This week it's time to see how well a performance/elimination combo episode works for "SYTYCD." I'm guessing that it may actually be a boon to the show, which was ordered to double up as ratings flagged. While I'm a little worried that we'll lose the opportunity to see some of the impressive guest dancers that have come to the show in the past to fluff up the results show, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make in order to tighten up what has been a pretty bloated program. Let's see if they can pull it off. 

As Cat ominously promises, 20 will start the show, but only 16 will survive, which makes this seem like a dance competition/horror movie musical. Which should be coming to a theater near you at some point anyway. 

The opening number is a NappyTabs-choreographed Marilyn Manson, goth, horror, vampire something or other. Which is all kind of awesome, by the way. 

Finally, it's time to meet our couples! Tiffany & George, Janaya & Brandon, Amelia & Will, Audrey & Matthew, Eliana & Cyrus, Alexa & Daniel, Amber & Nick, Witney & Chehon, Janelle & Dareian, and Lindsay & Cole.

Tonight our judges are Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Adam Shankman. Adam thinks Cat looks like a sexy tomato. Time to update the audience on National Dance Day business, which feels like Nigel is reading the minutes at a Kiwanis Club meeting. The post office is issuing dance stamps on National Dance Day. And there's a postmark, and some other stuff that's probably interesting to both of you who collect stamps. And use snail mail. There's more, but blah blah blah. Enough talking! Let's see some dancing!

Lindsay & Cole

The Background: They're working with Christopher Scott on a dentist-themed routine. Cole is a nerd and Lindsay is a sexy dentist. But there could be a twist! Maybe he won't like the sexy dentist! I do not love this concept for a routine, honestly. 

The Dance: Cute, but gag-inducingly so -- the concept is just too much. I don't feel that Cole and Lindsay are in the same routine. Cole is entirely committed to playing a hip-hop geek, while Lindsay seems to be trying out for a production of "Cabaret." 

The Judges: Nigel thought it was fun. Cole's commitment to character freaks him out. He thinks Lindsay makes going to the dentist sexy, but felt she played too much to the audience. Mary thought it put a smile on her face. She thinks Lindsay has to work on her acting. Adam is also freaked out by Cole. He thinks Lindsay had to make a deeper investment in the character.

Amelia & Will

The Background: They're doing a Sonya Tayeh routine. Yay! Sonya is hands down my favorite choreographer on the show, in part because you can always tell when you're watching a Sonya routine. Sonya explains this dance will be heavy and desperate. Cool. 

The Dance: Well, it starts out looking like a Sonya routine -- and then Amelia just looses the flexed footing and it becomes a little less animal and a lot more graceful. Which is fine, but it doesn't look like a Sonya routine. Has Sonya mixed things up? I know last week she seemed to be softening up thematically, but I'm a little sad if she's losing her distinctive touches. I'm also distracted by the fact that Amelia is so pale she almost looks alien. This girl must need sunscreen if she's standing under a fluorescent light.

The Judges: Mary LOVED it and thought they brought it to life. Adam thought they were brilliant. Nigel thinks Sonya's choreography has gotten better and better. It has? There's a lot of talk about Amelia's quirkiness. I don't see that in her dancing so much as in her haircut. Which, by the way, is a great haircut. 

Amber & Nick

The Background: They will be tackling the season's first tango. Amber thinks she and Nick trying to connect is like bubble gum and oil. I think any chemistry we see between these two will require a lot of acting. 

The Dance: Amber is dead on in this dance. If I wanted to quibble, not all of the flicks were perfect and Nick doesn't exactly run red hot, but who cares? Very, very good. But I keep expecting Nick to completely blow me away with ballroom and, well, I'm not blown away. It's not that he isn't technically great -- it's just that he doesn't seem all that excited about being on the stage. 

The Judges: Adam thinks the dancers are all so corny with their acting, but he thought it was hot. He thinks Amber did a spectacular job. She had beautiful lines and inhabited the character. He thought Nick did his job and danced beautifully, which meant he vanished a bit -- because his job was to support his partner. Nigel disagrees. He thinks Amber made herself look good. She was a cobra ready to pounce! Maybe she wanted to stick bubblegum in his hair. Nick was very strong and he was in his element. Mary thought they were both strong and gives Nick points for nailing difficult moves. 

Audrey & Matthew 

The Background: It's a robotic power struggle between a man and a woman from Sonya Tayeh. Yay! Audrey wants to show off her aggressive side. Matthew says she doesn't have one.

The Dance: Honestly, yet again I'm a little disappointed. What's with the feet? There's still some great stuff in here -- I loved it when Audrey drags Matthew across the floor -- but it just doesn't look like Sonya's work. 

The Judges: Nigel can't believe they're the same couple that were so romantic on the couch last week. He thinks they're one of America's favorite couples. Mary loved it! They're a dynamic duo! They're so little, but they dance all the way out! Adam gushes over Sonya, then tells Audrey she is frickin' brilliant. And if Matthew continues to dance this way, the competition is his to lose. 

Janelle & Dareian

The Background: They'll be dancing a routine in which they're a young couple in love, and Dareian intends to propose. Janelle can't deal! Dareian acts like Donald Duck! Ewww!

The Dance: It's sweet and light and none too challenging. Dareian really sells it, but I think it's hard to buy Janelle as his love interest (despite the big kiss at the end) after we've seen her slam him as a dorky Donald Duck. 

The Judges: Adam didn't buy it from Janelle. He thought it was adorable, but she was too presentational. Nigel thought the choreography was too easy. There was nothing in the dance to inspire America to vote for them. Mary has to agree. But she didn't want to see the kissing, because Adam and Nigel might start smooching on her! Leave her out of it! So Adam kisses Nigel. Anyway, she thought it was light and airy and they were okay. One big meh from the judges. 

Janaya & Brandon

The Background: It's a Broadway routine with two people at a busstop. The girl is reading a romance and gets crazy frisky, and the boy isn't interested. And Brandon got accidentally kicked in the crotch during rehearsal.  

The Dance: This is all kinds of fun. Janaya really emerges as a spunky dancer in this, as does Brandon. I barely remembered them from last week, but this week is truly great. I could see them on Broadway, no problem.

The Judges: Adam thought it was super fun. It was a very successful character piece. He thinks Brandon really stepped up (movie plug!). He loved the way Janaya played the comedy. Nigel thought it was really fun. He thinks Janaya really brought something this week that she didn't last week. Mary thought it was one of the most entertaining numbers of the night. She thinks they rose to the occasion. 

Eliana and Cyrus

The Background: They will be dancing a jive by Melanie Lapatin and Tony Meredith. Melanie notes that neither Eliana nor Cyrus know know what they're doing. 

The Dance: Well, she's great. But his kicks are low to the ground and a little tentative. I just don't think Cyrus has the training he needs to perform at this level. Eliana might as well be dancing by herself. He's doing his best and he's very watchable, but he's just too easily thrown by some of the more difficult styles of dance. 

The Judges: Mary says Cyrus' posture wasn't quite right, transitions weren't quite there, his footwork was rough -- but sometimes it was really good! She gives him points for being a good, supportive partner. And he looked like he was having fun. Eliana was cooking!

Adam Shankman thought Cyrus' head must have looked like the inside of a zoo when he drew jive. But he was fantastic for trying! And Eliana was amazing for picking up the slack. Nigel asks what else they could have drawn. He says foxtrot, Argentine tango, and Bollywood. Eliana chose the jive. Nigel says the judges knew he would sometimes hit a brick wall and gives kudos to Tony for getting Cyrus through it. Nigel cautions Cyrus that he needs to fill in the blank spaces. Nigel feels bad that Eliana hasn't been able to show America what she can do. 

Poor Cyrus. Even Cat says of him, "He just muddles through! With charm!"

Alexa and Daniel

The Background: A contemporary piece featuring a bathtub. It's where words go to drown! 

The Dance: Why don't I love this? It's technically amazing. But I keep finding my thoughts drifting off to my sock drawer and paying bills. Then I start thinking about slipping in the bathtub. Not sexy. I blame the choreography. 

The Judges: Adam didn't want to take a shower afterwards, and he should have. Something was missing. It wasn't passionate. Beautiful, but chilly. Mary thinks dance-bathing could be a new genre. But she agrees with Adam. Execution was amazing, but the chemistry wasn't there. Nigel concurs.

Tiffany and George

The Background: They will be doing a foxtrot from Melanie and Tony. I will say one of the advantages of the show having to squeeze in results is that these little segments are very, very short. Not a lot of mugging for the camera, not a lot of boring rehearsal bloopers. Love that. 

The Dance: The arms get a little loosey-goosey right at the end, but that's a quibble. They look like they're having such a good time, they're gliding and weightless and totally Fred and Ginger. Very nice job -- and we've had a lot of boring foxtrots on this show. But this one absolutely draws me in. A pleasure to watch. 

The Judges: Mary thought it was a great routine. They glided, their topline! Tony's pivots! They were a perfect fit! And Tony is a great  partner. It brought Adam back to MGM 1940s musicals and he thought they were infreakingcredible. They "Stepped Up" to a whole new level, movie plug! Nigel thinks thinks the movie plugs on this show are just disgusting. He think they'd make an "Opening Act" for anybody. And he's glad they had a "Chance to Dance." Okay, okay, we get it. Nigel says they've given a lesson to every other couple on the show about how to connect. 

Witney and Chehon

The Background: Choreographer Nakul Dev Mahajan says there's no storyline! Just their hands and speed. Witney is worried that if she gets the hands wrong, she'll offend half the world. Lotta pressure! 

The Dance: Nakul Dev Mahajan does not lie. This is FAST. Bollywood has always been a little iffy on "SYTYCD," but I have to say this is a strong outing. I like it!

The Judges: Adam says Bollywood on the show makes him so happy. It was so much fun! They should be proud of themselves! Except Witney needs to dance with a long neck. Chehon showed some joy, which Adam was sad to see. Mary thinks Chehon was on fire, and much improved over last week. She just felt the magic. And she felt chemistry. Oh, and Witney is still on fire. Nigel was impressed that she was doing knee turns. Did she do research on Bollywood? Witney watched some YouTube videos. Nigel is very pleased.

Everyone takes the floor for the dreaded elimination. The three girls and three guys in the bottom will be announced.

Jenae

Alexa

Witney

Nick

Daniel

Chehon

Nigel says he doesn't need to see anyone perform again -- the decision is made. Sweating commences. 

Time for the "Step Up Revolution" preview! "SYTYCD" alums Twitch, Tony Bellissimo, Phillip Chbeeb, Kathryn McCormick are in the movie, which is focused on The Mob. Peter Gallagher is the evil old square. Choreographer Jamal Sims says that this time the mobs are making a statement with the dance. The stakes are higher. Kathryn McCormick thinks it's super cool. Choreographer Travis Wall thinks it's going to be really exciting. Choreographer Mia Michaels, who also plays Olivia, is excited. Producer Adam Shankman says this is a particularly good dance movie. Um, let's not show interviews. I think clips from the movie will be more effective.

And good news! Twitch, Philip, Tony and Kathryn perform with other dancers from the movie. It's like Cirque de Soleil, but hip hop and with better costumes. Everyone in the audience is on their feet because it's damn fun. Now I want to see the movie, honestly. 

Time for the elimination. Ugh.

One guy and one girl will be saved. Nigel explains that America votes, but no one is ever voted off the show. He adds that the judges don't vote anyone off, either. They only save people. He wants to be unemotional, as all of them are incredible and he's not going to gush over them. Nigel tells us the judges conferred, the choreographers conferred, and the decision is made to save… Witney. I thought that might happen. They were just so gushy over her Bollywood. It's a shame, though, as Jenae really knocked it out of the park tonight. 

That means Alexa and Jenae are going home. Alexa says she made so may good friends and had amazing memories, then gets choked up. Jenae says she won't forget a thing.

The guys are up next. Nigel says it's much easier to make a decision now that the judges talk to the choreographers. This week they've decided to save… Chehon. Nick and Daniel are out. 

Sorta sad. Even sadder, I don't think Sean or Nick get to say good-bye. I'm a little surprised Cyrus wasn't in the bottom, but this happens every season -- someone always skates by on great attitude, spunk and natural ability even when their training is spotty. And Cyrus is fun to watch, so I'm not eager to see him go. But this season, I can't say anyone is a miserably weak link. In past seasons, Cyrus might have won the whole thing. 

So, I have to say that the elimination at the end of the show actually seems to resulted in a tighter two hours, dramatic tension that wasn't so annoyingly dragged out it lost all meaning and hey, we can watch something else tomorrow night! I say it's a win-win! 

Did you like the competition/elimination mash-up? Do you think the four that got the boot were the weakest dancers? Who are you rooting for?