The Glee Project: Episode 9

This week’s theme is generosity and the homework is “Lean On Me.” Alex tells us in his usual monotone that he really wants to win. Lindsay struggles with figuring out who she is. This week’s guest judge is Kevin McHale (Artie). Does anyone else think this show is missing Lea Michele and Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer? As sweet as Damien is, he comes off as the weakest of the group (it doesn’t help that his accent is so strong while singing that it makes the words sound slightly awkward). Alex’s belting came out as more of a scream than a sing. Sam struggles to connect. Alex doesn’t project his emotions physically. Lindsay gave a soulful interpretation. Damien connect in a smiley way. But ultimately, the winner is…Lindsay. (Perhaps a good time to start winning. He gives her the magic comb.)

The group number is “Sing” by My Chemical Romance. They will be singing and playing an instrument with a group of surprise guest stars. Damien worries about drums and naturally that is the instrument he gets. Samuel gets keyboard. Lindsay gets lead guitar. Alex gets bass. They are informed that this is the last round before the final and only three will be making it through. Their first attempt is pretty horrendous.

While doing the vocals with Nikki they meet their special guests: a group of kids. (They are part of a music program for kids form schools without music programs.)

The pairings:
Samuel- Alexander: Samuel shows him what they’re working on and he gets a bit intimidated so they bond about how you can never be wrong with music.
Lindsay- Lily: They talk about plays they have done, both have been Wendy in Peter Pan.
Alex- Alegria: Super awkward, Alex can’t get her talking and Alegria doesn’t have much to say.
Damien- Liam: Liam plays drums so Damien quickly takes lessons from him about how to fake it. (Lucky.)

Once in the recording studio, Alex needs to get it more solid. Damien is “becoming a rock god.” Lindsay is too careful and then ends up rushing. (Nikki really doesn’t like her.) Samuel keeps getting the wrong notes because the high are a little outside his range.

For the music video, the contestants have to help the kids perform. Lindsay has gotten some helpful lessons from Kevin McHale and can now fake it convincingly. Unfortunately, she is missing some of her vocals (do they mean she is missing the lip synching and why don’t they mention it to her?). Damien’s face looks a bit pained. Alex is noticeably not working well with his girl. Samuel’s piano playing isn’t believable.

Samuel’s partner Alexander is particularly cute, he gets this super intense look on his face when he sings and plays. by the time the music video comes along Damien has gotten the drums down. Lindsay and her partner interact well and you can see they enjoy it together.

Despite being told that one person will be sent to safety and the others will be doing last chance performance, they are informed that all four of them will be performing. The reason being that Ian Brennan (Glee co-creator and writer) is here for the first time and he hasn’t seen anyone yet. While I am fine with this twist, I do wish it had come earlier. It seems a bit late in the game for Brennan to be getting his first look.

Lindsay- Defying Gravity

  • Lindsay talks to Nikki about her personal issue of not knowing how to relax and always trying to be perfect.
  • Lindsay seems to feel attacked when he tries to pierce who she is.
  • Her look here actually makes her fit better on the show than when she’s in a nice dress and all done up.
  • She has an interesting voice because sometimes I really like it and sometimes it sounds a bit squeaky.
  • She says she has lost herself and is done trying to be perfect.
  • Ryan thinks they need her but always wants to cut her and never can.

Alex- His Eye Is On The Sparrow

  • This song is hard for Alex because it was sang at his dad’s funeral. Nikki thinks the song has a joyful feel.
  • The description for Alex is the love child of Kurt and Mercedes–he has the best voice but a confidence issue.
  • Seeing him perform, you see exactly what Kevin McHale said about his need to emote more with his face.
  • They talk about his difficult high school experience. He relates more to girls and gets picked on for being different.

Damien- I’ve Gotta Be Me

  • Mr. Personality.
  • He has been in the bottom the most but he keeps getting better and is rooted for the most.
  • Vocally he has the hardest road. He would be a good freshman but Brittany would be utterly confused by her.

Samuel- My Funny Valentine

  • Worst song choice ever. Samuel has never heard it before (honestly all I remember of this song is Tina’s version which was…awful).
  • Ryan brings up Samuel’s christian tattoos as thought this is the most important thing about him, which for Ryan, it is.
  • They aren’t sure Samuel is an underdog–he’s never had to pull himself up or struggle. When was the last time he cried? Yesterday because he was thinking about the competition. (It sort of feels like Samuel talks about God just because that is what they said they like.) Ian thinks he is the least authentic seeming.

Ian and Ryan have a hard time deciding and ultimately choose…no one. Any other time and I wouldn’t mind this decision, but I don’t like when no one is cut immediately before the finals. Something about the format of this show needs to change so that doing well in the music video doesn’t ultimately put you at a disadvantage in the end of the show (which is something Samuel says he feels is the case).

Born to Dance

As a sucker for all TV shows involving dance, I simply had to check out this new show. Laurieann Gibson sure has been making the rounds of the television world. In addition to The Dance Scene on E!, choreographer Laurieann (best known for her time on Making the Band) is also heading up a new show called Born to Dance on BET. The show is a dance competition in which Gibson searches for the best dancer–the winner receiving $50,000.

The biggest problem with this show is the number of dancers that start off the competition (20, few of which have gotten enough time for us to recognize in any significant way that does not involve their hairstyle) and the lack of clear elimination standards. It seems sort of arbitrary to how Gibson is feeling.

Each round, they work on two styles (last week’s was ballet and hip hop), perform the number they have learned in small groups, and then Gibson decides (with perhaps some consultation with her assistants) which two dancers will leave.

The most interesting part of the show, predictably, is watching Gibson’s version of tough love and passion–which usually means bringing dancers to tears and then saying something encouraging to make them feel at least a little better. We saw this same thing on Making the Band, Dance Scene, and whatever other random shows she has been on.

So far, the show doesn’t compare to America’s Best Dance Crew and So You Think You Can Dance, but to tide you over until those shows come back (sadly, So You Think You Can Dance just ended), it is fun to see some good choreographer and some bigger drama.

So You Think You Can Dance: Season 8 Winner Revealed

It is time to find out who is America’s Favorite Dancer for season eight. But before we find out who won, we get our top twenty dancers back onstage to perform what looks like a Sonyah Tayeh piece. It particularly suits Ryan’s quirky dance style, which seems to be the best style for her. Am I the only one who noticed how much time she had front and center before the Final Four came out? It was nice of Sonyah (who was in fact the choreographer) to give the Top Four a bit of a break here.

The guest “judges” this week include Sonyah, Tyce, Robin, Lil C, and most importantly Jesse Tyler Ferguson! (Sonyah looks surprisingly put together this week.) The rest of the choreographers are in the audience.

From the audience reaction, Marko and Tadd have zero chance of winning this one. The cheering for Sasha and Melanie were so much louder.

Final words from the judges:
Lil C– Congrats for surviving this far. (and some other nonsense)
Robin– So proud. You’ve all won.
Tyce– Your spirit meets your talent and hold onto that.
Sonyah– Thank you for making me a better person and choreographer. Your future is glorious.
Jesse– You all possess a spark that no one can take away.
Mary– You’re all extraordinary dancers and you’re humble. You have the best spirit.
Nigel– Each one of you is inspirational. (Nigel also apologizes to the guys for saying they have no chance of winning.)

Time for the judges’ favorites. Mary goes first and she picks Kent and Sasha’s Tyce routine from last week because it hit a chord for her.

Next we get a segment about the Nigel-Mary love affair. Leading into Nigel’s choice, which is Marko and Melanie‘s Nappy Tabs lyrical hip hop routine about the girl who is comforting her friend and he realizes he loves her. This routine reminds me just how much leaping Melanie did this season into other guys’ arms. Nigel seems to have moved on to Jesse. But Cat is jealous.

Robin’s favorite routine is Tadd and Lauren Froderman‘s Mandy Moore routine. (Personally, I loved Lauren’s routine with Marko better but they can’t have the same two people doing all of the dances.) This time around we get to see Tadd do his whole routine with the hat on. This routine is yet another reminder of how much Lauren has grown since last season.

This season has been full of strange characters and scenarios, which brings us to Lil C’s choice of the season. He picks the Nappy-Tabs routine danced by Miranda and Robert (Woo Man?). I don’t even remember these dancers it has been so long. I do want to say to Lil C–this was your favorite of the entire season? Really? Miranda is really not that good. Well, I guess compared to Melanie and Sasha lately.

Cat gets to pick a routine this year and she likes the routine because Tyce made her cry–the Top 8 circus routine. Good choice Sonya, another one of Tyce’s few successes. I don’t know about cry-worthy but it reminds of the Allison Wonderland routine last year. (Was that just a video?)

Next up, Matt Flint, the winner of the UK version performs a tap routine with Jess and Nick. I want Jess’s coat to be more flowy like everyone else’s. Jess still mugs on stage, didn’t really expect that to change.Nigel thinks it was one of the most exciting tap routines.

Mary chooses Mandy Moore’s Neil and Melanie routine. Another excellent choice which earns a standing ovation from the judges.

Jesse’s turn to pick the dance and he choose a Sonyah Tayeh routine danced by Marko and Allison. I’m just happy that Allison will be dancing this week. (I don’t like the rotating all stars, I like seeing the same awesome ones over and over again.) This is such an atypical Sonyah piece, which makes it all the more impressive.

Tyce has chosen the nasty, sick Sonyah piece about Geishas, danced by the Top 10 Girls to which I say, Tyce…really. This was a favorite? Not that it isn’t good but I think there was better.

I will say that I have missed Mia this season. I want choreography from her! I also want the show to look into choreographer Sabrina Mathews from SYTYCD Canada. Virtually every routine she has done this season has been impressive and emotional and beautiful.

Time to get back into competition mode, it is almost time to discover our winner. Also, don’t you think there should be a viewer’s choice dance? Let America vote online or something. The finalists are called up so that we can eliminate one of the dancers (I notice the guys are wearing matching suits and I am trying to figure out why). 11.5+ million votes came in and Tadd has come in fourth, as expected.

Lil C gets another choice, in which he selects Chris and Ashley‘s Spencer Liff routine about a woman visiting her husband in jail. I don’t really care for Lil C’s choices (if they even are their choices).

The Top Four are greeted by Heather Morrison, Harry Shum, and Naya Rivera with tickets to go to the Glee 3D Movie premiere (which they thought was rehearsal for an extra Top 4 dance). Good job at cross-promoting Fox.

Nigel wants to see Chris Scott’s routine starring Twitch and Sasha as a married couple who are not happy in the morning.

Sonyah picks Chris Scott’s Top 10 Guys‘ routine.

Jesse chooses a ballroom number (really were any good?) choreographed by Miriam and Leonardo, danced by Caitlynn and Pasha.

Mary picks the statues dance of Marko and Melanie, choreographed by Travis Wall. I was wondering when this routine would come up. They opted for no makeup this time around because that would make everything else complicated (though it does minimize the statue feeling).

Time for some more results and my biggest question is all female top two? Sure enough, Marko is the next person eliminated.

The final judges’ pick of the night is Nigel’s but first he thanks the lighting director and director for their job. Another Sonyah Tayeh routine is selected as the final routine of the night.

Now it is time for us to learn who the winner is. America’s favorite dancer is…Melanie.

What do you think? Did America get it right? (This is the first time the winner has been the clear frontrunner from the very start and is considered one of the best technical dancers as well.)

So You Think You Can Dance: Finale Performances

Time for the final performances by our Top Four. Kenny Ortega and Katie Holmes are the guest judges for the night (and I have to admit that I spent much of Katie’s commentary thinking “Why are you here?”).

Marko and Melanie are paired for the first number of the night, a disco choreographed by Doriana Sanchez. This should have been a cinch since they have danced with each other so often and have so much chemistry, but it ended up looking mostly awkward, especially in the lifts. For one of them it looked like he had to heft her up over his shoulders. Melanie’s face is overly corny. Did Marko mess up in his final pose? It looked like he pointed the wrong way.
Judges Say:
Kenny- electric opening
Katie- strong and energetic
Mary- the lifts were a real struggle and they went in and out of the style
Nigel- A bit of a struggle, uncomfortable in the style.

Sasha and all star Mark are choreographed by Sonyah Tayeh, which is always a pretty good sign. The number is about overcoming obstacles (Mark being the obstacles). I thought Melanie would have it in the bag for the win but after a weak opening number and a strong number from Sasha, I’m not so sure. (However, Mark does seem to be the stronger of the two (probably because he hasn’t been in the competition and therefore isn’t exhausted).
Judges Say:
Katie- powerful, grace, and integrity
Mary- Whoooooooooo
Nigel- warrior, fighting to the end
Kenny- Sasha Warrior Princess

Tadd and all star Joshua get a Lil C hip hop number, which is right in Tadd’s wheelhouse. The pattern seems to be a dance with an all star in their own style and dances with each other out of their styles. Russel also comes off as the stronger dancer. The number is fine but it isn’t my favorite hip hop number.
Judges Say:
Mary- hard-hitting
Nigel- a little too sweet, still some way to go to win that title
Kenny- perfect pairing
Katie- terrific hustling

Melanie and Robert are paired for a contemporary Stacey Tookey routine about unrequited love. I didn’t get the unrequited part of this, which may be more a fault of the choreography than anything else. Which isn’t to say it wasn’t a great routine, it just gave off a couple in love feeling more than anything else. A much better number for Melanie
Judges Say:
Nigel- challenge accepted
Kenny- would push himself to the front of the line to work with her
Katie- blown away
Mary- in a class of her own

Sasha and Marko are paired for a Spencer Liff Broadway number. This is easily one of the better Broadway numbers. The song, dance, and story seemed connected, there was a good (not cheesy) energy.
Judges Say:
Kenny- great fun
Katie- Sasha is a beautiful, strong woman, Marko is incredible
Mary- Marko changed his character so much
Nigel- not knocked out, Sasha is a better warrior than vamp, Marko needed more character

Melanie is the first solo of the night. The solo has me hopeful that she will one day come back and choreograph someday. It is definitely one of her better ones.

Marko’s sheer sweetness factor may garner him votes and boost his chances at a win. He too has stepped up his solo to deliver his best of the season.

Mark Ballas choreographs a cha cha for Sasha and Tadd which ends up being just sort of okay. Tadd is too short to partner Sasha for this and it looks silly (it doesn’t help that she has Mohawk hair). She definitely outdanced him.
Judges Say:
Katie- gave a lot over the season
Mary- both were struggling with connections and technique
Nigel- didn’t work
Kenny- everyone knows what you can do but maybe too ambitious for tonight

Tessandra Chavez choreographs a contemporary routine for Marko and all star Lauren Froderman about a failed love story. Easily the best routine so far. Lauren has really grown up since last season. I also would love to see more of Tessandra as a choreographer. You can see the emotional connection between the pair.
Judges Say:
Mary- you are living greatness
Nigel- fabulous performance
Kenny- the connection came alive
Katie- stunning and magical

Tadd’s solo is pretty standard fare for him—fun but not full of diverse dance moves. It feels like he does the same one trick or two over and over again. All I want is some more diversity.

Tadd and Melanie are partnered for a Ray Leeper jazz routine about a woman who discovers that her boyfriend is cheating on her. This isn’t a perfect routine but it is definitely not the worst of the night.
Judges Say:
Nigel- Melanie had character, Tadd redeemed himself
Kenny- Melanie brings theater to the performance, good chemistry
Katie- fun to watch
Mary- strong, dynamic

Sasha has the final solo of the night and she shows that she too can pull out a strong, emotional solo. Her best of the season.

Stacey Tookey choreographs a contemporary piece for Sasha and Melanie about repressed housewives who want to break free. The piece wasn’t my favorite of the night. They both danced well but it felt more sexual than it was intended to be. I also really didn’t like the yellow dress on Melanie. A nice blue or green would have been preferable. The orange on Sasha looked great though.
Judges Say:
Kenny- powerful, beautifully executed
Katie- gorgeous work
Mary- just gorgeous
Nigel- any company would be lucky to have you two

Tadd and Marko are partnered for a final step routine choreographed by Chuck Maldonado. Unfortunately, the pair’s obvious fatigue showed. They were out of synch and out of step (Marko more than Tadd).
Judges Say:
Katie- strong with a lot of athletic ability
Mary- solid gold and cute
Nigel- better in bigger groups, weren’t together

After a questionable night, it looks like Sasha may have won the season, though the audience has seemed to be more enamored with Melanie throughout. Marko had too many poor performances, I don’t think even his excellent dance with Lauren could help. My friend points out one very interesting fact: Sasha has danced in her own style only on occasion while Melanie has danced within her style consistently. So though this is neither dancer’s fault it does seem like Sasha has shown us the most. The lesson of the night: Cat Deeley has the best laugh ever.

Who do you think will win? Should win?

Friends with Benefits

NBC latest summer comedy follows five friends in search of the perfect significant other. There’s Ben and Sarah, close friends who talk incessantly about sex and hook up on the side, plus three others (a romantic, a hot bartender, and a guy who has only distinguished himself in that he doesn’t think people should hook up within the group and likes cougars–or perhaps just will take sex where he can get it).

After two episodes, I have not been able to learn who the other characters were (as evidenced above, I wasn’t even able to learn their names). I’m not sure how I feel about Sara and Ben, the two characters we do know. Perhaps we need to get to know them better before we decide if we should like them. Sara is a doctor with everything set in her life except her love life–she is desperate to find her significant other and outs up with a lot of ridiculous dates to do that. Ben is more of a player who finds silly reasons to break up with girls. We don’t know what he does for a living or anything else about him. The lack of explanation (how they became friends, what the group dynamic is, what everyone does for a living) is the problem with the show. Or at least the biggest problem. For comparison:

  • How I Met Your Mother we learn immediately that Marshall and Ted are roommates and best friends from college, Marshall has been dating Lily (a schoolteacher as we see almost immediately) for years and is about to get engaged, we see how Barney and Ted met (Barney is a womanizer who always wears suits), and Ted (who is obviously a romantic) meets Robin (a reporter) in a bar after she moves to New York–all of this is established naturally within the first seven minutes.
  • Friends has our main characters sitting in their usual haunt, Central Perk, where we find that Ross is getting divorced, Phoebe is eccentric, Monica is looking for love, Chandler is a joker, Joey is a womanizer, and Rachel has just run out on her wedding (and is obsessed with shopping) and becomes Monica’s roommate when she has nowhere else to go. Monica and Ross are siblings and Rachel went to high school with them. This is also established in the first seven minutes.
  • Big Bang Theory we find out that Leonard and Sheldon are science geniuses/socially inept nerds who live together and they meet Penny when she moves in across the hall. (This show takes longer to establish the wider group of characters but these three are the core relationship of the show so it is the most important part of the show.) Raj and Howard only show up 14 minutes in, but they are quickly established as more nerds (with Howard obsessed with women and Raj silent).

Noticing a comedy pattern here, at least when it comes to friend-centric comedies–someone new comes into the picture, changing the group dynamics in some way. But Friends with Benefits doesn’t establish the group dynamic, how it is changed, and who everyone is.

The jokes are sort of eh, can’t think of any that really made me laugh out loud. It is clear that NBC doesn’t care all that much for the show–the late summer start date, Friday night schedule, virtually no promotion. It doesn’t help the show that a movie of the same name is in theaters at the moment. I wouldn’t count on this show being renewed.

Against the Wall

Lifetime’s newest foray into scripted television comes in the form of cop procedural series Against the Wall. Abby Kowalski comes from a family of cops, but when she passes her detectives’ exam, the only opening is in Internal Affairs. As someone determined to forge a career in homicide, Abby takes the opening (she needs two years before she can move into homicide), despite the fact that IA is hated by cops and will not be well received by he family.

Sure enough, her father stops talking to her and her bothers shut her out. Her mother tries to be supportive but it is difficult in a hostile home. Abby meanwhile has little social life and a lot of quirks (she is particularly clumsy and her only foray into a relationship is a secret affair with her brother’s partner that is nothing more than late night sex).

Though there is potential for exploration into a sector of the police that is often ignored and greatly disliked despite their necessity, all we see is some hostility. Perhaps going deeper into the idea that “we protect our own” would help matters. The show is the same as any cop show, though it lacks the complex characters to really back that up. (Abby at least is about as complex as a spoon.) It also doesn’t help that she has so many brothers it is hard to keep anyone straight. There are hints that her father had a run in with IA, which could be an interesting story to explore. The characters could use more fleshing out, the plots a bit more surprising. Overall, it is a fun hour, but it will not be topping any must see lists any time soon.

Lost Girl

SyFy’s latest international acquisition (if you consider Canada international) is Lost Girl, a popular Canadian series about a girl who has lived her life on the run because of her…condition. When she sleeps with someone they die. When she runs into others with unique abilities of their own, she learns that she is not human. She is a succubus and there is a complex world of Dark and Light “fae.”

The show has a few unique aspects to it that make it particularly interesting:

First and foremost, Bo, the main character, is bisexual. Considering how rare this is on television, especially in America, this makes for a particularly unique story. There are only two such characters I can think of offhand who are not simply gay or experimenting (Captain Jack Harkness of the recently imported Torchwood and Max of Make It or Break It).

Secondly, the world of the fae is interesting because although the two sides are Light fae and Dark fae, Bo is aligned to neither side and despite these the seemingly obvious division of good and bad, it is quickly clear that things are not divided so simply as that.

Finally, a succubus is not a common fantasy character on TV. The only other fleshed out succubus character I can think of offhand is Andie Bates on The Gates, who was only just beginning to discover her abilities. More often, a succubus is the bad guy in a single episode of a series.

The acting is probably not the best acting I’ve seen, but the story lines make up for this.