Monday, 11 January 2010

The first cut is the deepest

Top 14 Results: 9th January 2010

Cat's back, and apparently the wardrobe budget for this series does not extend to her having a new outfit for the results show. Not that I'm complaining, though - the dark navy square shouldered tunic with rivets thing she's got going on actually looks rather good, if you ask me. And I'm aware that you didn't. She reminds us that much, much, much earlier tonight, the Top 14 performed live for the first time, and now the voting lines have been closed. This, just in case any of our readers have miraculously never experienced reality television prior to this moment, means that one boy and one girl are about to be set home. Ooh, you could cut the tension in here with a ronde de jambe!


To get things started, the Top 14 have prepped themselves up good and proper, and are dancing what I think might be a lindyhop to 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy'. For some reason, Tommy's ensemble makes it look like he's just escaped from the chorus line of Oliver! I half expect Real Woman Jodie Prenger to run on at any minute while Griff Rhys Jones enacts various unsavoury Jewish stereotypes in the background. Perhaps because there are still quite a lot of contestants, the camera seems determined not to linger on any one person for very long, preferring instead for lots of swooping shots of the group as a whole. While this may be undoubtedly fairer, it's annoying if you're recapping and want to see who is amazing and who sucks. Really all I can tell you is that Anabel is pulling some good faces, and Chloe's upside down aerial splits are impressive. Oh, and Yanet has some crazy broken down legs working for her that remind me of Ali Bastian doing the Charleston. And yes, that is supposed to be a compliment. Anyway, it's all a very impressive piece of showmanship, but I can't pretend I'm not glad when it finishes, if only because I hate that fucking song. (It reminds me of The Puppini Sisters so...likewise - Chris) Cat arrives on stage to break it all up and informs us that it was a Stephen Mear-choreographed routine, but does not enlighten us as to precisely which genre it was, so I'm going to stick with my initial guess of lindyhop and hope that I'm not wrong. Not that I imagine anyone's coming here anticipating a write-up filled to the brim with in-depth dancing knowledge. Most of the time I'm just grateful that I know my right from my left. (For what it's worth, by the way, Wikipedia says it was "Broadway".) Anyway, Cat reminds us that it's the last time we'll see the Top 14 dance together, and they disperse.

Cat reiterates that our votes have decided who is safe and who is in danger. If anyone's curious, I voted for Drew and Anabel and Chris voted for Yanet and Robbie, so we'll just see if either of us have lent our usual curse to those we support. (Wah wah waaaaaaaaaah - Chris) Cat welcomes back the esteemed judges, and we're led into the obligatory video recap. In said video recap, the dancers hop around nervously backstage, while Yanet adorably begs the viewers at home via the camera to wish her luck. We see flashes of Alastair and Mandy's Broadway routine, complete with Alastair's pimped out argyle tank top that I really, really crave to have for my own. It's an argyle thing. I can't explain it. When Veronica Mars was on I used to entertain dreams of raiding Duncan Kane's entire wardrobe. (am now envisioning an actual wardrobe painted argyle - Chris) Nigel liked their routine, and backstage, Alastair did not want it to end. Lizzie and Mark were dressed as tramps (insert your own "not in the same way that Ola Jordan does on Strictly" joke here) for their lyrical hip hop routine, and Arlene was a sucker for a good story. About tramps and bins, apparently. Heaven help Arlene if she ever attempts to get through We Need To Talk About Kevin, that's all I can say.

Drew's Hair and The Gap In Anabel's Teeth did a jive while covered in gold lamé, and Nigel found Anabel wanting. To demonstrate that their comments were not wholly positive, we see them fumbling around in the forbidding darkness backstage, like, it's television, guys. That's what it always looks like back there, negative comments or otherwise. Gavin was outdanced by Chloe in their contemporary routine, and is subsequently upstaged by Chloe's impressive rack outside the studio door during their piece to camera. Hayley dressed up as Emma from Hustle for her samba with Chris, and Arlene told Chris he mustn't let his partner down, while Louise cautioned that parts of the routine were slightly naff. Louise knows naff, remember: she recorded a cover of 'Stuck In The Middle With You'. Robbie and Yanet's foxtrot was superb despite the pointless backflip, and they scream with elation outside. Charlie and Tommy pulled off their hip hop routine with considerable aplomb, despite it not really being in Charlie's wheelhouse, and ended the show on a fine note.

With that, we're back in the studio, and Cat announces that it's time to find out the results. Already? Bloody hell. I'm so used to being bombared with celebrity guest appearances and inane audience voxpops on results shows that to have the presenter announce it's time to get to the fucking point a mere six minutes in is quite a novelty. Then again, we've only got 19 minutes of show left which has to incorporate four solos, two eliminations, and...a celebrity guest appearance. Yeah, never mind. There's time for a quick VT which informs us that - yes, you've guessed it - no one wants to go home. Yanet plays the "I have no family here to support me" card, and just wants to be able to call her mother and give her some good news, dammit. Mandy's family, on the other hand, have flown over from the States to watch her, so she needs to make them proud. So there.

We begin with the three couples who just featured in the VT standing on the stage: Alastair and Mandy, Charlie and Tommy, and Yanet and Robbie. God, are one of these in the bottom two, then? My heart begins to sink for Yanet and Robbie. Cat turns to Alastair (who is wearing positively indecent little briefs) and Mandy, reminding them of their generally favourable feedback from the judges. But did they get the public vote? Yes, they did. They hug each other and make muffled squealed noises. Charlie attempts to clothesline Mandy as she walks off the stage. Either that, or it was an attempted hug that didn't quite come to pass, I can't be sure. Cat goes over the judges' feedback for both remaining couples before declaring Charlie and Tommy to be safe, and they hug each other in relief. Yanet and Robbie applaud them gallantly, but look quietly devastated. Cat shuffles awkwardly towards them, and says apologetically, "you guys have seen them go through, you know the public have voted." Then there's the slightest of pauses before she whacks Robbie with her cue cards and says "what are you still doing on the stage? You're safe as well!"

And if you will permit me a brief sidebar here, I have to say that was a spectacular bit of misdirection to both the remaining couple and the audience, because at no point did the show state outright one of those couples would be in the bottom two, they just let us make our own - evidently incorrect - assumptions, and as a result I'm not even convinced that it was particularly cruel to Yanet and Robbie. A lot of credit for the effect of that little bit of business lies with Cat and her delivery too - in the hands of a lesser presenter (I'm looking at you, Dermot O'Leary. And you, Tess Daly. And probably you too, Bruce Forsyth) (Imagine Davina *shudders* - Chris)that could've been a horrible, awkward mess, but she's got such an easy, chummy relationship with the contestants that it felt like a goodnatured tease instead of a mean joke.

Anyway, Robbie and Yanet are absolutely floored, and have to be reminded to leave the stage. "You hate me out there, don't you, but you love me at the same time!" Cat yells at their gleefully retreating backs. Heh. I really like her on this show, you guys.

Of course, this just means that we have four more couples left, two of whom are not safe, and the next to get a spotlight VT are Lizzie and Mark and Chris and Hayley. They talk variously about not wanting to go home, with Mark saying that he wants to stay in the competition until his son turns one on January 19th. (Presumably the birthday party will be held in Blackpool - Chris)Seriously, take that tedious arc and send it to someone who cares, possibly on the production team of Britain's Got Talent. Lizzie talks about people thinking of her as a hip hop dancer, ignoring the more likely possibility that few people really think of her at all, and wants to show off her other skills. Chris says absolutely nothing of interest, and Hayley does not want to let down her professional dancer parents. I do not even want to think about the amount of "go on darling, do it for mummy!" that her childhood may have involved.

Both couples are now on the stage with Cat, who would love to be able to say that they were both safe, but cannot, because one couple is not. Chris and Hayley's samba led Nigel to make extremely strained comments about chemists, while Lizzie and Mark's hip hop routine wowed the judges. The first couple in danger is...Hayley and Chris, which means Lizzie and Mark are safe. There are hugs and kisses, but the most important thing is that we get to see what Lizzie does with her eye make-up and hair accessories for at least one more week. I know I can't wait. Cat asks Arlene if she's surprised to see Chris and Hayley in the bottom two, and Arlene is not surprised, quite possibly because she spent six years on Strictly and knows how the samba never registers with a BBC One Saturday night voting audience. Hayley and Chris exit stage left, biting their bottom lips.

Final VT! Gavin's biggest critic is himself (unlikely), Chloe just wants to be taken seriously (see above), Anabel might never get a chance like this again (looking increasingly likely) and Drew has so much inside of him (and Arlene has already exceeded our daily allowance of gay jokes for this round). In the studio, Cat reminds Chloe and Gavin that their contemporary routine impressed Nigel, but with reservations, while Anabel and Drew's jive went down like lumpy custard, though Cat sugarcoats it a bit. The second and final couple in danger is Anabel and Drew, so a stunned-looking Chloe and Gavin are safe. Cat asks Sisco for his opinion on the outcome, and he thinks they are both beautiful technicians, and does not know how the vote came to this conclusion. Well, it possibly had something to do with the five couples who were safe all getting more votes than they did. He advises them to dance their socks off. I wish someone had given Alastair that advice before the performance show. I can't stand light-coloured socks with dark-coloured trousers. *shudders*

Cat sends them off to get ready, and briefs us all that each of the four dancers in the danger zone will get a 30 second solo to prove their skills to the judges in the hope of being saved, while Nigel elaborates that these are self-choreographed solos, and that the judges will be taking into account everything, not just the solos, though the solos may change the judges' minds.

Hayley's the first to perform her solo, and is wearing a billowy, fabric softener advert sort of top over some control shorts, and her routine involves a lot of leaping in the air and waving her arms around like a small girl who got cast as the wind in her infant school production of An Inconvenient Truth. She does whip out some impressive spins and floor gymnastics, although by this point the effect is marred somewhat by the audience yelling "10! 9! 8! 7! 6!" etc as the countdown appears on the screen behind her, and man, that has got to be distracting. She finishes with her hair all over her face, and is ushered off while Chris comes on to perform his solo. His also involves a lot of spinning and leaping, although it does make slightly more sense as a flowing routine than Hayley's did. Neither one blew me away, though. Anabel is next, doing something contemporary in style that involves lots of stretched legs and hugging herself in an exaggerated fashion. It doesn't so much suggest "person fighting for survival in a televised dance contest" so much as it does "that girl in the playground who had to make her own entertainment because no one wanted to play with her", regrettably. Finally, Drew comes onto the stage with more energy than everyone else put together and runs around and pirouettes and high kicks and does the splits in mid air and ends collapsed on his back. I wasn't that jazzed about the content, to be honest, but you can't deny he (/his hair - Chris) at least grabbed your attention. I'd be inclined at this point to say send the two girls home and keep the two boys, but obviously the show doesn't work that way, because then they'd have to dance together like gaylords and what would Arlene make poorly-delivered jokes about then? (everything? - Chris)

Cat tells the judges in a very serious-business tone to get on with their conferring, and then bizarrely goes straight into a cheery piece to camera telling us how we can visit the website if we want to learn how to do some of this dancing mullarkey. Whoever came up with this running order has a very odd idea of how to build tension. Anyway, as if things weren't painful enough for the contestants awaiting their fate, they now have to sit through a performance from Lemar, who is apparently still relevant somehow. I mean, he has the Boy Blue dancers with him, so this performance is relevant to this show at least, but in the grander sense - who knows? Perhaps the BBC just wants to remind us that at least one Fame Academy contestant is still standing. I wonder what Alex Parks is doing with herself these days, and then I start thinking about the time Ainslie Henderson wished me a happy birthday on MySpace (swoon) (Lucky bitch - Chris)and are we finished yet? We are? Excellent.

The judges offer Lemar a standing ovation, and then Cat welcomes back the bottom four contestants, and we'll be starting with the fates of the ladies. Nigel opens by telling them that the judges are unanimous in their decisions this evening (such comfort - "if it's any help, we all thought you were shit!") and that neither of them delivered sufficiently dynamic solos to change their minds from their initial preconceptions. Hayley is told that she is a wonderful technician, but must learn to be Real Human Emotions Barbie if she stays. Anabel is beautiful and reminds the judges of Penelope Cruz (snort) (double snort - Chris), but her technique on the jive was off, and if she stays, she'll need to really get to grips with the style she's given. The lady who leaves tonight will be... Anabel. SHOOGABOOGACANDANCE! They hug, and Anabel retreats to the arms of Cat. Anabel's short exit VT shows her promising performances in the audition rounds, but apparently they weren't enough to save her. Cat asks Anabel if she's enjoyed herself, and she says she's proud to be recognised as "one of my country's greatest dancers". Eh, close enough.

Anabel skips the stool backstage left where she will be forced to sit and watch the boys' elimination. That seems rather harsh. Nigel tells the boys that the judges were unanimous once more, but that their decision changed repeatedly when they learned who was in the bottom two, with their high impact solos ultimately deciding things for them. Chris is told that he needs to really find the music and "sit on that beat" if he stays, while Drew needs to rein in his stage school personality if he sticks around. The male dancer who will be leaving us is...Chris. SHOOGABOOGACANDANCE. They hug, and two people who I'm assuming are Drew's parents kiss each other in the audience. CALL OFCOM! (They're not mayo-lovin' homos, it's fine - Chris) Chris also gets a short exit VT, and says that he doesn't know if he can do anything besides dancing. Does this show provide a post-elimination careers counsellor? Just wondering. He is not asked by Cat about his future plans, because the show is already running over. I shall miss him, if only for his nifty purple tracksuit bottoms. Again, I would like to know where I can get myself a pair of those. Cat reminds us to tune in next week, and the Top 14 is united for one final DANCE PARTY. See you next week! SHOOGABOOGACANDANCE!

1 comment:

  1. The main thing I found myself thinking all the way through SYTYCD this week was just how bad Tess Daly is at her job. I mean, it's not that I think Cat Deeley deserves awards for being best TV presenter of all time, but at least she is not embarrassingly bad. And she has much trickier stuff to do than Tess. All on her own, too.

    Also: her routine involves a lot of leaping in the air and waving her arms around like a small girl who got cast as the wind in her infant school production of An Inconvenient Truth. is awesome.