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So You Think You Can Dance Recap-“Top 20 (Again)”


Okay, at this point we all know that no one went home last Thursday.  I won’t waste time calling shenanigans on that…it happened, there’s nothing I can do about it, I personally think that Jordan and Robert were spared the ax for no discernable reason.  But onward!

Apparently, Cat is going to be introducing the dancers as duos now.  This leads to a lot more dipping during the introductions, though Iveta and Nick get points for having her dip him; I’m telling you those two are a good time at a party.

Holy crap, Debbie Reynolds is the guest judge!  They’re upping their game with the guest judges this season…Megan Mullally was excellent, they announced that Gaga is coming (who might not be a great judge, but certainly will be entertaining) and I’m sure Debbie Reynolds is going to be nothing if not amusing.  When I was young, Singing in the Rain was my favorite movie…yes, my parents knew I was gay.  According to my mother, since I was two years old.  Oh, and now Cat’s introducing a clip from it…I may have just achieved homosexual nirvana.  If Tyce isn’t featured tonight, it might be a perfect evening.

Ricky and Ryan get a Mandy Moore jazz routine; Mandy Moore means this should be scored to some amazing 80’s pop tune which will make me happy. Oh, it’s actually Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love,” which I know some people love but leaves me somewhat cold.  The dance is supposed to be filled with sexual tension, but it comes off more like a cheer-leading halftime routine.  Neither of these two has any connection to their face…they’re both grinning like jack o’lanterns.  Oh, and Ricky has been put into a halter top that reveals his nipples.  All the judges flip over it and call it very sexy and I’m deeply disturbed by what they perceive as sexual; both dancers came off as 16 years old maximum. Not an auspicious beginning.

Caitlynn and Mitchell are dancing a Stacey Tookey contemporary routine about a relationship coming to an end.  This kind of contemporary routine is to SYTYCD what cop shows are to CBS: ubiquitous and indistinguishable.  Giving credit where credit is due, I actually think these two manage to make this seem as fresh as possible; they have some excellent chemistry, and unlike many dancers on this show they both appear to be good actors.  The duet manages to be dramatic without being melodramatic, so kudos to them.  Also, an extra kudos to Caitlynn for apparently getting socked in the face and not missing a beat…I just re-watched the dance and still wasn’t able to spot when it happened.  Also, with her second critique, Debbie has clearly decided to play the crazy old broad for the night; she may not be insightful, but I don’t care.  She can be forgiven everything, she’s Debbie Reynolds.

Wadi and Missy are up, and they have a cha-cha with Jean Marc…where’s Jean Marc’s other half, France?  She of the fire engine red hair?  Whither France?  Jean Marc says it’s the hardest cha-cha he’s done on the show…this could be a complete mess.  Oh, and it’s scored to a Ke$ha song, which I somehow manage to sit through without my head exploding from sheer stupidity. The dance seems…okay.  I’m thoroughly distracted by the idiocy of this song.  Debbie’s critique?  “You chewed it up!  Muy bueno, muy bueno!”  Debbie may not be insightful, but she is brief; many judges on this show can take a memo.  Nigel and Mary give Missy high marks, but Wadi gets dinged for a lack of technique.  Debbie apparently doesn’t like this nastiness and actually says the phrase “You can cha-cha with Debbie anytime,” and tells Wadi she’ll take him home, which has the double whammy of a legend referring to herself in the third person and being wildly inappropriate.  Loves it.

Iveta and Nick get Bollywood; their entire package is marred by a constant lightning-from-the-fingers effect that looks like something from The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  Why is it being used?  Because their routine will be electrifying! Iveta’s training seems to be serving her better than Nick’s freestyle feel in their dance; where her movements seem sharp, his seem looser.  I probably shouldn’t say this is serving her better, as I actually have no idea what Bollywood is supposed to look like, so let’s just say she seemed more precise.  Mary and Nigel say they had a lot of fun watching them dance, which seems slightly like damning with faint praise; Debbie says she feels 20 years younger just being here.  How far off topic can Debbie get in one of her critiques?

Miranda and Robert get hip hop with Napoleon and Tabitha, and they have to portray a father woodpecker teaching his daughter how to fly.  This could go horribly, wonderfully wrong; however Robert gets through the whole package without “woo”-ing, so I’m in.  I actually enjoy the routine much more than I expected to; Miranda’s hitting hard, particularly for a contemporary dancer, and Robert is demonstrating far more skill than he did in his solo last week. I think Miranda stumbles, but she carries on fast enough that I’m not 100% sure it wasn’t choreographed.  Nigel and Mary love it, to the point where Nigel says Miranda did the best contemporary/hip-hop transition he’s ever seen; Debbie does a Woody Woodpecker impression.  I cannot get enough of this woman.

Jess and Clarice get contemporary with Stacey Tookey; it’s a love story about a commoner marrying a prince.  I’m struggling to not be bored before they even start dancing.  Now that Robert has stopped “woo”-ing, Jess must stop with the baby voices; they’re possibly more annoying, and definitely more disturbing.  The routine doesn’t have the same gravitas to it as Caitlynn and Mitchell managed, but it’s fine; whether it will be enough to keep these two out of danger tomorrow, I have serious doubts about.  Nigel and Mary give them high marks for their individual performances but low ones for their partnering work; Debbie informs them that she’ll take them home with Wadi because she “needs more children, let’s all go home with Mommy Debbie.”  At least she’s not blatantly parroting whatever the other two say.

Jordan and Tadd get a Viennese waltz; someone has to get the short straw I suppose, particularly since Iveta and Nick already survived the quickstep bullet from last week.  The dance actually seems a lot more interesting than most Viennese waltzes that I remember from seasons past, and I think both dancers acquit themselves well.  I’ve never been a fan of Jordan, but being forced out of her sex kitten routine makes her much more palatable.  Tadd just seemed excellent, particularly for a b-boy.  They get excellent marks from Nigel and Mary; Debbie checks in to compare the two to Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse.

Melanie and Marko get jazz with Mandy Moore, which I genuinely hope goes better than the first duet from Ricky and Ryan tonight.  The routine doesn’t appear to have any story attached to it and, frankly, suffers for it.  With no emotional through-line, there’s little to grab onto and the duet appears  a little flat.  I think they danced it well and did what they were asked, the choreography just wasn’t there.  Nigel and Mary give it high marks; Debbie veers off into nonsense and says something about how she doesn’t have to worry about the dancers of the future any longer.  Luckily the old girl’s only got to get through two more of these.

Sasha and Alexander get a hip hop routine with Napoleon and Tabitha about a soldier returning home from war and seeing his wife for the first time.  The routine is good enough; Sasha seems to pretty solidly out-dance her partner.  Maybe there’s something to this whole “the boys better watch out for the girls!” arc that Nigel and company are trying to push for this season.  Nigel and Mary both decline to comment on the performances and instead talk about how wonderful and topical the routine is; Debbie babbles words together that are related, but don’t actually come together in a sentence.  She’s special that one.

Finally we have Ashley and Chris get a Broadway routine with Spencer Liff which is fantastic because He Who Must Not Be Named is not appearing.  Ashley is a woman coming to visit her husband in prison, and it’s apparently very sexy.  The two dance with a set of prison bars between them which allows Chris to do a lot of tricks on the bars, while Ashley dances in front of him.  I was set to call shenanigans on a choreographer giving a dancer stuff in his own style to make him look better, but in the moments of unison I think Chris actually dances very well.  Nigel gets his first creepy comment of the year in and asks Ashley to come visit him “the next time he’s in prison.”  Thank you Cat, for pointing out “the NEXT time??” Chris and Ashley are the first official passengers on Mary’s hot tamale train; Debbie clearly is ready to leave this night and go to the bar for a cocktail.  She speaks so fast that I’m not sure what exactly she says, other than that it had something to do with Elvis Presley and “Jailhouse Rock.”

And that’s your show for the night!  Next week, the Top 16 perform because, in case you forgot, FOUR dancers are going home tomorrow.

Stray observations:

-The whole “dancers reveal something unknown about their partner” thing is a SYTYCD staple, and it’s annoying each year.  However, Wadi’s use of Nair or some Nair-esque product on his chest was genuinely amusing, particularly when he pointed out that it hurt his nipples

-I loved that the thing America doesn’t know about Jordan, according to her partner, is that she’s an idiot.  We all knew that when she said she really wanted to be a Pussycat Doll.

-Who Should Go Home Tomorrow (based solely on tonight’s performances): Ryan, Ricky, Clarice and Alexander.

-Who Will Go Home Tomorrow: I have no idea, since the judges basically praised everything equally except for Wadi’s cha-cha, and I sincerely doubt he’ll be in danger.