Sunday, 7 February 2010

So You Think You Can Make Karen Hardy Cry?

Yeah, s'not that difficult is it?

Top 6: 6th February 2009

LAST WEEK : was the most dramatic yet! Robbie & Yanet exposed themselves to Sisco and... if there were any felony I'd be committing at Sisco, it would not be that one, I'll tell you that much. Drew and Yanet then went home, taking their Latin Passion and Love Of Judy with them, leaving a final 6 who are all VERY KEEN TO GIVE IT THEIR ALL AND COME OUT AND WORK HARD etc etc. Yes the reality tv semi-final clichés are out in full force, with everyone trying their hardest despite the fact that really, hasn't everyone at home got their favourites at this point? In my case: not Charlie.


Out onto the stage tumble our top six : Lizzie (Jan), Tommy (Bobby), Mandy (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia), Robbie (Peter), Charlie (Cindy), Alastair (Greg) and apologies if you have no concept of The Brady Bunch, but they so are. I've also just noticed that during the "these are the girls, here are your guys" bit, the girls actually dance (well...vamp) towards the front of the stage, whereas the boys just walk in time with the music. Where's the equality of labour? Suddenly the use of "This Woman's Work" a few weeks ago is even more appropriate. Yes, sometimes this show really is like childbirth. Especially when Arlene's speaking.

Once they're done dancing/walking, Cat comes out, wearing a black dressy thing with what appears to be an angry grasshopper embossed onto the front with gold studs. It's *a* fashion choice I'll give her that. The audience, you'll be surprised to hear, are "amazing tonight". She gives us notice that this week will work much like any other, but instead of having rubbish awful group numbers, we'll be having two coupled routines per partnership. But we're still having the solos, and one at a time rather than two in one go, so you'll have to make that piss-break very quick indeed. She then introduces our judges - Nigel (looking very Rock-A-Doodle-Do), Arlene (looking very WI treasurer who nobody cares for, but she makes a mean cucumber chutney), Louise (looking very superfluous) and Sisco (looking very...punchable). Apparently it's Sisco's birthday tonight as well.

Any long term viewer of reality tv will tell you that "eliminated on their birthday" is a very very common trope. Just saying. [Or on the day of your high school gradation, which you missed to compete in said reality show. Tyra Banks is such a bitch. - Steve]

Cat then asks Nigel what the dancers can do to leap that final hurdle into the final, and he says they need to become more brash and confident and American about the whole thing, and not be so humble and English about wanting to move forwards. Yes Mandy and Tommy, stop being so darned English. Be MORE AMERICAN MANDY! There then follows an extended riff where he apologises to Arlene for calling her a Wicked Witch because it was offensive to witches, and then tells her that Andrew Lloyd Webber is holding open the part of the Wicked Witch in "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" for her. Are they saving the role of Chief Munchkin open for Sisco? [That, or the annoying little yappy dog. - Steve]

Moving swiftly on, and Cat Deeley gives out the numbers, then imitates the Shugga-Bugga CAN DANCE robot voice. I've said it before and I'll say it again - don't get the hate.

First up, Lizzie & Robbie, dancing together for the first time. Dressed as bell-hops and mugging frantically. Their VT informs us that this week they'll be dancing Broadway under the watchful eye of... hooray, Giant Lady returns! She's apparently choreographed a vaudeville number which is full of laughs and is a "real show-stopper". Which is of course why they're putting it on first. Lizzie's excited that she's going to get to show a full range of facial expressions (*eyes to Tommy*) and Robbie is loving the "banter" in the routine. Anything described as "banter" automatically makes my toes curl. It's basically code for "straight men being bitchy, but it's not bitchy, because they're straight men, it's just "banter""

Although having said that, I can't actually see where it'd fit into the routine, unless they're planning to stop halfway through and have a natter. Actually that might have improved some of the other dances this week.

The other half of their VT is Lizzie-centric and this week is apparently "family visits" week. In this one, we learn that Lizzie has seven adorable nieces and nephews, who she is training up into her own private dance army. By So You Think You Can Dance 10 (it so is going to recommissioned that many times) they're going to be the entire top 6. Minus the one who got bored of the constant hip-hop training and rebelled to become an accountant. We get lots of pictures of Lizzie growing up, on her journey to womanhood, and then it's time for the routine.

So yes, they're dressed as bell-hops and they're dancing to that instrumental number from Chicago that gets played over the credits as you wonder how in the name of all that is holy Catherine Zeta Jones managed to get an Oscar (I mean, really). Basically the story is of two hotel porters messing around with the luggage trolley and attendant luggage, whilst pretending to be civil-war soldiers and explorers and all sorts of wacky zany antics like that. What's interesting is that I think Lizzie's facial expressions are marginally more appropriate than Robbie's. I mean don't get me wrong, Robbie's facial expressions are giant and adorable, but you can tell he's a theatre dancer, because there is not a single person in the theatre who can't tell exactly what he's thinking, and the people in the front row can probably tell what he's had for dinner. Then again, physically the routine is quite flaily and zany, so it suits the rest of him a tad more than her. At any rate, it's very fun and silly and they both perform it exceptionally well. Good job to open the show Giant Lady. It ends with him leapfrogging over her head (with her in a standing position no less) and landing in splits position - excellent.

Over to Cat they trot, as she marvels at how Robbie managed to jump quite that high with all those limbs to get in the way. Nigel starts for the judges, telling us all that that was danced to the "Hot Honey Rag" which sounds like something used to clean the drains at Kraft World (formally Cadbury World) and then he totally games the audience by saying "I have to say Lizzie, that sometimes your facial expressions don't come through...erm...*wait for boo*" before camping up that what he was GOING TO SAY was that SOMETIMES she's like that but NOT TONIGHT. And he does this with none of the prissiness that a Simon Cowell might give it, and with the wink to the expensive seats that this is all showbiz nonsense, and this is why Nigel Lithgow is my favourite judge currently working in reality tv. [I'm telling Mary Murphy you said that. - Steve]

Anyway, he liked all the physical comedy gleaned from the height difference between the two and also gives Giant Lady the shout-out she deserves. Arlene next, and she says the routine needed a cartoony energy, like Tom & Jerry or Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. I know Liza Minnelli is a cartoon, but I think her mother was in fact real. Although thinking about that's making me feel a bit "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?". Anyway she then utterly nonsenses that she "didn't think they'd deliver because they were picked out of tens of thousands of dancers because they were excellent in their styles but then they delivered on every level". That makes NO.EFFING.SENSE. She thought they'd be rubbish BECAUSE they're good at their style? Seriously, no effing sense whatsoever. Louise said she liked it, but worries that people at home might underestimate just how hard it is to get that sort of comic repartee down in dance, and then Sisco finishes by squeaking that if the public don't put Robbie & Lizzie through "I'm a gonna git you" and making animal noises.

Does he know there's another routine coming? That might (*spoiler*) be a bit poo? Oh Sisco. Cat gives out the numbers, talks about the "Stockport Spider getting squished" and Robbie then makes more adorable giant "I was in We Will Rock You - Germany" faces.

First solo now - it's "Cheeky Charlie" dancing to Gloria Estefan and her Miami Sound Machine. I'll let Stephanie Beacham cover this one :

Stephanie Beacham: That Charlie creature can get her leg up over her head

And that's all she ever does. That and shaking her tits around a bit. I bet she thinks that's "Latin Passion". Zzzz.

We're apparently getting (mercifully brief) reviews of the solos this week and Nigel tells Charlie that this solo was a sign of how she's really grown as a performer, because four weeks ago it would have been full of silly winks to camera and stage-school affectations, but this showed that she's really grown as a woman. JOURNEY! DRINK!

Alastair & Mandy next, because I'm sure both of them want to re-visit that partnership again, and as we go to VT I see that he's wearing a deliberately undone bow-tie. HATE! I swear the rest of this episode is just me shouting at the variety of costumes I find personally offensive. It's like Tess' wardrobe people did everybody this week. Mandy's dress just makes her look fat.

The VT cuts straight (after a brief reminder of her "I'M SO HAPPY! PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIKE ME!" moment of safety from last week (yeah...turns out not so much)) to Mandy's story about how her entire family live so far away, and phones and the Internet and skype all haven't been invented yet, so she's a bit lonely. Never mind, her MOTHER-IN-LAW really likes her, and is putting up posters in the Post Office of St Asaph (population 3,500, which, if you proportion down, means about 292 people who watch this show. ALL POWER-VOTING FOR MANDY NO DOUBT) along with the "bar-help wanted" and "missing kitty" posters, and generally being proud. Apparently she and Mandy used to do girly things together and so she's apparently like the daughter she never had. Probably fortunately, because I'm guessing if Mandy's mother-in-law had popped out a baby looking like Mandy there'd be a few rumours spreading around the town.

We finish with some footage of Mandy & Alastair rolling around on top of a sofa repeatedly injuring themselves and talking about how demanding and tiring and potentially crippling this routine is. So obviously, after we open with the show-stopping number, we put the potentially injurious and definitely tiring routine on second. Do we think someone got the running order upside-down this week? I bet the closing number is done to "Get The Party Started".

The routine is in the "Fighting" proportion of the Contemporary sphere, and... Right, it's choreographed to Coldplay and they're rolling around on sofas and tables hurling plates and books and stuff at each other. Basically it's a DFS advert that's stopped being polite and started getting REAL. It's very passionate and DRAMATIC and it might just be my residual Mandy love that suddenly blossomed last week, but she's really very very good in it. Alastair on the other hand starts off fine, but looks a bit lost from about halfway through. His movements start to get a bit skiddy and confused and off and he looks like he's holding onto the performance at the expense of the technique of the routine. This turns out to be exactly the opposite of what the judges think so I'm probably wrong but... it's not his finest hour. She's still pretty epic though. It's odd, because they keep on putting these two together (entirely randomly obviously *strokes chin*) but I've never seen a performance where they both look good - I think they hamper each other to an extent.

Anyway, as they emote over to Cat, we get a shot of her GIANT HEADED husband in the audience looking moved, and the choreographers (who are never identified) applauding. At least I think it's the choreographers. They certainly LOOK like contemporary dance choreographers. As the stage-hands clear up the carnage Arlene tells us for the zillionth time what contemporary dance is about - it's about PASSION and PERFORMANCE and NOT BEING AS HARD AS BALLROOM AND LATIN. This dance was apparently about "one of the classic break-ups" - Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton for her generation, and Katie & Peter for "the new generation". Is she saying that Katie Price is my equivalent of Elizabeth Taylor? I am boycotting the rest of her comments in outrage. Never mind that it was more "Elizabeth Burton and Richard Taylor" from the previous generation of Hollyoaks.

Louise says that last week she was worried by Mandy's routine (really? The routine that was in Mandy's field of expertise, danced with the most versatile male left in the competition, aired at the end of the show, choreographed by Giant Lady? Competing against three pretty terrible routines? That routine? Whatever Louise) , but she's so glad she got the chance to come back and do that. She then tells Alastair that he's growing and becoming stronger, and they both "fixed it" for each other this evening. I kind of want her to operate a giant mechanical arm with a tacky medallion at this point a la "Jim'll Fix It". Sisco follows by saying that it was "like watching an episode of EastEnders". Hang on, Sisco, it wasn't THAT bad. Anyway, he then gushes about what a great support system Alastair was, and that Mandy was amazing, and their chemistry is amongst the best in the show. Of course at this point, as though to disprove his point, Mandy looks up Alastair in delight at the compliment, and he completely blanks her.

Nigel then goes an extended, actually funny (bizarrely given the thin material) diversion about how the routine reminded him of him and his ex-wife, back-and-forth-ing with Cat, and then eventually gets round to his comments that he thought it was a good routine, danced well, but he didn't really see the connection. Of course you can then tell that Nigel's the judge whose comments really matter, as the others all react and blow raspberries (guess which one, go on, guess) at him. When Louise says something they disagree with, they all just stare off into space.

Next up for the solos is Lizzie, wearing offensively tacky beading that Latoya Jackson would wrinkle her nose at. Heck, '80s Latoya Jackson would turn her nose up at it. She's popping and locking to 'Bleeding Love' and it's very nice - quite fluid and with a decent amount of content. Not terribly memorable, but enough to add to her body of work in a positive way. Please note for later, that the review for this solo from Arlene is that it's "breath-taking". So so far we've had "a real sign of growth" and "breath-taking". So if anyone in the Results Show says that the judges only really liked one solo this week, you can call their ass a liar from me.

Oh and Arlene also calls her "wicked". Dear me.

Next up, Charlie & Tommy, whose segment Cat leads into by saying that they've never been in the Bottom Two when paired up, but when apart one of them's always been there. It's this sort of random stat that I love, and of course it's obliterated by the next shot of the pair of them pawing at each other in ugly shiny red PVC. And Tommy's got his shirt off, should you be so interested.

The Charlie-centric VT starts off with us being reminded that she was in the Bottom Two last week, but she reassures us that this has only made her more determined. We struck her down, but now she has come back more powerful than we can possibly imagine. Personally I always prefer it when being in the Bottom Two sends people IBBLE IBBLE MENTAL but that's just me. [Ahhh, Zoe Lucker. - Steve] Apparently she went to ask Arlene for her advice about how to connect with the public more. Sadly Arlene's one trick of "get replaced by a younger girl so everyone forgets what a rancid old hag you are in the frantic rush to be politically correct" won't work with Charlie, because she's 12 years old, so Arlene (staring at Charlie's tits the whole time incidentally) parps out some crap about really believing she's a woman.

If Charlie had solo'd to "Man I Feel Like A Woman" complete with yelling "LET'S GO GIRLS!" at the beginning, I might have actually voted for her. Charlie's response incidentally is to do the Langford Nod (oy!) and go "yup". Get a personality girl, seriously.

Anyway, to highlight the fact that Charlie is now a woman, her mum and gran are going to come in and help her out. I know that'd get me a lot more respect in my workplace. Turns out her mum and her gran are both experienced professional dancers (no really, try to look surprised I DARES YOU). They also both have "-eeeeeeeeeeee" names (Sally, Molly) which if anything surprises me even less. Three generations of stage school smiles all twirl around in unison. I would kill for a family group number this week - not gay Alastair and his not gay brother, Lizzie and her army of nieces, Charlie's Stage Family, Tommy and his awesome sister, Mandy and her mother-in-law doing "girly things". Wouldn't it be at least better than solos?

This week, she and Tommy are doing "hot jazz" which presumably means "jazz in man-made plastics". It's being choreographed by Sean Cheesman who I am informed did some stuff for Britney or whatever. [I'm glad to see that literally the only thing I know about pop choreographers came in handy at some point. - Steve] His instructions to her are basically "SLAG IT UP!" and "BEHAVE LIKE A WOMAN!" and "SHAVE ALL YOUR HAIR OFF, SHOW EVERYONE YOUR VAGINA AND ATTACK A CAR WITH AN UMBRELLA!". Well alright, I was just wishing for that last one. Except for the vagina part obviously. Sigh. Didn't Charlie prove she was a woman when she had (fake) cancer? Why are we doing this again? (Giant Lady : She's got tits, she's a woman - move on)

I am at least glad the Britney number they are dancing to is "Circus" and not "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman". Or "3" because that song sucks. I love that they gave that VT to Charlie before this routine because... is anyone really watching Charlie in this what with Tommy being all naked? She puts in a credible performance but there's just something about her movement that I don't really like. She's not as hard-hitting as I think she should be, and the end of her moves are kind of throwaway. He on the other hand is really nailing it, and is in fact the one having the performance breakthrough, because he doesn't once smile with his scary teeth (seriously, between Tommy and Robbie, our winner isn't going to disabuse the Yanks of any of their views on British dentistry are they?). They end up necking up against their giant prop to end (two big white boxes like the "Human Nature" video) and it is at least a more convincing expression of heterosexual desire than anything else we'll see this evening.

Louise starts for the judges by hooting obnoxiously about Tommy's torso whilst Sisco fans her down. She praises Charlie for not getting upstaged by the beefcake on display next to her (seriously Alastair, this is how you play the topless card - make them wait and then pay it off when you need it. You sell it cheap, nobody wants to buy any more). She did however think the routine stayed too much on one level, and never exploded. Sisco's comments are then basically him perving over Tommy and quacking on about the sexual chemistry and how Charlie is now a WOMAN because she jigged around a bit in a burst red pepper. Transition clinics across the nation take note.

Nigel jokes to start that he hadn't noticed Tommy's buffness until it was pointed out, and by God the man even manages to make "I AM HETEROSEXUAL I AM!" not seem that obnoxious. Anyway, it was terrific, and it was a great routine. He also mentions in passing that it was really a hip-hop jazz fusion, which is accurate and informative and... don't make me gush this much about Nigel Lythgoe please show, it's going to put the readers off and make them vote for Kym Marsh on Popstar to Operastar even more than they are already inexplicably doing. Arlene finishes by praising Charlie for maturing in that performance, and Tommy for being so versatile, but then returns to Charlie for putting her on blast for having no sense of rhythm and never being in time with the music. Erm... it's the semi-final, should someone not have mentioned that before now? It's quite important for a dancer to have rhythm isn't it?

Next solo up to the plate is Alastair doing ballet to what sounds like fight music from Planet of The Apes. It's quite light and throwaway and not terribly memorable. Louise reviews and drones on about how she likes Alastair but she thinks he has more to offer. I agree, but I think the "more to offer" might well dwell in the "clothes to remove" part rather than the "dancing" part.

At this halfway-stage Cat runs down the numbers for us, and tells us in the Results Show we'll be seeing a routine to Big Spender choreographed by Giant Lady, and also a performance by Leona Lewis (I'm so jealous Steve. So very jealous. I bet they make me recap Robbie Williams next week and all).

Next up - Robbie & Lizzie, dressed like what would have happened if Sky One made "High School Musical" rather than Disney. We're informed in his VT that being in the Bottom Two did not in fact fill Robbie with the steely insane desire it did Charlie, it actually broke him like Alexandra Burke's Feminism Heels. He gives a to-camera interview, looking gaunt (well... more gaunt) talking about how he can't let up for a second, he has to keep going, otherwise he'll just collapse and genuinely, give the boy a sandwich and some perspective. Nigel makes it worse in his advice session by basically telling him he can't give him any advice and he's doing everything that can be asked of him. Poor duck.

This week he's with Lizzie, and they've got hip-hop and this has caused Robbie to have horrible, waking-up-in-sweats-in-the-middle-of-the-night flashback to Sisco's hat the week he and Yanet murdered hip-hop forever. And the comments for that routine a little bit, but mostly Sisco's stupid bloody hat. He (and Lizzie to be honest) have come to the conclusion that TALL PEOPLE CAN'T HIP-HOP. And as he is a tall person, that makes him screwed. This hip-hop iteration is being choreographed by Simeon Qseya who has thus far been responsible for Heelies Dance and Bench Dance, which puts him just above Kate Prince, but only barely. So I can see why Robbie might be worried. He tells Robbie to forget all his preconceptions and just try it, and he'll totally BE FINE. Then there's a lot of talk about challenging pre-conceptions yadda yadda, and I would love to join in, but we all know that whatever this routine is, it won't be hip-hop, it'll be installment 57 in Propapalooza, so let's just get on with it shall we?

Right on cue, we cut to Lizzie & Robbie lying (visually speaking - they're actually stood up, with the bed vertical behind them) on a bed and making heiroglyphics with their hands. Cause this is "lyrical hip hop" as it seems to be every bloody week. Lizzie and Tommy better get the chance to throw down next week, or I will be MIGHTY PEEVED. Robbie and Lizzie are lovers, in bed, who are FIGHTING for whatever reason (I can think of a few reasons why this relationship might not work out, and they're not just the height difference) and they dance about a bit, and then they're happy again, and rub each others faces like they're smearing scent in an episode of SVU so the hounds can come and track the other person down. Robbie's skills at hip-hop (what little there is) are noticably better this time, but his attempts at "attitude" are a bit silly. Lizzie's quite good, but not really standout, and the whole thing is basically an advert for FEWER PROPS AND MORE DANCING PLEASE.

Nigel starts by pointing out said abundance of props this week (and indeed every week recently. Remember when it seemed new and interesting that they had a bed onstane? Yeah, not so much now eh?) and giggles about how they're going to need to get that bed back to Sisco's apartment. It does seem like the sort of ugly, outsized gewgaw he would favour. He then moves onto the performance, saying it was alright, not terribly memorable, and wouldn't make him pick up a telephone for either of them. I doubt you'd be allowed Nigel. [Every time people talk about picking up telephones now, I just think of Drew's crotch. Thanks for that, Drew. - Steve] Sisco follows by saying that he disagrees, and that Robbie went from zero to hero, and that Lizzie is now the clear front-runner for the girls. Of course he gabbles this and stumbles over his words on the way there but that's his basic thrust. So to speak.

Arlene praises Lizzie for not just walking out and blowing everyone away as she so obviously could have given the material she was being given to work with, but instead really helping Robbie to grow as a (lyrical) hip-hop dancer. She's glad they ended up in bed because the pair of them "really made it happen" ("it" presumably being scoffs of disbelief at the idea of these two as a couple) and she WOULD pick up the phone to vote for them so THERE NIGEL! P'NURR! I'm sure Nigel is so burnt. Cat reels off the numbers and Lizzie looks appealingly at Robbie and the camera.

Next solo is Tommy dancing to... The South Bank Show theme-tune. [I'm guessing that that soundtrack choice allowed the BBC to count this week's show in their government-mandated percentage of arts programming. - Steve] Excellent. It's very exciting and athletic breaking and, just like Mandy's solo was last week, clearly the stand-out performance of the evening solo wise. I still say him dancing with his awesome sister would have been better though. Sisco's critique is calling Tommy an alien and telling people to vote for them. For real - new judge next series please. Well, three really, but start with that end of the panel and work left. Cat gave better critique than that whilst Tommy was walking over.

Next up for the pairs, it's Alastair, looking very Dragonball Z, and Mandy, looking very smiley for someone about to do a paso doble. Cat informs us that Alastair's supporters have been "giving it some serious welly". Oh good. More farm related stuff.

Right on cue we cut to a frozen field with the Hovis music playing in the background and some woman walking dogs saying "Alastair couldn't have more support if he tried really" which... he could, and he IS trying, but the poor woman's wearing a promotional t-shirt and nothing else (on top I mean, she is in trousers) in the middle of February, so I'll let her off the logical blips. Anyway, as well as promotional t-shirts, Alastair's family have hit upon a great way to drum up support - clog up the streets with a massive tractor rally. Really going for the motorists vote there aren't they? We see lots of clips from people being really impressed by the sheer volume of tractor pounding through their village. Notably, all these people are ON FOOT.

The whole sequence would frankly be improved by a shot of Drew driving a tractor complete with flat-cap and piece of straw between his teeth. But then that's true of every week isn't it?

We cut to the studio, where Alastair and Mandy are being taught how to paso by Katia and her Fittie Professional Partner from Strictly (hopefully, in the case of the latter.) and there's a lot of talk of how it's a real man's dance and Mandy is both terrified and a bit vageen-tingly about Alastair throwing her around. Additionally there are some bits that may very well kill her if they go wrong. Mandy, you're doing LATIN. The only person to beat the Curse Of Latin this series was the professional salsa dancer and salsa teacher dancing salsa. You need all the tricks you can play, fractured leg or no fractured leg. Alastair closes by saying he can see the finish line, and he just hopes he gets there. Ah well. Never mind eh?

Their paso doble is apparently set in a bar. A bar in which Mandy is dancing on the counter. Basically it's a geriatric (SHE'S 30!) version of Coyote Ugly. Alastair stomps up, still being very Dragonball Z and the music suggests BAD THINGS ARE ABOUT TO HAPPEN but not in the way they quite do because... basically it has all the fire and passion and aggression of an American Idol Final Two photo-call. Mandy's far too nice and happy for this routine - she looks constipated throughout and Alastair is like someone tried to write "funfair" and it came out "fair" so lacking is he in "UNF". [*facepalm* - Steve] It's all quite graceful but there's no passion or eroticism or anger or ANYTHING. It's just really really drab.

Nigel starts for the judges, saying that the music sounded like something out of The Exorcist or The Omen, and the dance should have reflected that. I would have loved if it did, and Alastair rode in on a little red tricycle whilst Mandy's head turned 360 degrees. Apparently his walks were like "a farm hand in Magaluf going up to the bar for a pint" and it lacked any passion whatsoever. The audience boo, and then he warns them he's going to get worse, as he tells Mandy she had about as much passion as a cloak and that the whole thing was just too meek and mild. Worst routine he's ever seen them do. Worse than when Mandy fell over to open the whole series, worse than when Alastair's hips would not move in the cha cha - just bad. Arlene agrees, telling Mandy that her twist-turns were appalling, and Alastair that he looked like he couldn't kill a rabbit, let alone a bull, and Alastair gives a wry little eyebrow to someone in the audience which makes me feel ooky, because it suggests Alastair has killed things far bigger than a rabbit. LOOK OUT ARLENE!

Louise next, saying that she thinks the problem is that they never really grasped the music, and Mandy was missing all the passion and aggression she gives in her solos. If they'd just let her wear a sparkly hoodie, I'm sure it'd all come flooding out. She closes on telling Alastair that she feels like he opted out on the show this evening. Cat looks a bit like she wishes she'd done the same, and just stayed in America where everyone loves her, and let Fearne Cotton do this instead. THEN you'd really see insincerity, viewing public. She gives out the numbers and we cut to Katya and her pro partner giving epic bitch-face in the audience but as anyone who watched Strictly last series (I know you're out there somewhere) will tell you... that's just Katya.

Next solo - Robbie dancing around to Scouting For Girls in a t-shirt with the Confederate flag on it. Let's send him to America wearing that. It'll be like that time we nearly sent that blacked-up Lionel Ritchie impersator to Vegas as the winner of Schedule Filling Celeb Impersonator Fun-Time Hour or whatever it was called. The dance is... to Scouting For Girls. And so can bugger off whatever. Arlene's review calls it out as stuff she's seen a million times before from him. Ouch.

Finally for the couples, it's Charlie & Tommy, looking like an 8 year old's idea of elegance. Incidentally there have been five performance shows now. Guess in how many of them Charlie has gone on last? Three. And in one of the others she was on second-to-last. And the week she wasn't in either of those positions she was in the bottom two. Just. Saying.

Still, at least the final VT isn't Charlie-centric, as we instead focus on Tommy, talking about how much it would mean to him to make the final. Some amount, is how much. What? He's Scandinavian. Ask Bjork, she'll tell you what they're like. This week he's in training with Screaming Neurotic (and hence one of my favourite Strictly pros) [mine too - Steve] Karen Hardy, doing the quickstep with Charlie, which is apparently the "hardest ballroom dance". But one of the more popular with the public so shrug.

At this point we move to the family section of Tommy's intro this week (what were Robbie's family doing? Poor lanky thing) with his sister, Elena, coming over from Sweden to visit him. She talks about what a tight bond they had growing up, and we see lots of pictures illustating the fact that apparently Tommy came out the womb looking exactly as he did now. As the strains of "Hometown Glory" play, much to Steve's delight [AAAAAAAAAAARGH - Steve], they reunite in his flat, with Tommy's look of surprise being enormous indeed. Happily this is "I'm so glad to see you" shock, not "I owe you SO MUCH MONEY" shock and they have a chinwag about how she hopes to inspire him to reach the final, so she can come and watch him there as well. And then they hug and it's sweet. Also her child is adorable. I love Tommy's family best of all I think.

Their quickstep is being danced to "Do Your Thing" by Basement Jaxx, and I wish they'd either not dance these things in the Smooth style, or make it very apparent they're doing so, because this is not your Strictly Quickstep, and so shouldn't be judged by the same standards. The hold's far apart (and a bit awkward besides) and they're out of it most of the time but what the routine does have is a real vibrancy and sense of fun to it. It all gets a bit gummy and slow at the end, but on the whole it's alright, and certainly compared to some of the absolute horror shows I've seen on the US version, it's positively brilliant. Apart from the bit where he plays her entire body like a guitar but, well, it's Karen Hardy. We have come to expect such things. Oh yeah, and when they finish, she's crying. Nothing less than I hoped for.

Over to the judges, and Cat congratulates Charlie on succesfully negotiating her way out of getting her dress caught in her heel and turning it into a move. That's where Cat earns her money. Bruce wouldn't even have noticed they were doing a QUICKSTEP let alone that they'd made a mistake. Arlene starts for the judges by congratulating Charlie on actually being in time in that routine and then award Tommy the title "Maestro of Dance" which I think might be a little like "Artist Of The Millennium" in that she just made it up herself. She then waffles about something Karen said in the notes about the pair of them dancing all night, and saying they did (metaphorically speaking) and then Karen cries like a loon some more.

Louise next, saying it was a very fun and entertaining and light-hearted routine and she particularly liked the bit where Tommy plucked Charlie's vagina like a guitar. Yeah, she's a woman NOW. Sisco next, saying he was really worried, because the quickstep is really hard but they both blew him away. Sadly not literally. Nigel finishes by talking some more about the American show, and how the Quickstep is the DEATH DANCE there. He then says that whilst it wouldn't win any prizes in Blackpool (Charlie: Langford, Langford, Langford) it was very entertaining, and that's what this show is all about. Except when Sisco speaks obviously. Or when Gavin danced. (Remember him?) Cat reads out their numbers again, whilst Karen carries on screaming in the audience until someone can get a tranquiliser dart lined up.

Finally for the solos, it's Mandy, failing to recapture the magic of last week, via the mistake of dancing sans hoodie, and avec le musique de Mickey Bubbles. Feeling Good really is played out on these shows isn't it? Sisco reviews, saying it made him "feel good" and that that solo shows why Mandy deserves to be here. I guess?

Judge Chat now, with Nigel being asked who impressed him most this evening, and he replies that they all did, because they all faced challenges. But now the public have to completely forget what they've seen tonight, and weigh up how the dancers have performed over the entire series when casting their votes as to who they want to see in the "finale". Not final. No sir. "Finale". Arlene's asked about the quality of the solos this evening, and she says they were alright, but only Tommy gave a really outstanding one (not what you were saying earlier Arlene. At. All.), packing as many intricacies into the dance as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber packed into the piece of music. WOW! AS COMPLICATED AS AN ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER PIECE! PRAISE FROM CAESAR!

Louise is then asked what her favourite couples routine of the evening is, and completely ignores the question in favour of saying that Robbie & Lizzie were the best couple on the night. Not even the question Lou, not even the question. Sisco is then asked the same question, in the vain hope that we might get an answer, and he says Alastair and Mandy's contemporary routine. Apparently he thinks it'll save them single-handedly despite their mess-up of a paso. A ha ha ha ha NO. Oh and the hip hop wasn't that bad either. Well that's a first.

Cat gives out the numbers, and we get our recap : Lizzie & Robbie jumping around pulling faces at the behest of Giant Lady, then rolling around oon a stupid bed prop ; Alastair & Mandy having the wussiest domestic ever and then being about as passionate and Spanish as Judith Chalmers ; and then Charlie & Mandy being all nudey-naked up in each others boxes, and the making Karen cry for no real reason.

And that's it. Cat asks Alastair how happy he is to be this far (very happy), Cat thanks the families, we cut to a shot of Anabel, Yanet, Drew and I think Chloe somewhere in there (remember her?) cheering their heads off, and we go to Dale Winton. The losers, the survivors, Leona Lewis and Steve will join you all on the other side of his glowing orange fizzgog.


  1. As soon as I saw the air-guitar thing in Karen's quickstep, I knew you'd be taking the pee. Interesting routine, but not much quickstep and what little there was, wasn't well executed. Nevertheless, good to see Karen - Saturday nights aren't the same without her.

  2. The genre boundaries are so poorly defined I just figure "whatever".