Before we get started, Dan asked:
…the few times I’ve tried to watch it I had to change the channel immediately when Mary Murphy starts talking. And I know more people who don’t watch the show because of her than watch it despite her. What are your thoughts on her presence and what she brings to the show? (Nigel seems mildly amusing and mostly harmless)
Nigel is honestly a lot more pernicious than Mary; at times his sexism and personal type of homophobia can become outrageously noxious and offensive.
My take on Mary is that, whatever her flaws (and boy howdy does she have flaws) she’s genuine, and that is worth something. Yes, the screaming and Hot Tamale Train and all of that is incredibly annoying (no, really – incredibly annoying), but she’s one hundred percent honest and most of the time knows her shit when it comes to judging. And without Screaming Mary, we’d never get Crying Mary, and I think it’s good to have a judge who genuinely gets moved by the performances as she does. I just wish she’d stop with the fucking screaming.
Anyway. Your guest judge tonight is Adam Shankman, who directs mostly horrible movies but is a wonderful human being in spite of that! There’s a gigantic new stage that holds thirty bazillion people! It’s so big it’s in WIIIIIIIDESCREEEEEEEEN! The show is now officially big enough for Michael Bay to blow up!
Opening all-four dance: jazz. Coincidentally, this Wadeandamanda Robson piece is the closest any dancer will come tonight to dancing hip-hop, which makes Nigel’s endless triumphalism about how this season’s dancers are so hot-shit even more hollow. “They’re so great we decided not to do anything out-of-the-box like having them dance an unfamiliar style or something they might not excel at!” But this piece is honestly really good and fun, funky in a sort of jazz-dance way with some good beats. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Jeanine and Shorty: contemporary. This week’s Sonya Tayeh piece did not feel like a Sonya Tayeh piece. Where is the black eyeliner? How am I supposed to know that Sonya choreographed it if nobody is wearing black eyeliner? But seriously. Jeanine killed it, absolutely left Shorty behind; this was probably his best dance of the night, too. He actually did really well. But… the problem for Shorty is that Jeanine is so much better than him that the difference is staggeringly obvious.
Brandon’s solo: Actually impressed me the least of all his solos: this one just felt like a series of moves, whereas his others had a sense of build and purpose to his move sequence. This felt – not desperate, because it was clearly confident. But it definitely felt like there was a conscious plan here to dazzle rather than tell a brief story through dance.
Kayla and Brandon: Broadway. Nigel does his best to ruin the Tasty Oreo joke by referring to it, but Tasty Oreo is forever, Nigel, and even your power of blah cannot destroy it. Anyway, I did not have high hopes for this coming in but was really very pleasantly surprised: Brandon and Kayla danced it very well and Tasty laid off the overblown literalism that’s a hallmark of his Broadway choreography, and the result was a very fun, entertaining piece. I really liked it.
Jeanine’s solo: The judges were blown away by how difficult a solo she chose to do, and it definitely was difficult – easily, in its way, as difficult as Brandon’s, except where his required immense power hers required near-perfect control. (That extended pirouette? Insane.) She absolutely nailed it.
Shorty and Brandon: pop/jazz. I love that LaurieAnne got brought back so quickly, and her routine this time was good – again, about as close to hip-hop as the Whitest Finale In SYTYCD History could manage. Shorty was once again outdanced, but this time it wasn’t a case of him dancing well and just being outclassed by a genius, but by him dancing pretty averagely and being outclassed by a genius.
Shorty’s solo: Underdanced and not nearly good enough at this stage. Look, don’t get me wrong: I think he’s actually pretty good as dancers go, and I was happy to see him make top ten because he deserved it. But he’s been constantly outclassed since about top 12 week and should have left long ago; he’s just not at this level yet, if he ever will be. He does his thing really well? So did Musa in season 2 or Cedric in season 3. (Except, you know, they were hip-hop dancers so the show didn’t have a problem ditching their asses.)
Jeanine and Kayla: contemporary. Didn’t care for this at all. I don’t have any complaints about their dancing particularly; I just thought the choreography was boring, and the judges falling over themselves to praise Mia Michaels for her profoundly literal piece about their “journey” was honestly kind of lame. Except for Nigel, going to his Dirty Old Man well. That was lame and pathetic. Then he says these two are the best female dancers in the show’s history, throwing – at a minimum – Melody, Lacey, Sabra, and Katee under a bus. (Kayla wouldn’t even make my list of top ten female dancers in the U.S. show’s history. Jeanine would be in the top three.)
Shorty and Kayla: jive. Tony and Melanie impress me less and less each time I see their stuff. They used to be good, right? What happened? Anyway, Adam asks if there is anything Kayla can’t do, and other than “dance hip-hop well,” I can’t think of anything. Well, maybe “dance in shoes,” because once again she’s not wearing heels in a ballroom routine, instead forced into cowboy boots – possibly because she’s not good in shoes, possibly because of the height difference. But the cowboy boots were ridiculous, because even if she was capable of performing the jive at full tilt (and given the mistakes she was making in this routine, my guess is that she isn’t), why would you make her wear footwear that would be likely to fall off in the middle of a jive? Shorty actually danced better than her in this; his leg extensions were actually quite sharp and his upper body was better than the judges gave him credit for. That having been said, I do not want Shorty receiving any positive reinforcement at this stage because he Should Not Win and I don’t want his fans having an excuse to vote for him on the grounds of perceived quality.
Kayla’s solo: Same old technical brilliance with no soul. Adam Shankman, who is a sweetheart, puts her on par with Danny or Travis, which is laughable. She’s good, and obviously has room to get even better, but she’s not as good as the judges say she is. She’s good enough to make top 4 (although Janette would have been better); she’s not good enough to warrant anything more than that.
Jeanine and Brandon: paso doble. This was seriously hot shit, one of the best pasos in the show’s history. Both Jeanine and Brandon spent the entire night outdancing their partners and then when they got to dance with one another, they blew the roof off the place. There isn’t much more to say about it: it was just completely excellent and they both completely embodied the dance. COMPLETELY.
Final order should be: 1.) Jeanine 2.) Brandon 3.) Kayla 4.) Shorty
Final order will be: 1.) Jeanine 2.) Shorty 3.) Brandon 4.) Kayla