Anyway, the panel is back in full, this week: the lovely and talented AB Chao, the equally lovely and talented Lauren S, and the even more equally lovely and talented Vance from Tapeworthy.
We'll start off by taking one routine at a time and spin off from there...
Vance: You know I've been a fan of these two right from the start and felt vindicated last week. Hmm... oh well. I still love them, but that sucked the donkey. This season CANNOT do Hip Hop apparently.
Lauren: Seriously, what is up with this season? I thought this could have been good, and Karla did better than Jonathan, but dudes. I did like her silver eyeshadow.
Joe: I think we all wanted to like this but realized very early on that it wasn't happening. I do always feel for the pretty boys who are ALWAYS gonna get hated on for their hip-hop even if they're really not that bad (Neil; Thayne). But Jonathan was pretty bad. Karla I thought was keeping up pretty well, but this just isn't a very hip-hoppy group.
AB Chao: OH MY GOD. Y'all. I cannot take the lack of hip-hop goodness. I am about to pull a hissy of TWoP poster proportions, and just threaten to quit watching.
Vance: Vitolio is a good dancer but he still gets overshined by Asuka for me. I'm not sure I like her as a person, but my eye is always drawn to her on the dancefloor and Vitolio is more of a placeholder for me.
Lauren: I have to admit, I just can't stand Asuka as a person, and I think that's coloring her dancing for me. I finally watched last week's eps on Sunday (after a horrible DVR mishap at my parents' house so I couldn't watch earlier) and I wanted to absolutely wring her neck while she had her head on his chest during judging and was trying to look all Serious and Emotional. I won't get too long-winded about it, but I think that she's also only a good dancer, not a great one, and combined with how I perceive her personality, it kills it for me. Vitolio I really like, and I am just rooting for her to go soon so that I can see him have a chance with someone else. I do fear that he's not strong enough to really hold on against some of the other guys as the weeks go on.
Joe: God, I am just BORED by these two. I was halfway interested in their clip package where it looked like they were gonna actually go all The Cutting Edge on us and make out, but then the dancing started and I drifted off. Not even Mandy Moore and her Totally '80s fetish (which I never noticed until this year, but Mandy loves her some '80s) could wake me up. Really hope they go home this week.
AB Chao: I can't hate on Asuka for her baby act, because I know someone who does the exact same thing and it's kind of endearing. But I can see how it would make you want to kill her. When Toni Basil said "caressing her face" I nearly threw up. It was seriously creepy. Anyway, the dancing: eh. It was ok. But Joe, it makes me really happy to see a Cutting Edge reference. Toe pick!
Vance: It wasn't perfect, and Ade looked nervous a couple of times, but man, this team is STRONG, and I think Melissa is the strongest female dancer this season. I hate using the word fierce but she's FIERCE.
Lauren: If ever "fierce" was called for, it's here, and especially when Melissa is wearing that scrap of a hankie of a dress! I thought they were fabulous and she's managed to totally turn me around since the beginning of the season -- I think she's awesome now.
Joe: LOVE! Sorry, it's official, these two are my favorites. Scorching hot rumba, Melissa is INSANELY long and flexible and Ade has that Joshua/Will thing where he looks like he's made of granite but just floats out there.
AB Chao: Yeah, these two are officially awesome. Ade could not be more charming and powerful and just all-around hot. That crazy move where Melissa did her leg up and over and AROUND, that is when I fell in love with her. However: Dear Melissa, Please quit plucking your eyebrows. Love, A Friend Who Cares. There, I said it.
Joe: If I were not already inclined to love Melissa, I might get annoyed by her constant stalking of the camera during the episode ending dance-out. Everybody else is having fun, old lady! Quit mugging and grab the red hat off of Jason's head!
Joe: Oh HERE'S where all the unexpected hip-hop skill went! No, Brandon is still not someone I'm actively rooting for BUT this is two weeks in a row now where these two just absolutely tore shit up.
Vance: While I don't love Brandon, I don't think I hate him as much as everyone else does, and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Which seemed to pay off this week cause he Hip-Hopped!!! And WELL!!! But um, was it me or did Janette totally nail it? Who would have thought Janette would be the best Hip-Hopped of Season 5 to date?
AB Chao: FINALLY. I was so trying not to get my hopes up based on the rehearsal footage, but it looked so promising, and oh my goodness, it paid off. I still cannot really stand Brandon and his Carlton Face, but he KILLED it tonight. I was so happy. And Janette was totally selling it, too. I could have done without those tights, though. Yes, I could. (Maybe I'll start talking like Mary Murphy in my everyday life. YES I WILL!)
Vance: Oh yeah, what WAS Janette wearing. I seriously thought maybe I missed something about an homage to Rocky Horror Show
Lauren: So I know that of all of us I've been the Brandon lover, and I will admit that his "kooky" personality is starting to grate on me a little bit. BUT that does not take away from the fact that I love his dancing, and I had no idea he was going to pull this out like he did. And Janette! I was so neutral on her after auditions but she's way up there for me now. These two are one of my favorite pairings.
Joe: Totally elegant and beautiful, even if the choreography was suspiciously close (i.e. exactly the same) to last year's Twitchington waltz (which I swear I will stop referencing some day). But you know I love my Kupono in all his yelpy, I-designed-this-crackheaded-ensemble-myself glory. And this is the first week I really connected with Kayla the way the judges did. Now get them some Mia next week!
Vance: I actually thought this new pairing worked really well. Maybe it was the music and the flowy dress Kayla wore but I loved this one.
AB Chao: Also loved. Kupono, please come live with me and we can talk about stitching faux fox collars to Hanes t-shirts all day long. He is so adorable. Kayla is growing on me. And I think they are a way better pair than Kayla and Max.
Lauren: I didn't love this routine the way I felt I was supposed to love it. I'm generally not a waltz-hater, but maybe it's like Joe said and they are starting to look the same to me? That said, I think they are a good pairing and I certainly didn't actually dislike it.
Joe: No lie, I actually yelped when I saw Mia onscreen. She was holding out for her favorite Uni-Tard! Yay! This was so much fun to watch, and Evan really did sell that lech persona well. (I guess the French-perv thing fits, but I was totally thinking Streetcar of Desire thoughts.) Randi was all sex bomb, so obviously she wants to be a special ed teacher. OBVIOUSLY. Anyway, I'm in the tank for Mia routines anyway, but even beyond that Randi and Evan were awesome.
Vance: It's almost getting tiresome to love a Mia Michaels routine isn't it? Cause that was all kinds of awesome and Randi and Evans totally sold it. (Also, I thought Randi looked like Tyra Collette on FNL this week).
AB Chao: I love Mia so much, it doesn't even bother me to be tiresome about her. Oddly, I was only lukewarm on this as it was happening, but then I kind of fell in love with it on the replay. And then I watched it again (shut up) and thought it was just incredible. (Vance: She DID! I kept thinking that too. Which is fine with me, as Tyra and I are getting tv-married later this summer.)
Vance: Girls are not even my thing but I would totally get TV married with Tyra!
Lauren: I am so happy to be her with all the Tyra/FNL love! I thought these two seemed pretty good in rehearsal but I was still a little unsure of how the routine would be, and at first I wasn't sure how I felt. But as it went on and then as it stuck with me and I kept thinking about it, I did love it. My love/hate relationship with Mia continues, but today I was firmly on "love" especially with her ridiculously pretentious Buddy Holly glasses.
Lauren: I DO NOT GET CAITLIN. I do not get why they love her so much. She's fine, but I don't think she's great and nothing she's done has touched me in any way. I like Jason a lot more, but this performance was a big yawn for me that totally didn't keep up with the ambitious music.
Vance: Jason's kinda hot isn't he? Maybe I'm being harsh but I thought it was a little bit of a mess. They had some cool moves and impressive moments but I thought it was shaky. Granted, they do only have about 3 days to learn and rehearse these things but still. (Actually, wait a minute, they get a full day more than they did here in Canada (since they tape on Tuesdays, we taped on mondays here)). Okay. then really. no excuse.
Joe: This started off like I was going to very much like it, sharp and strong and whatnot. But then it got sloppy, and my mind started to drift into how the costumes made them look like an extra from 300 and Princess Kashmir. I keep thinking I should like Jason much more than I actually do (kind of like how Lauren thinks of Caitlin).
AB Chao: I thought this was a mess, so I don't understand how they got even the little praise they did. Caitlin's entire being is just a blur to me, she's so nondescript. And Jason is proficient enough, but I don't really get him. Which reminds me, I really enjoyed hearing what the dancers would have been doing if they weren't dancers. Wasn't Jason like, "I would be a neurophysicist," or something? It was hilarious. Not that dancers can't be neurophysicists. Just maybe not that particular one.
Joe: Wasn't Jason the one who was like "I would be a soccer player...in college"? Because he is A CHILD.
Lauren: Hush. I don't want to think about that.
Vance: Wait. how OLD is Jason? True. I was wondering about that sentence. EWWWWWWWWW... am I totally turning in to a cougay? (Oh wait. too late).
AB Chao: HAHAHAAA, cougay. Y'all are right, Jason was the soccer player. I can't remember who was the brilliant scientist. But mark my words, one day one of these dancers will cure something.
Lauren: This is one of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite musicals, so it was probably going to not live up anyway since you're comparing poor Phillip and Jeanine to Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. But it left me cold (other than realizing that Phillip's pants had a giant hole in the butt -- I kept thinking that would going to be part of the routine and he was going to pull them off, but no, it was just a giant hole showing his underwear to America) though I think they both are capable dancers.
Vance: I thought they were way harsh on Philip. I thought he was great in a routine that was slightly better than Tyce's norm but still far below what it could have been. Ryan!? Where's RYAN?
Joe: Here's the thing -- I like Phillip a lot. He's sweet and eager and mucho talented in his own realm. But I sit here hoping (in vain, I'm sure) that he'll get voted off, because I L-O-V-E love Jeanine, and I just want to see her paired up with someone who can keep up with her in these other styles. He wasn't terrible here, but he was clearly the weaker of the two, and he didn't really add anything beyond, as mentioned, the split pants. And once again I have to give Nigel credit for being honest (even if he was so bipolar the rest of the night) when he pretty much laid the situation out: Phillip's built-in voting bloc won't allow him to end up in the bottom 3, but unless he starts getting better, he's gonna be the Sanjaya. Can't say as I disagree.
AB Chao: I think I am starting to feel about Philip this year the same way I felt about Comfort last year, which is to say: unrelentingly sympathetic. They both just tried so hard, you guys! I can't take it. It isn't rational, especially given my complaints about this being such a lukewarm year, but I can't help it. Step off my sweet Philip.
- - - - -
Vance: Okay, and I know every year people complain about the choreography and then I point out if you look back, there's usually only 1 or 2 really superb memorable ones in each episode. But that being said, was it me or were most of the choreo last night pretty terrible/forgetable?
Other than Mia's, which I think was half made memorable via Evan and Randi's performance, everything else was below meh. Like Philip and Jeanine's piece. As Lauren says, the original is so great it would hard to top, and alas, Tyce disappoints. With no fault to the dancers who I thought did a great job with what they were given.
Joe: I just can't believe the balls in choreographing a couch dance to something from SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. Nigel pretty much had no choice but to mention it because how could you not? But how is that not setting your dancers up for unfavorable comparisons. I kind of revel in Tyce's dickishness as much as it repulses me (that bitchitude he threw Phillip's way!), but that was just poor strategic planning.
Lauren: Yes to everything you just said. And I've been wondering the same thing about the choreography -- actually, moreso, I've been wondering about the show in general. It just seems not quite as spectacular (Other than a pretty awesome top 20 performance show) but I'm not as excited about these dancers and dances as I've been in the past. I don't know if it's the show or if I've turned into a jaded shell of a person.
Vance: Yah, is it just partly because our expectations are so high now? After years of Travis, Sabra, Neil, Benji, Heidi and co?
I think the talent is still up there, but I think having auditions that continually showed people we loved who ended up being cut was no help. I mean, did we even SEE Jonathan? Karla? etc before the Top 20? And with the talent being way more even these past two season, less people break out, so you don't know who to cheer for. There's also less "antagonists" to boo for too. (At least not yet). So it makes the show all the less dramatic, even though it's way more fair and even.
So what's better? A show were we get Ben Susak? Joy Spears? Jessi Paralta? (I dont remember them either. I had to look them up.) A show where Cedric makes it to the top 14? (sorry. HATED him. and Philip is better than Cedric at least). Or what we have now?
Joe: I do actually think the talent level is down this season, but also there's more up-and-down between performances. Last season, it was the top 5 pairs who were flawless every week in the early going, and then everybody else fighting the current. This season, we've had pairs be great, then bad, then awesome, on and on.
AB Chao: I think I said last week how sad I was that this year doesn't seem to be as good as prior seasons, but is that something people say every season? I just can't tell. Maybe I don't want to say it because I don't want to admit I'm really disappointed. Frownie!
- - - - -
TOP 3 PERFORMANCES
Vance: Randi/Evan; Jeanette/Brandon; Melissa/Ade
Lauren: Randi/Evan; Melissa/Ade; Jeanette/Brandon
AB Chao: Jeanette/Brandon; Randi/Evan; Melissa/Ade
Joe: Melissa/Ade; Randi/Evan; Jeanette/Brandon
LEAST FAVORITE PERFORMANCE:
AB Chao: Jonathan/Karla
That's right! Total unanimity! Deal with it,