It's time for a closer look at our top 20, and, as usual, it's going to be THE MOST TALENTED SEASON EVER. Just once I'd like to hear Nigel or Cat or someone say, you know, the people who turned out this year kinda sucked, so it's going to be a pretty so-so season. You may want to try us next year. Just kidding. Kind of. But I will say, based on tonight's show, this is going to be one interesting, weird and definitely loud season. And for once, I have to agree that almost anyone could win it, because with a few exceptions, these kids look goooood.
 
[Full recap of Monday (Oct. 26) night's "So You Think You Can Dance" after the break...]
 
Anyway, let's get to it. Did you know this was the TOUGHEST set of auditions EVER? Wow! Shut up, Cat Deeley, you're starting to bug me. I know ratings are down from the summer, but you don't have to go all hella lot of telemarketer on us.
 
It's time to meet our new permanent judge Adam Shankman! Oh, and Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe, they're here, too. And there's an empty chair. For Paula Abdul. You know, this may sound sacrilegious, but I think SYTYCD is a much better fit for Paula than "Idol." Remember, she was a choreographer who eventually moved into music, not the other way around. And I'd hazard to guess the cheesiest routine she choreographed for the Laker Girls blew crappy songs like "Rush, Rush" out of the water.
 
Oh, yay, we start with a group routine by Wade and Amanda Robson. It's 1930s sexy and smoky. And there's a turf war. And blood will be spilled. So why are the dance moves groovin' Mad Men era with music from the rejected soundtrack for "Casino Royale" (and I mean the one with David Niven, people, not Daniel Craig). Wade is a choreographer, not a history major, so I just need to get over it, I guess. Quite a rockin' routine, and the kids look good tonight. But they're still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and Nigel hasn't fed them their livers yet.
 
First up, Russell the Krumper, Kevin the Hip-Hopper and B-Boy Legacy, otherwise known as the guys who are going to suck at ballroom.
 
Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo are super excited to choreograph for these guys, because they know the moves and speak, I guess, Krumpish. Of course, that's just until they try to teach them some actual choreography in rehearsal and the guys pretty much fall apart. I say just let them do their thing, because tonight is officially the last night they'll get to have any fun without Mary telling them to watch their arms and clean up their footwork. And, you know, people who can spin on their heads really deserve a break.
 
Nigel thinks they're so exciting he won't even mind losing the hearing in his left ear from Mary screaming in it. And he has a point, as it's a fun routine to watch. Maybe not mind blowing, but I got the impression it wasn't so easy to get these guys in synch.
 
Next, it's a Toasty Oreo routine, and I love me Toasty. It's a contemporary routine with Nathan from Los Angeles, Channing from Boston, Jakob from New Orleans and Ariana from Atlanta.
 
It's a routine about personalizing sadness, a phrase if used on another reality show would inspire me to say something scathing, but with "SYTYCD," they can actually deliver on the lame storylines. I mean, this was actually pretty good considering they're all dancing to a Roy Orbison cover. But with four dancers on stage, it makes you kind of look forward to the couples routines, because it's just impossible to know where to look when everyone looks so polished and, oh, I don't know, competent.
 
Mary is dizzy she's so excited. She didn't see any weaknesses. She thinks Channing knocked it out of the park. Ariana's body line was insane. Nathan's pirouette was incredible. Jakob flew. Then she starts shrieking. Sometimes, I would like Mary to be a little less enthusiastic.
 
Oh boy, it's time for the tappers! This is either going to be really cool or it's going to suck in about a minute. No matter what, it's going to be loud. Peter from Boston, Bianca from Los Angeles and Phillip from Los Angeles are determined to bring tap back, and they're doing it with a new choreographer, Derick K. Grant.
 
Alright, Bianca did a friggin' cartwheel, and it's impressive that they're tapping and everything, but I'm afraid I'm going with the suck after a minute option. Part of that has to do with the music (where the hell did they find that crusty old tune, Glenn Miller's otherwise empty grave?), another part with the hokey costumes and finally, the fact that tap just isn't that exciting to watch. You know they're working their asses off, but seriously, it's like clogging or something. I'm sure it's fun, but don't make me sit through it, Lord of the Dance.
 
Nigel is thrilled that tap is on the show, but he admits it's going to be tough. Damn straight. But I do agree with Nigel that this trio has the chops to move beyond tap, though the out-of-synch arm flapping, especially from Bianca, at the beginning of the routine is a big red flag for me.
 
Jazz dancers Molly from Los Angeles, Pauline from Los Angeles and Ellenore from Phoenix have Sonya Tayek put them through a sexy, flirtatious routine. Sonya says this is because these girls are "smoking hot," which seems sort of creepy to say about Molly, who looks like she's 12.
 
And, as expected, Molly is about as sexy as a coat hangar. Great leg extension, but she looked like she wanted to be anywhere but on that stage.
 
Adam is surprised that anyone considers tutus or jazz hands sexy, but he thinks the girls brought it. Well, I agree with the first part. He thinks Molly danced with more maturity. Uh, not really, but clearly, this episode is all about happy-happy love-in crap so the kids will be extra super crushed when Adam tells them they suck tomorrow.
 
Contemporary dancers Billy, Noelle and Victor from Atlanta and Kathy from Los Angeles are doing a routine choreographed by Mandy Moore, not the one who's married to Ryan Adams. Mandy doesn't screw around with a story, so there's no 1930s gang war or sexy time or personal sadness, it's just about showcasing everyone's talents. How Canadian of Mandy.
 
I guess other things happen in rehearsal, but all I see is Noelle's toenail is coming off. Gross, gross, gross.
 
The standout in this routine is definitely Billy. I think the guy's joints are made out of rubber. In a good way. He commands the stage, which is pretty amazing considering I think he weighs less than the girls.
 
Adam loves the routine. OMG, he's not going to cry, is he? Oh, no, I think we averted the waterworks. He says it was a work of art and he doesn't know how they can improve. I swear he's getting choked up. Adam, pull it together!
 
Finally, Jason Gilkison choreographs our Latin dancers, Karen from Boston and married couple Ashley and Ryan from Salt Lake. The girls are going to fight over Ryan. Ryan must be so in love with himself at this point.
 
This routine is hot. I know Ashley only got in because another girl dropped out, but she looks like she belongs in the top 20 to me. Mary thinks it's hot, hot, hot. She says there's something animalistic about Karen, which doesn't seem like a compliment but apparently it is. 
 
So, for our introduction to the top 20, I have to say almost everyone looked pretty damn good (Molly, pack your bags, and tappers, don't get too comfortable). Granted, everyone was dancing their specialty, so it's only going to get tougher from here. But this might be the best season ever. Damn you, Cat Deeley, I hate when  you're right!
 
[NOTE: On Monday afternoon, FOX announced that Billy Bell has left the show due to illness. On Tuesday's episode, he will be replaced by Brandon Dumlao.]
 
Who do you think stood out? Do you think Molly will be first to go home? And are you pro tap or against?