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'So You Think You Can Dance': So you think you're ready for more reality TV?

May 24, 2007 |  8:18 pm

Judgesdance_judges_0487_f_2 So you think you can write off “So You Think You Can Dance” as being a lesser “Dancing with the Stars”, or an even lesser “American Idol”? So you might be right, but it’s still fine summertime fare, as the show is just different enough to make it entertaining.

Here’s how the show is like “American Idol:” It was made by the same people. Three judges, one a woman, one British tour the country as amateurs try out in front of them to make it to Hollywood—no wait, Las Vegas—and go through additional winnowing processes until they are presented on a call-in vote-off show. The unattractive/overweight are at a disadvantage.

Here’s how the show is like “Dancing with the Stars:” The contestants are dancers instead of singers. Sometimes there is ballroom or Latin dancing like on “DWTS,” but we also see jazz, tap, breakdancing, hip hop, ballet, what looks like gymnastics and a hundred other things.

What’s fascinating about the show, however, is that it reminds us, the sitting-on-the-couch public, that there are people out there who are actual dancers. Who want to make dancing their job, not just something they do at weddings or the occasional club. It seems like such an alien concept! With singers, you can get some good diamonds in the rough from untrained people. With dancers, though, not so much, so the auditions tend to be either stunning or sad. Additionally, the tryouts seem to involve so much from the auditioners: all alone they flail onstage, sweat and pant afterwards. They have to. No standing quietly, hands folded, like Melinda Doolittle from “Idol.”

While the judging format is the same, pretty much, as both shows, judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Dan Karaty seem to be relatively schtick-free as far as TV judges go. No catchphrases, or weeping, or grand Italian gestures (thus far.) Even cute British host Cat Deeley seems remarkably tolerable for a person in a Ryan Seacrest/Samantha Harris role.

The one way the show could benefit from copying “American Idol” though would be to master the quicker edit. This initial tryout episode felt especially drawn-out on the tragic failures, especially chubby women whose only dream was to dance. “Idol” also knows that the best people to make fun of are snippy, arrogant divas and divos, and it shouldn’t be hard to find many of those in the dance genre. Fortunately, like “Idol,” the show drags on the audition process so we’ll have plenty of time to find out if they could.

(Photo courtesy Fox)