Paula Abdul’s new dance show has premiered two episodes so far and though I can’t get a full idea of the show until we actually see the finalists, we’ve gotten at least a taste of it.
My take: it’s sort of like the weak version of So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew. Not to say I won’t be watching, since I don’t have to choose between them.
First let’s discuss the judges:
- Travis Payne- choreographer, particularly notable for his work with Michael Jackson
- Kimberly Wyatt- one of the Pussycat Dolls
- Paula Abdul- former Idol judge, singer and dancer
While I’m not surprised that no one really knows who Travis is, it surprises me that Kimberly gets so little attention by contestants. The Pussycat Dolls were a big deal not so long ago. Paula gets so much attention it’s getting kind of ridiculous and getting a little old (which is saying something considering that it’s only the second episode). As far as actually judging goes, this is sort of the nicest panel ever. They are, perhaps, a bit overly nice. The only specific critique they’ve given has been “point your toes a bit more, straighten you leg” and most of their commentary consists of “your passion for dancing really shines through.” Look, I get it, being passionate about it is important, but it should not outweigh talent. So for example, moving Solid Gold on to the “short list,” which means the judges will continue considering them for a place in the top 18, simply because they once played an important role in the dance world is ridiculous. (Luckily, they didn’t make it to the 18, but still.) As of yet, none of the judges are really distinct enough to form clear personas (beyond Paula giving a “gold star,” the show’s method of judging, to groups whose enthusiasm she likes). There’s no Simon giving the harsh critique, Michael Kors telling it like it is with a harsh metaphor, no Mary shrieking so loud you don’t know if you want to tell her to shut up or join in. There’s just…niceness.
Andrew Ginsberg, a co-host of Australian Idol, is sort of a poor man’s Cat Deeley. He asks a couple of stupid questions to the people backstage but otherwise he isn’t particularly involved. Think of Ryan Seacrest bantering with the judges, Cat Deeley standing with her arm around the contestants as they hear from the judges and even occasionally challenging the judge’s critiques, Jeff Probst standing in the rain with the survivors and asking the tough–if some feel inappropriate–questions during tribal council, or even TJ Lavin scolding contestants who don’t give their all during elimination challenges. Things might change once we get further into the show, but as of now, I’m certainly not an Andrew fan, even if I do like his accent.
Something that distinguishes this show from SYTYCD is that it does not set any age requirements. The oldest contestant was something like 87. I get that everyone can enjoy dancing, no matter what age they are. But while the 87 year old woman was super cute, she simply did not have the talent or even simple mobility and flexibility of the younger contestants. She and her 68 year old partner did not deserve a spot on the show, even if we appreciate their love for dancing. She may have been a fantastic dancer once, but now she simply cannot compete. (There’s a reason that dancer’s career don’t last all that long. Injuries and the body’s degeneration as it gets older, prevents someone who is 80+ from moving like a 20 year old.) There were also some super cute kids who made it through the the top 18 and once again, though they are adorable and they have such sweet stories, a nine year old generally cannot compete with a twenty year old. It comes down to experience and learning. A twenty year old who is serious about dancing has likely been dancing for 15 years. The nine year old has been dancing for a max of 5-6, if they started extremely young. The show made me appreciate the cutoff on SYTYCD. Not only is it unfair to put a kid through the pressures that doing a competitive show on broadcast television requires, but for the most part it isn’t really a fair competition and they are most of the time being set up for failure. (Especially because when America votes for a final winner, they tend to think, “well, they’re young, they have a long time to accomplish things.”) Not to say no children could be good. D’Angelo and Amanda were surprisingly good and though they may not be able to beat Anya and Pascha or even Ashleigh and Ryan Di Lello, but they did hold their own against the older contestants. But the same cannot be said for some of the other groups that were good, but not good enough to compete on this level. Yet.
I’m willing to wait to see how things turn out. I did enjoy watching the dancing overall, even though the talent level wasn’t up there (I think the quality of contestants on SYTYCD has improved over the years so maybe that will be the case with Live to Dance as well).
What did you think about the show?