For a show about dancing, there was precious little dancing to be had this Thursday. We all know what that means - the filler fest known as the last audition episode is up!
After the three rounds of cuts shown to us the day before (recapped in all its glory bythe fantastic Critical), we were left with a grand total of fifty dancers. Before the hour is over, that'll be down to the top twenty. Ten guys, ten girls. Before the tears of agony and joy start, though, we get a montage of the final solos by those left. They seem to be decent enough, but hey, it is the top fifty after all. The judges don't give any commentary throughout all fifty solos - which must be some sort of record for Mary. Faina Savich is last, and she stands out by promptly collapsing right after her dance. It turns out to be a case of dehydration. Nothing serious, but not exactly a good omen there, is it?
Before the real heavy-duty eliminations begin, sixteen people are singled out for special treatment... the privilege of being eliminated on stage, before anyone else. Given that it's a rather unholy hour, one can expect the unlucky to be a little upset, but they mostly seem okay with it... except for Olivia, who mouths off on how'd she'd rather have gone first. She may not be a good dancer, but one thing's for sure: she's good at being a drama queen.
Now, it's time for the show to take a page out of American Idol and cut the remaining 34 into the lucky 20. No fancy elevator here, but what could we expect? We guess the budgets for summer reality TV are pretty low.
Cat reads off Kevin Hunt as the first fellow to face the firing line. He's pretty confident, but he doesn't make the cut. A few more people get shown the door, before we get to Danny Tidwell.
We get some backstory to Danny, who turns out to be yet another relative of someone from a previous season. He's the adopted brother of Travis Hall, from last year. He was sent through directly to Las Vegas, but it wasn't quite smooth sailing there. Mia called him out on not delivering on his reputation, and Shane had his doubts as well. Nevertheless, he becomes the first person to make it to the top 20 - but not without a warning from Nigel about his ego. Once he's off-stage, Shane tells the other judges he shouldn't have made it. There's something missing here, and we can't figure it out. Don't you just love editing?
Next up is Ashley Langas. This is, as far as we can remember, the first we've seen or heard of her. According to Cat, the judges liked her looks and personality, and she seems to be decent enough - at least, from the few seconds of footage we got. After a warning from Mia about how she approached everything with energy, the news is delivered: she's through to the top 20 as well.
While she was celebrating, break dancer Dominic "D-Trix" Sandoval faces the judges. Shane gets to be one to break the news: he's good at what he does, but not so hot with the rest. Still, he gets to "represent" all the b-boys who also do hip-hop - yep, he gets the nod. He celebrates with a few funky moves of his own, getting at least a laugh from the judges - and a mob when he gets back to the holding room.
Cedric Gardner is next. He says the callbacks were the hardest times he's ever had as a dancer, and it shows: in the routines, he just does not look good. Still, as a freestyler, he does pretty well - which is the only reason he's still alive. It's clear that Nigel does not like him, and wonders just how much he's screwing other people. Still, Mia and Shane were both willing to take a flyer on him. After a mini-lecture from the judges, Mary delivers the news in her usual shrieky tone: he's somehow made it to the top 20. While Cedric gets the full pimpage, two girls are next, and they barely get any camera time. Not the fairest thing in the world now, is there?
One-armed Janet Bombard is the next up. As we all know, a few years ago she lost her arms in an accident. You wouldn't know it, though, from the way she dances - she's very good at covering for her prosthetic arm. Nigel even admits to being touched by a speech she made earlier in the callbacks about seizing the day. All that, though, isn't quite enough for her to make it to the top twenty. It's a pity, because we'd love to see just how she'd cope going forward.
Ricky Palomino seems to be a quite... excitable. Okay, not just excitable. Strange fits just as well. After a few rather... unusual statements about how he felt about both Mary and Mia, he faces the judges. Nigel thinks he's a brilliant dancer, but he wonders if people will grow to like him. It's an interesting question, but I guess we'll find out how America reacts to Ricky, won't we?
Next up is a pair who impressed right in the first episode, Anya Garnis and Pasha Kovalev. The ballroom dancing pair got the mother of all compliments from Mary in New York, and she seems to have done pretty well in Vegas as well. There isn't an awful lot of the teasing/misdirection here, and she gets the good news of her slot in the top twenty. Meanwhile, Pasha didn't do as well in Las Vegas, and Mia even thinks what they saw was "one-dimensional". If he's a one-trick pony, well, he's a good one: Mary delivers the word. He's in the top 20 as well. I think we can consider the "male eye candy" quota for this year filled, eh?
Faina is back, and she's not too happy that Anya and Pasha made it - after all, how many ballroom dancers can you have in a group of twenty? Mary pulls off a pretty good job at misdirection, but she makes it to the top 20 anyway. Now, the question is: can she get further than brother Stanislas, who made it to the top 20 last year?
We're treated to a segment about how nervous some of the people are. Well, gee, thanks for that fine example of the Increasingly Obvious, Fox! The next contestant - who, of course, was nervous - is Lauren Gottleib. She worked with the show last year - we're not quite sure exactly how - but she auditioned and got this far this time. Nigel goes off on this rather long-winded speech about how they can't show favoritism because of last year, how they agonized over the decision, yes, yes, we get the picture already. She's through to the top twenty on her way out she starts for the wrong exit, leading Nigel to say a phrase that's gotten far too much exposure in 2007: "Other door." Did you have to bring that over from AI, Nigel? Geeez!
Next up is the only remaining b-girl, Sara Von Gillern. We see a few clips from her in Las Vegas, and she looks to be pretty decent. In the name of "representing", she makes it to the top twenty. So does a few other nameless people, including a guy with an eye-catching hair do. Who are these nameless people again? I'm sure we can find out, but really, does anyone care that much?
Heather Shore is next. She did well during group night, but we don't see anything else from her. We won't have a chance to, either, since she's not advancing. Nigel, though, likes her enough that he specifically asks her to come back next year. For someone who got cut, she seems to be taking it very well.
Jessi "Suitcase" Peralta is next. She had some good and bad moments in Las Vegas, and thankfully we're spared the awkwardness of her crawling out from a piece of luggage again. She's ready for a career change, and after a particularly devious misdirect from the judges she gets the word: she's in. We then discover that in the dancing world, 25 is "old". We'd hate to know what they really think of Nigel, then.
A couple of people are eliminated. Yawn. We don't know who they are, and we won't get a chance to. Again: does anyone really care about these people?
The next one who gets introduced is Caitlin Cucchiara. Her Atlanta audition was superb, and she turned in some good Las Vegas performances, but of late she got some nerves and stumbled. Nigel handles this one himself. She praises her for her talent and potential, even going as far as saying she'll be in a top ten someday. Not this year, though, and we can't help but agree. A little more experience will help her a great deal.
Finally, it's down to the last guy and the last girl. Twitch and Hok are both pretty unique guys, but the rap is they're not so good outside of their usual comfort zones. They come out together onto the stage, and after the explanation from Nigel, it's... Hok, going into the top 20. Hok gives props to Twitch in the waiting room, and now half of the field is assembled. What about the other half?
For the girls, it's down to Lacey Schwimmer or Kristen Stein. After the usual overly dramatic interviews, they're both up on the stage. Mary handles this one: Lacey gets some rather faint praise, pointing out Benji's win last year puts her in a tough spot. Kristen gets the "amazing" tag. The word comes down.... Lacey makes it. Kristen gets some praise as she leaves, with Nigel asking her to come back next year. Meanwhile, Lacey is in for a surprisingly hard time from the judges, with a warning in order: Nigel says she "scraped" into the girls top ten.
And there you have it. We close out the show getting introduced to all twenty finalists - some of whom we've met before, some who are new to us. Ain't pre-voting pimpage grand? Anyway, next week, the fun begins and all the show really begins in earnest. We'll find out who really can dance, and just as importantly: is Mary's laugh really that loud?
We're thankful the auditions took two weeks instead of two months. Drop us a PM for comments right here.