They say if you’ve seen one dance reality competition show, you’ve seen them all. And this is clearly the case for MTV’s token dance competition show “Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew,” an urban combination of “So You Think You Can Dance” and “American Idol” with some hip-hop steroids.

“Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew” Season Five

Thursdays at 10 p.m.
MTV

In the fifth season of “ABDC,” there are a few changes to the competition’s format. The first three weeks are the semi-final battles between different dance groups from different parts of the country, before heading on to the big-time competition between the nine best dance groups. The premiere begins with five different groups from the South who hope to make their way into the finals.

The judges are the same washed-up pop stars: JC Chasez and Lil’ Mama with the addition of Omarion. If this seems like a desperate last effort on their part to become relevant, that’s because it is. Each pretends to be an expert dancer, but none of them has anything valid to say. The majority of the comments are along the lines of “Love the energy” or “You just need to bring it,” which leaves the viewer and dancers with no usable constructive criticism to go on. The worst of the three is definitely Omarion, who couldn’t even think of what to say half the time. When he did, he would repeat what the other judges were saying.

Along with the once-famous judges, everything about “ABDC” screams hip-hop stereotype. It tries to differentiate itself from the millions of other dance reality competition shows by making itself seem young and hip. This is reinforced by the back room called the “garage” and the judge’s horribly contrived urban dialect. While it’s true that hip-hop dancing is the program’s focus, terms like “Dirty South” perpetuate outdated and detrimental stereotypes created by the rap genre.

But the worst part about “ABDC” is host Mario Lopez. Every sentence out of his mouth is full of alliterations that he uses to try to sound more hip and thug-like, with a cheesy smile to match. His use of phrases like the “filthy freshness of the dirty dance crews” and “riots sparked all over the streets” confuses more than anything else. Someone should probably fire Lopez’s writer to save some money, because he will always be AC Slater from “Saved by the Bell,” and never the gangster from the streets the show wants him to be.

Despite the faux-gangster facade, the talent on “ABDC” shines strong enough to redeem the show. Each group has a unique style and look. For example, dance crew Jungle Boogie created its own style of dance called “cranking.” The change in the show’s format is actually beneficial, because the best and most gifted dance crews actually do make it to the finals.

Producer Randy Jackson needs to realize that his street lingo is horribly distracting, and “ABDC” needs to concentrate on highlighting original and talented dance groups. If not, it’s doomed to fail.

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