Oh yes, bitches: it's prop week! You know what that means - tumbles aplenty and injury porn like we've never witnessed this series. I'm almost excited!
Phil and Holly enter the studio, and Holly's ta-tas appear to be well-covered, although her cleavage is formidable and her dress appears to have been refashioned from a cream-coloured carrier bag. Holly breaks the news that props week has been supersized this year, with each couple having to perform with two - count 'em, TWO - props [although nobody explains why - Georgi], and we also learn that both Suzanne and Gareth both almost had to leave the competition due to injury this week. Seriously, how do they even get insurance for this show?
Time for Jayne and Chris to show us how it should be done, of course, and they perform a routine to 'Sway', though I note a distinct lack of props thus far. It is a kickass routine, though, and it would've been spoilt a little by the inclusion of a chair or a little red suitcase, so I shall let them off. This time.
Jayne and Chris skate over to join Phil and Holly, and we get a VT explaining how the props will work. This year's props include a hula hoop, a broom, a chair, a hat, a cane, a table [Worst! Prop! Ever! - Georgi], a suitcase and an umbrella (ella ella eh eh eh). The props must be effortlessly weaved into the performance. This is illustrated by some water falling on Chris, for some reason. I don't know why, but it was kind of funny. [I suspect that bit was choreographed by Ms Torvill. - Carrie] Back in the studio, Chris says the props have taken on a life of their own (and in Gareth's case, probably have more personality than the contestants) and that some of the contestants have named their props. Phil points out that the names are not repeatable before the watershed on ITV1. Then there's a brief list of this week's injury porn, including the thoroughly underwhelming news that Gareth had a migraine this morning. Pussy.
The couples take to the ice: Suzanne and Matt, Zaraah and Fred (in leopardprint costumes!), Gareth and Maria, Chris and Frankie, and the apparently indestructible Greg and Kristina. Everybody waves, somewhat glibly. The judges all get introduced, and pretend to have props (Holly says that Jason's props are "thick skin and a taxi with the engine running", for example). Holly draws an amusing parallel between Robin the chair and the literal chair that serves as a prop. [I think that was the intention, but she fucked up the punctuation and ended up simply calling him a 'chair', much to everyone's bewilderment. - Carrie] [But at least she apologised to him afterwards. - Georgi] Robin says that the two props is an interesting twist, but the contestants must not forget about their most useful prop - their partner. The celebrity skaters no doubt bristle backstage at being referred to as props. Phil promises some XXX injury porn centring around Suzanne after the break.
Back from the ads, and we're kicking off with Suzanne. Suzanne's props are an umbrella and a chair. Suzanne tells us the chair is called Woody, and the umbrella is called Bella. Not Rihanna? [I did like Matt muttering, "Ella, ella, ella", though. It's a joke that never gets old! - Carrie] That's what I would've called it. In rehearsals, despite Matt's warning precisely against doing this, Suzanne flips her leg back during her lift and her blade hits him in the eye. Thankfully, Matt is not blind and can carry on. But that's not enough injury porn for one week - she has a nasty fall in rehearsals and chips some bone in her ankle, and her appearance on the show appears to be in jeopardy, except we know it isn't because we saw her skating earlier. Suzanne decides to carry on - hooray!
Suzanne is skating to 'Don't Rain On My Parade', and their incorporation of the props is decidedly skilful - it's all very smooth. There's a great lift where Suzanne sort of jumps onto Matt's back and immediately rolls over his head, which is awesome [although not the kind of move I would want to be doing with a bad ankle! - Georgi]. The super-dangerous lift that almost gouged Matt's eye out in rehearsals goes without a hitch this time, thankfully. Another great performance, but I'm kind of Team Suzanne at this stage, so I would say that. Scores: Karen 5.0, Nicky 5.5, Jason 4.5, Ruthie 4.5, Robin 4.5, for a total of 24.0. Matt tells Phil his eye is fine and tells us all that the real bravery here was Suzanne's. Suzanne explains that her injury means that you can still walk on the ankle, but if you move it a certain way it'll take you right out. Nicky tells Suzanne that she has the grace and poise of a film star [and a theatre star. Anyone would have thought she was a theatre star or something - Georgi] and is also ON ICE. Jason says that the use of the props was seamless, and he knows that she's nursing an injury, but it was more reserved than he would've liked. Phil points out the CHIPPED BONE IN HER ANKLE and the audience whoops.
Next up is Zaraah, skate-off survivor, who's hoping not to have a third trip to the bottom two. Zaraah says that they've practised really hard this week and she feels like they deserve to be here. Meanwhile, Fred is pretty. [Fred is all like, "Come on! Props! It is fun!" Hee! - Georgi] Zaraah's props are the cane and the hula hoop. Chris says that Zaraah has come back with a vengeance, and that Zaraah and Fred's relationship has been growing stronger; that he's never seen Fred so happy in a long time. I decline to comment on this. [I'll comment on it. It is doubtless because THAT BITCH KAY BURLEY made him miserable last series. - Carrie] [You mean THAT BITCH KAY BURLEY WHO SHOULD BE SACKED? - Georgi] Zaraah says that at the beginning a mystery hand throws the hula hoop out for her to catch on her wrist, and Fred jokes that if it goes wrong they can blame the mystery hand. I love Fred.
Zaraah and Fred are skating to 'That Don't Impress Me Much' which explains the leopardprint, I suppose. Zaraah catches the hoop with no problem, and there's an awesome lift where Zaraah sits inside it while hanging from Fred's neck. Again very skilled prop work going on here and Zaraah looks far, far happier than she did last week. At the end of the routine, Mystery Hand rolls the hoop back on and Zaraah manages to grab it, which I'm fairly certain I couldn't do even if I wasn't on ice. But then I'm spectacularly cack-handed. Scores: Karen 4.5, Nicky 5.0, Jason 5.0, Ruthie 5.0, Robin 5.0, for a total of 24.5, their highest score so far and a (probably temporary) spot at the top of the leaderboard. Zaraah recounts a few minor injuries and tells us that the hoop is Hilary and the cane is Candy. Phil reveals that Mystery Hand's name is Dan, which is presumably safe to reveal since it all went without a hitch. Robin says that Zaraah's performance was far better than last week, and that the focus on the props meant she wasn't thinking about her feet, and hence she skated more naturally. Holly points out that Karen gave the lowest score, which is completely unheard of, and Karen explains that it was because Zaraah was a little bit too much on her toes for Karen's liking [and also that she was MARKING RELATIVELY compared to Suzanne - Georgi].
On third are Gareth and Maria, who are still here despite most of us forgetting they exist. Gareth thinks he's got one of the hardest props - of course he does - because it's fiddly and hard to drop. Unlike Maria, I suppose. Gareth has the prop and the cane. Maria says it'll be challenging for her to deal with three props - the hat, the cane and Gareth. Gareth is comically outraged. Attempted injury porn as Sharon Morrison, the DoI physio, explains about Gareth's migraine, which meant he could not take part in rehearsals A very dishevelled-looking Gareth says he was worried he was out of the competition because of his migraine, and he doesn't have his usual strength because of it. [Interestingly, I do have some sympathy for him here. Did you notice the way his stutter started to re-emerge when he wasn't feeling well and couldn't concentrate? - Carrie]
Gareth and Maria are skating to 'Try A Little Tenderness'. There's some cute prop work going on where they chuck the cane to each other, and Gareth takes his hat off and flips it up, at which point he looks exactly like Ash Ketchum from Pokémon, with the spiky hair and the bright red cheeks. And then the routine is over, without a hitch, but again a little unexciting. Also, Gareth's cane is called Michael, har har. Scores: Karen 5.0, Nicky 5.0, Jason 5.0, Ruthie 5.0, Robin 5.5, for a total of 25.5, his highest score yet. And overmarked, as usual, but hey ho. Gareth talks a bit more about his migraine, and then says how much it means to him that his mum is there, and everyone claps for Gareth's mum, for some reason. Robin says he loved the routine, and it was a great combination of partner work, prop work and foot work. Ruthie says it was a wonderful performance, and says it is VERY HARD to work with a hat and a cane (NO SRSLY) [ON ICE - Carrie] and that Gareth's performance has come from here to here. I wasn't looking at where she gestured, but I assume she indicated a considerable distance of some kind.
Leaderboard: Gareth and Maria at the top, Zaraah and Fred in the middle, and Suzanne and Matt at the bottom.
Next are Chris and Frankie, and Chris is looking dapper in a silver tinfoil shirt and black waistcoat. Chris goes on a bit more about landing his axel from last week. In rehearsals, Chris comes out with the suitcase and Jayne laughs that he thought he just had the suitcase, while Chris (Dean) tells him to bring the table out too. Chris is all "WTF?", as though he thinks they leave red sparkly tables backstage for no apparent reason. Chris is planning a move where he slides under the table on the suitcase, which is a very similar move to one that lost Chris Dean his teeth a few years back, apparently. Chris goes back to his mum and nan in Bradford, and his mum washes his clothes. That's about it, really.
Chris and Frankie are skating to 'Stuck in the Middle with You', and I've got admit, he really does have a rum lot with the table, because "unwieldy" doesn't even begin to describe it. Their props work isn't perhaps as smooth as some of the other couples, but they've got larger, heavier, more cumbersome props, Gareth, which makes things quite taxing. [Hats and canes are so much easier to work seamlessly into a dance routine. - Georgi] Chris slides under the table with his teeth intact, and they finish atop the table, where they began. Scores Karen 5.5, Nicky 5.5, Jason 5.5, Ruthie 5.0, Robin 5.5 for a total of 27.0. Chris is glad to still have his teeth, and says he was overwhelmed by the props, but they bonded with "Terry and Stuart", and are really happy with how it turned out. Chris (Dean) says that Chris (Fountain) had his grumpy pants on on Monday, but learned to love it. Nicky says there's a lot of power in Chris's skating, but his use of the props was seamless. He says he'd like to see Chris and Frankie skating more closely together if they want a six. Ruthie says that she thinks they did fabulously with what they were given, and that they aeroplaned on a table beautifully. Phil makes an ouch-inducing joke about Chris's appearance in the final being "an open and shut case".
Back from the ads, and Phil says that Greg "could be top of the table tonight - but only because he's dancing with one." I'd argue that that's a little mean, but let's be realistic here - he's not wrong. Greg's props are the table and the broom. Jayne says that Greg's obsessed with jumping and wants to jump off the table. Jayne is not keen, to say the least. Kristina and Greg have a little fallout as Kristina tells Greg they're out of time with the music, and Greg isn't really listening, however much Kristina pleads in her little Kristen Chenoweth voice. Then Greg throws the broom into the air and it whacks him on the head coming down, but he takes it all in good spirit. [Ha, serves him right for daring to argue with Kristina! - Georgi]
Greg and Kristina are dancing to 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road', and the first part of the routine involves Greg sweeping around the table while Kristina sits on it. His leg lines are good, but the actual sweeping movement (of his leg, not the broom) is a little stilted. Greg manages not to concuss himself with the broom this time around, and then chucks it off to someone who may be Mystery Hand Dan. [He throws it to lovely Matt, I believe. - Carrie] Not a bad routine, all things considered. Scores: Karen 4.0, Nicky 4.5, Jason 4.0, Ruthie 4.0, Robin 4.0 for a total of 20.5, Greg's highest score. Greg is still upset that he couldn't jump off the table. Jayne says that the props had to put up with Greg rather than the other way around. Kristina says she's very proud of Greg. Over with the judges, Karen says Greg is never dull, and what he lacks in rhythm he makes up for with enthusiasm. The ever-charming Jason tells him for once he wasn't the most wooden one out there because he had a table and a broom, but adds that it was good fun and that Greg injected personality tonight. He doesn't think Greg's particularly skilled with the props, but it was Greg's best so far.
Leaderboard - Chris and Frankie atop, Gareth and Maria second, Zaraah and Fred third, Suzanne and Matt fourth, and Greg and Kristina fifth. Performance recap. Just re-read if you need a reminder, I'm not writing anything else. Join me later for the skate-off to see who'll make it through to the semi-final!
By the end of tonight's show,
Phil exhorts us to keep voting, despite the fact that the lines close in 18 seconds. As usual, I cannot be bothered, but I still reserve the right to complain when Zaraah's inevitably in the skate-off. Time to look back at tonight's performances: Nicky loved Suzanne's presentation, but Jason thought she wasn't as dynamic as usual. Backstage, Suzanne is pleased and says she had a great time on the ice tonight. Zaraah and Fred had very odd costumes, but a great performance that impressed Robin much. Backstage, Zaraah feels fantastic and is very pleased with the judges' comments, though is still feeling cautious as to the eventual outcome. Ruthie enabled Gareth by telling him it's SO HARD to work with a hat and cane, and Gareth agreed instantly because he never misses a chance to fucking whine about something, even though it's not like he had to HAUL A TABLE or CATCH A HULA HOOP THROWN BY A RANDOM. Shut up, Gareth. Backstage he is very excited about his undeserved high score. The fun and energy of Chris's performance impressed Nicky, but he wants to see Chris and Frankie dance together more [but next week, because, as he was forced to admit, he can't really complain about it this week, since they were trying to dance with a suitcase and a table, and therefore Nicky is really quite irrelevant - Georgi]. Chris is pleased that this routine got as high as his 'Cry Me a River' routine, but wants to get 27.5 so he can equal Suzanne's top score. Greg finally broke the 20 point barrier, and Karen thought he was very entertaining, and even Jason found nice things to say. Backstage, Greg says that being just a few points behind a fantastic skater like Suzanne is really great [/befuddling? - Georgi], and he's got his fingers crossed to make the semis.
Holly's with the judges, and Robin thinks that no one slipped this week - everyone was great with their props and their skating improved as a result. Holly asks Jason who did the best work with their props, and Jason singles out Zaraah for praise because she cleverly incorporated it into her routine. [Or! Chris and Jayne incorporated it into her routine. - Georgi]
Over to Phil and the results *touches ear*. In no particular order, the couples who are safe and skating in the semi-final are: Gareth and Maria and Chris and Frankie. We'll find out the third after the break, of course.
Welcome back! Only one more couple is definitely safe and through to the semi-final, the other two will have to go again in the skate-off. The other couple that's safe is...Suzanne and Matt. So poor Zaraah's in the skate-off again, but against Greg and Kristina, so she might yet survive to fight another week. Poor Zaraah, though. The audience were all yelling for her during the announcement of the results, but they obviously weren't voting.
Holly incorrectly says that this is Zaraah's second consecutive skate-off, and Jayne and Chris mention that Greg said he'd jump off the table if he was in the skate-off, but Chris advises him not to.
Zaraah and Fred take to the ice again, and oh noes! Dan the Mystery Hand fails to throw the hula hoop where Zaraah can catch it, but luckily Fred grabs it and hands it to her before anything else can go wrong. Is there nothing that man can't do? They get through the rest of the routine without incident, and it's another solid performance for the unfortunate twosome. Off the ice with Phil, Zaraah says that she did miss the hula this time, and is kind enough not to blame Dan, but just says that this time she grabbed it and wasn't letting it get away. Heh. Jayne and Chris congratulate Fred on a good save, and Fred gives props (no pun intended) to Zaraah for working so hard.
Greg and Kristina return, and it's like watching a game of curling without the ball, or whatever that thing's called. Greg does not jump off the table, and the Health and Safety people breathe a huge sigh of relief. It's as good as it was the first time, and the judges' vote could easily go either way at this point, I think. Phil thanks Greg for not "improvising", and Greg says he listened to Chris. Greg says that he got his best score tonight, but Zaraah was too good this week, and basically acts like he's going home, which is really sweet.
Time for the judges' votes: Karen says they both did their best, but for one it isn't enough: she saves Zaraah. Nicky is amazed by what he's about to say - he saw one routine which had mistakes, and saw another one which was relaxed and touched his soul, so he saves Greg. I think that routine touched him in the bad place. Jason says there was more content and more use of the prop in Zaraah's routine, and saves her. Ruthie says Greg is a gentleman and has made the competition a triumph of entertainment, but saves Zaraah. Robin's opinion is unnecessary, but says that even without the hoop, Zaraah's performance was still superior.
Time for Greg's best bits, appropriately enough set to 'Jump' by Van Halen. Jason calls him Herman Munster (and Greg says that Herman Munster is "well-loved", heh). Greg being James Bond. Greg and his amazing technicolour long-sleeved t-shirt. Greg falling on the one jump he was being judged on last week. Greg throwing a broom. Greg and Kristina laughing a lot. Awww. Y'know, I'm actually going to miss him.
Greg says that for his victory lap he's going to jump over Kristina. Phil is terrified, but not as much as Kristina should be [who crosses herself - Georgi]. But he pulls it off - hooray! Next week's the semi-final, with two performances from Leona Lewis. Given how everyone on this show keeps bleeding, keeps, keeps bleeding, she should have plenty to sing about. See you next week!