My favorite show of the summer is, without question, So You Think You Can Dance on Fox. Though my interest in competition reality shows may have declined over the last few years (sorry Project Runway and The Voice/American Idol), SYTYCD has remained a summer constant for me as much as Big Brother on CBS.
If I had to choose the one thing that keeps me coming back year after year, it’s undeniably the talent of the 20 young dancers who have battled their way through months of auditions and the Hollywood callbacks to arrive onstage week after week until America chooses its favorite. But it’s more than talent, too. As Keith Harris writes in his post on DSConcourse, the show is undeniably cheesy and corny, but never as overtly as American Idol and its insufferable corporate sponsorships. Cat Deeley is the polar opposite of slick Ryan Seacrest types, exhuberantly interviewing contestants with empathy and a fun report between herself and the judges. The judges only add to the fun of the show. Mary Murphy, the lead conductor of the Hot Tamale Train, remains a fave. Season 7 or 8, when she was sadly relegated to guest judge remains a low point for me, when the show replaced her bubbly optimism and one-woman cheering section for the more sombre Mia Michaels. Head judge Nigel Lythgoe, the co-creator of the show, plays the stern taskmaster who doles out tougher constructive criticism when called for, and unbridled enthuisasm when its not. There’s usually a third judge, either a celebrity like Jesse Tyler Ferguson or Neil Patrick Harris (both delightfully on point when they appear) or dance authority-types like Adam Shankman or the aforementioned Mia Michaels. Sometimes the third judge provides a helpful critique to the dancers, and sometimes they don’t, as was the case when Lady Gaga appeared to dole out effusive praise and one of her shoes in what surely marks the nadir of her career. The elements that make up the show combine with choreography and some catchy pop hits to make a weekly two hour show that is magical and charming, and at its best, transcends its format and produces some of the most artistic moments on any major network.
On a weekly basis, the 20 finalists are randomly assigned a dance style like ballroom, hip hop, broadway etc. which the contestants may be familiar with or may not. This year’s crop of dancers is on par with any of the seasons that have come before it, and although I’ve regretted it before, I’ve always tried to pick who I think will be crowned ‘America’s Favorite Dancer.’ The last few have been Robert (S7), Marko (S8), Cyrus (S9), and Fik-shun and Jasmine (S10). Actually Fik-shun won, despite being less aesthically perfect than Aaron. Anyway, after watching tonite’s show, I think the male winner will be tap-dancing Zack and I dunno, Carly? Sure why not.
Anyone who’s watched this show knows Nigel has a level of respect for tap-dancers not afforded to say, hip-hoppers. And so far Zack has rocked each and every style he’s been assigned. Unfortunately he’s been paired with Jacque, who hasn’t really matched Zack’s effort level yet. As for Carly and my indifference, none of the women really have shown the commitment usually apparent in a Melanie (S8), for instance. But so far Carly has been the most impressive to me of the women. There’s my picks for this season. Let me know what you think! Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below. See you on finale night!