Sunday, 20 December 2015

Charge of the Bright brigade

Week 13: The Final (Part 1) - 19 December 2015

As we cycle through a flipbook of the fallen contestants of the series so far, Tess reminds us that we started with 15 couples and now we're down to four. It's the final week, which means three dances (for three of them) and their busiest schedule ever (Alesha and Matt would like a word about their five-dance final now, thanks) as they train, do a press conference, appear on It Takes Two, stop by 10 Downing Street to talk to some ham-faced loser, and, in Kellie's case, prop up a bar in the fictional East End next to Danny Dyer. They're busy, they're excited, they're...ready, they think? Tonight, one of them will be declared the champion, and it will be Jay because we've all known that since week three, but we still have 155 minutes of airtime to fill tonight so let's have ourselves a bit of dancing, yes?

A re-edited version of the titles plays that places our four finalists at the very end (in the following order, just in case anyone cares: Georgia, Jay, Katie, Kellie) and I'm struck by how strange it is that while it feels like this series passed by pretty quickly, it also feels about three years ago that Anthony Ogogo was on the show. Time is a peculiar thing indeed.

We open with a group dance number to 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', a song that is famously a curse for those who perform it on reality TV. Does this mean that none of our finalists are going to win now? Perhaps the whole competition will be declared null and void at the last moment and Caroline Flack gets to stay the winner for another 12 months. Anyway, Georgia, Katie and Kellie are positioned around a make-up table backstage while Jay paces up and down nervously (because of course boys don't wear make-up, not even on television), then Special Guest Star Hot Greg The Floor Manager appears and tells them all it's time to take their positions. As they run up the stairs, Gleb bursts through the curtains (Gleb can burst through my curtains any time etc) and party-Latins around the crew before picking up Anita and whirling her around, then Karen cavorts down the corridor and strokes Daniel's face before they pull back another curtain revealing Darcey and Bruno (Darcey committing to the piece as much as you would expect). Janette then appears in the control room and drags Peter away from a terminal lest he try to write some of his terrible jokes on an aston and superimpose them onto the broadcast, then she heads out into the corridor where she's joined by Natalie and Oti, who lead us down to wardrobe where Ola, P45 tucked into her bosom, emerges through a clothing rail (probably the first time in her ten years on this show that Ola has burst into some clothes) and gives us an all-too-brief glimpse of Pasha before disappearing behind a divider and turning into Ainsley, who's in his penguin outfit again, the poor guy. In the background Craig is ironing a shirt which he then throws to Gleb, who is now topless (♥) while a leopardprint coat-wearing Tess covers a similarly attired Claudia in fake tan, then Pasha dances while Tristan cleans some shoes and Kristina and Brendan dance down a corridor past Jeremy who is wearing tails and a shower cap (this is getting quite surreal now), then Anthony and Iwan emerge from behind another clothing rail and run off with it, revealing that Helen was also hiding behind it. Helen hurries down the corridor, past Len who's busy with the hair and make-up department, and calls the lift, which opens to reveal Aljaž in a compromising position with Carol, Jamelia and Kirsty. (Personally I think a better gag here would've been Giovanni with Georgia's boyfriend, but I guess not everyone shares my sense of humour.) Aljaž races through to the studio to dance with Janette, who either doesn't know what he was just up to or is surprisingly forgiving. The pros dance on the main floor underneath giant banners reading (l-r) GEORGIA, JAY, KATIE and KELLIE. Kevin and Anton are on the staircases vamping as hard as they can, while Aliona is perched on the judges' desk and Giovanni is off wandering around Soh--sorry, he's actually there, in the middle of the floor. My mistake. The banners drop one by one to reveal our four finalists standing above the floor in giant frames which gradually drop to the floor. Given how...merry Katie always looks, I'm surprised they got clearance from their insurers to put her up there in the first place. They make their way to the front and strike their end pose. Georgia is late, in case anyone's interested.

Tess and Daly arrive, escorted by Aljaž and Brendan respectively. There's something very odd about Alan Dedicoat's delivery of Tess's name tonight; it's like "please welcome your hosts...Tess Daly?!", like he can't quite believe it. I mean, most of us can't quite believe she has this job either, Alan, but you really should try to remain professional about it. Tess is wearing a purple-grey strapless dress with a plum-coloured cincher around her waist that gives her a sort of hourglass illusion, and Claudia is wearing a floor-length black gown with a v-shaped cutout at the front that's covered in lace. Claudia looks good, Tess looks slightly uncomfortable, but they've been dressing her surprisingly well all series so I guess I can permit an off-night. As Claudia and Tess rattle off this evening's agenda, there's a cut to the friends and family of the finalists in the front row, and Katie's husband is wearing a truly terrifying suit covered in Batman-esque sound-effect clouds. Do you think he goes to the Proms like that? Maybe Katie bought that for him at the end of a three-day bender and he's just wearing it out of politeness? Who knows?

The judges enter to the band's rendition of 'I'm So Excited'. Nobody does The Strictly, but Darcey does misjudge a spin around Bruno and almost crashes into Len. Our experts, everybody! And then we have the entrance of our finalists: Kellie and Kevin, Katie and Anton, Georgia and Giovanni and Jay and Aliona. Judging from their outfits, it seems safe to assume that the judges' choice dances are tango, quickstep, rumba and quickstep respectively. Tess reminds us that all four finalists have topped the leaderboard and any one of them could be our winner. As long as that one is Jay.

Claudia reminds us, as if we needed telling, that the first round is judges' choice, a reprisal of a previous performance that the judges think the contestants could improve on. It says here. After that, the phone lines will open and we can vote while we watch the showdances, which Tess accidentally refers to as "the most breath-tanking dances of the competition". This will turn out to be a rather apt description. The "tanking" part, anyway. Claudia reminds us that the couple with the fewest votes will be booted out at the start of the results show, after which the remaining three couples will perform their favourite dance of the series.

Jay and Aliona are on first, and the judges have selected his quickstep from week four, back when he was riding the crest of the holy jive wave only to have his surfboard sliced in half by the SS Clumsy Footwork. Speaking of clumsy footwork, in his VT Jay admits that he was pretty sloppy in his Viennese waltz, and the judges' marks were more generous than he was expecting. I'm pretty sure his opinion was not shared by the Digital Spy forumites, who had pitchforks and torches and were all set to raze Casa Len to the ground last week. Jay hopes that he'll go out with a bang this weekend, whatever happens. The reveal of the judges' choice inexplicably takes place in a faux-cinema, where Darcey tells him he's got the quickstep, and Jay says he's hoping that he'll prove he can do it cleanly this time. Len points out that this was Jay's lowest score of the entire competition, and I must admit that I'd forgotten he'd ever gone as low as 25. Jay says that there's no room for mistakes this time around, and he's going to concentrate on this dance more than any of the others. He adds that even to get "just a pat on the back" they'll need to be technically perfect, which is hilarious considering a lot of what's going to happen later tonight.

Back in the studio, Jay and Aliona reprise their quickstep to 'My Generation', and I realise how much I disliked a) the stupid graduation selfie framing device and b) the actual choreography of this routine. That's part of the problem with judges' choice for me: yes, it gives the contestants an opportunity to correct their previous mistakes, but this often leads to us having to sit through a routine that nobody particularly wanted to see again. I mean, if you were genuinely hankering for a second viewing of Jay's quickstep, by all means tell me I'm wrong in the comments, but considering that the Holy Jive is not getting a second outing tonight, it seems particularly galling to have to revisit this mess. [Seriously.  I'd rather see the missing dance than judges' choice TBH - Rad] It's a bit of a mixed bag: Jay's footwork is improved and the confidence he's gained in ballroom since the first time he did it is clear, but the whole thing feels a bit placid and lacking in energy to me, which really should not be happening in a quickstep, Aliona clearly trips at one point (not Jay's fault, as far as I can tell, but still an unfortunate error) and there are some obvious gapping problems in about a third of the routine. Not Clancy-level terrible, but certainly disappointing for a finals quickstep. Also, on an entirely superficial level, dusky pink is a terrible colour on Aliona and washes her right out.

Jay describes the atmosphere in the studio as "electric" and Tess introduces the singers, who have an extra Chris in their number tonight, as well as Dave Arch and his wunnerful orchestra. Len says that he didn't want Jay to put a foot wrong, but there were a few slip-ups. It was, however, quick, slick and a vast improvement on the last time. Bruno says that he thinks it was actually Aliona who went wrong, and Jay shakes his head violently, but it's Aliona's reaction that cracks me up: she starts off shaking her head before realising that if she doesn't claim responsibility for the errors than everyone will assume that Jay was to blame, so then she changes her mind and starts nodding. Hee. Bruno describes Jay as "twinkle-toes" and says that when he gets it right he's stupendous, but when the quality is that high, even the slightest mistake can spoil it. Craig says it "wasn't perfect". but Jay danced around the floor with great ease and maintained his top line throughout and kept his thumb down throughout the whole routine - he's a lovely dancer and a joy to watch. Darcey admires the complexity of the routine and calls the performance "divine" - she thinks Jay led Aliona beautifully, despite the tiny mistakes.

Jay gets a hero's welcome in the Clauditorium, where Claudia asks him if it was nerve-wracking going first, and he says it was: normally he likes being the first one out because then you can just relax and enjoy watching the others, but that wouldn't have applied tonight anyway. Aliona says that she was pleased to get to do the quickstep again, and that she actually said back in week four that she wanted them to be in the dance-off so Jay could show the public how well he could really do this dance. Scores: Craig 9, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 36. Claudia points out that this is an 11-point improvement on last time. As a special treat for the final, Claudia ushers in Mary Berry to read the terms and conditions. She says "excess charges" instead of "access charges", but maybe she has a secret axe to grind against price-gouging telecomms operators?

Georgia and Giovanni are up next, and Georgia says she put all her energy into the semi-final. They arrive at the CineJudge, where Bruno tells them that they've been allocated the rumba for this round, and Georgia says she's love to do that again. Georgia asks what she should do this time around to improve her score, and Craig says she needs to work on the hip action. Len, verbatim: "for me, there wasn't enough rumba content. Just do it as you did it, just put in a little bit more fundamental basic choreography." Right, so do it exactly as before but change everything, gotcha. Thanks Len! Georgia thinks this is a chance for redemption, but she's worried because the rumba is such a hard dance. Georgia, it's only a hard dance for men. You're not a man, silly!

They reprise their rumba to - oh god - 'Writing's On The Wall', and per Len's instruction it is now much more rumba and much less Bondstravaganza. Now, I like the rumba so I feel bad about saying this, but...I think I liked it better the way it was? It's well-danced by Georgia though, and I think she has definitely improved a lot since the first time she did it because this feels a lot more placed and precise, and there's more hip action in it. It's just not really been a particularly strong year for rumbas (don't ask me to name a particularly strong year for rumbas, I'm not sure I could) and I suppose this was one of the better ones, but it still feels a bit of an underwhelming dance to reprise in the final.

Bruno says he's "totally smitten by the sex kitten" and he thought she was stretching and bending like she was made of spandex. He thought there was much more content this time, but a little bit of a balance issue this time around. Craig says she was using her hips beautifully, he loved the intensity and the choreography, and he thought the back bend in particular was delicious. Darcey thinks Georgia has "grown into this beautiful, sensual lady" (blerk) and she delivered all the goods. Darcey wasn't bothered by the balance issue because the tension was so amazing. Len thinks you couldn't get more content, and apologises for being quite so demanding in asking for it last time, but "the proof is in the pudding".



(deep, cleansing breath)

No, Len, the proof is not in the pudding. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Do you see how the latter is a complete, logical thought, and the first is JUST A LOAD OF RANDOM WORDS THAT MAKE NO FUCKING SENSE? DO YOU? DO YOU?!?!?!

Oh, curses. Well, I tried to respond reasonably, and I almost managed it.

Georgia and Giovanni scoot up to the Clauditorium where Claudia gives a shout-out to Georgia's mum, who has apparently "not stopped crying" all night. Ooh, it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Scores: nines all round again for a total of 36. Len's nine generates the most excitement from Giovanni, for obvious reasons, and it's a nine-point improvement from their first score.

Our third couple to perform is Kellie and Kevin, who will be reprising their tango - which was the very first competitive dance of the series. Kellie declares the semi-final "completely bonkers", and Kevin says that going from two dance-offs to topping the leaderboard in the semi-final is what dreams are made of. I would've thought their dreams wouldn't involve being in the dance-off at all, but there you go. At the Judgiplex, Len tells them that he wants to see their tango again, and Kellie says that she's really happy about that. Craig tells her she needs to tidy up the links and just exaggerate the moves a bit more. Well, that shouldn't be a problem. Len says "get a bit of fire in the belly, Kellie". Kellie says she rewatched her tango a few weeks ago and thought that she loved it, but she'd like another go at it - and now she's got one. Kellie works on those pesky shoulders in rehearsals, and says that she's looking forward to doing it again.

Their tango, in case you've forgotten, was Sixties-themed and danced to 'You Really Got Me'. I'm a little bit disappointed by how much of a straightforward repeat this is; considering that Giovanni made a point of adding more rumba content to Georgia's routine for this round, I would've liked Kevin to have removed some of the vamping and faffing at the top that accounts for about a third of the runtime of this tango and replaced it with some, y'know, actual tango. I appreciate that Kellie has the biggest workload of everyone remaining and may not have had as much time to do a complete choreographic overhaul, but at the same time: it's the final, and I'd really like to see a bit more dance content than we have here. Now that I've got that particular bugbear out of the way, what tango there actually is in the routine is greatly improved, you can see it in her posture and in the clinical precision of her footwork. Again, it's a good routine to demonstrate how far she's come, but not necessarily a routine I was that excited about seeing in the final.

As Kellie and Kevin head over to Tess, there's a chant of "10! 10! 10! 10!" coming from the Clauditorium which, going by everyone's reactions, does seem to be entirely spontaneous. The Clauditorium does appear to be firmly Team Kellie for most of the evening but, as was pointed out to me on Twitter last night, that might just be because it's full of Cliftons. Craig says that all of Kellie's hard work has paid off and he loved her slow, deliberate heels in the turn section. Darcey says she loved this routine before, but the difference in her frame and top line now is YUMMEH. Oh god, I was hoping we'd get through an entire series without YUMMEH, I really was. Len says they've "ironed out all the kinks" (groan) and that routine was brilliant. Bruno finishes by saying that is how you rock a tango, and he likes to see things that are different and imaginative, but at the same time this was exactly what a tango should be.

They scream up to the Clauditorium and the chants for tens continue, and Kellie says that the best thing about today is having all the gang back in the Clauditorium. Claudia asks Kellie if she remembered the routine from all those weeks ago, and Kellie says that she didn't - she's learned a lot of dances since then. Claudia: "Yes, I know, I've had six children since." Scores: Craig 10, Darcey 10, Len 10, Bruno 10 for a total of 40. Kevin absolutely loses his shit at Craig's 10, and someone in the audience leaps to their feet for Len's, blocking the view of the Lencam in the process. Hee. Personally, while I think this was the strongest performance of round one by a considerable margin, I don't think it was a 40 - there just wasn't enough content in it for me, and I just can't see this being one of those classic tangos that I want to rewatch on YouTube in years to come. [It did feel like a 40 for the sake of having a 40 at some point.  As tangos this series go, the one I'd have most liked to see again was Jay and Aliona's - Rad] Claudia points out that this was the first 40 of the series, and also Kevin's first 10 ever from Craig. "Thank you, Kellie!" squeals Kevin. Bless. Kellie says that she can't believe it, and she feels like she's just won the competition. And this is as close as she's ever going to get to that feeling, so I suppose she might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

Rounding off the first, er, round, it's Katie "Durr-hum" and Anton with their quickstep. Tess says that they scored sixes and sevens the first time they did this, but "sixes and sevens won't cut it tonight." Awkward. In her VT, Katie remembers her charleston going pretty terribly, but the upside of having two dances is that you get a chance to redeem yourself, which she sort of did, even though her second dance wasn't great either. She wasn't surprised to be in the dance-off, but because the judges were never going to vote for Gleb's salsa-showdance over some classic ballroom (well, apart from Craig, but he's frequently an outlier), she managed to defeat Anita and make her way into the final. At the Strictly movie house, everyone makes the occasion far more about Anton than about Katie as per usual, and Craig tells them they've been given the quickstep because Katie got a bit lost the first time they did it. "I might get it right this time, so it's nice to have another chance," giggles Katie. Len hopes she'll do a better job of keeping up this time now that she's more experienced. Katie says that she loves the routine, and she's glad to have another chance to do it. Last time, they got 26, and Katie thinks they "should be able to improve those marks by 10 at least" this time. [Because of final score inflation? - Rad] Welp.

Their quickstep - to '42nd Street', lest we forget - starts one more with a cane-capers section, and she only just escaped this section unscathed last time, but she's not so fortunate this time around: as she flicks the cane over her shoulder, she catches the brim of her boater and knocks it and somehow it gets stuck on her face, and I'm not a horrible person, honestly I'm not, but this absolutely cracks me up because Katie, god love her, keeps going while trying to wrestle the damn facehugger off and she just can't get it free, and eventually has to knock it off with her free hand. Poor Katie. I almost want to hand her the glitterball right there and then just for doing her best to style her way through that. One thing's for sure: I've never seen someone to look quite so relieved to get to the bit where she gets to take her hat off and lob it offstage. Her performance is an improvement on the last one in that she doesn't look quite so hopelessly outmatched in it, but a lot of the old problems persist nonetheless: keeping up with Anton takes so much of her focus that her frame and her hold suffers, leading to some gaps that you could stage a Julie Taymor production in, there's what looks like a very serious stumble near the end, and by the time she reaches the final side-by-side section she's completely out of sync with Anton. It's a shame.

Darcey tells Katie that she never fails to be "the beautiful classy lady" that we see every week (I had to rewind that three times because I was convinced that Darcey was calling her a "party lady" and basically outing her as a drunk) and she could feel the pressure that Katie was under - she got nearly all the way through, but fell apart at the end where Darcey thought she could sense Katie internally screaming out to Anton for help. Len says she "more or less" kept up, but she moved so fast she could've ended up on "43rd Street", and he loves her posture in ballroom. Bruno calls her "always so lush" (*eyebrow*) and says that her suspensions were better, and while she hit a few bumps again, she recovered much better this time. Tess asks if they've proved themselves worthy finalists, and Craig says that the hat issue threw her off from the beginning and there were gapping problems throughout, but it was a major improvement on last time. Anton says to wait until next week where there'll be an even bigger improvement. Heh.

They pick up their canes (though not those evil hats) and make their way to the Clauditorium, where Katie says that she loves this routine, but she thinks that she and hats are just not destined to get on (remember, her hat fell off during her foxtrot in Musicals Week as well). Anton thinks he preferred Katie's choreography, "perhaps I should have been up to speed with it". Heh. Scores: Craig 7, Darcey 8, Len 8, Bruno 8 for a total of 31 - five points up on last time, but the lowest scoring finals dance since Matt Dawson's samba in series four.

Round one leaderboard:

1. Kellie & Kevin - 40
2=. Jay & Aliona - 36
2=. Georgia & Giovanni - 36
4. Katie & Anton - 31

Claudia reminds us that the judges' scores are "just for guidance" tonight and then declares the phone lines open. She asks for no fun and games during the terms and conditions at this difficult time, so of course everyone breaks out in silent hijinks behind her. My favourites are somebody near the back (I can't quite make out who) holding up a sign that says "SHE'S SAID THIS 48 TIMES ALREADY") and Oti attacking Brendan repeatedly with an inflatable guitar.

After a recap of the performances so far, it's time for the showdances which, Claudia reminds us, are where the rulebook just gets thrown in the bin. And yet the judges score it anyway. That's never entirely made sense to me.

Jay and Aliona are up first, and Tess involves That Jive to get our expectations up nice and high. In his VT, Jay says that it's going to be a greatest hits routine (SIGH) but with everything modified to make it bigger and showier. Jay says that doing so many different styles is quite confusing and muscle memory quite often leads him into the wrong steps, and Aliona admits that she's pushing Jay harder than ever with this choreography. Jay hopes that all the hard work pays off, Aliona tells him that Jay has been amazing since day one, and Jay tells her that he couldn't have asked for a better teacher.

They're dancing to 'Can't Feel My Face' by The Weeknd (no, me neither) and expectations are certainly high as the whole thing starts on a platform suspended above the dancefloor, with Jay hanging upside down. I can only assume this is a nod to Spider-Man, except he's not wearing a mask and they don't kiss. But, y'know, apart from that. The platform gradually lowers, and when it reaches the floor Jay rights himself and takes Aliona in his arms. It truly is the mish-mash of styles that we were promised, but the main problem is that none of the individual parts are particularly exciting, and neither is the whole. By the time we've reached Jay finger-walking up Aliona's chest and down her back, I think it's perfectly clear that this one's a bit of a dud. I can remember my heart sinking when the music was clearly gearing up to end, and I felt like the routine hadn't even started; this was just such a total non-event to me. Anita's salsa was more of a showdance than this was, I feel absolutely cheated.

Tess calls that "all your greatest moves in one routine", although I didn't see anything like enough of the Holy Jive in there to be honest. Len says it was "like a trip down memory lane" (indeed at one point I think Jay's fingers took a trip down mammary lane), but he personally would've liked a bit more "show" in the showdance. It was lovely, and what was there was danced well, but it wasn't spectacular enough for Len's liking. Bruno feels like he got wrongfooted by the promise of a superhero extravaganza at the beginning (you and me both, Tonioli), but he did a very good "pick 'n' mix" of ballroom 'n' latin. Still, the first image stayed in his mind, and the rest of the routine didn't live up to it. Craig says he was really disappointed because he knows Jay's capable of much more, and this felt like a cop-out. He loved the opening, and if he'd had his druthers it would have ended like that as well with Jay spiralling back into the ceiling. He felt there was no build and no climax, even though all of the dancing was done brilliantly. Darcey thinks he's "the cool cat of technique", and she had high expectations of him as the last man standing and she wanted a little surprise, so while it was seamless, she wanted it to go out with a bang and it didn't. Bruno chips in again that they're not criticising the dancing, just the framing and the construction of the piece. Aliona says that she'll take all the blame, and Tess hollers "WELL THE AUDIENCE LOVED IT", because they've been shown to be such discerning consumers so far.

Claudia consoles Jay by telling him that everyone around her was going nuts for it, and she loved that it was like a jigsaw of every dance. Aliona says she tweaked all the moves to make them more difficult, so they're not the same as the ones they danced before. God NO ONE CARES ALIONA, JUST DO SOME FANCY LIFTS, IT'S NOT EXACTLY FERMAT'S LAST THEOREM. Jay says he loved it and he wouldn't have wanted a single step different (because he's winning anyway and this makes absolutely no difference). Scores are in: Craig 8, Darcey 9, Len 9, Bruno 9 for a total of 35. That's the same score as Mark Wright's weaksauce showdance last year, which feels fair enough.

Hopefully Georgia and Giovanni can restore our faith in the showdance now with their routine, which Tess promises will be "innovative" and "challenging" but also "traditional". Well, that doesn't sound very encouraging. In the VT, Giovanni says this dance is quite dangerous, and there's "a small thing in the beginning that will be a little bit different". I wonder if it's the first time he's had to say that to somebody. Georgia thinks their "little secret" is a risk and it could go horribly wrong, but she just has to put her trust in Giovanni, which is something she's learned to do. She reflects that it could be her final dance of the series, but that it's a heck of a note to go out on. She thanks Giovanni for bringing this side of her out, and Giovanni calls her his "little sister". God, remember at the beginning of the series when we were convinced they paired these two together so they could start SEXY SHOWMANCE RUMOURS? How naive we were. Giovanni tells her that she can win, and Georgia wells up, saying that she doesn't want it to end. Eh, you're on the tour, you've still got until mid-February yet.

They're dancing to 'Fix You' by Coldplay and the little secret that they were alluding to is that Georgia starts the dance blindfolded. According to my reliable informers who still watch the flaming pile of garbage that is Dancing With The Stars, Derek Hough already did it. Georgia does her very best soap opera blind acting (i.e. she paws at her eye sockets) and they break into some contempowaft rumba steps. Georgia dances pretty well for someone who can't see, but her balance is a bit of an issue again. Giovanni lifts her over his head and lays her onto the floor, and then just as the band get to the title of the song, he fixes her by removing the blindfold DO YOU SEE. Then Giovanni starts pointing things out to her and Georgia does similarly terrible "omg I can see!" acting (seriously, this is her day job?) and then they break into what seems like some sort of Viennese waltz/tango fusion with some lifts thrown in. Again, the dancing itself is fine, but the concept is just saccharine and dull, so I'm nought for two on the showdances so far tonight. [Yup.  What the hell were they thinking with these?  Worst showdances since Flavia stuck Louis on that big birthing ball- Rad] 

Bruno calls it "Fifty Shades Of Green" (because they were wearing green, although isn't that Dorien's book in Birds of a Feather?) and he loved the fusion element, but warns her about that darned shoulder once again. He loved the chemistry and intensity and the storytelling, though. Craig enjoyed it even though the shoulder was creeping up, and he loved the blindfold section most of all - he thought Georgia did a particularly good job of going down Giovanni's back when she didn't know where the floor was. Darcey says it was such a wonderful start, lyrical and smooth, and she was impressed by how Georgia took off immediately after getting into hold. Len loved the fusion too and the poignant opening - it was a great dance, and Georgia's a lovely ballroom dancer.

A thankfully non-blindfolded Georgia scampers up to the Clauditorium where Georgia says this meant a lot to her, and that taking the blindfold off was like having her eyes opened to everything that Gio's taught her. (I'm still not entirely convinced that she doesn't think his name is actually Joe Varney, by the way.) Giovanni says that he made her proud, and she apologises for the shoulder. Scores: all the nines again for a total of 36.

Kellie and Kevin are next with a lindyhop (ie charleston with more lifts) showdance, set aboard a train. I wonder if it'll be the porn train from the launch show? In the VT, Kevin suggests they go "full-on, high-energy, lifts, kicks, tricks, lindyhop-style". Kellie declares herself very much in. Kevin says that it's been exhausting to rehearse, and Kellie giggles that she's fallen on her arse three times so far today and almost fallen on her head a few times too, but she's sure it's just because she's tired. When you factor in how Kellie's clearly been knackered since about week seven, it's a minor miracle that she's still upright at all. In their Moment of Reflection, Kellie says her favourite thing has been how much Kevin made her laugh, and she thinks he's really helped her to grow as a performer.

They're dancing to 'The Ding-Dong Daddy Of The D-Car Line' by the Cherry Poppin' Daddies (absolutely a real thing, trust me, I looked it up) and OH MY GOD IT ACTUALLY IS THE PORN TRAIN. Well, the prop version, anyway. This is brilliant. As for the dance itself, it's the first one of the night to even feel remotely like a showdance, in fact it feels very closely related to Chris and Ola's from series seven. I think Kevin has just figured that he's tried everything else to win at the final, so he might as well just go Full Hollins and see if it works. It's an admirable attempt, certainly: it's all very knockabout and fun but there's a lot of precision in there as well, as evidenced by the bits where Kellie kicks in between Kevin's legs that could potentially end the Clifton dynasty right here if she mistimes it. It's a real showstopper and a crowdpleaser and just generally a total tonic after the last two underwhelmed. (And for those of you who look for such things, I will say that tight high-waisted trousers are a good look on Kevin. Not that I was staring at anything in particular. *cough*)

Kellie's struggling for breath at the end and says that she thinks Kevin's been trying to kill her off this week. Craig declares it "uh-may-zing". Darcey says the routine was extraordinary, and Kellie brought everything she could to that dance. Len looks right into the camera and says "that's a showdance" (lol take that Aliona), and Bruno says she brought the A-game right at the right time, and says that's how a champion wins. Except it's not, because Jay's winning.

Kellie staggers up the stairs somehow, and the others are struggling to contain their excitement. Claudia is aghast at Kellie trying to learn a completely new style of dance at this point in the competition, and Kellie says she's loved this so much, and she couldn't turn down the opportunity to learn something else. The scores are in and, it's 10s all round yet again for another perfect 40 for Kellie. Properly deserved this time, I think. Karen's in bits too.

Closing the show tonight we have Katie and Anton with their ancient Rome-themed showdance. Katie promises that it won't be "low-key or subtle or modest". Well, thank god for that, quite frankly. They're throwing in a lot of favourite moves and a lot of Katie being chucked around. Katie appears to have developed a late-in-the-game back injury so they have to work around that a little bit, but she vows to push on through the pain, and says that Anton has been both an amazing teacher and a really good friend. She has enjoyed every minute, but she knows that she needs to pull off the showdance to have any hope of making it to the top three.

They're dancing to 'O Fortuna' and Katie appears to be wearing a dress very much modelled on the one Alesha wore for her showdance. It's very paso-themed with a bit of tango thrown in as well, and while Katie is easily the weakest dancer remaining in the competition, the sheer razzmatazz of the production here makes it one of the evening's better showdances - and, to be fair, this is probably the best she has danced in a couple of weeks. There are a lot of lifts which are executed well, and the only real bum note is when Katie drops into Anton's arms from atop the makeshift balcony that's been created for them on the dancefloor and he catches her rather awkwardly, but it's such a great set piece that it hardly matters anyway. I can appreciate why Aliona and Giovanni went for precision in their routines, but I will always prioritise spectacle over technique in a showdance. Always.

Tess says she's so glad Anton caught her, and Katie replies "so am I!" Hee. Darcey enjoyed the intensity and drama and of course Katie's posture. She says that intense music like that can occasionally work as a disadvantage, though, because you have to live up to that standard - but her only reservation was occasionally sensing the nerves. Len says there was plenty going on, and he loved the drop into Anton's arms, but he felt like the music overpowered the dance a little bit. Bruno liked that it was "historically accurate" (lol) and while it was all-conquering at the beginning, there were a few stumbles as it went along but he felt like they carried the story beautifully. He thinks she gave it a good go, though. Craig says that he didn't take to it at all - he doesn't want to end on a negative, but it was rigid and stiff and Katie wasn't at the same standard as everyone else. He says that Katie doesn't have the same level of skill as them, but she can still hold her head high because she gave it her all and did her best to drive that dance home. Katie says she appreciates that, and it's a fair point. Anton's all "yes, mistakes, we wanted some of them" and Katie tells him that she wishes he'd keep quiet about the mistakes. Preach, Katie.

They head to the Clauditorium, where Claudia declares that the scores are in and then immediately changes her mind. She asks Anton if he regrets that song after the judges' comments, and Anton says no, if anything he'd make it louder. Scores: 7, 8, 8, 8 for 31 again. Lowest score for a showdance since Christopher Parker, with the caveat that the showdances weren't scored at all from series two to series six.

So here's that end-of-part-one leaderboard:

1. Kellie & Kevin - 40 + 40 = 80
2. Georgia & Giovanni - 36 + 36 = 72
3. Jay & Aliona - 36 + 35 = 71
4. Katie & Anton - 31 + 31 = 62

After a recap of the voting numbers and the evening's performances so far, we get the obligatory "nooo, I don't want to go home" VT: Georgia thinks the show has been life-changing, Katie's goalposts gradually moved from "not first boot" to "make Hallowe'en" to "make Blackpool" and she's baffled to make it this far. Jay wishes he could go back and tell Week 1 Jay how far he was going to get, and also to cut his hair before they film the title sequence. Kellie never expected to make the final. Jay think it's been an emotional experience (maybe tell your face that?). Katie would do it again in a heartbeat. Georgia's got a friend for life in Giovanni. Winning would be the perfect thank you to everyone's professional partners.

And that's it. It's time for us all to go and vote/eat dinner/watch Casualty/all of the above, and then the show will come back at 9pm, eliminate Katie (just a hunch) and everyone dances again before Jay wins (hunch). Join us for part two when my fingers have recovered from typing this one, won't you?


Penny said...

We were amazed to discover that Jay was the last man standing in the final. I'm sure that wasn't mentioned at all in the preceding weeks...

Kikishua said...

Just to be pedantic, Maks and Erin did a blindfolded waltz in 2010 on Dancing with the stars - although not so dangerous as no lifts and he put the blindfold on during the dance (rather than taking it off).

Steven said...

Penny - they kept it a closely-guarded secret, along with Anita having no prior training, Giovanni being Italian and Anton making the final for the first time ever.

Kikishau - so what you're telling me is that there's an ongoing BDSM subculture on DWTS? I can't say I'm surprised.

F a t i m a said...

"in the following order, just in case anyone cares"
Yes we do care in our house. It's good preparation for the moment when we stop watching/listening and only read the blog, as is the case now with 'The Archers'.

"the lowest scoring finals dance since Matt Dawson's samba in series four."
Very impressive stat

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Rose Maria said...

Is getting drunk at school a bad thing?
Drunk bitch