Sunday, 14 February 2010

Four to the floor. Oh, wait: three to the floor

Final: 13th February 2010

Well, folks, here we are - the grand final of So You Think You Can Dance. I'd like to say it's something that the entire nation has been talking about, but to be honest, I don't think that's true. The entire nation may be talking about it, but perhaps in more of an "oh, is that still on?" kind of way. But! For the six of us who are totally invested and do actually care about the result, Chris and I will be bringing you a blow-by-blow account of the final, and I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who've stuck with us throughout the whole process. In particular, I'd like to thank the person who arrived here after googling the phrase "who is that twat sisco". I'm sure we'd have been married in another life. (Make it Mormon - Chris)

Anyway! After some quickly-cut establishing shots that they filmed for that solitary audition show that we saw, involving people in various stereotypical forms of dress representing different areas of the country, there are the judges, and some shots of last week's eliminees, as Cat reminds us that tonight is the grand final. We see brief snippets of the journey here, most of which we saw in equally brief snippets during the aforementioned standalone audition programme, including the much-missed Tanatha. Come back for season two, Tanatha! You've totally got our support! (Which means you'll be in the bottom two repeatedly, but hey, it's still support, right?) Anyway, over shots of the TOP 14 STARS, Cat informs us that the country's best dancers (and Gavin) made it to the live shows. We see clips of Drew and Hayley's Bed Dance, which doesn't, as you might think, segue into assorted other highlights from the series, but instead into the faces of (deep breath) Chris, Anabel, Gavin, Chloe, Mark, Hayley, Yanet, Drew, Mandy and Alastair as they were eliminated. SHOOGANOOGABOOGADANCE! However, Cat tells us excitedly, the past seven days have still been very exciting for the remaining finalists - particularly for Robbie, who we all know by now has fucked his shoulder up and thus eliminated himself. I'm not sure that's "exciting" for him so much as it's probably "gut-wrenchingly frustrating", but hey, maybe that's why no one asks me to do voiceovers. Well, that and the fact that I still have a bit of a lisp when I'm nervous. "It's over," a tearful Robbie tells us, while standing outside a posh-looking medical centre with his arm in a sling, just so we're really clear on this one. (He broke up with his unsupportive doctor boyfriend and it went BAD. That's what I got from that - Chris) So now there are three finalists: "this is the final," Charlie tells us unnecessarily. "There's only going to be one winner," Tommy says, equally unnecessarily (although I daresay there are still a few people out there who thought perhaps we might be voting for one male winner and one female winner, so I guess I'll allow it). "Everything comes down to this," says Lizzie generally, and boy howdy, are we about to see just how true that is. So, who deserves to be crowned Britain's favourite dancer? That's what Cat's wondering. Tonight, we'll get to decide. Except I was out at a party, so my opinion was not taken into account. (Didn't stop you with Jade on Strictly - Chris) Still, that's what I get for having outside interests. This! Is So You Think You Can Dance!

Titles, for the last time this series, so that calls for one final, very heartfelt SHOOGABOOGACANDANCE!

Someone is so excited to be here for the final that she literally stands up from her seat and turns her back to the stage, just so she can wave to the introductory panning camera shot. Calm down, dear. This is the final of a minority interest show about dancing. You'd reach a much wider audience waiting a few months and doing that on Britain's Got Talent. Even better: just sit there and roll your eyes at someone with bad hair who's about to reveal a reasonably good singing voice - you'll get a close-up and everything. Anyway, there's no all-dancing intro tonight, perhaps because you can't do "these are the boys!" when you only have one boy left in the competition, and perhaps also because they've already got seventy billion costume changes ahead of them tonight, and the producers felt it wise not to muddy the waters any further. Cat strides out, looking tall and wonderfully Amazonian as usual in a sequinned green dress, though her hair's a bit flat, and her make-up artist has been a little over-enthusiastic with the rouge on her cheekbones, which makes her look a little bit like an eccentric auntie. Still, she'd be an awesome eccentric auntie, wouldn't she? (I thought she looked she'd been rolled up in turf and blasted with the make-up gun set to "Aunt Sally". Worst she's EVER looked - Chris)

Cat praises the audience as usual, and then gets straight down to business, by saying "we knew that anything could happen on this show - and it has." I'm not saying this is an untrue or unfair statement, but...try and find me a show that a statement that vague couldn't be applied to. Still, it's all leading into a VT telling us stuff that we basically already found out from the pre-titles VT, so quite what the need is for Cat to be so coy, I'm not entirely sure. In the VT, we see Robbie and Tommy rehearsing their hip-hop routine (which will be performed later in tonight's show by Tommy and Mark), and things are going fine until Robbie spins and lands on his shoulder, immediately grabbing hold of it and crying out in pain. FutureVTRobbie describes it as "instant, blinding pain". Tommy helps him up and summons a medic, telling us that a dislocated shoulder is a terrible thing, and the final is a really bad time to get it. I know this is BBC One light entertainment and everything, but I think we could've all quite happily reached that conclusion by ourselves. Standing in a hospital corridor somewhere, Robbie quietly talks to the cameras about how this is a pivotal moment in his dancing career, and earns my respect for remaining fairly level-headed and not getting all Michael Underwood about it. (TYPICAL! TYPICAL! (ROFL!) - Chris) There are shots of Robbie lying on a gurney with his arm in a sling and his eyes closed and looking...kind of dead. Eek. The VT ends with the shot we saw earlier of him standing outside the clinic, and saying sadly "it's over". And man, I wish I weren't quite so sleep-deprived today because I'm welling up already, and this is really not the start I need.

So Robbie's in the studio with Cat now, still bandaged up. "Some people will do anything for votes," quips Cat, and I like that she's bringing a touch of gallows humour to the proceedings, because Lord knows on certain other shows you'd never be allowed to pretend that a contestant self-eliminating due to injury was anything less than an event of national tragedy. Cat asks Robbie what's going on, and Robbie explains that that it's dislocated very badly, and while his shoulder is painful, it's not as painful as having to pull out of the competition. And while that is a little bit trite-sounding, it did disqualify him from the final, so I'm willing to let it pass. Cat says as much, that having made it this far, he can "touch it, taste it, feel it",(they didn't mention THAT in the prize package - Chris) make it, who do you think you are? Robbie says that he's devastated, but he won't forget how lucky he was to be there in the first place. He thanks everyone who supported him and allowed him to get that far (and made sausages in the shape of his name - Chris), and says that he'll try to dance as much as he can for the rest of his life to make up for tonight. Awww.

Nigel's hair is still BIZARRE, and he says Robbie's situation is terrible: "it's like being an Olympic athlete, and just before you get into the games, you've trained for four years, and you can't make it." It's not quite like that, Nigel. No one had even auditioned for this show this time last year. However, and this is why I love Nigel, he follows it by saying: "I have to say, it's wonderful drama for a reality show, though." Hee! I love how there's no artifice with him, he's quite happy to sit there and go "yep, this does well for ratings, so I'm happy." He consoles Robbie with the knowledge that he's a brilliant dancer with a fantastic future ahead, and Cat wishes him a speedy recovery on behalf of the show, and with a final round of whooping from the audience, Robbie is gone.

Cat counts off the remaining finalists on her fingers and explains once more what they're all competing for tonight. She also reminds us that the judges have lost their power, and asks Arlene how that feels. Arlene: "We've relinquished everything that we thought we had." I'm assuming this includes dress sense, perspective, and bowel control. Anyway, it's now down to the public to decide who they want to "shower in stardust", as Arlene puts it. Cat says that there can only be one winner, and someone in the audience shouts a name - I can't make it out, and it doesn't sound like any of the finalists, but Cat giggles and shouts back that it was "more of a hiccup than a name". Again, I don't get why people have been knocking Cat on this show - I love how she's just so relaxed and assured with her role on it that little things like that don't bother her, whereas Dermot O'Leary still can't adequately fill the slot between the two sing-offs on The X Factor after three years in the job. Cat promises that while we've lost Robbie the dancer, we've got another Robbie to replace him: bloated borewhore Robbie Williams, who'll be here later in the part of the show that I don't have to recap, thankfully.

Finally, it's time for some dancing: Charlie, Lizzie and Tommy are dancing a hip-hop routine to 'I Gotta Feeling' by the Black Eyed Peas, which seems to have been inspired by the film Mannequin (/that awesome Sophie Elis Bextor video - Chris) - Tommy is a poorly-dressed boy walking down a grimy street, while Charlie and Lizzie are hookerish dummies in a shop window. It starts slowly, with a bit of business as Tommy pantomimes the moves that Lizzie and Charlie make behind the glass, and then - awesomely - Lizzie and Charlie smash the glass and sass their way through it. Well, I say "awesomely" - it's pretty fantastic, and one of the two moments in tonight's show that genuinely gave me a giddy thrill, but I couldn't help noticing that Charlie's pane doesn't really shatter properly. Poor Charlie - even her glass-smashing lacks technical finesse. Anyway, it's not entirely unexpected, given that hip-hop is Tommy and Lizzie's discipline of speciality, but Charlie does struggle to keep up in this number - she's noticeably a few beats behind them at several points, and just doesn't have the dynamism that the other two have, but credit where it's due, she's a lot better than I thought she would be, and really does come surprisingly close to matching them. It's also nice to have a really strong hip hop routine on this show that's being well-danced to boot - apparently Frank Gatson was responsible to this, which definitely makes up for that mess he choreographed for Charlie and Tommy in week two. Oh, and there's no Kate Prince anywhere in sight tonight, I'm sure you'll be relieved to hear. Anyway, it's a good scene-setter for tonight, and suggests we've actually got some genuinely exciting stuff coming up. Whether the rest of the night delivers on that promise, I'll leave it to you to decide.

A VT plays with the contestants' numbers on it, though the lines are not yet open: poor Lizzie begins her run of misfortune tonight when her VT involves an alarming close-up on her face that shows every pockmark on her skin (and I'm not even watching in HD) and genuinely makes her look slightly terrifying. Tommy looks cute in his, though his weird teeth are kind of prominent. And Charlie just has that eerie stage-school glare of intensity in hers, though I'd say she looks the most normal of the three of them. I'm marking relatively here, obviously. (She looked like a Who from Whoville - Chris)

Cat explains that each of the finalists will be dancing as couples tonight, and Lizzie and Tommy are the first two to pair up. We get a Tommy-intensive VT to lead into it, in which Tommy reminds us that he is an adrenaline junkie, and we see his first audition, back in the good old days when Sisco was just some gonk in a stupid hat and not the bane of my existence. We see him getting good feedback from Nigel and Arlene, and he confesses that week three was the first time he took on a style that he'd never done before (which was his salsa with Yanet, wherein the CURSE OF LATIN landed him in the bottom four). He says that he felt very lonely when the public didn't support him with that, which is unusual for him because he's on his own a lot. Because his (awesome - Chris) sister is in Sweden. Except when she is here! Doing surprise visits and being supportive, as she is now. Then there's a clip of his amazing Broadway performance with Mandy, and Sisco asking Tommy precisely what it is that he can't do. I'm assuming "slap Sisco" is one of the items on that list, sadly. Tommy says that he wants to win the show for everyone who's supported him, and that he can become Britain's favourite dancer.

Big close-up on Tommy's sister, as Cat introduces their dance, a jazz number to 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)' in which they appear to be acting out a deleted scene from Working Girl, which requires Lizzie to wear a hideously unflattering jumpsuit. It's a pleasingly energetic routine, particularly on Tommy's side as he keeps vaulting over Lizzie and/or the table. There's one high lift which seems to go very slightly wrong, as Lizzie seems to overbalance at the apex, but they recover fairly quickly. There's also another awesome move in which Tommy leaps onto the table, supports himself on just his hands and raises his legs up at a 45-degree angle and just holds them there, which hurts me just to look at it. It's a well-danced routine by both of them, but I think he outshines her on the whole.

Nigel quickly avoids any controversy by telling Cat that she'll remember this routine from season three of the show in America, where it debuted (avoids controversy except via the fact that we're sudenly announcing this about a routine that didn't involve Charlie *strokes conspiracy beard* - Chris) - it was choreographed by Mandy Moore (no, not that one) and got her an Emmy nomination. It was also danced by Sabra, who went on to win the competition, trivia fans. I know some people aren't thrilled at the number of recycled routines we've been getting, but frankly, anything that gets Mandy Moore on our version is fine with me. (She has choreographed routines to both "Alone" by Heart and "Heartbreaker" by Pat Benatar. I can hear Steve's excitement from here - Chris) I wonder if we'll be getting NappyTabs next year? (Aw HAYULL no - Chris) Anyway, Nigel says that she's extended it for this version, and that the routine is better for it. Also (and this is getting rather old meme now), that two contemporary dancers did it originally, whereas "you are hip-hop and a breakdancer - you haven't done this style, as such, before." That's because poor Lizzie ends up having to learn a new discipline every week, unlike some I could mention. Nigel commends them for their storytelling, and for Tommy's plange (fnar) where he suspended his legs in mid-air. He says that they've set a target for everybody else - i.e. Charlie. Arlene says they can both dance, that's a given, but the acting was feisty, fiery and fierce. She then turns to Lizzie and points her finger, and for a second I think that, given the number of business metaphors Arlene's been spewing in the last ten seconds, she's about to say "you're fired", but instead she calls Lizzie a dancer, a goddess, and a star. Louise is pleased to see them both in the final and compliments them both on their timing and precision, and she can see both of them capable of being crowned Britain's favourite dancer. And finally, Who Is That Twat Sisco says it was a fantastic opening to the show, and gives us our first "phenomenal" of the night. The first of many, I assure you.

Tonight's running order is a bit off, because Lizzie's now got to do an extremely quick change before coming back to dance with Charlie, but not before we see that scary voting numbers VT again. Once we've defeated the end of level boss in Scary Closeup Land, Cat tells us that we're going to get to see our girls perform together, and rings the "Lizzie is very shy" bell again. In her VT, Lizzie admits to having been petrified at the auditions because so many people were there. However, she just put her nerves behind her, and got a golden ticket from Arlene for her troubles. She admits that because she was up against dancers from all across the country, that she knew she was in for a massive challenge. We see Tramp Dance briefly again, and Arlene overuses the word "unique" beyond all recognition. She feared having to wear heels and a dress for the Viennese waltz, but still managed to be awesome during it, and set off Nigel's "street dancers excelling at ballroom" lightbulb above his head. That gave her a boost of confidence, which was subsequently eroded by Giant Lady bellowing in Lizzie's face that she'd need to thrust her tits at Drew good and proper (and as much as I love Giant Lady, I really wish we could've relived their getting-to-know-you playdate here, because that was awesome). Disco gave her confidence again some more, then she went back to visit the adorable moppets in her class (and props to this show for portraying teaching as a valid career choice and something that can be hugely defining for the kids, unlike on X Factor where it's just something Bellowing Beverley does until she's vaguely famous enough to tell the kids to fuck off and educate themselves). Lizzie thought that this competition was about dancing, ON ICE. Oops, wrong show. But she now realises it's about growth and self-belief, and hating Sisco. (much like life - Chris)

Lizzie and Charlie take on their Broadway routine, to the movie version of 'All That Jazz' from Chicago, starring as bloodthirsty chorines - is it too easy a joke to suggest this part requires no acting from Charlie? It is? Tough, I'm going to say it anyway. It's great to see two girls dancing a number together, though for some reason Charlie and Lizzie don't quite gel as a duo for me. Too different, I suppose. It's a minor gripe, anyway. There's some lovely synchronisation between them in the early stages, though it gets a little sloppy midway as the music kicks up a notch and they start running on adrenaline. They're pretty evenly matched, which is nice, but Charlie's wider breadth of experience in this genre puts her ahead of Lizzie, just about - Lizzie still looks slightly nervous throughout, but Charlie's giving it some proper West End sass.

Afterwards, Cat calls them "two completely different women" (well spotted, Cat), and leads them into the lions' den once more. Except the judges aren't really lions. Meerkats, perhaps. (bobcats-Chris) Arlene is briefly praising of Lizzie before exclaiming that if this was Oscar night, Charlie would've swept the board. Unless that was "swept the boards", and she would in fact have been removing Meryl Streep's footprints at 3am once the ceremony was over and the champagne had run out. Louise points out that they've chosen difficult careers and therefore have to love it to survive, and says that this was Charlie's moment, while Lizzie danced with an edge and was "personable". Sisco was looking forward to this one "because you have hip-hop and musical theatre/jazz merging together", and thinks that "cheeky Charlie" (ugh) gave a mature performance. I didn't really see "mature" in there, but okay. Lizzie on the other hand, was "LIVING! LIVING!" Well, of all the digital channels to be, that's a pretty good one. Better than Granada Men and Motors, anyway. Nigel wanted them in the parts of Roxie and Velma in Chicago, and thought they proved their worth as "Britain's favourite girl dancers", an accolade right up there with "Britain's favourite Labour MPs", I shouldn't wonder. Cat compliments the girls on their sparkles and promises more from them later.

After a reminder that Robbie is ill and thus the three most recent male eliminees will return to substitute for him later, Cat leads into Charlie's VT, describing how Charlie is basically a dancing foetus and everyone thought she was too young for the competition. Dudes, she's 19, not 9. VT Charlie says that it feels like a different girl auditioned for the show, because (say it with me now) she never stood out at auditions and her confidence had gone. This is after, what? Maybe three years on the audition circuit, if that. Cry me a dripping river, princess. I spent that long trying to get any job where I couldn't be replaced at any given moment with a well-trained hamster. Luckily the judges saved Charlie from the horrors of looking for a "real job", though she was criticised in the early shows for being a bit stage school, in much the same way as Tommy was criticised for being "a bit Swedish". Charlie wants to come across as a woman, despite being the youngest, and then she got Cancer Dance. "It was my time," says Charlie, sagely. Well, in that case, it was brave of her to wear such revealing underwear. Oh, sorry: "it was my turn around and go 'there's no way you can tell me I'm a little girl now.'" Instantly, she became a woman and Sisco became a quivering wreck. Well, more so. Now she's in the final, and she wants to win - "I'm going for this, big time."

Her piece with Tommy is a tango (looks to me like it is specifically an Argentine tango) to 'El Tango De Roxanne' from Moulin Rouge (as sung by Animal from The Muppets - Chris), and they're on chairs, which are being masterfully controlled by Tommy. It's actually very nicely controlled from both of them, and for all my griping in recent weeks about Charlie never finishing her moves properly, she's pretty sharp in this one. If I have one complaint with the routine, it suffers a bit from Gatsonitis: it shows off Charlie at the expense of Tommy, who doesn't get to do much other than be a very supportive partner.

Cat talks excitedly about bordellos while Katya And Her Attractive Professional Partner Klaus, applaud in the audience. Nigel is alarmed by the disappearance of Cheeky Charlie and her replacement with some temptress in a red dress. He praises the choreography and the chemistry, before saying he would've liked Tommy to get a bit more angry with it. Well, we saw where that got him when he tried it with Frank, so I can understand why he'd opt for just gritting his teeth. I wonder if anyone's ever tried getting angry with Giant Lady? I'd pay double the licence fee if they can promise me that in series two. By contrast, Nigel thought Charlie's face showed she was really feeling it: "young lady, you shouldn't be going to places like that!" Nigel, she's 19. (and it's a BAR - woooooooooooo - Chris) She's allowed to work at Places Like That if she wants to. He says that they're being pushed in all different directions - first the Broadway routine with Giant Lady, and now this, and the diversity of the routines is showing how hard all the contestants are working. He thinks Charlie's "eased into the front" for him. (I would speculate she let him "ease into her...*libel deleted* - Chris) Arlene thought it was full of "love, lust and longing", and basically didn't pay any attention to Tommy at all. Poor Tommy. Louise thought they did well to make themselves bigger than the terrifying music, and tells Charlie she's getting sexier, "so I'm pleased it's the final because I don't know what's going to happen." Hee! She then gives Tommy some long overdue praise for being so strong and "holding it together". Cat, earning her wages in a way that Tess Daly can only dream of, reminds us that even in a dance that showcases the female, she needs a strong and reliable male there to stand any chance of making it work, (normally I'd agree but Daly? Miss an opportunity to talk about how much harder it is for the men? No. - Chris) and Louise says that it's testament to Tommy's ability that Charlie was obviously so comfortable with him. Sisco, surprisingly useful for once, offers Tommy more credit for being the most consistent dancer on the show, never offering a duff performance. "And your sister's here tonight too!" Cat non-sequiturs.

With all three finalists having performed twice, Cat declares the phone lines open for 30 short minutes. (Yes, a minute can vary in length - you've obviously never travelled on the London Underground.) Time for the return of the prodigal sons to take the place of Injured Robbie - first up, Alastair's here to assist Lizzie. In her second VT of the night, Lizzie talks about being in danger for the very first time last week, and how scary that was. Backstage, Arlene counsels her to believe in her head that she is a winner. Lizzie storylines that she has six routines to learn this week: jazz with Tommy, Broadway with Charlie, samba with Alastair, the pop-jazz group number, and also a group number with the entire Top 14 (and I'll let Chris explain why that one is a bit of a red herring in his recap), and her solo, which involves a lot of spinning on her head. Lizzie is always rehearsing, either in her mind or in her body, she tells us. Her next routine is her samba with Alastair, which is both the CURSE OF LATIN, and the curse of...being partnered with Alastair who, while arguably lovely, is not the most versatile dancer to have graced this competition. He's excited to be back, anyway, and Lizzie hopes they'll have a good connection because he's pretty. I believe that's the exact same way the Hollyoaks casting people check their leads for chemistry. (They do what now? - Chris)

Their samba is to 'Magalehña' by Sergio Mendes (BESTEST. SONG. EVER - Chris), and it opens with some lifts which are rather shakily supported by Alastair (backing up Cat and Louise's earlier point about the importance of strong, supportive male dancers even when a dance is designed as a female showcase), though once it gets going there's lots of shimmying and I think Lizzie is making an impressive fist of it despite it not being her discipline, once again. It's perhaps a little rough around the edges, but assuming we're just evaluating the actual competing dancer, it's one of the better Latin performances from this series. Louise loves Lizzie, but thought that performance lacked "dirt and passion". I swear, the first time I heard her comments, I could've sworn Louise said "it was good, but it was just a bit shite", though repeated rewatching has proven that she said "just a bit shy and a bit English." (JOURNEY FAIL - Chris) Damn you, random glottal stops! Louise wishes Lizzie good luck for the night, and then Sisco disagrees, and says that while Alastair did a great job, he wasn't giving her anything to generate chemistry with. He tells Lizzie that she was doing a one-woman show, and then barks out "LIVING! LIVING!" again, making me wonder if he's got some kind of product placement deal with Virgin Media Television. (Or sofa manufcaturers. I appear to have just punched a hole in mine - Chris) He can't believe it's the same shy girl, now in her two-piece. Nigel agrees with them both, somehow, saying that it was a one-woman show, but that's no bad thing, and thinks he's seen better chemistry between her and Alastair and basically that he always thought they were fucking - except the only other time they danced together, he said he didn't believe they were in love with each other. This seems like a very odd time to be trying to develop a showmance, especially such an internally inconsistent one. However, Nigel appreciates the difficulties they've had with the last-minute substitution, and he thinks that she's done a fantastic job considering what's been asked of her tonight, though this routine was not her best. Arlene says that while they may have been doing "some very special practising" (and I am SO calling it that from now on), but she doesn't care, because she's amazed at how Lizzie picked up the complicated samba footwork in such a short amount of time. "Phenomenal!" count: approximately one billion. Cat asks Lizzie what the kids she taught make of her being in the final, and Lizzie says that they've always seen her as a hip-hop teacher, so to see her doing different styles has been amazing for them. That is assuming they weren't just all going "SQUEEEEE! ALASTAIR!" like they did when she went back to see them.

Cat accuses Nigel and Arlene of being "stirrers" and then Nigel and Arlene make sexyfaces at each other, and it's all very disturbing, so I'm not going to go into any more detail on that one.

Next up are Tommy and Mark: in his VT, Tommy says that it's been a tough week and his body's more tired than one of Arlene's similes, while his mind is more frazzled than Sisco's hair. He's very excited that he now gets to do his hip hop routine with Mark, because they've wanted to work together in their shared discipline, and now they finally have the opportunity to do so. Wooo! Bromance! Tommy can't wait to get on stage and nail it. The routine. Obviously!

It's to 'Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger' by Daft Punk and they spend a good quarter of it standing in front of screens on opposite sides of the stage from each other, miming the sliding of stuff. It's probably the most eye-catching routine of the night, though for my personal tastes, it's a little over-choreographed in places - they're trying to shoehorn so many moves in so quickly that you can't really see any of it individually, and that annoys me when I'm trying to evaluate if they're doing it well or not. Nonetheless, it's frenetic and engaging and ends with them clotheslining each other and knocking themselves out, so how can you not love that? It's definitely lucky for Tommy that Robbie was injured though, because no way could Robbie have kept up with him in that one as effortlessly as Mark did. (I thought Mark out-danced him quite significantly. Might have been better to have someone he could out-shine. Although the possibility of Robbie decapitating him with one of his limbs probably balances it out - Chris) Choreographer Simeon Qsyea applauds, and Cat says it must have been fun for Tommy: it was. Nigel love Tommy's warmth (ooer), but feels like he needs another persona, because he's been Tommy in every number: it might be enough because his dancing is superb, but presumably he needs to grow and simultaneously be both CHEEKY and also A WOMAN like Charlie has been tonight. Nigel also worries that at time his attention was drawn more to Mark than to Tommy, but he's thrilled to have seen popping done properly on the show. As opposed to when he saw Drew backstage, when he just saw poppers being done properly. Kidding! I love you really, Drew. Call me! Arlene thought it was "like the Winter Olympics and you were heading for the downhill slalom or something." Who in the what now? She calls him a master of "this old-school style" and literally bows to him. Louise was pleased to see two of the UK's best hip-hop dancers on the stage. Sisco was pleased to see it all being done properly, both old-school and new-school, and that the floor work was floorless. Er, flawless.

Next up is Charlie and DREW! YAAAAAAY DREW! God, I've missed him and his general aura of awesomeness. In her VT, we revisit Charlie's confidence boost from making the final, and she's determined to make it a great show. Like Lizzie and Tommy before her, she cops to being basically knackered, and even talks us through her new collection of blisters. Heh. She's dancing a lyrical (ie. contemporary) piece with Drew, who arrives complete with fetching new haircut, and they're both excited to be working together again, even though the last time they worked together, he was eliminated and she had her only visit to the bottom four. Drew thinks their duet is going to show Charlie at her very best, and Charlie says very seriously that she hopes this lyrical routine is as good as her first. You might even say she's as serious as cancer (when she says rhythm is a dancer).

They're dancing to 'I Surrender' by Celine Dion (with choreography courtesy of Mandy Moore), and honestly, I'm just floored by this routine - it's tricky stuff that they've been given, requiring a hell of a lot of confidence and control and trust, and they're just breathtaking together. There's a particular bit that Chris and I both loved where Drew scurries across the stage to ready himself for Charlie to jump into a lift, and you just see the tiniest nod of his head as he's coaxing her on (which made us both scream "BRING IT, BITCH!" in our position as instantaneous dance-to-English translators) and the resulting lift is epic indeed. Drew and his awesome new hair wave goodbye sunnily, and Cat is impressed that Charlie has been walking on air. Arlene thinks Charlie is an inspiration to any little girl who wants to dance, and she squeezed so much passion into that routine. She is, in fact, touched by what Charlie has done. Louise says that dancing is about connecting with your audience, and Charlie captivated her tonight - she's grown as a dancer AND AS A WOMAN, and is now the whole package. Then Sisco reverts to type after his brief flirtation with being useful, just sighing the name of the contestant he's judging repeatedly in an awestruck sort of way and taking ages to say anything beyond that. In fact, he doesn't really say anything other than thanking Mandy for her choreography, though he does call it the best routine of the night. Charlie says that their comments have made her night. Nigel says that Drew was brilliant in it (DARN TOOTIN'), but Charlie had to raise her standard to meet Mandy's choreography, which she did. He's also pleased to be able to go back to America when Mandy rehashes this routine for season 7 (presumably) and say that this one was originally done in the UK by two amazing dancers. Sisco screams "UK!" and pumps his arms obnoxiously. Nigel closes by saying he doesn't care if people think he's biased - Charlie's just the best, okay?!?!!?!

After all those couple dances, it's solo time! Lizzie's up first: her solo to Rihanna's 'Don't Stop The Music' is a bit of a let-down, at least in terms of the awesome solos Lizzie has delivered before. It's fine, but unexceptional, I imagine because she's had so much other stuff to work on this week that this has probably had to take a back seat. Her head spin doesn't quite seem to get up the necessary spin, and lands rather awkwardly. Louise says that it's not a one-horse race, because Lizzie delivers exciting and unique solos every week, and she loves watching her. "Let's hear it for it's Lizzie!" says Cat, as Lizzie vanishes.

Next, Tommy is shirtless and wearing oddly proportioned trousers, dancing to 'Cry Me A River', proving once more how scarily flexible he is, and doing a somersault that looks like Liu Kang's death blow in Mortal Kombat. Arlene busts out a couple more "phenomenals" for good measure and expresses her appreciation of Shirtless Tommy. Cat warns Nigel not to follow suit, and reads Tommy's phone number out for the viewing masses. Someone in the audience screams "I want your babies!" (maybe it was Natasha Bedingfield) and Cat's mock-appalled: "He's only taken his shirt off! Easy!" Heh.

Charlie's solo to 'Livin' La Vida Loca' finishes things off, and is more of the gymnastic, stretch, splits stuff that all of her solos revolve around, but it's executed well enough. She finishes with the splits, and just in case we were in any doubt that she's a woman now, we've all seen her vagina and have all the evidence we need. Nigel has nothing more to say to Charlie, so he lines up Arlene instead. Arlene says it was "one of your best, it wasn't necessarily your best" -- what?? Seriously: what?? Are these really the refined expert opinions we were so afraid to lose from Strictly Come Dancing? Nonetheless, Arlene thinks what Charlie has done tonight is "mega", and possibly also "rad" and "wicked".

And that's it! All that remains is the video recap, and as always, it feels somewhat redundant to recap the recap, so I'll skip over that. Cat urges us to vote, and Nigel says that the dancers have all been inspirational, particularly to the people who are debating taking part in series two, plug plug, for which auditions will apparently be happening soon. Arlene thinks it was like a "pick 'n' mix" tonight with all the choice, and it comes down to whether you like the pear drops or the lemon drops, but she thinks it's a battle of the girls, and Lizzie may have won it with her acting in 'Sweet Dreams'. Louise agrees with that, but also cites Charlie in the lyrical, and Sisco thinks the "hip hop was representin'". Time for a final VT as they beg for votes: Nigel claims they'll never get the opportunity to dance in America again (I find that claim somewhat dubious), Tommy thinks dancing in Hollywood is every dancer's dream (I think Drew had some dreams that beg to differ. About Alastair - Chris) , Lizzie would love to go over there and work with some of the best choreographers in the world (yeah, they'll be LINING UP AROUND THE BLOCK - Chris), and Charlie thinks it would be "mind-blowing" (we can but hope - Chris). Tommy thinks he can win because he's put everything he's got into the competition. Charlie came here to win, and therefore presumably not to make friends. Lizzie, meanwhile, has never won anything in her life, so winning would prove to her that it's all been worth it.

Cat teases the delights coming up in the second half, and also Robbie Williams. Cat declares the phone lines closed, and the top three will discover their fates after Scott Mills reads out some numbers. Ooh!

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