Eclaire Fare

Enjoying Pop Culture, One Bite at a Time

Fall 2007 Preview: New Shows on Fox August 29, 2007

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 5:20 pm

So I’m not one of those special people who gets to screen the pilots before they air.  Therefore, everything I’m about to say is based on speculation, personal opinion, and my tv intuition.  I love the start of the fall television season, and am always overjoyed that there are suddenly so many new shows to try out, after a summer of mostly horrific offerings.  Unfortunately, (at least for the network suits), I am becoming more picky about shows that appeal to me.  Keep reading to see what I think of Fox’s new shows this fall.

Shows with Potential

  • Back to You – This one could go one of two ways.  On one hand, people may watch it simply because of the star power (Kelsey Grammer and  Patricia Heaton together on one show?).  On the other, this show may join the long line of shows cursed by the former glory of its lead actors.  Who can forget the Seinfeld curse – broken only recently by The New Adventures of Old Christine.  Since this is the first major show for an actor from Fraser or Everybody Loves Raymond (I refuse to let ‘Til Death count), I’m sure critics and viewers alike will be waiting to scrutinize its ratings performance. Based on the preview clips that I’ve seen, the show is polished and has good comedic timing.  I’m just not sure it’s the type of comedy that will become appointment viewing.  Even though it looks decent, I have no plans to watch it. But maybe it will suit many other people’s taste.

Mediocre Shows

  • K-Ville – Nothing about this show compels me to watch it.  And I’m not sure that America is ready to watch a show set in post-Katrina New Orleans.  I still think that CSI should have spun off a show set there instead of in New York.  Aren’t there enough New York shows?  I will at least watch the pilot episode to see how much New Orleans and cajun flavor is injected into the show.  If the writers can use those elements to make this cop show stand out from the rest, then it may stand a chance to make it through the season.  But if people are too busy watching the 14 CSI’s currently airing, then these actors better start packing now.
  • The Next Great American Band and Nashville – Oh good.  Two more music-themed reality shows.  Not really.  I need a break from the drama of singers and bands.  It’s hard enough to avoid Idol-fever for five months out of the year.  Am I cynical about singing “reality” shows? Do I think they are one big cheese-fest?  Yes, I do.  The only competitive reality show I am interested in is So You Think You Can Dance, and I am perfectly happy to enjoy it over the summer when I can give it my full attention.

Abysmal Shows That I Won’t Go Near

  • Kitchen Nightmares – I love food, and I am very interested in seeing good food prepared well.  That’s what the Food Network is for.  I think that Gordon Ramsey and his sensationalized, fear-inducing chef antics are a shame.  I am sure this show will do well, but I will not be a part of it. I’ll be watching Barefoot Contessa and Everyday Italian instead.

That’s the short list of Fox’s new offerings this fall.  Sadly, I won’t be watching anything on Fox, except for the occasional episode of House or Bones.  Nothing on Fox is appointment viewing for me.

Next up on my pure conjecture about fall tv: CBS.

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Ten Reasons To Watch Dexter

Filed under: Television — Emily @ 4:54 pm

I just finished up a whirlwind viewing of the first season of Showtime’s Dexter. I watched all 12 episodes in a span of one week. The show is that good! I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but was interested based on the positive critical buzz surrounding the show. Well, after completing the first season from start to finish, I have nothing but overwhelming praise for Dexter. Still skeptical? Keep reading for ten reasons I think this is a show you should watch.

  1. Michael C. Hall is truly amazing in the role of Dexter Morgan. If I had watched this show before I posted my Dream Emmy Ballot, I would have found a spot for him on the list. He does a fantastic job of playing the role of a self-described “emotionally hollow” person trying to emulate human feelings like camaraderie, love, grief, etc.
  2. The show is laugh-out-loud funny at times. This show is more dark comedy than grisly horror, despite being about a serial killer. The humor is very dry, and well-timed. Most of the comedic moments come when we see a situation unfolding that appears to be one thing, but we know that Dexter feels very differently about it through his narration.
  3. The voice-over narration is extremely effective. Sometimes narrators on a show can be distracting, and feel unnecessary. With this show, however, Dexter’s commentary on his life and interactions with others is a crucial part of understanding his complex identity. He is a guide of sorts for viewers, giving us hints about how he is feeling (or as is usually the case, how he is not feeling), since it is very difficult to read his body language.
  4. The main storyline of season one is cleverly crafted and entertaining. While the main appeal of the show is, for me, its uniqueness, the Ice Truck Killer story arc is engaging, smart, and satisfying. I won’t say more, so as not to give anything away.
  5. The opening credits and theme song are a perfect match for the show. And the opening sequence is fun to watch. Through some deceptive camera work, menial tasks like frying bacon, flossing teeth, and tying shoes are given a violent, grotesque quality, and it is difficult to tell whether you are watching scenes from a grisly murder or the everyday tasks that are actually being performed. While all this is happening, the music is somewhere between eerily cheerful and oddly disturbing.
  6. The secondary characters are well-developed. Most of the secondary characters are very easy to like, including Dexter’s girlfriend Rita, his sister Deborah, and his co-worker Angel. Each character is given flaws, believable personalities, etc. One stand-out among the excellent cast is Erik King as Sergeant Doakes. Strangely, he is the only person who works with Dexter that thinks something is “off” about him. Nearly all of their encounters are brimming with awkwardness because of this, and sometimes these scenes are very funny.
  7. Dexter’s victims are often played by established actors. On most crime procedurals, murder victims are played by lesser known actors because they don’t play a very large role in the episode. But apparently there is as much interest in playing a murder victim on Dexter as there is in landing a part on Heroes (I mean, who isn’t appearing on that show this season?). I don’t necessarily know the names of these actors, but there were several who I recognized from their many television and movie appearances.
  8. The Miami setting is the perfect contrast to the show’s dark tone. The bright colors, loud music, and overall flashiness of Miami intensify the darkness of Dexter’s inner struggles, and make the murder investigations all the more disturbing.
  9. What other show has made a serial killer so likable? I just love Dexter. He is strangely a very appealing character, and through his narration some of the “darker” aspects of typical human behavior are revealed, making him not seem that much worse than the rest of us.
  10. It’s so much more than a show about a serial killer who kills serial killers. If this show were simply a gore-fest, it wouldn’t be nearly as compelling. But as a study of the human psyche, and the effects that traumatic experiences can have on one’s ability to be human, it is fascinating to watch. Yes, the show has some elements of suspense, and a touch of horror, but it also incorporates comedy, drama, and action. If I had to categorize it, I would call it a darkly comedic police procedural.

So there you have it. Season Two begins at the end of September, so you have plenty of time to start from the beginning. Since I don’t have Showtime, I am going to have to figure out some way to keep up with the show. I don’t know that I could wait another year to watch the new episodes (when they come out on DVD). For now, I will settle for reading the novel that the show is based on, Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay.

 

So You Think You Can Dance: Closing Thoughts August 17, 2007

Filed under: So You Think You Can Dance,Television — Emily @ 10:57 am

I’m so glad I watched this show this summer!  It has given me a new appreciation for dance, and perhaps even a passion for it.  The season finale was nearly perfect – let’s pretend like the “Cat and Nigel dancing” fiasco never happened.  What a total waste of valuable time that was. 

A Deserving Top Two 

For once, a reality show got things right – or rather the viewers did.  In the end, this season wasn’t a popularity contest, or a good looks contest.  It was about who deserved to win based on their talent and charisma.  I believe that Danny and Sabra truly were the two most talented, well-rounded, and genuinely entertaining dancers on the show this season, so I was thrilled that they were the Top Two. 

The Moment of Truth 

When Sabra was announced the winner, I was momentarily disappointed – only because the momentum seemed to have shifted in Danny’s favor after his fantastic performances this week.  I guess I was expecting to hear his name, and hearing Sabra’s instead took me by surprise.  But, after my initial disappointment, I felt very excited for Sabra.  Who wouldn’t be, with her joyful reaction – all tears and screaming. 

The Runners-Up 

Danny will be just fine without the label of So You Think You Can Dance champion under his belt, and there was nothing artifical in the huge hug he gave Sabra when she won.  All these dancers seemed very supportive of each other – further proof that they are all diva-free, decent human beings.

As for Lacey and Neil, their reactions to being voted off were humble and gracious.  I’m sure Lacey will win many more national competitions, and Neil would do well as a dancer on Broadway (a good place for him to display his theatrics) or perhaps in a Cirque du Soleil type production. 

Best Finale Moments 

As for the “nothing filler about it” filler on the two hour finale, we the viewers were able to relive some of the show’s best moments.  I was thrilled to see Sara and Jesus’ “vagabond cabaret” performance again, Lacey and Danny’s “Hip Hip Chin Chin” samba, and the Mia Michaels contemporary group routine to the Imogen Heap song.  I also found it very satisfying to watch clogger Brandon Norris and robot pop-locker Brian Gaynor have much-deserved moments in the national spotlight to showcase their unique talents.

A Couple of Complaints 

The routine I was most disappointed in was the Mia Michael’s “tribute to her father” performed by Lacey and Neil.  I wasn’t impressed or moved by it the first time, so it was a big letdown for me that they chose it as the final performance of the night.  Maybe I’m just coldhearted, or maybe this routine really was overrated.  I suppose the producers decided to end with this dance because it was a gentle, respectful way for Lacey and Neil to give a final performance – rather than a loud, brash hip hop routine or a raucous Broadway number.  But still, there were plenty of better Mia Michaels routines to choose from.

Finally, a couple of performances that I thought should have been included in this parade of encores: 

  • Sara and Pasha’s July 18 jazz routine (the ’80s “Let’s Get Physical”-style dance to Queen’s “Body Language) – I personally liked this one even more than their West Coast Swing.
  • Jessi and Pasha’s “jungle birds” jazz piece from June 20. 

Overall, though, I have few complaints about the dances performed last night.  It was great that Pasha and Sara had so much stage time.  Just more proof how much many of us loved them.

Final Word 

Congrats to Sabra, and well done Danny!  I guess that’s about all there is to say.  I will be back next summer for a new batch of dancers to cheer for.  And in November, I’ll post my reaction to seeing the Top Ten live, when the tour makes its stop in my area.

Don’t Be a Stranger! 

Keep stopping by Eclaire Fare.  This fall I’ll be reviewing shows like 30 Rock, The Office, and Heroes (really looking forward to seeing what part David Anders will play!).  Further out, I’ll be commenting on Lost, 24, and Battlestar Galactica when they return in early 2008.  And coming soon, I’ll be previewing the new fall shows, followed by my thoughts on several of the pilots.

Before you go, comment on your favorite So You Think You Can Dance moments below.

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So You Think You Can Dance: August 15, 2007 August 16, 2007

Filed under: So You Think You Can Dance,Television — Emily @ 7:16 am

Because I wasn’t able to watch this week’s show live, and because there were so many performances, I opted to skip my usual long review and instead focus on what I thought of the performances themselves. I’ve categorized them below as “the best” (the ones that wowed me), “the good” (the ones that were good but were missing something), and “the mediocre” (the ones that I had no excitement over whatsoever).

The Best Performances

  • Danny’s Solo – “We Are the Champions” by Gavin DeGraw – All I can say to this is “wow.” For once, a solo may have been my favorite performance of the week. Danny came out with such energy and maintained it throughout. The song was a perfect choice to match his enthusiasm, and to convey the story of his season on the show. I think he has an excellent chance to win! All those turns he did around the whole stage, and with such poise, were something to see. And when he came out of them he had that great, Danny smile on his face. Loved it.
  • Danny and Neil’s Contemporary “Duel” – “Are You The One?” by The Presets – I really enjoyed this unusual routine. It was interesting to see two of the guys dance together, and it really showed off both of their strengths. I liked how Mia incorporated so many interesting leaps and throws into the dueling. By the way, I think Danny won the duel. 🙂
  • Danny and Sabra’s Cha Cha – “Gotta Get Down” by Celia Cruz – My two favorite remaining dancers closed out the show with this fun, spicy number. It really is a shame that this is the only time we saw them perform as a couple, because they were great. They had the chemistry and connection. In my opinion, this was the most entertaining performance of the night.

The Good Performances

  • The Top Four Perform Broadway – “Mein Herr” by Liza Minnelli (from Caberet) – This was probably my favorite Broadway routine of the season. Broadway is best for groups, which is why this one was fun.
  • Lacey and Danny’s Viennese Waltz – “Keep Holding On” by Avril Lavigne – As usual, Danny was a great partner, and it was a beautiful dance. I labeled it as good instead of the best because there were other performances that stood out more and had more emotion.
  • Neil’s Solo – “Gravity” by Shawn McDonald – As a gymnastics routine this was great; as a dance solo, it was good. No doubt Neil brings an interesting, unique style of dance to the show from his gymnastics background, but I still think he hasn’t shone as much as the others in different dance styles.
  • Lacey and Sabra’s Foxy Jazz Routine – “Koyal (Songbird)” by Nitin Sawhney – The judges didn’t like it very much, but it was bizarre enough to be intriguing to me. They had the animal movements and mannerisms down, especially Sabra.
  • Sabra’s Solo – “It’s a Wonderful World” by James Morrison – This wasn’t Sabra’s best solo, but her form and personality were still there. It did seem to lack some energy.

The Mediocre Performances

  • Lacey’s Solo – “Technologic” by Daft Punk – In my opinion, this was the weakest of the four solos. She basically seemed to do the same move over and over, and if you’re going to do that, it should be something interesting. We haven’t gotten to see many Lacey solos this season since she was never in the bottom three.
  • Sabra and Neil’s Hip Hop – “Whine Up” by Kate DeLuna – As usual, this routine was colored for me by Neil’s over-the-top cheesiness. My biggest distraction was how he kept his mouth hanging open through most of the dance. And his facial expressions, as always, were very exaggerated. It also lacked energy. This was perhaps my least favorite hip hop of the season, save for Lacey and Kameron’s number a few weeks back.
  • Lacey and Neil’s Lindy Hop – “Bill’s Bounce” by the Big Elliot Swing Orchestra – I had no positive emotional response to this routine. Dan thought it was pure entertainment, but I was bored. It just made me remember the cute Lindy Hop couple from the auditions.

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You can probably guess, based on my rankings of tonight’s performances and on based on my comments from previous weeks, that I am hoping for a Danny or Sabra win. I think they have shown the most improvement of the final four, so either of them is very deserving.

Based on tonight’s performances, including his amazing solo (which was well above the other solos in terms of energy and form), Danny is my top choice. I love his story from this season. He’s overcome the label of “arrogant” and the stigma of being all form and no substance, to become one of America’s favorite dancers.

So, here’s hoping that other viewers share my love for Danny and Sabra! Did anyone reading this vote for Lacey or Neil? If so, tell me why you chose one of them.

Related Link

 

So You Think You Can Dance: Say Hello to the Final Four August 14, 2007

Filed under: So You Think You Can Dance,Television — Emily @ 7:47 am

Well, I am relatively happy with the remaining dancers. I have a 50/50 chance that someone I’ve been rooting for all along will actually win, which is a rare occurrence for me when it comes to reality shows. Before I get to my thoughts on the final four, let me say a few words about the delayed results show (and thanks to the producers for deciding to “lock down” the studio to save us from spoilers galore).

The Results Show

The First Two Who Were Safe: Danny and Lacey

  • Danny: I really like Danny, so I was thrilled that he was voted into the final four. He’s had quite the turnaround this season. It wasn’t too long ago that viewers were bad-mouthing him left and right and ignoring his amazing dance skills. Now look at him. He has smiled and danced himself into the final round.
  • Lacey: Are we really to believe that she was the highest female vote-getter? How can she be more popular than Sabra? If you’re reading this and you voted for Lacey instead of Sabra, please let me know, because so far I haven’t talked to anyone who is voting for Lacey. I’ll admit that she’s good at what she does, but she lacks some of the gracefulness and appeal that Sabra is full of.

The Two Who Were Sent Home: Pasha and Lauren

  • Pasha: Oh, poor Pasha. I just loved Pasha. Mary Murphy echoed my sentiments when she tearfully explained how great he is, and I also agreed with Nigel’s assessment that Pasha is a true gentleman in an age with very few of them. He actually would have been my first choice to win the whole thing, because I really think he has shone outside of his partnering dance styles. Think back to his 80s jazz routine with Sara, or last week’s hip hop routine. He was a fantastic performer in those and other instances. In the end, I believe his downfall may have been his age (along with that unfortunate solo last week with the headless mannequin). At 27, Pasha is by far the oldest of the remaining dancers – and was probably the oldest all along. When it came down to it, who were younger viewers (by which I mean teenagers) going to vote for – fresh-faced, cute Neil, or somewhat dorky and odd Pasha? At least we were able to enjoy watching him for this long. Goodbye, Pasha. I’ll cheer loudest for you at the live show I go to this fall.
  • Lauren: I’ve been predicting that Lauren would be sent home for the past few weeks, and although I’d been wrong many times before, it seemed obvious this week that her time was up. She is a good dancer, as are all of the remaining contestants, but I don’t think she ever connected with the audience, and she always seemed overly enthusiastic to me. I wish her the best in her continued dance career.

The Final Four Contestants (in order of my favorite to least favorite)

  • Sabra: More than anyone, perhaps, Sabra totally deserves to be in this final four. I can’t remember a single sub-par performance from her this season. She is always perfect, always beautiful, always mesmerizing. At this point, she seems like the front runner to win it all.
  • Danny: I already mentioned above what a great turnaround he’s had this season. Should he end up winning, that would be a great story. He definitely doesn’t need to win, though, to succeed in his career. But I’d imagine this has been a growing experience for him, especially, as it has challenged him to show more of a variety of emotions in his performances. Perhaps he will try his hand at acting. I wouldn’t mind going to see him at the theater. Maybe he could start with a movie musical. Hmm….
  • Neil: If you look back at my previous posts from the season, you’ll see that I consistently placed Neil in the bottom four many weeks. There has just always been something about him that I didn’t get, or that bothered me. But… last week was the first time I was impressed by him. The 80s power lunch performance he did with Sabra was really fun and well done. Even his solo was memorable. (I can’t say I enjoyed the paso doble, though.) So, I admit that he deserves to be in the final four, but I think Pasha would have been equally deserving.
  • Lacey: I always assumed she would make it this far. She started with the advantage of her brother’s fanbase. Let’s hope there’s not another Schwimmer to compete next year. In fact, how about a fresh Top 20 with no connections to this year’s contestants, just to level the playing field. But I digress… Lacey is obviously talented, but I’m not so sure she has shown as much versatility as Sabra or Danny. So, here’s hoping that when the winner’s name is called, it isn’t hers. Because I won’t be able to help but feel that she won on the strength of a powerhouse group of voters, rather than because the majority of viewers liked her best.

Well, we have four more hours of the show to enjoy this week. Check back Wednesday night for my thoughts on the performance show, and on Thursday night for my brief (hopefully joyful) comments on who wins.

 

My Summer at the Movies August 12, 2007

Filed under: Movies — Emily @ 12:36 pm
  • At the end of May, I posted a list of movies I planned to watch this summer. I thought now would be a good time to look back at that list and see which movies I saw and what I thought of them.

So, here are the theatrical releases I planned to watch:

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Although I enjoyed watching this fifth installment of the series on the big screen, it wasn’t my favorite of the movies. The movie (and the book) seem like a bridge between the more action-packed, pivotal Goblet of Fire and Half-Blood Prince. In my opinion, Order of the Phoenix had a weak central plot: Voldemort wants to get his hands on the prophecy. So what? What would it change if he did? Nothing. So the main purpose of this movie and book was to show the main characters mature and become more accomplished wizards. That aspect of it was fun to watch, as was Professor Umbridge’s sickening despotism at Hogwarts. Overall, though, this was one of the weaker episodes in the Harry Potter series.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – Perhaps it was the ridiculous mass-marketing campaign, or the less than stellar word-of-mouth reviews, but whatever the case I lost interest in this movie very quickly and never went to see it. Perhaps I will rent it one day.
  • Evan AlmightyWhen I wrote about this movie in my previous post, I predicted that it would either be “really funny or really stupid.” Well, based on the massive panning by critics, I have to assume it was really stupid. I didn’t dare go find out for myself. Apparently, this movie was designed to entertain small children, and unfortunately not their parents or people without kids. Better luck next time, Carrell.
  • Bug – I never planned to see this one in the theater but still plan to rent it sometime.
  • The Bourne Ultimatum – I’m hoping to go see this one very soon! I’ve heard only rave reviews.
  • Transformers – This movie wasn’t on my original list, but my husband’s enthusiasm when discussing his childhood of playing with Optimus Prime et al made me give this one a chance. We weren’t disappointed! I wrote a review of it shortly after we went to see it. Transformers: Surprisingly More Than Meets the Eye

And here are the movies I listed as rental-worthy during the summer months:

  • Pan’s Labyrinth – I was slightly amused that my local Blockbuster had to label every copy of this movie with bright yellow stickers that read “This movie is in Spanish with English subtitles.” Apparently a lot of people complained about it not being an “American” movie. The subtitles weren’t a problem for me. This was a strange, beautiful movie to experience. I wish I had seen it in the theater since it was so visually stunning. As I watched, I couldn’t help but wonder how many parents picked up this movie thinking their children would enjoy it, only to be horrified by the grotesque creatures and stomach-turning violence. Parents should have known better – the movie is clearly rated R – but some may have been fooled by the innocent looking girl on the front of the case and the description of a fairy tale world. This movie is well worth watching but definitely is a fairy tale for grownups.
  • Dreamgirls – I heard too many mediocre opinions of this movie, so I decided not to watch it.
  • The Holiday – I was very skeptical during the first half of the movie: Cameron Diaz goes to England to try to avoid all contact with men, only to fall in love with the first man she meets. Kate Winslet’s L.A. storyline is probably what kept me invested in the movie, but halfway through I got caught up in both women’s stories and all thoughts of the ridiculousness of their situations were forgotten. This was a charming, feel-good movie, but not one for logical dissection.
  • Stranger Than Fiction – This was probably my favorite movie that I watched this summer. It was so original, had great casting (and acting), and presented a whimsical (if sometimes dour) fable about this man named Harold Crick. This is a movie I would like to own. I suppose it was most satisfying in its presentation of a writer’s relationship with her story and characters, and how real they can seem. I hope this movie won some awards, because it deserved them.
  • Catch and Release – I gave this one a chance, but it was easily the worst movie I watched all summer – and possibly in a very long time. The plot was ludicrous. The main character has been in a seven year relationship, and when her fiance dies suddenly, she quickly falls in love with someone else. By quickly, I’m talking weeks. And the guy she falls for isn’t even a likable character. The writers try to make him appealing, but because of the way he was introduced and the lack of character development, viewers aren’t given any convincing reasons to think this pair is a realistic match. In my opinion, this movie was nearly a complete waste of time, saved only by quirky characters played well by Juliette Lewis and Kevin Smith.
  • The Good Shepherd – I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I did see one that is probably even better: Breach. I was thoroughly engrossed in and impressed by Breach. The fact that it’s based on a true story of a U.S. security breach made it all the more riveting to watch. Chris Cooper was perfectly cast, and Ryan Phillippe and Laura Linney were excellent in their roles as well. I also enjoyed watching a Dateline episode about the real Robert Hanssen that was included in the Special Features. It is interesting to realize that this kind of espionage still goes on today.

There are still a few weeks left before the fall television season kicks off.  Are there any other movies I’ve missed out on that I should make time to see?

 

So You Think You Can Dance: August 8, 2007 August 8, 2007

Filed under: So You Think You Can Dance,Television — Emily @ 7:12 pm

Mannequins, Leather Pants, and ’80s Power Lunches

Welcome to the So You Think You Dance Top 6 Performance Show. Tonight’s unintentional theme was scary props and costumes. Read on to get my take on the dances as well as the judges’ comments.

1. Pasha and Lacey – Hip Hop & Smooth Waltz

Hip Hop – “In the Morning” by Junior Boys – Their hip hop routine was really fun. Pasha was so cute in his street clothes and the random nerdy glasses. He had a lot of personality, and Lacey did a good job as the mannequin. I like her better in understated performances, and I believe this one falls into that category. This may be the most impressed I’ve been by Pasha in a non-ballroom type performance. He was very convincing.

What Did the Judges Think?

  • Nigel: “Pasha, he’s turned you into a geeky hip hop guy” and “Lacey, the sharpness of your movements worked so well as a mannequin, doll.”
  • Mary: “Pasha, this was crazy good tonight. I couldn’t even believe that was you out there.” “Lacey, you were terrific as usual.” “The wind is still blowing in the right direction for both of you.”
  • Debbie: “Great energy from the both of you.”

Smooth Waltz – “A Daisy in December” by Mick McAuley and Winifred Horan – They danced very beautifully together, and Pasha had a commanding, graceful presence throughout. It kept me intrigued, which is more than I can say for most of the waltzes this season.

What Did the Judges Think?

  • Nigel: “The rise and fall, the flow of the movement, the lines… everything was absolutely beautiful.”
  • Mary: “It was absolutely dreamlike.” “Pasha, the way that you dance, the way that you carry yourself… you still just freak me out.”
  • Debbie: She talked about transformation and versatility and Love Story. Debbie’s comments are always very ethereal. I can’t make sense of them.

2. Danny and Lauren – Contemporary and Disco

Contemporary – “Then You Look at Me” by Celine Dion – Mia Michaels had them dancing as aliens. I didn’t see where aliens came into it. I liked the first half, when Danny’s movements were flawless. He brought Lauren up a couple of notches. However, the second half of the routine seemed to waste a lot of time running around the stairs when they could have continued the interesting movements.

What Did the Judges Think?

  • Nigel: “Incredible. Absolutely incredible.” He thought Lauren finally reached her potential tonight.
  • Mary: Loud screaming. “It was really a special treat.” “The speed, the power for both of you was out of sight.” She gave them tickets on the hot tamale train.
  • Debbie: “This was passion and perfection personified.” “We should be getting an Oscar for that performance.”

Disco – “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by the Communards – Yikes to Danny’s white leisure suit. Lauren’s turquoise number was okay. The camera was too jerky during this routine. Something seemed off in this performance. Maybe it was a combination of the annoying song, with all of the shrieking, and the choppy choreography. It may be my least favorite dance of the night.

What Did the Judges Think?

  • Nigel: “This was a really tough routine.” “Disco always makes me happy to watch.”
  • Mary: “I thought it was so much FUN!” She thought Lauren was a 70s goddess. She’s enjoying watching Danny break out.
  • Debbie: “You guys had so much fun, so we had so much fun.”

3. Sabra and Neil – Jazz and Paso Doble

Jazz – “Sweet Dream (Are Made of This) by the Eurythmics – 80s jazz powerlunch by Mandy Moore – I appreciated the shout out to 80s corporate America, with all the fist-pounding on the table, the intense stares, etc. Neil had the one impressive strength move as he propelled himself over the table (and Sabra). Nice outfits, too. Very 80s-career themed.

What Did the Judges Think?

  • Nigel: “I’m very worried, because I hope the finale comes up to this standard… because the dancing and the choreography this week are just incredible.”
  • Mary: “I’m still smilin’ over here.” She enjoyed watching them play their roles.
  • Debbie: “Honey, all I can say is that’s how I like it.”

Paso Doble – “Espana Cani” by Juan & Gennaro – Pretty red dress. Scary black leather pants. Neil looks like he belongs in an 80s Duran Duran video. They did have an impressive finale. Did you notice how Sabra clung to the leather pants to cushion her fall to the floor?

What Did the Judges Think?

  • Nigel: He thinks this proves that “there’s every chance that Neil or Sabra could win this competition.”
  • Mary: “The lines, the torquing, your shapes were good… you guys looked hot, too, by the way.” Neil reminded Mary that this is his first time on the (hot tamale) train.
  • Debbie: “I was so thrilled to see you all dance this tonight.”

Commenting on the Solos

  • Solo #1: Sabra – “Rock Your Soul” by Eliza – I liked her purple outfit, and she was very graceful as usual.
  • Solo #2: Pasha – “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler – Pasha seemed very upset about the decapitated mannequin wearing a ballroom gown that was sharing the stage with him. I was somewhat disturbed by the routine, although I suppose in his mind ballroom dancing is about partnering, and since it was a solo, he went with a “partner” as a prop. Not his best work.
  • Solo #3: Lauren – “Sorry” by Maria Mena – She smiled too much in this routine, which felt more serious and melancholy. Lauren likes to wear the lingerie.
  • Solo #4: Neil – “Out of My Hands” by Dave Matthews – His pants looked too short, but it was a nice gymnastics routine. There’s no doubt Neil is great at his thing. I just don’t think he’s achieved greatness in other styles or in his stage presence.
  • Solo #5: Lacey – “Le Disco” by Shiny Toy Guns – Lots of tassles and hip shaking. She needed a mannequin in a tux to dance around.
  • Solo #6: Danny – “The Fear You Won’t Fall” by Joshua Radin – It’s so easy to watch Danny dance. He is captivating, even in a simple 30 second solo.

Top Performances

  1. Lacey and Pasha’s hip hop routine
  2. Sabra and Neil’s ’80s jazz routine
  3. Lauren and Danny’s contemporary routine

Less Impressive Performances

  • Lauren and Danny’s disco
  • Sabra and Neil’s paso doble
  • Lacey and Pasha’s smooth waltz (I liked this one, but it wasn’t memorable)

Bottom Two Girls

  • Lauren
  • Lacey

Bottom Two Guys

  • Neil
  • Pasha

Who Should Go Home

  • Lauren
  • Neil

Everyone did really well tonight, but I still feel like Neil and Lauren are the weakest links. It’s time for them to leave.

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