Friday, December 18, 2009

So You Think You Can...WTF?

I blogged about the reality dance competition show So You Think You Can Dance at the start of the season, and now that the results are in I think it worthwhile to take a look at my early picks and how they did.

Here's the original post:

Right now, I have four favorites. I apologize for not getting names down just yet, it's a little hard to follow this many people. Tops is Jakob, who dances like I wish I could sing. My sentimental favorite man is Russell, the above mentioned crumper. Get that man some training, and he'll take over the world. A special mention to Ryan, the bodybuilding ballroom dancer, who will also go far.

All four of these men made the top six, which means the finale week. In prior seasons, the show got down to four people, but I think they realized that they were killing the four dancers and this year devoted the extra show to showcases so that we could get familiar with the dancers, which was a very good choice. Ryan took sixth, and Jakob and Russell were the last two dancers standing for the win. 

Let me be clear - Russell is a crumper, with little or no training. He did a fantastic job throughout the series, taking on style after style and doing pretty well to amazing with all of them. Jakob, in contrast, is a phenom. He will become a showcase dancer in just about any company he winds up in, and it was patently clear that if the show was about the best dancer, he would win by a landslide. 

However, the winner is determined by the public, which is always a bad idea, and they gave the win to Russell. I felt he was the fourth best dancer in the final six, with Jakob the top. Have no fear, Jakob will get a *lot* of work. 

In the women, I did not want to like but was very impressed by Kathryn's dancing. She squeaks when she talks, and burst into tears more or less regularly during the later parts of the audition process, but she can dance. My sentimental favorite is Ellenore, who has a great sense of humor in her work, but was quite good in her dance with Ryan this past week. I also think Karen, the Venezuelan Latin dancer, will do very well - a gay judge on the show spoke of how his eyes went all AOOOOGGAAAA when she was dancing, and that's not the usual reaction he has to... well, it got a little fuddled after that.

Continuing my prognostication results, both Kathryn and Ellenore made it to the final six, taking third and fourth respectively. Ellenore was the female equivalent to Jakob, although not *quite* as amazing. Their work together was stunning. The person who really surprised me, though, even though I named her first, was Kathryn. She did a vintage number where she channelled Cyd Charesse (no idea if I got *that* name spelled correctly), and the final four weeks she was the single dancer besides Jakob that I looked forward to the most. Her only shortcoming that I could see (as there was no more squeaking through the rest of the competition) was that her eyes looked a little dead when she was looking at the audience. Not so much when she was dancing, though. I felt that she and Ellenore were pretty close to a tie for second, with Kathryn taking the nod. 

The sixth finalist was Ryan's wife, Ashleigh. She was a very good dancer, surprised a lot of people, but got into the finale thanks to a certain amount of sympathy when she wasn't allowed to dance the previous week due to a dislocated shoulder (and her husband Ryan begging the audience to vote for her). Molly was the victim of that, although to be fair she went home when she should have. The person who went home too soon was Molly's buddy Nicole, who amazingly ended up in the bottom two with Kathryn a week before. 

Karen was the victim of too many good women dancers, and got knocked out right before the top 10. She was my only pick who didn't make the top six. 

This year saw some fantastic choreography - a little less of NappyTabs (a good thing, I agree with Dave on this, and in fact one of their routines was dissed by the judges), a little more of newer choreographers who really did some good work. I'm happy to see the choreographers getting rototilled a bit, as it keeps interest in the show. 

On the controversial side, the attempts by Nathan (an early strong dancer unfortunately paired with another very young dancer Molly) to seek sympathy from the public with some strangely chosen tears were hard to watch. He was voted into the bottom three the week they chose the top 10, and the exec producer and judge Nigel Lythgow clearly wanted him off the tour, but the other judges apparently felt that he was going to sell tickets and so he made it in. He also seems to have really pissed off the hairdressers those last couple of weeks. Protip: be very nice to the costumers and make-up people, they have a huge effect on how you are presented. 

All in all, I was happy with the format changes that were made, unhappy with the new venue (too large of a stage for the duo numbers, too much business), very pleased with the dancers in general, very pleased with the choreography, and slightly displeased with the final result (but just a titch). Also, putting Adam Shankman up as the permanent third judge - brilliant. Lose Mary Murphy (who is fast losing her appeal - do we really need to see glitter on the chest of a middle-aged woman? Really?) and bring back Lil' C. I do like the idea of permanent judges for the first five weeks of competition, which means consistent evaluation of the dancers (and I know how much a single judge can skew results in arts competitions). Also, someone else needs to choose Cat's shoes. She looks like a gladiator in those things. 

I'm not sure of what the plans are for this show in the future (continue in the fall lineup or go with a summer replacement show - I think it will do well in either slot, although the constant changing of times and due to the freakin' World Series being on the same channel was annoying). Even if you aren't a fan of dance, this program will educate you and touch you in ways you never expected. In a year where there has been some very good television, this show held it's own, and remains the only reality show I will watch intentionally.


dave said...

Didn't follow it as closely this year (via Internet), but at a glance the choreography did seem better. I hated the new venue and am getting tired of being distracted by the contemporary music selections.

The only dancer who really rang my bell was Ellenore, largely due to the personality in her solos.

Still, an awesome show. Glad you enjoyed this season...

Dug said...

Ha! I actually found the musical choices better than over the summer, where in some cases dancers were asked to perform very "percussive" dances to lyrical music with no strong rhythms at all.

Ellenore from this series was Mark from two series ago, but with a much broader range of styles she could do. What surprised me with her was that she *was* so good when she had been so quirky in the run up to the actual competition (I don't watch until they get to Vegas, and then it's usually only one or two episodes - no point in getting emotionally attached to a dancer who will get cut in the next 30 minutes, much less the people who have no business auditioning but they give camera time to anyway. The one thing I find disgusting about the show, as I do with Idol. In many cases, these are people with mental illness and there's no need to mock them).