So THAT happened.
I came out early on this blog to defend AMC’s latest drama The Killing, an Americanization of the Danish “Nordic Noir” series Forbrydelsen, from claims that it was too slow, too bleak, too maudlin. I expressed a desire to see a story like this played out at a slower pace than your typical TV procedural. I have always enjoyed deliberate pacing, particularly when combined with darker, more atmospheric stories. And there’s no denying that “atmosphere” was a major component, practically a top-billed character, of the series. So allegations of it being slow I understand, but that never bothers me. Bleak, or as I called it, “atmospheric,” I also get. But again, it was part of the charm of the series for me. I’m originally from Seattle, so I’m drawn to stories set in those environs. And I’m a diehard Twin Peaks fan, and The Killing is, if not a spriritual brother to that kitschy 90’s classic, certainly a distant cousin.
As for maudlin? Well yeah. It’s called The Killing, so what exactly did people expect? However, in the wake of the season finale this past week, having experienced the story as a complete narrative (only not really, am I right?), and feeling my own frustration and disappointment with the show, I have to ask myself the same question…
It was called The Killing, what did *I* expect?
The warm fuzzy feeling of letting all Top 20 dancers survive past last week’s elimination episode inevitably had to give way to the crushing sadness of losing FOUR dancers this week. Everyone was all excited and giggly and dancing around with joy that no one had to leave the party so early. But you’re all singin’ a different tune now, aintcha?
Cue the dance nerd rage…
You may have noticed I never got around to posting a recap of last week’s results show. Well I’m sure by now everyone knows that there actually weren’t any results resulting from the results show. For the first time in eight season, Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe and his cohorts on the judges panel, Mary Murphy and guest judge Megan Mullally decided not to eliminate anyone from the competition. Contemporary dancer Mitchell Kelly had been forced to sit out the night’s performances due to a shoulder injury, and seeing as it was the very first week I suppose Nigel and Co. felt that the audience deserved a chance to see the entire Top 20 all perform before anyone was cut.
And so, here we are. Week Two, and it’s time for the Top 20 Performance…again.
And with that, Season 8 of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE is out of the gate! There’s a lot of ground to cover in Week One, so let’s get to it.
First thing’s first, we have our first guest judge: Megan Mullally. I’m not going to lie to you, I was extremely skeptical of what I thought was “stunt casting” here, and I expected it to devolve into some kind of comedy schtick. But as it turns out she was fantastic. For one thing, she actually has a background in dance, so she knows what she’s talking about, more or less. But beyond that she was just really focused on giving sincere critiques. She paid attention to the dancers, took notes, commented on the routines in an intelligible way. I’ve gone from being skeptical to actually willing to see her back on the judges panel again at some point.
Next, Cat Deeley (with some spectacularly hot “sex hair”) breaks the bad news to us that we already have an injury. Contemporary dancer Mitchell Kelly strained his elbow during rehearsals and on doctor’s orders must sit out this round of the competition. He’s in the audience, visibly upset. I’m having uncomfortable flashbacks to last season and the tragic loss of Alex. Here’s hoping Mitchell makes a speedy recovery and gets a chance to prove himself next week.
And finally it’s time to introduce the couples. The Top 20 are now paired up into ten couples who will perform together for the first few weeks of the competition. Each week viewers will vote for their favorite couples, and the three that get the fewest votes will then give solo performances, from which the judges will decide one guy and one girl to send home. If the guy and girl eliminated are from different couples, the remaining halves of those couples will be paired together and the show will go on.
Make sense? Good.
Ladies and gentlemen, he first couple for Season 8 is…
We’ve made it! Weeks of auditions and a brutal, bloodthirsty Vegas callback elimination process have lead us here, to the fabled “green mile.” In seasons past this has meant a sort of morbid and drawn out episode of the remaining hopefuls taking the long walk down the video-lined hallway, reminiscing about their journey to this point before facing down the judges for what may or may not be the last time ever. It’s emotional, and sometimes awkward, and often manipulative. But that’s always been part of the fun.
However, this year we get a new format. Tonight we start out on the brand new Season 8 stage, in front of a live audience and the line of judges, and the stunning-as-ever Cat Deeley. As the final dancers are chosen we get to see them perform full choreographed routines on the stage. It’s actually a nice change, in my opinion. This gets us to the performance element of the season a bit quicker than we normally would have. As one of our readers put it on Twitter last night, “Less angst. More dance.” Amen.
And so, for the first time this season…
Welcome… to SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE!
Wow. So… that happened.
If you’ve never watched So You Think You Can Dance before, you may be unaware of just how brutal the Las Vegas Callbacks are. I passionately love this show and even I forget the pain and suffering involved in this stage of the competition. Basically, dancers that make it through the initial audition process are all brought to Vegas, where they are put through three grueling days of physical and emotional torture. If there were any question whatsoever in your mind about whether or not these kids are world class athletes that put most professional sports legends to shame, this episode should banish all doubt.
Far too much happens in the Vegas phase at far too fast a pace for me to even hope to be thorough in my recap here. There was good, bad, AND ugly tonight, and I’m still a little dazed and confused frankly. But I’ll see what I can cobble together for y’all.
Three hours of So You Think You Can Dance audition goodness this week. Wednesday night we got to see what Salt Lake City and New York had to offer, each giving us some good and some not-so-good. And Thursday night brought us the final auditions show, from the mythological Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. And the ol’ Orphic Mysteries were in full effect, because LA was a panoply of dance magic this season.
Ladies and gentlemen, Cat Deeley is back! What more is there to say? The cute, sweet, adorable, cuddly (too far?) host and protective big sister we all wish we’d had returns, and just like that all is right with the world.
Oh yeah, and she brought some dancers with her.
So You Think You Can Dance kicked off it’s eighth season this week with a two hour auditions episode, focusing on the graceful (usually) chaos surrounding the tryouts held in Atlanta and the Bay Area. While the auditions aren’t the “meat” of this series, at least not for me, it’s an important part of the getting-to-know-the-dancers process. It’s here we get our first hints of the backstories and personalities of the kids we’ll be rooting for over the next several weeks. And it also gives us a barometer with which to measure the dancers growth over the course of the coming season. SYTYCD is not only a fun, emotional rollercoaster ride with some amazing athletes and performers, it’s also a bootcamp. Most of the contestants have never lived the life of full-time professional dancers, and the pace of this show and the sheer volume of choreography they’ll be expected to learn can be daunting, to put it insanely mildly.
Do any of these kids have what it takes to survive the SYTYCD meat grinder? Let’s see what we have to work with so far…
Less than a week away from the premier of So You Think You Can Dance Season 8, I cannot keep my feet still…metaphorically speaking. My intention this season will be to post reviews here each week (we’ll see how that works out for me), but to kick things off I wanted to list my Top 10 favorite performances from seasons past. There’s just one problem…well, two actually. First of all, I only started watching the series with Season 4. And second, I’m horrible at making lists. So what would have been a Top 10 of the series will now be my Top 15 from Seasons 4-7.
The criteria I used to pick these performances include: originality and creativity of the choreography; musical inspiration; likability of the dancers; and something I’m just going to call the wow factor, which mostly has to do with how emotionally moved I was by the piece, either to cheer or cry or whatever.
It’s practically impossible to find good quality videos of past seasons for this show, so everything I’m including below carries with it the disclaimer inherent in all YouTube content: some is crystal clear and HD quality; most is average, low-res video; a few are truly crappy, pixelated abortions. Enter at your own risk.
So without further ado…
Paul’s Top 15 So You Think You Can Dance Performances!
Well, that settles it. Kenneth Branagh is a geek. How else to explain the brilliant blending of Shakespearean pomp and circumstance with the Lee/Kirby pseudo-sci-fi goofiness? Thor the comic was always just a tad inconsistent in the way it imported ancient Nordic mythology into the modern superhero landscape. The two writers that, in my opinion, handled the sacred and the profane best, Walt Simonson and J. Michael Straczynski (the latter one of the five credited screenwriters), each found a way to strike a comfortable balance. Thor the film favors the sci-fi over the fantasy, no question. But Branagh manages to create a cosmology here that is both theologically intriguing and satisfyingly silly.
So what is all this about, anyway? Well it’s that old familiar tale of the beautiful astrophysicist that discovers a fallen Norse god in the New Mexico desert, teaches him how to eat Pop-Tarts and wear low cut jeans, and ultimately helps him learn humility by being sweet and pretty and trusting of him, which of course allows him to regain his divine power just in time to destroy the god-killing robot set upon him, return to his heavenly realm and defeat his traitorous brother before he can steal the throne from their father. So, basically it’s nothing we haven’t all seen before.
But it’s gods damned fun!