Sunday, 17 January 2010

All that pop-jazz

Top 12: 16th January 2010

Last week on So You Think You Can Dance: fourteen dancers came out fighting. Or shagging, depending on which kind of contemporary dance they were doing. Of course, we can't focus on the contestants for too long, so the pre-show recap goes straight for the throat of Tedious Judge-Based Drama, with incomprehensible contextless shots of Arlene yelling things like "this is not that world!" to Drew and Anabel, as though she's midway through the Villain Song in a Disney straight-to-DVD sequel (if they were resorting to Arlene as a villain, it'd be the sequel to the straight-to-DVD sequel - Chris), and Louise calling Hayley "slightly naff" while juggling three sets of invisible headphones, because women are such excellent multitaskers. Ultimately, Chris and Anabel were sent home, and...well, I don't know. Went back to being jobbing dancers, I imagine.

This week! The remaining 12 dancers are put through their paces, with several promising looking shots of people getting dropped on their bonces and shoved around the room during rehearsals. Yay! I'm not a violent man, but a bit of vicarious shoving-related fun on my television is always welcome. They are, of course, battling for the chance to perform in Hollywood, where the ardent fans of the American series will subsequently rip them to shreds on the internet, and the promise of £100,000 to help further their careers, or in Hayley's case, to put towards some nicer-looking administration offices for Italia Conti. Alastair and Drew are wheeled out to go through various reality TV tropes about how they can't leave now, and how this is a life-changing experience, while Cat's VO ominously reminds us that one chap and one lady will be sent packing tonight just before Casualty.

Titles! SHOOGABOOGA CAN DANCE! (If only she'd had her visa in order - Chris)

For the benefit of those who are still grousing that the audition show didn't give us enough time to learn who all the contestants are, Cat introduces our Top 12 again: Charlie (twirling her hair around her finger, like people don't find her annoying enough already), Mark (doing some juggling with his hat, and no actual dancing), Hayley (tonight's designated contestant in legwarmers), Robbie (apparently owns no shirts that fasten properly), Chloë (inexplicably dressed as Charlie Chalk for this segment), Tommy (entire wardrobe seems to consist of really hideous graffiti-style tops - why?), Yanet (blows kisses to the audience - again, like she wasn't already in enough trouble), Drew (still 70% hair and 100% awesome), Mandy (the sun may literally shine out of her cooch if the lighting in her opening solo means anything), Gavin (still not very good, bless him), Lizzie (attired as Cheryl Cole being M Bison on The X Factor), and Alastair (just leaps into the air, which is a bit of an anticlimax). I love that Cat's intro involves her saying "these are the girls!" as the female contestants parade forwards. I mean, I know some of the male contestants are a little bit effeminate, but I think we can still just about work out which ones are which.

Then everyone freezes in a way that I didn't realise was creepy until Chris pointed it out to me, but it totally is, and Cat makes her appearance, wearing a single-shoulded red dress with massive heels and generally looking pretty fantastic. Just out of interest, why does Cat not seem to have any trouble with her outfits on this show? I used to joke about someone in wardrobe having a vendetta against Tess Daly, but now I've seen how good Cat looks, I'm starting to think it might actually be true. Anyway, Cat does a half-arsed little arm shimmy as the dancers bounce past her, noting that Yanet "got the memo about the red" and beams "hello!" as the camera sweeps past her. Have I mentioned how much I love Cat on this show? Well, get used to it, I think I may be doing it quite a lot. Cat tells the audience that they're an excellent audience already, and runs through the rules for those of us not already acquainted with them. We're all up to speed here, right? We don't need me to go through all of that? Good.

Cat welcomes our judges: Nigel, Arlene, Louise, and Sisco, who apparently is also here permanently. Oh goodie. He looks more and more like a cartoon scientist each week. His glasses are so pretentiously huge that I kind of want to knock them right off his face, but I'm scared that if I do that, all of his facial features will drop off like Mr Pop! (Ha! - Chris) Although Chris and I already have our own private (not so private now, obviously) theory that if you lift his hat off, all of his hair will come away with it, and he may or may not have a big-ass scar underneath it all that will make him turn into a big crazy and start trying to kill everyone like Dr Kimberly Shaw on Melrose Place. Let's hope we never find out, eh? Cat claims that people have been stopping her and asking how they can compare these different styles of dancing against each other (an unlikely story, but I'll let it pass, we've got a lot to get through tonight) and throws the question over to Nigel, who says that we're not necessarily comparing at this stage, that people are just being asked to phone in for their favourite dancer. Nigel clarifies that we can call in for more than one couple if we like. Anyone else think last week's voting tallies weren't terribly high? (I choose to believe that Yanet is decimating everyone to a degree that is embarassing - Chris) He adds that the more couples we vote for, the more people will be kept away from the judges in the results show, which: no. There's always going to be a bottom four, however many votes are cast. Nigel refers to the other three as "these nasty judges", and Cat assures us all that they're helpful and constructive, just in case anyone watching at home is already halfway to contacting Ofcom.

First up are Yanet and Robbie, who are dressed like oven-ready space aliens, so you know right away that their routine is going to be terrifying. The theme for this week is "what do you like and dislike the most about your partner?" and I already can't wait to see what Mandy's going to say about Alistair, since she was offering all manner of opinions on that subject last week without even being asked. Robbie likes that Yanet is always hugging him, while he doesn't like that she corrects him all the time. Well, stop going wrong then. Amateur. Yanet enjoys Robbie's sense of humour (which, judging by the 10 seconds or so of rehearsal footage they used to illustrate this, looks something of an acquired taste), but doesn't like his height, because he makes her look short. Yeah, but come jive week, Yanet, the last laugh will be yours. This week, Yanet and Robbie have drawn hip hop (sense of impending hot mess), with Olivier award-winning choreographer from Boy Blue, Kenrick Sandy. Kenrick says that this style will be difficult for those who are not hip-hop dancers by trade, and the early footage of Yanet and Robbie shows this to be very, very true. Robbie says that hip hop does not lend itself to his strengths as a dancer, and Kenrick says that he had to try and make Robbie loosen up in the top half of his body, which appears to involve making Robbie inflate and deflate at regular intervals. We see Yanet and Robbie being forced to repeat the same section of choreography over and over again, dropping to their knees and jumping up. Afterwards. Yanet's knees look positively raw and she wails a bit, perhaps understandably. Robbie says that if everything goes right, it will be a fantastic routine, but if it doesn't, they could end up being carried off the stage. A clearly horrified Yanet hisses "no, please!" at the very thought, though to be honest, given what's about to happen, she may end up wishing that had actually been what transpired.

Their routine is to 'Boom Boom Pow' (/A load of old noise - Chris) by the Black Eyed Peas, and commences with them tumbling onto the stage through a StarGate. It doesn't actually start too terribly, with them at least managing to be in sync for this bit, though Robbie's aforementioned spider limbs do kind of shoot out behind him with a looseness that doesn't work for the sharp, staccato movements of hip hop dancing. From there, sadly, it goes downhill as it just becomes a series of flips and tumbles, and the two aren't even really in time with each other or the music any more, though Yanet is popping her body like her life depends on it, and I think Robbie would be too if he weren't trying to stop his arms from flying off and smashing the light fixtures. There is quite a good move in it that Nigel will draw attention to later, where Yanet holds Robbie's arm while he basically flips backwards and lands flat on his back on the floor. It looks more impressive than it sounds, I promise. Then it goes downhill again as Yanet struts around in a Latin sort of way while Robbie rolls in front of her, and then he finishes with another backflip several seconds after the music ends. A bit of a let-down after last week, sadly, though arguably hip hop was never likely to be a strong suit for either of these two.

Cat summons them over from the StarGate and notes that Robbie's limping. Robbie informs her that all of his muscles are now gone. Well, that would explain some of what we've just seen, I guess. Nigel's up first, and his enthusaism is lukewarm - he likes the concept, but is hesitant about giving his approval of the execution. He explains to both of them that hip hop has an inbuilt resistance to it, and both of them were a bit too loose with their movements. And I know he's right, but it does just feel very odd to have Old Man Nigel explaining the finer technicalities of hip hop dancing to these two funky young specimens. He throws a bone to the linguistics scholars in the audience by saying that in America they call it swagger (Fergie talking about chickens trying to copy her swagger is the only part of that entire song I like incidentally. Makes me think of Chicken Boo- Chris), whereas over here we'd be more likely to say attitude, but whatever you call it, he wasn't getting it. The audience boos this, but seriously: he's not wrong. He gives kudos for some of the tricks, including the one I described above which is apparently known as an "assisted suicide", and the way he says "I loved the assisted suicide" makes me imagine an ad bumper that would run: "So You Think You Can Dance: in association with Dignitas." He ends by saying that they did well for a first routine in a "jahn-ruh" they don't know, and again, linguistics scholars: lots of fun to be had with the Midatlantic twang that suddenly appears in Nigel's voice when he says the word "genre". In the hope of some comforting words, Cat turns to Sisco, since this is his style of dance, but comfort he has none: "I'm sorry guys, it was a complete mess." He then says that he's just going to give them constructive criticism - like "it was a complete mess", you mean? He says that Kenrick gave them a good foundation and a good storyline, but there was no control, particularly from Yanet, whose arms were going "like an octopus". He thinks her persona worked, but her execution of the choreography did not. He tells Robbie that he liked the way he handled it, but what emerged was not hip hop, and he thinks they're both in danger. The highlight of the episode follows: Arlene tells them that they were "about as synchronised as a British railway timetable". Not amusing in itself, I grant you, but someone in the audience didn't quite follow where she was going and whooped enthusiastically, thinking she was paying them a compliment. Actually, in fairness to that audience member, since Arlene says absolutely everything in the same tone of voice, it is kind of hard to tell sometimes whether she's being positive or negative, and that simile wasn't an especially effective one to start with. (Also it didn't help that she totally said "British Rail" like it's 1994 - Chris) Anyway, the yelp gives way to a gasp of horror as the true meaning of what Arlene just implied sinks in, and even Louise can't make things feel better, as she tells them that it was messy, and she couldn't really figure out who to watch because it was all over the place, leaving her feeling very confused. I'll leave a gap here for Chris to make a joke about that. She calls it a good effort, but says that they need to step it up next week. Nigel then calls for constructive criticism, please - so yes, Louise, just say "it was a complete mess" next time, okay? (I thought he was being cranky about Arlene's lame burn, not Louise - Chris) Yanet, Robbie and the StarGate look piteously into the camera while Cat reads out the voting numbers, reminding us that the couples' numbers have changed since last week, and begging us to take kindly on Yanet and Robbie since they opened the show and are working against injury. Well, so is everyone else, I should think. Besides, Suzanne Shaw fractured her ankle and still turned up for Dancing On Ice that weekend, so it takes more than "he's got a limp" to earn my sympathy.

Up next are Broadway dancer Chloë and contemporary dancer (except when he isn't) Gavin. In the VT, Chloe says that she admires Gavin's determination and the fact that he never gives up. This may explain why he is persisting in wearing a sleeveless top that is being held together by about six threads around his midriff and threatening to snap apart at any second. What annoys her about Gavin is that he isn't very good. Sorry, that should be "he's always looking at the camera". Gavin, on the other hand, really admires Chloë's positive outlook and her ability to keep him similarly focused, but doesn't enjoy the way she constantly burps in his face. Hey, with gas prices going up this winter, she's probably just trying to keep the heating bills down. Their randomly selected dance for this week is Broadway - so they got his speciality last week, and hers this week? That's some mighty good fortune they've got working for them. (And yet they still suck - Chris) So far, anyway. Putting them through their paces is award-winning West End choreographer and she-giant Karen Bruce. She vows to make them work, pointing out that at 6ft tall, "nobody usually says no to me." I feel like we just took a rather sinister detour here. Gavin talks about never having worked with someone like Karen before, as footage of her irritably swiping at him when he fucks up plays underneath. Karen literally pushes Gavin around some more (hee hee hee), and tells him off for trying to make excuses. I kind of adore Karen. There are some lifts in their routine, and Gavin is not entirely comfortable with them. Neither, I would imagine, is Chloë, since their practice attempts seem to involve Gavin attempting to dislocate her vagina. The lifts continue to not go well in rehearsals, as Karen notes that if Gavin pushes a limb an inch in the wrong direction, Chloë will land on her face. And that's if she's lucky. Chloe repeats the old "if we get it right it will look good, and if we get it wrong, it will not" confession, which I would think rather goes without saying, but I suppose they have to find a neat way to sign-off the VT's story arc somehow.

Their routine is performed to 'Too Darn Hot', and throughout the entire thing, Chloë is grinning in a terrified way as though she thinks that if she stops smiling for a second, the entire studio will collapse around her ears. As anticipated, there is trouble with the lift - Gavin manages to pick her up and spin her around, but looses his footing at the end and falls, dropping her rather inelegantly in the process, though at least she manages to land on her feet rather than any other part of her anatomy. The routine continues, and about 80% of the reason it doesn't collapse like the ratings for DanceX is thanks to Chloë's smile, but there's not a lot to recommend about the routine - I don't know if it's the choreography or the execution, but it just doesn't make for terribly interesting viewing, and the song feels all wrong for it too. The lift that involves Gavin hoisting Chloë up onto his shoulders and her rolling from there onto the floor goes smoothly, at least, and the last 10 seconds or so are quite fun, but it's rather too late to save it by then.

Gavin's shaking his head as he approaches Cat, who very sweetly assures him that he did well and kept everything going, which is so important in a live show, before asking what exactly went wrong. He slipped, is the answer, and Cat encourages him to show off his Chloë-bearing muscles before we go to the judges for feedback. Nigel loved the routine and the fact that Karen pushed them, both literally and figuratively, but points out that Gavin never found his centre of gravity tonight, while led to him stumbling and dropping Chloë. He congratulates him for keeping going, but says that this prevented Gavin's personality from shining and dazzling the judges like it normally does (except last week they told him he let Chloe down by not showing enough personality. Stop retconning show, he's just THAT.BAD. - Chris) Louise interrupts that she thought he was "cute", and Arlene continues "I actually thought the one thing he had was cute", which is both grammatically suspect and again slightly terrifying if you think about it too much, but thankfully we don't get to dwell on it too much as Nigel shuts her down, telling her that she can say that when it's her turn to speak. From there, he turns to Chloë, saying that he loved the Ann Miller thing she had going on, and that this suits her figure (coming from Nigel, I think we all know what that means) and everything about it worked for her. Except Gavin, presumably. He finishes by telling her to work on straightening out her legs a bit more, but calls it a good job otherwise. Cat grants Arlene permission to speak at long last, and Arlene fumbles a bit in an "I had something really brilliant to say, but it's gone now" sort of way, before telling them that she wouldn't want to be in their shoes right now because she's worked with Karen before and knows how demanding she is, and they just did the dancing equivalent of going on Masterchef and serving up a plate of Super Noodles (Your warr-tah was not iven hot enuff - Michelle would not bee ploysed *bitch face* - Monica Galetti), but that their warm personalities may have saved them as far as the public's concerned. Louise, on the other hand, enjoyed it, because to her Broadway is about telling a story with your body as well as your face, and she thinks Chloë's face face gets it right, adding that "you're a pleasure to watch on this monitor". Er, I don't think you're supposed to acknowledge that's there, Louise. Of course, this is just a drop in the bucket in terms of Louise's efforts to pull back the curtain of this show and reveal an old man in a tattered robe frantically pedalling a bicycle hooked up to a smoke machine tonight, so let's put this to one side for now. She thought Gavin was better tonight, though his quality was patchy, but he made her smile. Cat quickly passes over to Sisco, who's been making annoying murmurs in the background, and he says that he doesn't know what show Arlene's been watching (and you don't know how much I would've loved it to be true that Arlene's monitor-that-we're-not-supposed-to-know-about was actually showing the last ten minutes of Nanny McPhee over on ITV1), because he thought it was phenomenal. He says that he was the only one to root for Gavin last week, and he's glad that he did, because Gavin stepped up this week. Gavin and Chloë mug enthusiastically as Cat reads out their number.

Who's next? Hayley and Drew, the newest partnership on offer. Incidentally, Hayley's speciality discipline is given as "Broadway", while Drew's is "musical theatre", and I'm curious to know what exactly the difference is. (USA vs UK tradition I'm guessing - Chris) Naturally, both of them were a bit upset about almost being eliminated last week, but at least they have each other, right? Hayley likes Drew's professionalism, dedication and positivity, while Drew loves "lots of things" about Hayley, chiefly that she's a "really nice girl". Not exactly what you might call a ringing endorsement, is it? What Hayley dislikes about Drew is that he keeps a journal, in which he writes in tiny writing on squared paper, which she declares in a conspiratorial whisper to be "freaky", and...actually, it is, kinda. (If you freeze-frame you can totally read : Alistair - Face ; 8, Body ; 9, Bum ; 7, Personality ; 6 Crotch : 8. Oh ok not really... - Chris) Drew's least favourite thing about Hayley is that she stole his journal. (Oh no wait, if you freeze-frame it, it says "Arlene Phillips is a pusher - a sad old drug pusher"... no, again, not really - Chris) No, wait, it's that she never ever lets up and always wants to practice. They've drawn contemporary this week, and have Rafael Bonachela as their choreographer - artistic director of the Sydney Dance Company and choreographer to Kylie Mingoue, as illustrated by some footage of her...waving her arms about vaguely in the 'I Believe In You' video. Nonetheless, Drew and Hayley are thrilled to be working with such an icon, with Drew literally jumping for joy with his hands clasped together giddily. Bless. Rafael tells us that his method of dance is all about the movement of the body telling the story. I'm not so sure that's "his style of dance" so much as it is just plain "dance", but he's the expert and I'm some dude with a blog, so I'll move right along. This is, of course, worlds away from what Drew and Hayley are used to and Rafael has to talk Hayley out of acting with her hair. Needless to say, he knows better than to attempt such a talk with Drew. Drew's problem, however, is the need to be masculine, or "butch", as Drew puts it. Say no more. (GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! - Chris) Neither of them wants to be in the routine again.

A bed has been created on the stage for their routine, which is danced to 'Speechless' by Lady GaGa, and is therefore automatically the best performance of the night even if both of them break their legs right now. Fortunately, the dancing itself lives up to the music - because this is contemporary, they are both fighting and fucking in this routine, and there's lots of running up to each other and embracing before running apart again, as well as some truly spectacular lifts, and a majestic flounce from Hayley onto the bed. What I love about it personally is that Hayley's required to lift Drew just as much as he has to lift her, which adds a pleasing sense of equality to it. The ending is magnificent too: Hayley lifts Drew up onto her shoulder, at which point he kind of just becomes lifeless, like a ragdoll - and then she shrugs him off, and he plops onto the floor. AMAZING.

Cat shows them her forearm to prove that she does indeed have chills right now, and asks them what it's like being the new couple. Drew says that they had something in common: the shared experience of last week's near-elimination, and the knowledge that they had to be perfect this week to avoid going home. His left nipple is very prominent right now, by the way. Arlene describes Rafael as "one of the rock gods of dance", and says that contemporary is all about the storytelling, and this looked like "Brad and Angelina having a domestic". It really didn't, but it was still great. Cat asks Nigel what he thought of "Mr & Mrs Smith", while holding her microphone to Drew's nipple. I for one am very excited to hear Drew's Nipple's take on the night's events. (Rubbish - Drew's Nipple) Nigel calls Rafael "a genius" and was very excited to see Hayley lifting Drew as well as vice versa. He says that each one lost a good partner but gained a great one, and that next week everyone will be in the same boat because all of the couples are swapping around. He says he knows already that this will be one of his favourite routines of the night, and suggests to Drew that the theme of Hayley exhausting him, lifting him up and dumping him should be a lesson because that's what will happen with every woman he meets. Somehow I really don't think that is something Drew needs to be worrying about. (Srsly - Chris) Louise calls it one of the best pieces of dance she's ever seen on live television, and she commends their believability and fighting spirit. Sisco is not called upon to talk. I am not upset by this turn of events.

Cat teases this week's group number, which is choreographed by Frank Gatson, who's worked with Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson and Beyoncé, before introducing Mandy and Alastair. Mandy says that she likes how Alastair makes her laugh - specifically like when he goes to high five her and then misses on purpose. I guess you had to be there. Alastair confirms that they have a lot of laughs together, but says this is his dislike about Mandy: her laugh is very loud. Perhaps she's just overcompensating for the fact that "failed high-five" wasn't all that funny the first time, much less the seventh? Mandy's dislike where Alastair is confirmed is that he's so sweaty - "at the end of a training session, I'm covered in sweat, and it's not mine." All together now: ewwww. They will be dancing the cha cha cha this week, as choreographed by Carmen Vincelj. Carmen thinks that Alastair has the requisite cheekiness for Latin, as well as the Patrick Swayze feel to his look (and I hope she means pre-death Patrick Swayze) - and because of that, she's choreographed in a little homage to Dirty Dancing for them. Alastair struggles in rehearsals and says that he doesn't have that Latin blood - "I'm proper northern, through and through." and Carmen says that they need to practice every waking moment. Alastair worries that if they can't pull off the choreography and the requisite sexiness, they may be going home this week. Eh, it never stopped Chris Hollins.

They're dancing to 'I Like It Like That', and the routine begins with Alastair running in from the wings and sliding under Mandy's legs while doing the splits, which is quite an impactful start. From there, it's a little bit more standard, with Mandy (in a stunning yellow dress) really selling it, and Alastair not quite so much. His hip movement is negligible, though it's hard to see what he's doing in any case because he's wearing all black and the stage surrounding him is all black, so really we can only see his neck, arms and head. There's a good lift where Alastair picks up Mandy who's in a sort of...swan pose, I guess, from a standing start, which can't be easy, but from there it's fairly anodyne again until the final pose, which involves Mandy grabbing Alastair's hand and inverting her body at a very rapid speed, ending up with her head pointing down and her legs neatly posed in the air. That was pretty cool, I must admit.

"Nobody puts my babies in a corner," says Cat as she beckons them over, and I'm sure there's a joke to be made here about the presentation of her breasts, but if there is, I think I'd rather save it for Tess on the next series of Strictly Come Dancing. Nigel reveals that he does indeed like it like that, which Mandy is overjoyed about. A cameraperson rushes to catch Carmen's reaction in the audience, but appears to stumble on the way, but Wobblycam still shows her looking pleased, so it was not all in vain. He warns Alastair about his tendency to turn his feet out and also not to stick his bum out when he wiggles his hips, but praises the "straight pressage" lift. Mandy, meanwhile, simply gets told that she was hot and sexy and her performance was terrific. Good to be Mandy right now, I'm thinking. Arlene points out that Alastair was "not at home" with the hip action and advises him to use the ball of his foot more to help create it, but praises Mandy for moving her hips "as fast as your mouth talks". Arlene adds that she sees a connection, but Mandy is a tough girl and she wants to see Alastair giving her tough back. Alastair agrees with this assessment of his partner, prompting an awesome "who, me?" face from Mandy. Cat explains that this is the first time Alastair's had to wear heels, and that he feels they make him walk like his mum. "That's not a good look!" declares Arlene, somewhat unnecessarily (I bet Alistair's mum is 10 times fierecer than... well at least Charlie - Chris). Louise's praise is somewhat less enthusiastic - she thought parts of it were wonderful, but Alastair wasn't consistently connected with Mandy, and the moments when he lost connection were the points when the routine lost its spark. "You what?" squeaks Sisco, so Louise clarifies that she thought there were times when it was passionate and others when it was bland - and it seems as though Arlene agrees with this assessment. Sisco rather churlishly says that he didn't agree with the others and thought it was "phenomenal". (Not just phenomenal - "FERR-NOMM-IN-UWWWWWWWWWW! Twat - Chris) Now, I want to transcribe this next bit verbatim, so I don't lose any of the carefully-worded constructive criticism: "Technically, once again, blah blah *raspberry* *raspberry* blum bing - whatever!" And to think before the series started, people thought Louise would be the redundant judge. Sisco enthuses that they brought the Latin spirit and sing-songs about Alastair's transformation and versatility, and gets very excited about the ending pose. Cat advises Alastair to practice in his heels, and Alastair suggests he needs stabilisers. Heh.

Charlie and Tommy are the next couple to perform. Tommy says that the only thing he doesn't like about Charlie is the way that her hair always ends up in his face while they're dancing, while Charlie says that the one thing she doesn't like about Tommy is the way that he always accuses her of getting in his way and hitting him. I sense a possible breakdown in communication here. Their choreographer this week is Frank Gatson, who has won award for his word with Beyoncé, including the choreography for 'Crazy In Love' and 'Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)'. I'm so excited right now that there may be a little bit of drool collecting at the corner of my mouth. Their style for this week is pop jazz, which Frank explains is a mixture of ballet, modern and all forms of dance - something that's meant to wow the audience. He wants a little more of an "unpolished" vibe from Tommy, and some movement that "looks good on Charlie". (Good luck with that - Chris) This does not go down well with Tommy, who is unsurprisingly not hugely thrilled about essentially being Charlie's living prop for the week. There's a VT where Tommy talks about the frustration that was building inside him and the inevitability of it all boiling over, but sadly this does not lead to the amazing Run DMC-style dance-off that I was hoping for, but instead Tommy speaks to Frank during Friday's rehearsal about feeling underutilised. Lame! I wanted a throwdown. It's not entirely clear if anything actually changes as a result of this, but Frank tells Tommy that he can always depend on his own talent and no one can take away from that, and then they hug it out, so I'm assuming it was resolved in a way that was satisfactory for someone, at least. (I'm guessing the award winning choreographer basically told the reality show contestant to piss right off - Chris) Charlie's opinion is sought, not that it really changes things, and she thinks that Tommy has found it hard, but that he shouldn't worry because he's phenomenal. Are they being paid for each use of that word tonight? It's been thrown around even more often than Drew and Hayley.

Somewhat disappointingly, the music choice for their routine is JLS's 'Everybody In Love', which isn't a song that excites me a great deal (because it's as shit as "Beat Again" was amazing - Chris), and isn't really a song that makes the choreography pop either (because it's shit - Chris) Tommy's fears prove not to be entirely unfounded, as he isn't really given a lot to do besides an impressive flip at the beginning. Weirdly, however, despite the fact that Charlie's the one with all the impressive moves to perform, the camera seems to focus almost exclusively on Tommy, as if to reinforce just how much he hasn't been allowed to do. It's very odd, and leaves me unable to comment on Charlie's performance with any great certainty, though it looks a tad imprecise from what I can see. Much as it pains me to speak ill of the man who choreographed one of the best videos of all time, but that was a bit of a let-down for me.

Cat is appreciative of their use of a wind machine, and comes to Sisco first for a change. He thinks Charlie was amazing and really commanded the stage, and that Tommy did well to stand up for himself, suggesting that Frank may have slightly underestimated him. In the audience, Frank nods in a way that may mean "you're right" but could just as conceivably mean "I am not above hitting a man in glasses, just so you know." Sisco continues that it's felt like The Charlie Show, and it's supposed to be a partnership. Arlene disagrees: she thinks that every move Tommy made in the routine was extraordinary, and that what he delivered was a complete story. "Jazz pop is about more than just freezes and the occasional choreography," Sisco snits back at her. Arlene continues to disagree, saying that choreographically she thought it did give him enough to do, prompting Sisco to start fronting with her, all "what you got, girl?" at which point Louise starts contemplating phoning her agent to see if there's any chance of getting away from this to do another series of Farmer Wants A Wife, and Cat warns Arlene not to make Sisco take his earrings off. Heh. Nigel thought that "cheeky Charlie" performed wonderfully, and that Tommy was charming, but he does agree with Sisco to some extent, that while he thinks Frank is a fantastic choreographer, he felt this routine to be too simplistic, and it felt like something that would be done in the background while a singer performed in the foreground, which is not what this show should be about. Though, he adds, in possibly the world's longest run-on sentence, whatever a choreographer gives you, you have to work with and do your absolute best. Louise says that pop jazz was her thing when she was a pop star back in the day, and that the important thing is to dance any routine to the best of your ability - which she thinks Tommy and Charlie did. Cat reads out the numbers, and reminds us "they're a team! There's no I in ti -- team." Heh. Almost, Cat. Almost. (There's totally an i in "Time Team". Bloody ego-maniac Tony Robinson - Chris)

Without further ado, we're onto the final couple of the evening, Lizzie and Mark. Drop everything: LIZZIE IS WEARING A DRESS. Or something a little less reliant on conventional gender dynamics. Anyway, she too got Cat and Yanet's memo about red being on trend tonight, and looks fab. Mark is also looking spiffy in a shirt, waistcoat and smart trousers accessorised with a red tie. What? Dancing? Oh, right. Their VT begins by showing us the moment in last week's rehearsal when Mark landed on his head during the backflip. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), the actual zone of impact is obscured by a large banner reading "REHEARSAL FOOTAGE". Thanks for that, BBC. Amazingly, the only think that was damaged was his finger, so he took a lot of painkillers and threw up into a champagne cooler (I hope the Daily Mail weren't watching that, I can only imagine the "BOOZE AND VOMIT ORGY OF EXCESS" stories they'd make out of it), and made it through the night. This week, they've drawn the Viennese waltz. Lizzie has never done this style of dance before, but she's still ahead of Mark, who literally does not (.is pretending not to) even know what it is. Thankfully, they have an awesome choreographer on hand to guide them through these dark hours: step forward the lovely Katya Virshilas from Strictly Come Dancing, who is a serious upgrade after James Fucking Jordan last week. (Ian Waite next week, please!) and her superhot professional partner Klaus. Katya points out that Mark and Lizzie are used to dancing as individuals, so they have a task ahead of them to learn how to function as a couple. Mark points out just how far they have to go by saying that he thought the Viennese waltz was a biscuit. I think you are the biscuit in this occasion, my friend. The fact that Mark makes Lizzie laugh qualifies as her joint like and dislike about him, because while it is fun, it distracts her from working. Katya asks Mark if he feels strong enough to lift Lizzie, and Mark cites the whole buggered-finger thing as a possible drawback. Nonetheless, he manages to pick Lizzie up, though Katya is unimpressed with his technique and proceeds to abuse his non-mutilated hand until she is 100% happy with his finger placement (F'NAR F'NAR - Chris). Mark says he wants to be able to pick Lizzie up and make it look easy, but that it's a lot harder than it looks. I sincerely hope this is not the start of a "Lizzie needs to lose a few pounds" arc, because seriously: I ain't buying that one. Katya is hoping to incorporate three lifts into the performance, but is not sure if it will work out. Cue footage of Mark and Lizzie falling to the floor. Uh oh!

They're dancing to 'Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?', which is a bit too slow of tempo for my personal taste where this style of dance is concerned, though rhythmically I guess it's fine. It begins with a bit of business involving the tail of Lizzie's fabulous dress as Mark stretches it out and Lizzie twirls underneath it, and then they take hold and go into a lovely splits-lift. Throughout the ensuing routine, Lizzie is just that little bit better than Mark - they're both delivering it nicely, but there's just something in his performance that lacks fluidity for me, it just seems to be a series of poses and waiting for Lizzie to finish her bit, though for a first attempt at ballroom it's still pretty good. The part of the Viennese waltz that is recognisable to Strictly viewers (the endless bout of turns) is fairly short-lived here as they're doing it American smooth-style, largely because that's more interesting and dynamic to watch. Katya's three lifts make it into the performance, and it ends with Mark spinning Lizzie on the floor by her arm, and though the initial fall is a little bit bumpy, the ultimate effect is good. Easily second best for the night, behind Drew and Hayley.

Cat compliments Lizzie for not looking like an auditionee to play Princess in a live-action adaptation of The Raggy Dolls for once, and Mark shows off his new finger bandage, which he's added some sort of sequinned wrap to for a bit of glamour. "It's a blinger!" Cat declares. Mark says that it was "pimp my finger". Can you say "pimp" on BBC1 at 7.20pm? (Alistair did last week and nobody called OFCOM. I think they're in the clear - Chris) Nigel reminds us that Lizzie has had No Ballroom Training and Mark has had No Training Whatsoever, and therefore this was brilliant and What This Show Is All About. Just to his left, Arlene frantically crosses something off her list of things to say and frantically tries to come up with something else before Cat calls on her. Nigel compliments the shape their bodies took on the first lift, though the editors play in the wrong clip to illustrate this, showing Mark tossing Lizzie around by the arm instead. He compliments them on their fantastic rise and fall, and praises Katya and her (hot) assistant for their excellent choreography. (Odd that when Katya helped James out, she wasn't credited, and yet HER MALE ASSISTANT WAS THIS WEEK. ZOMG SEXISM -Chris) Arlene calls them "the heart and soul of So You Think You Can Dance" and waxes lyrical about the amazingness of two street dancers coming in and holding frame. They're street dancers, Arlene, not street urchins. (I think she got confused by the bins last week - Chris) I'm not sure their ability to hold themselves fully upright when required is quite the miracle you seem to think it is (It is for Arlene - Chris). Anyway, she found their performance "so moving and so touching" and loves them both. Louise tells them that the Viennese waltz is all about smoothness and fluidity, and while it's not quite what they're used to, she reminds them that their lyrical hip hop routine last week also required smooth and fluid movements, so they need to learn to take that and apply it to other disciplines as required. I think that's a fair point, and also probably more useful from their point of view than Nigel and Arlene's "we never dreamed such a transformation was possible!" approach. Anyway, she thought they pulled that off, but warns Mark to be careful of "awkwardness" (okay, a slightly less useful criticism there, I grant you - she might as well have told him to be careful of "rubbishness") and to keep upright and strong when dancing with Lizzie. Not that he'll be dancing with her again after this week anyway. Nigel chips in that it's hilarious to think that his street dancing friends will ask him what he did this week and Mark will have to say he did the Viennese waltz. Is it? Street dancers must be easily amused. Sisco annoys me with his overly affected "Wow. Wow wow wow" since the routine ended three minutes ago and I doubt he's been sat there in a state of ready moistness while the other three were talking. I also apologise for using the phrase "ready moistness" in the context of Sisco. He says it was the best performance of the night and says that they took "mission impossible" and made it possible. Louise, clearly as fucked off as I am at this point with this patronising rags-to-riches arc they're constructing for Mark and Lizzie, who I think are both talented enough to deserve praise for this routine without somehow pretending as though they were unable to walk unaided before Monday, asks Sisco why this was so impossible. "They're dancers!" she says, throwing her hands up. Sisco points out unnecessarily that they're hip-hop dancers doing the Viennese waltz, while Arlene shouts over him that this is their first time dancing in hold. Louise, going totally off-message in an admirably suicidal way, points out that the challenge that was given to Mark and Lizzie wasn't any harder than anything the other dancers were given, almost all of whom were working in a genre they were unfamiliar with. Nigel, hilariously, is so not getting involved in this and spends the whole exchange looking at Cat and giggling. Arlene butts in that ballroom and Latin are the hardest styles to master, and Louis tries to protest, while eventually Cat, who is almost on the verge of a Britain's Got The Pop Factor-style "FUCKING SHUT UP!", has to intervene and shush them all. (I was too. It's my one major Nigel peeve, apart from the Strictly bashing. He is really really gross around hip-hoppers - Chris)

With all the couples having performed, Cat asks the judges who stood out tonight, "nice and quick". Chance would be a fine thing. Nigel names Mark and Lizzie and "the bed routine". Arlene is asked who upped their game, and she replies that it was Drew, all the way. "Peter Pan turned into a man!" I guess that's what happens when you believe in fairies. Asked who needs to try harder, Louise thinks Robbie or "Janette", based on tonight's performance. Sisco is asked for the performance of the night, and, like Nigel, names Lizzie and Mark and Drew and Hayley. It really wasn't a close contest tonight, was it?

Cat implores us to vote, before seguing oddly that even though we can't save everyone, the dancers who are eliminated will go out on a high, because they will be performing on the results show in a routine choreographed by a legend. This week, it's Frank Gatson, who did the underwhelming routine for Charlie and Tommy, but also, if this VT is to be believed, did 'Smooth Criminal' for Michael Jackson, 'SOS' for Rihanna, 'Bad Boys' for Alexandra BURKE and 'Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)' for Beyoncé, which paints him in a much more flattering light. VT Chloë is excited to be working with someone who's worked with one of her idols. Alastair, sounding oddly clinical, says that Frank's "pedigree is absolutely undeniable". Mark repeats that he's worked with the greatest artists ever. Charlie is excited to be sexing it up on a Saturday night, as I'm sure are many women who patrol the area around King's Cross at that time, while Drew says it's a great routine to get your teeth into, and they will be getting down and dirty. And then squealing that dirt is gross and running off for a long cleansing shower.

Cat declares the phone lines open, and we get a visual reminder of tonight's performances: Robbie and Yanet being hopelessly out of their depth, Gavin and Chloë fighting a losing battle with clumsiness, Drew and Hayley potentially providing this series' growing the beard moment, Alastair and Mandy being forgettable, Tommy being Charlie's living doll, and Mark and Lizzie proving beyond all doubt that not all street dancers are - gasp! - hunchbacked fools. SHOOGABOOGACANDANCE!

And that is that. Cat reminds us that the two couples with the fewest votes will be in danger in the results show, and implores us to rejoin her then to find out who they will be. Until then: dance party!


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