In case you're just picking up the season now, a short summary: Top 11, 12 All-Stars, contestants get assigned new all-star each week, one contestant eliminated each week. And Kent is adorable. Voila!
One more wrinkle: we're LIVE for the performance episodes this season, and it shows during the opening call-out. The camerawork is fucked and we don't get to see everybody. Combined with the still-too-cavernous stage and it robs a lot of intimacy from the dancers (and us). Get it together, please; if you screw up "These ahh the gulls ... and here ahh your guys" I will be pissed. Anyway, happy thought: Cat Deeley is dressed like Audrey Hepburn's Arabian Nights, so that's something.
First up is Billy, whose secret talent is that he's into DIY table-building and such. I absolutely adore these gay-boy dancers whose secret hobbies double as ways to hang out with their dads. It's like a glimpse into the Friday Night Lights-ian world behind the show. Billy's partnered with Lauren (yay!) this week, doing a Tyce Diorio Broadway routine. I watched Every Little Step over the weekend (it's on Netflix On Demand -- there is no damn reason not to watch it, especially if you enjoy this show) and I was delighted anew watching what became of Tyce in that one. The routine is set to Kenny Loggins's "Footloose," which I found fun in an atypically Tyce way. There's a lot of poppy-bouncy-snappy motion going on, and Billy adapts to it quite well. This being the first routine, I'm definitely picking up on a power imbalance in the teams. I'm not sure if it's because Billy looks so slight, but Lauren is looking very much the upper classman and he the lower classman. But Lauren was the perfect all-star to throw into this routine, and overall it's great fun. Nigel gets around the issue by mentioning the "good buddy relationship" Billy and Lauren have. Mia says Billy focused on length at the expense of bounce and freneticism. He danced like a boy, she needs him to dance like a man. Adam wants him to work on the moments in between the steps, and bring something into the routine beyond just the choreography. That's good advice, actually constructive without creating false pretenses under which to tear Billy down. It's good judging, and it won't last the whole two hours, but I approve for now. Before the break, Cat drops a bomb: there are new phone number templates! Gone is the old TEMPO format. Now there's some extra numbers and BEST, and it's all going to take some getting used to. End of an era.