Choreography: It's just not fair


On "So You Think You Can Dance," choreographers can give and take away. They can serve up one piece that makes a dancer seem dynamic ... and another that makes him seem blank.

Sonya Tayek did both tonight. The loser was Jose Ruiz, who was given a piece that was set entirely on the edge of the stage. "I find it very difficult to criticize your dancing," one judge (Adam Shankman) told him afterward. That may be because Jose never really got to dance; it was a stylish piece, but this high-energy guy was rarely given a chance to move.

Then Tayek gave the exact opposite kind of piece to Kent Boyd. It was big and splashy, filled with chances to show off. The piece for Jose may have been fresh and artistic and original ... but it won't get people to rush to their phones; the piece for Kent will.

Here are a few of my other comments. Please add yours:

1) Jose had bad luck all-around. For his other duet, he and Adechike Torbert did a piece that devoted a chunk of its time to cape-waving. Hey, will someone just let the kids dance?

2) Fortunately, Adechike's other number was a great showpiece, a richly emotional one choreographed by Napoleon and Tabitha. Anything done to Alicia Keys' "Falling" is going to be impressive; this one went beyond that.

3) Asked to do some stepping, Kent Boyd grabbed his crotch a lot. It was an OK effort; back home in rural Ohio, I'm guessing, Kent doesn't get many chances to do African-American traditions.

4) Robert Roldan offered the week's understatement: "Lauren's really hot." Verifying this was some footage of Lauren Froderman reading to an elementary-school class. When I was at Dellwood Elementary School, the student teacher never wore short-shorts.

5) Speaking of clothes, someone seems to have flung a red cloth randomly over whatever Cat Deeley was wearing. It might have even been on purpose, but I hope not.

6) The testimonials by parents were useless. It's good to have pieces about the dancers' roots; in this case, however, each parent did little more than deliver a campaign pitch.

7) That left Billy Bell out. Since he didn't dance this week (due to injury), he didn't get a parental puff piece. Life, I may have mentioned earlier, isn't fair.

8) Yes, another injury, the third in three weeks. On Thursday, Billy automatically goes to the bottom three.

9) The judges will be very tempted to NOT oust Billy on Thursday. That would make it three straight weeks of ousting the injured person, a boring trend. Still, it would be fair: I really think Billy would have been ousted in one of the previous two weeks, if there hadn't been the injuries.

10) My prediction? Jose and Robert join Billy in the bottom three. The judges reluctantly send Jose home. Or not.

 

 

 

 

 

Dance demolition derby


Hey, this is turning into a dance demolition derby.

For the second straight week, the "So You Think You Can Dance" ouster wasn't because of viewers' votes or judges' views. It was because someone was injured and couldn't continue.

Last week, it was the brilliant Alex Wong; tonight, it was the appealing Ashley Galvan. This is sort of like a gladiator tournament, except that the loser isn't (to my knowledge) slain afterward.

This time, it was telegraphed from the start, because:

-- We didn't really see Ashley until the end; and

-- The solos didn't come until late in the show. In other weeks, the final three have their "dance for your life" solos fairly early, giving the judges time to debate and decide; for the last two weeks, they came late ... the judges already knew there was nothing to decide.

Here are a few of my other comments. Please add yours:

1) Jose Ruiz wasted a truly sensational solo. In his first time in the final three, he packed more into 30 seconds than I thought possible.

2) Billy Bell, by comparison, did a solo that was -- as usual -- technically perfect, but uninvolving. He keeps being warned that he needs to get viewers involved. He'd better do that soon; some week, there might not be anyone injured.

3) Sometimes, dance reaches stunning levels of perfection. That duet by the Alvin Ailey dancers was spectacular.

4) Speaking of solos, the Christina Perri story is fascinating. Two weeks ago, she was a waitress; now she's been on national TV while her "Jar of Hearts" thrives on iTunes ... and it all started when the song was featured in a dance number on the show. Her voice sounded a tad harsh and forced tonight, but this still made me think of early Alanis Morrissette -- a gifted and gorgeous singer-songwriter, delivering an almost perfect song.

5) Now the show only has one woman (Lauren Froderman), against five men. Let's hope she avoids injury. 

 

 

I know nothing/I know something

Keywords

This is when I'm supposed to have some intemperate words about "So You Think You Can Dance." After each Wednesday and Thursday show, I do some second-guessing.

Alas, I was gone on a family project and missed the whole thing. I'll be back to my routine Thursday night.

Meanwhile, I do have something else worth sharing: The season-finale of "Doctor Who" is sensationally good.

That starts at 9 p.m. ET Saturday (July 17) on BBC America, then concludes a week later. This week's opener is pretty good; next week's finale is wonderful.

Add these together and you have wit, whimsy, fantasy, warmth and more. If you're not a "Who" regular, don't fret about the barrage of details. Just settle back and enjoy a splendidly imagined tale of one madly brilliant man (and his companion) careening through time.

 

 

Alex Wong: Bad luck, worse luck


Chances are, you already knew that life isn't fair. (That's something already known to people in the Gulf Coast and in Cleveland.) For further proof, there's Alex Wong and "So You Think You Can Dance."

Last season, he danced brilliantly in "So You Think You Can Dance" auditions. He had to drop out because of his contract with the Miami Ballet. This season, he left Miami and danced brilliantly again; one week, this ballet dancer drew raves for his hip-hop performance. Then he tore a ligament from his achilles tendon; producers learned late Wednesday that he'll be out for at least three months.

That made tonight's "results show" a moot point. With Alex leaving, everyone else will stay.

Viewers didn't know that, so "Dance" went through the motions. Here are a few of my comments; please add yours:

1) OK, I was half wrong (see a previous blog, which came just before the Emmys blog). I thought Robert Roldan and Ashley Galvan -- forced to do a "quick-step" late in the show, giving viewers a fresh memory of failure -- would be in the bottom two. She was; he wasn't.

2) Instead, Billy Bell was in the bottom. Here's a guy who is -- next to Wong -- the show's most gifted dancer. Still, he's never warmed to audiences in the zestful style of, say, Kent Boyd or Jose Ruiz. Talent and all, he stays in the bottom.

3) Gorgeous sights: Cat Deeley's dress -- golden, sort of African-style -- ws stunning. So was the lead singer from Broadway's "In the Heights."

4) Less joyous: Natasha Bedingfield seemed to have some sort of odd mixture between live singing and lip-synching. It was jarring whenever she would pull the microphone away and the vocals continued.

5) Whoops: Adam Shankman raved about the fact that he'd received zillions of Emmy nominations as producer of the Academy Award telecast. After the break, he sort of remembered that Bill Mechanic -- the Michigan State University grad who saved "Titanic" from axing -- produced it with him. That's a good thing to remember. 

 

Emmys: The call of the new


Staring at approximately 14,000 new Emmy nominations today, what do we make of it all? Here are a few trends, gripes and more:

1) New is big: Anything new tends to seem bright and shiny and appealing. This year, three first-year shows scored big. "The Good Wife" is up for best drama, with Julianna Margulies up for best actress in a drama. "Glee" and "Modern Family" are both up for best comedy, with many of their actors also nominated.

2) Departing is cool, too: Sometimes, shows get nominated on their way out, too. "Lost" should have had a best-drama nod every year, now it does. Also, Conan O'Brien -- freshly departed from NBC -- has a nomination; Leno and Letterman don't.

3) The overlooked: Great shows on cable tend to be noticed; great ones on the broadcast networks might be ignored. Once again, the wonderful "Big Bang Theory" (CBS) and "Friday Night Lights" (DirectTV and NBC) were again overlooked for best comedy and drama series.

4) The noticed: At least, some of those show's actors were nominated this time. Jim Parsons is up for best actor in a comedy; Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton are up for best actor and actress in a comedy. They play the coach and his wife; then again, you could fill the entire supporting category with the superb young "Lights" actors, starting with Jesse Plemmons and Taylor Kitsch. In fact, this week's show (8 p.m. July 9, NBC) has great moments from all three of this season's new young stars.

5) Also overlooked: Two of TV's best competitive reality shows -- "Survivor" and "So You Think You Can Dance" -- weren't nominated. You can catch a "Dance" results show tonight (9 p.m., July 8, NBC).

6) Remember movies?: Yes, people do sometimes make great movies. The season's best movie and performance -- "Temple Grandin," Claire Danes -- were nominated; also nominated was Al Pacino's great work as Jack Kevorkian in "You Don't Know Jack." There are great TV movies out there; one of the best is the splendid "Murder on the Orient Express" remake, at 9 p.m. Sunday (July 11) on most PBS stations.