At the end of last night's So You Think You Can Dance season finale, as Jeanine Mason's fellow season 5 dancers swarmed over to congratulate her on a fantastically improbable victory and the Kodak Theater became choked with a blizzard of confetti, I found myself overcome with a feeling of bittersweet melancholy that this most imperfect of seasons was over, and that caught me quite off guard. Perhaps it was the result of the thoroughly entertaining tour of (most of) the season's best routines. Perhaps it was the exceptionally satisfying sight of watching Jeanine's genuine astonishment at her success, and her pitch-perfect reaction when Cat Deeley then asked for her favorite moment from the show: ''Okay, right now.'' Perhaps it was the nagging regret that SYTYCD — and, by extension, the viewers of the show who never picked up the phone to vote — never quite gave Kayla, Ade, and especially Janette their due recognition. Or perhaps it was the result of watching Evan Kasprzak's earnest, choochie face wash over with waves of gratitude, frustration, relief, and disappointment after placing third, and realizing that Evan's fans only have themselves to blame for so tantalizingly dangling success in front of his puppy-dog mug only to fail him utterly when it came time to get out the all important finale power vote.
Okay, maybe it wasn't that last one.
Too harsh? Well, I can't exactly hide the fact that I'm happy Evan didn't win. He is definitely charming. He is definitely adorable. His style of dance is definitely unique in the canon of SYTYCD contestants thus far. I was squarely in his corner when he first appeared on the scene this season, having felt real outrage that he was cut from last year's Top 20. But he is simply not as strong a dancer as Jeanine, Brandon, and Kayla, and to pretend otherwise because he's a nice guy would be patronizing to Evan and unfair to the unmitigated talent of those other three dancers. Besides, Nigel's made it abundantly clear that we're going to be getting plenty of Kasprzakian mojo next season courtesy of Evan's older brother Ryan. Who knows, maybe they'll pull a reverse Schwimmer and the elder sibling will take the whole season 6 shebang? (Or is that a mirror-image Schwimmer? Or a double-dutch, half-gainer Schwimmer with a twist? I think it's the middle one.)
Since so much of the show was made up of repeat performances, I'm not sure what else I have to say about last night's finale episode other than it was a fabulous evening for Jeanine and Brandon, who returned to the stage the most times with three routines each; a triumphant night for Kayla, who proved once again with Kupono why the Mia Michaels ''Addiction'' dance is far and away the best routine from season 5, quietly and emphatically putting Nigel in his place for those ridiculous digs on Wednesday about her personality; a bittersweet night (a lot of that going around) for Janette, whose return only reminded her fans of What Could Have Been; and a horny night for Jason, who had the great good fortune of reprising routines that allowed him to get all smoochie with Jeanine and Caitlin. The tramp.
The Cancer Dance controversyI was surprised Melissa and Ade duplicated only one routine, though it was certainly a doozy. Let me be clear: I'm not on Team Hates The ''Cancer'' Dance, I'm on Team Hates The Cloying, Self-Satisfied Way The Show Regards The ''Cancer'' Dance. I am nothing but thrilled that Tyce's friend Michelle discovered she is cancer-free, but was I the only one who felt like the way Tyce delivered the news, and the standing ovation he received after doing so, was as if his choreography was the medicine that cured it? And while I remain quite moved by Mia Michaels' genuine emotional response to the routine when it was first performed, I really hope that our ability to truly know what is going on with breast cancer wasn't hanging on the eye-opening power of a 90-second routine on So You Think You Can Dance. Isn't it enough that the routine simply moves us to reflect not just on cancer, but on any loved one battling a chronic or possibly fatal disease? Do we really need an extended, intrusive close-up on cancer survivor Christina Applegate's tear-streaked face to drive that home for us?
At least I can unambiguously state that I adored re-watching every single reprised dance, including the ones I was meh about the first time through: Tyce's opening Top 20 number from The Wiz, which took full advantage of the bigger stage; the at least partially pre-recorded Top 16 ballroom/hip-hop group number; even the unexpected return of Asuka and Vitolio's floor sweeping waltz — well, minus that creepy final image of Askua slowly clawing at the air while lit from below. I really, really, really, really, really wish we had also seen Wade Robson's killer ''Ruby Blue'' routine from the Top 12 week; the fact that there was no catwalk and stairwell in the Kodak is no excuse, either! I'm still not entirely sure what to make of SYTYCD Australia champion Talia Fowler's performance, which I enjoyed right up until Nancy Sinatra's haunting ''Bang Bang'' turned into a vertigo-inducing Euro-pop rave. It was great fun to see the judges high step onto the stage at the climax of the Top 8 group number from A Chorus Line's ''One,'' but, Lil C., dude, c'mon, why did you have to go and duck out like that? Would it have been so damaging to your street cred to don a shiny white tux and throw your legs in the air to the beat of an iconic Broadway showtune and you don't have to answer that question because I think I've pretty much answered it for you.
Finally, no discussion of last night's finale would be complete without a paean to Cat Deeley. I may on occasion give her guff for those adventurous frocks of hers — and I must say, the double-sided tape crew must've been working overtime to keep that sleeveless, silky ivory bath towel of a dress from sliding right off Cat's crane-like frame — but I simply cannot imagine SYTYCD working without her. Not only does she have a Seacrestian light touch for keeping things moving smoothly, but she managed to diffuse even the most insufferable moments from last night's finale by making us feel at all times as if we're a part of a massive, daffy party she was throwing in her spare 3,500-seat rumpus room. (P.S. Anyone wonder where the Kodak found those extra 500 seats between the performance show and the results show? We're they hanging from the ceiling?) Cat's deft, infectious reaction to the preposterously adorable Rage Boyz Crew should alone be enough to get the woman a bloody Emmy nomination next year for Best Reality Host, if not the actual trophy itself. I mean, seriously.
Fare thee well
And that, dear readers, is that on season 5 of So You Think You Can Dance, and on me as your SYTYCD TV Watcher. After spending spring camped out inside the American Idol Thunderdome, and summer parked on my sofa jotting down thoughts about every last inanity out of Mary Murphy's mouth, I'm taking a much needed break from covering nationally televised performance competition shows. I promise, you all will be left in first-rate hands this fall for season 6, hopefully with someone free of an obvious vendetta against the brothers Kasprzak.
In the meantime, were you happy with season 5's winner? Were there any routines from the season that you missed seeing in the finale show (other than the obvious omission of Brandon and Janette's Wade Robson number, I mean)? Which reprised routines did you think were better a second time around? Wasn't Jeanine wearing pretty much the best Little Black Dress ever at the end? Does anyone really think there was a camera crew recording the final four through their entire screening of the brand spankin' new Fame? (How'd that flick look to you, by the way?) And if Nigel found out who won the show at 12:30 a.m. Pacific time, that means he had the results at 9:30 p.m. Hawai'i time, which also means that, since SYTYCD begins airing in the island chain at 7 p.m., voters in our president's home state had less than 30 minutes to affect the show's outcome, if any time at all — anyone else think Nigel has some 'splainin' to do to The Aloha State?