Beginning with a lackluster Thomas Crown Affair-inspired number from Dave Scott (so timely!), this episode of So You Think You Can Dance stumbles right out of the gate and doesn’t stop falling until its groan-inducing climax. This episode is a downward spiral of poor decisions, with most of the blame falling on the producers and judges, but the American voters deserve their share of criticism, too. Seriously, Iveta and Nick over Clarice and Jess? The former’s Bollywood routine could have been sharper and their chemistry tighter, but that Stacey Tookey routine was an awkward mess. Maybe it’s pity for the couple being given choreography so grossly unsuited for their body types, or maybe it’s just the “Evan effect,” but somehow Clarice and Jess escape the bottom three, forcing two of this season’s most charismatic performers to dance for their lives. With the elimination of Iveta and Nick, this season just became a lot less interesting, and I hope Nigel and Co. get their heads back on quick because this episode was a goddamn train wreck.
Dave Scott has been a consistently underwhelming choreographer for me, and his opening routine features lots of dancers in bowler hats performing quick, precise movements that look really sloppy when all the dancers aren’t together. And when there are 20 dancers on stage, that can be a little difficult. It’s not Dave Scott’s fault that his dancers aren’t able to keep up with the choreography he’s given them, but it’s also his job to make sure that they have choreography that can be realistically learned in a short time and performed at a professional level. This is the results show routine, it should be a crowd-pleaser that gives each dancer equal opportunity to shine, and this week’s opener makes a season of fantastic dancers collectively fade into the background.
Missy and Wadi are the first dancers to be voted into the bottom three, but before we learn the identities of the other four dancers, we’re forced to sit through one of the most painful product placements I’ve ever witnessed, as a Gatorade nutritionist goes into the dancers’ apartments and gives them advice on their diets. The advice: eat/drink Gatorade products. These contestants have been dancing for years, some of them are already professionally established, I doubt that they’ve gotten this far on a diet of Fun-Yuns and McFlurries. Nigel tries to tie the waste of time into season seven winner Lauren Froderman’s recognition as a Gatorade dance athlete, but even Cat finds it hard to feign enthusiasm, and the dancers just look pissed they have to film this bullshit when they could be practicing their routines. But when the producers tell them to put on their Ryan smiles and freak the fuck out over whatever chalky crap Gatorade is shilling, they do so like the frantic group of reality show puppets they are.
The next bottom three pairing comes down to Nick and Iveta against Tadd and Jordan, and we all know how that turns out. As the oldest female this season, Iveta had a serious competitor’s demeanor that only softened when she danced, and her forced smile off the dance floor may have alienated the voting audience. The final dancers in the bottom are Ricky and Ryan and Ryan’s stupid fucking smile, meaning there’s still a chance to see Jess get crushed by one of his partners this season, but unfortunately means Jess is still in the competition. It’s a surprising result, and before we get the chance to catch our breath before the dancers’ solos, Rage Crew takes to the stage for one of the most disturbing, tasteless dances in SYTYCD history.
Whoever thought putting a bunch of little girls in sports bras and having them booty dance for a live national audience is a super-perv, and despite the talent the Rage Crew kids showcase, I have absolutely no desire to watch hypersexualized pre-pubescents. Good thing Robin Antin wasn’t around because I’m pretty sure she would pull a Debbie Reynolds and lure those girls into her Pussycat Dolls gingerbread house. The combination of choreography and costuming makes me feel all kinds of icky while watching the number, and I wish they would have at least covered up the girls that look like they’re barely out of kindergarten. It’s like To Catch A Predator: The Musical up there!
The solos are a mixed bag, beginning with a rhythmically weak routine from Wadi that doesn’t have enough free-running tricks to make up for the lousy footwork. Missy gives a standard sexy girl Jazz routine heavy on come-hither looks but light on spectacle, and it’s obvious they’ll be going home after their performances. Nick gives one of the stronger taps solos on the show, crescendoing his taps with the music to make the shoes work with the song instead of against it, but I think tap solos set to music are inherently weaker than those done without a soundtrack. Tap is the music, and a dancer like Nick is good enough to keep us intrigued without 3OH3! obnoxiously blaring behind him. Iveta’s solo is a wild display of her insane technique, but the judges already know she’s the best in the world, what more is there for her to show them? The night’s only truly life-saving solo comes from Ricky, who delivers an astounding performance that shows off his flawless musicality and powerful athleticism, and if this is what is means to see Ricky dance for his life, I wouldn’t mind seeing him in the bottom a few more times. Ryan’s solo is more of the same, a frantic mish-mash of contemporary moves without a strong emotional throughline but a whole lot of teeth, and as the judges deliberate, LMFAO takes to the stage with a few SYTYCD veterans.
I’m not familiar with LMFAO, but apparently they’re a poor man’s Black Eyed Peas going by their performance tonight. Backed by Quest Crew (featuring season one’s Ryan and season three’s Hok), LMFAO performs “Party Rock Anthem,” a song about overcoming drug addiction in a post-9/11 world. Oh wait, it’s about partying. Like the rest of this episode, LMFAO is manufactured to the extreme, and their performance is slick but uninteresting. Black Eyed Peas did it before and they did it better. And it sucked then, too.
AND THEN RYAN DIDN’T GET SENT HOME. Bullshit.
One of this episode’s few saving graces was the ever-stunning Cat, rocking a chic red dress and smoky eyes. Thank you for being beautiful, Cat.
Cat’s cocktail analogy was goofy, and if last night’s episode gave us a headache, tonight has us hunched over the toilet staring into dinner.
Melanie was apparently prepared to perform her figure-skating routine, based on her outfit tonight.
Jordan may be a dark horse this season, as her partnership with Sexy Tadd will keep her safe while dances like last night’s Viennese Waltz show America her softer side.
Wadi makes me think of “hardcore parkour!”
If Ryan wants to get in my good graces she should do a Harley Quinn solo. Then at least the grin will fit.