'So You Think You Can Dance': Dancing, not competing
I'm of two minds of tonight's episode of "So You Think You Can Dance." From the loyal fan standpoint, we saw some great dancing and the show looked amazing in HD. From an editorial standpoint, it was completely unnecessary -- there was no competing, or even really getting to know the Top 11 or the All-Stars, so it was not too exciting or enlightening.
I was kind of down on the episode from the beginning group number that featured Top 11 and All-Stars. I think I would have liked the Robsons' dark garden party dance to David Bowie's "Fame" more without all the accoutrement. Something about the foppish costumes, the teacups and the AstroTurf and AstroHedges made the dance look a little silly. If we had to imagine a few of those things, it might have been sexier. But the dancing itself was good: I especially like seeing Mark Kanemura back.
Cat Deeley introduced the show and she seemed a little more "on" than last season, when I don't recall having a lot of those "Oh, Cat, I secretly love you, you goofball!" moments, but she seemed to be more outgoing tonight. I know some people find Caffeinated Cat a little grating, but I like her; she's a breath of fresh air anyway after months of Seacrest (no offense, Ryan, but sometimes you want a change of scenery).
So, tonight the dancers performed with the All-Stars that, aside from the hip-hop and ballroom dances, seemed a little arbitrarily grouped. I won't go over every routine in detail, but I do think in the larger groups it was hard to figure out who to keep an eye on sometimes -- the new kids or the All-Stars -- and with four people onstage it was hard to get a tight camera angle, so sometimes I wasn't even sure who was who.
Comfort, Twitch, Dominic and Jose's fun hip-hop routine worked for me because the dance was aboutJose dancing with the other three, so he stood out, yet the others all were able to shine. Meanwhile, Latin dancer Cristina held up quite well against Pasha and Anya until Pasha took his shirt off and it was every man for himself. My other favorite was Alexie and Melinda dancing Broadway with Allison and Lauren: "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This" is such a great song and Tyce Diorio did an amazing job with it and their frisky, sexy strong routine was a lot of fun. I liked when Cat begged to be a part of their gang. "You're, like, the coolest!" she said.
There were a few additional tweaks to the show beyond the dancing. The judges now sit in front of a literal judges' panel, which on its own is very pretty and glowy, but it seems to separate the judges from the audience and makes them seem as if they're on a game show. Also, the choreographers all gave feedback to the dancers (but all rather generically positive, so that was a little bit pointless).
Aside from that, I'm waiting to see if Kent will be funny or annoying as the season wears on. Cat asked him to describe his favorite woman and he said "Someone like my mom," and Cat asked him if he was sure, and then he yelled, "BEYONCE!" It was funny, but I'm trying to figure him out, whether he's just funny-weird or just loud. Meanwhile, Adechike lost points with me by declaring himself the underdog (I think it bugged me because "underdog" would indicate he is somehow under-appreciated, which is a little whiny early on), and when Sonya told Adechike not to call him that, he flexed his muscles. It rubbed me the wrong way, but I might get over it when I see him compete next week.
-- Claire Zulkey
Host Cat Deeley. Credit: Mark Davis/PictureGroup/FOX