Last! Week! Blackpool's hangover was short and sweet, and Steve's journey was scuppered by trying to jive on ankles made of nought but string.
Tonight! Another theme week! Oh goody, it's been what, a whole fortnight since the last one? I was having withdrawal symptoms, I don't know about you. Apparently the theme is 'around the world' and I therefore look forward to Sunetra and Brendan rumba-ing to Lisa Stansfield, Pixie and Trent Viennesse Waltzing to a re-timed Oasis, Jake and Janette Argentinan Tango-ing to Daft Punk, Mark and Karen salsa-ing to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frankie and Kevin jiving to Aqua, Simon and Kristina waltzing to East 17 and Caroline and Pasha Charleston-ing to the theme tune from Willy Fog.
Oh, what's that you say? The ACTUAL theme is going to make even less sense than that? Oh goody, can't wait!
We open with a Bollywood themed pro-dance featuring support from actual Asian dancers and plenty of Jai Ho! I am not sure whether to feel a bit gross about the cultural appropriation going on (less the dancing, more the whole women wearing bindis and so on) - but this is probably nothing compared to what's about to come, and I suppose at some level, many of the international dances involve at least some degree of cultural appropriation. Still... here's Aljaž, Pasha and Kevin with their tops off to try and detract from any icky feelings caused either by the slightly racist aspects or the very dubious female singing. It's at least energetic and fun but I'm not sure we need to go the way of Dancing With the Stars and incorporate it into the repertoire of regular dances yet. Although, rather this than... what happens tomorrow.
Tess and Claudia enter with Anton and Brendan, both deemed too old to get their chests out in an opening number, presumably. In protest, Brendan has his buttons pretty much undone to the waist anyway. Daly Dresswatch - black with some odd bits at the top. What Winkleman's Wearing: Black, strapless. Tess thanks the pro dancers, the guest dancers from Bollyflex and the guest male singer for actually being amazing. Such shade.
Claudia introduces the idea of this evening - all the dances will be themed to a different country. Well, apart from two of them which will be themed by the same country because apparently there are only six countries. The judges enter in their usual 'please can this bit die the same unlamented death as the home videos bit' waft-on. This time there's the added novelty of funny hats: Bruno in a fedora, Len in a beret, Darcey in a (vague, Sunday-market kind of) sombrero and Craig in a cork hat. I briefly lament the lack of an Australian week which could have had Natalie and Brendan front and centre [Brendan might have objected to that, considering he's from New Zealand - Steve] [you mean I have been lied to by the medium of comedy VTs?! - Rad] and given us Kylie, Dannii, Jason, Craig McLachlan and Check-12, Stefan Dennis, Rogue Traders, INXS, Midnight Oil, Gina G, Savage Garden, Angry Anderson, the theme tunes from Neighbours, Home and Away and Prisoner Cell Block H (all of which, by the way, would probably be better choices for waltz music than we've had this series), guest
Tess says that it usually takes 80 days to go around the world but our stars will be doing it (/going to Merca and a couple of bits of Europe) in less than 80 minutes. At least it's not TWO DANCE WEEK, I guess. The celebrities enter and the theme tune jiggery rating is mild to moderate.
The first couple of the evening are Pixie and Trent. Last week's Pixie showcase was something Pixie enjoyed, even though it was a point less in the scoring than BLACKPOOL. Trent takes Pixie to a canal to get her in the mood for their Dutch dance. A canal in London. They then tit about in clogs but chances of clogs making it into the dance are, I'm guessing, slim.
Their Viennesse Waltz is to 'Tulips From Amsterdam' and you'll be "delighted" to see that the dances tonight will be encumbered by both giant props AND troupes of prop dancers. It was bad enough in BLACKPOOL which was at least a cavern of a room. We open with Trent in lederhosen doing something akin to the sugar plum fairy dance with a bunch of other male dancers in lederhosen and clogs. Is one of them lovely Shem? I'm not as au fait with superfluous dancers as Steve so maybe he can clarify. [His Twitter suggests he was elsewhere on Saturday. - Steve] Pixie then twirls on with a load of tulips while they check out her arse because this dance is so super hetero. They twirl around a bit grinning and it's every bit as twee as the theming can make it. At least it's in waltz time. Pixie is also wearing a MAGIC SKIRT that twirls on its own accord. Then the male dancers come on and do 'Single Ladies' for some reason or other, then Trent joins them, then Pixie has a solo ballet showcase because no-one is really going to be arsed with the PURITY OF DAHNCE when you're setting an Austrian dance in Holland and an Argentinian dance in Greece, are they?
Coming up! Simon struggling! Frankie being excited! Jake looking forward to his dance (oops)!
Claudia enters as an air hostess and asks Tess to choose chicken or fish. Tess says she's fine and Claudia says she has to choose otherwise they'll run out of her favourite. Tess says, 'OK, chicken' and Claudia says it comes with an oven-roasted potato. And Claudia is BACK everyone <3.
Fifth out of seven areSimon and Kristina. Their VT involves Simon being SO BUSY on tour (unlike Pixie for a change, who just titted around a canal all week), so he takes her to Belgium along with him to make chocolates. They're dancing an Austrian waltz. Hey guys, you know that there is an ACTUAL STYLE OF WALTZ ON THIS SHOW THAT ACTUALLY COMES FROM FRIGGING AUSTRIA SO WHY NOT DO THAT ONE? [Now that's just crazy talk. - Steve] FFS this theme week.
Frankie and Kevin now and Frankie says she felt really sick after their Viennese Waltz last week. To prepare for their American theme (because we've run out of countries), Kevin takes Frankie to an indoor surf centre which actually looks quite fun even if it only has a marginal amount to do with dancing.
Their jive is to 'Surfin' USA' and involves them floating in on a surfboard before actually jiving on surfboards which is random but looks pretty hard. They're both in red and Frankie has some mad hair extensions that make her look a bit like Kelly Brook. The routine is a bit sloppy and clumsy and all over the place but it's fast and lots of fun.
Bruno says they were on the crest of a wave, like watching two teenagers on summer break (not SPRING BREAK?) trying to do everything but the speed meant she sometimes threw away the free hand but the 'pumping action' was brilliant. Craig loved the synchronicity and was surprised she could dance on a surfboard in heels. Tess takes over the annual 'will Craig get his 10 out?' that Bruce always used to do. Darcey loved it. Len makes some puns I refuse to dignify by repeating.
In the Clauditorium, Kevin says he got his knees out for Claudia and she thanks him. Frankie, still breathless, talks about how hard it is to keep up with Kevin. Scores: 9, 9, 9, 9 for a total of 36.
Jake and Janette are the final couple, although... they may wish they weren't. Their Argentine Tango is set in Greece so they go to an 'authentic' Greek restaurant to smash plates (which Janette gets into a lot - unsurprisingly - slightly scaring Jake) and watch Greek dancing.
They're dancing to 'Zorba the Greek' and Jake opens shouting 'OPA'. He and Janette are both mostly in white, which seems odd for this dance and they have three dining tables and two other couples behind them. Some of Jake's posing is OK and there's a nice bit where he twizzles Janette between his legs, but his legs are super bent throughout in a very ungainly way and it's sloppy rather than sharp. Then they crash into the prop dancers and it goes really skew-whiff then they all dance in a line, Greek-style and Jake shouts 'OPA' some more and then the prop dancers half-heartedly drop some plates on the floor. THE END. Now let us bury this theme week with Rock'n'Roll and Fusion in the graveyard of things we will never speak of ever again.
Craig declares it a complete dance disahster, which went wrong from the beginning and they ended up crashing into other dancers and Jake agrees there was a little crash at the end. Darcey says it started well and she liked the fusion of Greek and Argentine moves but he lost his balance and it got messy and what he did well were the vocals. Note: vocals are not dancing. Len speaks a load of nonsense which doesn't bear recapping and his only critique is that it was tough to combine the Greek and Argentine themes. Bruno calls it a Eurovision tango and says it missed Graham Norton and Conchita Wurst and he says he wants to see it again. What is it with Bruno and telling couples they should be in the dance-off this series?
In the Clauditorium, Jake says it went better in rehearsals and his kids emulate his dances at home and they'll probably do a better job tonight. Claudia asks if they can smash plates. He says they're having a sleepover (presumably at someone else's) so they can smash all they like. Scores: 5, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 29. Janette says 'no comment' on the 5.
Caroline and Pasha 39
Pixie and Trent 38
Simon and Kristina 38
Frankie and Kevin 36
Mark and Karen 32
Jake and Janette 29
Sunetra and Brendan 27
Claudia and the gang open the voting lines in different languages and Karen, Kristina and Janette go a little crazy. That glitterball rampaging madness has truly begun.
Shall we recap? Pixie and Trent ballet dancing without clogs, Mark and Karen's overambitious salsa, Sunetra and Brendan getting thoroughly bussed (on recap, I'd say they were better than Jake and Mark), Caroline and Pasha doing the evening's only fun routine, Simon doing a HARD WALTZ OK, Frankie and Kevin surfing and conclusive proof as if it were needed that a Greek Argentine Tango is not a thing any of us ever need to hear of again. Tomorrow! The world's smuggest guest performers! And Sunetra, I mean someone, going home! Join me then!