Sunday, 24 April 2011

Turning the Paige

Top 20 Results: 23rd April 2011

Cat's there with her mic at hand, possibly wondering whether she can just nip off back to LA without anyone noticing if the viewing figures dip any further, maybe catch up on her Netflix rentals and get some sushi with Ryan Seacrest. She reminds us that earlier this evening, "20 fantastic performers" staked their initial bid to become Britain's favourite dancer, after which some of us may have done some voting, and the lines are now closed. We're about to get our first boot of the Top 20, but who will it be?


After the titles, we begin with arguably one of the best set pieces of the series so far: the entire Top 20 positioned around a large banquet table, the guys all in ruffled shirts, the ladies all in black and red can-can dresses. (My apologies; fashion history is not one of my areas of expertise, so I cannot give you the technical name for what they're wearing, but if I said "sailors and whores in a bawdy period farce", you should hopefully get something fairly close to what they're wearing.) We open with Yael Naim's slow, mournful cover of 'Toxic' by Britney Spears. Shane is sitting at the head of the table, and summons Steph from the other end, apparently having her in some kind of thrall, as she spins to his will and he moves her to the front of the stage, while behind them, several other pairs couple up. Shane starts to nibble on her neck, and suddenly we're back in the Britney version, and it's sexy vampire time again! Well, they may not technically be vampires, but there's definitely some undead stuff going on. Suddenly it becomes more of a group formation, as everyone does 'Thriller'-style zombie movements, with Danielle and Kirsty in particular making excellent faces, and Rithy gets borne aloft again from the back of the pack [wiping pretend blood off her mouth <3 - Chris] - just lifted into the air this time, though, not thrown. It's a great routine because it's fun, colourful, incredibly exciting to watch, and danced with precision by just about everyone - I was watching closely looking to pinpoint a weak link, and I couldn't find one. Now, that may have just been because 20 people on one stage can get a bit crowded and the crap ones might have been hiding at the back, but either way, it's a bit of a triumph of stagecraft.

Cat enters, telling Shane as she passes him that she wants to suck his blood, and then cackling. Careful, Cat, we're not quite post-watershed yet. She asks us all to applaud the dancers, and the choreographer Beth Honan. And I don't usually do whatever the people in the little box tell me to do, but on this occasion, it was pretty good, so: *applauds Beth Honan and the Top 20. Yes, even Paige*

Cat continues that we'll be sending two contestants home tonight, and Jennifer Hudson will be here with a fantastic performance, presumably thanks to Nigel pulling a few transatlantic strings. Hey, maybe we'll get Pia Toscano next week. [I bloody hope not - Chris] Cat reminds us that the lines are closed and the votes have been counted and verified. For those of you who weren't around last year, here's how it works: the two couples with the fewest votes will be separated, and each dancer will perform a 30 second solo. The judges will then decide which two dancers to send home, and if those two dancers were partnered together, then the remaining couple continues unaffected, but if it's a "one of each" scenario, then the survivors will be dancing with each other next week. Got that? Good. We're invited to welcome the judges back, but I might hold off the applause on this occasion.

Since we've only got half an hour for the results, we're going to get right on with things. I'd almost forgotten what it was like when results shows were just 30 minutes long; it really does make the whole process seem a lot more time-efficient. We begin with a quick recap of the first group of contestants: Danielle and Luke gave us a samba of sorts, and Nigel criticised the lack of connection between the two of them, as well as the lack of sexiness. Luke hopes that the audience at home will see the connection that Nigel couldn't. Katie and Lee C gave us a lyrical hip hop routine that was one of the better examples of Kate Prince's hackwork (hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, unless it's a digital clock, where in most cases it just flashes angrily at you and is always about five hours and 23 minutes out), and Sisco was loving Katie's work, but thinks Lee needs to "pull up". If anyone gave me advice like that, my first response would be to check my trousers and make sure they weren't slipping down. Lee doesn't give a shit what Sisco said (♥) because he enjoyed it. Charlotte and Matt performed a foxtrot ("FOXTROT?" screamed Charlotte. "WHAT IS AN FOXTROT? HOW DO I IT?") and Arlene thought Matt was about to make it "the hottest dance in Scarborough", which I'm sure was meant to be a compliment, but doesn't really sound like one (no offence, Scarborough). Nigel thought Charlotte was a ginger scally. Sorry: "Ginger Scally", as in FRED AND GIIIIIIIINGE. Matt and Charlotte are both utterly intolerable afterwards, as is to be expected. Stephanie and Ryan were upstaged by their own lasers, and are clearly in huge trouble because no one had seen Stephanie until last week, and everyone seems to hate Ryan, including the judges. Backstage, Ryan wonders what it will take to impress Nigel, saying that he gave it everything but it wasn't enough. Steph says that opening the show is really tough, and she just hopes that people pick up the phone. Katrina Ballerina and Tapper Tom (most perfectly suited pair ever, am I right?) gave us an utterly ridonkulous hip hop routine that went right out the other side of incomprehensible and became incredibly awesome. It rendered Sisco incoherent (like that's anything new), and Tom sounds like the whitest person alive when he tells the cameras backstage that he and Katrina have "secret swagger". [Tom and Katrina's Secret Swagger Club <3 - Chris]

These five couples are on stage with Cat, dressed for their solos if they should have to perform them. She starts with Charlotte and Matt, whose level of public support is not even remotely in question, so it makes sense to get them out of the way first. Despite Nigel's grousing about the lack of "actual foxtrot", they're through, of course, and jump about and scream and make their way into the pit of sanctity. Katie and Lee C are next to learn their fate, and they're safe too. Lee's overcome and hugs Katie, but it's a bit awkward because she's clapping and he basically traps her arm between their chests in his overenthusiasm. Katrina Ballerina and Tapper Tom are next, and they're safe too. Hooray! He carries her off the stage. So it's between Danielle and Luke and Stephanie and Ryan: one couple is under the Latin curse and the other has no fans. Both unenviable situations to be in, but which one's worse? On this occasion, the Latin curse has finally been gazumped, as Danielle and Luke are safe, while Stephanie and Ryan are in the bottom two. Well, bottom four. Oh, you know what I mean. Cat asks Arlene if she's surprised by the outcome, and Arlene says not really, because it wasn't a phenomenal routine, and since choreographers are blameless on this show, Ryan and Steph are criticised for not selling what they were given well enough. Cat tells us that Steph and Ryan are going to wow us with their solos, and then we hit the second recap montage.

Rithy and Shane were amazing sexy cat burglars, and Arlene was thrilled that "the lazy beach bum guy" was gone. Backstage, Shane bites Rithy's neck. He's really taking this method acting lark very seriously. Paige & Gian Luca performed the worst piece of choreography ever to come from a mind that isn't Kate Prince's. [Everything Paige did came from Paige's brain alone. I'm not blaming Mandy Moore for that - Chris] Sisco criticised Paige's posture, and she fell on her arse. Paige is absent from the backstage interview, leaving Gian Luca to apologise on her behalf, and say that he feels bad for her, because he just saw her fall (as do we, again) and there was nothing he could do. Alice and Charlie's contemporary routine was held up almost entirely by Alice, though Arlene's feedback for Charlie was surprisingly positive. Alice begs to be allowed to come back next week. Kirsty and Lee B defied all expectation by giving us the best routine of the night, and were singled out as the week's strongest dancers by Sisco. They scamper backstage, squealing with delight. And finally, Bethany Rose and Israel gave us a disco routine, and Sisco thought they both delivered a "camptastic" performance. Israel confesses that they were shaky in rehearsals, but it went well on the night.

Time for these five to discover who's safe. Kirsty and Lee B are first, and Cat's summary of their feedback is that Arlene said this wasn't Kirsty's style. Weirdly, this is delivered like it's a criticism, even though in context, Arlene was making the point that the show keeps insisting Kirsty is a contemporary dancer when that's not her genre of comfort, and therefore it was impressive for her to do well in it tonight. They're safe, thankfully, because I would have been seriously angry if they weren't. Rithy and Shane's Broadway number was Nigel's favourite routine of the night, and they're safe too. Woo! Israel and Bethany Rose are also safe, which leaves Alice and Charlie and Paige and Gian Luca fighting it out for that last safe spot. I have to admit, when I watched this first time around, I really did think it could go either way. It's hard to know if the usual "teenage girl vote" applies on this show, since they're probably all watching Sing If You Can anyway, and that's where I'd expect the majority of Charlie's fanbase to be. Paige and Gian Luca gave a performance that fizzled out, per Louise, while Nigel wanted Charlie to grow in the competition. The couple in danger is...Paige and Gian Luca. Alice kisses Paige on the cheek and says "you're a firework!", which will make sense in a minute, and is sweet in a dorky sort of way. I get the impression that if we'd actually seen Alice at all before the live shows, I'd have quite liked her. Cat asks Louise if she's shocked by the result, and Louise replies "shocked: no, sad: yes", and points out that if you can't be consistent from start to finish in a routine, it's going to let you down. Cat, bless her, tells them that she can't wait to see their solos and attempts to paint this as a positive outcome, because this means they get to dance for us again. Nice try, Cat, but the look on Paige's face says she ain't buying what you're selling.

Cat asks Sisco why the solos are important, and he says that it's the last chance they have, and they have to burn the floor and *FUTILE ATTEMPT AT CATCHPHRASE REDACTED* and prove to the judges why they deserve to stay in the competition. First to dance is Stephanie, who gives us some serious salsambcha action to 'Conga' while pulling all kinds of sexy faces and looking a bit like Sophia Bush. Also, it is my great delight to report to you all that the crowd this year are not yelling out the numbers in the countdown. [THANK FUCK - Chris] Ryan performs to a disco track that I don't recognise, and his solo is fine, but I don't think it's likely to change the judges' mind on him at this point. Sadly for him I think he'd have been toast whatever happened. Paige is dancing to Katy Perry's 'Firework' (see?) and performs an acrobatic routine with a lot of backflips in it, which I thought was a bit sloppy and not as good as Steph's solo. Finally, Gian Luca gives us a ballet-inspired contemporary solo which didn't really do it for me, but given the judges' aforementioned lack of interest in Ryan, he's probably fine.

To keep us entertained while the judges deliberate, we have Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson here to perform for us. She's singing 'Feelin' Good', a song that I used to love before I heard too many overegged cover versions of it. Unfortunately, this is another one: she drags out the opening to a ridiculous degree. Having taken about three weeks to sing the first five lines, she then proceeds to rush through the rest of the song, not bothering to enunciate, as a result of which we have a "possum on the tree" and the "shit of a pine". Not your finest work, J-Hud, I'm sorry to say. [I enjoyed the part where she opened her mouth so wide that she swallowed all of humanity - Chris] Also, this is blatantly a pre-record, despite the best efforts of the show to pretend otherwise, because they could never have set up the band in the little time that they had between the solos and this number, and J-Hud and Cat are never seen in the same shot.

Judgement time! Stephanie, Ryan, Paige and Gian Luca return to the stage, and Nigel's ready to give us the results. Nigel says that it's sad to see people go home on the first night without having time to grow. We've already had one non-elimination week, Nigel, I'm not sure how many shows you expect these people to take to warm up. Gian Luca is called forward, and told that it's hard to judge him this evening because he was let down by his partner, but they know he has great technique and they'll be judging him on past performance. Ryan is called forward, and Nigel brings up the "what do I have to do to impress Nigel?" quote from the backstage video, pointing out that it's the voters Ryan needs to impress, and he's obviously not done it. He says that Sisco said the routine had no substance, and he thinks that was an unfair comment, because a good dancer will always make a routine great. Sisco chimes in that he agrees with Nigel on this point, but his mic is down so it's barely audible. I prefer un-miced Sisco. Paige steps forward before she's called, and Nigel calls her "a fun, fireball of talent" and tonight it all went away, and says that they'll have to judge her on past performance too. [I loved that - "we'll have to judge you on your past performances...which were also obviously not very good, because you're going home - Chris] Stephanie is called forward and is told that she served it up tonight, showing how a sexy Latin routine should look, but her first routine was not memorable. Nigel says that the judges' decision was unanimous, and asks Paige and Ryan to step forward again, because they're going home.

Ryan takes it on his magnificent cheekbones, while Paige is absolutely distraught, sobbing audibly. Steph puts a reassuring arm on both their shoulders, while Gian Luca gives them both a kiss on the cheek. Steph and Gian Luca make their way sombrely to the pit of sanctity, and will be paired up next week - I'll be interested to see how they work together, actually. Cat's aware that Paige is hating this, and tries to console her by pointing out how much support she has in the audience. As the audience applaud for them one last time, Ryan gives a half-hearted smile and wave, while Paige just looks utterly defeated, and they both have to stand there with their disappointment in full view while Cat reminds us to come back next week. Please. Don't leave us. Before Cat can finish her sign-off, Charlotte and Alice run on to hurl themselves at Paige, and Ryan gets a big hug from Steph, who seems genuinely fond of him. The rest of the Top 20 - now the Top 18 - are soon on the stage, shrouding the evictees in hugs, sympathy and a bit of leftover sweat. There's no dance party, just a sense of sad solidarity, and we end on them all linking arms for a giant group hug. D'aww. See you next week.


  1. I'm disappointed that Bethenny Rose getting elbowed in the face in the mass group hug at the end wasn't mentioned.

  2. 'I enjoyed the part where she opened her mouth so wide that she swallowed all of humanity' lool <333 Chris
    and I'll be joining in the T&K swagger club cuz poor Tom is getting no love from the judges....what does a guy need to do? impersonate Matt?

  3. Point of order!! Last year the crowd were told to do the countdown. My money is on it coming back!