Obviously hoping to follow in the footsteps of ABC’s summer hit “Dancing With the Stars,” the creators of “American Idol” have applied their proven musical star-making formula to a dance competition for Fox, and it seems a sure thing ratings-wise. Like “Idol,” “So You Think You Can Dance” doesn’t pretend to be about finding the best — the show’s judges readily admit to searching for “a type.” Even the title is more like a dare than a quest — and since most folks can’t simultaneously chew gum and walk, Fox is clearly hoping viewers will relish this type of mean-spirited fun.
Premiere seg was devoted to the good and the bad, lured from cities around the country to New York and Chicago to try out for the show. Next week, it goes to L.A., where it will winnow the group to eight men and women in search of one special hoofer.
In the meantime, director-producer-choreographer Nigel Lythgoe does his best Simon Cowell imitation, making pithy comments that seem far more rehearsed than most of the dance steps. As one dancer finishes, he quips, “You spin very well, but so does my wife’s tumble dryer.” Not exactly the meow-type slam viewers have come to expect from this kind of show. But he gets meaner as things progress.
Lythgoe’s preferences are fairly obvious. Blondes seem to be a big hit, and Cheryl Texiera, a doppelganger for Britney Spears, already appears to be a favorite. Kamilah Barret, who speaks almost exclusively in sexual innuendo, also seems to have caught Lythgoe’s attention.
Anthony Bryant, a classically trained dancer from Juilliard, just attracted his ire. Lythgoe complained that Bryant’s perf, however flawless, wasn’t masculine enough. Grant seemed truly surprised, telling the camera, “No one’s ever told me that I look feminine even when I dance with a ribbon.”
Fellow judge Jeff Thacker, who had the bad taste to ask one dancer if her “assets” were real, usually offers up one-word summations such as “engaging,” while Lythgoe’s wife and colleague, Bonnie, is the kindest, offering constructive criticism.
As always, there’s no shortage of delusional folks, or of William Hung types, savvy to the idea that if they don’t have talent, they can garner a few minutes of fame by just being awful.
Otherwise, the show is designed to quickly weed out the one-trick ponies, forcing the astounding number of break dancers and belly dancers out in the first round. Once terps make the initial cut, they are put through the paces learning choreographed routines featuring a myriad of steps.
As a director, Nigel Lythgoe works the judge’s reaction shots, often forgetting wallflowers enjoy watching the dancers, not other wallflowers.
Lauren Sanchez is superfluous at best as host, not adding much to the production other than embarrassing moments, such as when she mistakes a dancer’s fiance for her father.
From a technical standpoint, the show follows the “Idol” formula to a fault, although the signature song lacks the immediate brand recognition of its musical counterpart. The show’s graphics, with its big clunky letters, also are a poor choice.