. Suffice it to say, somebody who they both just declared they want desperately, will be kicked to the curb before the show is over. Such is Dance War. Drew presents them with two envelopes and Carrie choses first revealing that she will get first pick of the guys. Their picks in order, accompanied by the appropriate amount of effusive praise, for Carrie are Bradley and Chris, and for Bruno are Zack and Tony. The three remaining men will perform again at the end of the show when one of them will be sent home. How's that for needlessly prolonging the inevitable?
Ladies Second: Part I
Now that we've seen the men, it's the ladies' turn. They are: Allysa,20; Kelsey, 20; Elizabeth, 20; Corina,22; Lacey, 22; Mariel, 19 and Charity, 20. Group sing is to Bad girls. The girls are wearing short sequined dresses and several pounds of hair products between them. Even though they're equipped with these itty bitty microphones that look like barely visible wires near their mouths, I can't help but think that they're lipsynching. Bruno loved it all but since it looks like they like to point to two favorites, he names Lacey and Mariel as standouts. Carrie feels Elizabeth was impressive, while Corina needed something extra. Carrie specifically praised Allysa, saying “nice sparkle”. Were her sequins more shiny? I couldn't tell.
Now for the introductions. Lacey, 20, from Louisiana, is first up. She says her mother is a dance teacher who pushed her hard since childhood. A couple of pictures are shown of little Lacey in a cute outfit, then older, posing with a big trophy. Footage is shown of Lacey practicing in the dance studio. Yeah, but can she sing? Corina, 22, is from Connecticut and proudly points to her neat family home. Her family testifies to the fact that Corina likes the spotlight and performing, while she expresses disappointment that Carrie noted her flirting more than dancing. She is eager to dispel the image of a ditsy flirt, therefore we see Corina taking an egg out of a chicken coop which she then breaks. I didn't expect the chicken coop to be mixed in with images of Corina modeling. This show is cutting edge!
Our next contestant, is Allysa, 20, from Fresno, CA. She says that auditioning for Dance War was an accident and she simply found herself on stage. I'm accidentally writing this recap too. I don't know how it happened really. Allysa is excited to be on the show despite not really meaning to audition, but now that she's here she's ready to take America by storm. Lastly, we have Charity, 20, from Nashville. She is charitable by nature and teaches little kids ballet class. Daddy is a “contemporary Christian artist”. I guess this was important information for some reason or maybe just an excuse to show Lacey and her whole family singing around the piano. Lacey says she deserves to be a star. I deserve a new season of 24 too, but I'm not bitter about that or anything.
Ready to give it their all, the first four girls perform a group number to The beat goes on. They're dressed in cutesy retro style black and white outfits complemented by white go-go boots. Singing talent resembles what you'd get in the first week in Hollywood on AI. The dancing is mediocre and not terribly exciting. Maybe if they were singing a song that didn't date back to the Nixon administration, they would have been better. Carrie liked the dancing but not the singing. She did enjoy Allysa though. Bruno felt Corina didn't do so well.
Ladies Second: Part II
Mariel is 19 and she is from Chicago. She is doing the show for her beloved grandmother who put her through school and who is now gravely ill. Mariel wants to do well for her. From Nashville, we have Lacey, 22. She sings in a church choir and feels she has what it takes to go all the way on Dance War. Just what “going all the way” means”, I have no idea since we haven't exactly been told what the winner gets. If anything. Or maybe I just missed it. Our last contender is Elizabeth from California. She is adopted, she rides ATVs, she plays football in her backyard and she is determined to win.
Their group sing is to that evergreen hooker anthem Lady Marmalade. Short red dresses and long black gloves form their outfits, and just as with the men, these three can sing better than their four soul sisters before them. The dancing is mostly your standard, neither bad nor especially good. Their vocals are fairly strong to screaming, Jennifer Hudson lite, minus the all screeching and the bug eyes. Bruno feels all three are “dreamgirls in the making”. Carrie was blown away by Mariel.
Bruno picks and envelope and wins the right to pick first. Their teams lined up behind them, Bruno and Carrie glare dangerously at each other, and the faux tension mounts as Bruno makes his first pick selecting Lacey first then Kelsey. Carrie wants somebody with soul, as opposed to somebody without soul, I guess, so she picks Mariel first then Elizabeth. The remaining three will duke it out later and one of them will be ditched.
Con the partiro
Still with me? I know I said I was going to spare you the pain and all that, but I just couldn't help myself. This chestnut might just get canceled before it ripens, so I might as well
make fun of itcritique it thoroughly while it's still on the air.
So, we're down to the wire, finally, and the girls, Charity, Corina and Allysa, are up first with a group performance singing Survivor. They try to valiantly out-scream each other while using the requisite hand gestures and the pained facial expressions of your average wannabe diva. I can tell I'm going to need two Tylenol as soon as this is over. There is no dancing here, just singing, as they stand in one spot as if glued to the floor. Carrie and Bruno look on, their faces betraying nothing. This is serious business people. Somebody will get the chance to become something if they're not eliminated.
The remaining boys, Qis, Maxx and Phillip line up for their last ditch effort, singing End of the road by Boys II Men. If I never hear another boy band chorus that sounds like cats being skinned alive, for as long as I live, it will be too soon. Maxx is making scary eyes at Carrie and gesticulating like only somebody who has watched on too many formulaic R&B videos can. Phillip is channeling all four Boys at the same time. Or was that five? Much like a beheading during the Reign of Terror, it's over quickly, but alas, not quite so painlessly. Carrie and Bruno finally stand up to deliver their verdict and I'm on tenterhooks. The sooner they send two of them home, the sooner I can take my Tylenol and lie down in a darkened room. Carrie opens the envelope and gets second pick. Bruno rejoices while Drew helpfully tells Carrie that she's in “the dreadful position” of picking last. Damn, this guy has a way with words!
The teams line up behind their leaders one more time and Bruno picks Phillip and Charity. Carrie is next and Drew tells her again that she will be crushing people's dreams. Why doesn't she just kick him in the shins? She picks Qis and Allysa. Maxx, the farm boy, and Corina are eliminated.
With that, we're through the second show and now have two teams of six imaginatively called Team Bruno and Team Carrie Ann. They will battle it out next week again as the audience gets to vote for something. Next week the fabulous Lildago will have the
incredibly bad luckhonor of bringing you all the action in every excruciating detail.
PS. Are you a boy band fanatic? Send me PM if you want to be cured.