Sunday, 1 December 2013

West End Girls (and boys)

7 Couples Perform: Musicals Week - 30 November 2013

Last week: it was the obligatory post-BLACKPOOL comedown episode in which pretty much everyone was a bit shit, and the judges decided that they were going to have to start being EXTREMELY NITPICKY (/actually give the dances the score that they were worth, more or less). Meanwhile, Mark survived his third Dread Dance Off in a row after Ben's gym-themed charleston turned out to be a load of old barbells. (Then I looked forward to Kristina going positively NUCLEAR over their elimination on It Takes Two only to tune in and find out that she was more upset than angry, and then I felt like a terrible person. More so than usual.)

This week, continuing this year's tradition of reviving things that have had a year off, Musicals Week comes back for a strictly limited run (of 75 minutes). Why don't they have this as a theme week on The X Factor? That's what I'd like to know. I mean, Sam Bailey's entire stint on the show is basically an extended audition for the role of Mama Morton, isn't it? And 'Summertime' and 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going' have become standards on that show despite their theatrical origins. Anyway, I'm getting off the point already: it's going to be all tits and teeth this week (how unfair that Kristina should have been eliminated right before this happened), with a few jazz hands thrown in for good measure. I'm feeling nervous.

The show opens with a pro dance to 'Anything Goes', which I assume has been the mantra for the choreography this year and (SPOILER) is certainly the approach when it comes to the scoring tonight. Anton is the ship's captain while the rest of the male pros are the sailors, which seems appropriate considering how much internet discussion time is given over to viewers saying how much they want to get their hands on those able seamen. (I'm sorry. Except I'm not.) Also, there's some random filling in for Robin, who is presumably still injured. Until I'm informed otherwise, I'm just going to assume this guy is yet another member of the ever-expanding Clifton dynasty. Then the women parade out, looking similarly nautical, and then the men dance with mops, because that's all anyone ever does on ships. My dad's a sailor, so I know all about this. Everyone gets together for a charleston section that gives us another opportunity to witness what a fine showcase white trousers make for Aljaž's behind, and then the remaining celebrities trickle down from the balcony, with Mark and Ashley taking the opportunity to have yet another private gurn-off. Presumably it's the last one they'll ever get to have, because I don't think anyone expects Mark to still be here after this week, not least Mark himself.

Everyone disperses, and then it's time for Bruce and Tess to appear. Daly Dresswatch: a sort of sludgy-grey gown with a very busy front panel that makes it looks like a robot with very large eyelashes is asleep on her chest. One that could possibly become sentient at any moment, and thus I wonder where this is the producers' back-up plan in case of an unfixable Bruce Incident happening during the live show. Tess reminds us that Ben's Tits And Arms are no longer with us, and after an onslaught of musical theatre-based puns, here come the remaining stars of the show: Sophie and Brendan, Mark and Iveta, Susanna and Kevin, Natalie and Artem, Abbey and Aljaž (with Abbey stumbling on her way down the steps, though I'm sure if the entrances were being scored the judges would've turned a blind eye to that, as we'll see later on), Ashley and Ola (dressed as Aladdin and Jasmine, which: NOT A MUSICAL, and also Ola seems to have decided that Jasmine's blue dress was far too demure and needed more skin on show), and finally Patrick and Anya. There's some top-quality shimmying from Iveta in the front row, and Sophie at least makes a stab at some arm-waving, but everyone else is disappointingly static.

Eagle-eyed viewers might have spotted that Craig's chair has been empty so far this evening, but he's not pulling a Gumede this week - no, because it's musicals week, he gets to make a dramatic entrance, wearing a mask over half his face, swishing a cape dramatically and twirling, twirling, twirling. He's the Ham-tom of the Opera. Bruce admires what Craig can do with his new metal hip, which "goes so well with your heart of stone", and Craig discovers it's hard to laugh with a mask on half of your face. Though to be fair, he needn't have bothered.

Bruce reminds us that there are just three weeks left until the final, and nobody wants to "exit, stage-left" at this point. Patrick and Anya are up first, and then there's a very peculiar bit of business in which Bruce tries to spontaneously rearrange the running order, apparently because nobody wants to go first, although everyone's too polite to point out that SOMEONE's still going to have to go first, whatever happens. Anyway, the ensuing conversation does at least establish that Susanna's got the pimp slot tonight, and for those of you who enjoy statistics (that's all of you, right?), the division of the pimp slots between those still in the competition has been: Susanna 3, Natalie 2, Patrick 2, Abbey 1, Ashley 1, Sophie 1, Mark 0. Feel free to read anything you like into that, as I'm sure you will.

Patrick loved doing the Viennese waltz last week but admits that it wasn't their best week. He thinks that the judges are now pushing everyone hard because they expect so much of them (an approach that began last week, and appears to have lasted week), so he and Anya are determined to really make an impact this week to ensure their survival in the competition. This week they've got the charleston, which they will be dancing to 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'. It's a routine with a lot of lifts, and Anya notes that they haven't always had success with their lifts in the past, so this time they need to be perfect. Patrick tells Anya that he remembers watching the film and how much he wanted a flying car, so - COMEDY VT ALERT - thanks to some off-the-shelf green-screening, Patrick and Anya get to drive in a flying car (/two chairs and a steering wheel that isn't attached to anything. To be honest it looks more like an extremely low-budget remake of the Response round from The Krypton Factor). Patrick is lowered onto the stage in the aforementioned car, hopping out when it reaches the ground and joining Anya to dance. This is very much from the "just ham it up as much as possible" school of charlestons, which I'm not knocking as a concept, because it's produced some great ones in the past, but this attempt is a little too flaily for my tastes - in the swivel section in particular Patrick looks like an angry cow kicking out at a milkmaid, and the whole thing's been designed to be performed at such a frantic tempo that there's not room for much refinement. I know that the charleston is the one dance where no one cares about the technicalities, but this one just looks so messy to me. It is hard to ignore the sheer joy and enthusiasm with which it's delivered, though, and Anya's face throughout is an absolute delight, so basically as far as I'm concerned it's a 10 for Anya's face, and maybe a 7 for the rest of it, so let's call it an 8 overall. [Yeah, I feel the same - I enjoyed it, Anya was awesome, but it was so sloppy - Rad]

The audience go nuts for it, though, reinforcing that my taste in charlestons is probably not all that much in line with the general public's. (STEVE'S TOP THREE CHARLESTONS IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE: Kara, Sophie, Ali) [Denise.  Sophie. Then I'm torn between Kara, Ali, Lewis and Kimberley - Rad] Bruce invites the audience to welcome the judges, and...the audience don't seem so keen on that idea tonight, because he has to ask them a second time. Len declares the routine "full of flash-bang-wallop" and a "showstopper". Does that mean we can all go home now? Bruno thinks it was "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang retuned by McLaren, driven by Lois Hamilton." Who's she? Craig loved the rollover lift and the vaudevillian nature of it, though the speed made him flat-footed and he lost a bit of stability in the final lift. However, he though that overall it was spectacular. Darcey thinks it was "fast, wild and such difficult timing, but you hit it on the nail". And people used to complain about how Alesha phrased things. Funny how mangled English is less of an issue for the average BBC1 viewer when delivered in a plummy accent, isn't it?

They rush up to the Tess Circle, where both Patrick and Anya are out of breath, and Anton and Karen declare it the dance of the series. I still maintain it wasn't even the best charleston of the series (SOPHIE STAN 4LYF), but then - Anton and Karen. I haven't really held their opinions in particularly high esteem prior to this moment, and I don't intend to start now. Anya says that it would be amazing to make it to the final with Patrick in her first year on the show. Scores are in: Craig 8, Darcey 10, Len 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 38. So, yep, the "we're getting close to the end and we're being SUPER FUSSY now" thing was a one-week-only deal.

Everyone's agog wondering who's going to follow that. Well, here's the answer: Natalie and Artem. This week she's dancing to a song from Dreamgirls. (I hope it's 'Firing Of Jimmy'!!!!!111!!!!) Bruce describes Dreamgirls as being "loosely based on the story of the Supremes", and the inclusion of the word "loosely" there makes this officially the funniest Brucie joke of the evening, however intentional. In their VT, Natalie says that she was feeling nervous last week and she thought the judges were being much harder on everyone and picking up on all the little mistakes. She neglects to mention that she was subsequently awarded three 9s and a 10. This week, they've got the American smooth, and Natalie's a bit scared of the lifts, presumably because her spine is made of glass and tissue paper at this point. So to help tackle Natalie's fears, Artem takes her off to have a go on a trapeze. Natalie takes one look at how high it is and already starts wondering if they can just go up a tower with a glass floor like Fiona did. Natalie goes on the trapeze, and singularly fails to pull off the maneouvre she was tasked with. This feels a bit like watching an episode of The Amazing Race where the wrong person opted to do the Roadblock. Still, I'm sure they'll get saved by a conveniently-scheduled non-elimination leg. Natalie has another go on the trapeze and does a sort of somersault, and everyone seems happy enough with that.

Of course, they're dancing to 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going', and this is yer typical American smooth as choreographed by Artem Chigvintsev, in that it's camp, showy, involves a lot of side-by-side sections and very little in hold, and will inevitably make Len all snitty. At this point I don't know why Artem doesn't just cut out the middleman and walk straight up to Len and poke him in the eye, thus saving Natalie and her fragile body from the hassle of actually dancing. That said, I do love this routine a little bit, for all of the reasons above, and it's a return to form for Natalie after a couple of off-weeks. Still, maybe switch it up a bit next year, eh Artem?

Natalie and Artem are also out of breath after that number, so Bruce takes the opportunity to welcome DaveArch and friends. Bruno tells Natalie that she danced like a true Dreamgirl (though my ideal follow-up to this would be "yeah, MICHELLE MORRIS!"), and she interpreted all the accents in the music with great drama. He lived every moment of the story with her, as he does every single day of his life. Bruce castigates Craig for giving Patrick an 8 (this whole Bruce-as-fifth-judge meme needs to end, yesterday) and says he's going to give Craig a 2 for his entrance (FNAR) in response. Craig cackles that that's "two more than I deserve", and says that he loved the crucifix lift and the fluidity throughout, but he would like to see a bit more in hold, and he warns Natalie to get out of the habit of looking down before she goes into a lift. Darcey agrees that the fluidity between them is wonderful, and she thinks Artem's choreography was beautiful (at which point Natalie starts clapping Artem, Paula Abdul-style ♥). However, Darcey wasn't all that fond of the dismount in the final lift. THAT'S THE ONLY THING. Len's left until last, of course, so that he can whinge about how it was all performance and not enough foxtrot because there was only three bars in hold. However, even Len is kind of over this pattern of behaviour now because he admits that he liked it the routine, and that he's "a wind-up watch in a digital world". God, when you can't even rely on a Len/Artem feud over an American smooth, what is the world coming to? It's times like this when I really miss Aliona.

Up to the Tess Circle they go, where Tess declares it a "powerful performance" and "very emotional". Natalie's on the verge of tears and gushing about how she's just so happy to still be here and to be able to dance to that song. SHE'S BROKEN, EVERYONE! Tess asks Artem about choreographing so much of the routine out of hold, and Artem's all "well, yeah, I could've put more in hold, but I wanted to TELL A STORY." He's a bit languid about it all, though; I much prefer this narrative when Brendan does it and starts screaming about FILTHY DIRTY RUMBAS. Scores are in: Craig 9, Darcey 9, Len 8, Bruno 10 for a total of 36. Well, this is interesting: two dances in and this is already guaranteed to be the first week with a public vote where Natalie wasn't top of the leaderboard (discounting the one in which she was given a bye, obviously), so I guess this week we'll find out whether she's popular with the public or not.

Our third couple is Mark and Iveta, dancing a samba to a song from The Lion King. Moderately amusing Brucie joke about "shouldn't it be called a Simba?" In the VT, both Mark and Iveta express their shock at having survived a third Dread Dance Off, with Mark saying he just assumed Len would save Ben and Kristina last week (didn't we all?) and adding that he was genuinely in shock. They're dancing to 'I Just Can't Wait To Be King', and Mark says that no one's ever survived four Dread Dance Offs, "and I'm determined to not be there this week", though I think we can all assume that such determination is for narrative purposes only, because everybody knows this is Mark's last bite of the Strictly cherry. I mean, I realise the internet isn't always the most reliable source, but from what I've read, even Mark's fans are all "he's tired now and he wants to go home, so let him do that". Mark and Iveta go to the West End production of The Lion King and have a bit of a dance with the cast, and then try on Simba's mask. Mark hopes that this will all mean he gets to be "kind of the dance floor, not king of the [Dread] Dance Offs". He doesn't add "it says here", but I imagine he's thinking it.

Okay, so the costumes are kind of 'local church group production of The Wizard of Oz', but here's a pleasant surprise: Mark's actually quite good at the samba. He's got the shimmy going on, his moves are sharp and rhythmic, and he's got more bounce action going on than several of the frontrunners have managed. It's probably not going to be entered into the Samba Hall Of Fame or anything, but assuming this is his last dance on the show (although we've been saying that for several weeks now), it's an entirely honourable send-off. [Aww, it was very sweet.  But for the love of his knees, it's beyond time he got to sit down now.  Unlike Ben Cohen who spent most of the series doing just that - Rad]

Bruce congratulates them on having done some lovely dances on the show (translation: BYE MARK!) and then says something which sounds worrying like "Iveta, she's so shit, isn't she?" I think he actually said "sweet", because Iveta is in a lion costume, but you know what Bruce is like with his mushmouth. Craig says it was "full of shimmies, full of rhythm, full of camp" - he would've liked a bit more double-bounce action, but he thinks this was technically Mark's best dance so far. Darcey says she knows that the ability to bounce is difficult for Mark, but he's still "the cheeky king of the show tonight". Well, thank you for that lengthy avenue of nothingness. Len tells Mark that he's just a "great big bundle of joy to watch". Bruno calls him "a pussycat of a lion", but says that he squeezes the maximum amount of performance out of a routine, saying that the storytelling was good and there was a lot of samba content in there.

They prowl up to the Tess Circle, and Mark's a little bit overcome with emotion. I don't know if it's the positive(ish) comments or the near-certainty that he's going home tonight, but he's really struggling to say anything at all. Iveta saves the day by putting a crown on him and making him laugh. Tess asks Iveta if this might be the night they finally break 30. Iveta says yes. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 7, Len 7, Bruno 8 for a total of 29. Mark says that's a great score and the comments were lovely. I really am going to miss him. [Me too. Such a lovely bloke. - Rad]

Next, it's Sophie and Brendan. Bruce tells us that they'll be dancing to a song from The Sound of Music, which is Sophie's favourite film. Of course it is. VT Sophie says that last week she tried to forget that anyone else was in the room and really get that connection with Brendan. She was disappointed that the judges didn't like it more, but echoes Patrick in saying that they're obviously getting very detail-obsessed now (LOL) and everyone's going to have to up their game or face elimination. They're dancing a Viennese waltz to 'My Favourite Things', and Sophie says that the soundtrack to this film was the soundtrack to her childhood, which seems entirely appropriate. To get her used to the spins, Brendan takes her to a fairground so they can go on the waltzer, "with very similar sensation to the spins in our dancing," Sophie says. Do you not think maybe that's why it's called the waltzer, pet? Sophie says that she needs to let go and enjoy herself rather than try to fight the spins.

Sophie begins by sitting on a bed surrounded by roses (not sure if they have any raindrops on them), a bright copper kettle and some brown paper packages tied up with string. No sign of any kittens, though, with whiskers or otherwise. Obviously this is a dance that suits Sophie quite well because she's got the whole classical elegance thing built right in, but I find myself perturbed throughout by the angle of her head. I don't mean to sound like Craig, but she really does lean it far too far onto her shoulder, to the point where it looks like it might actually roll off. It looks a little skippy in the feet in places, but it's a strong effort from Sophie, and it's also clearly another gambit from Brendan as he tries to court voters who like their dances simple and classic and not FILTHY or DIRTY. Sophie nearly overbalances in the final turns, and giggles as she just about keeps her balance and holds her end pose.

It gets a huge cheer and a standing ovation, although they're fairly widespread these days. Darcey says she felt dizzy just watching that, but she was impressed that Sophie kept her composure throughout and delivered some fast, beautiful pivots - but she needs to watch the back of her neck. Darcey hopes Sophie will be "spinning into the quarter-finals - I can't wait to see you there, babe". Len says that he likes lots of rotation, pivots and fleckerls in the Viennese waltz, and that it was a wonderful routine, beautifully danced, but he agrees with Darcey about the neck. Bruno liked the purity of style of it, and Sophie's confidence in the dance - but he wants her to show that level of confidence in the Latin dances as well. Craig tells her that her arms need a little more tone out of hold, and she lost her neck on occasion, but the chemistry was fantastic and it was brilliantly danced.

Up in the Tess Circle, Brendan says that he's "ridiculously proud of this girl". All together now: she's 34, Brendan! Brendan says that she's the reason they're doing so well, and Sophie says that she's just glad her head stayed on in all of those spins. Tess says that she loves how Sophie is genuinely giddy about musicals week, and Sophie dorks out a bit. Scores: nines all round for a total of 36, her joint-highest score to date and "the same score you got for That Charleston", as Tess points outs, because heaven forfend we not mention That Charleston. Also, breaking news: Tess reveals that the Swingadingaringathon is back next week. Eep. Can't we have a Viennese waltz to the death instead, like in series seven?

Next: Abbey and Aljaž. Abbey appears to have come dressed as Kylie Minogue on the cover of 'Got To Be Certain'. Which musical is that from? Last week she did a bit of a slippy paso, and Abbey observes that the judges are "pushing for perfection now" (FORESHADOWING ALERT!). She thinks that anybody could go home at this point. Abbey explains that they're dancing to a song from Saturday Night Fever, and in a redux of Natalie's VT (which was, in turn, a redux of Fiona's VT from two weeks ago), Abbey is scared of the lifts. Aljaž tells her that it is important to get the lifts right, but it's also important to do justice to the narrative excellence of Saturday Night Fever. So in order to get into that 70s frame of mind, they put on some silly outfits and went to Lucky Voice to squeal along atonally to some disco classics (Abbey used to be in a girl band, just in case you weren't aware). Abbey hopes she can stay in character for her salsa on Saturday night.

It's just as well she mentions there that it's a salsa, because you wouldn't have a goddamn clue otherwise. [Me neither.  I was all 'what the fuck is this nonsense?' for most of it - Rad] I actually had to check with my boyfriend three-quarters of the way through, because I was starting to doubt my own mind. There's very little actual salsa content in the routine, and the rest of the time it's just straight-up disco Latin, slippy spins and ugly lifts (the one where Aljaž lifts her above his head and she spreads her legs and shows us all her Genie Queen is probably the most uncomfortable-looking of the lot). There's also excessive use of a giant disco ball and several of the non-speaking supporting artistes that were so prevalent during BLACKPOOL week. To me, this is just more competent-but-slightly-clumsy Abbey Clancy Latin. Let's check in and see what the judges made of it, shall we? OH YES, LET'S.

Len screams that there is FEVER IN THIS BALLROOM because everyone has upped their game, and he says that was a GREAT DANCE. Bruno screams that Abbey is a DISCO DIVA and during the bit where she was stood between two female dancers, he couldn't tell the difference between them. THEY WERE DOING THE SODDING HAND JIVE AT THAT POINT, FOR FUCK'S SAKE. You don't need to be a professional dancer to pull off a competent hand jive. Craig says he could tell the difference, because Abbey was BETTER than the professionals, and the dance was UH-MAY-ZING. Darcey concludes by calling it "mesmerising" and saying that it was a "five-star routine". Well, at least we didn't have to put up with anyone yelling "remember she's a non-dancer!" at any point this week. Small mercies, I guess. [This is entirely softening us up for disco being an official dance next year, isn't it? - Rad]

Bruce declares that this is the best night ever in the history of the show at this stage (...o-kay) and Abbey and the white-suited Aljaž rush up to the Tess Circle, where Abbey says she really does feel like a disco diva now after those comments. She can't believe she's still here, and she doesn't want it to end. Tess attempts to crack on to Aljaž about how good he looks in that white suit but is cut short for time. Scores are in: 10s all round for a total of 40.

Oy. Okay. Each to their own and all that, but really? The perfect 40, for that? It was barely even a salsa, let alone a perfect one. It's not uncommon for the paddles to come out for the most unlikely of dances - I was intensely surprised by Kimberley getting 40 for her Fusion Week dance last year, but the choreography was gaymazing and I liked Kimberley, so I was happy to overlook it. Hey, I never said I was an objective judge of these things. By all means, tell me I'm wrong - that's what the comments box is there for, and I would genuinely be interested to hear if anyone reading this believes that deserved to get 40 points, because I would love to know what it is that the judges are seeing that I am not. I could sit here for ages and point out dances that should have got 40 points and didn't (*COUGH* *COUGH*), but I think I'm only going to make myself angrier. Also, if Craig really wants to spend the first half of the series drawling "well, DARLING, I have got a ten paddle, but I'm ONLY going to pull it out for a dahnce that is PERFECT", then he should probably stop whipping it out for mediocre efforts like this. [What was going on with this, I can't even... - Rad]

Still, on the bright side, at least this means there's a good chance I can retire Lisa Snowdon as my go-to "consistently handed 10s for no good reason" contestant once this series is over.

Bruce says "it's like a final!" I start worrying that Bruno will have constructed himself a 12 paddle especially for Abbey by the time we get to the actual final. It's Ashley and Ola's turn next, in their cute little Aladdin cosplay outfits. I dressed up as Aladdin for a fancy dress party once, and my very talented flatmate at the time made me a purple waistcoast and a pair of billowing white trousers to wear (and made me a fez by covering an old yoghurt pot in red felt). As someone who doesn't particularly enjoy exhibitionism or fancy dress, it was quite an uncomfortable evening, but it was an awesome costume. I waxed my chest especially for the occasion and everything. I think there are pictures somewhere, but thankfully not on the internet. Yet. [I will pay whoever has them to get them out there.  I once dressed up as her out of 2 Unlimited for a fancy dress thing.  I made a dress out of cardboard covered in silver foil and everything.  Oh 1993 - Rad] Ashley recalls last week in his VT, and the recurring issue with his head. He points out that he's scored 35 for three weeks in a row now, and he's determined to get higher. Ashley is the 90th person of the evening to say "THE JUDGES ARE MARKING VERY HARSHLY NOW", and quite how the show has the nerve to air comments like that after what just happened I have no idea. This week, they're doing a rumba, which needs to be graceful, and Ola notes that not all of Ashley's movements are very pretty right now. Then, because Ben's cute kids aren't going to appear any more and the field is suddenly wide open, Ashley's all "OLDEST SON! I CHOOSE YOU!" and reads his son Buddy the story of (Disney's) Aladdin. Sadly, Buddy is not hugely co-operative: when asked to use one of his three wishes "for Daddy to win Strictly", Buddy shouts "NO!" and when asked who he does actually want to win, he mumbles "Dave and Karen". Hee. Book this kid for the Friday panel immediately! Anyone's better than having to sit through fuckin' Rufus Hound again.

So they're doing a rumba to 'A Whole New World', and if you manage to survive this entire routine without thinking of Katie Price and Peter Andre even once, then I salute you. Ashley "flies" in on a magic carpet, which wastes quite a lot of time. (Also, I would have given ANYTHING for Ola to have been painted blue and made to be the Genie instead of Princess Jasmine. Come on, we all know that was the REAL love affair in that movie.) Anyway, it's a DIRTY FILTHY RUMBA of the sort that Brendan Cole directly opposes, full of lasciviousness and stroking - and also, because this is Ola, pivots and knee slides.

Bruno calls it "so exotic, with a touch of the erotic", adding that one thing Ashley did really well was framing the object of his desire. Much like Anton did in his cha cha cha with Fiona. But Ashley needs a bit more hip action. Craig agrees - more hips needed, and the arms need more expression, but he loved it. Darcey thinks they told "a very real story of love" (based on a cartoon, based on a folk tale) and makes sure we remember that the rumba is a HARD DANCE FOR A MAN. Len says that he saw A Whole New Side to Ashley in that dance, because he came out and performed - he agrees that it needed more hip action, but he thinks Ashley's on a roll.

Tess says that Ashley's the first person in Strictly history to fly down on a magic carpet. As opposed to Widdy, who was the first person to fly down AS a magic carpet. Ashley says that the carpet was a bit dodgy, and he had a few problems with it backstage. Tess reminds us that Ashley has an adorable child, and Ashley blows a kiss to Buddy down the camera. Ola says that she's very proud. Scores are in: Craig 8, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 35. Again. Oh well, there's always next week.

Closing the evening, as we've already established, it's Susanna and Kevin. Last week, Susanna had public issues with the cha cha cha, and Craig called her "mumsy", which her sons didn't see the problem with. Susanna does the obligatory "it's so close now, anyone could be in the Dread Dance Off" bit, and then we go ahead to their quickstep rehearsals. Susanna is concerned at how fast it all is. Not to be outdone by Ashley, Kevin "ropes in" (see what he did there) some help from Susanna's two sons, who are going to help her by skipping with her. I like her eldest one best, because he sort of plonks the skipping rope in her hands and immediately wanders off like he's got much better things to be doing than acting cute in a VT to help his mum get a few extra votes. Kevin wants to throw in something flash, so he's included a move where they jump onto a sofa and tip it over with their momentum. It appears to not go terribly well in rehearsals. Also, Susanna is rehearsing in a rather quickstep-unfriendly short skirt which gives the camera a few unintended upskirts during the kick section.

They're dancing to 'Good Morning' from Singin' In The Rain. It starts out reasonably well, but the wheels come off quite quickly - there's one bit where Kevin visibly drags her into position, and another part shortly afterwards where Kevin does some standing kicks and Susanna just sort of hops on the spot. At least this is where Susanna's live television experience serves her well, because she doesn't let it faze her and manages to get things back on track - at least until the very end where the sofa-surfing sends her off-balance and almost crashes to the floor taking Kevin down with her, but she just about manages to pull it back. (Also, as Rad pointed out on Twitter, it's kind of fun how this is pretty much the same way her first dance on the show ended.) It's a shame, because there was huge potential in that routine to be a great closing number, but the execution just wasn't there. [I think Kevin was a bit ambitious with that choreography - had they pulled it off it would have been amazing, but that was always going to be a big risk - Rad]

They pick themselves up and head over to Bruce. Craig says that he thought the footwork was rather sloppy and they got completely out-of-sync in the kick section, which was a shame because it was going so well. Then, in an amazing Craig moment: "Then when you did that last moment, I did think for a moment you overbalanced, and I thought you were going to go flat on your face, but sadl--" and then he checks himself, realising what he was about to say. Craig clarifies that he was HAPPY she saved herself. Honest. Darcey says that Susanna captured the role of "the cheeky Debbie Rednolds" [sic], and it was a shame that there were a couple of mistakes, but the energy throughout was wonderful. Len says "NEWSFLASH!", which I think is what we nearly got during that kick section in the short skirt in her training footage, and says that she closed the show with a blockbuster of a quickstep. Bruno finishes by saying she has so much zest and energy, it's great to see, and she captured the spirit of the film perfectly. There were mistakes, but "that will improve". There's only three weeks left, Bruno.

Up in the Tess Circle, Tess asks if a change of career is in the offing for Susanna and she could be a broadcast journalist by day and a musical star by night. Susanna says she's not sure about that - "the BBC Breakfast viewers might complain". From what I know of that audience, they're complaining plenty already. Tess asks how the show's affecting her life, and Susanna says she's seeing less of her family and more of Kevin, but she's getting very fit and having a fabulous time. Scores: Craig 7 (Bruno screams "WHAT?!" and momentarily vanishes from his chair, though not in one of his hilariously "spontaneous" falls for once), Darcey 8, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 33.

Leaderboard, then:

Patrick & Anya - 38
Natalie & Artem - 36
Sophie & Brendan - 36
Ashley & Ola - 35
Susanna & Kevin - 33
Mark & Iveta - 29

It's interesting to see Natalie in joint-third place - this is definitely going to be the first real test of how well she's faring in the public vote. I wouldn't be surprised to see her in the Dread Dance Off with Mark. The only other realistic alternative I can see, given those placings, is Ashley there instead of Natalie, since he's lower than he usually is and his level of support's never really been tested all that much either.

Time to recap the recap: Patrick's frantic charleston which I'm less opposed to after everything that happened with Abbey's "salsa"; Artem doing an Artem all over the American Smooth once again; Mark quietly doing the best dance of the night (relatively speaking) and nobody noticing; Sophie's head just about remaining attached in a centrifuge; THAT WHICH SHALL NOT BE SPOKEN OVER EVER AGAIN; Ashley and Ola doing a FILTHY DISNEY RUMBA; the editors actually including one of the sequences of Susanna fucking up like they're actively trying to sabotage her.

So that's it for the competitive half of Musicals Week - "the highest scoring night of the competition so far", Tess tells us. But who'll be in the Dread Dance Off with with Mark?


Lindsey Crawford said...

I thought Kevin's choreography for Susanna this week was perhaps slightly too ambitious... simply so fast that I don't think any of the celebrities could have kept up.

Katy Boyer said...

I may have pointed it out once or twice, but...
That. Was. Not. A. Salsa.

Katy Boyer said...

Also - did you see the Tess pit interview with Ashley and Ola. He didn't know where to put his hand.
He settled for everywhere.

DeltaBlues said...

My top three Charlestons are exactly the same as Steve's. [/inconsequential]

And no, THAT wasn't worth 40. I can only assume they gave it 40 to ensure Lucky the Predictive Pup got at least one "top of the leader board" prediction unequivocally right. It certainly wasn't for the quality of the, ahem, "salsa".

Michelle Ryland said...

I can't believe that I have only just discovered this blog! Done some catching up and can state that it's fab. Reading Facebook comments I was being to think I was watching a different show. So glad to discover that there are people out there with similar views to me. Keep up the good work!

Steve said...

Lindsey - this seems entirely possible. I think less is more where Susanna is concerned, so maybe Kevin should stop overloading the boat.

Katy - ha! No, I missed that. I will have to check iPlayer.

Delta - Lucky the Predictive Pup has been right two weeks in a row now. BBC CONSPIRACY!

Michelle - thanks for the lovely feedback! It's always great to have new readers, hope you'll stick around!

Diane McBain said...

Am so glad I am not alone in thinking Abby's was never worth a 40, I would have given 7's, 8 at the very very most. My husband OTOH thought it was brilliant and I had to spend the rest of the night saying "wtf???" in my head.