Thursday, January 6, 2011

Yes, I Know It Isn't A Game Show

Describe Live To Dance here.

Paula Abdul. No, seriously; she's this show's only selling point...but if you really need to know more...

Andrew Gunsberg (former host of the now-canceled Australian Idol) hosts a multi-week dance competition that will award $500,000 to the best dance act in America, or at least the best dance act in America that hasn't already appeared on a show like this. The first show, naturally, consisted of hundreds of such acts auditioning in a "specially constructed dance dome" (what?) in front of a studio audience (yes, they actually found a studio audience for the auditions) and, of course, former American Idol judge Paula Abdul, making her big comeback to television. OK, fine, there are other judges too, namely Kimberly Wyatt (former Pussycat Doll) and Travis Payne (no idea), but it's clear which one we're supposed to pay attention to. When Kimberly and Travis walked in, they got minor cheering. When Paula walked in, she got a standing ovation and cries of "PAULA! PAULA!"

The mechanics? Do you honestly not know? These shows are all the same; countless acts will audition and move on to the next round if two out of three judges say so, and at some point we will end up with a dozen or so who will perform live, week after week, so that viewers can vote. To be fair, Live To Dance seems to play this mechanic a lot nicer than that other show Paula was on - all the acts shown in the premiere seem genuinely talented, and the "nasty judge" stereotype that all the other shows like this seem to have is rather conspicuously absent here. Why bother? People are watching for Paula, so let's make the whole show as annoyingly nice as she is!

Frankly, it's pretty clear by now that shows like this exist to make stars out of the judges, not the contestants. When Paula left American Idol, she (at least according to rumor) got offers to make her comeback from Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, and the upcoming The X Factor before Live To Dance was announced. Still, whatever these shows are doing, it seems to be working - even I'm reviewing them! I'll be back to game shows next week...but the week after that brings the really big event...


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