Well, last night certainly was fun, wasn’t it? I started off watching this season of So You Think You Can Dance with a hint of worry. After all, we knew the new fall season would coincide with the baseball playoffs and World Series, which meant there would be plenty of pre-empting and far less attention paid to a show that usually dominates the schedule when it airs in the summer. So, to me, the decision to run a fall season of SYTYCD was akin to the decision to have a baby: Why do it if you can’t devote the proper time to making sure everything turns out well? (I take my reality TV very seriously, folks.)
I have to say that last night alleviated some of my worries. But not quite all of them. Though I love that we spent an hour watching our top 20 in their element, I still have to cope with the fact that tonight marks the beginning of the competition — and America will not be able to decide who stays and who goes home. Sure, the judges (oh Cat, how great to have you front and center again!) have always ultimately chosen who went home prior to the top ten, but to not even give us faithful viewers a say by vote tomorrow? What happened to the search for America’s favorite dancer? If this is the search for Nigel’s favorite dancer, then why don’t we just cut to the chase and crown Elizabeth Berkley the winner?
But, admittedly, it was almost worth delaying the competition until tonight to watch all the dancers in their element, something we’re usually unable to see until they either (a) end up in the bottom three, or (b) make it to the top four. So in the dramatic rollercoaster ride that is a typical season of SYTYCD, last night’s one-hour special was a bit like a welcome, relaxing spin on the kiddie coaster, cotton candy and all. In a word: fun. We had Cat in a sparkly dress! A total of seven dance routines! A plea from Nigel for Paula Abdul to join the judges’ panel! (Gaining one Paula might just make up for Paula Von Oppen’s absence in the top 20.) But since I’ve spent the past few months waffling back and forth about the success of this fall season, it’s only appropriate that I break down last night’s episode into list of things I loved — and didn’t love — about the performance special.
I love you, Wade and Amanda Robson, for starting the show out groovy and strong. Wade is the one reason I don’t fear the absence of Mia this season — the guy consistently choreographs fun, toe-tapping routines that don’t necessarily need any sort of convoluted backstory. The dancing should, as it always does in Wade’s case, say it all. So I have to give props to Wade and Amanda for bringing us this routine, which played like a smoky, jazzy prequel to West Side Story’s ”Mambo.” Even if I caught a hint of producer pimping, what with the way the camera lingered on our young, sweet Nathan. Not that he doesn’t deserve it, of course. But he’s already hooked the teenage girls before the competition. And that Mr. Creosote-sized advantage should mean some extra screen time for our oft-ignored boys.
NEXT: Nigel knocks the tappers