On ''So You Think You Can Dance,'' the judges unfairly criticize one pair and gush over another, and the dancers get emotional when an early favorite goes home

By Annie Barrett
Updated July 28, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT

So You Think You Can Dance

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”So You Think You Can Dance”: The cruelest cut

Before we get down to business, I’d like to congratulate this week’s Most Ridiculous Sign: ”BENJI FATHER MY CHILD.” In a significant and mature step, Benji’s fans have stopped supporting his actual dancing and turned to what’s really important: convincing him to breed. Last week’s gem, the exceedingly true ”TRAVIS IS SO LIMBER,” remains my favorite. Tune in for next week’s potential winner: ”IVAN, WHY ARE YOU HERE?”

Last night’s elimination sucked the life out of the contestants, most of whom seemed shocked and upset when Allison — declared the early winner by jidge Crazy Mary — got sent packing. Twisty, jerky, great-hair Allison was my favorite female dancer by far, and I will forever want her abs from that clip they kept playing of her sliding up Ivan during Wednesday night’s Argentine tango. I could have watched that girl drift around for hours longer. They should really turn her into a screensaver.

Ryan — or ”Smiler,” according to Cat Deeley and millions of people who likely wanted to wipe the perpetual smirk off his face — joined Allison, but not before catching some free advice from psychoanalyst Nigel on how he should try to like himself more. No, please, no! You just don’t tell an awkward person the root of his lifelong discomfort in one of the most surreal public settings possible. Oh wait, this is reality TV? And Dr. Nigel was personally responsible for ”Bringing dance back to Ameriker”? My bad. The doctor is in. Hallelujah!

Travis and Natalie, also voted into the bottom four, danced solos of their own. Actually, Travis got to dance a solo-and-a-quarter, since he acted as a human prop for Allison in her farewell flail. Who else fell into this sappy spell over and over? It was almost too much to bear: Travis, the wee pup, stood there shaking with tears for his soul mate in dance! Always up for a challenge, I made sure no one else was around, then rewound, cried, rewound, and cried, cried again. When reality-show contestants I can actually tolerate weep on-camera, I get really into it and simply cannot be stopped. What an emotionally satisfying way to procrastinate! Thanks, guys, and Allison, great idea! (I’m under the impression she planned the semi-partnering, though it might have been improvised.) Thanks also to Natalie, who risked her knee and life during her solo to hurl herself into an aerial front flip that would definitely paralyze anyone I know.

I’m not sure I like the new method of the audience voting instead of the jidges, if only because it makes the jidges so much more blatant in their desperate attempts to manipulate us. I didn’t agree with their universal panning of Travis and Donyelle’s quickstep (that boring crap looked fine to me), and the way they slammed them for covering their faces during their hip-hop routine. Granted, I wasn’t seeing how Shane Sparks’ original concept (”Travis, monkey. Donyelle, you have to be a kangaroo”) translated into baggy jeans, pastel hoodies, and Eyes Wide Shut masks either, but that wasn’t the dancers’ faults, and wasn’t the whole point of this to show how well the pair could move without important dance-ish virtues like balance and vision? Ugh! Shut up, jidges.

They overcompensated in the other direction, too, particularly for paired-up cousins Benji and Heidi, who danced a religious-inspired Broadway number (they’re Mormons!) and the fastest mambo ever danced at any time on any planet ever. Yes, this pair was on top of their game, which isn’t surprising considering they’ve been dancing together for 15 years. But then Nigel had to go and boom ”Hallelujah!” and Mary had to yelp out a somehow even louder ”I say Amen!” We get the theme, but the whole thing seemed even more orchestrated and superficial than usual.

Still in it to win it: Benji, Donyelle, Heidi, Ivan, Natalie, and Travis. I’m guessing they’ll be paired up in that neat, alphabetical order, though I wouldn’t mind seeing a lot more solo time next week. Mmmm… solos… Allison, my love. Can someone get going on that screensaver?

What do you think? Did the right two get sent home? Does Nigel really think we believe he came up with ”Travisty” and that he’s seen Shrek? And which dancer will and should ultimately win?

Episode Recaps

So You Think You Can Dance

Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.
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