Two hour “So You Think You Can Dance” finale. Let’s do this.
Actually, before we do this, I wanted to touch on the series as a whole, since there’s been a rash of “How to Fix ‘So You Think You Can Dance'” articles across the Internet lately. And while I don’t think the show is broken — and in fact, I think the dance talent this season was as good as we’ve ever had on the show — I do think there was something off this season. I mean, the all-stars concept was a wrinkle, and in some ways it worked (getting to see Lauren and Pasha and Mark and Courtney and Twitch again; watching how far dancers like Anya and Neil and Allison have come), and some it didn’t. I definitely missed watching the contestants find their footing with each other, in pairs that stayed constant for a while. I know there has been b****ing in previous seasons about good dancers “carrying” bad ones, but I think those rare cases are worth it to see the bonds that develop between a Joshua and Katee, or a Legacy and Kathryn, or a Lauren and Neil. This show is about amazing dancing, yes, but we all enter it through the dancers’ personalities, and they were harder to come by in the early goings this year.
Now, I don’t think all-stars was a concept that was designed to return every year. I’d like to see them go back to a Top 20 next season, keeping the pairs constant until Top 10. However, at that stage, once we’ve gotten to know them, mix it up as much as you can. All-stars, same-sex routines, whatever. If I can point at one positive change that has arisen this season, it’s those boy-boy and girl-girl routines which really shook up the norm.
As for the judges’ table … look, I thought Adam Shankman was the best judge in Season 6, but this season he really devolved into a one-dimensional praise machine who just cranked out crazy hyperbole and tears. I find him delightful as a person, but he’s outlived his usefulness as a judge. Without him, I think Mia’s occasional lapses into metaphor become more palatable, and I do think her willingness to actually criticize is essential; she should stay. I’ve seen a surprising number of writers call for the return of Mary Murphy, which…no. It’s like the Paula Abdul nostalgists: you’re remembering through some seriously rose-colored glasses. That said, Mary always provided great insight into the ballroom routines, and as an occasional presence, I think she’d be fine. If it were up to me, I’d say keep Nigel and Mia and bring back the rotating third judge. Don’t make me go through another season pining for Debbie Allen.