Summer Reality TV season is officially underway, now that the bloated American Idol has signed off for the season (which, short sidebar, seriously America? Â Scotty?) and it’s ginger step-child So You Think You Can Dance has taken the airwaves. Â I don’t watch American Idol (even though I clearly still have opinions about it…see above), but I’ve been a SYTYCD follower for years; it’s certainly not without it’s frustrations, but at least these contestants have trained for their whole lives for the chance to do this. Â And this year, having learned that a) this show sucks in the fall and b) having only ten people start the show as competitors kind of blows, we return to a Top Twenty (the All-Stars appear after the field has been narrowed to ten which, I think I’m okay with), and we have that screeching howler monkey Mary Murphy back at the as a regular judge. Â I know Mary is a divisive topic among fans, but give me a dose of her shrieking-banshee-crazy at the judge’s table over Mia Michaels’ earth-mother-birthing-art routine any day. I like Mia, but more as a choreographer/guest judge than a weekly presence. Â Enough introduction! Â How long before Nigel pulls his creepy uncle act on one of the dancers? Will he make a face at the volume of Mary’s voice before the first commercial break? Â Will Shankers cry (yes)? Â Will Tyce D’Orio appear (I hope not)?And most importantly, how charming will Cat Deeley be, with a 1 being Camilla Parker-Bowles and a 10 being Hugh Grant, pre-hooker?
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I missed the first five minutes of tonight’s episode, which means I came in right as a ballroom couple was being praised. Â Apparently the man wasn’t auditioning, and is told to come back next year, but the woman is sent through to choreography…I use the term “woman” loosely, because girl looks like she’s 13. I find out after this that we’re in Atlanta.
Okay, what is Mary wearing? Â Is that a bra strap holding her…polygamist compound halter top in place? Â Further, they’re OPENING with Lil C’s ramblings on the judging table? Â And where’s Shankers? Â Is he not permanent anymore? Â Maybe he’s too busy assembling an alternately awesome and terrible cast for his movie adaptation of Rock of Ages. In good news, Nigel’s haircut is fresh, which means we won’t be looking at his male Farrah Fawcett locks. Â In bad news, my five minute late start means I haven’t yet caught a glimpse of my beloved Cat Deeley.
Melanie Moore looks like Ginnifer Goodwin and her dad dad died when she was young. Â She does that thing that actors always try to do and has tears in their eyes for the full interview but never lets the drops fall. Â Can’t mess up the make-up! Â Seriously, though , she seems genuine, and manages to be Southern without being annoying. Â She dances beautifully and her mother upstages her tears in the interview package by crying like a baby. Â In a cute, non-screaming way. Melanie gets a straight shot to Vegas.
Deon Lewsa and Damon Bellmon have an extended package inwhich they are some of the worst ladies men ever. Â It’s like they watched Tim Meadows on Saturday Night Live and took his advice seriously. Â They do a fun hip hop routine that looks kind of like it was choreographed by Dave Scott; they’re both infinitely more charming onstage than they were off, which is a good thing in this competition. Â Not so much in a bar. Â They’re also the recipients of the first fake-out-that-doesn’t-actually-fake-anybody-out of the season, as Deon is sent through to Vegas immediately and Damon is made to sweat before receiving his nod. Â We’re then told that an unprecedented 10 dancers in a row are sent straight through to Vegas, a SYTYCD record,Â but the impact of this is lessened as we don’t see anything but them all turning pirouettes and then freaking out with their pass. Â I’m surprised the producers didn’t score this section with “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Dammit, my DVR decided 30 Rock was new and interrupted the recording. Â Luckily I’m doing this basically live, so I only missed about 2 minutes…apparently Marco was good enough to go through to choreography. Â And we’re at the choreography round already! Â I find out that the first auditioner I missed is named Bianca and that Katee and Jacob from seasons past are teaching the hopefuls. Â I love that this show actually employs it’s past contestants…they don’t exactly win the prestige and fame of an American Idol winner. Â Or runner-up. Â Or tenth runner-up. Â In any case, both Bianca and Marco are sent through which seems anti-climactic. Â The judges are storing up the smack-down…it’s gonna get ugly up in here at some point.
Kimalee Piedad has one of those annoying names that this show loves. Â She has a non-competing partner who is not named, but I assume is called Spartacus, or Samson, or perhaps Poseidon. Â Where would these male dancers be without man-scaping? Kimalee gets no introduction package, so I have nothing snarky to say about her. Â Mary, on the other hand, has traded in her bra strap polygamist compound outfit for a rhinestone studded version. How can one outfit base yield so many horrific results?
John, aka “White Chocolate” is up next. Â He’s 30, and not only wants people to call him “White Chocolate,” but possibly might not know what the word “surname” means. Â I can’t tell if he’s kidding or not in his confusion. Â The less said about his routine the better, which means he’s the recipient of the first pity party of the evening. Â Afterwards he asks for a hug. Â I wonder if the old college frat brothers that dared him into auditioning paid up after he made it onto TV.
We’re told via voice-over by Cat that apparently everything has been a complete fiasco up until the final audition of the day. Â I love how they act as if the first day had nothing but amazing dancers and the second day has been a straight dive down the garbage chute; ah, editing. Â In any case, Kyre Batiste (there’s an accent over the “e” but I don’t know how to put it there. Â Tell you what, he makes the show and I’ll figure it out.) is up, and he brought his secret weapon. Â Sassy grandma alert! Â Kyre tells us that his grandma is the original dancing machine, and Nigel invites her up to the table. Â Estelle Getty would be proud. Â Kyre dances to “Sweet Dreams” and makes the questionable choice of lip synching along. Â He’s definitely going for comedy, and it’s…okay. Â I’m guessing choreography. Â Grandma Kyre tells him that he did okay, but he forgot about the audience and needed to work on his connection. Â Lil C then disagrees with Grandma, Grandma starts spanking him with her belt and I find out that there is a situation that makes me wish Tyce was the guest judge. Â Despite negative votes from Mary and Nigel, Kyre gets through to choreography on the strength of Lil C and Grandma’s positive opinions. Â I don’t think he was really strong enough, but hey, his Grandma is definitely fun. Â I’m immediately proven right (my, that’s a fun sentence to write) and Kyre is sent packing after choreography.
The show then heads off from Atlanta and goes to the Bay Area. Â I’m always disappointed in how little Cat there is in these audition episodes; at least when she introduces San Francisco she’s wearing a silver, leopard-print jumper. Â Hey Mary, what’s the opposite of polygamist compound wear? Â See Cat for the answer! Â Mary, unfortunately is not there to learn the answer, as Toni Redpath and (ugh) Tyce D’Orio join Nigel for the judging in San Fran.
Amber Williams is one of those people who immediately says “I don’t care what you think of me” which apparently translates to “I’m going to be annoying as hell, and if you don’t find me quirky you just don’t get me.” Â Seriously, Amber, Red Bull is not your friend. Â Her audition is pretty good though; it’s almost good enough to make her constant velociraptor impersonations less irritating. Â I say almost because if she makes it through to the live shows, America is going to have to clean house. Â Immediately. Â I can’t take a weekly dose of that kind of hyper-activity; hit that girl with a Xanax.
Timothy Joseph is a b-boy who seems like a good candidate for this season’s amazing journey-of-the-b-boy-who-learns-to-point-his-toes story arc. Â He does a bunch of tricks, and gets through to choreography despite Toni’s reservations. Â She says she’d love to see him do a Viennese waltz…depending on how mean I’m feeling at the moment I may or may not agree.
Ieshia Moss is the first truly, fantastically, over-the-top ridiculous story of the year. Â She’s an ex-stripper. Â She’s missing a tooth. Â She’s wearing rainbow eye-shadow. I’m fairly certain she’s high. Â The judges are oddly toothless in their criticisms. Â See what I did there?
Marcos Prieto is wearing a sequined top and makes Ieshia look trained. Â I can’t get into it, it’s too painful. Â Toni says the whole day is a freak show. Â Looking back over this recap she’s right…even the dancer who made it through to Vegas was a circus act.
Danielle Ihle has a bad dye job, and a dead-beat dad who left his family homeless after losing his job. Â Her routine starts out slow, but she starts to loosen up a little bit towards the end. Â The judges comment that they found the routine lacked emotional connection. Â Nigel wonders why it was so angst ridden. Â To her credit, Danielle doesn’t take this opportunity to scream “MY DAD LEFT US HOMELESS, YOU LIMEY BASTARD” and instead takes the high road and doesn’t trade on her personal tragedy for a ticket to Vegas. Â Toni and Nigel get her through to choreography against Tyce’s wishes.
Ashley Rich wants you to remember that her last name is spelled “R-I-C-H.” Â That should be pretty easy since…that’s how you spell “rich.” Â Everything she does is dance, so she doesn’t know what to call her style. Â Don’t these people tape themselves before going on TV and try out a few sentences to see how they sound? Â Her solo is very good, however. Â I’ll take her quirky over Amber’s shrieking insanity any day, as she actually seems gracious and genuine while talking to the judges. Vegas, baby! In a side note, does Ashley remind anyone else of an African-American Olsen twin?
Oh, Sisqo is auditioning! Â It’s been a long time since “The Thong Song,” and residuals fromÂ Snow Dogs ain’t paying the bills. Â I’m just kidding, it’s not Sisqo…it’s some idiot who keeps crying and can barely form a sentence. Â D’on-que Addison (didn’t make that up) goes up onstage and has what I think may have been an out of body experience. Â Or maybe I had an out of body experience as my soul tried to flee this plane to avoid wasting any more time watching his tomfoolery. Â He then sobs in some of the most weird, melodramatic fake crying I’ve ever seen. Â And don’t tell me he was really crying, people; if you scream loud enough and long enough, you’ll make yourself cry. Â I know, I went to theatre school. Â Nigel, for some reason, tries to offer constructive criticism, but D’on-que informs him that his performance was exactly what he wanted to do. Â I’m glad you saw what you wanted D’on-que…can you please help me un-see it now?
Timothy and Danielle are in choreography. Â Timothy tweaks his knee…it took everything in me to not put “tweaks his knee” in quotes to express to you my skepticism. Â Danielle, on the other hand, smiles so wide that it looks like she’s trying to banish the word “angst” from the dictionary and gets a ticket.
Jeffrey “Machine” McCann is a b-boy who was on his own when he was 15 years old, and found strength through dance. Â The SYTYCD producers all just pulled Docker tents. Â His routine is excellent, in fact I’d say better than Timothy’s. Â I speak, of course, from a place of great knowledge. Â Seriously, I thought it had more lyricism than Timothy’s, and moved much more smoothly. Â I hope Jeffrey doesn’t flame out in Vegas as so many b-boys do. Â I also hope that he goes by Jeffrey and not “Machine.” Â “The Machine” will always be Brian Wilson’s neighbor as far as I’m concerned (go to 0:45 to get that).
Ah, Ryan Ramirez, aka the girl who finished one place out of the live shows last season, is back! Â She says she’s nervous about being back, and I can’t help but notice that she looks like Toni Redpath’s daughter. Â And Ryan’s really good again! Â Hooray…I think I like Ryan a lot. Â She’s another victim of a terrible fake-out, as Nigel pretends to be sending her to choreography for an uncomfortably long time before giving her a ticket. Â Can we please get a moratorium on these?
“Turfing” is a dance style that was created in San Francisco and stands for Taking Up Room on the Floor. Â I must say, that’s clever. Â Levi “I Dummy” Allen is here to show the judge’s some turfing. Â He’s wearing what appear to be zebra skinny jeans…I wonder if he and Cat arranged jungle print day amongst themselves. Â His routine is definitely of the “how the hell did he make his body do that?” variety. Â Tyce calls it “kinda filthy and spectacular, for sure.” Â I can’t explain why he’s so annoying when he says this…I think it’s because he says “for sure” like “fer sha” and never closes his mouth.
Choreography round comes around and I Dummy (I swear they called him that, and he accepts that nickname) um…makes a dummy of himself. Â So that’s all for the premiere episode. Â Next week they hit Salt Lake City and New York…two cities that have so much in common.
-There was a whole segment devoted to how completely obtuse everything that comes out of Lil C’s mouth is. Â I can’t transcribe it all, but the man speaks in complete oxymorons. Â Which he probably would say are “oxymoronical.”
– Your “That’s way harsh, Tai” quote of the night goes to Toni for this gem: “Physically there’s a lot going for you, but this <gestures emphatically at her face> needs to fixed.”
-Judges…it’s a dance show. Â We’re all done with singing shows…unless we’re watching The Voice…or Platinum Hit…okay, we’re done with singing shows on Fox. Â Please do not sing again. Â And if you do, please don’t sing “You Light Up My Life.”
-Best moment of the D’on-que waste of time: the vicious editor who tacked on that “Where am I going?” moment at the end of his package.
-Contestant I Wish I’d Seen More Of: Lilly Nguyen. Â She looked awesome.
-Favorite Contestant of the Night: a tie between Ryan and Jeffrey.
-This recap is epic…that’s what happens when you do a two hour show!