American Idol: Nashville Auditions

American Idol: Milwaukee Auditions

Live to Dance: Ep 5

I’ve decided a few things about this show:
1- stop making it The Paula Show
2- choose what the competition is (best dance group or most love for dance)
3- set an age limit
4- expand the format so we don’t have to vote off 2/3 of the groups after only seeing them performing twice

Twitch was voted to move on by America.

Dance Town Chaos is up first. Stop over-sexing it! Technically they’re solid but I didn’t love the actual performance. Paula loved it, of course, because they prove that dancers have athleticism. Travis thought it was masculine. Kimberly thought it was just beautiful to watch. (Also, is that a fifteen year old mixed into the group.)

Jill and Jacob have some issues with Paula because she wants them to simplify but they didn’t want to. “It was their time on stage!” Someone saying no to Paula? For once I would say they should have agreed. They shouldn’t have done so many tricks and just let it flow. You could see the effort going into each trick. Travis thought there was no connection and he knows they are better. Red star. Kimberly found some risks that went well but some didn’t work out. Jill’s performance was stronger than Jake so she gives them a red star too. Paula admires their tenacity but their niche was their connection (that’s not a niche). They came a long way. So she gives them a gold star. (Of course.)

Roosevelt Anderson is the popper/locker that was pretty good but not amazing. What is that flying thing and why do they think it is dancing? Rule number one, you need more than two moves in your repertoire. Another weak so with an overproduced backdrop that takes the attention away from the dancer. Kimberly loves his passion for dance but there wasn’t enough. Paula, shockingly, disagrees. He’s delightful (which is not the same thing as a good dancer), which earns him a gold star. PAULA STOP TALKING! Travis thinks he followed up his audition well and that he’s magnificent though he had some moments that could have been cleaner. He gets two gold stars.

Tap Sounds Underground is not what I was hoping for. Good, but there was something that made it hard for me to get into. The changing music turning on and off maybe? Paula says something about dead tappers smiling down on them. Travis liked their use of space but they were out of sync at times. Kimberly challenges them to breath new life into tap. Kimberly gives them a red star.

Shore Thing takes into a little girl’s dreams for a fun and chaotic ride. Kimberly thought it was amazing and wants them to add more umph into their dancing. Paula’s (shockingly) proud. That was Paula’s shortest speech yet. Travis liked it, not perfect but very good. Three gold stars.

Kendall Glover, the judges choice shows a skill well beyond her years. When she’s old enough for SYTYCD, she would easily qualify. The performance was a little frenetic but she’s a little person trying to cover an enormous stage. Travis wants her to work on her lines. Travis didn’t think it was her best performance so she got a red star. Kimberly thought she as on fire. Paula wants more people as prepared as her. Two gold stars.

The judges choose…Dance Town Chaos to move on.

Hellcats: We might have to have a rumble.

Very little actually happens in the first half of this show. Basically, the team is still angry at Marty—no one is talking to her.

Things get interesting when Alice learns that her father is going to be watching the competition with his newest fiancé. He thinks she’s the top flyer on the team and still with Louis. She endures an awful meal with them, where we see why she’s pretty awful. Her father thinks her cheerleading is a joke and he “handles” her rather than talks to her. She schemes to get her spot back by convincing Savannah to let her take Marty’s spot on the argument that she’s got more expensive. Liking the opportunity to be mean, Savannah agrees but Vanessa is not having it. What? Vanessa giving acting like a coach? She gives a pep talk to Marty who challenges Alice to a cheer-off (which amounts to some truly awkward and terrifying dancing. Alice is still not quite healed though and has a hard time pulling off the lift and Marty wins the spot.

Alice is not done yet though. She goes and blackmails Savannah into giving up her flying spot. If she doesn’t she will show the team Savannah cheering to help her sister’s team get sponsorship money. Savannah pretends to injure her foot to explain the sudden change.

Marty comes to make peace with Savannah, since if she’s injured she can’t run away. Savannah isn’t interested but Marty tells her to be angry, not passive aggressive. So naturally Savannah begins hitting her with a pillow. Marty hits back after a while and once they settle down, Savannah reluctantly agrees to forgive her if she promises not to hurt her again. (Marty explains that she is the only girl friend she’s ever had and she wishes she could take it back.) She promises to try and that she’ll make sure Savannah won’t regret it.

Competition day arrives and Marty insists Savannah take her spot as a flyer. The team competes and they win (as far as I can tell, Savannah had no problem flying). Savannah pulls Marty over to join the celebrating crowd. Louis forgives Marty.

Alice runs up to talk to her dad and finds her soon to be mother in law sitting there alone who explains that her brother’s football game went overtime. She gives Alice some tough-love advice about how her dad will always choose football over cheerleading and life’s unfair.

Her dad shows up with flowers and Alice lays into him. He’s been disappointing her for years, he hurt her. She doesn’t want his flowers. On the upside, Alice likes this newest fiancé. Her father apologizes and wants to talk about it. She tells him to fly into Memphis to talk it over. They just made it to Nationals.

Marty is sitting alone in the back of the bus and Savannah joins her.

Fairly Legal

USA Network has put forward it’s newest series, a take on the standard legal dramas. If I’m completely honest, I am, for the most part, sick of legal dramas. I couldn’t even finish the premiere of Harry’s Law. But I decided to check this show out anyway. I’m glad I did.

Sarah Shahi stars as Kate Reed, a one-time attorney who quit practicing law in favor of being a mediator for the law firm her father started. She’s also dealing with the death of her father and the stepmother she hates as her boss. In the first episode we see her mediate a pharmacy hold up (the robber left everyone unharmed in exchange for a case of beer and slim jims), a couple suing the people who ruined their wedding proposal (it turned out they were mad at each other not the people they had hired), and the move for a company to pass ownership from a father to his son (by making sure the father was still involved and leaving a legacy while showing his son trust). She also saved a kid from a prison sentence that would have ruined his future, dealt with her ex (also a lawyer), and got thrown into jail for contempt because she was four minutes late to a court appointment for a judge who hates her. Oh, and in addition to her disgust for her mother, her father issues, and her issues with the legal system, she also has a crush on her super geeky co-worker who seems to have a crush on her while being oblivious to her feelings.

Shahi is so likable (she reminds me of a darker look Jamie Rae Newman) that she carries the show completely. She’s a principled, a brilliant mediator with a quirky sense of humor and an inability to be on time.

Part of what sets this show apart from the standard legal show is the pace. It’s fast paced and funny. Reed has on odd love for the Wizard of Oz and she therefore has everyone programmed into her phone as a character from the movie. (We can all guess who her stepmother is…) But it’s also sweet and touching (she calls her dad’s cell number just so she can listen to the voicemail to hear his voice). EW complained about the variety of tones through the show, but I don’t have a problem with that. Look at How I Met Your Mother has dealt with the death of Marshal’s dad. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with handling serious subject matter while also being light and funny. In fact, I like it better this way because life isn’t one or the other.

For me I will definitely be watching. USA Network has really been doing a good job with its new shows (White Collar, Burn Notice, and Royal Pains) and I think this show could join them in success.

Skins

Another in a long line of UK shows being remade for the American public is Skins. (For my take on why some shows just need to be remade instead of aired as is, see my post on Being Human. I won’t be discussing it here.)

Skins follows a bunch of teens as they deal with sex, drugs, sexual orientation, dysfunctional families, mental illness, and more. Sounds like every other teen show really, until you get into how graphic and visual the show is. The pilot, aired this week, revolved around their attempt to de-virginize Stanley, a scruffy, somewhat dirty teen who looks like (but actually isn’t) a stoner. They go about this by setting him up with Caddie, a mentally unstable girl who was recently released from a mental institute. Naturally, they decide he needs to buy drugs to accomplish this task. He manages to buy much more than the desired amount and when they try to unload some of the weed at a party, Caddie overdoses and needs to be driven to the hospital. It turns out she just fell asleep and is fine, but they crash the car along with the weed they needed to sell into a lake.

I would be lying if I said this wasn’t somewhat enjoyable in an extremely bizarre sort of way. It’s like Jersey Shore, you don’t know why you’re watch but you can’t seem to pull yourself away. Only, in this case, there’s writing so the conversations and characters are a littler more clever and nuanced. (Sad that it takes a writing staff to make a person seem more real.)

Since the show has aired, there has been concerns voiced about the appropriateness of this show. Specifically, there have been concerns that this might depict child pornography because the actors, unlike in more primetime shows about teens, are actually the age they are portraying (the youngest is 15). It was always going to be a controversial show. It’s meant to be a no holds barred look at wild and rebellious teens. No matter how much parents want to pretend there are no teens like this, we know there are. My teenage years looked nothing like this, but we know that many people’s does.

From what I saw of the first episode, I wouldn’t want my kid acting on this show and I worry about them being more or less naked and simulating sex in front of a group of people (writers, camera crew, directors, producers, etc), but I’m not sure child pornography is the thing to argue.) It was an even more preposterous charge when they complained about the Glee cast’s racy photoshoot, since the actors were all over eighteen. Taco Bell has pulled its advertising from the show. But whether or not it’s child pornography…I don’t think so from what I’ve seen so far. The question is, how far will it go?

Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker

We’ve followed Buddy and his family around for a while now as they work to make crazy cakes for special occasions. We’ve seen fireworks and dragons, the leaning tower of piza and a fire station, the millenium falcon and pizza pies, and just about any other kind of cake you can imagine. This season, we got something new: a competition to find “the Next Great Baker.” Which really means that like in the Apprentice, this is a glorified search for someone to work at his bakery. The competition follows 10 bakers competing to prove who makes the best cake and design and the winner not only gets to work for Carlos but also wins $50,000 and a new car.

I’ll be honest. Having watched the show until now, the contestants don’t seem all that talented. Maybe they just aren’t being given enough time to do much, maybe they have specific strengths (which certainly does not seem to be decoration) that they aren’t getting much chance to showcase. Whatever it is, they mostly come off looking more inept than anything else. There might also be a nervousness factor here, not just because this is a competition but because Buddy can be kinda intimidating.

Despite their lack of talent, the show is still entertaining. With the misfires (special effects that didn’t go off) and cake demolition, we’ve been given surprises. The contestants themselves have the quirkiness of Christian Siriano and Jay of Project Runway and a mean streak worthy of the Jersey Shore.

Judges include members of the bakery and the clients they make cakes for. Somehow the contestants are always scared of the contestants as though Buddy’s sister who runs the orders is the authority on cakes. Yes, she works in a cake shop, but so do all the contestants. And she doesn’t even bake!

As the season draws to a close, and the frontrunners emerge, the show has been renewed for a second season. How many people can the bakery employ?