Welcome to So You Think You Can – wait for it – DANCE! Laurel Brown is down in San Diego soaking in all of the Comic-Con goodness (be sure to check out her coverage over the next four days HERE), which means I’ll be taking over SYTYCD duties for the week.

And I couldn’t be more excited. We have the Top 10 dancers, the returning all-stars and special guest judge Neil Patrick Harris, who has done plenty of cool things beyond How I Met Your Mother and Doogie Howser (would you like to know more?). Now let’s get to the Emmy-nominated So You Think You Can Dance hosted by the Emmy-nominated Cat Deeley.

Intro Fashion Report: Jess wins my vote for his adorable sweater vest. Cat’s hair is long and straight, draped over the front of her shoulders. God bless that woman’s 1,000 hairstyles per season.

Marko Germar and Cheslie Hightower
Samba by Jason Gilkison

It’s sad to see Merko without Melanie, but he does a great job with his new partner, and the moments where he gets to go off and do his own thing really rock. After the dance, Chelsie is out of breath, which proves that SYTYCD beats Dancing with the Stars in terms of how hard dancers work. NPH thinks it’s “dirty” and calls Marko the guy to beat, which is absolutely right.

Jordan Casanova and Brandon Bryant
Contemporary by Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson

Meh, there were some good moves, but I didn’t feel the kind of emotional connection I’d want from a dancer at this point in the season. Mary Murphy is blown away by the technical merits of her dancing, but since I have no clue what an arabesque is, I can only focus on the feeling, which was lacking. NPH completely disagrees with me, saying that he couldn’t take his eyes off of Jordan despite a hot, shirtless Brandon.

Tadd Gadduang and Comfort Fedoke
Hip-Hop by Chuck Maldonado

I really wanted to love this routine, but it never quite clicked for me. The isolated bits were fast, but it didn’t flow as nicely as I wanted it to, and the choreography is a little too literal to the song. I can’t decide if my standards are just too high, because I don’t want to be so down on every routine. But I’m comparing these dancers and performances to some of the ones that were just nominated for an Emmy (like the Nappy Tabs psychiatrist, clown or ninja routines), and this just doesn’t even come close to those. The best part might be when NPH gives us some HIMYM spoilers about an upcoming dance scene choreographed by Spencer Liff.

Mitchell Kelly and Melody Lacayunga
Broadway by Tyce Diorio

I have to admit that I have an irrational dislike for Mitchell and an irrational obsession with Tyce. NPH doesn’t get it at all, and neither do I, because this routine is like an overcooked flank steak: It just sits there and looks very unappetizing. There’s no real style and the judges pile on, so unless some shocking happens, I think Mitchell should start packing his bags right now.

Caitlynn Lawson and Pasha Kovalev
Argentine Tango by Leonardo Barrionuevo and Miriam Larici

This is such a technical dance that it’s almost impossible to judge without knowing it. But the steely looks and attitude are great, and since Mary Murphy gives it a standing ovation, I’ll assume she did it well. On the downside, this may mark the first time ever that Pasha dances while fully dressed, which is kind of like seeing a Playboy Playmate in a bulky turtleneck. Pasha is a man who should always dance with a shirt unbuttoned to the navel.

Sasha Mallory and Twitch Boss
Hip-Hop by Christopher Scott

Um, what? The dancing and the performances were amazing, but the song, “Misty Blue” by Dorothy Moore, is a 1960s country song, and it doesn’t fit in any way, shape or form with a hip-hop routine for me. It distracted me the entire time and really annoyed me. Whoever picked that song should be shot and banned from music selection forever. The dancing, by itself, was superb, but I don’t understand why the judges don’t mention the song and how much it didn’t fit with the moves or the choreography. Am I the only person for whom this was an issue?

Jess LeProtto and Kathryn McCormick
Contemporary by Stacey Tookey

For a routine where she didn’t look at him until the very end, there was a great connection between these two and I really loved Jess’ movements. It was a completely different side of Jess, and I love seeing him strip down the hammy, Boradway style to show that he can do more emotional routines.

Melanie Moore and Pasha Kovalev
Viennese Waltz with Jason Gilkison

Melanie is like an angel sent from Heaven, beaming with light and energy, and she may be the only dancer around who can steal your focus away from Pasha’s open shirt (even though Nigel Lythgoe thinks Pasha has put on a few pounds). But putting that aside, Melanie just proved that season 8 is hers to lose.

Ricky Jaime and Allison Holker
Jazz by Tyce Diorio

This felt like Tyce’s attempt to choreograph as Sonya Tayeh-esque number, but it wasn’t quite as weird and creepy as Tayeh usually is. There was nothing wrong with it and it’s pretty good, but compared to some of what we’ve seen this week (Melanie, Marko, Sasha, Tadd, Jess), Ricky is certainly not in the top tier of the remaining 10 dancers.

Clarice Ordaz and Robert Roldan
Bollywood by Nakul Dev Mahajan

Bad news for Clarice: I spent the entire routine trying to remember to look at her because she’s the one competing, but she was just so dull and Robert was so damn good. The last time Bollywood was done this season, Iveta and Nick went home, and I think the same might happen for Clarice.

Solo Reviews: For me, Jess wins the night with a wonderfully playful Broadway number that was suave, charming and really highlighted just how much better he is now that he’s free of Clarice. I also have to give major props to Melanie, not for her dance, but for using a haunting, acoustic version of “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease performed by the Aussie sibling duo of Angus and Julia Stone. It’s the kind of surreal and cool version of a well-known song that makes my ears perk up.

Check back tomorrow to find out which two individuals are going home and to learn more about what new all-stars we might see next week.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.