Fox’s veteran reality series So You Think You Can Dance continues the return to its roots, bringing back original judge Mary Murphy for the upcoming 14th season this summer. She will be reunited with returning host Cat Deeley and judge Nigel Lythgoe. (Fox said that another judge will be announced soon, with no mention of Jason Derulo who had been behind the table for the past couple of seasons.)
“This season is about giving our loyal fan base what they’ve been asking for,” executive producer Lythgoe said at the time of the January renewal. Murphy’s return falls into that.
Murphy had been a staple on SYTYCD since the very beginning, so fans were not thrilled when she exited after Season 11, replaced by Paula Abdul. The former American Idol judge announced at the recent renewal that she would not be coming back after 2 seasons because of touring, and Murphy is now getting her chair back.
Next to Lythgoe, choreographer and former ballroom dance champion Murphy had been the longest-serving and most popular SYTYCD judge. She started as a guest judge in the first two seasons before being named a permanent judge alongside Lythgoe at the beginning of Season 3. Besides a break she took in Season 7, she has been a regular on the judging table through Season 11.
Murphy’s return follows Fox’s decision to go back to SYTYCD’s original setup of showcasing skilled dancers ages of 18-30 following the kids-themed 13th installment, branded SYTYCD: The Next Generation and featuring contestants ages 8-13, which was not embraced by the core SYTYCD fan base. The Top 10 dancers again will be paired up with All-Stars.
“I am thrilled that Mary will return to SYTYCD and I’m sure the fans will be, as well,” Lythgoe said. “She brings an energy and enthusiasm that’s contagious and I can’t wait for her to join me on the judging panel. I’ve got a pair of earplugs ready, and another for our third resident judge, as well.”