So You Think You Can Dance limps to underwhelming climax
Woot, y'all, it's the SYTYCD Season Finale!
Melanie, Marko, Sasha and Tadd are battling it out in a sparkly endurance test of jumping and silly outfits! Tonight, they have to fill up this two hour block of time with contestant pairings, All-Stars pairings and useless time-sucking solo dances. Let's make it happen!
Host Cat Deeley looks great tonight; she got her hairs did and she's actually wearing an appropriate dress for the situation. A short, intricately sequined cocktail dress to indicate how tipsy she got before this show started. She has to keep up the banter with painfully unfunny Nigel Lythgoe somehow.
There are four special hand-picked judges for the finale, and they’re totally underwhelming. Kenny Ortega is the producer and director of High School Musical, we're told. So he knows Zac Efron, and I guess that’s worth cheering over. I mean, I don't know Zac Efron yet.
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? A disco routine starts out the finale? I'm ready to turn this off and stop right here.
But then, ewwww, who's the sad-looking stick figure sitting next to Kenny? Oh, it's Katie Holmes. Weepy-eyed Joey from Dawson's Creek is here to look remorseful and desperate for escape from the Hollywood life she's signed her life away for. What’s she doing on a dance show you ask? Well, she's a partner in National Dance Day with Nigel, so she bought her way into the finale. She’s a Level 5 Scientologist, so I guess she gets to do what she wants.
And then we've got Mary Murphy looking warm and glowy and grandmotherly as always, laughing and honking to her own tune. You can tell she's ready for a finale because her voice is all warmed up. She's ready to do the obnoxious mating call of her species, the dreaded "Hot Tamale Train" warble.
Let's make these dancetestants work for our votes tonight!!!
Melanie and Marko: Disco
To start off their finale, the producers somehow dug choreographer Doriana Sanchez out of the back of their closet to direct a damn DISCO routine to Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love.” Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? A disco routine starts out the finale? I'm ready to turn this off and stop right here. This is terrible.
They put Melanie in an unflattering couple of sequined washcloths and Marko in a godforsaken leisure suit. Melanie actually looks bad for the first time in this competition. And Marko just looks like a punchline. They're smiling, but it's not because they're enjoying it. And neither are we. He's slow on the lifts, and she's spread eagle for an uncomfortable amount of this routine. We're just waiting for babies to start popping out already.
Sure, the routine was painfully athletic but it was also the worst.
High School Musical director Kenny Ortega has nothing to say, but he really likes Marko and Melanie and he sure does smile a lot. Katie admires their strength and feels inspired by them to dance. If only she weren't so frail and forlorn. Not surprisingly, both Kenny and Katie mention Saturday Night Fever because it's the ONLY REFERENCE ANY OF US HAVE TO DISCO. Mary says “abso-dootly” when describing how boring this show is so far. Nigel identifies how out of touch this all was to modern day. Sigh.
Sasha and All-Star Mark: Contemporary
Queen of the Highlands Sonya Tayeh is back to do more of what she does best: scare the judges into praising what everyone has seen a billion times before on this show. But it always works, so get ready for more!
For this contemporary routine, she's recruited her male counterpart in half-shaved head glory, Lady Gaga’s backup dancer, Mark. (Remember him in the Season 4 Finale?) Together, they will make Sasha look like a warrior princess again. Hooray!
The song is "Raise Your Weapon" by Deadmau5. Oooooooh, so emo. What an unexpected turn for Sonya! Look at Mark. He’s glorious. He's like an untamed beast with eyeliner. He and Sasha are being so angry and mean to one another. He’s twisting her up and pushing her down, it's ugly and it's awesome. And now he’s walking her like a wheelbarrow. Does it get better than that? I haven't seen that since Field Day in elementary school!
And, finally, the powerful lady dancer overcomes her trials and tribulations and washes that man-beast right out of her hair. Mark smiles and waves like a beauty queen and bounces off the stage. That's when we notice up close that Sonya and Mark share the same stylist.
Katie has nothing to say, because she is not strong and she forgot to ask Tom Cruise for permission. Mary gets the party started with her trademark howl, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Nigel has some thoughts about dancing, but only he's interested in these thoughts. Kenny likes to watch dancing a lot, but has little more to say than "Good job, kids."
On a separate note, Both Cat and Mark touched Sasha’s hair. And you DO NOT touch a black woman’s hair.
Tadd and All-Star Joshua: Hip Hop
The incomprehensible Lil C is directing a dumb ol’ hip hop routine where he apparently needs comically oversized glasses to convey his "hustle." Joshua is the Season 4 winner, and he's hard core about hip hop, so Tadd's got some serious effort to put into this dance. Appropriately, the song is called “Hustle Hard” by Ace Hood.
There’s no real story or relationship for the dancers; they’re pretty much just dancing in unison. It's cool to watch, but it also makes it apparent that Joshua is much better than Tadd is, and much more natural getting into the hustle that keeps being mentioned. I will say, however, that all these open vests are showing off every abdominal muscle possible. It's a bit distracting, to tell the honest truth.
Cat comments on how hard Tadd’s hustling really was. And Mary agrees, but without screaming, so I don’t really believe her. Nigel doesn’t say anything good or bad, just talks. Kenny comments on Lil C’s silly fashion choices. Thank goodness SOMEONE said it. Katie likes Tadd’s hustling, and she also thinks he's sweet. It’s really important and helpful that she’s here. She looks so hungry.
Sasha looks so good and so sexy in her bikini and fringe skirt. Her legs look a million miles long. Tadd’s basically an attractive accessory to her hips.
Melanie and All-Star Robert: Contemporary
Well, Stacey Tookey is back to do more quiet beauty with a contemporary piece allowing quiet, beautiful Melanie to do what she does best. And Season 7's Robert is here to make Melanie look even more quietly beautiful. And he's gonna wear an open flowy white shirt, of course. Oooooh, and they're dancing to Sinead O’Connor cover of Elton John's “Sacrifice.”
Yep there's the flowy open white shirt, along with her gauzy white dress. Pair it with a song about "two hearts living in two separate worlds" and some dramatic lighting, and you've got a SYTYCD standard. It’s not as exciting or dramatic as the other flowy white dress dances she’s done, however. It's rather routine and expected at this point. Really would have hoped for a show-stopper tonight like what she’s been serving up in the last few weeks.
Nigel is playing up the Sasha/Melanie fight so there’s some actual competition alive in this show. Kenny takes this time to plug his (entirely unnecessary) upcoming Dirty Dancing movie. Because that beloved 80s movie hasn’t been remade yet, Baby better get back here and get in that corner so she can be saved by dance one more time! Katie only has the energy to whisper "You're so strong" before slumping back on her chair for a nap. Mary compares Melanie to Yogi Bear for her picnic basket skills...?
And then Melanie starts crying because she’s changed so much over the course of the competition: from the obvious winner to the regular type of winner to the obvious winner yet again. What a brave journey.
Marko and Sasha: Broadway
Ugh, choreographer Spencer Liff is back to wreak more havoc upon the stage in the form of a Broadway routine that will likely embarrass everyone involved. I'm sad this is how Marko and Sasha got paired up.
This time, it's a late night restaurant seduction scene set to “Whatever Lola Wants” by Ella Fitzgerald. Sasha is a horny lady who lacks boundaries and, apparently, any kind of etiquette. She's wearing a delightful evening dress, which has been split totally open up the front. Dirty girl. Marko, meanwhile, is playing a nerdy waiter resisting her very forward advances. I feel bad for both of them having to be funny and sexy and dance all at the same time. It's an uncomfortable balance that the judges are clearly going to hate.
Kenny is all about Sasha's acting abilities, and has nothing to say to Marko except "Whoa, funny glasses." Katie thinks the glasses are funny, too. She was apparently unaware there was even dancing going on. Mary was also just AMAZED by Marko’s glasses! Apparently, Superman had it right, and it really does only take a pair of nerdy glasses to confuse the general public. Nigel ruins the party by asking for more dancing and less acting. Everyone feeds Nigel's dark spirit with their boo's.
Sasha and Tadd: Cha-Cha
Choreographer Mark Ballas is tasked with the unfortunate mission of teaching these two exhausted dancers the Cha-Cha. He’s emphasizing fun in the routine, but he doesn’t sound entirely convinced himself.
The song is “Raindrops” by Basement Jaxx which makes the ballroom dancing more lively for the audience watching at home. Sasha looks so good and so sexy in her bikini and fringe skirt. Her legs look a million miles long. Tadd’s basically an attractive accessory to her hips. She looks like Grace Jones dancing with whatever frightened man she has ensnared with her black beauty.
I'm no Cha-Cha champion, but things do not look to be going well for the dynamic duo in the dance department. They appear to be slipping a lot on stage and missing their cues. The music is no longer matching up with their movements, and everyone in the audience is sucking in their breath waiting for it to be over.
After weak applause, a superfluous Katie Homes is staring hard at her water bowl and calling them both “such strong dancers." Mary haaaaates it. No one boo's at her because it’s totally true. Nigel agrees with Mary and everyone sits silently in astonished agreement. Sasha’s family looks concerned. Kenny tells them to shake it off and come back for the next dance. The crowd finally cheers at that. This is an unfortunate turn of events in a disappointing finale. Eek all around.
Marko and All-Star Lauren: Contemporary
Unknown choreographer Tessandra Chavez steps up to the challenge of the finale with a contemporary routine for Marko and Season 7 winner Lauren Froderman. I don't know this Tessandra lady, but if it's contemporary, it'll be fun to watch.
Dancing to the super downer song "Shirk" by Me'Shell Ndegeocello, Marko and Lauren are leaping and yearning like we want to see in all of our SYTYCD routines. He's wearing a pirate outfit and she's flopping like a fish, so I'm going to say this is a dance about a man falling in love with a fish. Love clearly IS hard for these two. She won’t stop crying and falling down and flopping like a fish. This is so Little Mermaid, I’m just dying laughing. She’s trying so hard to be part of his world, but ultimately their love will never work out because she’s still a fishlady.
Mary is talking about Marko's “thrusting” and “frolicking,” and we all just want her to go back to screeching more. Why all the real talk, Mary? Marko starts crying again and, wait for it… yep! There’s crying Marko’s mom! Nigel welcomes us to the beginning of the finale because this is the first dance that actually felt like a finale-worthy performance. Kenny thanks everyone for this gift we saw tonight. Katie is just sooooo happy to be there. And soooooooooo sad for the decision she made to marry Tom Cruise.
Melanie and Tadd: Jazz
Ray Leeper is directing Melanie and Tadd in a spirited jazz routine about a cheating boyfriend that is, for some reason, emphasizing removing Tadd's clothing. So... can it be all bad?
The song is a slow, strange R&B/blues number called “Show Me What You’re Working With” by Sista Monica. Where Ray Leeper came up with this song I don't care. I just know I want to hang out with Sista Monica because she sounds like a badass.
Melanie looks like Olivia Newton-John at the end of Grease, and I'm just waiting for her to put out a cigarette with her shoe. Instead she removes one of her shoes and throws it at Tadd. That'll do just as well. But then, how do you dance with only shoe, silly Melanie? She does an awesome one-shoe strut across the stage and throws the other one at him. He's walking on his hands some more, she's pulling off clothes, same ol' same ol'. She bests him by removing his pants. More powerful women overcoming their trials and tribulations with disrobing. Tadd shows us once again that he has all of the abs. Every time he inhales, it’s awesome to watch.
Nigel makes a comment about Tadd’s underwear as well as Melanie’s awesomely bitchy pose. Kenny was “gripped to the stage” because of Melanie’s “theater.” Somehow this was a morality play for him. Katie loved it because it was "fun." Mary starts screaming again, so everyone is happy. It finally starts feeling like a finale, and we're halfway through the show.
Melanie and Sasha: Contemporary
Stacey Tookey is back to direct a piece about supressed housewives. More longing and yearning! Hopefully some lesbian undertones a la The Hours.
The totally instrumental track is called “Heart Asks Pleasure First.” It's pretty music, and I like their dresses. They both look really into the beauty and urgency of the piece. They play a lot with boundaries and space, which conveys the overall message. But I also want more interaction and tricks. Knowing these two can be fierce beasts makes me want to see more from them.
Kenny says a lot of words to say it was alright. Katie liked their strength and also their outfits. Amazingly, she overlooks the inescapable irony of her being here tonight to comment on housewives trapped in their homes. Mary was bored so she just says some words like “musicality” and “phrasing” to fill her time. Nigel liked seeing the two women “hugging and cuddling.” Yep, there's the creepster Nigel commentary we were bracing ourselves for this whole night.
Marko and Tadd: Gumboot Stepping
And now it's time for the final dance of the night. And for reasons I will never understand, this is when they choose to debut an experimental dance genre. This time it's a Step dance routine by Chuck Maldonado. Y'know, step dancing, originated in South Africa and popularized in black fraternities. It's one of the fastest, most intense forms of dance. This should probably go pretty well.
At least the music is great. “B.O.B” by Outkast. I actually want to listen to this song every day of my life. But I DO NOT want to watch these two guys dancing to it. They’re clearly not able to keep up with the music, and it’s actually embarrassing and terrible. First off, they’re in rubber boots and Super Mario Brothers outfits. They’re utterly exhausted, and this is way too complicated to execute. Now they’re in a wheelbarrow. They cannot be doing this. It ends with an awkward hug, and this is the single most terrible ending to a show all season.
The choreographer looks horrified. Just horrified. Katie loved it for...wait for it...its strength, and she really hopes they had fun tonight. Mary has nothing to say but how fun this entire season has been. Either she missed what just happened due to hysterical blindness or she knows nothing about step dancing. Nigel wishes the boys luck but reminds them that a girl is clearly winning the competition this season. Kenny says congrats to all four contestants, smartly skipping right past this dance.
Yowza. That was a rough night. Overall, a disappointing season finale. Thankfully, now it’s up to America, that fickle bitch, to determine the season's champion. And based on tonight, who even knows what's going to happen. This was hands down my least favorite show of the season. What a shame.
Melanie was decent, though not incredible, in all three of her routines. Marko had the best dance (Contemporary) and the worst dance (Step) of the night. Sasha was fierce in the Contemporary piece with Mark but middling to bad in the other three. Tadd was pretty weak tonight, and Nigel straight up called him out on it.
My predictions remain the same as when we entered this sucking chest wound of an evening. Melanie wins, Sasha comes in a close second, Marko third and Tadd is happy to be there.
Tune in tonight for the final results if you've somehow got the superhuman patience or the lasting curiosity. I know I'll be looking for the answer on a blog somewhere out there in the great blue yonder we call the Internet.
Thanks for joining me in this fretful journey, friends. Join me here soon for the next reality show my editors permit me to spend my valuable "news writing" time on instead. Top Chef: Texas, perhaps...?