So You Think You Can Dance recap: Kher-Less
The exuberant Bollywood number that opened last night’s So You Think You Can Dance results show was pretty much everything I’d hoped it would be (except, next year, it really ought to be the top 20 group number if it’s ever going to look like this). And Mia Michaels continued her season-long therapy session with an anguished all-girl group number about, um, milkmaids keening in grief over, um, something really, really, really sad. So probably not spilt milk. I kid; even if that anguish was so severe that it left me unable to catch up with it, the number was still pretty stunning. But with a simple three-and-two lineup, some (slightly off) step dancing, Broadway capering, and good ol’ fashioned hoofing, plus — lawd, it’s a miracle! — a single unbroken camera shot, Nigel Lythgoe’s Five Guys Named Moe all-guys group number managed to steal the show. Well, shucks, Nigel, I’m impressed. Now let’s keep those cameras steady and those editors idle for the rest of the season, how ’bout it?
As for the results, well, I can’t say I’m exactly surprised. The bottom four of Gev, Comfort, Kherington, and Mark was pretty much preordained after Wednesday’s performance show, and although I pegged Comfort to go home before Kherington yesterday, based on their numbers this week and their solos last night, Kher deserved the boot first. Comfort has soloed every week since the top 18 results show, and yet her solo last night may have been my favorite. It was pretty clear that she expected to go home, so the pressure was off, and it made her a better dancer. Kherington, though, was just the opposite. Mary called her a front-runner, but I think, as was the case with Kameron and Lacey last season, Kher’s popularity ended up having more to do with Twitch’s popularity than her own; when left alone, she couldn’t define who she is as a dancer. As I write this, in fact, my colleague and fellow SYTYCD fanatic Alynda Wheat just e-mailed this to me: ”Kherington’s solo: You are not Mark.” No, indeed, she isn’t. You don’t end your solo with a shrug, Kher, even if you do think the judges are stinky-poo pants for hating all over your missed turns and perfunctory dancing, making America not vote for you. Although, for a show that just got nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Makeup for a Multi-Camera Series or a Special (Non-Prosthetic) — yes, that’s the real category — you’d think they’d’ve had time to throw a little more eyeliner on the season’s ordained Hollywood beauty before she got tossed on the cold, unforgiving streets.
But to be fair, Mark wasn’t quite Mark this week. Even though he performed true solos on both nights and not just random dancing, I was disappointed that both were more hemmed in and (to use the judges’ oft-repeated term) less expansively quirky — or, put in a less pejorative, we-don’t-want-you-to-win way, unique, or unconventional, or singular, qualities a cursory YouTube search of ”Mark Kanemura” shows he’s capable of delivering in spades. (Seriously, could Nigel have been colder when he said he didn’t have any words for Mark other than, essentially, that he’s quirky?) Given how emphatically Mark nodded during Mary’s annual ”you have no idea how hard this really is” speech, I wonder if the fatigue factor is what’s keeping his inner freak flag from fully flying.
NEXT: Deeper Gev analysis
Whatever the reason, Mark really dodged a bullet, because, save his solo Wednesday night, Gev showed no signs of giving up. Alas, he also never did learn quite how to wipe the work from his face, how to make it a joy for us to connect to his dancing, a nut that season 3 breakers Dominic and Sara had cracked early on. The engine of Gev’s train may have brought out his heart, but we could still see the charisma of his gears churning on the dance floor, letting us witness the art bees buzzing in the hive instead of just allowing the music of his honey to coat the avenue of our perpetual enjoyment. What I mean to express with my deeper insights for this realistic television show is that Gev’s internal artistry never quite met his physical expression — i.e., he wasn’t buck. (It’s scary, by the way, that what I just wrote actually does make sense to me.)
Finally, since Nigel obviously read my suggestion last week that he hire Nakul Dev Mahajan for this week’s group number, and finally took note of my calls (and many of your calls) all season to please, for the love of Gene Kelly, cut out the MTV editing and let us watch the dancing, one more note to the powers that be at SYTYCD: Either let us into all this ”IV REAL” in-joking, or cut it out completely. It’s cute when it’s a sly gesture between contestants. It’s intriguing when it inexplicably appears on multiple T-shirts. But it’s downright obnoxious when it takes over the show with absolutely no explanation to the audience — like sitting at the cool kids’ table as they laugh at oblique references to the weekend party you weren’t invited to. (Speaking of super-cool parties, next week I’ll be turning over this TV Watch to some TBD guest writers while I cover the grand expanse of geekdom known as Comic-Con. Go easy on them, now.)
So, dear readers, do you agree that Nigel and Cat should stop trying to make ”IV REAL” happen? Are you happy with the results, or like so many in the studio, were you shocked to see Kherington go home? Was it nice to see Chelsie so warmly embrace Mark after he was let off the hook? And are you liking the new, sartorially subdued Cat, with her (relatively) simple teal dress, hoop earrings, and standard ponytail? Or, like me, are you really pulling for a pea green tutu over a pair of silk-print lederhosen matched with an Amy Winehouse beehive?
Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and the viewers at home crown America’s Favorite Dancer.