SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Recap: A Rotten Way To End The Night

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Following their debut performances last week, the top ten dancers of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE season 14 had one last chance to dance before facing the season’s first live elimination. Each contestant performed twice: a solo in their own style and a duet, along with their all-stars, in whichever style the SYTYCD gods decided to force on them. At the end of the night, Cat Deeley revealed the bottom three based on last week’s results, leaving the judges to make the final, difficult choice of which dancer to send packing.

Check out our SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE recap to find out all about tonight’s performance and, perhaps more importantly, who won’t be performing again next week.

Intros, group dances, and all that jazz disco.

Given the great level of talent on this season of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, the opening group dances are going to have to be better than tonight’s disco number.

Were the costumes great? Absolutely. Was the choreography? More or less. Was the whole thing a lot of fun? Sure, sure.

But the dancing? It felt sluggish. Quite frankly, that was a major disappointment — especially with the all-stars up there.

But Cat Deeley made the evening’s opening moments entertaining again by reminding everyone that the hot tamale train was back in the station: “If you haven’t heard she’s back, you just might want to get your ears checked.”

Girl, we’ve heard. We’ve. Heard. (And we need to get our ears checked.)

The first performance of the night came courtesy of Mark Villaver and Comfort Fedoke.

Comfort Fedoke, jazz, Ray Leeper. Once upon a time, those words, when put together, would’ve been a nightmare combination.

Not anymore.

I don’t know what kind of transformation Comfort has gone through since her days as a SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE contestant? But I’m here for it. The girl who was once quite familiar with being in the bottom three has no reason to fear that awful position right now

And neither does her partner.

Mark and Comfort had great chemistry and style in a jazz number that was, thankfully, actually jazz. Could the dancers have been sharper a few places? Totally. But did they do really well, just the same? Yep.

Judges’ comments. Vanessa Hudgens liked seeing “a bit more intensity” from Mark, rather than his usual, goofy personality. For Mary Murphy, there was “no hate — but love — here.”

Nigel Lythgoe was impressed by Mark’s focus and sharpness. But (like me!) he also had to take a moment to compliment Comfort for getting “stronger and stronger every season” before discussing this season’s contestant.

…and then it got very weird. Like, you know that thing that Nigel and Mary do? They kind of did that, but it also involved Mark Villaver thrusting his pelvis to show how excited he was to be a part of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE season 14.

Guys, help.

Up next, SYTYCD featured back-to-back solos by Koine Iwasaki and Logan Hernandez.

Both dancers showed off some unique, dynamic movement. Koine’s solo had some really nice highlights, like the slide across the floor and the articulation in her feet during an accented moment in her music.

But since nobody’s perfect, Logan and Koine also have some areas of technique that they could stand to work on. For Koine, it’s all about relaxing the shoulders.

And Logan…Did those scrunchy toes really come from the same studio that created Ricky Ubeda? Honestly? Let’s just hope the problem was isolated to a single episode of SYTYCD.

The evening’s second duet was an Argentine Tango from Lex Ishimoto and Gaby Diaz.

“This is the week that Lex becomes a man, even though he’s still wearing a ponytail.” Um. Can we not? Especially in the dance world, where outsiders already stereotype the men as “girly?”

Great. Now that we’ve moved beyond that little wrinkle, let’s talk about the actual performance.

There was a very big disconnect between the level of character that Gaby showed and the sort of wall that I felt Lex place between himself and his partner. Compared with Comfort and Mark’s chemistry, this performance was ice cold. Gaby, all weird pre-performance commentary aside, was putting forth all of the steam that the piece needed.

Unfortunately, the old saying about it taking two to tango is one hundred percent factual. And this tango only seemed to have one.

Judges’ comments. Mary thought there were “some awkward moments in there,” but she also talked about what a “hot, sexy” night viewers were in store for.

Nigel drew more attention to himself and Mary, as if the whole pelvic thrust via Mark didn’t make tonight’s episode of SYTYCD weird enough. After saying that any couples having trouble should do the tango together, Nigel turned to Mary and asked if she wanted to teach him how to tango.

So you think you can explain this judges’ panel?

Vanessa was kind enough to bring the commentary back to the shiny dancing: “You were shining up there. I love watching you dance.”

The next soloist was Taylor Sieve.

I’m just going to copy my notes word for word on this one.

Beautiful control. And we get it: You have great extension. But I want more. Now, let’s all hop on the Youtube and find some better solos from Taylor.

And then Kiki and Jenna attempted a Luther Brown hip hop number.

Dance gods, help us all. No, really. Luther himself even prayed to “our lords to send down the swag.”

Meanwhile, Jenna and Kiki thought they were going to be “the two coolest ballroom dancers doing the hoodest hip hop,” and Jenna said Kiki’s shot at redeeming himself in hip hop was going to be “lit.”

Girl, no.

The whole thing just needed to be stronger. Was Kiki better here than in his Academy hip hop fail? Yes…but that’s not exactly a high standard to set.

Judges’ comments. They all liked it, I guess?

Nigel “Money” Lythgoe (he was on a $100 bill, ok?) admitted to being surprised the all-stars kept Kiki because his showing at The Academy was “that bad.” But, somehow, he felt like Luther Brown’s prayers were answered here. He even asked Jenna if there was anything she wasn’t good at.

To which I say: Ummm, that?

Nigel wasn’t alone in his praise, though, so his words of encouragement weren’t caused by his money status. Vanessa Hudgens said it was lit, just like a youth would, and Mary called the duet “a game changer.”

Mary, honey, why?

Kaylee Mills’ solo was the perfect palate cleanser to follow Kiki’s “lit” hip hop.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you show off control without doing the same, stale extensions we’ve all seen a million times. The feet, on the other hand…Sigh.

Sydney Tormey and Paul Karmiryan were totally out of their element in contemporary. Somehow, though, it worked.

What an beautiful concept from Jaci Royal.

Sydney was actually excited to get contemporary, and she seemed to really connect with Jaci’s story about leaving behind the people you love to pursue your dreams. What Sydney managed to do, in terms of breath and suspension — and even stretched feet! — was impressive.

The performance lacked a certain connection between the partners, though. I feel like, given several more weeks of working together, Paul and Sydney would have made this into one of those SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE classics. As it was, the piece was beautiful; and both dancers had their own, individual moments.

The problem was that they were individual moments.

There was a certain sense of longing, of having to lose each other, that the partners just weren’t yet ready to attack. Should these two dancers last in this year’s competition for more than just a week or two, though, I’ve no doubt that their partnership will advance to the point where it could come back and revisit Jaci Royal’s choreography (finale night?) and absolutely kill it.

Judges’ comments. Vanessa loved seeing Sydney as a contemporary dancer, saying she really delivered on “such moments of stillness and silence that were really beautiful and super strong.”

Mary agreed: “It was sweet. It was tender. There was a freedom about the way that you moved, Sydney, that was just gorgeous.”

Nigel wasn’t about to be the odd man out here. He pointed out some of his favorite steps before reminding everyone of one of the best parts about being a dancer: “There’s nothing better than dance to put across emotions that you can’t talk about.”

Add it to the collection of dance quotes on my grave, folks.

Robert Green and Dassy both showed off their solos before the next duet.

Just like Cat Deeley said, Dassy was “here to pop her way into our hearts.” And Robert? His performance style is absolutely, without a doubt, the most fun SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE has had in a long time.

Logan Hernandez finally had the opportunity to dance with his all-star, Allison Holker. Bonus: The pair was graced with choreography from Brian“we’re doing jazz, not contemporary,” Friedman.

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Real jazz, twice in one night? Hashtag, so blessed.

The concept was totally bizarre — a blind date that involved actually blinding the participants — but it was so unbelievably good.

Logan did a great job here, but his partner totally out-danced him. There’s a certain style of movement that has to happen in order for  a dancer to really nail Brian Friedman’s choreography, and Allison’s just got it. With that being said, Logan Hernandez isn’t the first talented dancer to be overshadowed by Allison; and he definitely won’t be the last.

I’m still very confused by Logan’s feet, though.

Judges’ comments. Mary loved having Brian back (dude had better be like “same” out in that audience); and she gushed over Logan like only Mary Murphy can, calling him “a truly gifted, gifted young man.”

Nigel complimented Logan for diving forward into a side split, so Mary said Logan learned it from Nigel.

Me: “???????”

Oh, and there was also something about Woody Woodpecker in there. Youths can’t relate. He was a cartoon bird, kiddos. It was lit.

Vanessa was, yet again, in the awkward position of having to stop Nigel and Mary. This time, she did it by talking about how much she was blown away by Logan’s unique movement and strength.

Shine away, Logan. Shine. Away.

Just before the break, the Lethal Ladies of Baltimore hit the stage.

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Everyone, please go see STEP. What an inspiring group of young ladies.

…but why did we need to water down their performance by adding the all-stars? We get it, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE: Your dancers can do just about anything. It doesn’t mean that they always have to show it.

Also: He’s amazing in his own style and all, but I’d be quite happy to never see Paul attempt stepping ever again. Just like I’d never want to see myself attempting it. (But if Blessin Giraldo wants to give me a call and teach me something, I’m down. Just don’t show it to anyone.)

Still with us? Click through to check on the last five duets and solos, as well as tonight’s big elimination!

THE GIFTED Comic-Con Press Room: Mutants With A Very Human Message

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The stars of FOX’s upcoming Marvel series THE GIFTED spoke with reporters at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend. While filming is still in its early stages, series stars Amy Acker, Stephen Moyer, Jamie Chung, Emma Dumont, Natalie Alyn Lind, and Percy Hynes White were still able to tease a little bit about the series’ family dynamic, social commentary, and — of course — mutants.

Meet the new mutants. No, they’re not THE X-MEN — and there’s a reason for that…but you’ll have to watch THE GIFTED to find out what that reason is.

Percy Hynes White said of his character, Andy Strucker, “he’s a lot like me. Except he’s kind of more shy, and he gets bullied, and he has superpowers.” Judging by Percy’s engaging, outgoing demeanor during THE GIFTED’s Comic-Con press room, that probably means Andy and Percy have similar interests — but very different personalities.

And what are Andy Strucker’s superpowers? “He doesn’t know, but he finds out. And it’s crazy.” In one particularly exciting scene (shown as part of the highlight reel in the series’ SDCC panel) from THE GIFTED’s pilot, Andy and several hundred people find out about his powers all at the same time.

While the exact nature of Andy’s powers wasn’t revealed in the press room, we can assure you of this much: They’re “so powerful…that he, at any moment, could take over the world.”

Unlike her brother, Lauren Strucker (Natalie Alyn Lind) learns about her powers at a younger age. Also unlike Andy, Lauren is able to hide those powers from her family and friends, rather than making a big (if accidental) display of them.

Some familiar faces from comics, television, and film.

The Strucker children aren’t the only mutants on THE GIFTED. Not by a long shot.

The series boasts appearances by Eclipse, Thunderbird, Blink, and Polaris. At Comic-Con, we had the chance to speak with Jamie Chung and Emma Dumont about their characters, Blink and Polaris. Both mutants have appeared in THE X-MEN comics and animated series. Additionally, Blink is probably most recognizable as one of the characters in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST.

On THE GIFTED, Blink’s “real” name is Clarice Phong, but she uses Clarice Ferguson as an alias. Jamie Chung described Blink’s abilities as follows: “My power is I can bend space in order to open portals. So, you can travel through portals. Hopefully, you’ll be able to send different objects through portals. You can use that energy to throw things through portals.”

THE GIFTED’s version of Blink “has a lot of attitude,” according to Chung. “She has the markings of a mutant. She was never able to hide that she was a mutant…And, so, she has kind of, like, this stand-off attitude. And she’s been quite independent and different.”

Emma Dumont plays Lorna Dane, also known as Polaris. “She controls magnets, magnetism…any metal. She can stop bullets. She can crash cars. She can do all this stuff. She kind of has anger issues, so some of those things happen.” If those abilities sound at all familiar, it’s because Polaris is Magneto’s daughter.

Dumont’s character is somewhat unique in the universe created on THE GIFTED. “When she discovered her powers, she wasn’t ashamed at all. But shame is a big part of what [other] mutants go through because, again, they’re persecuted because of these things they were born with. But she was loud and proud since she was a kid. So, I think that’s why she’s stronger and more confident in her powers.”

Despite Polaris’ lack of shame, she and Blink are on the run as the series begins. So, unlike, the Strucker family, we won’t exactly get to see them living normal lives before getting involved in the story’s main action. As serious all of this may sound, there will still be opportunities for some humor. According to Dumont, “Matt Nix, our showrunner, really knows how to put the dark humor in this serious situation.”

More mutants may show up at a later time: “We’re going to have a lot of really cool mutants come into the show…There are so many X-MEN characters from the comic books, so there’s endless possibilities.”

Awesome? Awesome.

X-MEN or not, Marvel’s mutants are in good hands with the cast of THE GIFTED.

Both Percy Hynes White and Natalie Alyn Lind are huge fans of THE X-MEN. White’s favorite mutant is Nightcrawler, while Lind’s is Storm. They’ve seen the films; and despite being too young to have grown up watching it, both actors have seen FOX’s Saturday morning X-MEN cartoon.

The teens aren’t the only actors who know what they’ve gotten themselves into, either.

Stephen Moyer has a personal connection to THE X-MEN universe. His wife, Anna Paquin, played Rogue in several films in the franchise; and some Comic-Con reporters wanted to know whether he’d asked her for any advice on how to navigate Marvel’s world. Moyer answered in the affirmative. “She’s a big believer in doing a bunch of research, so she showed me a few places that she had got information from. Not just comics….The internet, as an actor, is an amazing resource.”

Marvel Unlimited was also a great help in gaining background information.

With actors who know both the mythology and its impact on fans, THE GIFTED has great potential to be a well-told mutant story.

THE GIFTED will also have a very human element, though. And two actors known for portraying superhuman characters will not have powers here — at least not as far as anyone knows as of now.

Amy Acker plays THE GIFTED’s Kate Strucker, mother of Andy and Lauren. Acker has a history of playing complicated characters, so one question that came up in the Comic-Con press room was whether or not there might be some “other layers” to Kate.

Acker teased “a big transformation because she is coming into something that she didn’t expect at all.” As a comparison, she mentioned her ANGEL character, Fred Burkle. “She was a normal person put in extraordinary circumstances, and I think that brings out kind of a power and a complexity in the roles that I’m sure that Matt [Nix] is going to make challenging and exciting for all of us.” Whether or not that “transformation” will be anything like what ultimately happened to Fred, though, viewers will have to wait and see.

For Stephen Moyer, who plays Reed Strucker, portraying one of the few characters without powers is “a real welcome change.” Well-known for his turn as Bill on TRUE BLOOD, Moyer jokingly mimed some of the strange things he’d have to do when filming the vampiric aspects of his character and quipped, “we can just watch everybody else suffer with that” on THE GIFTED.

In fact, one of the things that brought Moyer to THE GIFTED was the element of “ordinary in extraordinary” that Acker had mentioned. “Drama is about what happens when something difficult happens to ordinary people.”

Coby Bell plays Jace Turner, who might be considered one of the “bad guys” in this situation. His job involves capturing and punishing mutants. Will Jace struggle with this at all? “I think so. It’s not just black and white — ‘I hate mutants, and I’m taking them down.’ He was a cop. His daughter was killed in a mutant-related incident. So, he joined the Sentinel Services sort of vowing to not let that happen to any other family.”

“Family comes first, and I think that that’s the biggest message in our show, which is extremely important.”

One of the interesting aspects of THE GIFTED (aside from the superpowers, of course) is that, despite having two mutant childrenReed Strucker is actually in charge of prosecuting mutants. It’s part of what makes Lauren feel the need to hide her powers for so long.

How does this affect the children’s relationship with their father? Andy and Lauren will have different viewpoints. Andy will spend a lot of time seeking his father’s forgiveness, and he’s going to try his best to keep his relationship with Reed unchanged. “I think I still trust him, and I’m still looking for my parents’ support.”

“She doesn’t want her father to think of her as a threat or think of her as this weird girl,” Lind said of Lauren. There’s even a memorable line from the series that points to Lauren’s wariness: “Dad puts people like us in jail.”

Regardless of Reed’s job, though, the Strucker family is going to have to stick together — especially the children. Natalie Alyn Lind considered this dynamic a vital part of THE GIFTED. “I think that’s definitely where the heart comes in. Because our characters…I think my character is alone for so long, so when she finds out that her brother is a mutant, she — all of a sudden — has a new look on things. And she finds somebody, especially somebody she’s as close with, that can relate to her and kind of be there for each other.”

So, is Reed Strucker one of the villains? Definitely not, no matter what his occupation is.

At some point, Andy and Lauren will become far more important to their father than some job. “Immediately when it becomes about his own kids, and one of them does something quite destructive, he knows what’s going to happen to that boy. He knows what’s going to happen; and suddenly, it’s almost like his fatherhood gene kicks in. Because he has to do something about it. And it means taking the kids out — and his family out — of the happy, protected bubble of their world and going subterranean.”

Related: Watch an extended preview of THE GIFTED from Comic-Con

There’s more than one kind of family.

Because of the dangerous climate for mutants, there’s an “underground society,” based off of the Underground Railroad, that works to keep them safe. Although this group wasn’t formed based on blood ties, it becomes a form of found family.

Lauren and Andy Strucker will rely on this new family to help them learn about their abilities. “We’re mutants, and we don’t really know how to use our powers. And that’s something our parents will never be able to help us with.”

Will this lead to one of THE GIFTED’s characters taking on a Charles Xavier-like role? “We can’t say that” said Lind. So, maybe…maybe not.

The anti-mutant laws.

When it comes to THE GIFTED, Stephen Moyer explained a little bit more about what exactly mutants are being persecuted for. Unlike anti-mutant legislation in some of the other X-MEN stories, it’s not necessarily being a mutant that gets you in trouble; it’s doing anything at all about it. If we’re relating things back to the social commentary aspect of the series, it sounds an awful lot like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or laws against certain religiously-affiliated attire…just with much harsher consequences.

“Mutants and humans can live together — that’s absolutely fine — but mutants aren’t allowed to use their powers in public for detrimental means.” But, of course, “detrimental means” is loosely interpreted. As an example, Moyer talked about, well…Dinner. “You can cut your vegetables with your laser eyes in private, but you’re not allowed todo that outside.”

Reed Strucker thinks he’s doing the right thing and protecting his children by taking those mutants who can’t control their powers out of the picture, but what exactly does it mean to be unable to control  so-called “dangerous” powers? We’ll find out.

THE GIFTED has a message for viewers.

As has been an underlying theme in several of the stories from the X-MEN universe, “being a mutant isn’t socially acceptable. People think of them as freaks and these weird people you kind of want to stay away from,” said Natalie Alyn Lind. Percy Hynes White backed her up, adding, “they think of them as a threat. So, they’re kind of…trying to detain them.”

It’s a classic case of the fear of the “other” that has created plenty of sociopolitical drama in the real world; and the cast promised that this is a theme that will be visited often on the show.

“I’m just going to say straight up, you guys: Our show is about bigotry. We see Blink, in the first scene, running for her life. A cop could easily kill her dead with zero consequences. Because of prejudice. Because of prejudgement for something people aren’t comfortable with — that they don’t understand —because people are born with this thing. And that is literally where we live. And it is heartbreaking, but I hope this show throws up a mirror on society because it is ridiculous.”

The situation is harder on the women than the men, so there’s maybe even an element of sexism to discuss. The boys are able to hide that they’re mutants much more easily, while the girls “have things physically on us that we can’t hide,” said Dumont.

“Knowing that THE X-MEN is this allegory for human rights,” Amy Acker did a lot of research into what it’s like for people who have been in a real-world situation that mirrors what the Strucker family experiences on THE GIFTED: the coming out experience for the LGBT+ community, from both the children’s and parents’ perspectives. “There’s all of these websites about advice for when you’re coming out to your parents or what parents…how they should respond.”

Coby Bell had the final word on the series’ underlying themes: “It’s a great way to tackle issues that are happening in our real world — but without being preachy about it.”

Make sure to watch THE GIFTED on FOX, premiering October 2.

LUCIFER Comic-Con Season 3 Preview: A New Spring in Lucifer’s Step

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When we last saw Lucifer he had been kidnapped and was dumped in the middle of a dessert. Oh yeah, and his wings are back! Who had taken him and how did his white wings return? That’s a big mystery for season 3 of LUCIFER.

A preview that aired during the show’s Comic-Con panel reveals a lot of new footage from season 3. Lucifer has a new spring in his step as he strolls through the streets in a white suit to match his white wings. Meanwhile, Chloe and Dan are back together and kissing on the job. Plus there’s a cage fight between Lucifer and Amenadiel and Ella as a showgirl.

Fox also announced that SMALLVILLE’s Tom Welling will be joining the cast for season 3 as a police officer.

LUCIFER returns on October 2 on Fox.

LUCIFER: Tom Welling Joins the Cast for Season 3

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Will Superman battle the devil in season 3 of LUCIFER? Today Fox announced that Tom Welling (SMALLVILLE) will be joining the show for the upcoming third season.

Welling will play “Marcus Pierce,” an accomplished police lieutenant who is everything Lucifer (Tom Ellis) is not – “strategic, reserved and well-respected. But perhaps even more annoying are all the things they have in common. Both men are charming, charismatic and handsome as hell. So when Pierce starts developing a connection with Decker (Lauren German), Lucifer’s devilish traits are inflamed.”

Elsewhere in the third season Lucifer will need to figure out who kidnapped him at the end of last season and dumped him in the middle of a dessert. Then there’s the fact that his wings are back after he had cut them off.

LUCIFER will return for a new season on Monday, October 2 on Fox.

THE ORVILLE Comic-Con Preview: Not the Final Frontier

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Think of a comedic version of STAR TREK and you’ll probably have pinned down the show. Sprinkle in a dash of Seth MacFarlane’s signature sense of humor and you’ll have an even better understanding of the show.

THE ORVILLE takes place in the 25th century, where Earth is part of the Planetary Union, which has a fleet of 3,000 ships. Ed Mercer (MacFarlance) gets an opportunity to command one of the ships (The Orville) after a bitter divorce. But he’s throw when the First Officer assigned to his ship is his ex-wife, Kelly Grayson. Throw in some rag-tag crew members (including an alien from a single-sex species and an artificial life form) and you’ve got THE ORVILLE.

Now Fox has released a new teaser trailer ahead of the show’s panel today at San Diego Comic-Con.

THE ORVILLE premieres September 10 on Fox.

THE GIFTED Comic-Con Preview: Two Families on the Run

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THE GIFTED brings the X-MEN universe to Fox this fall when the Strucker family’s lives are turned upside down with the discovery that both Strucker children are mutants. This presents a bit of a problem for them as Reed Strucker (the patriarch) is a prosecutor who puts mutants away in order to keep the rest of society safe. But faced with the possibility of locking away his own children, Reed makes the decision to take his family on the run instead.

During a panel at Comic-Con, Matt Nix (executive producer) said that X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST established that there are “many streams” of timelines in the films and THE GIFTED exists in one of those streams. They’re not in the same exact timeline as any particular movie or comic, but they do share a few characters with the movies and comics. They will be doing their own thing. The X-men have also disappeared in the show’s timeline and why that is will be part of the show.

The Strucker family will also come across several mutants who are trying to live their lives underground or risk being imprisoned. They’ll join together with the Struckers to try and keep everyone safe.

THE GIFTED premieres October 2 on Fox.

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Recap: “Why Y’all Gotta Do This, Man?”

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With the initial auditions complete, contestants headed to the SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Academy in Los Angeles. Having impressed judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Vanessa Hudgens, it was time for the dancers to do something even more difficult: Prove to the SYTYCD all-stars that they were worthy. “Academy Week #1” featured solos from all 100 dancers who had made it this far, followed by a hip hop round choreographed by NappyTabs. Check out our recap to find out which favorites and new faces were shown, as well as whether or not we’ll be seeing them again this season.

The format.

For “Academy Week #1,” dancers hoping to make this season’s top 10 were first asked to show the all-stars their solo work (or, in the case of ballroom couples, their work with their partners). If they advanced to the next segment of the competition, their next task would be perfecting a NappyTabs hip hop routine. After every surviving dancer showed just how well they were able to execute the choreography, the all-stars would make a decision.

That decision could go three ways: a cut, a chance to advance to more choreography rounds, or a direct selection to an all-star’s team. If more than one all-star wanted to snatch up a given dancer for his or her team, that dancer would then have to choose which team to join.

But, of course, none of this could happen until after SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE spent 84 years on its opening number. Was that thing for real? Sometimes, what’s great in theory — showcasing the top 100 dancers in a massive group number, with dancers broken into style-specific groups — is just a bit too much in practice.

The solo rounds.

With decades taken off of the dancers’ lives, nowhere near all of them could be showcased on this week’s episode of SYTYCD. Logan Hernandez, however, was talented enough to be one of very few dancers to have their performances shown in full on season 14’s first Academy episode.

Logan was a dancer who, according to SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE host Cat Deely, “unleashed his own brand of contemporary in New York.” Logan easily wowed the all-stars with his flawlessly fluid marrying of contemporary and some breaking tricks. He even earned himself a standing ovation from the entire all-star panel, but he didn’t find out if that was enough until after the other nine dancers in his group did their thing.

Spoiler alert: Logan easily made it through to hip hop.

Jensen Arnold and Tristan Sosa’s piece was the next full dance. Nothing says, “hey, remember how this girl is the younger sister of a previous contestant” like showing Jensen’s performance in full after only providing lighting-fast clips of at least three other early favorites. In case anyone cared about those dancers, rather than just Lindsay Arnold’s little sister, they happened to be Chaz Wolcott (Nigel will cry with the rest of us if he loses this awesome tapper), Robert Green, and Matthew Deloch (that guy who hated dance so much he cried about it but still has unfairly beautiful pirouettes).

Kristina and Vasily, whose original audition Nigel dubbed “50 Shades of Dance,” were the only other ballroom couple highlighted. Their first lift was amazing, and everything about this latest performance was gorgeous.

So, basically, the dancers should never have been compared to one of the worst-written garbage fires of all time. But that’s none of my business.

Lex Ishimoto was also given a few more well-deserved moments of fame from SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, and then it was time to give Ryan Bailey yet another chance to confuse everyone on the planet. For the second time, Ryan had zero connection to his music. To be fair, there’s no telling whether or not Ryan’s selection was randomly swapped out again. At some point, though, “I improvised a lot of it, so I couldn’t really tell how it went” just isn’t good enough.

Case in point: Melanie Moore once “figured out” a solo just moments before competing on the SYTYCD stage, and nobody would’ve been able to tell if she hadn’t admitted it. With Ryan Bailey’s perplexing mix of jerky movements and lyrical music, it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t quite have that type of ability. Stick to rehearsed choreography, Ryan. Maybe the all-stars won’t send you packing next time.

Last-chance dancer Romainson Romain was also eliminated in the solo round, as was Tristan Sosa. But Jensen, Lex, Logan and a about 70 other dancers were good enough to make it to hip hop.

Let’s not “get bucc with some hip hop.”

While the dancers may have been excited to advance to the next round, Napoleon D’umo warned that hip hop wasn’t going to be all fun and games. “It can also be the end of you.” Contestants had an hour to work through some NappyTabs choreography with their chosen partners before showing the all-stars just how well they were (or, in some cases, weren’t) able to pick it up.

Insert a few seconds of each hip hop group, spiced up with a touch of “oh, hey, these two dancers paired up,” here.

And then it was time to learn just what fate had in store for less than a handful of the dancers.

Kevin Davis, Jr. 

Allison Holker, Cyrus Spencer, Jasmine Harper, Comfort Fedoke, and Fik-Shun Stegall all wanted Kevin on their teams. After much deliberation and some wise words from the all-stars, Kevin finally came to his decision. He wanted to make a smart choice, so he joined Allison’s team in hopes that she’d be able to help him step outside of his style. 

She totally will.

Dassy Lee. 

This dancer moved to America just for a chance to be on SYTYCD; and so far, she’s living the dream. Both Cyrus and Fik-Shun wanted to work with Dassy. After taking an adorable moment to bust a move right there at the mic, she picked Team Fik-Shun.

From now on, doing some perky improv will be the only acceptable way to delay making a decision. Be like Dassy. Dance it out.

Logan Hernandez. 

Anyone feel like somebody at SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE really wants viewers to get to know this guy? Full solo. Fully played out team selection. Hm. Either it’s a spoiler in disguise, or the producers are just setting everyone up for some epic heartbreak later on. 

Whichever. Google tells me this guy is from STARS, birthplace of Ricky Ubeda’s magic toes, so I’ll take as much of him as I can get.

Robert, Allison, and Jenna all tried to keep Logan. Robert tried to appeal to the dancer by saying he thought he could change lives, but that was only after comparing Logan to an alien. Allison took a much more successful approach: practically begging. The same could be said for Jenna, but she just didn’t have the same level of energy.

Team Allison it is.

Darius Hickman. 

Before revealing Darius’ fate, Cat Deeley steered SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE viewers on a detour down memory lane. This dancer’s backstory is utterly heartbreaking; and as Nigel Lythgoe said when Darius first appeared on SYTYCD, it was time for him to finally have something good in his life.

Unfortunately, though, it was more bad news for Darius. The all-stars felt it was “an excellent experience” watching him dance, but something was missing.

Kill me now.

Darius, a class act and someone far too used to disappointment, put as positive of a spin on the news as possible: “It sucks, but it’s really just going to push me to be better. Be the best I can be.”

Ok, so I’m going to have to reiterate my request for a major company to pick up the phone and make Darius an offer. Right now. Please.

Several dancers joined Darius. 

Those eliminated included Sade Austin, Chelsea Hough, and Jason Kidd.

While the contestants who were sent home definitely had the roughest time, luck wasn’t exactly on Robert Roldan’s side either. But his loss his fellow all-stars’ gain. 

No matter how many offers he made, Robert just couldn’t seem to get anyone to join his team. In a rather interesting move, contemporary dancer Kaylee “Impavido” Mills took Cyrus’ offer over Robert’s. Lex Ishimoto (also a contemporary dancer) would rather spend some time with tapper Gaby Diaz than with an all-star known for the same style.

And Mark Villaver was lured to Team Comfort. Comfort had warned Mark not to write her off as just a one-trick pony: “Don’t get it twisted. Just because I’m hip hop doesn’t mean I don’t do other styles.” (Her original SYTYCD record says otherwise.)

But maybe logic had the worst day of all. 

After ballroom dancer Kiki failed just as hard at NappyTabs’ choreography as he had at speaking for himself during his audition, his fate seemed pretty obvious. Surely, he’d be cut.

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE history dictates a bloodbath at The Academy (or Vegas Week if you’ve been here forever like I have). Excellent dancers (see also: Darius Hickman) just aren’t good enough to move forward, and stumbling through choreography is almost always a sure way out. The best a dancer who makes a major mistake can hope for is to be passed to the next choreography round for some redemption. 

Or, you know, Jenna Johnson can just be like, “hey, you’re great so I don’t care that you sucked at this style. Join my team! All you have to do is promise not to give up.”

That may or may not be grossly paraphrased, so here are some direct quotes: “Today’s hip hop round was a hot mess.” “The hottest, yeah.”

Ok then.

And with that, “Academy Week #1” ended.

If we could please stop ending these things on a low note, that would be fabulous.

Make sure to catch the next episode of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE next Monday, July 24, at 8/7c on FOX to see the next round of cuts and straight-to-team selections.

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Recap: The Train’s Last Stop Before The Academy

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The latest episode of SO YOU CAN DANCE featured the second batch of televised New York auditions. More importantly, it was the last chance for dancers to make an impression on the series’ “jedges” in hopes of earning a ticket to The Academy. In other words, it was the hot tamale train’s last stop before depositing dancers at The Academy. Featuring a frustrating mix of impressive talent and time wasters that caused a lovely mix of slow blinks and outrage, “New York Auditions #2” was even further proof that SYTYCD has returned to its roots. Check out our recap to hear all about the highlights, low points, and everything in between.

The opening.

Nothing says “SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE” like Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy doing that thing they do. So, when this last round of auditions opened up with Nigel joking that he hoped Mary would lose her voice one day, there was that same distinct feeling of finally being home that accompanied this season’s premiere. With a week off between the first half of the New York auditions and this week’s conclusion, the series was actually greatly missed — a sentiment that wasn’t exactly present during breaks in either the kids’ edition or that whole “Street vs. Stage” debacle.

But those missteps are (thankfully) in the past, so let’s hop on that hot tamale train and see where it takes us.

Oh. And by the way: Bonus technique points to Mary for letting Vanessa Hudgens join in on the Nigel-slapping fun. It’s a “yes” for me.

The first contestants in “New York Auditions #2” were Magda and Kiki, who were here to show off their cha-cha skills.

Magda was born in Poland, raised in Toronto, and currently living in New Jersey. With all of that moving around, you’d think she might have some trouble with communicating. But it was her partner, Kiki, who couldn’t seem to form a coherent sentence. Luckily, Magda was more than happy to do all of the talking for him.

Cue my soulmate Mary Murphy cackling over this on television, just as I was doing the same back home on my couch. (So, she was taped. So what?)

If nothing else, Magda and Kiki were on trend: They set their cha-cha to “Move Your Body,” a Sia song. All they needed was a nude leotard and blonde wig to complete the picture.

Joking aside, the footwork just seemed sluggish and out of sync with the tune, making yours truly wonder whether this couple had fallen victim to the same editing sorcery as Ryan Bailey had. The cha-cha wasn’t even actually slow or imprecise; it just didn’t work with Sia, especially toward the second half of the audition piece.

Judges’ comments: Your regularly-scheduled commentary has been replaced with “three esteemed jedges” (more like two, but who’s counting) standing up and waving tickets to The Academy. After Magda and Kiki left the stage, ballroom queen and hot tamale train gatekeeper, Mary Murphy, had this to say: “I’d like to dance with him a paso doble, I tell you.”

Tell me more. Better yet, show me.

Magda and Kiki’s performance was followed by a montage of ballroom wins.

Sorry, folks: No time to show any of these dancers’ hard work in its entirety because we needed to save air space for insanity, which will come later. We’ll just have to take Mary’s word for it that she was having “the. best. day. everrrrrr!!!!!”

The next full audition came from Zachary Downer.

This was Zachary’s second time auditioning for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. He was lucky enough to get all the way to The Green Mile in season 12 without making the final cut. Yes, I said he was lucky. No, I won’t hear any arguments on that. I mean, would someone this insanely talented really want to be associated with having been on that gimmick of a season? The answer should be a resounding no. If it isn’t, our priorities are out of order here.

Zachary promised a “very masculine and aggressive, animalistic” performance; and he more than delivered. His solo was a gorgeous interplay between different types and dynamics of dancing that fit very well together. And those leaps? Be still my beating heart. Talk about effortless.

Bonus: Zachary’s leg form was even great in his acrobatic elements. Hashtag so blessed.

Between the power, the technique, and the great mixture of an African vibe with contemporary, it was all I could do not to start muttering “Ailey” under my breath.

Judges’ comments: Much like Magda and Kiki, Zachary Downer found himself on the receiving end of a standing ovation. Once the judges took their seats, it was time for my favorite part of SYTYCD and yours: Mary Murphy screaming about the hot tamale train.

Iconic.

Vanessa Hudgens’ critique started out as the embodiment of fangirls’ live tweeting everywhere: “Oh, my gosh. I’m dying. You are so frickin’ fierce. Like, the fire in your performance is just overwhelming.” But then she started talking about a bird? I wish I understood — honestly, I do — because I’d love to fangirl over dancing with Vanessa. I just need it to make sense.

Nigel Lythgoe brought the chatter back to the land of the normal. Proving that he and I should totally talk dance over coffee sometime, he mentioned that Zachary’s dancing was very Ailey-like. A bffdom in the making, if I ever saw one.

Verdict: The Academy. (Obviously.) Pro-tip to the Ailey team: If y’all don’t give this guy a call soon, someone else definitely will.

The hot tamale train’s next potential passenger was Ramita Ravi, who came equipped with her own unique blend of dance styles.

Ramita’s parents were originally from India. In order to keep their culture alive in their daughter, they signed Ramita up for classical Indian dance lessons when she was five years old. At the same time, she also enjoyed learning “jazz, ballet…all that stuff.” So, her choice to marry classical Indian dance to contemporary was a way to make her passion more accessible to her parents.

I’d be hard pressed to try to comment on the Indian portion of Ramita’s solo, given that I know nothing about the style. With that being said, though, the second she exploded into showcasing some of her contemporary moves, right on target with one of the big moments in the music, was worthy of nothing more than just…wow. That’s it. “Wow.”

From that point on, watching the interplay between the Indian dance and the other technique was fascinating. The whole audition just had something unique — and almost quirky? — about it.

Judges’ comments: Nigel found Ramita’s piece to be interesting and uplifting, while both Mary and Vanessa were all about the hands. Vanessa was all, “oh, my gosh. I love your hands. I want them,” just before moving on to critique the moments where Ramita lost an awareness of her face. And really, it’s impossible to fault Vanessa for that response because I’ve been there, time and again, with certain dancers’ feet. (Ricky Ubeda and Brooklin Cooley, I’m looking at you — among others.)

After showing several clips of dancers discussing how they’d worked hard their whole lives to perfect their art, it was time for SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’s latest absolute waste of time: Peter Mangione.

Peter started training a whopping six months ago. Obviously, that means he deserves to be shown on television when there are professional-level dancers whose SYTYCD auditions get left on the cutting room floor. Add in the fact that Peter and his friends think he’s “not that bad. I mean, I’m not…good. But I’m not that bad,” and it’s time for yours truly’s weekly fit of rage.

Ummm. He couldn’t even pronounce ballet properly. So, really, the folks at SYTYCD are just lucky that Mary Murphy is back or else I would’ve broken my television and sent them the bill.

Everything about this audition was awful, from Vanessa Hudgens’ giggling over Peter’s abs, to whatever that guy was calling “dancing” in his baggy shorts.

Judges’ comments: Vanessa said she wanted Peter’s performance to show people that they should just go up there and have fun. Then, there was something about Nigel wanting to “see more people come down here and take the chance.”

Y’all are kidding me right now. There’s taking a chance, and then there’s…that. Just no. The train has gone off the rails.

Still with us? Click through to the second page to see if SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’s New York auditions improved after whatever that just was. Spoiler alert: They did.

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE Recap: So Many Hot Tamales….Drowned In Cheez Whiz

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SO YOU CAN DANCE season 14 has been a rollercoaster ride. The season premiere was a true return to form, complete with Mary Murphy’s reclaiming of her rightful seat at the judges’ table (and as conductor of the famed hot tamale train). The dancers auditioning in Los Angeles were amazing, indicating that SYTYCD fans were in for a treat this year. But then the second half of those very same Los Angeles auditions were lackluster at best.

Cue SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE’s “New York Auditions #1.”

The episode got off to a great start, prompting a plan to title this week’s recap something along the lines of “everybody’s back on the train, and everything is beautiful.” Unfortunately, by the end of the episode, that was impossible — things had taken a distinct turn for the worst. The sharp move from promising auditions to a waste of time, focusing on the cheesy and bizarre, was even more jarring than a failed first attempt at doing multiple pirouettes on a wooden floor in socks. (Trust me. One wrong move in that situation, and your life will flash before your eyes.)

Why an episode of any television show, much less one that has educated the general couch potato on dance before spending a couple of seasons spinning its wheels, would want to end on such an odd note is impossible to explain. But here we are.

And so it began. 

Much like in Los Angeles, Team SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE made a grand entrance in New York. The first episode highlighting this season’s New York auditions featured voiceovers from several contestants, talking about the series’ impact on their lives as dancers. Many had been watching since the beginning, and quite a few had been just waiting for a chance to audition. One dancer even said SYTYCD was the reason she was still dancing.

A television show is probably a bad reason to dance, to be honest, but the sentiment is greatly appreciated.

At any rate, it was time for SYTYCD to influence more dancers — but not before Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe got to take cell phone videos of themselves “just moments before going out.” (Uh…huh. Tell me more sometime.)

New York’s first dancer was Impavido, formerly known as Kaylee Mills.

The name is Italian for “to fear less,” and this blue-haired dancer probably had plenty to fear after her parents forced her to pay for her own dancing. If she wanted to be the family jock and participate in allllll the sportsballs, that was cool with Mom and Dad; but dancing full-time? They’d support it…just not financially.

How kind.

Impavido turned a negative into a massive positive, though: “Since my parents weren’t going to hand me anything, that gave me a very large push to get myself out there.” And get herself out there she did. This dancer’s style was unique. Her performance was loaded with personality and quirks; but she just as technically strong as any contemporary dancer we’ve seen on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. Her control was excellent — if a pirouette looked like it was kind of leaning, it was intentional.

If one thing needed cleaning up, it was probably Impavido’s feet. The choreography had plenty of purposely flexed positions; but then there were some other places where there was no definition either way. Were they supposed to be flexed again, stretched, just hanging out? A mystery. Was that small detail enough to ruin an otherwise impressive audition? Obviously not. But details are kind of a thing.

Judges’ comments: In a classic Nasty Nigel fake-out, Nigel opened his commentary by bemoaning the difficulty of judging so many great female contemporary dancers. They’re all so technically strong! None of them stand out! All of those dancers might be “brilliant,” but they’re “not necessarily individual.” But — and if you didn’t see the ”but” coming from a mile away, this was probably your first SYTYCD episode — Impavido was a true individual. Nigel finished up by telling her, “you’ve got a great style about you.”

Mary Murphy said Impavido “oooooooooooooozed confidence” and had the audience in the palm of her hand. (Did I put enough Os in that ooze? Probably not.) Vanessa Hudgens also loved the performance, saying the dancer had “so much confidence [and] so much grace.” Impavido’s audition was so good, in fact, that it was the only one to really drag coherent commentary from Vanessa all night.

Verdict: Academy.

The next contestant was Colombian salsa dancer, Ana Sanchez.

Ana had heard about the “hot tamale…train…thing” and wanted to take a ride on it. (Don’t we all?) She was also 4’11” but felt like she was six feet tall on stage, which meant that both myself and Vanessa Hudgens were happy to be “taller than someone for once.”

The second Ana explained her style of salsa had more flavor and passion than others, this SYTYCD viewer knew she had the potential to get that coveted hot tamale train ticket. And her opening pose just screamed sass. Oddly enough, despite amazing tricks and insanely fast footwork, it felt like Ana’s partner’s legs and feet were just a wee bit cleaner than hers. Later, when asked why he wasn’t auditioning, Mr. Partner Man admitted that he was too old. (Boo.)

Judges’ comments: Nigel and Mary gave each other a “look” in the middle of the audition, so that signaled good things for Ana (as well as several moments of me, wondering how I managed to live without that look for two years).

Indeed, Mary Murphy was full of high-pitched screams and laughter over Nigel’s forgotten ear plugs (R.I.P, Nigel’s hearing). More importantly, our resident ballroom expert complimented Ana’s stamina, as well as her “phenomenal tricks that take a lot of amazing timing and strength in the right places when you need it.” Proving that she’s here to make dreams come true, Mary even dubbed the dancer “a little hot tamale.” Glory, amen.

Vanessa followed that up with some giggles and talk about fun. Oh, and “good things do come in small packages!” (Same.)

Finally, Nigel complimented Ana’s partner and admitted that there were some lifts in their piece that he’d never even seen. He couldn’t wait to practice the choreography with Vanessa…which meant Queen Mary couldn’t wait to slap him. (I. Have. Missed. This. Thing. Of. Theirs.)

Verdict: Academy. It’s not like hot tamales can be left home, after all.

After Ana’s audition, it was back to contemporary (or, if you’re yours truly, cracktemporary) with Koine Iwasaki.

Koine was born in Japan and moved to America when she was only two years old. Between her family being very traditional and just, you know, being a tiny child trying to learn a second language when she had barely started to learn her first, Iwasaki turned to dance: “It’s definitely helped me communicate in a way that language can’t.”

In true SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE form, Koine was yet another in a long line of talented contemporary dancers. While she didn’t quite have the uniqueness of Impavido, there was still something special about Koine’s piece. Maybe it was the massive amount of emotion she conveyed; or maybe it was just her great technique.

Maybe watch that grand plié in second so it doesn’t get too squatty — which is kind of hard to avoid when the plié is that, well, grand. And just to keep nitpicking the details, this was another audition that didn’t exactly scream “great feet.” Otherwise, though, this was a lovely performance.

Judges’ comments: Nigel Lythgoe himself said the dancing was very professional. He loved everything from Koine’s strength, to her power (ok kind of the same), to her technique. Vanessa Hudgens…said “awww,” apparently. And Mary Murphy loved the performance, as she has done very frequently this season. (Remember season one, when she hated Allan Frias? Iconic.) After Koine had left the stage, Mary even turned to her best-worst frenemy, Nigel, and was like, “she was a nice surprise, huh?”

Verdict: Academy.

Fox Announces Fall Premiere Dates: THE GIFTED, LUCIFER, EMPIRE and More

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Fox is kicking off the fall season in early September with the premiere of the new comedy series THE ORVILLE after the NFL doubleheader. The network’s premieres will continue until early October, when new Marvel series THE GIFTED will be the last premiere to air.

Midseason shows airing on the network will include 9-1-1 (new series),  THE RESIDENT (new series – watch trailer),  LA TO VEGAS (new series – watch trailer), THE X-FILES (10 episode event series), and NEW GIRL (final shortened season).

Sunday, Sept. 10, Immediately Following NFL ON FOX Doubleheader
8:00-9:00 p.m. ET/PT THE ORVILLE (Special Series Premiere, Part 1 – watch trailer)

Sunday, Sept. 17, Immediately Following NFL ON FOX Doubleheader
8:00-9:00 p.m. ET/PT THE ORVILLE (Special Series Premiere, Part 2)

Tuesday, Sept. 26
8:00-9:00 p.m. LETHAL WEAPON (Season Two Premiere)
9:00-9:30 p.m. THE MICK (Season Two Premiere)
9:30-10:00 p.m. BROOKLYN NINE-NINE (Season Five Premiere)

Wednesday, Sept. 27
8:00-9:00 p.m. EMPIRE (Season Four Premiere)
9:00-10:00 p.m. STAR (Season Two Premiere)

Thursday, Sept. 28
8:00-9:00 p.m. GOTHAM (Season Four Premiere)
9:00-10:00 p.m. THE ORVILLE (Time Period Series Premiere)

Friday, Sept. 29
8:00-9:00 p.m. HELL’S KITCHEN (Season 17 Premiere)
9:00-10:00 p.m. THE EXORCIST (Season Two Premiere)

Sunday, Oct. 1
7:30-8:00 p.m. BOB’S BURGERS (Season Eight Premiere)
8:00-8:30 p.m. THE SIMPSONS (Season 29 Premiere)
8:30-9:00 p.m. GHOSTED (Series Premiere – watch trailer)
9:00-9:30 p.m. FAMILY GUY (Season 15 Premiere)
9:30-10:00 p.m. THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (Season Four Premiere)

Monday, Oct. 2
8:00-9:00 p.m. LUCIFER (Season Three Premiere)
9:00-10:00 p.m. THE GIFTED (Series Premiere – watch trailer)