SYTYCD's Exiting Mary Murphy Says Her 'Option Was Not Renewed'

Do not adjust the volume on your TV set: So You Think You Can Dance will contain far fewer shrieks of excitement in Season 12 now that judge Mary Murphy has confirmed her exit from the show.

Murphy, a ballroom expert best known for declaring the show’s standout performers were boarding the “hot tamale train,” said via her spokesperson that her “option was not renewed” and that she’s “saddened, of course, to be released from my contract.”

“I’m very grateful and proud to have been part of such an extraordinary television show,” she added. “I’m sure there wasn’t a person watching that didn’t know I loved what I did.”

In a joint statement, Fox, Dick Clark Productions and 19 Entertainment noted that “Mary has been a huge part of So You Think You Can Dance, from mentoring the dancers as a choreographer to inspiring fans as a judge. She will always be part of our Dance family and we wish her continued success.”

Rumors of Murphy’s exit began to circulate last month after reports surfaced that the show’s producers were eyeing erstwhile American Idol staple Paula Abdul for a seat on the Season 12 panel.

In November, Fox renewed the Emmy-nominated reality series for a summer 2015 installment — with a “stage dancers vs. street dancers” twist.

Here’s how producers are describing the new format: “Throughout the auditions, the dancers who advance will be placed into two teams – the stage dancers, featuring those trained in styles such as contemporary, ballet, jazz or tap; and the street dancers, hopefuls skilled in hip-hop, animation or breaking. As the auditions continue, the judges, along with each team’s All-Star Mentor, will eliminate dancers until only the Top 20 – 10 Street Dancers and 10 Stage Dancers – remain. When the competition goes ‘live,’ the Top 20 will be challenged weekly to perform a variety of styles, working with world-renowned choreographers. One dancer from each genre will be eliminated each week leading up to the Season Finale.”

Saddened by Murphy’s exit, or is it the right time for SYTYCD to freshen up its judging panel? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Riana says:

    So she was fired

    • lechatnoir says:

      Basically . But I’d much rather have Máire Murphy than the large and Mia Michaels. That broad was skilled but most times rude toward any dancer with a bit of Melanin. Murphy’s more impartial.

    • Carmen says:

      I was totally shocked & annoyed over two things. First when I saw Paula Abdul & no Mary. That’s a shame. Paula Abdul is TERRIBLE, as was proven when she was on AI. The other disappointment was when they changed it to “Street & Stage” competition. Why change things that aren’t broken???? I’d REALLY like to see Mary back.

      • Marie says:

        I totally agree!! Besides the dancers, Mary brought the most entertainment to the show. Paula is boring and dull!!! Probably won’t watch the rest of the season.

      • Linda says:

        I totally agree!!!!

      • Denny says:


      • Jeri Hinman says:

        I agree as well. I’m sad that Mary is not returning, and I won’t be watching this season strickly due to how terrible and annoying Paula Abdul is. I’m sorry to see the show changing in this way.

      • Jacob Harris says:

        I agree! Bring Mary back. I know Paula is a choreographer, but is she a trained choreographer? Mary was knowledgeable about all dance styles. I don’t get that from Paula.

      • peggy says:

        Totally Agree!! Paula is a terrible judge. Seems in a haze most of the time. Bring back Mary !!! Many followers have already stopped watching !!!!! Don’t think I will be watching much more. Hate new format

      • Laurie says:

        I totally agree – Paula does not make any sense when she speaks and Mary was great!!

      • David says:

        The show isn’t the same. I have watched it since the first, but now I’m losing interest Mary brought energy to the show. I think the changes will lose more viewers than they gain.

        • Kia says:

          I’ve tried to watch it twice now, and just can’t bring myself to watch an entire episode. I don’t like the stage v. street format, and Paula and Jason DeRulo aren’t good judges. Bring Mary back, please!!

        • Pei-barb says:


        • MC Holiman says:

          AGREE a million times over!!!!!

        • Johnna says:

          I agree to everything!
          I watch this show via On Demand…In my opinion I thought it was boring so I ignored the try outs and jumped to episode 1207. But it took 3 attempts to watch the full show. (Fast forward not an option😡)
          Not sure if I will continue to watch???

        • dancingfan says:

          Totally Agree. Probably won’t watch another season if they don’t bring back Mary. Paula is a big bore and bring guest judges back. That was entertaining. Now watching the show is like being tortured. Seeing and hearing Paula and Jason week after week is …. zzzzzzZZZZ

      • Kelly says:

        I so agree. I want Paula to stop talking. And I think Nigel does, too. Bring back Mary!

      • Lisa says:

        I totally agree with Carmen! Bring Mary back and don’t change something that’s not broken. Paula just doesn’t bring it and gives me bad American Idol flashbacks!

      • Cynthia Theiss says:

        I agree 100%

      • LEN EDELMAN says:

        u are so right. PAULA is a total joke. GREAT show DESPITE HER…..Honestly I can not believe this is the best they could come up with. I miss Mary M big time. Must be some behind the scene stuff we do not know about because she was 150 times better then PAULA!!!!!!!

      • Sheila Lafave says:

        I agree totally, Carmen!

    • MC Holiman says:

      what kind of idiot are you? no intelligence, no heart, no taste?

  2. Kicks says:

    Not only have I known for a long time that FOX was a sleaze bucket network, but Nigel Lythgoe is a passive aggressive, back stabbing, two faced #@*% I wouldn’t trust him as far as I can throw. I’ve had this opinion since 2003 when he produced American Idol and it hasn’t changed. He talks out of both sides of his mouth and is evil, IMO. But what goes around comes around, so one day…he’ll get his just desserts.

  3. Ray says:

    This sucks. Mary provides really insightful critiques and commentary, and the show won’t be the same without her. I’ve even come to tolerate her screaming and shrieking over the years.

  4. Kate says:

    I’m really hoping the replacement is not Paula Abdul.

  5. D says:

    Mary’s screaming and shrieking are a bit much, however, removing her and the format change, to me this is writing on the wall that Fox is trying to kill SYTYCD.

  6. gemapet says:

    Still going to be paired girl/boy? In this format, it shouldn’t matter – so instead of keeping in mind who the prospective contestants can be paired up with, only the best regardless of sex, height, physique, should be put through. Always wanted more of the 3 or 4 person group performances.

    • Deb says:

      What we must remember is that the “street” team must assimilate to the variety of stage style dances that will be required of them. I think this will be much harder than the stage dancer doing a hip/hop number.
      I’m not happy to lose Mary Murphy’s skilled expertise as a judge. Even less happy to see Paula Abdul in her place. Jason Derulo is expendable.

      • NoniBerh says:

        Yes, I’m scratching my head with the choice of Jason. They could have chosen one of the actors from HIGH School Musical or even have Adam be a judge.

        • Beaner23 says:

          bring back Mary. Get rid of Jason and especially Paula. I can’t get over the drug fueled Paula from AI. She makes me sick. Can’t stand watching her. Her critiques are horrible. She goes on and on about nothing. Mary and Nigel together at least made us laugh and kept us entertained.

      • Typeaux says:

        My wife and I have COMPLETELY lost interest in the show, based simply on the format. Someone (who shall remain nameless, but his initials are Nigel Lithgow) with a huge ego has made the decision to make changes where none was needed. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” should be the mantra of every successful TV show, but alas far too many of them go astray. Anyone remember “Heroes”? Started great and quickly became a train wreck. Same with SYTYCD. Now it should be called, “So You Stink in your Pants!” Boring. I miss Kat, that’s about it.

  7. Nick says:

    Didn’t she already disappear for a season mysteriously, only to be brought back again?

  8. Jan says:

    I really hate to see Mary go. She so obviously loves dance and was able to give constructive criticism. [Can’t stand Nigel, by the way.] I’m not crazy about the new format. Like other commenters, I fear the show is going to be on its way out.

  9. SW says:

    I guess she and Nigel weren’t as close as they wanted us to think. That, or they were, and he just stabbed her in the back. And no thank you to Paula Abdul. I’m not a Mary Murphy fan, but I’d take her over Paula any day.

  10. Jared says:

    Good thing MTV just ordered a new season of ABDC..that show is far superior.

  11. silveraynea says:

    I did not love Mary screaming all the time. However, she gave good feedback when she calmed down.

    Please god do not let her replacement be Paula Abdul. Please. I am begging.

  12. r0ckmypants says:

    I wish it were Nigel leaving the panel, but since it’s his show… meh.

  13. Nunaya_Bidness says:

    If anyone should take her chair as a permanent judge, it should most definitely be Debbie Allen. Hopefully, they will retain Mary as a choreographer, she had some outstanding routines in seasons two and three. Her “Footloose” opening piece from season two remains one of my favorites to watch. I miss those pieces where the dancers just appeared to be having a great time.

  14. eviloverlore says:

    I think maybe I’m done with SYTYCD. It’s been hard the last couple of years, finding time to sit down and concentrate on a 2-hour show (you can’t multi-task and miss the dancing or you’d miss the point!). Last season, I was almost always 2 episodes behind until I caught up for the finale.

    Now, with the format change and the loss of Mary – who really was the emotional center of the show for me – I think it’s time to just let it go. What I always enjoyed about SYTYCD is that the show promoted the idea of dancing for all people in all styles. Now, pitting one style against the other…I can already imagine the real and manufactured rivalries. No, thank you.

    Besides, I’ve been determined to continue dropping FOX shows for the very reasons I’m dropping SYTYCD – too much meddling from FOX and too many obvious attempts to kill shows it regrets ordering. No more new FOX shows for me, and I’m happy to oblige FOX by dropping a show when it changes the show into something unrecognizable.

    You’re getting out while the getting was good, Mary, trust me.

    • Ronnie says:

      I agree with everything you said here. SO MUCH. Mary really is the heart of the show. I was trying to go along with all of the changes, even though most of them sound terrible (street vs. stage, ugh). At this point, I hate to say it, but I think I may sit this one out.

    • Ok, I understand where you are coming from. I’m there too. I hate when they try to shake things up but………. this is why the show is still on the air. I know we all think it is a great show but the ratings are consistently mediocre. The only reason the show has survived this long is because it is on during the summer and the ratings don’t ever really drop. When they do changes like this they are trying to keep the show on the air. Not kill it. Fox is forcing them to revamp the show in an attempt to get more people to watch it. They probably think having a younger “hotter” judge will bring in more viewers. I honestly am resigned to it if it keeps the show on the air.

      • Elaine says:

        But they have tried the younger “hotter” judges with American Idol, and it was pointless Better to keep the current fans, than to fail in attracting new viewers and alienate old fans if the new plan doesn’t work, and I don’t think it will.

      • eviloverlore says:

        Lauren, I didn’t see that I had replies. I just wanted to add that I fully recognize that the changes are an attempt to save the show we have loved. My problem is that the changes are taking the show so far away from what it has been that I’m not interested in watching it anymore. Fox’s other antics with other shows just added to my willingness to drop SYTYCD.
        It would have been better to have a “farewell” final season that continues to celebrate and uplift dance than what we’re getting, which is a show more focused on pitting dancers against one another.
        An even better idea would have been to have the farewell season, give it a couple years rest, then bring it back with the new street versus stage format, when people are hungry for dance and really *feeling* that hole in their summer. For me, it would be easier to accept a new format as “something is better than nothing” a few years from now when I’m missing the show.
        Right now, the new format comes on the back of a lovely season of dance where everyone got along – a shocking state of affairs on a reality TV show! ^_^

      • Debbie says:

        I don’t really consider Paula Abdul younger and hotter.

      • Sherry says:

        I wouldn’t call Paula a newer hotter judge.

    • Debbie says:

      I totally agree. I have loved this show since day one. I was trying very hard to be open minded about the stage vs street dancer change but it seems to change the whole point of the show. But Mary has been an important part of the show since the beginning and in dumping her I think they have gone too far. And IF they had to lose her for some reason, they could have replaced her with someone who’s been a good, constructive judge. I am going to give it a shot, but I can’t imagine myself hanging on for a whole season.

    • guest says:

      Nigel killed Idol now he’s working on SYTYCD. Wonder what Paula Abdul had to do to get that job, and I bet it wasn’t dance.

    • Donnie Hagy says:

      Agreed! It’s apparent that Nigel has chosen this new format to please…who knows… I know this comment will tick some people off (and I don’t care), but I guess people got tired of actually seeing DANCERS win the competition. This competition was supposedly based on ALL types of dance. So now, we’ve done away with anything but contemporary and street. Boring.

      • Dee says:

        This type of show seems to get popular and the real talent is lost. It then becomes a popularity contest instead of a talent contest. Producers want what brings in the money. I haven’t watched AI in years and I’m afraid my interest in Dance will fade as well.Too bad. I really liked this show in the early years.

  15. Larry says:

    I will never understand why networks always feel changing a format or a judge will kickstart a show or jumpstart it back to popularity. I enjoy SYTYCD and I have no problem with Mary as a judge. I don’t know why the ratings are the way they are -I expect them to stay exactly where they are in the future. There is one thing I know I’m not going to like is the new format of splitting the dancers into 2 groups. I like SYTYCD to be an individual journey but although that still is maintained -it looks like FOX is turning the show into a team competition. I don’t like that idea at all!!!

    • Nellibly says:

      I think the reason that ratings keep dropping is the constant changing of the format. I’ve watched this show from the first season and up until last year never missed a show. Last year, I watched it when I happened to see it in the guide and nothing else was on. The original format worked just fine and some of the things they have tried over the years have been inexplicable (like the year they went to contestant’s homes to tell them they hadn’t been chosen for the top 20. That was just mean.). Dropping Mary is probably the nail in the coffin. Nigel is a bore and he needs her to balance his pompous, overbearing commentary. So sad.

      • Rosemary says:

        I so agree with all that you said.. Well put…

      • Lynn says:

        Wow-already seeing signs of Paula being ‘checked out’. She still seems stoned to some degree, dating from her appearance on shows years ago. Her commentary is basically, “you’re special.” Mary was a character, and added authenticity, true dance knowledge, and (clean and sober) enthusiasm. Jason is a great artist, but I don’t know that he lends a lot of articulate commentary, like Mary and many amazing professional dancers coming in as guest judges offered.

    • Raven says:

      I think that they should keep Mary Murphy. She is very passionate about dance. Paula would be an ok guest judge, but I couldn’t watch her every week.

  16. Gilded Lady says:

    I just don’t get the change. Abdul was awful on Idol and she isn’t any more relevant to the dominant teen demographic than Mary was.

    The format change made me skeptical, but this seals the deal for me. I’m done.

    • cp1945 says:

      The best guest judge ever on SYTYCD was Misty Copeland. Every critique was intelligent and so useful to the dancers. Too bad her career in ABT is so hot she can’t become a regular.

      • Gilded Lady says:

        Or rather so good for Misty :) Either way, I agree – if they’re going to replace Mary it needs to be with someone that can provide that insight and not just platitudes.

  17. Petal says:

    Noticed that Ballroom expertise is not mentioned for either of the teams, so I guess we won’t be seeing any ballroom routines now

  18. emmyloser says:

    This completely blows. Mary was my favorite thing about the show, and now, between this and the really dubious street dancer/stage dancer format, my expectations for this season are probably as low as they’ve ever been for a competition show that I actually plan to watch. The addition of Paula Abdul would only make it worse.

    • zachnam says:

      I agree with you on the addition of Paula!!! She has not been a very good judge on any of her past shows. Why bring her to this one??

  19. David4 says:

    The new format sounds horrible. This might be the best for her.

  20. 'Lesley Ford says:

    I’ve watched since season 1 and always loved it, until last season. Now with Mary being let go and the new changes, I think it’s time I also made a change (to some other program). That’s it for me. I’m done.

  21. andy j says:

    This leaves her free to replace Len Goodman and Julianne Hough oh “Dancing With the Stars”. I would love to see her and Bruno Tonioli on the same panel.

  22. Rissa says:

    I agree with many others that Mary is the heart of this show, and a lot of the time is the only judge with constructive criticism. I have been an avid viewer of this show since season one, but this new format and firing Mary is literally flushing the show straight down the toilet for me. They are throwing away what truly makes the show special. It’s so sad that as a dedicated fan who never missed a show, I no longer feel a pull to watch.

    If nothing else, Cat and a few of the other choreographers have another shot at the Emmy’s they so deserve. It’s absolutely criminal that Travis Wall, Sonya Tayeh, and Stacey Tookey do not have Emmy’s. Although Stacey is currently past her due date with a baby girl, so she may opt not to come back. But with street vs. stage it seems like more of a setup for another hip hop choreography win anyway.

  23. MabesNY says:

    Sad news. Mary’s shrieks were annoying but I prefer that with her knowledgeable critiques than Paula’s inane comments. Ugh. I will seriously have to reconsider watching the next season If Paula joins the show.

  24. I’m sorry to see Mary go and would sure love to know the back story on this. Just doesn’t make sense to me. Can’t say I’m thrilled about the changes they’re discussing but I’ll give it a try.

  25. They can the ballroom expert and change the format…. ergo it seems no one who dances ballroom style will be getting on in the upcoming season. I’m guessing the top 20 will only be performing Stage and Street styles too…. I like those danes but I really like the ballroom style and the way SYTYCD incorporated it. Too bad they are deciding to leave ballroom to DWTS. Not sure I’ll be interested in watching just Stage and Street dances.

  26. Dave in Alamitos Beach says:

    Please, I beg you – no Paula! She contributed very little over the years to American Idol and I’m sure she’d be the same way on SYTYCD. Much better to just get an unknown charismatic expert or use the most articulate of the former winners.

  27. Eileen Hargis says:

    This is beyond stupid. Lose Mary for Paula Abdul? Give me a break!!! This will be the beginning of the end of SUTUCD! Watch and see!!

  28. Sheila says:

    Saddened that Mary Murphy won’t be returning.

  29. Karen Douds says:

    I am very sad that she will not be returning, but with the show’s new “street dancer” format, I can understand why they will not need her expertise – it does not sound like ballroom is going to be in the mix. Since this show came on TV, SYTYCD has been my favorite reality/competition show, but I fear that is about to change with this new format. I will give it a chance, and I could be pleasantly surprised, but I don’t have high hopes for that.

  30. Tammy Richards says:

    Sad to see her go….would rather see her than Paula Abdul

    • shirley says:

      Paula Abdual, BORING!!!! MARY MURPHY was always the spark of the show. And those judges have tried to push those hip hop dancers into the finals, it was so obvious the last few years how they gave the hip hop dancers so much slack, making excuses that they were not trained in the other dancing styles, while criticizing dancers for not knowing hip hop. I wont be watching even though it was my favorite show.

  31. Liz Naranjo says:

    Wow…really ? Are you thinking about replacing Mary with Paula??? Love Paula but can’t take her seriously. I have never missed a season of DWTS and would have never guessed you would be thinking of replacing Mary. I’m not in agreement with that.

  32. John says:

    Kind’a thought this would happen. Last season Nigel seemed a little put off by Mary’s antics and there was always someone sitting between him and Mary. In previous seasons it was always Nigel then Mary then Guest. The show has kind of run its course though (IMO)… I tend to lose interest somewhere around the top 16-14 (last 3 or 4 seasons) and fast forward through the remaining episodes. Maybe the format change will be a good thing?

  33. Janet Scraper says:

    I can’t understand why Mary would be released from the show. She kept the judges entertaining and is a defining element of the show. I am not Interested in watching Paula Abdul. Big mistake

  34. Janet Scraper says:

    Big mistake! Mary defined the show. Don’t think I could stand watching Paula Abdul..there are many much better choices..Mary should stay. I don’t like the sound of the new format either.

  35. Marie K says:

    SYTYCD was always a show that we sat down and watched as a family. Mary’s shrieks and on point, honest commentary were always an integral part of the show. Over the years, many of the family members have lost interest and I understand why the producers feel that they need a change…but that change shouldn’t involve replacing Mary, especially with someone as annoying as Paula Abdul. I, as so many other posters fear that the previous season may have been my last. Life is full of opportunities and choices, but because time is fleeting we have to make good choices. I choose not to watch SYTYCD without Mary.

    • wendy says:

      Me too! I won’t watch the show with out Mary! I think so many others feel the same way I don’t the nk the show will last now.

  36. Typeaux says:

    We can survive without Mary, but I did miss her the season she was out (for personal issues). However, even the best dynamics get stale over time. I’ve never really liked the idea of the show’s choreographers being judges — most of the time their egos get in the way and they somehow make it more about them than the dancers. But Mary Murphy did bring something — a level of energy and enthusiasm to the show that will be difficult to replace. She could be annoying at times (like Nigel), but really, the show is about the dancers, and the judging panel is more the backdrop. If they get rid of Cat Deely, that’s a whole other thing. She’s the best mainstay they’ve got going.

  37. Amber h says:

    Bring back Lil C!

  38. I only watched the show because of Mary. So now I have one less show yo watch . Much better for me. I’m out.

  39. Michele says:

    I used to watch the show….. with my finger hovering over the mute button. I liked Mary but just couldn’t deal with the volume her voice reached and her laugh made my skin crawl (sorry). I look forward to watching again and am hopeful the network chooses a talented and respected replacement.

  40. Michael Brewer says:

    I hope she charges DOUBLE when they ask her to come back! I <3 Mary Murphy!

  41. Michael Brewer says:

    I Love Mary Murphy! She’s a STAR!!! I’ll miss the laughter and more! I hope she gets hired on Dancing With The Stars!!!

  42. I think that taking Mary Murphy off of the show is a huge mistake! I am a big fan of keeping the originals and so far sytycd was the only show that has! American Idol and the Voice have lost their originality and interest because they have changed the judges so much and I just think that shows lose a lot of viewers because of it. Tons of people watched sytycd to hear those awesome shrieks of excitement after an amazing performance and I know for a fact that they’ll miss it.

  43. Mary Murphy is the heart of the show. She provided insightful critiques with compassion & made the show fun to watch. So You Think You Dance will be a bore without her.

    • Nanna says:

      It is boring without her. I miss all the guest judges too. All Jason ever says is “you’re good. That was good. Great job”. He sucks!

  44. Nancy says:

    I will miss Mary very much. She had a good chemistry with Nigel. I think they are making a big mistake. She is one of the reasons I would watch. Saddened….

  45. thisismenow says:

    She was the only reason I watched. Guess I have Summer free now.

  46. Raven says:

    I think that they should keep Mary Murphy. She is very passionate about dance and I enjoyed the chemistry between Cat and Mary. Paula would be a good guest judge. I’m sad if they really are not renewing her contract.

  47. Mary Rossello says:

    Mary Murphy is one of the best things on that show. They are insane to release her !

  48. Holly Dunlea says:

    Paula Abdul. Yikes! This means we have to endure extensive babble as she tries to formulate a cohesive thought…and fails. Mary was fun.

  49. Disappointed says:

    I love the show and I realize some people may not love Mary Murphy…I did. She was a staple on the show and my family and friends will miss her. I do not however love Paula. I was glad when she left American Idol and not at all happy about her joining SYTYCD. I have been a faithful viewer every season since it started and this makes me not want to watch the new season.

    • Candy randolph says:

      Totally agree. It’s my fav show but Paula is not my fav. I love Mary and her quirky yet very detailed and expert judging.

    • sassychero says:

      I completely agree. I miss Mary and her exuberance and absolute joy watching the dancers. I miss the “hot tamale train” that only she could bring. I don’t care for Paula at all. I was so happy when she left American Idol. I was quite disappointed when she showed up on X Factor (well that whole show was a disappointment. They had no finesse when it came to dealing with children when they were not chosen as the winners. It was horrendous to watch and with Paula on there it was absolutely horrific.). When they announced that the judges that are the present judges were the “permanent judges” I was really shocked. Permanent? Paula is usually so stoned she can scarcely keep her eyes open, and Jason, he’s about as exciting as yesterday’s tea bag. Mary at least knew how to dance and could give an informed critique. I’m very disappointed with the choice of judges. I love the new platform, stage vs street, but the choice of judges makes the show have about as much energy and last weeks tulips.

      I know that no one will do a thing to bring her back no matter what we, the ones that they have to impress, have to say. That’s even sadder than the choice of judges.

      Unfortunately, because of their choice of judges, I’m now done with

      • sassychero says:

        (hrmmm interesting the page reset itself and posted my comment… whatever LOL) What I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted was…

        Unfortunately, because of their choice of judges, I’m now done with SYTYCD, the judging panel needs to be as interesting as the dancers and they have fallen very short in that area.

        Peace out ♥

        • Dona Rogner says:

          I so agree with everything you said! And you explained it beautifully! The show has always been my favorite and I’ve watched it since day 1. Mary brought great energy as well as entertainment! Not happy with Paula and Jason (They add nothing) and the new format is just OK.