June 2009


The Wife:

This week has been a sad week for pop culture with the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. I’m glad that Nigel took a minute to address each of these figures, as each of their lives impacted the lives of others – perhaps none more greatly than that of Michael Jackson. I sometimes get very tired of our obsession with celebrities, but I certainly don’t find it in anyway trite or silly to mourn the loss of a beloved actor, musician or television personality. The reason these people were famous is because their lives created a product consumed and enjoyed by many people. They lived to entertain us and make us happy, to move us, and so it’s only fitting that we should be moved by their loss. I don’t generally listen to the all-dance station here in the Bay Area, but as I drove home from work yesterday, I had sincerely hoped that some stations would be playing Michael Jackson songs as a tribute to his long and varied career. Sure enough, I found that Movin’ 99.7 was doing just that, asking callers to request their favorite MJ songs and share the ways in which his music touched their lives. Me? I’m not the biggest MJ fan, but I do like to hear about how art reaches people, and I am grateful for every single one of his fans who called in to share a time when they got the courage to dance with a girl they liked because “P.Y.T.” was playing or how, as Nigel noted last night on Dancey Dance, so many people were inspired to take dance lessons because of the wonderful, memorable choreography in Michael Jackson’s music videos.

(Husband Note: I actually listen to Movin’ every day on my drive back from the office, and also enjoyed that they overhauled the St. John’s Playhouse 5 O’ Clock Happy Hour Mix and did a wonderful job sampling bits of his musical history. Once they upload the “podcast,” which should be later today, you can download the very mix in question at this link.)


I wish Nigel had more to say about Farrah Fawcett and how her career affected him, rather than telling a story about how the actress, while very ill, invited him over to teach him how to make pecan pie. (Although this does give me a great insight into the kind of woman she was – a kind, giving, sweet-toothed optimist with iconic feathered hair.) But I think the remembrance I appreciated the most from Nigel was what he said about Ed McMahon. Both Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien paid tribute to the former Tonight Show announcer earlier in the week (Conan showed a clip of McMahon riffing on the original Late Night with Conan O’Brien where Andy Richter challenged him to a rigged game of quarters), but Nigel actually reminded me of another facet of McMahon’s life I’d completely forgotten about: StarSearch. Half of the pop talents I grew up with were discovered on Ed McMahon’s StarSearch, a program that established the modern reality competition program genre, the televised talent show we’ve come to know and love in many incarnations from American Idol to Top Chef to Project Runway to So You Think You Can Dance.

But those necessary tributes aside, there was dancing for lives to be done and, even on such a sad day for the world of dance, dancers had to be cut from the competition. Ed McMahon would have wanted it that way. I think he (and Farrah and MJ) would have all enjoyed the opening number, a spicy club salsa number, the likes of which we’ve never seen before on SYTYCD, choreographed by season two’s Dmitry Chaplin and Tabitha and Napoleon. First of all, it is about damn time we had a group Latin dance number, especially one as writhing and sexy as that was. Chaplin choreographs some pretty hot Latin numbers (I remember season three’s cha cha for Lacey and whomever she was dancing with at the time) (Husband Note: It was Danny. Watch the video below), and I have to say that dancing on tables coated in water was a nice music video/vodka ad touch. (And also very Eastern European, considering I’ve seen Bulgarian all-male Romeo & Juliet that ended in an amazing, electric-light-laden-water-dance.) I’m not really sure how much Tab/Nap had to do with that, perhaps just the guys’ group section, but the whole thing was pretty damn cool. Please do on tour. Kthxbi.


Cat sort of did her own Farrah Fawcett tribute, surprising the hell out of me by wearing a palm-print halter jumpsuit that I simply can’t believe looks that good on any human being. Was that thing from the Michael Kors cruise collection? Does Michael Kors even do cruise? If he did, though, I bet it would look that chic. And as she towered over the dancers, looking even taller than she already does thanks to said amazing jumpsuit that I couldn’t wear in a million years, she announced the evening’s results.

  • Auska & Vitolio: Bottom 3
  • Jeanette & Brandon: Safe
  • Randi & Evan: Safe (“The butt made the cut,” Cat intoned. Good job, writers!)
  • Jeanine & Phillip: Safe
  • Melissa & Ade: Safe
  • Karla & Jonathan: Bottom 3
  • Kayla & Kupono: Safe
  • Caitlin & Jason: Bottom 3

He should have been immediately removed from the Top 20 for having this as his promo photo.

He should have been immediately removed from the Top 20 for having this as his promo photo.

Allow me to gloat for a moment that I am a very premium judge of dances, for I have once again correctly identified which couples will be in the bottom three. I really wish we got points for predicting the couples that would be in the bottom three in EW‘s SYTYCD Predictify game, because I would get hella more points that way. I am by no means very good at this game, but at least I’m beating two EW staffers, Alynda Wheat and Annie Barrett. So Cat sent the bottom three couples off to prepare for their dancing-for-their-lives solos and she brought on this week’s Special Guest from the World of Dance: a group of adolescent (and prepubescent!) boys called the Rage Boyz Crew, choreographed by Tiffany Byrne. First of all, the teenage white kids in this crew are hilarious because some of them went an extra mile to hit everything HARRRRDD. Second of all, I don’t think the teeny tiniest of the Rage Boyz was all that good as a dancer and the only reason they put him in dance captain position was that he was so tiny and cute, but when the older boys LAUNCHED THAT LITTLE DUDE IN THE AIR I was suddenly ALL ABOUT THAT KID. He is my hero. He has no fear. And a great fro. And is tiny and adorable. Please buy me one! (Husband Note: Stop trying to buy tiny African-American children! It sends the wrong idea.)

I’m not sure any of the solos lived up to the glory of tossing a tiny afroed boy into the air, but there were a couple of moments that I thought were great (although Nigel vehemently disagreed with me about these).

  • Auska: Girl phoned this shit in as she half-heartedly shimmied and shook that blue fringed dress across the floor to “Don’t Trust Me” by 30H!3. Sad.
  • Vitolio: He got points immediately for dancing to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because this shit is my jam. I thought he was extremely powerful, and I was floored by the height of his jumps, his lines, his strength and his carriage. I mean, when Chris Martin sang “feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes,” I fucking FELT THAT. Nigel, apparently, did not and later told Vitolio he didn’t do enough because all those powerful moments never built toward something more powerful.
  • Karla: Her solo last night to Radiohead’s “15 Steps” was officially more interesting than she has ever been. Ever. Nigel later said it was all over the place, and I kind of felt that, especially during the super-duper arm-twirly movement that came the fuck out of nowhere, but at least it was interesting in its awkwardness.
  • Jonathan: He chose to dance to a strong, Africanized beat with Kodo’s “The Hunted.” I thought this started strong as he leapt from the stairs to the stage, but then it rapidly descended into madness, and not in an intentional, artistic way, either.
  • Caitlin: Like Vitolio, I’m giving the girl props for interpreting lyrics with movement. She chose to perform to a version of “Que Sera Sera” by Jennifer Terran that sounded a bit like a dying cat, but she somehow handled the darkness of that minor-keyed rendering with grace, particularly the moment when she fell to her knees and drew her arms into her chest on the lyric “I asked my lover where should I go.” Plus, she didn’t rely too much on her gymnastics tricks tonight, earning back some points with me.
  • Jason: I think this solo might have been such a mess because of song choice, “New American Classics” by Taking Back Sunday, which gave him absolutely nothing to work with. That said, I thought his floorwork was nice. Nigel disagreed and told him later that whole thing was desperate.


In the end, the two dancers with the absolute weakest solos of the night were sent home, Auska unanimously, and Jonathan un-unanimously. I’m glad to see Jonathan go, as I don’t think he contributed anything to the show in the 3 weeks he’s been here, but I’m a little sad to see Auska go. Sure, she wasn’t great last night or tonight, but now we’ve ousted two ballroom dancers, which narrows our diversity field to having one salsa dancer, one ballerina, one popper, one Broadway baby and a whole bunch of contemporary/lyrical/jazz dancers. Now, this show has proven multiple times that dancers of the contemporary/lyrical/jazz styles are often the most successful on the show (if not winning, then placing in the finals), but there are at least three examples off the top of my head of ballroom dancers making it to the top . . . and all three of those examples are Schwimmers. So what gives this season? Where’s the love for diverse styles?

And never again will I have to hear British people call her Oscar.

And never again will I have to hear British people call her Oscar.

I’m glad that the horrible Jonathan/Karla pair has been broken up, though. It’ll be good to see what Karla can do with a new partner. I think Vitolio’s emotiveness might just finally be the end of Karla, as it will show her weakness in that area of performance. I just hope it won’t be the end of Vitolio, as well.

The Wife:

This week has been a sad week for pop culture with the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. I’m glad that Nigel took a minute to address each of these figures, as each of their lives impacted the lives of others – perhaps none more greatly than that of Michael Jackson. I sometimes get very tired of our obsession with celebrities, but I certainly don’t find it in anyway trite or silly to mourn the loss of a beloved actor, musician or television personality. The reason these people were famous is because their lives created a product consumed and enjoyed by many people. They lived to entertain us and make us happy, to move us, and so it’s only fitting that we should be moved by their loss. I don’t generally listen to the all-dance station here in the Bay Area, but as I drove home from work yesterday, I had sincerely hoped that some stations would be playing Michael Jackson songs as a tribute to his long and varied career. Sure enough, I found that Movin’ 99.7 was doing just that, asking callers to request their favorite MJ songs and share the ways in which his music touched their lives. Me? I’m not the biggest MJ fan, but I do like to hear about how art reaches people, and I am grateful for every single one of his fans who called in to share a time when they got the courage to dance with a girl they liked because “P.Y.T.” was playing or how, as Nigel noted last night on Dancey Dance, so many people were inspired to take dance lessons because of the wonderful, memorable choreography in Michael Jackson’s music videos.

(Husband Note: I actually listen to Movin’ every day on my drive back from the office, and also enjoyed that they overhauled the St. John’s Playhouse 5 O’ Clock Happy Hour Mix and did a wonderful job sampling bits of his musical history. Once they upload the “podcast,” which should be later today, you can download the very mix in question at this link)

[EMBED http://www.movin997.com/pages/3701621.php ]

I wish Nigel had more to say about Farrah Fawcett and how her career affected him, rather than telling a story about how the actress, while very ill, invited him over to teach him how to make pecan pie. (Although this does give me a great insight into the kind of woman she was – a kind, giving, sweet-toothed optimist with iconic feathered hair.) But I think the remembrance I appreciated the most from Nigel was what he said about Ed McMahon. Both Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien paid tribute to the former Tonight Show announcer earlier in the week (Conan showed a clip of McMahon riffing on the original Late Night with Conan O’Brien where Andy Richter challenged him to a rigged game of quarters), but Nigel actually reminded me of another facet of McMahon’s life I’d completely forgotten about: StarSearch. Half of the pop talents I grew up with were discovered on Ed McMahon’s StarSearch, a program that established the modern reality competition program genre, the televised talent show we’ve come to know and love in many incarnations from American Idol to Top Chef to Project Runway to So You Think You Can Dance.

But those necessary tributes aside, there was dancing for lives to be done and, even on such a sad day for the world of dance, dancers had to be cut from the competition. Ed McMahon would have wanted it that way. I think he (and Farrah and MJ) would have all enjoyed the opening number, a spicy club salsa number, the likes of which we’ve never seen before on SYTYCD, choreographed by season two’s Dmitry Chaplin and Tabitha and Napoleon. First of all, it is about damn time we had a group Latin dance number, especially one as writhing and sexy as that was. Chaplin choreographs some pretty hot Latin numbers (I remember season three’s cha cha for Lacey and whomever she was dancing with at the time) (Husband Note: It was Danny. Watch the video below), and I have to say that dancing on tables coated in water was a nice music video/vodka ad touch. (And also very Eastern European, considering I’ve seen Bulgarian all-male Romeo & Juliet that ended in an amazing, electric-light-laden-water-dance.) I’m not really sure how much Tab/Nap had to do with that, perhaps just the guys’ group section, but the whole thing was pretty damn cool. Please do on tour. Kthxbi.

EMBED VIDEO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrgDPTc4sl4


Cat sort of did her own Farrah Fawcett tribute, surprising the hell out of me by wearing a palm-print halter jumpsuit that I simply can’t believe looks that good on any human being. Was that thing from the Michael Kors cruise collection? Does Michael Kors even do cruise? If he did, though, I bet it would look that chic. And as she towered over the dancers, looking even taller than she already does thanks to said amazing jumpsuit that I couldn’t wear in a million years, she announced the evening’s results.

Auska & Vitolio: Bottom 3
Jeanette & Brandon: Safe
Randi & Evan: Safe (“The butt made the cut,” Cat intoned. Good job, writers!)
Jeanine & Phillip: Safe
Melissa & Ade: Safe
Karla & Jonathan: Bottom 3
Kayla & Kupono: Safe
Caitlin & Jason: Bottom 3

Allow me to gloat for a moment that I am a very premium judge of dances, for I have once again correctly identified which couples will be in the bottom three. I really wish we got points for predicting the couples that would be in the bottom three in EW‘s SYTYCD Predictify game, because I would get hella more points that way. I am by no means very good at this game, but at least I’m beating two EW staffers, Alynda Wheat and Annie Barrett. So Cat sent the bottom three couples off to prepare for their dancing-for-their-lives solos and she brought on this week’s Special Guest from the World of Dance: a group of adolescent (and prepubescent!) boys called the Rage Boyz Crew, choreographed by Tiffany Byrne. First of all, the teenage white kids in this crew are hilarious because some of them went an extra mile to hit everything HARRRRDD. Second of all, I don’t think the teeny tiniest of the Rage Boyz was all that good as a dancer and the only reason they put him in dance captain position was that he was so tiny and cute, but when the older boys LAUNCHED THAT LITTLE DUDE IN THE AIR I was suddenly ALL ABOUT THAT KID. He is my hero. He has no fear. And a great fro. And is tiny and adorable. Please buy me one! (Husband Note: Stop trying to buy tiny African-American children! It sends the wrong idea.)

I’m not sure any of the solos lived up to the glory of tossing a tiny afroed boy into the air, but there were a couple of moments that I thought were great (although Nigel vehemently disagreed with me about these).

Auska: Girl phoned this shit in as she half-heartedly shimmied and shook that blue fringed dress across the floor to “Don’t Trust Me” by 30H!3. Sad.


Vitolio: He got points immediately for dancing to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because this shit is my jam. I thought he was extremely powerful, and I was floored by the height of his jumps, his lines, his strength and his carriage. I mean, when Chris Martin sang “feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes,” I fucking FELT THAT. Nigel, apparently, did not and later told Vitolio he didn’t do enough because all those powerful moments never built toward something more powerful.

Karla: Her solo last night to Radiohead’s “15 Steps” was officially more interesting than she has ever been. Ever. Nigel later said it was all over the place, and I kind of felt that, especially during the super-duper arm-twirly movement that came the fuck out of nowhere, but at least it was interesting in its awkwardness.

Jonathan: He chose to dance to a strong, Africanized beat with Kodo’s “The Hunted.” I thought this started strong as he leapt from the stairs to the stage, but then it rapidly descended into madness, and not in an intentional, artistic way, either.

Caitlin: Like Vitolio, I’m giving the girl props for interpreting lyrics with movement. She chose to perform to a version of “Que Sera Sera” by Jennifer Terran that sounded a bit like a dying cat, but she somehow handled the darkness of that minor-keyed rendering with grace, particularly the moment when she fell to her knees and drew her arms into her chest on the lyric “I asked my lover where should I go.” Plus, she didn’t rely too much on her gymnastics tricks tonight, earning back some points with me.

Jason: I think this solo might have been such a mess because of song choice, “New American Classics” by Taking Back Sunday, which gave him absolutely nothing to work with. That said, I thought his floorwork was nice. Nigel disagreed and told him later that whole thing was desperate.

In the end, the two dancers with the absolute weakest solos of the night were sent home, Auska unanimously, and Jonathan un-unanimously. I’m glad to see Jonathan go, as I don’t think he contributed anything to the show in the 3 weeks he’s been here, but I’m a little sad to see Auska go. Sure, she wasn’t great last night or tonight, but now we’ve ousted two ballroom dancers, which narrows our diversity field to having one salsa dancer, one ballerina, one popper, one Broadway baby and a whole bunch of contemporary/lyrical/jazz dancers. Now, this show has proven multiple times that dancers of the contemporary/lyrical/jazz styles are often the most successful on the show (if not winning, then placing in the finals), but there are at least three examples off the top of my head of ballroom dancers making it to the top . . . and all three of those examples are Schwimmers. So what gives this season? Where’s the love for diverse styles?

I’m glad that the horrible Jonathan/Karla pair has been broken up, though. It’ll be good to see what Karla can do with a new partner. I think Vitolio’s emotiveness might just finally be the end of Karla, as it will show her weakness in that area of performance. I just hope it won’t be the end of Vitolio, as well.

The Wife:

This week has been a sad week for pop culture with the loss of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. I’m glad that Nigel took a minute to address each of these figures, as each of their lives impacted the lives of others – perhaps none more greatly than that of Michael Jackson. I sometimes get very tired of our obsession with celebrities, but I certainly don’t find it in anyway trite or silly to mourn the loss of a beloved actor, musician or television personality. The reason these people were famous is because their lives created a product consumed and enjoyed by many people. They lived to entertain us and make us happy, to move us, and so it’s only fitting that we should be moved by their loss. I don’t generally listen to the all-dance station here in the Bay Area, but as I drove home from work yesterday, I had sincerely hoped that some stations would be playing Michael Jackson songs as a tribute to his long and varied career. Sure enough, I found that Movin’ 99.7 was doing just that, asking callers to request their favorite MJ songs and share the ways in which his music touched their lives. Me? I’m not the biggest MJ fan, but I do like to hear about how art reaches people, and I am grateful for every single one of his fans who called in to share a time when they got the courage to dance with a girl they liked because “P.Y.T.” was playing or how, as Nigel noted last night on Dancey Dance, so many people were inspired to take dance lessons because of the wonderful, memorable choreography in Michael Jackson’s music videos.

(Husband Note: I actually listen to Movin’ every day on my drive back from the office, and also enjoyed that they overhauled the St. John’s Playhouse 5 O’ Clock Happy Hour Mix and did a wonderful job sampling bits of his musical history. Once they upload the “podcast,” which should be later today, you can download the very mix in question at this link)

[EMBED http://www.movin997.com/pages/3701621.php ]

I wish Nigel had more to say about Farrah Fawcett and how her career affected him, rather than telling a story about how the actress, while very ill, invited him over to teach him how to make pecan pie. (Although this does give me a great insight into the kind of woman she was – a kind, giving, sweet-toothed optimist with iconic feathered hair.) But I think the remembrance I appreciated the most from Nigel was what he said about Ed McMahon. Both Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien paid tribute to the former Tonight Show announcer earlier in the week (Conan showed a clip of McMahon riffing on the original Late Night with Conan O’Brien where Andy Richter challenged him to a rigged game of quarters), but Nigel actually reminded me of another facet of McMahon’s life I’d completely forgotten about: StarSearch. Half of the pop talents I grew up with were discovered on Ed McMahon’s StarSearch, a program that established the modern reality competition program genre, the televised talent show we’ve come to know and love in many incarnations from American Idol to Top Chef to Project Runway to So You Think You Can Dance.

But those necessary tributes aside, there was dancing for lives to be done and, even on such a sad day for the world of dance, dancers had to be cut from the competition. Ed McMahon would have wanted it that way. I think he (and Farrah and MJ) would have all enjoyed the opening number, a spicy club salsa number, the likes of which we’ve never seen before on SYTYCD, choreographed by season two’s Dmitry Chaplin and Tabitha and Napoleon. First of all, it is about damn time we had a group Latin dance number, especially one as writhing and sexy as that was. Chaplin choreographs some pretty hot Latin numbers (I remember season three’s cha cha for Lacey and whomever she was dancing with at the time) (Husband Note: It was Danny. Watch the video below), and I have to say that dancing on tables coated in water was a nice music video/vodka ad touch. (And also very Eastern European, considering I’ve seen Bulgarian all-male Romeo & Juliet that ended in an amazing, electric-light-laden-water-dance.) I’m not really sure how much Tab/Nap had to do with that, perhaps just the guys’ group section, but the whole thing was pretty damn cool. Please do on tour. Kthxbi.

EMBED VIDEO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrgDPTc4sl4


Cat sort of did her own Farrah Fawcett tribute, surprising the hell out of me by wearing a palm-print halter jumpsuit that I simply can’t believe looks that good on any human being. Was that thing from the Michael Kors cruise collection? Does Michael Kors even do cruise? If he did, though, I bet it would look that chic. And as she towered over the dancers, looking even taller than she already does thanks to said amazing jumpsuit that I couldn’t wear in a million years, she announced the evening’s results.

Auska & Vitolio: Bottom 3
Jeanette & Brandon: Safe
Randi & Evan: Safe (“The butt made the cut,” Cat intoned. Good job, writers!)
Jeanine & Phillip: Safe
Melissa & Ade: Safe
Karla & Jonathan: Bottom 3
Kayla & Kupono: Safe
Caitlin & Jason: Bottom 3

Allow me to gloat for a moment that I am a very premium judge of dances, for I have once again correctly identified which couples will be in the bottom three. I really wish we got points for predicting the couples that would be in the bottom three in EW‘s SYTYCD Predictify game, because I would get hella more points that way. I am by no means very good at this game, but at least I’m beating two EW staffers, Alynda Wheat and Annie Barrett. So Cat sent the bottom three couples off to prepare for their dancing-for-their-lives solos and she brought on this week’s Special Guest from the World of Dance: a group of adolescent (and prepubescent!) boys called the Rage Boyz Crew, choreographed by Tiffany Byrne. First of all, the teenage white kids in this crew are hilarious because some of them went an extra mile to hit everything HARRRRDD. Second of all, I don’t think the teeny tiniest of the Rage Boyz was all that good as a dancer and the only reason they put him in dance captain position was that he was so tiny and cute, but when the older boys LAUNCHED THAT LITTLE DUDE IN THE AIR I was suddenly ALL ABOUT THAT KID. He is my hero. He has no fear. And a great fro. And is tiny and adorable. Please buy me one! (Husband Note: Stop trying to buy tiny African-American children! It sends the wrong idea.)

I’m not sure any of the solos lived up to the glory of tossing a tiny afroed boy into the air, but there were a couple of moments that I thought were great (although Nigel vehemently disagreed with me about these).

Auska: Girl phoned this shit in as she half-heartedly shimmied and shook that blue fringed dress across the floor to “Don’t Trust Me” by 30H!3. Sad.


Vitolio: He got points immediately for dancing to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because this shit is my jam. I thought he was extremely powerful, and I was floored by the height of his jumps, his lines, his strength and his carriage. I mean, when Chris Martin sang “feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes,” I fucking FELT THAT. Nigel, apparently, did not and later told Vitolio he didn’t do enough because all those powerful moments never built toward something more powerful.

Karla: Her solo last night to Radiohead’s “15 Steps” was officially more interesting than she has ever been. Ever. Nigel later said it was all over the place, and I kind of felt that, especially during the super-duper arm-twirly movement that came the fuck out of nowhere, but at least it was interesting in its awkwardness.

Jonathan: He chose to dance to a strong, Africanized beat with Kodo’s “The Hunted.” I thought this started strong as he leapt from the stairs to the stage, but then it rapidly descended into madness, and not in an intentional, artistic way, either.

Caitlin: Like Vitolio, I’m giving the girl props for interpreting lyrics with movement. She chose to perform to a version of “Que Sera Sera” by Jennifer Terran that sounded a bit like a dying cat, but she somehow handled the darkness of that minor-keyed rendering with grace, particularly the moment when she fell to her knees and drew her arms into her chest on the lyric “I asked my lover where should I go.” Plus, she didn’t rely too much on her gymnastics tricks tonight, earning back some points with me.

Jason: I think this solo might have been such a mess because of song choice, “New American Classics” by Taking Back Sunday, which gave him absolutely nothing to work with. That said, I thought his floorwork was nice. Nigel disagreed and told him later that whole thing was desperate.

In the end, the two dancers with the absolute weakest solos of the night were sent home, Auska unanimously, and Jonathan un-unanimously. I’m glad to see Jonathan go, as I don’t think he contributed anything to the show in the 3 weeks he’s been here, but I’m a little sad to see Auska go. Sure, she wasn’t great last night or tonight, but now we’ve ousted two ballroom dancers, which narrows our diversity field to having one salsa dancer, one ballerina, one popper, one Broadway baby and a whole bunch of contemporary/lyrical/jazz dancers. Now, this show has proven multiple times that dancers of the contemporary/lyrical/jazz styles are often the most successful on the show (if not winning, then placing in the finals), but there are at least three examples off the top of my head of ballroom dancers making it to the top . . . and all three of those examples are Schwimmers. So what gives this season? Where’s the love for diverse styles?

I’m glad that the horrible Jonathan/Karla pair has been broken up, though. It’ll be good to see what Karla can do with a new partner. I think Vitolio’s emotiveness might just finally be the end of Karla, as it will show her weakness in that area of performance. I just hope it won’t be the end of Vitolio, as well.

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The Wife:

While last week’s performance show varied so much in quality from the first week, I think this one brought everyone back up to the level we had expected. With the exception of one dance, nothing was terrible. I don’t know if anything, save for one particular dance, was truly outstanding, but I’ll call it a good week on Dancey Dance when everything is danced capably. I usually don’t comment on the solos at the beginning of the show because, save for poppers like Phillip Chbeeb, those little ten-second intros are generally pretty meaningless, but I had to say that I was very concerned for Caitlin. Why did she choose to dress like a bird girl from the circus for that number? Did Kupono tell her that feathered bolero was a good idea? If he did, he was wrong.

Cat came out dressed appropriately for the Greco-Roman murder mystery party I hosted last weekend, and I now feel like I should have found a way to invite her. (She’d have come, right?) Mary kind of matched her, but in a less-fashionable way. Nigel wore the world’s cheapest-looking leather jacket and pretended like he was really tough. Toni Basil, on the other hand, borrowed Groundskeeper Willie’s mourning tam o’shanter for the evening. That’s the most street tam o’shanter I’ve ever seen, because the fact that it’s black makes it edgy and therefore street. And Toni Basil is street. She’s more street than you’ll ever be. In fact, she’s getting some kind of living legend award for how street she is.

This week’s producer package asked each of the dancers to tell us what their career would be if they weren’t professional dancers:

  • Karla would be a journalist! She went to NYU! It was her minor!
  • Jonathan would be an acrobat with Cirque du Soleil. He can do the flying silks. He just scored major points with me.
  • Auska would make sparkly jewelry and accessories for ballroom dancers. She seems to make a lot of it already, but apparently she doesn’t know about Etsy.
  • Vitolio would be a singer in a band. He would also wear obnoxious wigs.
  • Melissa would teach Pilates, which she already does for money.
  • Ade would be a sound engineer.
  • Jeanette, who is one year away from completing her finance degree, would be a loan processor. She is aware that this is a boring job.
  • Brandon would be a lighting designer.
  • Kayla would be a model because it’s fun to get your hair and makeup done and have people take pictures of you. She already models dancewear on the side, and those photos were fierrrrrrrrrrrce.
  • Kupono would be a costume designer. By this I think he means he wants to be a stylist. And I don’t want him to do that. He’ll make everyone wear neon green fox stoles.
  • Randi would be a special education teacher, something she’s already working toward.
  • Evan would own a custom car shop.
  • Caitlin would be a broadcast journalist, which is what I imagine Twin Peaks‘ Laura Palmer would be if she weren’t dead.
  • Jason would play collegiate soccer.
  • Chbeeb would be an inventor.
  • Jeanine would be an actress. Good news, Jeanine! You’re really pretty! You can look forward to a long career of dying in horror movies!


And as for the dances . . .

The Excellent

Randi and Evan (Contemporary)
Choreography by Mia Michaels
Song: “Koop Island Blues” by Koop feat. Brun

Let’s just start with the fact that this number was a quote-generating machine:


“It’s all about the booty.” — Mia Michaels
“You are staring at that right cheek!” – Mia Michaels
“I’m sort of hypnotized by her booty.” – Evan Kasprzak

Part of me has to wonder if the choreographers are trying to incite some sort of murderous jealousy in Randi’s husband. The first week, Evan seduced her onstage in that gorgeous jazz number. Last week, he grabbed her tush when they were shaking their tailfeathers. This week, Mia creates a piece dedicated to the hypnotic power of Randi’s booty in which Evan not only stares at it, chases after it and grabs it, but actually moves her with it. If Mr. Randi Evans takes anything out of this number, it should be that his wife looked absolutely gorgeous in that little Fay Wray-esque pink slip and silk stockings and that she should steal it from the wardrobe department and take some awesome boudoir photos in it for him. I loved this number, not only for its playfulness, but also for its mixture of movements both sinewy and bony. Because Randi was dressed like Fay Wray and because of the stalking, lurching movements, it reminded me of what King Kong would look like as a conceptual dance piece. But it was also very much a showcase for Evan’s talents. This was the perfect piece for him, and was Gene Kelly-esque in every way. The way Evan bobbed his head, combined with his costuming, reminded me a little of both An American in Paris and the Broadway hoofer segment of Singin’ in the Rain where he meets a green-clad Cyd Charisse in a bar. (Husband Note: That’s called the Broadway Melody.) Something about the choreography was inherently Mia, but also referenced the great jazz work Gene and Cyd used to do when they danced together. Mary said she never saw Evan as a leading man until this piece, which I know is purely because of his height, and I think that’s absurd. I’ve known this kid was a fucking star since last season, and I’m so happy he’s getting a chance to shine this season. This number was so darn hot, it received an Official Mary Murphy Scream and numerous “butt” jokes from Nigel, who thought he was being at least half as clever as Mia’s choreography. I can’t wait to see this on the tour. If it gives you an idea of how much I loved it, let me tell you that I got a little misty. And I’m pretty sure I’ll still be that in awe every time I see it.

Whatever happened to Fay Wray? That delicate, satin-draped frame. As it clung to her thigh, how I started to cry, because I wanted to be dressed just the same.

Whatever happened to Fay Wray? That delicate, satin-draped frame. As it clung to her thigh, how I started to cry, because I wanted to be dressed just the same.

Melissa and Ade (Rumba)
Choreography by Tony Meredith
Song: “Emotion” by Destiny’s Child

This was another totally sexy number, and my compliments for outfit of the night go to Melissa for that dress she almost had on. That shiz was hawtt. And that dance was hawtt. I saw a couple of small mistakes in this dance, chiefly when Melissa and Ade lost each other’s hands for a second when they came back together for a closed rumba walk, but the rest of this dance was sublime. It was seductive. It was passionate. It was gorgeous. And they totally sold it to me. Three weeks in a row now Melissa and Ade have been in my top couples, and I think it’s because they never disappoint me in how well they sell their routines. They’re both so into what they’re doing that I’m completely into what they’re doing, and that makes them both true performers. And for as sexy as Melissa was in that barely-there dress, so, too, was Ade’s booty. I think it might even be sexier in those lightweight pants than Joshua’s was last season. And that’s saying a lot. Needless to say, the judges loved it. By my count, it received 1.5 Official Mary Murphy Screams, the .5 of which I think was just for that amazing move where Ade turned Melissa under her own arabesque.

The Good to Very Good

Jeanette and Brandon (Hip-Hop)
Choregraphy by Dave Scott
Song: “What a World” by Common

Dave Scott asked Jeanette and Brandon to perform a routine in which rock n’ roll met with hip-hop and produced some surprising and fun results. I actually really liked this number. I thought Dave Scott’s choreography was clever and witty, that Jeanette and Brandon both danced their respective parts really well and that the whole routine gelled into a great story and a cohesive unit. Most importantly, it was interesting to watch, and that always gets points in my book. I also liked that they brought back the chair from “Two Princes” back in season three. They’ve got some awesome furniture back in the SYTYCD warehouse. (Does Kupono know? He might try to steal them, or at least put neon green foxtails on everything.) I’m not really sure why Jeanette was dressed as Rosario Dawson’s character in Sin City crossed with Cher, because there are a lot of other things that say rock n’ roll to me that don’t look like that, but she carried off the look pretty well. Toni Basil thought that Brandon’s hip-hopping was just street enough to make her believe it, and Mary Murphy even tossed out an Official Scream for the routine.

So what? I'm still a rockstar. I got my rock moves. And I don't need you.

So what? I'm still a rockstar. I got my rock moves. And I don't need you.

Kayla and Kupono (Viennese Waltz)
Choreography by Jean-Marc Genereux
Song: “Sweet Dreams of You” by Jewel

Here’s a dance that the judges and I disagree upon a little bit. I surely thought that Mary was going to critique Kupono for dancing a bit too feminine in the piece. To me, he didn’t keep a strong enough frame, and while he did have the right sort of liquidity, I don’t think he supported or partnered Kayla very well. I think the biggest testament to that is the fact that the choreography didn’t feature a lot of lifts or closed basics, where you would have really noticed Kupono’s weaknesses, rather than marveling at how in sync he was with Kayla during the open basics. I think Jean-Marc’s choreography covered for Kupono adequately, because otherwise this could have been a disaster. Kayla, as always, was incredible, though, and they both looked good enough in those open basics to remain in the “good” category for me. In fact, Kayla alone was good enough to get a ticket to the Hot Tamale Train and her own scream from Mary Murphy. I wonder if I’m carrying some residual hatred for Kupono from last week, when he should have been booted in favor of Max, and that’s why I looked so hard for him to falter this week, something the judges obviously didn’t do. Maybe I am. All I know is that he needs to prove his worth to me, and he’s lucky Kayla can do no wrong. I also really liked the cityscape lighting design for this piece – it reminded me a bit of the “Lonely Town” ballet from On the Town. (It was a very Gene Kelly night for me, overall.)

The “This Was Actually Good, But I Still Hate Tyce DiOrio”

Chbeeb and Jeanine (Broadway)
Choreography by Tyce DiOrio
Song: “Moses” from Singin’ in the Rain

I had to make a special category for this number, because it was good. It certainly was some of the better choreography I’ve seen from Tyce DiOrio, who surely must hail from Bitchdouchestan or something because even when he does something I like, I still can’t bring myself not to hate him. For this piece, he used a six-foot-long couch as a prop. When I saw that, I wondered what in the world he could be doing that would involve couch jumps. I gave him the benefit of the doubt that it would be cool, and it was pretty cool. However, the minute I saw the song choice, the small amount of faith I’d mustered for Tyce totally went out the window. He did a number on a couch set to “Moses” from Singin’ in the Rain. A movie musical which, as Nigel later pointed out, ALREADY HAS A COUCH DANCE IN IT. There’s a point where I think you can be referential and pay homage to something, and then there’s a point beyond referential that comes across as completely lacking in creativity. And that’s where this number ultimately fell for me. To chose music from a show/movie that has a very famous scene involving a couch and then use that trope with a piece of music during which a couch no longer makes sense (as with “Moses”) reads to me as uncreative, as grasping at straws, as trying too hard to be as good as the thing you tried to reference. My other issue with this piece is that the song choice had nothing to do with the dance, so I guess Tyce just picked it for its frenetic energy. If I forgot about the lyrics, which, by the way, are part of a diction lesson in the film, the beat worked. I’m just certain that there had to have been other songs that would have worked just as well and made more sense. Furthermore, it reminded me a little too much of Tony Award Winner Andy Blankenbeuhler’s On the Town piece for Courtney and Gev last year, which worked a lot better.

We've talked the whole night through. Good mornin', good mornin' to you!

We've talked the whole night through. Good mornin', good mornin' to you!

All of that said, though, I did like the piece. I think it was well-choreographed, despite its literalness and musical incongruity. It was fun. I think Chbeeb and Jeanine had a lot fun doing it and it was interesting to watch. So, props to that. And props to Chbeeb for clearing that couch and splitting his trousers while doing so! However, this piece did show Chbeeb’s weaknesses in the fleet footwork, and it’s clear that while he has great instincts, he has a lot to improve upon. Jeanine, though, was really good, even with those monstrous head-eating Betty bangs. I think she got half a scream for this, so I’m adding .5 to the Official Mary Murphy Scream Count.

The Mediocre

Auska and Vitolio (Jazz)
Choreography by Mandy Moore
Song: “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar

Hey, guys! Did you know Mandy Moore loves the 1980s? Did you? Well, if you didn’t catch that from her other routines set to “Right Here Waiting,” “Sweet Dreams,” and “Body Language,” surely you are aware of the fact by now. I think Mandy Moore’s work is best when it’s hard-hitting or very soft. Things that fall in between definitely aren’t her best, and I think this one sort of fell in between. There was a real disconnect here for me between the choreography and the song choice. While the chorus of “Heartbreaker” is pretty banging, a lot of it isn’t quite up to that level of intensity, and I didn’t feel like the choreography always matched up with the song. Auska and Vitolio danced it pretty well, and I hope America gets over its whole “we hate Auska” thing because she freakin’ cried this week because she clearly hates when she isn’t doing her best. Let this be an end to the discussion of her reservedness, because she let go. However, of the two performers in this dance, Auska was the weaker of the two, most notable in the floorwork segments where she didn’t extend fully or hit everything the way it was supposed to be hit. It was well danced, but it doesn’t stand out quite as much as other pieces did this week. In other news, she’s really skinny. And I can’t decide if I loved or hated her lace-print leotard and the studded shorts she was wearing under it. And Toni Basil wants to do Vitolio. And I think Nigel really liked this dance because it reminded him of a piece he choreographed for The Apple: “Coming for You.”

Caitlin and Jason (Paso Doble)
Choreography by Jean-Marc Genereux
Song: “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana

No Paso Doble will ever be as good as Artem’s Paso Doble from season one in my eyes, even though there have been a few that I really liked. This was not one of them. The intense opera score totally overwhelmed the dancing, as did the absurdly sparkly gypsy costumes. I guess I just like my Paso Dobles a little more traditional and a little more robust, with a clearer interplay between the roles of the matador and the cape. It wasn’t a mess by any means, although Mary noted that Jason lost his posture a couple of times (hence my note about needing clearer delineation between the matador and cape). Caitlin, although I really don’t like her, did get yet another cool-ass move in which she balanced on her chest and kicked her legs over herself, which was probably her most cape-like moment during this piece.

The Problematic

Karla and Jonathan (Smooth Hip-Hop)
Choreography by Dave Scott
Song: “By My Side” by Jadakiss with Ne-Yo

This was not good. Karla and Jonathan got lucky last week to blind everyone with that lovely routine in which I was apparently the only person in America who noticed Karla wasn’t good in it. These two have no chemistry, and they don’t work well together at all. There were numerous moments during this piece where I could tell they both weren’t doing the right things, but I also couldn’t tell which one was ahead or behind or off. Jonathan was just too clean for the whole thing, which Toni Basil summed up as being like his “street” was “store-bought.” Karla, on the other hand, was just kind of never really on beat. The only part of this that worked for me was the moment where Jonathan did a backflip and picked up his hat right as he stuck the landing. That was pretty dope, but the rest of this routine was not very good.

I’m pretty sure that this week’s bottom three couples will be Karla and Jonathan, Auska and Vitolio and Caitlin and Jason – all couples who have made at least one bottom-three appearance. Of those, I think this will be Karla and Jonathan’s last chance. They haven’t given us enough individual moments to really show why either of them should be kept in the competition, and it’s really their time to go. They got a pass last week with that Stacey Tookey contemporary, but they failed at both hip-hop and cha cha now, and I’d prefer they go before they fail at anything else.

Other thoughts:

  • Randi gets a special shout out for the “Unitard Girl” tee she was wearing in rehearsal. That thing was totally cool and I kind of want one. Whoever made that for her is the greatest friend in the world.
  • With all of the various Gene Kelly pieces I was thinking about during the course of this episode, I went to bed last night really wanting to watch Donald O’Connor’s “Make ‘Em Laugh” number from Singin’ in the Rain. NOT “Be a Clown” from The Pirate, which is the same song, but not funny when Judy Garland and Gene Kelly are dressed like clowns.
  • Speaking of which, you guys should totally watch every sequence I mentioned in this article from An American in Paris, On the Town or Singin’ in the Rain. They’re all great.
  • Also watch Anne Miller’s “Modern Man” tap number in On the Town.
  • Then you should watch some clips from In the Heights, so you can see how totally cool Andy Blankenbeuhler is.
  • “Oh, Toni Basil talks slowly, so I’m going to urinate.” – Me, on how I decide to take bathroom breaks during the show.
  • The Official Mary Murphy Scream Count for this episode is 4, bringing the total for the season to 9, with 5 enthusiastic woos for backup.
  • The official number of Hot Tamale Train Tickets is now 3.25.

The Wife:

So Secret Life of the American Teenager has returned for its third season, which is baffling in its own right. I reread my blog about last season’s finale in preparation for getting back in the groove of writing this thing, and I think my husband was definitely right in his observation that the show has sacrificed some of its realism in the interest of soapy baby daddy drama, which has never been more apparent now that formerly non-jealous and understanding Ben is doing silly things like ordering Amy to keep Ricky out of her room, even when he’s there spending time with his son. The Ben I know and love wouldn’t do that, but I guess having a girlfriend with hot, lactating milk jugs changes the minds of adolescent boys.

What an odd conversation to have with your friends about the increased size of your girlfriend/wife’s breasts, Ben! Almost as inappropriate as, say, telling your wife’s lover that she’s fat and/or pregnant, George! Never before has an episode of this show been filled with such awkward discussion of women’s bodies by men. I don’t exactly know what was meant by it, other than to show that both being possessive of your girlfriend’s milk jugs and embarrassing your ex-wife by exposing her pregnancy are both kind of shitty things to do. Oh, but this is a great rebuttal, no?:


“I’d rather be pregnant than be fat and eat soup every night!” –Mama Ringwald

Hey! I love soup, lady! You watch your mouth!

At least Ricky seems to have come into his own in the new season, being a responsible father to his son with regular visiting hours and a steady job, and appropriately using his mouth to tell Adrian’s dad that he’s a douchebag that walked out on Adrian years ago and therefore has no business telling her what to do with her life now that she’s almost an adult. It feels weird to me that I’m suddenly liking Ricky, but fatherhood has clearly changed something in him, and we can only be thankful for that.

At least Ricky is fully aware that Bens request is really, really weird.

At least Ricky is fully aware that Ben's request is really, really weird.

It’s changed Amy, too. As a tired new mom, I feel like her brattiness has purpose, and it was really interesting (and actually kind of funny) to see her play the mothering role to her own mother, who now finds herself in a situation comparable to the one her daughter just went through. Clearly, Amy still has a lot of growing to do, though, as it’s evident she relies too much on the help of her family and others to raise her child. I mean, it may take a village and all that, but if she’d had this kid at 25, its not like she could call grandpa in the middle of the night just to put the baby to sleep because he sleeps better when a male figure puts him to bed.

But for all that discussion of baby weight, milk jugs and how having a child changes a person, there are two much more important things that this episode dealt with:

1. The Sausage King is fucking Betty the Escort and seems to have no idea that she’s an escort. Oh, wait. So is this the message we were supposed to get about not getting married young? Is it because when you’re later widowed, you won’t be able to recognize the difference between a regular date and a date with a hooker? (I should note that George also has no idea that she’s a hooker, and he also married Anne pretty young.) Or maybe I’m selling Jennifer Coolidge’s Betty a bit short here. Maybe she wants to go straight with a nice rich man who likes sausage just as much as she does.

2. If you’re a Christian and you have sex before marriage, your father will die in a plane crash ON THE SAME NIGHT YOU LOSE YOUR VIRGINITY. Man, if Grace’s highly contrived and totally unemotional drama here doesn’t scare kids into abstinence, I don’t know what will. (I’m certainly not shortchanging Josie Bisset and Megan Park’s acting here, I’m merely shortchanging the writing. Bisset and Park were great at crying.)

The Husband:

I had asked my wife to jot down a particularly funny quote from this episode, but I guess it didn’t make it onto the page. Thanks to IMDB’s devolving silly message boards, however, I did get another gem. I love how you’re never really sure how intentional this show’s humor is. It definitely keeps viewers on their toes.


Grace’s Mom: “He’s dead!”
Grace: “No! Nobody is dead! We just had sex!”
Tom: “YOU KILLED HIM!”

Glorious.

The Wife:

While I don’t recall ever watching the original run of Rob Thomas’ Cupid back in 1998 with Paula Marshall and Jeremy Piven, I admit that I am the kind of person who would be drawn to such a premise. I love Greco-Roman mythology and I enjoy seeing modern adaptations and spins on it, and offering my “I’m friends with a Classics professor so I totally know what I’m talking about” judgments on whether or not those adaptations succeed. (Although the CW’s Valentine, about Greek gods living in L.A., just didn’t seem to pique any level of interest in me at all. Nor in anyone else, apparently.) So being that I don’t recall ever watching Cupid in the 90s – which I realize now was probably because it was airing on Saturday nights, which just means ABC wanted it dead from the beginning and that I was also probably too busy going to sleepovers, being dared to call boys I liked and read them bedtime stories, to tune in – I figured I would give the reboot a chance.

And you know what? That show totally doesn’t suck.

The generosity accorded to Rob Thomas to reboot his formerly failed series by ABC, however, was not as generous in its feelings toward this show as I am. The original run of the series produced 15 episodes, and aired 14. This run was only 7 episodes, intended as a try-out for fall, because that’s how television producers work these days. ABC killed a few great things this year, one of which might rhyme with “Smushing Lazies,” and I think that left viewers a little mistrustful of anything new ABC had planned to debut in the spring. In the Motherhood, while admittedly not great, was interesting simply for the fact that it was a female-led show about an issue that nearly every woman on the planet can relate to (if she isn’t currently a mommy, she certainly had one once), and had a lot of potential to grow and further explore the current parenting climate (which in the last ten years has switched to the kind of stay-at-home-and-do-everything-right-and-organic-and-be-totally-involved-and-honest-with-your-kids idea embraced by Jessica St. Claire’s character) in relationship to other models (the working mom, the cool mom who raised her kids counter to any advice and everything turned out just fine). But it never quite found its footing and so failed its try-out. Better Off Ted is lucky its quirky mcquirkfest survived. Cupid should have.

Bobby Cannavale: Right on the mark as Cupid.

Bobby Cannavale: Right on the mark as Cupid.

Why am I so gung-ho about this show? For one, I think Thomas found the right lead in Bobby Cannavale and was smart to move the show from Chicago to New York. Cannavale is good-looking in an Italian Mama’s Boy sort of way, and incredibly affable. It makes perfect sense that he would be the kind of person strangers would invite into their lives if he offered to help them, and it makes perfect sense that he’s the kind of person clever enough to manipulate social situations to facilitate his matchmaking. In short, if Bobby Cannavale asked me to fly to NYC from New Orleans to cater a party as his Trevor Pierce (renamed from the original Trevor Hale) did in one episode where he reunited a Cajun caterer with her high school Iraqi war vet sweetheart, I probably would. As for the move from Chicago to NYC, NYC is often a space that invites fantasy in many popular stories. I’ll name only one example here that should serve as the paramount one: Miracle on 54th Street. It’s a city with its own mythology and a long history of being a dreammaking place: for immigrants, for actors, dancers and musicians, for artists and also for writers. It’s also a city in which people move and mingle with others numerous times a day, but promotes the isolation of modernity in that while its denizens inhabit mutual spaces, they don’t often connect with each other. I buy it as a place a god would try to turn into matchmaking central, especially because his therapist’s single’s groups prove to be an integral part of how the show’s main and peripheral characters, and how they are all trying to break away from the isolation of modernity and connect with others. There was talk in the production process that Cupid would relocate to Los Angeles, and while Francesca Lia Block has convinced me that L.A. can be a space of magical realism, I don’t think it would have worked nearly as well as New York did.

Furthermore, I like the idea of a show that believes in the concept of true love. We live in an age where the CW exploits people’s relationship issues on national television with Hitched or Ditched, where we look at the tabloids every day to see if John & Kate are going to fall the fuck apart (uh . . . yeah, that’s probably going to happen since the couple has a very special “announcement” pending; and I hate that I don’t watch that show and know about this), and where hookups have somehow replaced dating.  We all know that the divorce rate is high, and we all know that my home state has leveraged a terrible and oppressive measure against its non-heterosexual residents that bar them from even daring to challenge that statistic with their same-sex relationships. When I look at the divorce rate and the disappearance of date culture, it seems like a good number of us have given up even trying to sustain a partnership; that we prefer to be alone, save for a brief interaction every now and again that we don’t have to put any further energy into. While I wouldn’t say that having a life partner is right for everyone, I certainly like having someone to watch TV with every day. It makes me feel like this big, giant world is less lonely. That isolation of modernity thing I was talking about? Having someone to go through life with certainly makes me feel less isolated.

So when I see so much negativity toward relationships in the reality television world and in the real actual human world, I can’t help but be smitten by a scripted show that tries to remind us of the good parts of being in a relationship with someone, and how fun it can be to take that plunge. Cupid may only be a string of meet-cutes, but it’s also about love overcoming obstacles. None of the matches Cannavale’s Cupid makes in the 7-episode run are easily procured, and, somehow, through his crazy/divine providence, he is able to unite these couples in the promise of everlasting love. I’ve already mentioned the Cajun caterer and the Iraq veteran, which came to a bittersweet ending as the vet announces that he’s getting stop-lossed and sent back for a third tour of duty, something he planned to avoid by running away to Canada and never coming back – only to change his mind and do his tour of duty, knowing that if he lived, his Cajun caterer would be worth coming home to in order to live out their days under the willow trees in their hometown in Louisiana.

But perhaps my favorite of these divine matches came in the final episode, featuring adorable Broadway ingénue Kerry Butler as a working-class masseuse from South Boston in love with a man above her station (whom she broke up with because he never let her meet his family because of her wicked pissah of an accent). Cupid’s therapist, Claire, tries to find out his origin by hiring a linguist (one of her patients, as well) to listen to him speak and determine his origins. The “using linguistics to discover Trevor’s origins” plot was recycled from the show’s first incarnation, but the My Fair Lady angle was entirely new to this version of the series. But Cupid performs a bait-and-switch, setting up Kerry Butler with illocution lessons in exchange for massages, during which she forms a friendship with the linguist over several delightful My Fair Lady-esque diction lessons. Butler’s character is almost ready to give up, and declares that it doesn’t feel right to her to hide herself just to impress a guy, at which point her linguistics tutor reveals that he, himself, has been lying for most of his life. He, too, is from South Boston, but wasn’t taken seriously on his first day at Princeton because of his accent and worked very hard to eliminate all traces of his working-class roots from his speech. After sending Kerry off to meet with her ex at a fancy, uptown party, Trevor realizes in talking to the linguist that, perhaps, he’s been guiding Miss Butler toward the wrong beau and disguises the linguist as a waiter to crash the party and tell Kerry how he feels. After making a scene in which Butler’s intended’s parents reprimand “the help” for being so clumsy, Kerry throws off the upper-class accent she’s worked so hard for and embraces who she really is, as well as the Henry Higgins who reminded her of that.

If I had one complaint about Cupid, it would be that Sarah Paulson’s Dr. Claire McCrae never quite felt real enough – and not for Paulson’s lack of trying. She’s a great actress, with a lot of range, and if you want to see how great she can be, please watch her arc as a Pinkerton on Deadwood and her completely stunning comic performance in Peyton Reed’s 1960s screwball romance send up, Down with Love, in which you will also be treated to Ewan McGregor’s delightfully Ewan McGregor-y Southern accent. Paulson never got to break through her material here, and always seemed too stiff to fit into this world, which is only justifiable in the fact that her awkwardness in the role highlighted the irony that she, single and totally uncomfortable with people, should be in charge of teaching people how to find love through commonality. I think, if the show had gotten more of a chance, Claire would have eventually felt more real as her own walls started to break down and we learned as much about her as she does about Trevor Pierce.

I’ll miss this show, and I’m sad that we live in a world that’s unaccepting of its existence. But I’ll cherish that “My Fair Massuese” episode, if only because linguists are awesome and the following line is one of the best things I’ve heard on television recently:

“Nothing says ‘Thank You’ like the phonetic alphabet on cupcakes!” – Kerry Butler


The Husband:

A few points of interest:

1.) I adore Sarah Paulson, but between this and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, she’s gaining quite a few detractors. She’s not to the point of being an absolute show-killer just yet, but her dedication to her craft, which allows her to make very interesting decisions with very intense and sometimes unlikable characters, tends to give her a bad wrap, at least on television. But I can assure you that she’s one of the most versatile actresses of her generation, including her deeply strange performance that I saw in 2005’ Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie, also starring Jessica Lange, Christian Slater and Josh Lucas.

2.) I started noticing this right around the time that Kidnapped, Six Degrees, The Black Donnellys and 3 lbs. were all canceled in the same television season, in that unless a show was a Law & Order or a CSI, any show that filmed in New York was about 90% guaranteed to be canceled. And this year, that trend came back in a big way. With no exception this year, no show that premiered in the 2008-2009 television season and was shot (not just set) in New York was renewed for another season. (And Castle doesn’t count, because it’s shot in L.A.) This would include Life on Mars, The Unusuals and now Cupid. (And last year’s Lipstick Jungle, which moved on into this year, couldn’t survive either. But hell, at least it got a second season unlike the majorly similar Cashmere Mafia.) A part of me wants to say it’s the distancing location that seems to turn many non-New York viewers off, as if these shows take place in a world far too unlike the viewers’ that it simply doesn’t pique their interest. But, more than anything, it’s the fact that it’s so goddamned expensive to shoot in NYC, so even when ratings are doing okay, the networks use the expenses as an excuse to shut down production. I’m amazed Gossip Girl got renewed for a third season, since the ratings are so abysmal, but it’s definitely a pop cultural flagship for the network, so canceling it would just make the CW lose more viewers.

A book recommendation for ANYONE who liked the Left of the Dial episode of Cupid: Rob Sheffields Love Is a Mix Tape.

A book recommendation for ANYONE who liked the "Left of the Dial" episode of Cupid: Rob Sheffield's Love Is a Mix Tape.

3.) While I loved almost every episode of this show, my favorite, simply from a dramatic perspective, was “Left of the Dial,” in which a down-on-his-luck radio deejay tracks down his favorite caller and starts a relationship with her and her two children. It was the sweetest, least negative and most realistic episode of Cupid’s altogether too short season, and it’s a shame that not enough people stuck around to even watch the episode.

The Wife:

Cat Deeley really hates Thursdays, and nothing makes me love her more than her mama bear attitude toward all of the Top 20 dancers on this reality dance show competition program we like to call Dancey Dance. She earned a thousand extra adorable points for me last night by choosing to follow up Wednesday’s ruffle kerfuffle with a sleek double breasted white suit, which, after seeing the group number, I decided was an intentional move on Cat’s part to reflect the style and costuming of the piece, thus giving the show’s introduction a smooth and cohesive appearance.

That opening number, by the way, was brought to us by Mia Michaels. In it, the Top 18 donned black business suits, black lipstick and face-obscuring mokos (the traditional form of facial tattooing amongst the Maori of New Zealand) while dancing to “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder amid bright photo-studio flashbulbs and projections of the dancers’ mokoed faces on the big SYTYCD screen. Although I knew last night’s piece would be Mia’s (because Nigel teased Brandon about it on Wednesday), I had my doubts during the choreography of this piece. This isn’t to say it was un-Mia, as I know she does have a fondness for tribal dance (which you can see in her Top 4 number from last year, which was brought down by some poor costuming decisions), but it was almost more Sonya Tayeh in its strictness of movement. Ah, but then the dancers launched their bodies in the air, nearly four feet off the ground as horizontally and fluidly as possible and I was once again sure it was a Mia Michaels piece.

I made a note to myself to think about the piece overnight and try to divine its meaning, so here’s the best I’ve got: this piece was about the loss of cultural identity in Western culture. It reminded me very much of one of the books I wrote my thesis on, Jill Ciment’s The Tattoo Artist, which is about a 1920s bohemian artist who ends up shipwrecked on the island of Ta’un’uu with her lover, only to be forcibly tattooed (on their faces, no less) by the natives and assimilated into their culture. After about 60 years spent on the island, Sarah (the protagonist) fully loses her Western identity and becomes one of the most revered tattooists on Ta’un’uu. In the end, she returns to New York City to be photographed for Life magazine after a journalist somehow finds her on Ta’un’uu and has trouble reconciling the person she was before Ta’un’uu with the person she became there. Only, Mia’s piece is something of the opposite. It’s like what Sarah’s experience would have been at that Life magazine photoshoot: the flashbulbs illuminating her face, the contours of her mouth obscured by five concentric circles of pitch black ink. It was about the process of assimilating culture in the reverse of the assimilation of The Tattoo Artist: it was about appropriating the Maori traditions and turning them into faceless, nameless entities to be repackaged in a way pleasing to the Western eye (the business suits). Nothing illuminated that more for me than the brief moments in which we did see the Life-esque photographs of the dancers’ mokoed faces, staring back at us with a near-expressionless sadness. The one that struck me most, I think, was Kupono’s, because the dance itself, although it was based in Maori heritage, could have easily been about the same struggle as those of the Native peoples of Hawaii.

If what I just wrote doesn’t make a lot of sense to you, that’s okay, because the producers followed up the Top 18 number with a package on the Tao of C, highlighting Lil C’s particularly verbose rhetoric, and you’re welcome to lump my analysis into the portion of your brain that ignores Lil C if you’re not into that sort of thing.

And so Kupono was separated from his shadow at long last.

And so Kupono was separated from his shadow at long last.

After that, it was time to get to results. Cat called up Melissa and Ade, Caitlin and Jason and Phillip and Jeanine. She informed us straight away that Melissa and Ade were safe and that, as I predicted, Chbeeb and Jeanine have already accumulated enough fans to keep themselves out of the bottom three, landing Caitlin and Jason the first two spots in the “Dance for Your Life” solo round. Their presence in the bottom three, however, totally screws up one of my bottom three predictions. So while I may have been a very premium judge of dances last week, this week, I got one measly fucking point in the “EW Predictify SYTYCD” challenge. So, you know, don’t trust me on everything.

Of the next three couples to sweat it out before Cat Deeley, my other favorites from last night Brandon and Jeanette were told they were safe, followed by Jonathan and Karla-of-the-totally-blank-face, leaving Ashley and Kupono in the bottom three, which would be the only predication I actually got right this week.

Finally, Randi and Evan, Auska and Vitolio and Kayla and Max took the stage. Before any results were given, Cat reminded everyone that they’re currently auditioning dancers for fall’s season 6 and showed a clip of Ryan Kasprzak’s audition and subsequent immediate ticket to Vegas, just to make little brother Evan smile. I had been worried about the show losing its momentum going into season 6, but dear sweet Lord, if Ryan Kasprzak makes it to the Top 20 of season 6, I will never, ever, ever stop believing in this show. You give me Ryan Kasprzak followed by Glee on Wednesdays at 9 and I will be deliciously fucking happy.

As for the results themselves, I was happy to hear that Randi and Evan got by this week on the strength of how cute they are (also, did anyone else notice that the recap of this dance made the judges comments seem overall more positive than they actually were on Wednesday?) but then totally and completely shocked to see that Kayla and Max ended up in the bottom three rather than Auska and Vitolio. Granted, Auska and Vitolio were beautiful this week and the only reason I thought they’d be in the bottom three is that I’ve seen a number of commenters out here in the innertubes that spend their whole day hating on Auska. And you must know how totally shocked I am to see Kayla and Max in the bottom too, considering they were one of my top three most premium dances of the night! Dear SYTYCD viewers: please do not hate on Brian the Evil Elf, or I will post the Dmitry and Ashlee Fall Out Boy dance again, just to show you he’s wicked cool. And that’s a threat, because you’d then have to listen to a Fall Out Boy song and actually enjoy it.

So after a performance of some totally difficult (because it has to be perfectly timed to the music) Indian dancing by a lady with tons of little tintinabulating bells tied to her feet, Kayla, Max, Caitlin, Jason, Kupono and Ashley all danced for their lives:

  • Caitlin danced to “Make You Feel My Love” by Adele, and while I think she looked strong, I didn’t really think much of her solo. I am beginning to realize that I might not like her.
  • Jason danced to “Superman” by Robin Thicke. Nigel later called this the strongest solo he’d ever seen. Uh, I like Jason a lot, but I’m not sure that’s true.
  • Ashley danced to “By Your Side” by Coco Kosse. While I appreciate the fact that she dressed up like Marion Cotillard to perform this piece, I don’t understand why she made that choice or why she chose not to really dance while doing so.
  • Kupono “danced” to “Many Moons” by Janella Monrae (I think?). You know, I like Kupono, but he is no Mark Kanemura. The only reason I’d want him to stay on the show is because I want to hear about his furniture collection, but this solo was a steaming pile of poop. He basically just ran around and occasionally vogued poorly. Benny Ninja would be ashamed!
  • Kayla danced to “Walking on Air” by Kerli. The girl shouldn’t have been in the bottom three in the first place, but she took the name of her song choice very literally and spent most of this solo physically in the air in a variety of leaps, twirls and mid-air splits. Nigel later said her solo was crowded, and I guess that’s true, but you can’t knock the fact that she did everything she jammed into that solo incredibly well.
  • Max danced to “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins. Hands down, one of the most violent jive steps I’ve ever seen. Also, I now know that while he’s a great dancer, he totally can’t choreograph. There was a lot of dead space between segments in this solo.
I guess Nigel wasnt that into this outfit, either, eh?

I guess Nigel wasn't that into this outfit, either, eh?


The judges went backstage to deliberate and Krisinia DeBarge of the family DeBarge (whom you should totally check out on Punky Brewster!) showed up to lip-sync (and poorly!) her new single, “Goodbye.” After which the “jidges” announced that they were not unanimous on their decisions and decided to send Ashley packing (goodbye, my vomiting friend!), which wasn’t totally surprising, because Nigel wants to bone Caitlin and it did take Ashley four auditions before the producers finally caved and added her to the Top 20. But then we also had to say goodbye to Max, which I really think was the wrong decision. Yes, Kupono is perhaps a little more interesting in the personality department, but what about the idea of having a well-rounded Top Whatever? Last week, Paris was let go because she was the weakest of the eight contemporary dancers that comprised the Top 20. Why would you axe your only male ballroom dancer so early in the competition, and let an inferior contemporary dancer stay? I think Kayla was even more unhappy than I was at Max’s untimely departure. She’s a very strong dancer, but I am worried about her dancing with Kupono. I think she only benefited from having a great partner like Max who was strong and knew how to partner well – two things I do not think of when I see Kupono, especially after that horrible solo.

So next week, we’ll have a new couple: Kayla and Kupono, which is only promising because of their alliterative names. But I’m worried about Kayla. Please transcend this disaster, Radomkulous! Persevere!

The Wife:

Last week‘s performance episode set the bar pretty high, as all of the performances were good if not great, save for an obvious few. But this week, things were drastically different. We’re in the thick of the competition now, and just doing okay doesn’t really cut it anymore. I was not such a premium judge of dances this week, as the judges and I often had wildly different opinions on what happened on stage that night, but, sometimes, I think that difference opinion came down simply to my complete lack of technical knowledge about a certain dance style. I praise this show because I learn a lot about the technicalities of dancing, and it’s often pretty clear when one partner is not hitting the moves in the same way as the other, because I have eyes and I can tell what looks right. But I can only rely on that about 60% of the time, because sometimes, there are dances that I think look completely fine, but are actually hugely technically flawed. There were definitely examples of that tonight, which I’ll get to below.

We also saw examples of how a ruffle can eat a tall, svelte British woman, as well as many examples of what the dancers think America needs to know about their partners.

For instance:

  • Randi has a dog she treats like a human child.
  • Evan loves cars and knows how to build them from the ground up.
  • Melissa and her sister married brothers.
  • Ade’s full name is Adetokunbo Isaac Kayote Obamye. It’s African!
  • Jason really loves Michael Jackson and used to dress up and dance to MJ in his living room as a kid.
  • Caitlin likes to impersonate babies and velociraptors. (She looks really, really scary as a raptor because the small of her back is virtually nonexistent in that pose.)
  • Jeanette grew up with janky bunny teeth.
  • Brandon has that body and apparently doesn’t work out. I not totally hate him.
  • Vitolio loves motorbikes.
  • Auska enjoys blowing spitbubbles.
  • Max enjoys cooking meals for his roommates.
  • Kayla is a texting addict.
  • Jonathan felt the need to inform me that Karla is a Boogie Bot, which I know, because I use the interwebs.
  • Karla told us that Jonathan loves to sing, but is really horrible at it.
  • Chbeeb is a super nerd, majoring in engineering physics, which I again knew, because I use the interwebs.
  • Jeanine has a teddy bear boyfriend.
  • Kupono is really, really organized, which we all should have gleaned from the introduction of his “To Do” list in Vegas.
  • Ashley vomited all over her first grade classmates. And with that, Ashley and Kupono officially became my favorite couple. Beautiful, disastrous weirdoes, the both of them.


The Excellent

Melissa and Ade (Jazz)
Choreography by Sonya Tayeh
Song: “24 Hours” by Terry Poison

Why does this remind me of Anonymous Rex?

Why does this remind me of Anonymous Rex?

Not only was this the most interesting performance of the night for me to watch, but it was superbly danced and superbly costumed. The wardrobe folks did their best work in some time on these two, as their clothing or lack thereof accentuated exactly what we were supposed to be watching on the dancers. Melissa’s pink pants instantly drew me toward her legs and how sharp the ballerina’s movements were throughout this jazz piece, while Ade’s shirtlessness and pink-accented gloves begged me to watch the strength of his carriage and the precise movements of his arms. There were excellent lifts, excellent jumps and a lot of excellent dancing. All in all, this was my favorite piece of the night. It was totally bananas, and parts of it reminded me of rock n’ roll dinosaurs (don’t ask me why), but as Lil C said, it was buuuuuuuuuuuuuck. Furthermore, Melissa’s makeup and hair in this piece made her look younger than Randi. So that’s saying a lot.

Jeanette and Brandon (Disco)
Choreography by Doriana Sanchez
Song: “Loving Is Really My Game” by Brainstorm

Let it be known that I totally abhor disco dancing and have seen maybe two or three in the history of the show that I could even say I liked, but this incredibly up-tempo number I FUCKING LOVED. I have never enjoyed watching a disco dance as much as I enjoyed this one, and I think Jeanette and Brandon danced it superbly. In fact, it was so good it got two Official Mary Murphy Screams and encouraged some brilliant poetry out of Lil C, who said that he saw the birth of progression for both Jeanette and Brandon in this wild disco number. Jeanette may have fallen out of step once, but I totally didn’t notice for a variety of reasons, one of which is clearly her insane in-the-air split that I’m not sure is actually possible for humans to do. To quote Cat Deeley, “Studio 54 ain’t got nothin’ on you guys! What! What!”

Kayla and Max (Pop Jazz)
Choreography by Brian “The Evil Elf” Freidman
Song: “Hot Like Wow” by Nadia Oh

Oh, Brian the Evil Elf, how I’ve missed you. That’s my special nickname for him, because he looks like an evil elf to me, even with that freaky shaved head. This was another really interesting piece for me to watch, and I thought the choreography was, in general, really cool. Brian does a lot of fantasy-based storytelling with his choreography, and while I don’t always love it, it is always interesting. This number, about a trickster who seduces a princess into giving up her throne, was absolutely superbly danced by both partners, and although the judges thought Max was a little weaker, I really couldn’t tell. The piece got an Official Mary Murphy Scream and a ticket to the Hot Tamale Train – but only for Kayla, because Mary didn’t like Max’s outfit. I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want a Russian man to dress like Alan Cumming. That just doesn’t make sense to me. Cat apparently wasn’t fond of Max’s character in the piece, which she expressed in a truly brilliant quote: “Max, you low down dirty rotten rat from ratville on the way to rattown! Boo! Boo on you!” Deeley was making my freaking night tonight – her dress ruffle must have been eating her brain or something.

The Good to the Very Good

Randi and Evan (Jive)
Choreography by Louis Van Amstel (How nice of them to spell his name for us this week!)
Song: “Shake a Tail Feather” by Ray Charles

Her husband just might kill him during the results show.

Her husband just might kill him during the results show.

The funcounter does not lie! This piece was 14 times as fun as a regular jive, not performed by Randi and Evan. I really, really enjoyed this piece, and while I noticed that Randi and Evan were both dancing rather wide, I had assumed it was an adjustment made for their height in order to achieve the proper steps. Apparently, this is one of these instances where my lack of technical knowledge was pointed out by the judges, who informed me that the wide stance was a mistake on Evan’s part that didn’t allow him to properly get into the double bounce required for a great jive. The judges all agreed that the piece was fun and that as a couple, Randi and Evan are very strong together, but that Randi outdanced Evan a little bit in this one. For me, it was really entertaining, which is why, despite its major constructive criticisms, it ends up in this category for me. The moment where Evan jumped in the splits over Randi’s backbend was totally killer for me, as was Randi’s suggestive ass-flaunting. After all, “what’s a tush grab between friends?” asks Cat. Indeed.

Auska and Vitolio (Waltz)
Choreography by Louis Van Amstel (How nice of the judges to thank him this week after totally not doing so last week while they were busy thanking every other choreographer!)
Song: “Dreams Are More Precious” by Enya

I thought this was a superb waltz, owing largely to Van Amstel’s choreography. Auska was lighter than air. Nay, she was air and rippled and bent when Vitolio spun her around the stage. She was very much a lovely dream that’s impossible to hold on to for very long, and I completely agree with Mary’s assessment that both Auska and Vitolio danced this honestly and with heart. Mary cried. I was stunned. Great work all around.

Jonathan and Karla (Contemporary)
Choreography by Stacey Tookey of So You Think You Can Dance: Canada
Song: “Falling Slowly” by The Frames

The judges liked this a lot more than I did. I think it was danced very well, and I agree on all of their points about Jonathan’s strength in the piece because he was very athletic and totally watchable. But as far as believability, I thought Jonathan was 100% committed, while Karla was about 50% committed. Her facial expressions or lack thereof completely drew me out of the piece. But there was nothing wrong with the piece technically, which is why even though I didn’t love it, I’m acknowledging its goodness. I hate to inform Karla and Jonathan, though, that what they think was a scream from Mary Murphy does not make it into the Official Mary Murphy Scream Count, as it was more like an excited woo.

The Strangely Maligned Shane Sparks Numbers

Ashley and Kupono (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by Shane Sparks, who is once again allowed to show his adorable face on camera! (He was looking extra cute last night, no?)
Song: “Imma Be” by the Black Eyed Peas

I really enjoyed this piece, its concept and the swagger Ashley bought to it. Maybe she’s why I didn’t even notice Kupono’s mistakes because I was simply focusing on her. I definitely don’t think it was as disappointing as the judges said it was, because it was clever, well-danced and totally entertaining. I have no idea why the “jidges” hated it.

Caitlin and Jason (Hip-Hop)
Choreography by Shane Sparks
Song: “Missin You” by Trey Songz

The judges found this one to be largely disappointing, although I’m not really sure why. I would agree that while Caitlin looked super hot, she didn’t dance nearly as strongly as Jason did. I have to give major props to Shane for incorporating an MJ-style move for Jason and a totally rad backflip for gymnast Caitlin – two things that made both of the dancers look really good and showed off their strength. Most importantly for me, I believed their chemistry in this piece, so I don’t really understand where their dislike of the work of the dancers is coming from. It’s certainly not my favorite hip-hop routine ever – not even my favorite Shane Sparks piece – but I liked it well enough, and thought Caitlin and Jason danced it well-enough overall, even though one partner with a penchant for velociraptor impressions was far weaker than the other.

The Problematic

Phillip and Jeanine (Tango)
Choreography by Tony Meredith
Song: “Violento (Up Mix)” by Balliago!

The tango is no place for stank face. Not even in the good Mia Michaels-y way.

The tango is no place for stank face. Not even in the good Mia Michaels-y way.

I think the wardrobe department did an excellent job on this piece by making Jeanine look so good in her outfit that I didn’t notice any errors Phillip was making, nor did I notice his face doing any of the things Nigel said it did (like straining to like Jeanine, who probably only weighs about a buck ten). More than Randi and Evan’s piece, this was the most technically debated piece of the night, and it simply didn’t live up to the high tango standards, even though Mary and Tony Meredith insist that the one thing Chbeeb did well was dance on bent knees, something I’d have otherwise not known was required for this kind of tango, which once again proved that my lack of technical knowledge made me think this dance was a lot better than it really was. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as Randi and Evan’s slightly-off jive number, so unfortunately, it ends up as the most problematic dance of the night.

The good news is that while I trust America to vote on what we see each week to determine the bottom three, I think Chbeeb has enough fans that he might be safe from the bottom three this week. If America followed the judges’ critiques alone, Chbeeb and Jeanine, Randi and Evan, Caitlin and Jason and Ashley and Kupono are the couples most likely to end up in the bottom three this week. I think another possible contender for a bottom three position might be Auska and Vitolio, not because of their performance this week, but because people on the internet totally hate Auska for reasons I can’t quite discern. I’m going to make my predictions in the “EW Predictify SYTYCD” contest in a little bit, but right now, I think the couples in danger this week will be Auska and Vitolio, Ashley and Kupono and Randi and Evan, the latter of these because they went first and will likely not be remembered by voters, where as Chbeeb and Jeanine will be saved by being the last dance of the night.

This was a tough week, and the distinction between the top 3 and the bottom 3 is not as easy to predict. And that means that the results show will actually be exciting tonight!

Other stray thoughts:


  • “The only thing I bench is girls.” –Brandon Bryant. I love this quote, and I think it’s hilarious, but it’s definitely the first time I think he’s ever sounded cocky.
  • I seriously hated Cat’s dress when I first saw it, but it started to grow on me over the course of the show. Maybe it was eating my brain, too?
  • The Official Mary Murphy Scream Count for this episode is 3, bringing the performance show total to 5, with 5 enthusiastic woos for backup.
  • The Official Tally of Hot Tamale Train Rides given in this episode is 1, bringing the performance show total to 2.25, because robo puppies are .25 of a person.

The Husband:

First, a little history:

I watched the first series of Life on Mars (i.e. the British term for “season”), which amounts to eight episodes. When the second series rolled around on BBC America just over a year ago, I DVRed the entire thing, but ran into a problem – when I hit play on the first episode, all I got was a blank screen. Believing that somehow my subscription to BBC America was accidentally canceled which would result in me recording the channel but getting no actual image or sound, I deleted all the episodes. But when I hit play on an entirely different show (let’s say a G4 rerun of Cops), that was blank too, and I realized, all too late, that something was wrong with my box’s playback, and that I had deleted something that would probably never air again in this country.

Point is, my knowledge of the UK Life on Mars is limited to its first series. And let me tell you, it was brilliant. Sam Tyler, a modern-day Manchester police detective, is hit by a car and wakes up in 1973, in his same home town, just around the time he was a young boy. Taking a job at his own police precinct, he has to both figure out a way to exist in the 1970s while also trying as hard as he can to find a way back to the present.

When Life on Mars finally came to the U.S. – after David E. Kelley took an ill-advised shot at a pilot, then set in Los Angeles, then gave it over to showrunners who set it in the more-applicable Lower East Side of Manhattan – I was all set for a great show. It’s a terrific concept, and the possibilities were endless. The UK version played extremely well with old-fashioned detective work and its relation to modern-day police procedures, and came out somewhere in the middle, both parodying and paying homage to the television procedurals of yore. Sometimes a cop just had to rough up a suspect, but this barbarism was often nothing compared to some good profiling and psychological warfare.

The U.S. version, however, took a somewhat different route. While the U.S. pilot is almost beat-for-beat the UK one, it merely took that as a jumping-off point in the later episodes and became, for all intents and purposes, basically just another cop show with the time-travel twist. Unique to the American show were countless 70s jokes, ranging from Nixon humor to cracks about Soylent Green to Sam’s many aliases (Luke Skywalker, Tom Cruise, etc.), which were often met, by me, with a raised eyebrow. Humor is fine, but eliminating some of the original’s best elements in favor of some homegrown winks may not have been the best idea.

Yes, let's all question that fucking ending, shall we?

Yes, let's all question that fucking ending, shall we?

I think, if anything, I would describe the American LoM as a low-rent Scorsese knockoff (thanks, especially, to the presence of Harvey Keitel and Michael Imperioli) with the occasional moment of sheer greatness, but not enough to have made me want a second season. It took the easy way out far too often, leaving us viewers with completely average weekly detective mysteries that weren’t original 30 years ago. Other than the more serialized stories, I can only think of case off the top of my head that I found truly compelling, involving the race war that erupted after an African-American girl fell to her death off a building. That, specifically, was a damn good way of bringing modern politically correct sensibilities and common sense into a more heated, confusing time. Less effective was the early episode revolving around gay-bashing in the slums. There’s clever, and then there’s preachy.

Luckily, LoM dropped the preachy after it ended its fall season, but unfortunately some of its spirit went out the window as well. When the spring season rolled around, they had an extended episode order past the original 13, but were also warned, pretty early, that this first season would also be its last. So Sam, having finally figured out the deal with his douchebag father (which was, by the way, the final episode of the UK’s first series, and what the original Sam considered his entire purpose in “traveling through time”), Sam Tyler, and the show, moved away from the show’s sci-fi angle and focused more on policework, resulting in an enjoyable but choppy affair. This, thankfully, led to some great ensemble work, not just from the guys but from the ever-on-the-verge-of-fame Gretchen Mol, whom I’ve loved since Rounders and the vastly underrated sci-fi VR tale The Thirteenth Floor. While I love Rachelle Lefevre, I’m not sure if the role was right for her and I’m glad Gretchen replaced her in the role of No-Nuts Norris. (In fact, everybody but star Jason O’Mara was replaced after Kelley’s version.)

Other minor misgivings: I’m just going off of my knowledge of the UK’s first series, but I don’t recall Sam relying so heavily on his flash visions to solve crimes, such as in the US LoM when he realized that a man they were investigating would go on, years down the line, to murder more people, and thus Sam used this knowledge to get him before he committed the majority of his crimes. On the UK one, it was more that Sam was just a better detective with more training than his coworkers, and his skills, still unheard of in 1973, were unorthodox but extremely effective, and if you matched those skills up with Gene Hunt’s unstoppable brute force, they were a dynamite team. No Dead Zone flashes to be found, at least not to the extent of the new version.

And, of course, we have to address the completely out-of-left-field ending. While having no viewing experience with the second series of the UK LoM (or the lost-in-the-80s spin-off Ashes to Ashes, which I hear is compulsively watchable), I know that the entire show ended with Sam waking up from his coma in modern-day Manchester, but realizing he had no life there anymore, decided to kill himself, which in turn transported him back to the 1970s where he could have a great life as a renowned detective.

And why couldn’t the U.S. one have done that? Too grisly? I don’t think so. It’s a great idea, and a perfect denouement, respectful to the show’s thrust and its concept of trying to figure out where we belong and why. But nope. The U.S. version decided to lose its mind for the final five minutes, and for a great deal of people (including my wife), it dragged down the entire show, all 17 episodes of it. Turns out that it’s the year 2035, and Sam, along with all of his precinct buddies, were astronauts on a journey to Mars, and they were all in a very long cryogenic sleep. Sam had requested that his sleep program be him as a cop in 2008, except there was a glitch in the program, which would explain the time travel. In this future, in addition, Gretchen Mol is his girlfriend and Harvey Keitel is his father.

What?!

Oy. Way to shoot yourself in the foot. When I caught wind of this new ending, completely by accident as I hate spoilers, I thought somebody was fucking with me. But nope. As my wife and I finished the final episode Monday night after putting off the spring season until only two weeks ago, I knew what was coming, and it still sucked. It’s a letdown, both logically and thematically, and I wag my fingers at whoever lobbed that idea into the writers room in the first place.

But I’m also willing to let it go and recognize the quality that was the rest of the first and only season of Life on Mars: American Style. It was fun, it ended, and I had a good time watching it. I’m glad such a quirky show (at least, quirky for a while) was allowed to live its life in relative peace and not dropped after four episodes, and perhaps it could serve as a model that some American television should be designed to be a one-season affair. Then again, that’s what the awesome Taye Diggs show Day Break was supposed to be, and that was canceled before it could finish its run.

Oh well.

The Wife:

Whomever came up with that ending should identify themselves so that I may punch them in the face.

Plenty of single episodes of television shows have ended in an “it was all a dream” scenario — famously, the final episode of one of Dallas‘ later seasons features one of these revelations (which kind of undoes the entire final season of the show), as does a later episode of Rosanne — and I believe that can be used effectively for a single episode to show us an alternate version of events involving dreams, hallucinations, visions, coma-universes, parallel universes, etc. (Although, as I mentioned, I am still up in the air about its use on Bones in the season finale.) But for an entire series to be a programming glitch in an astronaut’s neurostimulation program when it could have been, oh, I don’t know, ANY OF THE MYRIAD THINGS SAM TYLER HYPOTHESIZED HE WAS EXPERIENCING is complete and total bee ess.

I’ve read that St. Elsewhere allegedly reveals itself in the series finale to have taken place entirely in the mind of an autistic child, but haven’t seen the series so I don’t really know if it would bother me as much as the ending of Life on Mars: American Style did. For one, I really don’t like knowing that the world I’ve been entertained and amused by and the conceit that brought me to the show in the first place was a mistake that’s very easily shrugged off by all of the characters after its revelation. Even the writers know that this ending is stupid because they give Michael Imperioli the following line: “Why would you choose to be a cop in 2008 for your neurostim?” Indeed. Why the fuck would someone do that? It doesn’t make sense. Being zapped back to 1973 within a computer program was nothing more than a confusing, 17-episode mistake. Way to have faith in yourself, series, because this ending completely nullifies anything interesting about the previous 16 episodes for me. The characters in the show believe it was a mistake, which seems to indicate to me some belief on the part of the writers and creators that the show’s existence at all was a mistake.

Secondly, ending the show on Mars is pretty much the most literal thing that could have happened to this series, and that’s just dumping a mound of salt and red dirt into the gaping hole left in the series’ purpose and credibility after the revelation.

That ending really did ruin the whole show for me. But if I had to pick one thing I actually liked about the ending, it would be that Sam’s clearly imaginary hippie-chick neighbor Windy who calls him “2B” (because it’s his apartment number) is the voice of the spaceship, and that the pod Sam’s been having his stupid-ass neurostim trip in is also numbered 2B.

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