"For me, it gives me much more of an opportunity to make my decision," Lythgoe says at the Television Critics Association fall TV previews on Monday.
In the new format, votes based upon the previous week's performance show determine the Bottom 3 male and female dancers. The following week, all dancers in competition perform yet again, and based upon these new routines, the judges decide which of the dancers on the chopping block to save. In the two-episode-per-week format, the second night the judges were put on the spot and had determine who was eliminated based on an impromptu "dance for their life" individual number.
"We get a week to look at that, weigh it out," Lythgoe explains. "It give us more time, more thought rather than just making a quick stab at it: You're going home just because your solo wasn't good. Now, you can balance everything up: What potential do they have? OK, they're in the bottom this week, they weren't last week, or the week before that. We take all that into account. We get to see two routines: One the week it was voted [on] and one the week we're now involved in. We get to talk to the choreographers."
Murphy adds, "It gives me much more of a calming effect than in the past, it was really rushed. Seeing someone dance possibly in another dance genre gives use more insight into how great that dancer was. So getting the input again from the choreographers who are actually working with them really was helpful. We hate to see anybody go, of course, but the fact is, this is a competition, we're going to get down to two champions. I thought it was really brilliant and it helped me be calm about, 'Did I make the right decision? Did I make the best possible decision about this person's career?'"
Lythgoe also addresses why the show eliminated four dancers, instead of the traditional two — one guy and one girl — the previous week. "We had the opportunity from Fox to do a Top 16 or a Top 20 and then let four dancers go over two weeks," he says. "But we're back to two dancers going this week, next week we'll be back to four. I much prefer to do a Top 20 and do that, than do a Top 16 because it gives America another four dancers to choose from who they like. For me, giving 20 dancers the opportunity of going out there to the public as opposed to 16 was better. That's why we're in this situation."
How do you like the new format? Who are your favorite dancers so far?