'So You Think You Can Dance': She's no 'Idol'

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Part of me understands Fox’s reasons for airing the season premiere of So You Think You Can Dance a mere 24 hours after the season finale of American Idol — all 36.4 million of ‘em, in fact — but unfortunately for the network, such close proximity only served to highlight why the network’s dance contest will never duplicate Idol‘s breakaway success.

1. The stakes aren’t high enough. On Idol, the winner is pretty much guaranteed to top the Billboard charts. On SYTYCD, the winner gets… a one-year gig as a dancer in Celine Dion’s ”A New Day” concert in Las Vegas? (Insert sound of needle scratching across record here.) Seriously? Can you imagine if Idol‘s entire season culminated with Taylor Hicks getting to do background vocals for a Michael Bolton CD?

2. SYTYCD doesn’t have a Simon — or for that matter, a Paula. Pity poor Nigel Lythgoe (pictured, Idol‘s exec producer, who also serves as a judge on SYTYCD). He’s working overtime to nail Simon’s brand of charming British cadishness, but without Cowell’s inherent sense of humor (and good looks), he’s merely offensive. Case in point: On last night’s premiere — discussing little person Jason Perez’s audition — Lythgoe’s insistence that he wasn’t conducting a tryout for Cirque du Soleil was the episode’s thudding low point. And say what you want about Paula, but her loopy-infuriating shtick serves it purpose — and isn’t all that easy to duplicate. Just ask SYTYCD‘s beige Mia Michaels.

3. There’s no way you can land SYTYCD‘s top prize without formal training. On last night’s premiere, b-boy Christopher Bryant nailed a dizzying array of fleet-footed feats — leaving the judges mesmerized — but the way the show’s set up, if the guy can’t master tango and quick-step and the Viennese waltz (all of which require expensive lessons), he hasn’t got a snowball’s chance. In that way, SYTYCD will never duplicate the thrill you get from seeing average kids like Elliott Yamin and Kellie Pickler get plucked from total obscurity to become household names.

Of course, that’s just my take. I’m curious how many of you watched SYTYCD last night, and whether you’ll be back for more next week.


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  • Janean

    I got hooked on it last time it was on, and I do plan to watch again. But you’re right, it’s no Idol (but it will have to do for the summer).

  • brandonk

    All good points, Slezak, but SYTYCD has something AI doesn’t: hot dancers’ bodies! Grrrowl! Ruff! Ruff!
    ;0)

  • Dee

    I thought last year was great and I was rooting for a lot of the dancers so I’m watching this year. I just hope they find such interesting characters like they did last year.

  • Bobby

    Wait a second. Simon Cowell is good looking? I hadn’t noticed.

  • mrcr

    I started watching it, but got bored and flipped the channel. I might watch it here and there. One thing it’s got over Idol: you get to see guys fall on their faces!!

  • dmc

    It’s not exactly the same setup as Idol–yes, the finalists all have to have had some training, but that makes the show fun to watch. This show is about dance, which, like writing, painting, etc., is an art that requires natural ability and learned skill. I was impressed with last year’s finalists and winner, all of whom clearly had worked hard for most of their lives to make it as professional dancers–that’s not like idol in which a regular Joe can be dumbfounded to learn he has a great voice, but in a way it’s something much more. I respect the dancers that make it to the end of SYTYCD, whereas I am happy for some Idols, but feel like fame came a little too easily to some of them.

  • Tracey

    I love this show and will be watching, although, admittedly, I am not a great fan of ballroom dancing.
    Irrespective of the fact that you need professional training, a great dancer’s “spark” cannot be taught in a class. It is amazing to watch bodies contort in ways that are not only beautiful but seem to be physically impossible.
    And to me the one BIG plus that this show has compared to American Idol is it keeps the cheesy host/production bits to a minimum.
    You’ve also got it wrong on Mia Michaels – I think she has Paula beat hands down because she is encouraging w/o the over-the-top nuttiness.
    I do have to agree with you about Nigel’s remark about Jason Perez. This is the one time that I wish he had learned something from Paula about tactfulness. This has nothing to do with being PC; it has to do with what your momma was supposed to teach you about not embarrassing her.

  • Jill

    Slezak, why be such a hater? One thing I love about So You Think You Can Dance is that every contestant that makes it through to the Vegas round is genuinely talented. American Idol’s Taylor Hicks, though he has a good voice, can’t stay on pitch for a whole song — and he’s the winner!

  • Kelly

    The one thing this show has over idol? The host, that new british gal. . . not only could she probably beat up Seacrest, she’s clever, gorgeous, and actually interacts with the contestants without seeming smarmy and condescending. Who knew it could be done? I’ll watch the show just for her.

  • Steve

    Yo, dmc! Couldn’t have said it better myself. I agree with everything you had to say about SYTYCD.
    It isn’t “Idol”, but, honestly, what is? As a former breakdancer myself, I LOVE watching young people dance for the sheer love of dancing. And though no one can win without training, there still has to be that “spark” (like Tracey said). A rough-around-the-edges bboy (or bgirl) can train for a few years in areas he/she may not be good at or have experience with, and have an honest-to-goodness shot. But a trained dancer without that love might not necessarily win the show (I’d like to hope that the judges and us viewers would see that lack of spark).
    Anyway… compelling stuff. I’ll be tuning in all summer!
    And I ain’t hatin’ either: I love SYTYCD and Idol! Fox is my pusher-man.

  • Juan Saviour

    Never seen so many Homo’s in my life.

  • AS

    Uh, as stated by the previous posters – anyone who makes it to the finals of SYTYCD is genuinely talented and deserves it. You’ll nefver see a John Stevens or a Scott Savol sneak through and go far.
    As for Nigel’s remarks about Jason Perez, his delivery sucked, but his point was spot on. Putting him in a Foxtrot would make us Americans laugh AT him. They did him a favor. Of course, they could’ve just said “I’m sorry, but you have no formal training, and having a little rhythm doesn’t mean you can actually dance.” Then he leaves feelings intact.

  • Eve

    Last season, we loved watching the dancers have to master new styles and thrilled at the efforts of the B-boys to master extremely technical ballrooms dance disciplines. One of them made the final 3. It’s the perfect summertime guilty pleasure — much more fun than dancing or skating with the stars.

  • Stephanie

    I was trained in dance technique for twenty years so I understand Nigels comment on Perez. However I am sure that a girl who is about 5′ or 4’7 would have worked out. The average height for a woman is usually 5’3. Dwarves and midgets should be allowed to participate, and hopefully next year dwarf men and women can.

  • Elizabeth

    I haven’t watched it yet, but plan on watching it this season. I couldn’t believe it last year when Ryan jumped onto his elbow. I watched it several times. It was awesome.

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