Sunday, July 29, 2012

O-Lympics 2012 Update: Well Played, Kim Rhode!

(USAwesome Champion Kim Rhode, sheds a tear during the medal ceremony after winning gold in Womenʼs Skeet. Werk, Kim.) 

Gotta give props to Kimberly Rhode won the gold medal in women's skeet shooting on Sunday. This makes her the first American to take an individual-sport medal in five consecutive Olympics.Yeah, that's right. FIVE.

Today Rhode tied the world record - and set an Olympic record - by hitting 99 out of 100 targets. So in case of a Zombie Apocalypse, you're safest bet is to hide behind a well-armed Kimberly Rhode.

For those who like to keep track, as a teenager Rhode won the gold medal in double trap at the Atlanta Games in '96 , then took bronze in the same event at Sydney in 2000. She then  reclaimed gold at Athens in '04 and then won the silver in skeet at Beijing in '08.  So she may not be the most well-known Olympic Champions, but she's certainly consistent and well decorated. Let's hope she can add to streak in Rio in 2016!

O-Lympics 2012 Update: Early Tennis Edition

Medals are still far from being handed out in the tennis events, but I already wanted to give out a few anti-medals for poor performance and unsportsmanlike conduct in tennis at the 2012 Olympics. First, I would like to say that the commentary team assembled for the television coverage on Bravo is pretty painful. The morning match commentary was not so bad, but when Federer got on court they went on total auto-pilot. The 6-3 first set Fed won was actually much tighter than the score would have you expect. Falla was playing well, and played a few tight points down 4-3 to quickly let the set slip away. You would never know this from the commentary. All they wanted to do was read off a list of Federer's greatest hits. They seemed to be not watching the game at all. Falla's not the Greatest of All Time, but he's been around and has had success on grass. He's won two sets against Federer on Center Court at Wimbledon in the past. It's not out of the question that he could score an upset win in the 1st round. The commentators were not interested in Falla at all. They steadfastly assured the viewing audience Federer was going to win. And for a while, though it was close, his win looked very probable, but it certainly wasn't inevitable. Having match point is not the same as having a win. The commentators went on and on about all of Fed's stats. He's a champion! He's a humanitarian! He's an amazing father, husband and son! But they forgot one nagging thing about late career Roger Federer. Despite his amazing game, sometimes right when he should win, he loses his concentration and then loses a match that was his. There's a line from Evita that I apply to Federer in these moments, "he suddenly seemed to lose interest. He grew tired..." Honestly, there are times Roger seems kinda bored with finishing matches. He suddenly makes random errors, not out of nerves, he just takes his foot off the gas. That's almost what happened here. Up 5-4 in the second set on Falla's serve, Fall got down 0-40. Fed had three match points. But 5 points later, it was tied 5-5. Then Roger lost serve and was down 6-5. It was at this point the commentators declared there was no chance Federer would lose the match. Really? What's the point of saying that? It's not true! He COULD lose it. Anything can happen! This point was proven one game later when they were tied a set all, Falla winning it 7-5, with one set to go At that point they still wouldn't consider Falla as a player, they just turned the talk more to what wasn't Federer doing to win.

Look, I wanted Federer to win this match. I want him to have a good Olympics. I'd rather an American won the gold, but I don't need to see him lose early. But he's not a god. You don't have to frame each match like it's his destiny to win because he's awesome. Talk about the GAME. About strategy - from both players points of view. It's not a 5-set match where there are times you have to be heavy on filler to cover lulls in the action. A close tight match should be respected as such. Declaring a winner before the match is close to over is lazy and stupid. Please do better going forward. And congrats to Fed on his 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win.

Now I mentioned unsportsmanlike conduct. Ryan Harrison representing the United States lost to Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 7-5, 6-3 smashing rackets along the way. He slammed his racket in the grass after losing the next-to-last game, and then when he double-faulted on match point, he decided to break his racket by spiking it in the turf. Way to stay classy, Harrison. I do not appreciate Harrison's immature behavior. I don't like his attitude on court and was not pleased when he was named to the Olympic Squad. I'd much rather have a James Blake or Brian Baker who knows how to conduct themselves on an international stage. You were representing your country, Harrison. Who cares if you lost and you were upset? Try not having a hissy fit when representing your country. Take the loss with some dignity.

Elsewhere, it was nice to see Isner, Serena and the Bryan Brothers get through to the next round. Serena's game was especially strong and she looked great in her team uniform. The Bryan brothers faced stiffer competition and had shirts that seemed a little too casual for Olympic play, but they still advanced! Go Team USA!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

O-lympic Highlights 2012, Day 1: Voldemort-vs-Mary Poppins! Place Your Bets!!

(Let the Games Begin!)

The 2012 Olympic Games are HERE! The 30th edition of the Games in the Modern Era has opened in London. It's time to start caring about Olympians again! If you don't know the athletes, TRUST that NBC will be inundating you with video clips about everyone you need to keep an eye on. Olympians are fascinating. They all have amazing stories of sacrifice and determination behind how they got to where they are. They are in the top of their form, looking for their one moment in times. The Olympics are also incredibly tense, and dreams can be made or crushed in an instant. You can dominate a sport for four years, but when it comes to the Olympics EVERYONE takes it up a notch and underdogs can find their way to the top of the podium. It's so exciting!

But before we get to the competition we must have an extravagantly bizarre Opening Ceremony. Beijing's Summer Games Opening Ceremony in 2008 remains the most majestic of them all. Danny Boyle directed this years OC, and instead of trying to out-spectacle China, he just decided to out-crazy them. Listen, I loved it, but it was basically I gigantic flash mob interpretative dancing through the entire history of Great Britain. There's agriculture and animals, a giant tree on a giant mound of earth, the rise of industrialism, songs sung by angel-voiced children with missing limbs, choruses of deaf and disabled youngsters, a tribute to the National Health Care System, Mr. Bean on piano with the London Symphony Orchestra, a journey through about 6 decades of Brit Pop while two kids in love text each other. In a word this ceremony was: Ambitious. Through it all Meredith Viera and Matt Lauer are frantically trying to provide context for those of us at home who have no idea what's going on and are incapable of forming our own artistic opinion. There was also a movie where Queen Elizabeth herself became a Bond Girl. That was pretty awesome on her part.

(As a nod to the fact that doves used to be released at the Olympics of old, this dude is wearing giant wings and riding a bicycle up into the night sky. I mean, obviously.)

But definitely the best part of the whole thing for me was  when a 100-foot-tall Voldemort rose from the ground to scare the hell out of a few hundred children bouncing on illuminated beds.

(Nothing says Olympics like a giant Death Eater!)
Eventually Voldy, and his partners-in-terror Captain Hook and The Queen of Hearts got taken down by an army of Mary Poppins'es who flew in to the stadium to kick his ass and restore order. Well played, Poppins!

After all that spectacle we got to the seemingly endless Parade of Nations. I mentioned on FB last night that they should limit the parade to those countries featured in the World Showcase at EPCOT Center in Disney World. Then we would zip right through it. Still, it's nice to see the Olympians so happy. The flag-bearers always seem so honored to have that opportunity and it's easy as a spectator to get choked up. Some of the most high profile players in Swimming and Tennis don't take part in this ceremony, because their events start the next morning and the Ceremony is a very long and potentially draining ordeal. The commentators said it was the quickest parade of nations they'd ever seen, but it still seemed to take several hours so, please never make me see a slow parade from here on out.

There's always a lot of curiosity what the stadium torch will look like and how it will be lit and I liked how this year it started out as a ring of fired and then rose up from the ground to become a cohesive torch. like structure. Very unique design and very pretty.

So now it's on to the games. The NBC networks have the events spread out all over the place. You can watch everything live online (provided you have a suitable cable/satellite package you already pay for) Even so, they will try their best to pretend that there is no 5 hour time different between London and New York and feature the most popular events in prime time. They wouldn't even allow a live stream of the Opening Ceremony which was incredibly lame. It's a business decision, I get it, even though they officially claim it's not about ad revenue. At least we will be able to watch the competition live online even if it's not on TV. I look forward to posting fun pics and Olympic stories of the next 17 days as is my custom. Let's hope for a large medal haul for the U.S. Squad! GO TEAM USA!

SYTYCD Season 9 Recap: 16 to 14

(Even though the show won't last forever, know that we'll still have each other...)

And so we find ourselves together again, Dance Fans! Last week week 4 dancers went "unsaved" and tonight 2 more will not be thrown life preservers. They're all out there treading water in the ocean, see, and Nigel's only got so many floatation devices to hand out and it's mostly based on your votes to determine who is and who isn't going to drown. Because no one gets voted out on this show! Some just don't continue on...

Tonight we're down to 16. 6 contempos, 2 ballers, 2 ballerinos, 2 Jazz Hands, 1 Tokyo Popper, 1 Kung Fu Hustler, 1 Steppin' Timer and 1 Shake Shake Shakira are still fighting for your votes. Let's not delay any longer!

Opening Group Number. "The Here and After"—Jun Miyake (Contemporary; Choreographer: Tyce Diorio. Concept: An army of Charlie Chaplins get Travellers Insurance! There's a filter lens so it looks black and white except for one red umbrella. The umbrella action reminds me a little of the Step Up number we saw just last week.

Live Dancer Intro: Still in couples. New couple Brandon & Amber is looking happy to be together. I'm excited to see their routine! Some of the couples have realized their 2 seconds center stage as a pair isn't enough time to do anything with an advanced level of difficulty and instead choose to be charming by acting like total cheeseballs. Especially Will and Amelia who do a Brian Brothers-style Chest Bump and run off. Oh, Will! Gulls! Guys! They think they can Dance!

Cat comes out and is her lovely self. Congrats on the Emmy Nomination, Cat! I'm sorry you are up against Betty White, for that lady basically wins everything she's nominated for these days. Cat lets us know that the show is taking a TWO WEEK BREAK for the Olympics! Damn. I guess that makes sense, but that's a long hiatus. They already took a week off for 4th of July! When we come back those Top 14 routines better be KILLER. No excuses!

Guest Judge tonight is the always lovely Christina Applegate. As a super-fan of the show she is gonna know her stuff and not just tell everyone they are amazing. She WILL think things are amazing and be totally emotionally moved by them, but the stuff she thinks is "enh" she will let you know why. I think she's great as a judge!

This Saturday is National Dance Day! Don't forget to forget! Unless you are in LA. Then you should go to the Happy Feet event. Debbie Allen is giving classes, y'all. Debbie Allen!

Beyond just dancing, in the rehearsal packages the dancers will be revealing secrets about each other. Will we learn about DUI charges or connections to the Muslim Brotherhood? Or will we just learn that so-and-so still sleeps with a stuffed animal. I'm at the edge of my seat, let me tell you.

George and Tiffany: Hip-Hop with Tabitha and Napoleon, "Out of My Mind"—B.o.B feat. Nicki Minaj  SECRETS! George, as a young child ran track and wet his pants the first time he heard a starter pistol go off. Tiffany has beauty AND brains! George could've dig a little deeper through Tiffany's dirty laundry, I think. Dance Concept: Babysitters hate newborns crying! I actually thought they were supposed to be new parents at first, but they are dressed like something out of a Rugrats Live! show, so I'm going with babysitters. Napoleon actually says it's inspired by Adventures in Babysitting, so maybe initially I was just not paying attention, overly concerned that enormous Tabitha would go into labor AT ANY SECOND! You know Nigel wants it to happen live in the studio. George and Tiffany hit the choreography hard here. I think they both do very well staying together and you don't get the sense they are uncomfortable being so far out of their own genres. In judging, Nigel wants to see a return of  harder-hitting hip-hop routines, and I agree that I miss the tougher routines of earlier seasons, but that's on him hiring choreographers that DO that kind of stuff. He also says George got winded near the end, which I think is not true at all. He was acting exhausted in character! I saw no actual decline in stamina. Mary loved both of them, as did Christina, but she wanted parts of it to be "soupier." She immediately loses confidence in her critique, but the other judges and NappyTabs, all back her up that the idea behind what she's saying makes sense with the style. Believe in yourself, Christina! Speak your truth!

Amber and Brandon: Jazz  with Ray Leeper "Dr. Feelgood (Love is Serious Business)" —Aretha Franklin. SECRETS!: Amber is a hairstylist! What?? Her locks aren't natural? Brandon has a small part in  Step Up Revolution. He knows so many SYTYCD Alums! Concept: Misty Blue Redux.This is a hot and sexy routine. Lots of sizzle between Brandon and Amber. Their strength and chemistry really come through. Mary praises Brandon for having an "unforced masculinity," which is true. He has a very effortless and engaging "Dude" quality that was very right for this piece. Nigel makes note of his tense hunched shoulders, which are stretching out his suspenders and making them drop. I thought that was an amusing observation. Christina gets bleeped out for saying "Jesus Christ!" which is considered a swear word by S&P. The judges think Amber has FINALLY let her personality shine through in a routine, but I feel like she did that last week and and probably the week before too. Old partner Nick just wasn't a great match for her.

Dareian and Janelle: Cha-Cha with Pasha Kovalev "Call Me Maybe"—Carly Rae Jepsen. PASHA! My SYTYCD boyfriend! But where's my ANYA? Can't THEY just do a Cha-Cha for us? They should have All-Stars be able to pinch-dance for any couple once a season. Pasha has changed his hair and I don't know how I feel about it. I don't want Pasha to ever change! But I guess that's unreasonable. SECRETS! Dareian is a daredevil skateboarder! Janelle makes up raps! Dance Concept: Cha-Cha to Contempo Pop! The dance has a nice spirit, but its kind of a mess in terms of execution. The flow feels off. Dareian and Janelle seem oddly unaware of each other. When they're not looking at each other it's like the other doesn't exist. The tricks are a little labored. They are trying to sell it, but I'm not really buying. A shame! I love Pasha and I really like these two. Still I was left wanting. The judges were too. Mary doesn't hold back, dinging them for the choppy feeling, the poor transitions and the poor footwork. She thought Janelle would excel at Cha-Cha with her hip-action expertise, but instead thought the routine was a momentary set back on their journey. Christina criticizes Dareian's hands, and then freaks out again, but Nigel backs her up. He doesn't think Janelle was sexy enough tonight either, and it looks like she takes that criticism hard. Aww, I hope these two make it through!. 

Cole and Lindsay: Contemporary with Mandy Moore "Wild Horses"—Charlotte Martin. SECRETS!: Cole is a Serious Actor! Lindsay fears FEET! Well, dancers' feet tend to be gross and banged up. I can understand why she doesn't want them near her face. Dance Concept: Goodness and Evil in the world! Hopefully Cole doesn't turn seriously evil. The dance looks lovely and is executed well and has a lot of emotion to it, but I feel like we've explored this particular emotional territory many times before on this show and seen it done better, Nigel gives props to the stage lighting, specifically so he can acknowledge the Emmy nomination the show got last week for lighting. Fine. Give the techies their due! He also says Cole is "meticulously neat and tidy," which he warns could be boring and the audience starts booing, not realizing he's taking the long way around to a compliment. Sometimes the judges get the audience against them for no reason with these stupid fake-outs. Speaking of, Mary apologizes to Lindsay for faking her out on the Green Mile when she made Top 20 as Mary's comments there have become part of Lindsay's narrative in a way Mary never intended because they were actually BS. Why does Mary always get stuck with playing these cruel tricks on the contestants? She obviously doesn't like it. She's not gonna take it anymore! She's pulling back the curtain and showing us the man running the machine!

Amelia and Will: Jazz with Mandy Moore "You!"—The Creatures SECRETS!: Amelia lathers on the sunblock! Will thinks he's in a boy band! Can't someone on this show just have killed somebody long ago? Tell us THAT! Dance Concept Opposites Attract! They are wearing black-and-white suits because they are opposite people! They do a lot of jazzy things. This is their second jazzy routine in 3 weeks. I'd grade the actual choreo here only a B/B-, but Amelia and Will sell the hell out of it. They are great together! Such fun on stage! Christina loves the pair of them. Nigel, however, didn't like this routine so much. He thought they didn't connect and he didn't connect with them, but I think that's weak on his part. Maybe it played better on TV than it did on stage. That happens sometimes. Nigel points out that Will is awesome for trying to silently calm Amelia during his bad critique by rubbing her back. The attention causes Will to overload on giggles and smiles because he can't take that kind of unexpected attention to what he's doing. These two are awesome. I wish their feedback had been a little more enthusiastic from Nigel.

Audrey and Matthew: Salsa with Liz Lira "Cinco Salsa"—Sverre Indris Joner/HSC/Kork SECRETS! Matthew only started dancing at 16 and has a great golf swing! Audrey goes to bed looking like a nerd! Concept: Hot hot hot Salsa! In the rehearsal package, both dancers warn us this dance is going to be bad. They can't do the trick moves. They are dizzy from spinning. Oh dear. Is it a fake out? No. From the opening moments, you can tell this is not gonna work. They both look very nervous and stressed in their faces, Matthew more so, but Audrey can't compensate. Plus they are wearing horrible head-to-toe bright red outfits. Costume department: please no more of these bright red outfits! They are making gorgeous people look unappealing which seriously takes some doing.  These two never find the sweet spot in the routine. It's kinda painful. They were on such a roll the last two weeks! Mary goes first and she just rips that band aid off. They both looked uncomfortable in what they were doing and lacked the fire required for a salsa. Christina thought they looked lost, calling out the music as oddly distracting. This is where the one week voting delay is weird to me because the people who are weakest tonight, probably won't even be in the bottom at the end of the episode because last week they did so well. It's a little weird, no? I think they've found a good way to get everything covered in 2 hours, but the fact that the audience doesn't get to weigh in on a routine, before two people get cut feels strange.

Chehon and Witney: Contemporary with Stacey Tookey "I Will Always Love You"—Whitney Houston  SECRETS!:Chehon puts orange juice in his cereal. Whitney speaks a little German! But Chehon is Swiss and speaks BETTER German! Dance Concept: A love torn apart! This dance is very sensual and dramatic as befits the song they are dancing to. It's a little jarring that it goes from the soft a capella opening part straight into the belted "AND IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!" part, skipping the two minutes of build up in between, but they do a great lift/jump thingy in the moment, so all is forgiven. Standing O from the judges. Christina fights back tears as it is the best thing she has ever seen in her whole life. Or maybe the best she's seen tonight. Hard to tell. Mary cries for Whitney Houston (were they friends?) and gets so flustered that she calls Witney "Lindsay" (they are both blonde ballroom girls, so it's understandable in the moment. But generally I don't know how in even the least heated of moments they can tell brunette jazz dancers Ashley and Tiffany apart. I can't.) and Nigel is so moved by the routine he confuses Oscars with Emmys. Let's head to commercials. Everyone needs a moment to collect themselves.

Cyrus and Eliana: Hip-Hop with Tabitha and Napoleon "Toxic"—District 78 feat. Cheesa
SECRETS!: Cyrus has a power-button-shaped bellybutton. Eliana slept on her pet bird and killed it! FINALLY! A secret involving MURDER! Eliana, yo constantly amaze and impress. Dance Concept: The climactic moment from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. That's what it is! SuperPregoNappyTabs obviously have kids on the brain. Cyrus is the robot that brings Ballerina Eliana to hip hop life. The cover of Britney Spears' "Toxic" is pretty interesting. Not a song I'd think to cover. I think Eliana is the stand out here, killing it in what his not her typical dance genre, but I also think I have turned against Cyrus. Not as a person, or as a performer, but definitely as a contestant. He just doesn't have genre versatility in his partner dances which is what this competition is supposed to be about. I don't want him to win America's Favorite Guy Dancer, and I'm concerned he could do so on personality alone. Hmph. The judges give this routine their second standing ovation in a row. Mary loves both of them. She makes passing reference to both Eliana and Cyurs being on "the train" but it cannot possibly be the hot-tamale train, because this is not a tamale-train kind of routine. You hearing me, Mary? It's some other train. Christina calls Cyrus "one lucky dude" for getting hip-hop instead of contemporary, and heavily implies he's not ready to live up to this show's contempo standard. Christina has also turned against Cyrus, as a contestant! Nigel on the other hand, is pleased Cyrus got hip hop because he is determined Cyrus make the Top 10 and the tour. He also seems pleased that Eliana got to show off how awesome she is because last week Cyrus was dragging her down.

Cat calls all the contestants back onstage. I can't get over how there's no big dramatic pause or fakeout in announcing the bottom 6. It's just bam-bam-bam! Safe or In Danger. And having said that, the bottom 3 girls are Amber, Lindsay, and Eliana. Nooo, Eliana! Bottom 3 guys are George, Brandon, and Dareian.George? That's crazy! His fox trot was SO GOOD. I can't believe Eliana is in danger for the jive, but Cyrus is safe. That's bogus. Nigel wants to see Amber, Eliana, Brandon, and Dareian dance solos to save their lives. I am intrigued by this wrinkle that they will not always ask all the at risk dancers to dance again. Obviously, it indicates that those not asked to dance are auto-saves, but wouldn't be hilarious if Nigel was like, "We were right. Amber and Eliana, you're amazing. Lindsay? You GONE!!"

Solos: Amber dances to Lana Del Rey's "This Is What Makes Us Girls" powerful and well executed, but she's up against Eliana! Brandon dances to  "I Want It All Back"—Tye Tribbett & G.A.Brandon is giving it high energy, but I think the thing I'm most invested in during this solo is the song. A bad sign..Eliana dances to "Near Light"—Ólafur Arnalds. More Olafur Arnalds? Two weeks in a row and I don't know who this person is! Is that shameful? Should I? Regardless, Eliana is amazing. And lastly Dareian dances to "Ordinary People"—John Legend. He takes off his shirt and does every trick in the book. Based on dancing for your life it should be Brandon and Amber who go home, but we'll see.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater comes in for a routine ("Jungle Jam"—Les Tambours Du Bronx) and then we get down to it. Remember no one is voted out, they just go unsaved. They don't have to go home, but they can't stay here. Of the girls, Nigel saves Lindsay and Eliana. Tough break for Amber. I thought she did well last week and was only getting stronger and more comfortable out there. Still the best choice of the three, I think. Of the guys, Nigel saves George and... Dareian! That's the logical choice given their solos, but I wasn't 100%. Brandon seems cool with it. I'm sure he's got Step Up Revolution party plans for Friday!

So we'll see the results of tonight's dances after TWO weeks off. That's a long time to fret, especially for the pairs that got their first bad reviews tonight.

ROUTINE RUNDOWN! (as always, in order of my preference Though honestly this week I thought was very even among the top 6 listed below.)
Chehon and Witney's contemporary
Amber and Brandon's jazz ("not saved")
Cyrus and Eliana's hip-hop
Amelia and Will's Jazz
Cole and Lindsay's contemporary
George and Tiffany's hip-hop
Dareian and Janelle's cha-cha
Audrey and Matthew's salsa

We're almost at Top 3/Bottom 3 so when we reconvene after the Olympics we'll see if Audrey and Matthew's hot routines from the first two weeks made them popular enough to avoid the bottom next time. We can quibble over preferences for who's routine was best this week, but their salsa was clearly the worst and even if you adamantly think it wasn't, I don't think you could name three other routines that were inferior to the salsa. I'm not saying that the judges won't save them if they wind up in danger, but if they're not even in danger that's saying a lot about the competition right now. See you post-Olympics!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Finding Something to Rant About in All the Major Categories of the 2012 Emmy Nominations

(I would like to thank the Academy, but I cannot.)

Oh, Emmys. Every year I look forward to your nominations, and every year you enrage me. In the Peanuts metaphor, you are Lucy, your nominations are the football and I am Charlie Brown, running up for that much anticipated kick. Every year I think you will FINALLY nominate my favorite shows, especially when the the Critics' Choice Awards start to show them love and then you pull the ball away right at the very last second. Good grief! You got a few things right, for which I am grateful. You understand that So You Think You Can Dance continues to excel 9 seasons in, and that's great. You like Homeland and Breaking Bad and I like those shows too. But several things you got VERY wrong. You've simply offered no room at the table for some of TV's best shows! WHY?? Here are the nominations for the 64th Annual Emmys, and allow me a moment to rant about some people who are, in fact, SNUBBED ONCE AGAIN!

Best Comedy
The Big Bang Theory
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Modern Family
30 Rock

I can accept the disappointment that comes with Community being egregiously overlooked by the Academy as being too oddball and misunderstood and unwatched for it to make the short list. It belongs there, no doubt, but I will accept its exclusion on those grounds. However, I draw the effing line at Parks and Recreation not being allowed into the conversation. Parks & Rec should WIN! It's the show I laugh at the most and I actually root for the characters to succeed - not just Amy Poehler who is amazing, but the whole cast. This show is a total delight, and it had one of the strongest full season arcs of any show that aired this year dealing with Leslie's campaign. Emmys, you've done the town of Pawnee wrong. I hope the ghost of Li'l Sebastian haunts you all year for this.

Best Drama
Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Mad Men

All these are acceptable. I don't watch Boardwalk Empire so I would've rather seen The Good Wife in its place. Good Wife scored tons of acting noms but no Best Drama. No Drama nomination for CBS, NBC, ABC or Fox this year. But PBS got in there!

Lead Actress in Drama
Kathy Bates, Harry’s Law
Glenn Close, Damages
Claire Danes, Homeland
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men

I love me some Kathy Bates but you know who I'd love to see here more? Katey Sagal for Sons of Anarchy. What does Academy have against this woman? What else does she need to DO on that show? If they serious can't bring themselves to watch SOA, then maybe they should look at Lena Headley for Game of Thrones.

Lead Actor in a Drama
Hugh Bonneville, Downton Abbey
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Damian Lewis, Homeland
Michael C. Hall, Dexter

I love me some Downton Abbey, but if there's one character I find the least compelling it's Boneville's Earl of Grantham. Maybe his spot could've gone to Timothy Olyphant's in Justified? I'm just saying. Whatever, Bryan Cranston's going to win anyway. Deservedly so. As Walter White would say, "It's over. I won."

Best Competition Reality Show
The Amazing Race
Dancing with the Stars
Project Runway
So You Think You Can Dance
The Voice
Top Chef

The Voice is entertaining in its way, but it's also a mess and Carson often loses control of the whole thing as the host. Top Chef in Texas was also literally and figuratively all over the map last season. Either show could've been bumped for the past season of RuPaul's Drag Race, which served up some fierce and fabulous competition this year. And also, I think Wipeout doesn't get the credit it deserves!

Best Non-Competition Reality Program
Antiques Roadshow
Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution
Shark Tank
Undercover Boss
Who Do You Think You Are?

I only watch competitive reality TV programming, so I honestly don't know.

Best Reality Show Host
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Betty White, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers
Tom Bergeron, Dancing With The Stars
Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance

Betty White for Off Their Rockers? Come ON, Emmys. She does more as host of that show than Probst does on Survivor? Probst has WON this award basically since it was conceived and now he's not even nominated for Betty White? If it wasn't going to Probst, this slot should've gone to RuPaul for Drag Race and Drag U. Ru is amazing.
Lead Actress in a Comedy
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

I love Melissa McCarthy, but Mike & Molly? Really? She had her surprise win last year. Amy Poehler must win this year or I will seriously throw things at my TV. But,if we're just gonna keep piling people into the mix how about

Lead Actor in a Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Louis C.K., Louie
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

Jon Cryer's spot should go to Joel McHale. I can say no more without launching into all caps.  

Best Supporting Actress, Comedy
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Kathryn Joosten, Desperate Housewives
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family
Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live

Either Alison Brie or Gillian Jacobs should have Kathryn Joosten's spot. Joosten is lovely and I realize that she passed away following the conclusion of the season and that has perhaps created a swell of support around her nomination, but she's already won two guest star Emmys for this role. The ladies of Community had so much to work with this season and always delivered. It should've been the year for a nomination for at least one of them.

Best Supporting Actor, Comedy
Ed O’Neill, Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family
Max Greenfield, New Girl
Bill Hader, Saturday Night Live

I said on the FB that they need to just create a "Best Supporting Actor on Modern Family" category so that other people can be recognized. I love MF, but the entire cast didn't have a better season than anyone else on any show. I think that in acting categories, no show should be able to nominate more than two actors per year. Spread the love. Nick Offerman especially should be on the short list. Ron Swanson rules. Everybody knows it. Stop trying to deny it, Emmys.

Best Supporting Actress, Drama
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Archie Panjabi, The Good Wife
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

This is another solid category truth be told, but I would've liked to see Homeland's Morena Baccarin in the mix for her vulnerable and engaging performance on that show. Of the 6 shows nominated for Best Drama only 3 are represented here. We can do better than that.

Best Supporting Actor, Drama
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Giancarlo Esposito, Breaking Bad
Brendan Coyle, Downton Abbey
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Jared Harris, Mad Men

I'm not so sure about Jim Carter's nomination for Downton. I DO love Mr. Carson, but did he really have a better season on that show than Dan Stevens as Matthew? We could also look to Mandy Patinkin in Homeland, who really delivered in Homeland. I have friends who would want me to shout for Walton Goggins in Justified, so I'll do that as well.

Best Animated Program
American Dad
Bob’s Burgers
The Penguins Of Madagascar: The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole
The Simpsons

American Dad is a better animated program than South Park? Or Archer? Okay...

Best Guest Actress in a Comedy
Dot-Marie Jones, Glee
Maya Rudolph, Saturday Night Live
Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live
Elizabeth Banks, 30 Rock
Margaret Cho, 30 Rock
Kathy Bates, Two and a Half Men

Again with Kathy Bates! Did you SEE Patricia Clarkson on Parks and Rec? Give me a break. The Parks and Rec snubs across the board are really infuriating. I swear the Academy didn't watch the show this season. It's the only possible explanation.

Best Guest Actor in a Comedy
Michael J. Fox, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Greg Kinnear, Modern Family
Bobby Cannavale, Nurse Jackie
Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live
Will Arnett, 30 Rock
Jon Hamm, 30 Rock

Normally, I would not say a word against Jon Hamm, but he was in the live episode of 30 Rock for like 2 minutes! He spent more time this season showing up as the non-Host on SNL. He was funnier there too! This spot should've gone to Paul Rudd for his work as Bobby Newport on Parks and Rec. 

Best Guest Actress in a Drama
Martha Plimpton, The Good Wife
Loretta Devine, Grey’s Anatomy
Jean Smart, Harry’s Law
Julia Ormond, Mad Men
Joan Cusack, Shameless
Uma Thurman, Smash

Martha Plimpton or Loretta Devine should win this, so I'm not gonna go after the Uma Thurman nomination for Smash. But I could! If Smash had to be nominated for something here, give it to Bernadette Peters!

Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Mark Margolis, Breaking Bad
Dylan Baker, The Good Wife
Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife
Jeremy Davies, Justified
Ben Feldman, Mad Men
Jason Ritter, Parenthood

Not a bad list. Somebody from Homeland should've made the cut here though. Lots of recurring male roles that were not series regulars showing up and doing awesome work, including Jamey Sheridan as a nastypants Vice President. Baby can you dig yo' man? He's a righteous man...Ahh, a little shout out to The Stand faithful out there...

The Mini-Series Categories are all Movie Stars and American Horror Story. Let's just agree to root for AHS and leave it at that.

I feel better having gotten all that off my chest. The 64th Annual Emmys, will air Sept. 23 on ABC. It feels like forever from now, but I'm sure the time will fly by. Here's hoping Amy Poehler will be collecting that much deserved statue on Emmy Night!

Friday, July 20, 2012

SYTYCD 9 Recap: Top 20 to Sweet 16

(it's scary facing a quadruple elimination!)

Welcome Back Dance Fans! Tonight is our first LIVE elimination show of the season. Four Dancers are getting the axe. It should be an interesting night. The exact sequence of when the bottom six are announced, all the new routines and the eliminations has yet to be revealed, so we'll see how they cram it all into two hours. 8 contempos, 3 ballers, 3 ballerinos, 2 Jazz Hands, 1 Tokyo Popper, 1 Kung Fu Hustler, 1 Steppin' Timer and 1 Shake Shake Shakira are still battling it out. Let's get to it!

Cat's got her hair done up and is looking very very tan and tells us to get hunkered down on our couches quickly, as we have a lot to get to and almost no time to pause and take a breath! Adam Shankman is the guest judge. You can be sure of numerous plugs for Step Up Revolution, in theaters this weekend! Will it out-gross The Dark Knight Rises? Only time will tell. First up, another pre-recorded group number! So it looks like these will be standard practice for the rest of the season.

Top 20 Routine, Take 3 - The Beautiful People (District 78 Remix) , Marilyn Manson. by Tabitha and Napoleon. I actually really like this. It's not standard fare for NappyTabs. It's kind like if a Wade Robson group number and A Sonya Tayeh group number had a love child with ADHD. There are crazy headpieces on the girls and slicked up hair for the guys and they are thrashing and running about in different formations. There's a dude with brown hair I can't identify at all. Who is that?  Although, I do have to say, I'm over Cyrus being front and center. He looks good here in his half-skull make-up, but when he does his animator thing now, it just reminds me how he's great at what he does and not really great at anything else. If his personality carries him to top 10 I'll be kinda disappointed.The other guys are stronger dancers.

Time to introduce the dancers. Time is tight so they come out as couples. This means that all the quick tricks are kinda lame and flubbed. Oh, the brown haired guy is Ballroom Boy Nick. His hair is slicked back tonight and I think he looks totally different. So much older. He should've done that last week! He wouldn't have looked so odd with These are the gulls! Here are your guys!

Lindsay and Cole - Hip Hop with Christopher Scott - "Teeth" (Lady Gaga). Concept: A sexy trip to the dentist. Lindsay is the dental hygienist, and Cole is a nerd patient. The routine isn't bad, but it's a little lacking in chemistry. Lindsay and Cole seem to be in slightly different universes. The dancing is in sync and they are... aware of each other. But their costumes don't go together and the dentist chair looks odd sitting there in the middle of the stage, and Lindsay seems a little more focused on the audience than she does on pursuing Cole. So this routine wasn't bad, but it wasn't as sharp as it could've been. It falls way short of there paso doble last week. In judging, Cole has decided to go all method and still be in nerd character the entire time. The judges are a little weirded outt but roll with it. Lindsay has a huge fake smile plastered on her face to let us know she's totally over his weirdness. It makes me think they had trouble connecting because Cole decided to lock himself up in his own world and Lindsay couldn't get in. The judges don't rave for this routine, but they don't rip it apart either. I think they're safe this week, but I wonder if people will find Cole's decision to not drop character off-putting, like I did. As they leave Cat takes the lollipop Cole was sucking on and puts it in her mouth. Cat Deely is many things, but a germophobe is certainly not one of them.

Amelia and Will - Contemporary with Sonya Tayeh -  "3326" (Olufar Arnalds). Concept: Two Contempos, Doing Contempo things while looking for the Light at the End of the Tunnel .It's very good, but this is in both their wheelhouses so you'd expect - no, demand! - that it would be. Will, as a Jolly Gay Giant, is a great partner for Amelia, because he's strong enough to support her doing the most difficult tricks. They really are in it. There's no coasting for these two. They are showing the extent of their expertise. The judges love it. Adam of course is overly dramatic about it, makes a Step Up movie plug, praises Sonya like she just discovered the cure for cancer, yet somehow he manages not to cry. Such restraint, Adam!

Amber and Nick - Argentine Tango with Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo - "Tanguera" (Sexteto Mayor). The music sounds like Roxanne. I don't understand how it's not Roxanne. Is Roxanne a rip off of this song, or the other way around? Anyway, the dance is very hot. There's a lot of technical stuff going on, very complicated footwork, very good frame with the arms. They sell it all. They don't look preoccupied with the steps at all. Very good chemistry between them. This was very strong. Good work! The judges like it. Adam and Mary think Nick might not have done himself any favors by being SUCH a good partner because all the focus went to Amber. Nigel, thinking ahead, tells Amber that her character was very tough and hard this week, so next week she should try to play up her vulnerability for the voting audience. Hmm...

Audrey and Matthew - Jazz with Sonya Tayeh - "Hear Me Now" (Dri, Lind, & Lukka Mix). Concept: Robotic Power Struggle Between Man and Woman... Robots? Sonya wants them both to be really aggressive. Matthew says in the clip package that Audrey is incapable of being aggressive. Don't throw her under the bus, Matthew! But he's right. She's not really a BEAST, you know? But the pair of them together really really works. This isn't a routine with a lot of signature tricks, but the movement is very interesting. It's a compelling routine with good momentum. Is it gonna wind up in like the top 5 Sonya routines? No. But I have a sinking suspicion it will be one of the top routines of the night. I'm sensing some Week 2/ First Elimination jitters amongst the dancers and choreographers. The judges rave for Audrey and Matthew and of course for Sonya. Adam even says he's afraid that the night really belongs to Sonya, and I have to agree. Adam thinks Matthew is the front runner. I'm not completely sure. He's a contender though! I'll definitely give him that.

Dareian and Janelle - Lyrical Hip-Hop with Christopher Scott - "My Girl" (The Temptations)
Concept: A proposal and a reversible jacket! This routine is pleasant and sweet, but VERY safe. The most complicated part is taking off the jacket, and putting it back on. Seriously! Dareian and Janelle are smiley but not really fully into it. It's just not that deep. They kiss at the end, as if that somehow makes it all a big deal. Really, not a lot coming from Chris Scott this week. Sorry! Nothing personal. The judges side with me and are not into it. Nigel breaks his own rule about not blaming the choreographer and tells Christopher in the audience that what he came up with was too simple for them. He thinks the audience won't be moved to call for something like this. Adam wants a little more character from Janelle.Mary is just relieved that their kiss didn't inspire Nigel to maul her again like he did last year. Janelle could definitely be in danger next week. She just didn't have anything here that would make an impact, frankly.

Brandon and Janaya: Broadway with Sean Cheeseman - "Bring on the Men" (Linda Eder, Jekyll and Hyde)
Concept: Janaya wants to bring on the men, specifically Brandon, who does not wish to be brought on. No touchy touchy, for Brandon - guys OR girls, apparently! How did he get this reputation? Ahh, yes. By his own words. Anyway, this dance is a big improvement over last week for them. There are some really unique moves and a double somersault roll thingy that looks like it could be painful, but they both emerge unscathed. Janaya is giving great character work here. I thought this was gonna be bad from their kinda non-matching outfits, but I applaud them. Really, a delight! Would that this was the routine they got last week, when people voted! The judges note the improvement from last week and seem happy for Janaya that she's going out on a high note since they will obviously be sending her home when she falls into the bottom 3 at around the 90 minute mark tonight.

Cyrus and Eliana: Jive with Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin - "I'm Shakin'" (Jack White)
Concept: Pretend that Cyrus can jive! Listen, guys. This was a poor performance. I could've done the jive better than Cyrus this week. This was super weak. I don't expect him to go home tonight or even be in danger given his personality and presence on the show, but he needs to land in the bottom week next week for real.  Eliana is left to basically sell the whole routine on her own. She's pretty successful at it, but it's obvious that she's got no help from Cyrus. Mary is first to critique and she's like "haha................ um...... Cyrus, you were there for her in the lifts and the partnering! WOOO!" Nigel's like, "you got through it!" He sympathizes with Eliana's situation having two weeks in a row of being held back by choreography and partnering when he knows on her own she'd really be able to soar. Eliana needs to make it to Top 10. It's gonna be a hard road ahead, I think.
Alexa and Daniel: Contemporary with Dee Casparay - "So Long My Friend" (Yanni)
Concept: Don't slip getting out of the bathtub. There is a giant tub on stage. They are in the tub. They are out of the tub. They are wearing very little in terms of clothing. Oof, is the song choice an indication of what fate has in store for these two? I get the impression they don't like each other in real life. There's no chemistry. No sense of even camaraderie. They know they have to connect emotionally in order to succeed but there is no electricity here. On paper they made such a good pair, but in practice they can't connect to each other's strengths. It's too bad. I think they're going home tonight.  The judges agree the execution is flawless, but they are missing something crucial between them that would save them from elimination.They both wear expressions of worry chiseled out of stone.

George and Tiffany: Foxtrot with Tony Meredith and Melanie LaPatin) -"I Want to Be Loved by You" (Sinéad O'Connor)
Concept: Be foxy and trot! These two are once again a great pair.  What can sometimes be a less than exciting and forgettable style of dance on this show, is actually a fun and engaging routine. They are very elegant and have all the chemistry that Alexa and Daniel were lacking. Mary loves it and loves the two of them. Nigel and Adam are all positive too.The contempo boys with the jazz hands girls pairings are really nailing it so far this season.

Chehon and Witney: Bollywood with Nakul Dev Mahajan - "Tandav Music" (Aatish Kapadia)
Concept: hit the hand poses and spin round and round! Bollywood is usually very successful on this show. Partly because it is exciting to watch, the costumes are pretty and the dancers smile through it pretty effortlessly. Chehon and Witney really take to it. This is a much better showing than last week's Samba. Witney looks like she gets caught in her veil right at the end, but it's not a big deal. Chehon actually looks happy to be dancing! When was the last time we saw that? His final solo in Vegas? Judges give them high praise all around. Witney says watching youtube videos helped in their prep. This shows's not just a physical challenge, people. Doing research helps too!

Cat calls everybody back to the stage. Time to reveal the Bottom 6. Cat just rips it off like a band-aid. Janaya, Alexa, and Witney and Nick, Daniel, and Chehon. No, Project Runway Style fake-outs. These are the lowest vote-getters. Four are going home. I'm sure Whitney is safe. Alexa and Janaya are too. I'm less sure about which Ballet Boy is heading home. I think Chehon's Bollywood performance sealed the deal in his favor though.

Cat asks if Nigel and the judges need to see any solos, and Nigel's like "Nah, thanks we got this." I think dancing for your life will come back as there are less routines and more time for solos in the 2-hour block of time. 

Instead right now it's time for an in-show commercial for Step Up: Revolution. The movie stars a lot of SYTYCD alums including Twitch, Tony Bellisimo, Philip Chbeeb, and Kathryn McCormick, who is the lead female in the movie. This movie focuses on community-minded flash mobs. The number they do on stage is pretty fun. I honestly have a hard time focusing on it. Maybe it's just so much dance crammed into a short amount of time. Cat is thrilled to see all her former babies on stage though and if she's excited, I'm excited.

No more stalling, it's execution time.  The six dancers, four of whom are facing certain death, are lined up. Nick and Janaya know they're done for. Alexa is barely holding on. Daniel is hiding his emotions like he is a graduate of the Vulcan Science & Dance Academy. Chehon is hopeful, I think. Nigel tries to explain how no dancer is voted off, they're just "not saved" by neither the public vote, nor the judges. That will make them feel better! So first saved is Witney, as we knew it would be. The other girls are like "we appreciated being here." and then they are swept off to the side to hug and cry together. At least someone else knows what they are going through.Then Chehon is saved as well and the other boys don't get to say ANYTHING as we quickly recap everyone's numbers and then quickly close out the show on time! Damn. Hopefully now with 16 dancers left we'll have a second to breath in next week's show.

Tonight's routines in order of my preference:
Amelia and Will's contemporary
Audrey and Matthew's jazz
Chehon and Witney's Bollywood
Brandon and Janaya's Broadway (Janaya "not saved")
George and Tiffany's foxtrot
Amber and Nick's tango (Nick "not saved")
Dareian and Janelle's hip-hop
Cole and Lindsay's hip-hop
Alexa and Daniel's contemporary ( both "not saved")
Cyrus and Eliana's jive

(Your Top 16, America!)

Bottom 6? Hmm... Cyrus, Cole and I don't know... Brandon... for the guys? Tough call on number three. For the girls I think it's Janelle, Lindsay and... Amber. But that's a tough one to call too. I'm excited to see what Amber and Brandon can do as a couple. It will be weird if they face elimination before America can vote on them as a couple.That's the new format for you!

Until next time, Dance Fans!