So. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been able to tune in and watch the antics of the ever-shrinking group of SYTYCD contestants, but it’s nice to see that some things never change. As it turns out, I’ve missed the hokey introductions of the remaining dancers – who are, for posterity’s sake, Lauren, Pasha, Sabra, Dominic, Lacey, Neil, Sara, and Danny; the towering blondeness of host Cat Deeley; and that discredit to British dentistry, bossman Nigel Lythgoe. What I didn’t miss so much was Mary Murphy’s obnoxious haw-haw-haw laughter and the alarming howl she unleashes when she decides a dancer is worthy of boarding her Hot Tamale Train. Ah well…maybe Cat will at least be dressed decently tonight.
A big woo-hoo to the stylists! Cat is attired in a sparkly blue shift dress and her hair is mercifully sleek and straight – no hideous fabric flowers this evening. She introduces the panel, and for some odd reason pronounces “judges” as “gigis”. Now, I’m only one-eighth Ukrainian, but I happen to know that “gigi” means “grandpa”. Is this a subtle shot at Nigel? And more importantly, does this mean that Pasha is giving Cat private language lessons? Nudge-nudge-wink-wink. Adam Shankman, choreographer extraordinaire who’s currently riding high on his “Hairspray” success, is guest judge this week, along with standbys Nigel and Mary. In spite of the fact his movie has already made a jillion dollars, he gives it a little plug and modestly admits that “it’s doing, like, really good”, then tells Cat she looks hot. Cat is hugely pleased by the compliment, as would be any woman – I mean, when a man who has zero interest in bagging you tells you that you’re hot, then you are definitely smokin’. As per usual, Nigel takes a few minutes to drone on about some random topic, and since none of the judges or choreographers have offended anyone this week – yet – he uses the time to discuss the necessity of “magic” between the partners. Since the dancers’ partners are now chosen out of a hat, that’s a lot to ask. Unless it’s like a magic hat, the kind bunnies pop out of. Nah…if they started using animals in the show, I’m sure PETA or some group would be offended and then Nigel would have to make a big public apology. Again.
Pretty Woman does the tango
The 4 couples will be doing two dances apiece tonight, and first up are Danny and Sara with the Argentine Tango. That would be enough to make me pity Sara, but as nice as the stylists were to Cat tonight, they are terribly, terribly cruel to Sara. They’ve decked our b-girl out in thigh-high spike-heel boots, black shorts, and a red bra. The song is “Whatever Lola Wants”, and I’m guessing “Lola” is short for “Hollywood Boulevard streetwalker”. Danny is smooth and graceful, and wows the crowd with several perfectly-executed pirouettes. In contrast, Sara seems awkward at times, and her dancing is more sexy stripper than sensual femme fatale. I blame the outfit. They also pull off a bizarre unwinding-pretzel move, which was technically impressive but seemed somewhat out-of-place in that particular dance. But what do I know? Adam calls it “un-beefin’-real” (What, what the hell? Did I miss a memo while I was on vacation? Beefin’???) and tells Sara he didn’t see one shred of the b-girl. I’m not convinced this is a good thing. He also tells Danny he has “the best center I’ve ever seen in my life”. Insert the cheap joke of your preference here. Mary likes Sara’s boots – she would – and while she compliments Danny’s pirouettes, she doesn’t like the flips. Nigel thinks it was sexy and loved the pretzel move and the pirouettes. I’m thinking…shut up, you guys, and let poor Sara get backstage so she can get those boots off.
Dominic and Sara have drawn the krump for their first dance, and lil’ Dom is just excited to be dancing with Lauren, because, well, she’s hot. She’s also kind of a ditz, and I’m thinking if the dancing thing doesn’t work out they could be the hip-hop version of George and Gracie. Not that anybody reading this is old enough to get that reference. Excuse me a moment while I adjust my bifocals and reach for my cane. Dom and Lauren are krumping – I’m pretty sure I can use it as a verb, right? – to 50 Cent’s “I Get Money”. Dominic is superb when he’s in his comfort zone, and there’s enough hip-hop style acrobatics to keep the routine entertaining throughout. Sara does her part with an impressive leap over Dom, though the b-boy is a more convincing krumper than Her Hotness. Adam gives two thumbs up, but Mary feels that their energy died out halfway through the dance. Nigel plays the doddering old gent card and claims that he can’t really tell the difference between hip-hop and krump (let’s face it, the only people who can are Lil’ C and Shane Sparks) and is puzzled by the musical choice, amusingly remarking that the English call 50 Cent, 25 Pence. I’m scared to admit I laughed because I don’t want 50 Cent to send his boys after me, if you know what I mean. Lauren confesses that her impressive leaping move was actually a fall that she covered up, but she gets kudos from the panel for masking her error so successfully. Good thing they’ve got that ambulance standing by.
Adam’s acid tongue
Neil and Lacey – who couldn’t look more wrong together – are kicking off their two-dance set with a Latin jazz number. There’s a tricky lift in their dance, involving Neil holding Lacey above his shoulders. Lacey, in case you haven’t noticed, isn’t as dainty as her name suggests – in fact, she’s got the thighs of a WWE diva. You’d think Neil would be the worried one, but instead it’s Lacey who’s dithering over the move. We cross our fingers for Neil’s back as the couple begins their jazz number to Ray Baretto’s “Acid”. If you weren’t too distracted by Neil’s bare chest, you probably noticed that they do manage to pull off the lift, though it does look a bit shaky. The routine itself isn’t bad, but the duo are too woefully mismatched to truly make it a success. Adam, who’s either PMS’ing or simply jealous, takes several shots at Neil’s lack of costume, rather un-subtly accusing him of trolling for the fangirl vote. He also complains that the pair failed to look at each other during what was supposed to be a passionate dance, a criticism echoed by Mary. Both Mary and Nigel also decry the lack of chemistry, and Nigel gets his snark in as well by saying they looked like dance-school pupils. It looks bad for this pair – what could save them? A tear-inducing, emotionally-wrought performance conceived by the show’s most talented choreographer, perhaps?
Dude, let’s party
I couldn’t be happier about the pairing of Sabra and Pasha, only because Sabra is my favorite to win and Pasha is my eye-candy. So will this part of the recap be biased? Hell, yes. And if I’ve offended you by saying that, I promise I will humbly apologize next week. Because that’s the SYTYCD way.
Though the new couple has drawn the pimp spot this week, they’ve been unlucky when choosing their dance forms – their first dance will be a Broadway routine. (The second will be the quick-step. So you see, they may need all the biased reviewing they can get.) There’s a bit of a language barrier hampering their rehearsal, and Pasha comments that the routine is all about running around. A lot. But after all, it is a Wild Party. “A Wild, Wild Party”, actually, straight from a musical called – you guessed it – The Wild Party. And nothing says Wild Party like ice-dancing costumes that look like they’ve been ripped right off the backs of Torvill and Dean. The routine itself is very fast, and as Pasha said, it involves a lot of running around. However, the pair hams it up beautifully, flashing big silly grins at the audience and high-kicking like veteran Rockettes. Adam, who’s all about the Broadway thing, grudgingly admits he got “really drawn into it” and congratulates them for being in character. Mary has finally found her happy place, and you know what that means. Cover your ears, everyone. Nigel thinks it’s all terrific as well, but is much quieter about it. That, or my hearing hadn’t quite returned by the time it was his turn to speak.
Go on, get up, have a stretch and put the popcorn in the microwave. We’re only a third of the way through. That’s right, a third, because this is a performance AND results recap. You may need a second bag of popcorn, and I’d recommend a beverage. With caffeine in it.
When Big Bird goes gangsta
As it turns out, choreographer Shane Sparks originally didn’t want Danny in the top 20. Oh, sure, now he says that Danny is the best thing since sliced bread, but actions speak louder than words. If you like someone, you don’t give them some tired old-school hip-hop routine. And Sara has gotten screwed in the style department again – they’ve forced her to don shiny black stretch pants to go with her and Danny’s bright yellow t-shirts (emblazoned with the song’s name, “Push It”). At least the hip-hop steps give Sara a chance to shine, and as distracting as the costumes are, it’s still obvious that Sara is getting the best of Danny in their second number. The judges have a fine time ripping on the stylists’ choice – Adam chortles that the couple got “punk’d by wardrobe” and Nigel smirks that the clothes are less ghetto, more Sesame Street. Mary’s too disappointed in the number to bother with the clothes, and complains that Sara and Danny “didn’t hit it hard enough”. Nigel, in a rare blast of utter stupidity, tells the pair that they have to help each other, and that Sara should have “brought it down” because Danny couldn’t keep up. So much for the lectures about having to bring the performance level up because it’s the final 8. Put down the American Idol judges’ playbook, Nige, and leave the mixed-messages stuff for them.
Dominic and Lauren’s second routine is a rumba, and mystifyingly, Lauren says she has to convince herself that she’s a hot, sexy woman. Because she doesn’t get enough reaffirmation from every single man she has even the most minimal personal contact with, I suppose. My 8-year-old daughter watches this bit with me, and she shows exemplary good taste in praising the music – Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” – and questionable fashion judgement as she enthuses that the scraps of blue fabric that Lauren is wearing is the most beautiful dress ever. I suppose Lauren’s sexy ensemble sort of makes her look like a Bratz doll come to life, at that. With a smaller head. Lauren’s costume must do wonders for her self-esteem, because she nails this routine, turning in possibly her best performance to date. Dom’s facial expressions are priceless, and he can rumba like no b-boy I’ve ever seen, but he’s mere window-dressing for Lauren this time out. At least Dom gets his freak on a bit, as they close out the number with a faux-passionate kiss. But again, what do I know. Adam is all about Dominic’s performance, and delivers some good-natured ribbing at the diminutive dancer for having to wear shoes with heels. All three judges take issue that it’s not a classic rumba, with Mary in particular complaining at the lack of hip action. Not enough sunshine on the stage for her tonight, she grumps – but as I’ve said before, a grouchy Mary keeps things at a reasonable decibel level for the rest of us.
Emotions in motion
Earlier on, I ever-so-subtly referred to Mia Michaels as the show’s most talented choreographer. Now, like I said, “What do I know about dance?” Well, not much. OK, nothing. But my astute powers of observation tell me that every time a dancer gets a Mia Michaels routine, they look pretty good performing it. The movements are fluid and graceful. The music chosen is often hauntingly lovely. So when Mia Michaels pulls out all the stops and creates a contemporary routine that is meant to symbolize her reuniting with her late father – well, just describing it is enough to get that lump-in-the-throat feeling. The only possible negative is that it’s the odd couple of Lacey and Neil that are the fortunate recipients of Mia’s choreography, but it looks like the joint motivation of their poor jazz performance and Mia herself combine to make the pair pull the number off, and beautifully. The stage is lit so that it almost looks like an ice surface, with flowers strewn across it…combined with Lacey & Neil’s all-white costumes, the effect is visually stunning. The music is “Time” by Billy Porter, suiting the theme perfectly. There’s one rather clichéd moment – when Lacey spills a handful of flowers over Neil’s head – that I don’t care for, and though I really would have loved to see Sabra in the girl’s role, this dance is the star of the show, and possibly the whole season. By the end, the audience members are in tears, and the judges’ panel is similarly overwhelmed – Adam begins by lavishly praising Mia, and declares the performance to be one of the greatest on TV, ever. Mary draws a heart in the air and dissolves in tears. Nigel pats her arm and tells us that she’s having “personal difficulties” at the moment – geez, Nige, half the place is sobbing already, no need to explain – and takes a turn lauding Mia’s choreography, calling it “brilliant” and “the most beautiful thing I’ve seen, ever”. The bad news? The routine itself was so outstanding it overshadowed the dancers themselves, and Lacey rather spoiled the mood by putting one of the fabric flowers in her mouth and spitting it out at the camera when her voting number is read off. Disrespectful and clownish, but as SYTYCD gaffes go, it barely registers.
Mr. and Mrs. Pinstripe
The unenviable task of following Lacey & Neil’s tear-filled routine falls to Pasha and Sabra – and they have to do it with a quick-step. More running, they gripe at rehearsal.
It’s up to them to finish big and end the night by putting a smile back on everyone’s face, and we get some mood-lifting music courtesy of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, “Mr. Pinstripe Suit”. What are they dressed in, you ask? Seriously, if you have to ask… All I know of the quick-step is what I’ve seen on Dancing With The Stars, and I’ll tell you this - Pasha & Sabra’s quick-step is about 80 miles an hour faster than anything Emmitt Smith can do. The pair prove themselves to be consummate pros, and keep smiles nailed on their faces while doing intricate footwork that resembles Twister on amphetamines. The ever-gallant Pasha appears to have taken Nigel’s advice, as the ballroom dancer seems to be slowing down his steps for Sabra’s sake. The judges are pleased as punch with this pairing, with Adam declaring them “awesome” and telling Sabra that she’s so good, she freaks him out. Which I think means she’s really, really good. Mary tells us that it was a very difficult routine and they tore it up, not to mention they cheered her up. Not too much, though. *whew* Nigel calls it “tremendous” and then says something incomprehensible about centers and arabesque turns. Whatever. He then calls them the best couple of the night, and considering the competition we’ve seen tonight, it’s high praise, indeed.
Filler-free (almost) results
SYTYCD results shows are all about filler. But I hate to deprive readers of ALL the filler. Filler, remember, can be rich and tasty – I mean, would you want to eat banana cream pie without any filling? And I love banana cream pie.
Thursday’s results show opens up with a group number, of course – this time, it’s a Matrix-meets-Ziggy Stardust edgefest set to Ciara’s “Get Up”. A good time was apparently had by the makeup artists, anyway. Cat has discarded her previous evening’s fashion sense and is yet again dressed in a castoff prom dress. And like any prom queen, she’s destined to be groped by the end of the evening. More on that later. She again refers to the judges as grandpas, and announces there were 8 million votes this week. As no one was unduly offended by the previous night’s performances, Nigel uses his time to make a ponderous speech about the Minneapolis bridge victims, and issues a warning not to buy SYTYCD tour tickets yet because there are “unauthorized” ticket sellers lurking about. The tour is so big that the tickets are being scalped? Who knew?
Because there’s an hour to fill, the 8 finalists have to dance solos. Seriously, there’s zero reason to make them dance yet again, and I’d just as soon watch a half-hour of results and follow it up with a re-run of Family Guy. Are you listening, Fox? No, of course you’re not, because ‘Til Death is still on the schedule. So, the solos. Sara is up first, showing off her b-girl prowess to Big Daddy Kane’s “Set It Off”. Lacey follows up with Rocket Summer’s “I’m Doing Everything”, displaying impressive technical skill. Sabra’s contemporary “Better Not Touch” is good as always, but Lauren’s P.Diddy hip-hop is just okay.
The boys get their turn next, and Neil doles out some gravity-defying leaps to James Morrison’s “Better Man”, while Danny takes on Elvis’ “Fever” and it looks like he takes a fall but covers it up, à la Lauren. Dominic brings the fun with “She’s A Bad Mama Jama”, using a plastic chair, albeit clumsily, as a prop. Pasha shows a surprising flair for the dramatic, appearing shirtless and taking on a solitary Paso Doble, with a long red cape in lieu of a partner. It’s all mildly entertaining, and unfortunately pointless as by the time next week rolls around, no one will remember them.
The bottom 2 girls are Sara and Lauren, and the guys joining them are Neil (apparently he doesn’t look that good shirtless, after all) and Dominic. You can imagine Cat’s dramatic pauses in between, right? After his name is announced, Dominic grasps Cat around the waist and gazes up at her with an intentionally hilarious fawning look, to the delight of everyone watching. Cat is a good sport, though, and manages to distangle herself from her pint-sized admirer before commercial break. Oh, and there’s a performance by One Republic, so dull I won’t even pretend that I listened to the whole thing. Go download it on iTunes or something if you want to hear it.
Then it’s dramatic pause, Sara is sent home, video journey, dramatic pause, Dominic is sent home, video journey. It’s extremely disappointing to see both the b-boy and the b-girl sent home, and the remainder of the season is going to be a little less fun with the two of them gone.
Next week…well, to be honest, next week it’s more of the same, but with two less dancers. The always witty and wonderful Leo will be back to bring you the performances, and many thanks to the fabulously funny PhoneGrrrl for lending a hand in the forum as well. Remember, there’s only three more stops on this season’s Hot Tamale Train – you don’t need a ticket, a shriek and a shimmy gets you on board. A cool cape wouldn’t hurt, either.
I hear 50 Cent’s new single includes a sample of “C Is For Cookie”. PM me if you’ve heard it.