Sibley Put: The LXD

July 12, 2010

‘Sibley Put’ is where Josh Sibley, real American hero, boldly and unabashedly dissects the hot-button issues of modern video gaming and its surrounding culture. Everything he says is to be taken as personally as possible, so get those brows ready for some serious-ass furrowing. You babies.

Another article so soon?  You better believe it, especially when something this brain-bendingly absurd wanders my way.  The other day, I went over to Hulu to watch an episode of something or other.  Before I could even search for the show I went there to watch, big and bold on their front page was a group shot of a bunch of hip, diverse twentysomethings in a dynamic group shot, dramatically back lit (I wish I could find the image, but in what must be the worst advertising ever, the only existing dynamic group shot used to advertise this is nowhere to be found).  Above it hovered a bold, simple logo in blue and gold:  The LXD.  Everything about the image grabbed my eyeballs and screamed “SUPERHERO SHOW” at me, so it immediately had my undivided attention.  Then my eyes wandered to the right, and read the tagline:

Ordinary people discover extraordinary abilities through dance.

I then noticed what “The LXD” stood for: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers.  I then said, out loud directly at my computer monitor at the top of my voice “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!?”.  That was it.  Whatever plans I had before coming to Hulu were immediately cast aside, because there was no way I could not see what this was like.

Let me run down for you what I witnessed for the next fifteen minutes.  First, I’m greeted with a sorrowful yet wise old black man who gives probably the most cheesy, cliche’d “portent of epic times to come” speech that I’ve ever seen.  He’s all talking about there’s a wave of amazing people coming, and the conflict between them will be earth shattering and our only hope is if these amazing individuals embrace their destiny and be who they were meant to be, Oh no.  The whole time this dude is sorrowful, urgent, and serious as a heart attack.  He’s clutching and wringing his hands over a mystical-looking Dr. Strange type book.  Finally, he tells us he’s going to start us off with the Tale of Trevor Drift.

Spoiler: The "secret" they needed to keep from him is that he can dance well. Yes really.

Before I go any further, I’d like to point out that at this point, knowing that I’m about to dive into a show about super-dancers, this intro did not bode well.  Any illusions I had that this show was going to be goofy fun was immediately shattered into a million pieces.  As I was about to find out, this set the tone for the show perfectly.

So we open our tale with a kid sitting in his backyard, being served lunch.  He is clearly not enthused with what he’s been served, so he gets up and goes over to the laundry hanging on the line.  He gets up on a step stool to… touch the dresses hanging there for some reason I guess, and then at the last moment he side-ninja-flips off the stool, landing perfectly.  This made me go “wow, this kid’s pretty awesome”, and then I realize that the kid is absolutely astonished at what he’s done, as if some otherworldly power suddenly halted his quest for dress-touchery.  “Don’t be gay kid, NUH!” says the Dance-Force.  Slowly, I’m realizing that this isn’t a kid fucking around in his back yard, this is the mutant origin story of a SuperDancer.  Later, we see the kid standing in front of a mirror and he takes a deep breath before busting out another flip or something.  The birth of a legend.  This really, really isn’t looking good.

Lasers from your eyes? Superpower. Dancing? Not a superpower. Hell, Beast's power is that he's a blue cat thing, and that's more of a superpower than dancing.

Cut to a few years later.  Trevor’s in high school!  At least, I think it’s supposed to be high school as Trevor and everyone he knows is clearly at least 25.  Anyway, Trevor likes a girl!  He stares at her wistfully, knowing he can never have her thanks to his sweater vest.  No wait!  He can never have her thanks to her douchebag boyfriend who shows up and paws at her, asks her out to the upcoming dance, and leaves.  Trevor watches the whole exchange and is about to leave after the douchebag boyfriend does, but what’s this?  The girl he’s had his eye on comes over and talks to him!  She asks him if he’s going to the dance, and Trevor replies he doesn’t know, clearly conflicted.  The girl says that she’d love to see Trevor there, and that he should get out more.  He nods in agreement, and they part ways.

Let me stop again and make something perfectly clear:  So far, this could not be ripping off the first Spider-man movie any harder.  It’s not even a little bit different.  Suzie Love Interest even sort of looks like Kirsten Dunst, except, you know.  Attractive.

Peter ah lub you durgle gurble

Moving on, Trevor wants to go to the dance, but overbearing mean dad won’t let him!  No reason is given, which is so unfair!  Parents clearly don’t understand, so Trevor goes off to his Fortress of Sulkitude, his roof.  He then sneaks out to the dance anyway.

We’re at the dance!  Trevor’s gotten all dressed up, and he sees Suzie Love Interest.  He goes over to talk to her for a minute or two, but here comes Douchebag the Boyfriend to break it up.  He shoves Trevor, and it’s clearly “on”.  Trevor gets up in his face, defiant, and instead of taking a swing at him, Trevor falls back and starts break dancing his heart out.  I want to make this moment clear: he doesn’t go “Oh yeah, well can you do THIS?” or something to that effect to set up his actions, he just starts fucking breaking it down like that’s just what you do to intimidate any would-be attackers.  Like if someone got in your face, and while looking back at them stone-cold and unflinching you started doing balloon animals to get him to step the fuck off.

They see me rollin'. They hatin'

I’m going to stop here once again and get this out of the way now that we’ve reached the actual dancing portion of the show: Every single dancer on this show is incredible.  It is the show’s singular saving grace.  Most of each episode will probably be taken up by dance routines, and it’s the smartest thing they could do because these guys are almost superhuman they’re so good.  Which is great, because it’s a show about fucking superhero dancers.  Make no mistake: these guys will pull of shit that will leave your jaw on the floor.  They do things effortlessly that if I tried, my body would just shear in half.

As soon as Trevor starts his dance-fight, we pan over to the dance DJ, (who has a fucking scar on his eye, by the way) who starts watching the unfolding events with great interest.  He then nods to the crowd, and three heretofore unseen gentlemen come out of the crowd and join Trevor in his dancestravaganza.  But wait!  Also in the crowd and very interested in the goings on is a sinister looking asian man in a scarf.  Uh oh! After a few minutes of incredible dancing, Douchebag boyfriend tries to get the crowd on his side by making fun of how ridiculous this scene is.  He flops and flails in sad imitations of their dancing, and is basically like “how fucking stupid you guys, am I right?”.  Of course, the crowd goes “Boo”, shoves him, and the dance-off continues.  I’m going to be honest here, the douchebag boyfriend flopping around and being sad on purpose in order to make fun of this thing unfolding in front of him is the best actor in the show so far, simply because this is how every single sane person would react to this event in real life.  It’s like the director put a caricature of what he knew every non-lunatic would be like when watching this show and tried to tear him down, except it didn’t work because he ended up being awesome and the rest of the show (save for the actual dancing) ended up being the worst thing made by human hands.

Can't wait for this winner to show up.

So after the dance, things happen fast for our hero.  He’s seen in his Fortress of Sulkitude holding a letter emblazoned with the logo “LXD” and thinking his future over.  He then slings a knapsack over his back and leaves with the three backup dancers we saw earlier.  Before he leaves, he kisses Suzie Love Interest who shows up in his driveway and heads off.

We cut to Trevor’s living room, where Sinister Asian In A Scarf walks in and Leap Dance Kicks across the room at Trevor’s dad.  Instead of taking it to the face like you’re expecting him to, the 40 year old dude break dance spins away from the attack.  Yes, that’s right: Trevor’s dad forbid him from going to the dance because HE was once a SuperDancer and never wanted that life for his son, what with all the deadly danger and tragedy.  Now, his dark dancer past has come back to destroy him!

I’m also going to summarize the second episode, because it’s very quick and even stupider:  Two guys enter a warehouse, due to roughhousing they fall into a box filled with packing peanuts, they rub packing peanuts all over themselves, they both get super dance powers, and a conspiracy theorist secretly films it, saying they’re “defying gravity” (No they’re not).  Sinister Asian Man In A Scarf shows up at the end and tears up one of the new SuperDancer’s LXD invites before he sees it.  I did not make any of that up.  They get dance powers thanks to packing peanuts.  Keep in mind, this entire show is played as serious as a case of AIDS.  This show is the worst thing.  It is the worst.

Jokes on you, pranksters. That's enough peanut to turn your victim into a dancing diety.

I have never seen a show before where literally every single line is terrible.  I’m not even talking about the incredibly, utterly, down to the bone retarded premise.  From inconsequential small talk to the narrator to major impact lines, every single one of them is genuinely painful.  Each line is like Jon Chu himself is in my room and giving me a purple nurple every time someone speaks.  I wondered why the episodes were so short, and I did a little research.  The show is a Hulu original, It’s created by Jon “Step Up’ and ‘Step Up 2” Chu, and the main choreographer (and star of the second episode) is Harry Shum Jr., otherwise known as “The Other Asian” on Glee.  Finding out that something from Glee is also associated with this show is like finding out that your grandmother makes awesome cookies for you but also used to be in the KKK.

Oh Grandma, you were just adorable back then.

Yes, and let’s talk about the premise, shall we?  This show could work if it went in one of two directions: super silly and over the top, a-la Elite Beat Agents, or you could draw from Michael Jackson’s videos.  According to Chu, that’s where the idea came from: He watched Thriller and Smooth Criminal and went “hey, dancing can be bad ass”, except he missed one very, very vital part:  Micheal’s dancing did something.  He went nuts on the floor and then lightning struck people or enemies started dancing too or a hurricane materialized when he grabbed his balls or he turned into a robot or some shit.  No, what Chu did is go “These dancers are incredible.  Dancing is now a superpower” and then ‘wrote’ a drama.

And Michael never claimed to be a super-being. This shit just kind of happened to him out of nowhere.

How does something like this get funded?  Granted, the episodes are miniscule and it’s just a Hulu show, but still.  If Hulu is going to start their own original shows, this is the last thing you ever want to headline with.  It’s a superhero show written and created by people who have never read a comic but know a shitload about dancing.

Use Your Keyboard to Yell at Us

22 comments on “Sibley Put: The LXD

  1. cupoftea Jul 12, 2010

    “the main choreographer (and star of the second episode) is Harry Shum Jr., otherwise known as “The Other Asian” on Glee”

    ————————-

    No, the second episode stars Jeremy Marinas and Travis Wong as the BFF dancers who fall out over the LXD invite. Harry Shum stars in ep. 6.

    Harry Shum and Chris Scott are co-choreographers of LXD.

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  2. Jason Jul 13, 2010

    Cupoftea clearly works for the cast or crew of LXD, which makes him very uncool.

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  3. Tyler Crowley Jul 13, 2010

    the world is a frightening place sometimes…

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  4. Racist? I doubt Josh could runs, drives, or does anything fast or competitively enough qualify for that title. Dale Earnhardt, Dannica Patrick, Lance Armstrong, and Michael Phelps; those guys are racists(and some of the best at their race of choice). Josh is just an angry little man who screams at the computer and occasionally manages to make some of it get to the internet.
    And what does that have to do with his correct assertion that asians all look alike?

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  5. @cupoftea:
    Wow, they really all do look alike.

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  6. It’s a dance show, but let’s ignore the dancing and focus on the story. Who’s with me?

    Or, we could admit that the first episodes of LXD are way better than the first episodes of The Simpsons (and a dozen other popular shows).

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    • Nnnnnope. No, a dance show is So You Think You Can Dance, or Dancing With The Stars. This is a superhero show starring super-dancers. I took a peek at your blog, and what Mr. Chu is trying to convey with this show is the very real power and ability that master dancers have. Wisely, he picks some absolutely incredible dancers to do this.

      However, once you enter into the realm of superhero show, you have to care about story. That’s just how it works. You’re no longer just showcasing incredible talent, you’re becoming a storyteller. Thus, story matters. And make no mistake, the story in the LXD is the worst thing I’ve seen on TV, online or otherwise, in my entire life. It is terribly, awfully executed. And once you put something awful on the internet, rest assured me or people like me will be there to make fun of it. It’s a testament to the dancers that none of this takes away from the actual dancing performances in the show, which as I said in the article (which you apparently missed), are jaw-droppingly incredible.

      If it makes you feel better, you have my word that I will never ridicule the actual dancing in the show. Their dancing is above reproach, untouchable. The writing is not. One does not shield the other.

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      • It is premature to say that the story sucks. They have thus far aired the equivalent of a single half-hour TV episode, or half-a-pilot. Few shows are able to establish themselves within that time frame, even when they have the luxury of locking down their cast and planning out an entire season at once (which LXD apparently did or does not).

        If this is the worst work you’ve seen, consider yourself lucky. The acting and writing on LXD will probably get better over the season, whereas Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt won’t be doing backflips any time soon.

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        • A bit disjointed as I’m writing at work, so forgive the errors.

          No, it isn’t premature to say the story sucks. Maybe their is an overarching story that will pull everything together wonderfully, but currently the story isn’t engaging enough to compel people to watch week to week. And the dance scenes, while amazing, aren’t worth the filler time needed to see them. Every show has to be compelling enough to be picked up by their network. LXD feels more like Hulu wanted some original content and could get a big name on the cheap than a serious attempt at a dance based action show.

          A show has to set the tone of the season. LXD does not do this. The opening monologue and credits set one tone, then each episode deviate significantly from that tone and from each other. The episodes are disjointed, thus far each episode feels like it could be from a different series.
          A show has to establish at least some of the characters and convince the audience that you should care about them or put them in some sort of danger the keep the audience coming back. LXD does not do that. Instead we get “protagonists” who are either never given names or are so forgettable that you forget their names as soon as the show ends, and vaguely menacing guys doing bad things for almost no discernible reason.

          Jolie and Pitt may not be doing unaided backflips any time soon, but between harness work and stunt doubles I’ll never care. Acting doubles don’t really exist. And the attempts to technologically replace bad acting results in the goofy looking text over video of chapter 3, though font choice had a lot to do with how bad that looked.

          The immense talent of the performers in LXD is beyond reproach. They are talented beyond words and no one is criticising that aspect of the show. However, the writing is lazy, the pacing is terrible, and the acting barely deserves that name.

          Josh makes the comparison to Heroes. While a good comparison I think Power Rangers would be a more apt comparison. Both shows had a young cast, their casts were physically gifted and filled with bad actors, they were both about a group of “kids” saving the world from evil. The actors on Power Rangers did improve acting ability-wise, but, comparatively speaking, they had much more solid writing to build up from. Power Rangers also quickly established who the conflict was against and what the stakes were. LXD has yet to do either.

          It feels as though Chu has a story playing through his head when he thinks through this show’s story arcs and feel, but he needs significantly more budget to get what he wants. He could probably make a good show with what he has been given, but he refuses to scale back his vision and as a result he is putting out a sub-par story with incredible dance scenes. It wouldn’t be hard to improve the narrative flow of the story, he just has to bend a little.

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  7. The LXD is the worst thing that I’ve ever seen, MD clearly works for the show in some way or another, otherwise he/she would never have defended it. Defending something as bad as the LXD is the equivalent of trying to defend O.J. after he clearly slaughtered two innocent people.

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  8. OH MY GOD!!!!!!!! YES YOUR SO RIGHT!!!!!! I hate DANCERS, bunch of idiots. I couldnt believe what i was seeing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Morons jumping around and calling it extraordinary, get a life!!!!! pathetic. i hate it!!!! i hate them all so much!!!!!

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    • No one is saying anything bad about the dancing. The dancing is fantastic.
      The dancing is unfortunately saddled with, IMO, sub par writing, and bad acting. Given the type of show they seem to be making the writing and acting are as important as the dancing. That is where LXD fails.

      The dancing is golden, the show it is wrapped in is rather awful.
      The show is being criticized, not the dancer’s ability.

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  9. Oh my GOD! FINALLY I found someone who feels the same as I do about this horrible and utter waste of energy. It is so bad… so very very bad… I feel compelled to watch it in total disbelief. I think this is the “trick”; make something so utterly nonsensical and bad that people are hypnotized by the awfulness and must watch.

    The last two episodes are the worst yet. It seems to be going down hill in stupidity if that is possible. There is a “matrix style” fight/confrontation in a big office… uh… er… WTF??? These guys chase each other like crazy… but when they finally catch up… they stop and watch each other dance. All I could think during this ridiculous and frustrating display was “Why not ust hit the guy with a chair while he is spinning on his head.”

    Oh my god this is so bad… so awful… so bad… it hurts… and sadly… I will continue to watch this train wreck… that is sadder than the dang show.

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  10. Andy R Aug 8, 2010

    My experience with this show really SUCKED!!!!! However, I blame the advertising more than the actual show itself for my disappointment with this show. Don’t get me wrong, if I didn’t know better I would have thought such dancing feats would have been impossible without the use of wires or special effects. These dancers are that unbelievably skilled and talented. The dancing is spectacular and I bow to the mastery of their skill and talent. This show was passed off as if there would be action, suspense, conflict between good vs evil. When it came time for conflict they just danced!

    Thank you Josh for posting this!! I’m glad to finally find something about this show online that’s actually true.

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  11. LXD, the most popular topic on JumpKickPunch.com.

    Congratulations?

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  12. I feel compelled to respond here again. 3am, I have no tv. No cable, no satellite. I rely on “free” programming on the internet with Hulu my number 1 choice (I had to cancel cable years ago due to TV addiction problem. High speed internet is not helping matters, however eventually you have watched everything worth watching and you have to resort to “LXD”)

    I am continuing to watch this train wreck called LXD.

    Watched the latest episode. Seriously? If the unpopular nerdy kids in school can dance like that… what can the popular kids do? Bend spoons with their minds? Fly? Time travel? Bring back the dead? Promise eternal life?

    Another question I have is why can’t a small tiny part of that amazing dance talent be channeled into acting? The dancing is so expressive, so effortless. They can tell a story with no dialog required. It seems that some of that talent should have SOME acting component to it? No? THEN STOP TRYING TO ACT! It is physically painful. I hold my hands up over my eyes and keep the volume down until they stop trying to act and start dancing.

    This “experiment” in programming might work if they dropped the plot entirely and focused ONLY on the dancing. Please please, no more dialog. Don’t let these people SPEAK ON CAMERA. Don’t let them try to act anymore… it hurts.

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  13. The show features dancing, and a too-serious storyline, combining both with earnestness and nary a hint of sarcasm. Such as show has a place, and I find it be awesome, because it is unapologetically different.

    Notably, you are the second person I have met who is both a gamer, and also just doesn’t get dance. I rode in a car to Gencon with another gamer who plays miniatures (Warmachine & Hordes), and he described how seeing skillful Lock and Pop style dancing was the silliest and most embarrassingly funny thing ever. It’s like there’s a huge disconnect between the sarcastic beardy gamer type, and the type of people who are just really into self-expression.

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    • I do get dance. I really do. Had you listened to any of the recent podcasts, you’d know I’m a big fan of Glee. I was into theater in high school in a big way. Hell, I think the Elite Beat Agents are badass. Notably, you are the second person I’ve met who is both a fan of dance, and just doesn’t pay attention. I love the dancing on the show, it’s everything that frames it that makes me cringe. Dance can be moving, it can be expressive. What it cannot be is a matter of life and death, something on which the fate of the world hangs. I love Michael Jackson’s “Bad” to death, but no one on earth ever thought he was actually bad because dancing is not a threat.

      What’s sad is that the show is almost there. I haven’t seen it since I wrote this article (I really should catch up) but if it had less desire to be a series of music videos that a miserable black fellow prefaces and more of a show with a coherent plot involving people whose power is to do more than just look cool, I’d be first in line.

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  14. Redskin Dec 3, 2010

    I saw the first episode and thought “maybe it’ll get better. I saw the second episode and thought “WTH”? This is the dumbest crap ever made. I’d rather watch old episodes of LOST (and that’s not saying much). I heard it was in its second season!? I can’t believe it!

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  15. Redskin Dec 3, 2010

    How about League of Extraordinary Runway Models or Air Guitar Players or maybe Sudoku puzzle players? All are just as lame.

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