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 TV Bites with Neena Louise

Dance, Dance, Dance
by Neena Louise

Dance is everywhere on television today. I guess many people (including myself) enjoy good dance. However, so desperate are the networks to give people dance, the "good" part is starting to fall by the wayside. Here's a rundown of some of the dance and song-and-dance shows that have been offered in the last season and a half. Though I generally stick to the Big Four networks, I'm including cable because they had some of the silliest. In no particular order:

Dancing with the Stars (ABC)

I fail to understand the appeal of watching C- and D-listers dancing with obscure ballroom professionals. I didn't watch very much of the last season, but whenever I did, I was treated to mediocre routines and odd gushing comments from the weirdo judging panel. The oddest was the raving of one judge about Pricsilla Prelsey's wonderful facial expressions during a particular routine. She has a face that doesn't seem to move, so this comment was puzzling. At least amiable hosts Tom Bergeron and Samantha Harris were deft at pulling attention away from the banality.

Dance Machine (ABC)

Not only one of the worst dance shows ever, it was also one of the worst game shows - and, well shows - ever. Vaguely similar to The Singing Bee, but with dance instead of song, the strange contestants couldn't really dance at all, despite their enthusiastic insistence that they could. I watched only one show before decreeing it crap. Seems I'm not alone, as it didn't last very long.

Step it Up and Dance (Bravo)

The oddest show by far, I at first thought it was a contest for a spot in adult movies (having Elizabeth Berkley as host probably didn't help this perception). The contestants were a motley group of weirdos with varying degrees of talent (which didn't even approach how wonderful they thought themselves to be), and they all seemed to be just so...wimpy. Dance is highly competitive and full of rejection, people, so grow a thick skin or you'll never make it anywhere in show business (well, ok, maybe adult films). With the distasteful contestants, lame and silly "challenges" and boring judges, I'd be surprised if this made it to a second installment.

Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew (MTV)

The wordy title of the show was the most interesting thing about it. It was a lot of mediocre hip-hop dancers (who seemed to think that they were "the bestest hip-hop dancers ever") doing the same thing over and over and over again. This did not make for entertaining dance. Furthermore, I suspect this show kept judge Shane Sparks from being on So You Think You Can Dance (a travesty, this).

So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)

I've watched every season and, while this season was very good, it was not as good as seasons 2 and 3 (though I was pulling for winner Joshua from the very start). For one thing, all the judges became overly gushing over mediocre - at times downright boring - routines towards the end. For another, choreographer Mia Michaels did too many of the most ridiculously stupid routines (one resembled a really, really bad mattress ad; another looked like a pro-domestic violence public service announcement). And then there was a most vile and off-putting "dead rabbit" thing that Cirque du Soleil performed in the finale (ick, poo). But the good far outweighed the bad: Cat Deeley has so improved over her first time as host (season 2), that I'm amazed I ever doubted her abilities (I take it all back); some of the routines were truly jaw-dropping; it was fun to see the judges dance a routine; the level of talent of the dancers had definitely been stepped all made for very good entertainment.

America's Got Talent (ABC)

Not a dance show, per se, but plenty of dance in it. Since Talent has no restrictions on age or experience, the dancers had varying degrees of talent from no-talent klutzes to truly awesome tumblers (and I started greeting the term "precision dance team" with a loud groan). The judges, however, seemed to be preoccupied by the dancers' attire. Yes, some of the costumes were dreadful (some even hilariously bad), but that didn't affect the caliber of the dance, for heaven's sake! Get over yourselves.

High School Musical (ABC)

Again, not exactly a dance show, but it had plenty of dance. And was completely and totally irritating! A bunch of precocious teens with mediocre talent, thinking that if they sing LOUD it'll be ok - as long as they can dance and look cute - and they'll instantly become the next Zac Efron or Vanessa Anne Hudgens (two people who, despite their youth, were seasoned performers before appearing in the movie High School Musical). The contestants could learn a thing or two about hard work and paying their dues and developing their talent before proclaiming themselves just the best ever. I watched the first episode and turned the channel 10 minutes into the second...I just couldn't take it anymore. I did catch the finale, however. The performances were so bad, I just couldn't help thinking: "These are the finalists?!?!"

Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann (ABC)

Two choreographers (and judges from Dancing with the Stars) try to outdo each other. How [not] intriguing.

Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious (MTV)

Can you say "skank"? This was pretty much a jiggle talent show, not a song-and-dance talent show. The dumbest thing I heard was borderline-talentless Natalie's comment: "Beauty is a talent" (like she had any control over her genes), convinced that she was so awesomely gorgeous that it would get her anywhere. And, yes, it did get her into the final group, which just says it all, doesn't it?!?! The most interesting and truly talented contestant was tall, broad, had long red hair and could sing and dance very well, but didn't do the pole-dancing porno moves as well as the others. Well, gosh, wasn't it a shock that she didn't make it?!? The girls that made it into the final group are four clone-like ghetto hootchies that only know how to shake it to distract you from their mediocre singing. Seen it all too many times before…yawn.


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