Your guest judge is an empty chair with “Paula Abdul” on it. The new stage sucks. There’s no voting this week. HOW MANY MORE WAYS CAN THEY FIND TO BE WRONG?
Channing and Philip: jive. This was mediocre leaning towards bad, particularly in the case of Philip, who frankly should be better at jive: he was sucking wind at the end, his extensions were frankly crap (which given his tap background is really just… weird) and he looked nervous. Channing was actually much better than she got credit for being; her extensions were solid and she had much better performance quality than Philip. That having been said, the responsibility for nearly fucking up their big trick lies on both of them. For a first show, this was below average but not necessarily kiss of death. The judges actually make good comments, which blows me the fuck away.
Ashleigh and Jakob: Broadway. Tasty Oreo puts together a Broadway routine that isn’t grating? Hooray for small miracles. Honestly, this was probably one of the best Broadways Tasty has ever choreo’d (which is often damning with faint praise, but not this time). Jakob was astounding in this: his transitions were just seamless and his movement just goddamn sublime. Ashleigh was okay, which for working out of genre on week one is actually not that bad. This was reasonably good!
Arianna and Peter: hip-hop. That was one of the worst hip-hop performances on this show ever: an interesting core idea, executed about as badly as I have ever seen Napoleon and Tabitha (or pretty much anybody else) ever choreo a routine. (“Hey, I got an idea! Let’s have them stand over hunched for a few seconds and just flail!” “Awesome! You know what else would be good? Lots of dead time!” “We’re killing this shit!”) Arianna was off-beat frequently: Peter was much sharper (and had the harder part to perform), but given what crap he had to work with it’s hard to praise him even so.
Noelle Melanie LaPatin: foxtrot. And here is episode seven of the “Russell can do anything and make it look amazing” show, this week managing to do what Pasha couldn’t do in season three: dance with Melanie and make it look natural and real. (Okay, so it helps that this was a refined, charming routine that worked a lot better than the wild salsa they choreo’d for Pasha.) But in all seriousness, Russell was goddamned amazing – maybe not technically brilliant but certainly possessed of fantastic performance quality – and my only quibble is Nigel saying that Fred Astaire couldn’t or wouldn’t do krump, which is bull: Astaire (and Gene Kelly) lived for new types of dance, and were known in their seventies to go out on the street and cheer on breakdancers. If krump had been around in their prime, they would have krumped. I’ll bring this back to Russell now by saying that his effortlessness in this reminded me well of Astaire and Kelly, and he’s definitely a frontrunner at this point.
Bianca and Viktor: contemporary. Something about Travis’ choreo still doesn’t quite work for me: to me this felt a bit derivative, taking chunks out of Mia Michaels’ playbook (which, admittedly, is still stealing from the best). The judges fell over themselves to praise Viktor’s embrace of the character, which is weird to me because I thought he was almost soulless in his performance, dancing like a very technically brilliant robot, and that Bianca was the one really driving the connection and emotion of the piece home. But the dancing was strong and I can’t complain about it, really.
Karen and Kevin: cha cha. Karen’s performance quality was predictably very solid; Kevin’s was surprisingly disappointing. Adam Shankman calling the end lift “a little slow” is perhaps a bit of an understatement, as I stepped away from the screen to watch Titanic and read War and Peace and then came back and it was still going. Kevin’s legwork was practically nonexistent (lots of just “standing and letting Karen do things” moments); he started out reasonably well and then just went downhill, and he tried to make up for it with “Latin face” and didn’t really manage it. Bleh. (Also, “Push It” as sung by the cast of Glee? No.)
Ellenore and Ryan: jazz. Thankfully someone took Sonya aside and told her “look, stop trying to make people be sexy, and just do dances based on your last D&D campaign like we pay you to do,” and she did. And this is fine, because she is great at that. This was really cool; Ryan and Ellenore have a good partnership here, and both danced it quite well. The tricks were all pulled off quite well (although they were more predictable than Mary thought, but then again Mary is easily surprised). I quite liked this.
Brandon and Pauline: smooth waltz. I really think the judges overcritiqued this if anything, because Brandon and Pauline had great chemistry, good lines and reasonably good rise and fall. For a day and a half’s worth of practice I think they did just fine; there have been many, many waltzes on this show that were worse than this. Many, many waltzes, and they got blowjobs from the judges all the same.
Katherine and Legacy: hip-hop. I love Dave Scott’s choreo – he’s original and fresh and does indeed have a clever sense of humour. That having been said, this wasn’t my favourite of his pieces. It wasn’t a bad piece by any means, and I thought Legacy and Katherine did a good job with it – not nearly as hard-hitting as it could have been (and dare I say the lack of hip-hop judging on this show is distressing – three judges with no hip-hop training telling us how good or bad a piece of hip-hop is? Yeeesh), but good enough and certainly better than most of season five’s hip-hop. There’s just been, you know. Better.
Mollee and Nathan: disco. Ugh. The first twenty seconds or so of this were actually really great, and I was thinking, hey, maybe Doriana Sanchez hasn’t laid yet another egg. And in fairness, I don’t think I can blame her entirely for this mess, which they did not pull off no matter how much the judges want them to succeed (and if there’s another couple getting more obvious judge-jobs than these two, I dunno who they are). After that first twenty seconds, they screwed up a lift, then came out of the lift sloppy with bad footwork, then did another lift poorly, then more bad footwork… ugh. What a goddamn mess.
And then the judges nominate Arianna, Pauline, Brandon, and Russell for some reason that makes absolutely no fucking sense whatsoever. And of course it’s Brandon going home because duh. And Arianna, whatever.