The real winner of So You Think You Can Dance: producer/judge Nigel Lythgoe
I have tried to understand why this street dancing version of American Idol has become the Tampa Bay TV market's most-watched series. I've also tried to overlook the empty enthusiasm of host Cat Deeley and screechy hysteria of judge Mary Murphy.
But I came away from Wednesday's two-hour pre-finale performance episode -- the show's actual finale is tonight's 8 p.m. results show -- with respect for one participant most of all: creator/producer/judge Nigel Lythgoe.
Besides revealing a surprising expertise in dance -- he was a performer and choreographer in England before becoming a TV producer -- Lythgoe offers the clearest feedback of any expert onstage, minus the boundless egoism and careless abusiveness of TV's best known Brit judge, American Idol's Simon Cowell (perhaps this contrast is the real reason Lythgoe's leaving his other job as executive producer on Idol this season).
Since Lythgoe can't actually win the dance competition, I'll have to pick dancer Stephen "Twitch" Boss as my favorite to win tonight's results show. I have no idea whether the show's viewers agree -- Twitch, along with fellow finalist Courtney Galiano have landed among the bottom three or four twice this season -- but last night he seemed to combine street flavor with a mastery of classic styles in a way no other dancer did (fellow street dancer Joshua Alston and Katee Shean are my Nos. 2 and 3, respectively).
Of course, considering how well I did picking winners for this year's Idol and Dancing with the Stars, this blog might not be your first stop for spot-on victory predictions.