Monday, July 26, 2010

So You Think You Can Dance - Top Six (7x16, 7x17)

Funny -- if SYTYCD can get through next week without any further injuries, we'll have gone from five people performing to six people performing. To put the matter glibly: reality television elimination, ur doin it wrong.

The judges' decision to put off elimination this week illuminates the all-consuming nature of subjective opinion. I can hardly begin to argue with people who think that Jose is the clear choice to go home, and in fact, my head agrees with them. However, my heart isn't in the hate-athon, possibly attributable to my emotional disinterest in the season, but I'm beginning to wonder if the judges honestly love him for his personality because granting him a reprieve is a starkly conspicuous move and I doubt that they'd go to the mat for someone who's being used as a tool of cynicism. Further, I don't doubt that he's a nice chap to be around considering everyone on the show, from the judges to Cat to the other dancers, all seem to be genuinely and profoundly attached to him.

So the standoff between the fans and the judges amounts to a lot of talking past each other, where metrics used by one side are completely ignored by the other because opinions have a way of getting entrenched and perpetuating themselves (which I'm obviously guilty of as well -- that's fandom for you). Following a reality program entails a moral investment in the proceedings of who deserves to stay and who deserves to go, and when we get this deep into a season, that investment means that minds have been firmly rooted in a set of ethical values.

As a result, reconsidering our opinions would require us to reassess our core values and admit to error. Hard to do, and hard to talk about, so how about some levity?

Who knew that on a night with three hip-hop routines -- two of which are excellent, the other flatly terrible -- a night where NappyTabs choreographed two of those routines, that they weren't responsible for the terrible number. Seriously, these last two years, I felt that getting any quality out of them was like squeezing blood from a turnip, and each time I heard that they were choreographing the next routine, I groaned. But astonishingly, they've been on an extended run of turn out good numbers, and I'd say surpassing their overall quality from their debut season. This week opens with the fun of Lauren and Twitch's sassy showdown (for eagle-eyed viewers, Lauren previewed her Tumbleweed during the end credits of the previous week, which NappyTabs apparently noticed as well). Given the mehness of her week 2 hip hop (and I'm a little shocked that Shankman walked back the judges' praise of it at the time), I'm happily surprised at how much she owned the routine.

Later, Adechike and Comfort are straight up fierce (fierce with a capital Tyra). Comfort, again, is remarkable, but Adechike is right there with her, beat for beat. There's not much I need to say about this one, and I'm willing to call it their best work on the show. Ok, one thing I do want to mention: Comfort's slap of Adechike is less a slap and more of a punch. Damn.

Although I'm not ready to look forward to NappyTabs' next production -- for my tastes, they indulge too often in high-concept and/or couple's hip hop (which, let's be honest, the Adechike/Comfort number is) -- at least I'm not dreading the next time their names come up. And, for what it's worth, their post-routine reactions these past couple weeks have been animated gif gold.

Not so with Kent's stepping number, which gives white people a bad name. You know white people? They're not actually all that bad! But you wouldn't guess it from this blindingly bad, embarrassing number.

We can go to Chuck Maldonaldo himself to determine just how much freshness Kent brought to the routine:

That's zero, not three, freshness.

(On an administrative note, Nigel is right to mention that Kent's abortion is not the first stepping number to grace the show, though I'd add that neither is it the second. In fact, the first stepping routine belongs to Jimmy and Shauna back in season 3 (Cat! You should've known better!), which I'm sure the rest of the pedantosphere has already noted.)

Nearly all the other performances are boring and overpraised, i.e. business as usual, though I'm still quite tickled (and not a little baffled) by SYTYCD's recent resurgence of hip hop.

I can say this about Jose's number with Allison -- hands down, it features the best camera work this show has ever seen. Clearly, more routines should take place on a single, flat plane.

Talking specifically about Sonya's piece, though, she doesn't give Jose much dancing to do -- the choreography for him is plainly simple, Allison does the heavy lifting -- and yet he is perfectly charming in it and really does fit its character better than he has in other routines. I'm not convinced that he partners Allison as well as others say -- he puts her down hard after one lift -- but all the same, it's his routine of the season.

And take a look at Shortney -- big softie in a tiny package, she is.

I almost want to say that Neil and Misha reprising "Night of the Dancing Flame" wasn't so much about bringing a classic together as it was a matter of, "Hey, did they do any dance that was marginally interesting when they were paired up?" but that would belie my actually liking the initial performance and the fact that they also did "Let the Drummer Kick," which in my heart of hearts is probably the superior number. But hey, more Wade, right? (Even if it's not the worst thing he did that season only because of the forgettable Swamp Things group dance.) Also, it's nice to see that Neil hasn't gotten appreciably better.

Still, for all of its original cartoonishness, the reprise lost much of its creative whimsy over the years, and the costuming department still hasn't listened to my suggestion to slap a Snidely Whiplash mustache on Neil's annoying-as-ever face.

Isn't that so much more awesome? (Hint: the answer is "Yes.")

This is how I imagine my partners reacting when I dance with them.

This was one huge non sequitur, wasn't it?

I'm tickled to see that Cat, for the briefest instant, dipped back into her garishly ugly sartorial past with this lovely eyesore. (I still hold her ostrich dress from the season 3 finale dear in my heart.) However, I don't know if her ensemble is ruined by her tremendously chic chignon, or if it's a cherry on top of a menstrual mess of Jubilee Jumblism.

Actually, this week is her best in terms of hairstyle, behold:

Mee-yow, indeed.

Remembering that readers enjoyed Pono's Pomo Corner, and also recognizing a minor theme I've intermittently touched on this season (last week I was going to do Botticelli's Birth of Venus, but as luck would have it, I didn't have a proper screencap of Shankman), hey, why not go with a gimmicky feature that can make amusing myself a bit less creatively taxing? So I present to you, fair readers:

And the first official installment...!


Ellie said...

One of the best parts about SYTYCD is reading your recap every week! I look forward to it, and you never disappoint. Also, if you wanted to bring back Pono's Pomo Corner, just for a bit of nostalgic whimsy, I wouldn't mind!

Michele said...

I'm with Ellie. I love your recap. I wish I watched more stuff you recapped.

Leee said...

Ellie and Michele, thanks for your kind words! They always mean a lot.

Ellie, we'll see about a possible return of PPC, though I have to say that my pomo-radar (podar?) surprisingly depends on a certain Flyin' Hawaiian.

Michele, that's high praise. I wish I could blog more often about more shows. Time has been a major issue lately.

momo said...

surprisingly enough, one of my favorite parts of this season is turning out to be Comfort's performances. She is delivering in each routine, in spite of not having partners who can really match her most of the time.