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First order of business: if you feel like going to see The Invasion, pay attention to the kid in the movie.  He's from my hometown.  And he took classes at my dance studio before turning to acting.

Real order of business: *clings to dance show* No!  Even though I spent half the summer yelling at it, I don't want to give it up!  Somewhere along the way (what was it, week 3 or 4 of the partnerships?) I actually started to care about these guys nearly as much as the season 2 crew...and it's been great fun tuning in every week.  Survivor is entertaining and American Idol can be a moderately amusing diversion, but this is the only reality show I love as much as scripted drama.  Simon's caustic remarks and sniping with Paula/Ryan were fun at first, but what I love about this show is that it's overwhelmingly positive.  I love the familiar choreographers that come in to support the dancers, Cat's sunny personality, the fact that the judges are almost more like coaches, really, giving critique where it's due but inclined to encourage rather than tear down...and of course, there's the fact that it's full of choreographed dancing, my one true extracurricular love. 

Disclaimer: So, yes, obviously by this point in time I know who won.  But my notes don't reflect that, so I'm going to commentate both Wednesday's performances and Thursday's results in as-it-happens fashion, because I have fun writing about it in great detail and this is my last opportunity to do so for 9 months.

Pre-Dance...Commentary
-Shiny gold dress!  Cat literally looks like she's wearing a suit made of gold.  I love the short sleeves and overall shimmeryness. 

-Dan Karaty!  Where ya been?  I've missed him; I always thought he was among the better judges.  Definitely better suited to judging than choreography, actually.   And better than Mary, although really...everyone is better than Mary, except Crazy Little French Man and Debbie Allen.

-Sigh.  They just refuse to let the "Hot Tamale Train" idiocy die, don't they?

-And finally, Nigel, I know you're contractually obligated to say this is the best season ever, but since a large percentage of the internet bloggers agree with you I have to go on record right here as saying that season 2 is still the best.  Season 3 does, however, beat the hell out of season 1, which was fun at the time but in retrospect so far beneath seasons 2 and 3 that I like to pretend it didn't even exist. 

-This top 4 crew seems very motley.  None of them seem to go together, really.  So let's see what their group dance choreographer Tyce has to say about them... Danny brings flamboyancy technical excellence, Neil is totally going to win the most evolved, Lacey is horny consistent as one can get, and Sabra is totally unworthy of mention a master at everything (that one I really do not understand).  And Neil, you are such a liar.  Nobody thinks this is the top 4 they would have wished for.  Name me one other person in America who likes EVERYBODY in this top 4.  My personal dream team would have been Neil, Pasha, Lauren and Jaimie.  Commenters, how about you?

-Mom doesn't think any of these kids seem bent on winning, but I (half-jokingly) beg to differ.  Lacey expects to win because her brother did, so she has to live up to her full Schwimmer potential.  Danny expects to win because he has to avenge his brother's loss.  Neil expects to win because he could just about take on Orlando Bloom with all his screaming fangirls.  And Sabra expects to win because she's the only one without a gimmick, which should have earned her the role of America's Sweetheart.

-This Broadway group dance is really...not that interesting.  Broadway's never my favorite style, all spastic showboating, but this one has the unfortuanate handicap of being "Bye Bye Blackbird" as sung by Liza Minelli, and although I don't know much about Liza outside of her creepy role on Arrested Development, I know that I find her as fundamentally disturbing as Anna Nicole Smith, and as such the world would be a far better place if everyone pretended she never existed.  Poor opening to the finale, really, although marginally better than Wade's Sea Creatures last week.

-Cat asks the judges if they have anything to say to the final 4...do you notice that Lacey is the only one who doesn't get any praise?  Nigel tells Lacey a few things she ought to do better, and then tongue-bathes everyone else.  It's kind of unfair.  Although I do like how he stresses "Not the best dancer in the world, but America's favorite dancer."  That is what this competition is and always has been, but people seem to need reminding of this fact at regular intervals as they kvetch about how people like Neil and Lauren didn't deserve to go as far as they did.
V: You "kvetched" a fair deal about Kameron getting into the top 10.
RS: But not about his lack of dance skill; it was because there was nothing pleasant about him at all.

-Commercial Commentary 1: The Nanny Diaries looks cute, funny, and/or heartwarming.  Only I can't stand Scarlett and her gargantuan lips, so I think I'll read the book instead.

Lacey
Interview: Why does it not surprise me that Lacey had to be bribed with Barbie dolls into dancing, and quit multiple times over the course of her childhood?  Flighty and unfocused thing.  It really doesn't endear her to me a whole lot, although I put up with it because I like    interview segments, and this one provides lots of Benji clips, my favorite of which is from before her first audition --
    Benji: This is my little sister, Lacey...she's very little.  And...she has fake hair right now!
    RS: HEE.  I knew there were reasons I loved Benji beyond his fantastic dancing.   

We also learn that Lacey forgot her solo 2 weeks ago, which probably means that people weren't off the mark when they said that Lacey looked like she was making stuff up on the spot half the time. 

Solo: Is to "Technologic," a song which clearly belongs to an iPod commercial and/or Ivan from season 2, but which is such a fun song that I forgive.  It is again one of her more entertaining and less off-putting solos, and although I agree with Nigel calling her out on the finger pointing (if only he'd mentioned it earlier in the competition), my Lacey hate has all but dissipated.  I want to say it's too little, too late, but I think that I might send a small percentage of my votes her way to help ward off Danny and Sabra.  Depends on whether or not I think an extra boost will kill Neil's chances.

Neil/Sabra/Hip-Hop - "Whine Up," Kat DeLuna
Sabra: I've come to the conclusion that I'm just not the sexiest person in the world...
RS: *eyes her little-boy build, long face, and crazy poufy hair; concurs*
Shane: Neil's got all the dance ability, he's just lacking the sexuality.
Numerous fangirls: *point out that this is not really a problem*
[RS: *is not paying attention, having pulled out her Hit List and written "Shane Sparks" on it; 'sexuality' is not a word that needs to enter dance vocabulary, ever*]
Neil: Shane was like, asking me to be all sexy and stuff?  And I was like, "Shane.  That's like asking Nigel to be British."

Even though I think they're horrible partners with zero chemistry, I have to admit that was probably one of the most entertaining rehearsal clips ever.  And Sabra did do a pretty fair impression of a squealing pre-teen.  Now, about this dance...turns out, it's really great.  Shane had me all worried with his sex talk; I thought this was going to end up like a dirty music video and instead it turned into a really fun side-by-side routine, with high energy and a ton of fun.  THIS is what  I love about hip-hop.  I can't stand this kind of music in general, or how people dance to it at parties, but when you make a choregraphed routine out of it, it is just remarkable.  I can't understand why the judges called it disappointing; it was miles better than the opening group dance.

Lacey/Danny/Viennese Waltz - "Keep Holding On," Avril Lavigne.
You will never hear me say I agree with Crazy Little French Man again, but for once, he's 100% correct when he says he feels like he's dealing with kindergarten.  Lacey's a child anyway, but the last couple of weeks, Danny seems to have regressed about 10 years and become extraordinarily spastic and attention-deficit (I swear his voice has gotten more nasal, too) every time the camera catches him outside the dance floor.  Putting him in a room with Lacey seems like an exercise in frustration.  I felt a wave of being back in high school...it's been a long time since I heard a teacher chastise someone for talking when they're supposed to being attention.

Although I admit I giggled immaturely when she tried to slide between his legs and hit her head...I've always wondered if that ever happens, so I guess I got my answer. 

The dance...y'all, you know I love Avril, but not this song.  Even if it wasn't being overplayed a hundred times a week on this station in commercials for "K-Ville," she has a lot of better ballads.  And I am a firm believer in ballroom dances not being done to songs with lyrics, especially modern songs.  The two things just don't fit together at all, and it's very distracting as I don't know which to pay attention to more.  The dance doesn't do it for me at all.  The one positive to it all is her dress, which the most elegant ballgown I've ever seen, and doesn't even look like a dance costume - it looks like something you could wear on a fancy outing.  I want it!   I like the amusing discussion with Cat and the judges afterwards, though.
Nigel: Some great lines...how much did you think about that hand?
Lacey: Okay - so once you said that, and I like saw the instant replay where it stops, I seriously like vomited and thought it was just disgusting ... I actually put a popsicle stick in my glove one day to practice...
Danny: She totally made that up. 

Neil
Interview: Neil responds to Cat's dull query about his full name with "Neil David Haskell...hoff," which kicks things off on a delightful note.  He's been dancing since he was 5, which is exactly what I might have expected, and he love the picture of his little-kid costume.  There's also a photo wherein I discover that even though Neil looks decent with spiky hair now, and I was not a fan of it being combed down for his jazz routine with Sabra, he would be unspeakably hot if he ditched the gel and let his hair grow out just enough to start forming slight curls. 

Solo: Combines nearly everything I've loved in previous solos; Russian jumps and split leaps and twisting spins, elegant extensions and a pleasant new addition, leaping up with pointed toes to criss-cross his ankles in mid-air.  It's all I can do not to start clapping from this side of the screen, really.  Also, I scrawl VOTE!  VOTE!  VOTE 02! in giant letters across the top of my notebook to remind me to dial nonstop for an hour or so tonight.  And - oi, Neil, shut up you're jinxing it!  Don't even admit that you've thought about the possibility of winning!  People will turn on you!

Sabra/Lacey/Wade Robson Creation (possibly contemporary): "Koyai [Songbird]", Nitin Sawhney which I want ASAP.
"We wanted to explore different female relationships," says Wade, at which Mom immediately looks wary and suspects that they're going to exploit their one chance to have two girls dancing together to create something dirty.  Which is not  an unfounded fear, after that homoerotic thing with Tranji last year, except that Wade already talked about foxes, and for once it meant the four-legged woodland creatures rather than a metaphorical noun.  Indeed, they'll be playing mother and baby fox ("I have a big tail and you have a little tail!" Lacey tells Sabra, in an exaggerated baby voice that is twenty times cuter than it ought to be), which sounds like a neat concept.

Sure enough, although I'm apparently the only one besides Wade and probably Mia who liked it, I thought it was the best so far.  The music was incredibly gorgeous despite being Japanese and therefore incomprehensible, which their short-kimino-like costumes reflected well, and their movement was remarkable, shifting easily from slow and graceful stretches to sharp turns and leaps before transitioning back.  Although I agree that Lacey creeping out at the beginning was a little odd, the rest of it was fun to watch - this is something I could see passing in musical theater, actually.  Sabra especially sells the concept of a baby fox with her playful tumbling and scampering about the stage, and I love her wide-eyed and fearful expression at the end as she looks over the edge of the stage before running back to the safety of "Mom."  Emotion from Sabra, ohmigod!  You know, I think this would have been fun even without context, because their dancing was so graceful throughout (dear judges: that's the kind of thing you could critique, even if you don't "get" the dance!  In the audience, Wade's smile appears extremely stiff, and I suspect he's gritting his teeth.  I don't blame him).  

This was such fun that I find myself disappointed that this one dance in the finale is the only time we ever get to see two girls on stage together; group routines don't count because they always break into guy-girl pairs at multiple points.  Girls (or guys) dancing a duet, breaking the mold of the romantic storyline that permeates a good 75% of the regular partnership dances, is a welcome change and in many cases I actually find it more enjoyable.  No, you don't get the spectacular lifts, but hands-off, side-by-side dancing can be perfectly entertaining.  Really, it can.  

Danny
Interview: Blah, blah, boring and fake-shocking revelation that Danny was adopted by Travis Wall's mom, for the 10 or so people watching this show who don't have the internet and didn't already hear this story a REALLY LONG TIME AGO.  Danny's eyes go teary; mine roll towards the ceiling with a sigh.  They roll even more when he talks about feeling "misunderstood" when the judges all went around calling him arrogant.  Mom says that she never saw him as arrogant.  I am unconcerned with whether or not I was manipulated into believing that because of the editing; I know that I look at him and see a guy who has entirely too much confidence in his own ability, and it annoys me.  Whether the confidence is justified is not the issue.  The issue is that I don't like confident people. 

Solo: Circling the stage in an alternating series of split lips and chaine turns (I hate how long it took me to figure out how to spell that; I knew it was French but always thought of it as "shinet," and even after years of French classes I never thought to try and decipher the root of the term) has got to be one of the coolest things I've ever seen.  And his spotting is so impossibly precise it's almost inhuman.  All sorts of things to love about his dancing.  Also: yay, more gratuitous Benji shots!  
Nigel says "There are no words," and is correct. Mary walks right into a joke setup when she gleefully says "You're just crazy, Danny!"  Because - we all know how much Mary loves crazy.  To prove this point, Mary screams for absolutely no reason.   Someone needs to rip out her vocal cords.  Finally, Dan asks what's in the water at Denise Wall's studio, between him and Travis and Jaimie, which is the best comment all night. 

I more or less tuned the show out as Cat turned to the cameras to read off Danny's number and remind us not to vote for him...I mean, not to vote YET, and went to pet the dog.   About thirty seconds later, her final words filtered through my brain and I sat bolt upright to yelp, "DID SHE JUST SAY NEIL - AND DANNY - IN A MIA MICHAELS CONTEMPORARY?!"  Holy crap.  My half-cocked dream is coming true!  If I don't finish this entry, it's because I have spontaneously combusted from the mere presence of two such extraordinary contemporary trickmasters on one stage. 

Danny/Neil/Contemporay: "Are You the One?" - The Presets
I mentioned this last year, but since I now have readers it bears repeating: every year, out of the 50+ dances at my studio's annual recital, the one you looked forward to more than any other was the (competition) boys' dance, because it would be high energy and full of the most masterful set of leaps, spins and gymnastic tricks that you could imagine.  Putting guys together just brings out a whole different level, and not in the way that creepy slash fans admire either, PERSON WHO CAME ACROSS MY XANGA SITE WHILE LOOKING FOR NEIL/PASHA FANFIC.  Cough.  With that in mind, I expect this one to rock my world even more than the girls' dance.

It kind of does, and kind of doesn't.  My initial reaction was disappointment; having built it up in my mind so much, my first thought was "Are we not yet tired of recycling the 19th-century court costuming and deathlike makeup from Wade's Ramalama routine?"  and my second thought was that there was far too much sitting in chairs and glaring, and not enough actual, uh, dancing.  In truth, they do take entirely too long to throw away their swords and get out onto the open stage.  But with the tape at my disposal, I've found myself watching it a good dozen times.  I love the aggression of the royal throwdown/danceoff (heh); it thankfully delivers all the masculinity Mia promised (I will say that for Danny; despite how spastic his recent interviews have been, he's always been a very masculine dancer).  The clapping bit was great, showcasing Danny as the cold, sneering, contemptuous prince while Neil is the hotheaded responder, Neil has a good bit of working the chair like a balance beam and I loved the circling each other with hands on throats, but it really does take off when they get out into the open and start making use of the space.  They have some good lifts and throws, but nothing is better than the end, where they simultaneously roundhouse leap towards each other and land center stage.  Okay, you know what?  This is officially my favorite of the night.

Secretly, I was probably really just amused by all the punches being thrown.  See, you just couldn't get stuff like that from guy-girl pairs, or even girls for that matter.  Once again, I move that in season 4 we do more mixing of genders as well as styles.

Sabra
Interview: An Army brat, eh?  Great.  And Cat feels a need to comment again on Sabra's giant scream, which reminds me that she's little and loud, which makes two reasons to hate her.  Then they replay the clip where she cracks her head on the ground after being dropped by Dominic during the Hairspray routine, which just cheers me right up. 

Solo: Blah.  I'm back to not really caring about her dancing.  One nice switch leap, but the rest was "eh."  Magic?  I think not.  Danny is magic; Sabra is bland.

-Commercial Commentary 2: So, about Fox's new show "Anchorwoman"...they claim the star's character is a bikini model, but from the look of her I'm pretty sure they meant to say "porn star."

-Commercial Commentary 3: Who, seriously, is planning to watch "American Band"?  98% of bands suck.  And 1% of those that don't are full-piece instrumental concert bands in various high schools and colleges across the country.  The point is that finding a band that's enjoyable to listen to is an extreme rarity, and entirely dependent upon them having a good song.  Bands playing other peoples' songs has an even lower success rate, because it rarely sounds as good as the original.  And given that every single clip they feature in this extended commercial makes me want to rip my ears and/or eyes out, I doubt it will be any better than I expect. 

Neil/Lacey/Lindy Hop: random big-band swing music
LINDY HOP!  Woo-HOO!  Swing dancing, or in this case Super Insanely Hard swing dancing, does not get featured on this show nearly often enough.  I think it might be my favorite style outside of tap, actually, so I'm glad they're going to fit one in.  Or at least I was until the rehearsal clip started, and I was more than a little horrified by how hard some of those flips looked, and kind of wanted to cry on Lacey's behalf.  I actually felt sorry for her, if you can believe that.

But then the dance started and she looked super cute, and they both looked like they were having a great time, with skips and fast footwork, a bit of leapfrog and fun twirls.  I loved it the first time through, but in repeat viewings I don't think they needed quite so many difficult flips, especially that last one, on a week when all the kids are tired from having to learn and perform at least five routines.  I wish this had come up earlier in the season.  It's hard to believe the energy when you mostly feel that the dance is an exercise in cruelty.  Although I do like Neil kissing the top of Lacey's head while they're standing with Cat.   If anyone was a fan of this particular pairing, they'd have a ready-made icon right there.

Commercial Commentary 4: For once, commercial spam isn't turning me off a show..."Back to You" is looking funnier and funnier.  I am so totally going to fall under its spell come fall.

Sabra/Danny/Cha-Cha : "Gotta Get Done" - Celia Cruz, Spanglish remix
Sabra and Danny are both so dull that I have nothing to say about their rehearsal clips.  Their dance isn't much better, so it's a good thing there's a nice beat to this song keeping me entertained.  They do both look hotter/more attractive than usual for some reason, though; that's good.  Okay...the seizure-inducing strobe lights are not good.  But I do like what Nigel calls "the Beyonce Bounce," even though I'm pretty sure that's not a standard cha-cha move.  And her upside down split-leg left.  By the end of the dance, I've revised my opinion of their chemistry...Danny and Sabra should have been paired up from the beginning, rather than that silly Anya and Dominic sideshow.  They look good together.

-Cat's recapping the dances.  Okay, Self, got that?  Give Lacey a 12-vote boost (#1), and then spend an intense hour hitting redial for Neil, #2.

-Now Cat's asking the judges for their final words.  OMGWTF NIGEL, SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE!  It would NOT be nice to see a girl win this year, damn it!  A girl should have won the first year, because Melody was flat-out fantastic, and it would have been equally great if Donyelle had taken it in year 2, but this year the girls are nowhere near the guys' standards.  That's it, Neil, tell him with your eyebrows!

-The top 20 are coming back tomorrow?  Meaning I get to see Hok & Shauna again?  Yippee!  And Cat's dancing with Nigel, are you frickin' serious?  That would be so great.  I've always wanted to see Cat put her dancing shoes on!  And Nigel, too.  Hey, speaking of special guests, wouldn't it be cool if we could see a choreographer's dance?  The only dance at my recital that was possibly more anticipated than the boys' dance was the teachers' dance. 

Commercial Commentary 5, outside the cut because it's relevant now that LJ has introduced those related V-gifts: Diet Pepsi Max, now with MORE CAFFEINE!  Because I was just saying to myself, "With all those studies about how healthy excess caffeine is, I would love to be able to cram more of it into my fizzy beverage of choice!"   I don't get how that marketing campaign is working.  If anything, it makes me feel like I should think twice about purchasing pop at all.  I mean, the way I see it, that's like advertising fast food burgers by saying "Now with MORE FAT for extra flavor!"
-------------------
Thursday: Judgment Day
-So, the thing is that right after this show ended last night I got distracted by doing laundry and taking a shower, and long story short is that I woke up this morning, thought for a second, and then went "GOD EFFING DAMMIT I FORGOT TO VOTE!!!!"  So, now it's totally my fault if Sabra wins and/or Neil doesn't.  Yes, I could have been an influential part of those 16 million votes!  Somehow!

-WOW, what is Cat wearing?  It's like a hideously overlayered tutu.  But she has butterfly clips that look like actual butterflies in her hair, along with cute braids pinned atop her head, so at least she looks good from the neck up.

-And here come the top 20, in order of the weeks they were voted off.  First up, Ashlee and Ricky.  Ricky could have been as good as Danny, I swear.   Ashlee should have stayed longer, but I'm less broken up about it.

-Oh, so that's Jimmy.  He was slightly more attractive than Cedric, he ought to have stayed longer.  Faina, on the other hand, went at exactly the right time.

-Aw, Jessi.  Remember how I fell in love with her about half an hour before she got voted off?  Jesus is even less attractive than I remember, although I wish Dominic had been in the bottom 3 that week instead of him.

-Shauna!  My beloved dance studio girl.  And Cedric, the robot-dancing loser.

-Anya, who loved animals but was boring!  And Hok, who rocked the stage at all times!

-Over here we have Jaimie, my other beloved dance studio girl, and Kameron the Scuzzy.

-Sara, who was just barely among the better half of the girls, and Dominic, who sucked at all times he wasn't breakdancing solo!

-Finally, Lauren and Pasha, WHO SHOULD TOTALLY HAVE BEEN IN THE FINAL FOUR IN PLACE OF SABRA AND DANNY.  On the bright side, they got to make all the media rounds together, and it was by far the best media tour pairing ever.  Even better than Martha and Dmitry.

-Also, I love how all the important judges down front include Dan Karaty, even though I think he's only done like 2 routines these season.  Definitely fewer than Crazy Little French Man and Tyce, anyway, who have to sit in the audience.  I guess Dan gets points for being a Season 1 Original.
Voice: Actually, I think he gets points for being an audition judge.

-Hey, Paula Abdul's in the audience!  I have it on good authority she's here to deliver a smackdown to Mary for horning in on her Crazy Judge territory.

-You know, I'd be happier for 2006's Twisted Ankle Girl having missed this season due to having a baby if I didn't know she was about 19 years old.  Irresponsible nekkidness!  Don't you have health classes down South? Also, honestly, appearing on So You Think You Can Dance strikes me as a considerably more lucrative prospect than losing your hot dance body to pregnancy.  Come on now.  Of course, much like the story of Danny's Adoption, this is something I looked up weeks ago, as did everyone else who remembered her and wondered why she wasn't featured in Vegas 2007. 

-Hey, Cat, you promised no filler.  Footage of the audition rounds is filler!  Except where it includes my shows from the top 20; that's okay.  Lol, I totally forgot that Lauren was not only featured in the Vegas rounds but had to put up with Crazy Drama Bitch Olivia in her choreography group.  I love the "what is your problem?" look the former is giving the latter. 

-You know what I remember most about this dance set to Lion King music that I didn't like all that much?  How Neil had those cool featured jumps in the middle of the circle.  See?  See?  It was foreshadowing!  He was destined to win from Day 1!  (And yes, I'm glad that they had all of the top 20 come back for a last dance, but that doesn't mean I have to appreciate the choreography)

Judge Favorite 1: Pasha/Lauren, Hip-Hop in Skeleton Outfits
I like this one even more now than I did when I first saw it, plus Lauren's handspring is much stronger this time.  Excellent choice for a encore performance, Mary!  Don't mind me, I'll just be watching this about 5 or 6 times...and this way, they get to have their proper, full-studio standing ovation full of screaming, cheering and applause.  Woo!

-Oh, it's the clogger!  I actually didn't recognize him until I read the recap, and I was pretty sure he was tap dancing, which made me think once again how it should not be any harder for the dancers to learn a 90-second tap routine than to dance a tango in high heels, so ADD TAP AS A GENRE ALREADY.  *climbs off ranting podium* Anyway, tap or clogging, I am about twenty times more impressed with him now than I was during his actual audition, and he is second only to Hilary Duff in terms of Best Guest Ever.   Forget the African dance guy.  This kid ROCKS MY WORLD. 

-You know what's even more like filler than audition footage?  THE STUPID EXTENDED COMMERCIAL FOR "AMERICAN BAND."  Especially when Nigel is given free rein to further promote it afterwards.

-Judge Favorite 2: Hok/Jaimie, Contemporary "Hummingbird Dance"
Ooooh.  *purrs* While I maintain that I preferred their "Mr. Bojangles" routine, this was my 2nd favorite of theirs and certainly high on my list of favorites overall.  It's sooooo pretty (the spikes in Jaimie's hair notwithstanding).  I really wish I could have the equivalent of a recital DVD - just all the routines of the season one after another, no rehearsal clips or judge commentary in between. 

-Judge Favorite 3: Sabra/Dominic, Hip-Hop (Ne-Yo Style)
You suck, Crazy Little French Man.  Can't do anything right, not even pick one of the two dozen or so good dances this season.  The only things I liked at all about this dance were the part where they freeze in handstands with pretzel-twist legs, and the riff in the music at the end.

Judge Favorite 4: Sara/Neil, Pink & Blue Disco with the Y-flip
Well, at least Adam can pick good dances.  I forgot there were other parts to this routine besides the Y-flip, but this was really cool, even though I don't remember Sara's bangs being quite so frickin' fugly before, in a flipped-up fringe curl that looks like it must be some kind of hideous hairpiece.   Anyway.  Forget Sara in pink; I can't get over how fantastic Neil looks in blue.

-More filler!  Featuring hip-hop and breakdancing auditions, which is actually super entertaining (plus, Hok!), so I forgive it.  Until Brian Gaynor, Scoliosis Robot comes out.  Okay, he didn't even impress me the first time, and the extended performance impresses me even less.  WTF with the standing ovation?  I'm giving him the same blank look I give to people like Fergie and Snoop Dogg.  To make things even worse, he's dancing to Christina Aguilera.  In her jazz voice.  Which is even more unbearable than her Dirrty voice.

-Ooh, the Matrix routine featuring the top 8.  Once we get past Lacey's creepy doll face, I liked that one, what with Lauren's starring role and all.  Although if I had to pick another group routine to see, it would totally have been the Hairspray one.

-Oi!  You should have mentioned sooner that Hok and Shauna were going to be among the alternates on the tour!  *begins formulating plans to have people bash the ankles of Kameron and Sabra* And if Hok's going to get to do the hummingbird routine...damn.  I almost want to go this year now!  Tickets are still available 6 shocking days later, since the venue has moved from a smallish theater to a full-fledged arena for 2007, but...since I still only like about half the dancers, I don't think it's quite worth 65 bucks a pop for this group. Last year's top 10 were really something, you know?

Judge Favorite 5: Danny/Lacey/Dmitry & Heidi's Little Black Samba
The spoken words in the song track were distracting, but I did like this dance.  It was hot without being gross, and it actually showcased Lacey's talent.  If I stopped to think about my favorite routines all season, I don't know that this one would have made my list, but it was a decent number. 

Oh no!  Now Cat's going to announce which of these two ended up in fourth place...please be Danny, please be Danny!
Mom: Lacey.
Cat: Lacey
RS: %%(*@&$@*&^$@&*$@$@!!!!!!!!  Damn it, there goes my half hope; now it's Neil or nothing.  Everything's riding on him

I really hoped Lacey was going to nab 2nd, or at least 3rd.  Sigh.  Oh well, more gratuitous Benji clips!  And yes, I know they refuse to actually say that this is 4th place, but not revealing the top 4 in order, when it would be so easy to do so, is too stupid for comprehension.  Although I am rather proud of the show for not repeating last year's utterly stupid final 4 elimination fiasco.  ("Let me pull Heidi onstage all by herself halfway through the show, and then open the Mysterious Card of Fate.  I WONDER WHAT IT SAYS?")

Commercial Commentary: Guys, I kind of hate myself, but i think I might have to watch the Teen Choice Awards.  I'm nostalgic about them because I grew up with them from year 1, when I was 13, but they've been utter CRAP since at least 2004 (most of the people and music they nominate these days are ridiculously irritating), and I maintain it is not because I grew out of the demographic but because teens are getting stupider.  And yet, I feel compelled to watch it so that I can see Kelly Clarkson & Avril Lavigne singing, Hilary Duff hosting, and clips from Pirates of the Caribbean. 

-We're back.  A "special performance" by Nicole who?  One of the Pussycat Whores, apparently.  You'd think having to put up with only one at a time would make a significant difference for the better, but no.  It's equally horrible.   And see, this is why I don't understand teenagers, because apparently a lot of them like this crap.  WHY?  It's not musically or lyrically good, she's not even dancing much, and while I suppose she is rather pretty, her looks are overshadowed by how exceedingly ugly her backup dancers are.   I'm also distracted by the fact that she keeps trying to remind us her name is Nicole, but then she keeps repeating "I do what my baby like," and projecting a general air that her name doesn't matter because she's easy. 

Judge Favorite 6: Sara/Pasha/Benji & Heidi's West Coast Swing.  Fatboy Slim, partner cartwheels, black and cerulean blue costumes, etc.
In other words, WOO-HOO-HOO-HOO!  Definitely one of my favorites.  Not to mention, seeing as I still think he ought to have won the whole show, more Pasha is always welcome.  Especially when it gives us even more Benji shots!  I love the entire exchange in which Cat asks if he was a tough teacher, and Pasha and Sara stumble for a while and finally go "Oh, yeah, sure," at which point Benji pointedly pulls a crumpled bill out of his pocket.
"Yes, you need to pay more next time, Benji Schwimmer," Cat tells him sweetly.  "You're too cheap!  Too cheap, next time, pay more."  Meanwhile Benji looks outraged, the smoothed-out $100 still in his hands.

Judge Favorite 7: Danny/Anya/"It Had to Be You" Waltz
*beats Tyce about the head and shoulders* HIDEOUS!  HIDEOUSNESS!  RAGE!  WORST DANCE OF THE ENTIRE SEASON!  POSSIBLY THE HISTORY OF THE SHOW!  Her dress was gorgeous (the one showcased in Pasha's last solo), and that was all.   That song + waltz = death.  Not surprising, since it was cooked up by Crazy Little French Man and everything he touches turns to crap.  Hitting the fast-forward button now.

Judge Favorite 8: Sara/Jesus/Zombie Hobos
I don't even recognize this judge, although I think he might be ballroom of some sort.  This is not precisely what I would call my favorite dance.  Also, if anyone's going to get three encore performances, it should clearly be not Sara, but Pasha.  Ideally, Pasha and Jessi's cha-cha would be playing right now.   I'm gonna go ahead and ignore this routine, if that's all right.

Judge Favorite 9: Sabra/Neil/Table Dance "Sweet Dreams are Made of This"
Mom was intensely disappointed that she didn't get to see the Neil & Sabra's Paso Doble, but we were both equally happy about this choice (Mia can pick 'em!). Or at least, I was in theory...this one just didn't have the same energy as before.  They both seemed really tired, and their supposedly synchronized pirouettes away from the table and out onto the floor were way off from one another, and I think they were a little slow to nail their ending.

Oh crap, time to give one of these three a 3rd place finish...please, God, be Sabra!  Sabra Sabra Sabra!  Or failing that, Danny!  OH GOD, THIS IS THE WORST SUSPENSE EVER.
Cat: Neil
RS: *shrieks out loud* "NO!  DAMN IT!!"
It was at this point that I launched theatrically off the sofa and fell on the rug, rocking and sobbing.  I misjudged the distance and crashed into the dog as I did so, which rather took away from my intended dramatic effect and caused Mom to make fun of me straight through the commercial break, but still.  How could the fangirls fail??  We got Jordin crowned American Idol; we're supposed to be an unstoppable superpower!  Was there even any point to watching the rest of the show?  I wanted to go with "not really" and tried to leave, but Mom made me stay.  Instead, I mostly spent the rest of the evening staring dully at the screen and occasionally mumbling obscenities  under my breath.  How the goddamn effing hell do Danny and Sabra end up vying for the title?!  PRETTY PEOPLE ARE SUPPOSED TO COME OUT ON TOP.

-Ooh, I did like the Imogen Heap dance of pagan ritual; it was one of the better group routines of the season, for sure.  Can Danny's starring role in this be a sign that he'll win?  Because Dear God, not Sabra

-Okay, despite what I just said about staring dully at the screen, I really did sit up with interest to see Cat & Nigel dancing, as I'd forgotten that was coming.  I perked up, eager to see what was coming.  First there was a little intro video where Cat & Nigel's heads were pasted on computer figures that kicked around a bit to "La Cucaracha." And then...there was no and then.  That was all.  That was the big hyped Cat-and-Nigel performance.  WHAT THE FUCK, SYTYCD.  That was worse than Celine & "Elvis" on Idol.  *pause* No wait, nothing in the world could possibly be as bad as Celine and a projection of Elvis, but much as I love JibJab, crappy computer video does not make up for actual live dancing, which wouldn't have had to be even a quarter as complicated as a usual routine to be entertaining, you know.  I HATE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW, SHOW. 

-Ryan Cabrera sings this year's goodbye song?  And it's called "I Will Remember You"?  The things you learn!  Okay, so I really like his song "On the Way Down," but while I love the chorus on this song, but the rest is nothing special.  It really doesn't need a full-length performance.  And while if I look hard, the kid's kind of attractive (oh wait, not a kid, he's 25!  ...are you sure?  Sure he's not more like 16?), but it's hard to see past his mop of straggly and unwashed-looking hair.  He kind of projects an aura of hobo tonight, actually. All that's missing are fingerless gloves. 

Judge Favorite 10: Neil/Lacey/Mia Michael's Tribute to Late Father Contemporary
Oh my God, Dan, why would you make us suffer through this again?  I admit, my curiosity was piqued after so many people bashed a Mia routine, so having missed the original performance I watched it online, and it was just so not worth praising!  The song is crap and the  dancing is lackluster, and...ugh.   While I am impressed by how completely Lacey sells her performance as an innocent little child, this is far away from my list of all-time favorites, and it sucks because there are just so many better Mia Michaels routines out there.  Case in point, I wanted Neil and Lauren's "Let the Drummer Kick"  (with the goggles).  That was the one I was most disappointed about not getting (that, or the Lacey/Pasha mannequin dance, but that one was pretty recent and we'd already seen 1 routine from that week)

-Yes, I'm still sulking about the fact that the two of them are standing there but not waiting to hear which of the two's been crowned winner

-Moment of Truth!  I...I don't even know which one I want to win less right now.  I hate Sabra beyond belief, stupid shrimpy underdog, but I also can't bear the thought of Danny overcoming the Arrogance label to prove the judges wrong and/or be the first person since Kelly Clarkson to win a subjective competition by being the most technically proficient. 

-Cat: America's Favorite Dancer - is -
RS: Danny Danny Danny Danny Danny Danny Danny--
Cat: Sabra!
GOD DAMN IT ALL TO HELL!! EVEN THE XX-LARGE SIZE FONT, IN BOLD, ISN'T BIG ENOUGH TO ACCURATELY DEPICT MY LEVEL OF RAGE RIGHT NOW.

This is right about on par with Taylor Hicks winning American Idol last year (which still makes my head spin with WTFery). What next, Sara dies on CSI?  Hilary Clinton becomes President?  AFTER THIS, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

*fumes* Sick.  You thought I talked about hating Sabra before?  I was being reserved.  I hate Sabra.  I hate Sabra, and now all the rage and fury is just going to come spilling out with anything and everything I can think of.  She's a shrimpy little undeserving pixie brat.  FOUR YEARS OF DANCE TRAINING.  FOUR.  Undeserved!  I despise her "underdog" story.  It's not inspirational, it's just another "I can do anything I believe in!" story and oh, I hate those.  One should not be able to do anything; one should make up one's mind early and stick to something forever.  Latecomers who effortlessly steal the spotlight annoy me beyond belief. 
 
She's a gymnastics and cheerleading brat, which are poor substitutes for actual dance experience.  And she's loud.  And hyper.  And she doesn't have pretty hair.  But the root of my anger is that I never saw anything particularly extraordinary about her dancing or her personality.  Her talent was merely the high end of average.  I felt emotion from about 10% of her dances, if that, and I was moved maybe twice by her in the entire competition.  She should NOT have been the winner.  Oh, God, please don't tell me we're going to see as many clips of her throughout next season as we did of Benji this year?  Because I might go insane.  *twitches*

I'm abruptly glad this show is over, and will not miss it at all.  It will take me fully nine months to build up my enthusiasm again. 

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