By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
I haven’t tried my hand at one of the TV reviews that have started popping up on the site as of late. So, which TV series should I write up? One of the departing greats like 30 Rock or Breaking Bad? A glaringly inconsistent guilty pleasure nearing the end like How I Met Your Mother or Dexter? An intriguing newcomer like Hannibal? How about Hall of Famers The Shield, Six Feet Under, or the pinnacle of Television Greatness, The Wire?
Fuck that, I want to dance!
So You Think You Can Dance is one of those ubiquitous talent contests that America finally might be getting fed up with, judging by the ratings of American Idol these days. It’s set up much the same, too- a panel of expert judges with a celebrity thrown in here and there travel the U.S. to cull a group of 200 dancers from thousands of amateurs, then winnow that number down to 20 contestants hot on the trail of the career of their dreams.
First off, I have to admit that I find an expertly delivered original dance of practically any style far more exhilarating, emotionally resonant, sexy, and flat-out impressive any day than yet another stale, warbly cover of a Top 100 song.
So You Think You Can Dance has tailored a familiar format perfectly to its subject matter. The sheer number of dancers and unique styles and interpretations of those styles we see in the audition process is staggering, uniting every ethnicity, income class, and culture in the common goal of just dancing your ass off.
The judges are also a welcome departure from the usual. On the surface you have the usual British hardass and over-the-top ditz in the center of things, but over time you can’t help but respect their obvious expertise (Nigel’s extends even to obscure Mongolian dance!), rapport with guest judges and contestants, and just the simple fact that they actually seem to like each other.
Allowing us to focus on, you know, the goddam talent
The competition itself doesn’t drag itself out forever like other shows of its ilk, and it’s incredibly interesting to see a street dancer try out and sometimes even dominate a ballroom routine, or a ballerina get down and dirty on a hip-hop number, which is a bit more of a stretch than going from lightly R & B-flavored Pop to lightly Country-flavored Pop. Oh, and let’s talk about the ladies, shall we?
If there’s a better way to get an absolutely transcendent body than a lifetime of dance training, I don’t know of it (honestly, that applies for all the man-candy on display, too). This is where the best looking people on TV reside, and I think we all can raise a glass to that.
Of course, this is still reality TV. You don’t have to squint very hard to see the strings, from transparent attempts to tug at your heart with sob stories (that still work more often than not) to the way you’re substantially clued in to who’ll do well by the amount of screentime they’re given, especially leading up to the Top 20. It’s annoying, but then again, I’m not sure how I would handle this many dancers, either.
So You Think You Can Dance brings us filthy awesome moments like this:
Take a Drink: for every inspirational interlude
Take a Drink: whenever anyone cries
Take a Drink: every time a dancer blows your mind
Take a Drink: whenever someone is cut from the competition
Do a Shot: if that person was one of your favorites
Do a Shot: whenever Mary screams, of course