''So You Think You Can Dance'': Paging Simon!
”So You Think You Can Dance”: Paging Simon!
After four seasons of American Idol, I have yet to miss a single episode. And while it’s perhaps a little embarrassing to admit such devotion to any reality show, what’s worse is that after only two episodes of its sister show, So You Think You Can Dance, I’ve come to realize how badly I’ve underestimated the talents of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and yes, even (gulp) Ryan Seacrest.
This isn’t to say that all three Idol judges, and especially the show’s host, don’t work my last nerve on a regular basis. But whereas Paula can be too sugary, Simon too knee-jerky, Randy too incomprehensible, and Ryan too smarmy, all of them have very distinct personalities that add to the emotional experience of Idol‘s early audition rounds. It’s there where contestants need a majority vote to make it to Hollywood, and while the most exceptional hopefuls tend to make it through without debate, borderline singers create exciting discord among the judges, and at least a modicum of suspense for viewers.
It’s too bad that dynamic didn’t make its way from Idol to SYTYCD, a program on which the only opinion that seems to count is that of executive producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe. The pair of tomato cans that sit next to him — one of whom was revealed on tonight’s episode to be his wife, Bonnie! — offer little more than a meek, less verbose echo of Nigel’s every utterance.
To which I ask: Where’s the fun in that? As Nigel himself correctly pointed out on tonight’s episode, judging dance is ”so subjective.” And it’s true. From what my untrained eyes could decipher, Blake McGrath (the arrogant guy who performed to a hard-rock groove) looked way too spastic and uncontrolled to advance to the semifinals, while bouncy-haired tapper Sandra Colton (the woman Nigel praised for having personality out the wazoo) seemed to me to possess little more than middling talent and a lot of exposed flesh.
There, that wasn’t so difficult! In fact, I bet every person reading this column had at least one opinion about a performance during tonight’s episode that differed from Mr. Lythgoe’s. But I guess if any of us got up in the guy’s grill and challenged his perceptions on camera, we’d ruin his little fantasy program, So Does Nigel Think You Can Dance?
Of course, I’m not being entirely fair. There was that one oddly amateurish moment where Bonnie accidentally revealed to roller-skater Andre Meggerson that he was going to Hollywood, ruining Nigel’s surprise and causing just a hint of spousal tension. C’mon Nigel, even a guy as egomaniacal as Simon can share judging duties with Paula and Randy — and you’re definitely no Simon.
Fortunately, next week’s previews suggested that the focus will be shifting from Nigel, Bonnie, and Whatshisface to a team of five choreographers. I’m not sure if there’s a breakout personality (or two) among the quintet, but they can’t do much worse. Well, unless all five lose their ability to focus on their job in the presence of a woman with a toned, exposed midriff. That’s exactly what happened when Michelle Brooke showed up in a sports bra to dance to k.d. lang’s cover of ”Cryin’. ” Mind you, she was pretty good, but the way Nigel eyed her like a shark eyes chum made her passage to the semifinals a foregone conclusion.
I could say the same thing for Siberian sexpot Snejana ”Snow” Urbin, except that her dancing was even more sensational than her physique. They way she shook what her mama gave her while simultaneously tackling dizzyingly difficult footwork made Snow akin to a mash-up of Shakira and Charlotte Jorgensen. Yes, I mean that in the best possible way.
Other semifinalists worth rooting for include one-shoed wonder Nicholas Lazzarini, Allan ”The big boy prevails!” Frias (if a dancer’s goal is to leave you smiling, he’s got this competition locked up), and the shockingly flexible Melody Lacayanga (only so her parents won’t have to support her till she’s 40). The sole sour note of Lacayanga’s performance, in fact, stemmed from the fact that Lythgoe made no mention of her inappropriately tiny shorts, even though he called out her fellow fashion victim, Nicholas McGough, for wearing those tragic red ”fun pants” — with multiple side slits.
But hey, I’ll hold the complaining. At least the judges didn’t let the kid’s super-fey fashion sense cloud their judgment as they did last week with rhythmic gymnast Anthony Bryant. Despite falling flat on his butt at the midway point, McGough was one of the best dancers the competition has seen, and he gets extra credit for choosing the Scissor Sisters’ supercool ”Filthy/Gorgeous” for his soundtrack. Add McGough’s inspiring story of overcoming the disapproval of uncles and cousins who mocked his Footloose ways, and I’ve got a feel-good reason to keep tuning in to a show that still needs to convince me of its must-see status.
What do you think of the judges? Have you picked any early favorites heading into Hollywood? And did you find it odd that the producers chose not to show the face of their audition choreographer — Dancing With the Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaaaahba?
Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.