Sunday, 15 December 2013

No man's land

Top 5 Results: 15 December 2013

There's a bit of a special treat in the opening pro dance this week: master illusionist Dynamo is part of the action. Obviously if I'd been producing this I would've had played 'Domino Dancing' by the Pet Shop Boys just so someone could march onto the dancefloor in an exasperated fashion and moan "no, I said we've got Dynamo dancing!", and I think we can all agree that this is exactly why I should never be given a position of power on any television show. Anyway, the routine is to 'Do Your Thing' by Basement Jaxx, and mostly revolves around Dynamo doing card tricks and the pros doing their very best "reacting so the people sitting right at the back on the balcony can see" faces in response. Pasha's surprised face in this whole routine is, of course, a national treasure. I didn't get to see Pasha's Charleston Face this year, which is my favourite of all of Pasha's faces, so I like to think this is the show making it up to me. Also, I don't want to cause a controversy or anything, but I think there are points where Dynamo is cheating and using the show's floor projections to make it look like he's doing a card trick when really he's NOT DOING ANYTHING. *gasp* Still, it's a fun routine to watch and quite nice to see something different. I don't want special guest stars shoehorned in every week or anything, but if they can restrict themselves to bringing them in maybe once or twice a series maximum, I'd be happy for them to do this sort of thing again. (Depending on the special guest in question, obviously. Russell Grant is an automatic veto.)

Tess and Claudia arrive like the angel and the devil on your shoulder: Tess is in a horrid shapeless white number that makes her boobs look conical, and has nude-effect sleeves covered in sparkles. Claudia, of course, is in trademark black. There's a little bit of business where Claudia pretends to have learned a trick from Dynamo and makes Craig appear as if by magic, and I'm pleasantly surprised once more by the show's restraint in not having a "WISH WE HAD A TRICK TO MAKE YOU DISAPPEAR, HURR HURR HURR" joke here to follow it up. Tess promises that tonight's show contains the most daunting of all Dread Dance Offs, as well as world champion exhibition dancers (as opposed to Kristina, who is a world champion exhibitionist dancer) and the lovely Céline Dion, who is here instead of at The X Factor, much to their chagrin I'm sure. Oh, and it's the final Len's Lens of the series tonight as well. [It is?  All the better for us next week then - Rad] DANCE PARTY!

First, though, it's time for the backstage gossip. As usual, I shall only be recapping the unseen stuff: the queue to get in is very long indeed, Craig hopes that the best dancer will win. Disappointingly, there appears to be no sign of Hot Greg this week, but perhaps he's at home with his new baby. Natalie was not expecting to get 40 at all, Anya gives Patrick a big hug and tells him how proud she was. Sophie tells Brendan that seeing the whole of the crowd on their feet is just the best feeling. Susanna and Kevin have a "you're amazing, no YOU'RE amazing, no YOU'RE amazing" battle among themselves and it's surprisingly endearing. Abbey bounces around far more backstage in response to her three 10s than she did at any point in her samba. Dance Reaction Round Two: Natalie hopes she's done enough to get through to the final. Patrick thinks the audience loved his paso and he loved doing it, so he cares not for the scores. Sophie is very excited to get her first 10 because she thought it would never happen. Susanna and Kevin are a little more resigned and muted after the response to their salsa. Abbey reacts a lot more favourably to getting the same score again than Ashley used to, though I suppose the context is ever so slightly different. A group of amused audience members look on as Len does his obligatory "WURGH, THAT WAS A SEMI-FINAL, I'M TELLING YER" speech to the camera.

Tess has got the results, and in no particular order, the first couple through to the final is...Sophie and Brendan! They're both stunned and excited, and it's very cute. You know who else is excited? Me, because it means we're getting a Brendan Cole Showdance again this year. Let's just hope he doesn't go getting any ideas off the exhibition dancers again, because I can imagine it would work even less well with Sophie than it did with Lisa. (Also, I'm hugely relieved because I had visions of Sophie getting Austin Healey-ed in a Dread Dance Off this week, although my fears were allayed somewhat when I saw the leaderboard positions were quite favourable to her survival.) The second couple definitely safe and through to the final is...Abbey and Aljaž! They both cover their faces in disbelief. Honestly, I think they were probably the safest couple of all tonight because I think the judges would've saved them over anyone else - even Natalie - but obviously it must come as a relief to know that they have public support as well. Aljaž makes sure to do a "thank you!" right into the camera. The first couple in the Dread Dance Off is...Patrick and Anya, as everyone expected, including Patrick and Anya themselves. Natalie and Artem and Susanna and Kevin are told they'll have to wait a little longer to learn their fate, and bless the show for thinking there's any sort of suspense whatsoever in a Natalie/Susanna head-to-head. If Susanna was any lower than second in the public vote last night, I'd be flabbergasted. She was probably first. And I'm sure she's getting way more votes than Natalie at this point.

Patrick and Anya head over to join Tess, and they're all "hi again!" Tess asks which dance they'll be reprising, and while they're both dressed for the paso, Patrick opts to do the waltz, which seems to be the entirely sensible choice here given the general disdain for his paso. Craig says that he loves the waltz and he's so pleased that Patrick chose to do that again, but his only advice is for Patrick to drive it a little bit more.

Up to Claudia's Counselling Circle, where she reminds Sophie and Abbey that they're officially finalists, and they both scream like Rachel Green's Long Island girlfriends. Sophie says that this is a big deal, and she's surprised and lost for words. She thanks Brendan for getting her to the final, and everyone who's supported her. Claudia asks Brendan if he's crying, and he responds that no, of course not, he's just got "fog in the eye". He says it's been a long time getting here, and he's "so blimming proud". He doesn't say "this girl" once, either. Abbey is totally crying and slightly hysterical, giggling that she doesn't even want it to be the final next week. Claudia offers to consult the various decision-makers and see if the series can be extended. Claudia congratulates Aljaž on making the final in his first year, and Aljaž says that he's just over the moon.

Like she's been reading my mind, Claudia points out that each of the finalists will be performing a showdance next week, and here to inspire them (NO BRENDAN PUT DOWN THAT NOTEPAD) are the reigning exhibition dance champions Craig and Micheline. They're dancing to 'My Immortal' by Evanescence, and as you'd expect, it's like a rumba but with lots of time spent bench-pressing the woman (BRENDAN STOP WRITING THAT DOWN). I know it's easy to get a bit sneery about how showdances are just a massive lift-fest, but watching these two making it look so completely effortless is quite humbling. Micheline's flexibility in particular is little short of terrifying, particularly the part where she inverts herself above Craig's head and does a back-bend (NO BRENDAN SOPHIE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO DO THAT AND YOU WILL VOID THIS SHOW'S INSURANCE BY EVEN ATTEMPTING IT). It's certainly food for thought after witnessing so many disappointing showdances from the finalists over the years, but I still hope it hasn't given anyone any ideas. BRENDAN.

Back to Claudia for the final Len's Lens of the year. Woo! Up first: Bruno kissing Bruce's ring. Filth. Then we witness Patrick's paso in slo-mo for a closer look at his shaping, and Len scoffs at the very suggestion from Claudia that this is good paso shaping: "he was like a waiter!" He expands that at this point during the dance, Anya was the bull rather than the cape, and Patrick was supposed to be the matador swooping as the bull runs past, not handing out a tray of canapes. Meanwhile, Darcey collapses in giggles behind him. Darcey wants to look again at the lifts in Sophie's American smooth, particularly the way in which her lines are great and her shoulders are down and the grace with which she comes out of them. Claudia: "Craig, we know you hate giving anybody more than 2." Ha! This is of course the cue to ask what made Natalie's salsa so perfect, and if Craig is to believed, it's all down to the way she spotted during all of those spins. So now you know. We end with a shot of all the judges doing the "keeeeep dancing!" bit, apart from Len who just stands there looking Lennish.

Over to Tess to find out which of our last two couples is safe, and who's going to be beating -- sorry, "joining" -- Patrick in the Dread Dance Off. The couple in the Dread Dance Off is...Natalie and Artem! Natalie nods and smiles, like she knew this was coming - and she's no fool, I'm sure she's at least aware of the naysayers, so she probably expected to be bottom two at some point during the competition. [I like her lots, but got to say I'm surprised this didn't happen sooner - Rad] Susanna and Kevin, meanwhile, don't look especially overjoyed - they just look stunned. I think they genuinely thought it was them tonight. Susanna hugs Kevin, and Natalie pats Susanna on the arm reassuringly as she makes her way over to Tess. Tess says it's a shock for us all (eh, not to those of us who did the maths - I did predict in yesterday's recap that it was basically coming down to Patrick vs Natalie or Abbey, and Abbey had the most crowdpleasing routine of the night in the pimp slot, so it was kind of a no-brainer). Asked how it feels to be here, Natalie says diplomatically that every chance to dance is a privilege, and that's how she's going to treat this. Tess asks her which dance she'd like to reprise, and Natalie opts for the Argentine tango - possibly because there's not much time to get changed and this is the one she's already dressed for. Tess turns to Darcey and mentions that this was Natalie's lower scoring dance of the night, therefore it's a risky move - ignoring the part where it still scored two points more than Patrick's highest scoring dance of the night. Darcey says that she admires Natalie for going for a dance she can improve, not that it needed much improvement, so since the technique is already there, she just needs to give it more storytelling and attitude. Tess asks Natalie if she has any more to give, and Natalie assures her she'll dig it out from somewhere. I'm not thrilled about this result for Natalie, but I do like how she's handling it like an absolute pro. No bitterness, no recrimination, just good old-fashioned determination.

Up in Claudia's Counselling Circle, which seems to be particularly worthy of the name tonight, Susanna and Kevin are still in survivors' guilt mode. Claudia asks Susanna how it feels to be a finalist, and Susanna says that that part is thrilling, but it's horrifying thinking that you might be in the Dread Dance Off. She's thrilled for Kevin being in the final in his first year. Kevin appears to still be shaking a bit, and chuckles nervously that at least he didn't shave his chest for nothing.

Now, it's time for a bit of Céline Dion with her new single 'Breakaway', which is not the new single she sang a few weeks ago on The X Factor, so she's churning through them at a right old rate of knots, isn't she? Artem and Aliona appear in front of her to throw themselves around angstily, and Aliona delivers some more Natalie Lowe-worthy head rolls. Can we find a way for Aliona to stay next year please? I know that half the fun of her this year has been that she's already fired and doesn't give a solitary fuck, but I really have grown to love her. [Me too.  Also, Céline was looking a bit Erin tonight.  I miss Erin. - Rad] Also, I think Céline might be miming, which seems odd. Why would Céline Dion ever need to mime?

Claudia tells us that over the next six days, the remaining four couples will have to perfect two dances and learn a brand new showdance, which is pretty nerve-wracking for all involved. This segues into a VT which informs us in X Factor-esque style that we've seen 15 celebrities, 130 dances and 11 eliminations (although at this point in time we've only seen 10), and it's all been building up to the final. And, er, that's it. It's basically just reminding us that the final is a thing that exists, and it's next week. So thanks for that.

The two couples in jeopardy are with Claudia. Patrick tells her that choosing which routine to reprise wasn't an easy choice, but he loved doing the waltz more than the paso. So that's that then. Anya says it's "more from the heart", and they go down to get ready for it. Natalie tells Claudia that she's feeling great and she's had an incredible 12 weeks - she's thrilled to have made it this far, she's loved the dancing and is more than happy to dance again. Claudia asks Natalie why she went for the Argentine tango, and Natalie and Artem both agree that it was the obvious choice for them because they loved it so much. Claudia asks us to go wild for Patrick and Anya (Artem maybe takes this a little too much to heart and does full-on Kermit The Frog clapping ♥), and they do their waltz again. There's a continuity blooper in Natalie and Artem being stood at the top of the stage watching when just before the routine started they were up on the balcony with Claudia, although I guess that's been happening every week and I've just been too slow to notice it until now. Look, sometimes I examine this show so closely that I miss what's right in front of my damn nose, okay? Anyway, the waltz repeats, it's nice but dull again, there are no glaring errors that I can see.

After that, Natalie and Artem return to the floor to reprise their Argentine tango, and I'm having a real don't-know-what-you've-got-till-it's-nearly-gone moment with Natalie right now, because this dance was absolutely exquisite first time round, and just as good the second time, and the thought of her not being in the final makes me feel slightly ill, even if I think the best finishing position she can expect is the vague second-slash-third-place runner-up spot, and I think she might struggle even to get that. I'm as guilty as anyone else because I voted for Sophie and Susanna, and will almost certainly be voting for one or both of them again during the final [I won't be in to vote as usual, but I'd probably vote for all four of them, so I'm no use - Rad] , but Natalie really is damned good, and she finally had that ass-kicking night that I'd been hoping for tonight, and all she got for it was a trip to the Dread Dance Off. It's such a shame. The one thing that makes this all bearable is seeing Patrick and Anya going absolutely nuts applauding in the background when it finishes, and the suspicion that if Patrick was given a vote in this, he'd vote to save Natalie rather than himself. Natalie gives a sheepish arm-pump at the end as she reverts from Dance Goddess back to Everyday Natalie.

Time for the judges to vote, then: Craig thinks both dances were sensational, but votes to save Natalie and Artem. Darcey thinks both gave a stronger performance the second time around, and votes to save Natalie and Artem. Bruno thinks both couples were great, but one couple was outstanding, so he votes to save Natalie and Artem. So they're in the final, and Patrick and Anya are going home. Claudia springs in to speak to Natalie and Artem, and Artem says that he can't wait to do the showdance. Of course he can't. Tess tells Patrick that he's been a joy to watch, and Patrick says he's had an incredible journey, and Anya is brilliant at all the dancing and the choreography and that. Patrick says that the training room is where he had the most fun, so being on the live shows was just the icing on the cake. Anya tells Patrick that he surprised her week after week and inspired her so much. Then they both do the "I couldn't have done it without you!" thing to each other, and then Anya goes a bit too far calling Patrick "an artist", but under the circumstances.

As a reward for almost making the final, Patrick gets the best bits montage that usually gets left for It Takes Two. It mostly serves as a reminder of how amazing so much of Anya's choreography was, although it's quite the showcase for Patrick as well, obviously.

Everyone gets on their feet for Patrick as he prepares for his final dance. Tess points out that this is also Claudia's last night of the series, which is the true tragedy here. Next week: it's the all-female final, where Rad will cover the first half and I'll cover the ultimate result. But until then, we'll leave you with Patrick doing one last dad-dance to 'Thank You For The Music'. Aww.


jaljen said...

Natalie was great tonight. She's still a DIRTEE RINGAH but I might even vote for her next week. Can't believe I wrote that.

As for Brendan. Shut UP! He HAS to do a showdance at least as mental as he did with Snowballs. That was possibly the best bit EVAH in all 125 years of SCD. I beg you all to join my prayers for an epic Bacotastic turkey-rrific exhibition dance which will blast his previous tirumph out of the water! PLEASE!

Steve said...

I'm quite tempted to vote for Natalie next week if she's as good as she was this week. It's so weird for me to have three couples I really like in the final, I'm going to be very torn.

I'm not sure I want Brendan to attempt to top Snowdance. I don't think it can be done.