Sunday, 16 March 2008

The final: LIVE!

Evening all. Well, it's come round very quickly indeed, but tonight Chris and Frankie, Zaraah and Fred, and Suzanne and Matt will be skating ON ICE FOR OUR VOTES, and of course for the chance to perform the Bolero.

Plinky piano music, with a montage of our finalists. Dramatic swoopy noises. Phil VOs about their Journeys and so on. Clip of Aggie wailing; clip of Michael sobbing. Montage of our finalists BLOODY FLYING. That is NOT SKATING. STILL. Everyone wants to win. What Will Happen?

Titles!

Here are Phil (in a tux) and Holly (in a weird black sparkly dress, but her necklace is nice and her bosom is tremendous). Remember tonight our finalists are skating for our votes, and our votes alone. They will do their routine on strings, then their favourite routine from the series, then one couple will be knocked out, and the other two will do the Bolero.

To show them how it's done, here are Jayne and Chris, in their purple chiffony costumes, and here's Julian Lloyd Webber, of all people, to play the Bolero for them. There is lots of dry ice and some strange Christmas tree lights, so we can't really see the footwork, but you know what the routine looks like, even this watered-down version for the middle-aged. Chris looks like he's struggling to lift Jayne, though. Poor old git. Applause!

Jayne and Chris go over to join Phil and Holly, and they are reminded that it is nearly 25 years since they first danced ON ICE to the Bolero. Jayne and Chris pant a bit, so Holly throws to Gubba to tell us about this week's required element - bastard bloody flying. Phil says it is much harder than it looks; Chris agrees. Jayne has a big chunk taken out of her arm where the wire caught her in rehearsal. Holly is excited because Jayne and Chris will be skating for us again later.

Our skating stars are welcomed to the ice - Zaraah and Fred; Chris and Frankie; Suzanne (who pulls a face and waves frantically, presumably to her son?) and Matt. They wave. Holly clasps her hands together in glee.

Fuck all has happened so far, so that means it's time for a break.

We're back with Phil and the trophy (not La Willoughby, she's obviously been seconded over to look after the Ice Panel). Phil reminds us that it's our votes alone that count tonight, but the judges will be here to help us decide. HAHAHA yeah right. Anyway, here they are - Karen, Nicky, Jason, HRH Ruthie and Head Judge Robin Cousins. [I thought it was very odd that Nicky's intro was basically a run-down of all the reasons why he loves Chris Fountain. I was all set to get all "ZOMG TEH CHOSEN WUN!" about it. - Steve] I really, really want Ruthie and Robin to sing a duet tonight. Holly witters a bit. Robin says it is an exciting night and everyone must leave their nerves behind.

Phil tells us AGAIN that it's all down to our votes. He introduces "this year's queen of the skate-off", Zaraah. Rehearsal footage of her whooping as she flies, then groaning when the harness exacerbates that old rib injury from a few weeks back. Jayne says that she always gets lots of bruises when she wears the harness, but she straps herself in anyway because she is delighted to get the chance to rehearse with lovely Fred while Zaraah is out of action. Heh.

Zaraah and Fred are performing to One Day I'll Fly Away. AHAHAHA, do you see what they did there? Fuck, they have a bubble machine and everything! Srsly, kids, I don't see the point of this - the celebrities don't do any skating at all, and we already know the pro skaters can skate. I mean, in series 1 I assumed they'd brought it in so that Langford had chance to look good for a bit, but it's two years on and they've still not seen sense. [I wondered if they were thinking of renaming the final episode 'Dancing Above Ice'. - Steve] Gubba admires the routine, anyway. He says that she has been so close to extinction so many times that David Attenborough is filming her performance. Scores: Karen 5.5, Nicky 5.0, Jason 5.0, Ruthie 5.0, Robin 5.5, for a total of 26. They are pleased. Zaraah says it was painful, but great because there were fireworks and bubbles, which is fair enough. We see the huge amount of strapping on Zaraah's back. Robin says that he loved the eye connection between the pair and the "exquisite" arms. Jason congratulates Zaraah for making it to the final, and is applauded by the audience, possibly for the first time ever.

Next up is Chris, who will doubtless tell us how difficult it is being as great as him. He is very excited about flying. He is not very graceful. Karen and Chris D laugh at him. Also, he is at a disadvantage because Frankie's six-stone weight cannot haul his 14-stone bulk around the rink. Get her to eat some pies, then. [If they took some of Chris's pies, specifically, and gave them to Frankie, that would solve everyone's problem. - Steve] They're performing to Fly Me To The Moon. OH TEH PUNZ! I CANNOT COPE! Blah blah, flying, slow-motion running. [He's surprisingly graceless in the air, though. It was really noticeable coming after Zaraah, who was very deft. - Steve] To be fair, Chris is also doing some skating. Gubba admires him. Scores: Karen 5.5, Nicky 5.5, Jason 4.5, Ruthie 4.5 and Robin 5.5 for a total of 25.5. Chris laughs a lot about nearly getting stuck upside down. Frankie giggles too. Nicky says that he looks at the performance AND the skating, and is impressed by Chris leading the routine because Frankie is too little to take control. Ruthie says the transitions were clumsy. She has really nice eye make-up - gold sparkly eyeshadow and her trademark black liner and mascara.

Finally, our skating Barbie and Ken. They are happy to be in the final. Suzanne skates into the rink to see Jayne in her harness and shrieks, "YOU'RE LEVITATING!" Hee. [I wonder if she said the same thing to Linda? - Steve] Once she gives it a go herself, she realises she gets motion sickness, so she's not going to eat before the performance for fear of projectile vomiting. Suzanne and Matt are performing to Time To Say Goodbye, which does not have the word "fly" in the title, but "goodbye" does rhyme with it, so perhaps that's where they were going. [I, in my rabid conspiracy theorising, assumed this was the show's subtle way of convincing us to vote Suzanne out to leave the road clear for TEH CHOSEN WUN Chris Fountain. I don't like it when I get all grassy knoll-ish about Dancing on Ice, of all programmes. It's undignified. - Steve] Suzanne looks a bit ill at the end, but there is no sign of vomit. Scores - Karen 6.0, Nicky 6.0, Jason 6.0, Ruthie 6.0 and Robin 6.0 for a straight 30.0 FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. Matt looks a bit shellshocked, and Suzanne looks a bit less green now. Corey goes mad in the audience. Jayne does sobbing, as does Holly, who decides to ask Karen for her opinion. Yeah, that's a good idea. Obviously she's in floods. Jason says it was spectacular.

But anyway it doesn't matter what the judges think, because it is UP TO US. If you want to vote for Zaraah and Fred, the number is 09016 161001; Team Fountain is 09016 161002; and Barbie and Ken are on 09016 161003.

Break!

We're back, and Phil welcomes us. The excitement is apparently unbelievable. What actually IS unbelievable is the AMOUNT OF TIMES HE KEEPS TELLING US THAT IT'S ONLY OUR VOTES THAT COUNT.

Time for our finalists to skate their favourite routines. Zaraah is first again. She says her relationship with Fred is fantastic, because he makes her work hard but they also have "super-fun". Her favourite routine of the series was Diamonds and Pearls, though I suspect it was just her favourite costume. She says that DoI has been the most challenging experience of her entire life, and she is proud to have got through four skate-offs. She wants to succeed for everyone who has been supporting her. Aw. Anyway, here they come, covered in their crystals, and Fred's nipples are proudly on display. Halfway through the routine, Gubba's commentary cuts in, which is a little confusing. Scores - Karen 5.5, Nicky 5.0, Jason 5.5, Ruthie 5.0 and Robin 5.5 for a total of 26.5. Zaraah is caught between laughter and tears. Jason is in a good mood tonight. He admires the partnership again. Robin agrees with him, and also admires the quality of the skating.

Incidentally, you have no idea how much I want a Zaraah/Suzanne Bolero skate-off. I would laugh and laugh.

When Chris signed up for Dancing on Ice, he didn't realise how difficult it was going to be because SKATING IS SO HARD and he is SO BUSY. He loves Frankie. They have a connection. His favourite routine was Cry Me A River, particularly the wanky spin he did. He reminds us that he landed an axle, and they got 6.0s last week, and he is proud to call himself an ice dancer (because now he can DANCE ON ICE). ZOMG, I forgot how fucking funny this routine is, with Chris's Urban Acting at the start. I tell you something, though, it's not as good as the first time they did it, particularly Chris's blur spin - and as I type that, Chris proves my point by toppling over at the end. Scores: Karen 6.0, Nicky 5.5, Jason 5.5, Ruthie 6.0 and Robin 6.0, for a total of 29.0, which is absolute bollocks. Karen enjoyed the routine and says that Chris is one of the best things that has ever happened to Dancing on Ice, because he can't put a foot wrong. Except for when he fell over at the end. Nicky gibbers about DANCING ON ICE and that Chris fell over, so it wasn't a 6.0. Ruthie says it was an End Position, so the fall didn't matter. Srsly, what? [He is TEH CHOSEN WUN. Even when he falls, it's art! - Steve]

Suzanne has had an eventful series. She says it has been one of the best experiences of her life, and she now has a special friend. Aw. She claims to have enjoyed every second on the ice with him. I suspect she doesn't mean the second when he split her head open with his blade, but maybe she doesn't remember that. [But she almost gouged his eye out the other week, so they're probably quits now. - Steve] She likes wearing the costumes because it makes her feel like a doll. She wants to win FOR HER SON. Aw again. Suzanne and Matt are dancing to Music, which is an ace routine. And they've changed the end headbanger so she does a little twist while she's being rotated! Fuck. That was incredible. Scores: STRAIGHT 6.0s AGAIN! COME ON, TEAM SUZANNE! [Seriously. She picked a fine time to totally up her game, didn't she? - Steve] Corey is crying in the audience! Suzanne is crying too. Phil attempts to interview her, then gives up and talks to Jayne and Chris instead. Jayne says she has never seen anyone do that twist in the headbanger before, and suggests that she should enter the Olympics. All the Ice Panel are crying. Robin talks about Suzanne's Journey. He mentions that tricks aren't allowed in the Olympics, but he has only ever seen one other pair team do that twisting headbanger before. Jason says more nice things. Suzanne is all big-eyed at Matt, who seems a bit subdued tonight. What's THAT ABOUT?

Break!

Welcome back. The phone lines are about to close, kids, and one couple will be OUT and hanging up their skates FOR GOOD. Whoooooooooo! Phil will have the results in his earpiece shortly, but first of all we get Torvill and Dean skating again, this time minus dry ice, so we can actually see their feet, which is nice. Then we get a montage of Jayne and Chris's best moments of the series. For goodness sake, they're TORVILL and freakin' DEAN - they've had HOURS of best moments of the series - it's their job. Although I'd probably argue that their boybandy routine with Westlife wasn't one of them.

Phil is about to announce the two finalists who will be skating off for the trophy. All three couples are dressed and ready for the Bolero. [I can just picture Zaraah getting changed for that, going "but what's the fucking point?" - Steve] The first couple to skate will be - Suzanne and Matt! YAY! Fuck, her Bolero dress is horrid. The second couple - Chris and Frankie. Shocker. No bugger has voted for Zaraah all series (except Steve tonight, obviously) [I'm going to make a "I voted for Zaraah" t-shirt. - Steve]. Zaraah puts a brave face on it, but cries anyway. Montage of Zaraah and Fred's highlights. Holly wanders on to look like she is important, and yet AGAIN her dress is too long for her. Zaraah does her thank-yous.

Here we go, then - the phone lines are open again. Now, all previous votes are removed, and we're starting again from scratch. 09016 161002 for Team Fountain; 09016 161003 for Suzanne.

Break!

Phil welcomes us back again, standing in front of Suzanne's brother who is waving a big banner that says 'GO 4 IT SIS!' Phil then plugs the DoI tour. I quite want to see some of the pro skaters again (*cough* my Andrei *cough*), but am not really bothered about the celebs, to be honest. Also, as Nicky revealed in his ridiculous blog, the judging is a total farce.

Chris and Frankie are first to do their Bolero. He says they will never be as good as Jayne and Chris. Really? Are you sure you are not THAT BRILLIANT that you can manage it anyway? Choreography is not his strong point. Frankie just skates round him and shouts instructions as he looks bewildered. Phil VOs that Chris is finding it difficult. Chris VTs that the original routine is technically very challenging. No shit, Sherlock - a gold-medal, straight-6.0-winning performance is technically difficult?

They begin. Goodness, that tight satin shirt isn't doing him any favours, is it? Once they're skating, all is well, but the first section, on the knees, is very lumpy. Also, I am entertained by Chris sticking his tongue out with concentration just as they go into the drape lift. Gubba says it was "brilliant" and "a haunting interpretation". Chris says that he connected with Frankie in that routine, and he doesn't care what anyone else says. Chris D says that is true and he has finally given 100% because he is worn out. Robin says it was almost too intense. Ooh, ouch. Jason disagrees with Robin and says that the routine should have that passion, and agrees that they finally connected. Chris says he was trying to impersonate Chris D. AHAHAHA.

We see Suzanne in rehearsals being excited about doing the Bolero. She says it is intimidating having to perform it in front of Torvill and Dean. I am amused by them wearing purple chiffon wristbands. They want to do a move called the Snakecharmer in their routine. It is difficult. Oh, OK then. Anyway, Suzanne's dress has an odd puffball netting effect, but I very much covet her sequinned fishnet tights. The Snakecharmer is there, present and correct; the camerawork in this routine sucks. The dance is a bit tricksy, as you'd expect. Suzanne starts to cry and says nice things to Matt, who has his chest out - had not noticed that before. Nicky does his bit where he asks rhetorical questions and then answers them himself in words of one syllable. He tells her she is his champion. Suzanne and Matt cuddle; he cradles her head. Aw.

While the finalists get their breath back, we get the rest of this series' celebs back on ice - Greeno and Fred skating to Downtown, with a really, really good lift. Greeno was robbed; Natalie and my Andrei, skating to About You Now; Michael with his leg in plaster being pushed around on a chair by poor Mel to Walking on Sunshine; Aggie, dressed as a flamingo, molesting poor Sergey to I'm A Woman; Tim and Victoria doing their Grease thang; Steve and Susie skating to Mony Mony; Linda and Dan being cheerleaders; Greg leaping around the ice and throwing Kristina around to the strains of She's So Lovely; and Gareth and Maria, who looks too thin. Where the fuck is that lunatic Mumba and lovely Pavel? Perhaps she is too busy being a Film Star. [Whatever the reason, I'm sure Pavel's scrotum breathed a huge sign of relief. - Steve] Holly grabs Phil's hand and exclaims, "Greg Rusedski TERRIFIES ME!"

The phone lines are about to close, and apparently we are going to gloss over the fact that Mumba and Pavel aren't there - in fact, we're not even going to mention it.

THE LINES ARE NOW CLOSED. DO NOT VOTE. They're going to count the votes - and in the meantime, go to a break.

Here we go, bitches, it's crunch time. Phil welcomes us back for the final time. Chris feels sick, as do I watching him stroke Frankie's arm. We get a montage of his highlights, including the axel, and Frankie does her fist-pump in real time. Heh. Suzanne and Matt have a glow about them, and they look a bit like a superannuated Prom King and Queen. AHAHAHA Matt says that Suzanne is his best partner from all three series, "not wanting to discredit Bonnie or Lisa, but our partnership is a friendship." We see their introduction, as Jayne asks Suzanne, "Do you want to meet a nice handsome young man?" Hee.

Phil marches purposefully down the red carpet, all the better to get the results through his earpiece.

Our 2008 Dancing on Ice champions - Suzanne and Matt!

HOORAY! [YAY! - Steve]

She doesn't seem to have realised that she's won the entire competition - it takes a couple of seconds for it to sink in and then she starts to shriek. Chris and Frankie pretend they don't mind. Matt bows to Suzanne. And then that's it.

Srsly? That's it?

Yes, indeed, that's it. The credits roll, and they plug the new Dancing on Ice DVD through a credit-squeeze. We see Suzanne skating over to the audience to hug her son, and we're into the ads.

Well, it was a somewhat anti-climactic end, but I think that's a fair result, both on balance over the series and, particularly, on this evening's performances. Congratulations to Suzanne and to Matt, commiserations to Zaraah and Fred, and Chris and Frankie. That's your lot for this series - but if you need more Bitching, don't forget we rip Torchwood and I'd Do Anything to shreds on a weekly basis, and The Apprentice is next in line for our very special homage later this month. Bye!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Gareth Skates (off)

Last week on Dancing on Ice! Our skating celebrities battled with props, and Greg Rusedski finally got voted out. This week! It's the semi-final! Who wants it the most? Who will risk everything? There can be only three...let's go! Titles!

Here are Phil and Holly, and my goodness, the Willoughby looks gorgeous tonight. She's wearing a strapless corseted scarlet dress, with crystals over the bodice. Phil reminds us of our semi-finalists - Gareth, Suzanne, Zaraah and Chris - but before we can see them skate, we have to sit through Leona Lewis performing a tedious song in over-sung fashion. [Please, someone make it stop! - Georgi] On the plus side, Jayne and Chris are skating round them, but not even they can save this.

Tonight's required element is a solo spot. But! They must skate out from the tunnel by themselves, then perform the first 20 seconds of the routine without their partner. Goodness. Can you imagine if Linda had got this far? [Hee. That was exactly my reaction, too. - Steve] Or if they'd had this required element in the first series, Langford? Jayne and Chris reiterate how tricky it is to work without your partner, and that the four semi-finalists would all be worthy finalists. Blah blah blah. So much filler.

We finally get to see our skating stars - Gareth (what IS he wearing?) and Maria; Suzanne and lovely Matt; Zaraah and lovely Fred; and Chris and Frankie. They wave. Phil explains the voting system. We meet the Ice Panel - Karen "the weeper" Barber, Nicky ON ICE Slater (incidentally, kids, you have to read his blog. It's a work of true eccentric genius), Jason booooo Gardiner, her royal highness Ruthie Henshall, and Head Judge [King - Georgi] Robin Cousins. We then cut to a VT where the judges talk about what is needed to reach the final, cut with archive footage from the series, and talking heads from the contestants about how much they want to win. Do we really need to know this? Or indeed care?

You know what's going to happen now, don't you?

Break!

First on to the ice, Gareth and Maria. Last week, they danced [ON ICE - Georgi] with a hat and cane, which as we know is VERY DIFFICULT. This week, they are dancing to Livin' On A Prayer, which is Gareth's favouritest song in the whole world ever. In rehearsal, he keeps growling at Maria. He complains about having to skate by himself, because he will be nervous, and he needs Maria to calm him down and "give [him] the right mindset". He claims that this week will be "do or die". [If only... - Georgi]

Anyway, he skates out of the tunnel by himself - but srsly, what the fuck is he wearing? It's a flesh-coloured vest, with silver-sequinned stripes, which do at least cover his nipples this week. [I was watching the show with four other people, and it took all of us a very long time indeed to figure out that he wasn't actually wearing a boob tube. - Steve] The routine is OK but they are really awkward in their lifts, none of which are even particularly spectacular. Also, once again the track they are skating to is butchered to bits. Gubba tantalises us by telling us that Gareth likes to sing Bon Jovi in the shower - "just imagine that, ladies!" I'd rather not, thanks. Scores - Karen 5.0, Nicky 5.5, Jason 4.5, Ruthie 5.0, Robin 4.5, for a total of 24.5. FUCK'S SAKE, Slater. Anyone else think Nicky is starting off with 5.5s so that he can mark relatively through the rest of the evening and give a 6.0 and look all generous should anyone be better? Gareth claims to have rocked out during the routine. [When? - Georgi] Nicky praises the amount of content. Jason is booed, but carries on regardless, informing Gareth that the routine seemed to get away from him and his arms were not good. He keeps talking about a "sem-eye final".

We are invited to enter a competition to be in the audience next weekend. The answer is Greg, but I'm buggered if I'm going to pay £1.20 to text that in. [You could've done it for free on the website, though. - Frugal Steve]

Break!

Phil welcomes us back to the drama and excitement of Dancing on Ice. Suzanne has the highest score of the series so far, but due to a bloody broken ankle she didn't do so well last week. Cut to our skating Barbie and Ken backstage - Matt kisses Suzanne's hands, and she kisses his forehead. Aw, they are so cute. Rehearsal footage - Suzanne screaming in agony because HER ANKLE IS BROKEN. She is frightened of taking a bow by herself. Really, she should be more frightened of the float spin, which is a bit like the headbanger, and she has to take off on her bad ankle. [Probably better than taking off on her good ankle but being held by her bad ankle though, eh? - Georgi]

Suzanne skates on with no mishaps. She is dressed as a flame, because they are skating to Eternal Flame. Do you see? Do you? DO YOU? Clearly Brian Friedman has taken over the costume department also. This is a lovely routine - all lyrical and romantic and beautiful, and technically very good, with the float spin looking excellent. I love watching them, they make a lovely couple, and I want them to get married and have lots of little babies and take them skating on ponds, possibly in New York. Gubba says that Suzanne's initials "almost spell SAS. Who dares wins!" The scores are straight 5.5s across the board, for a total of 27.5. Suzanne is squealing and incoherent. She does say, "This has been the best job ever!" Glad to see she's thinking of the cash - good girl. Matt is proud of her. Drink! Chris reveals that Suzanne forgot the routine at the start and completely improvised it. Haha. Robin praises Suzanne's talent for skating ON ICE and her technique. Ruthie praises Suzanne's performance, and Suzanne looks happy, because she is, as we know, a Ruthie Henshall fan girl. Suzanne and Matt smooch a bit. Team Shaw!

Last week, Zaraah was in the skate-off again, because nobody votes for her. Rehearsal - Chris: "Do you know what this week's required element is?" Zaraah: "Awww, I thought it was just fun, semi-final FUN." She falls over a lot. They have a difficult routine, and Zaraah nearly castrated Fred this week. She does, however, look really embarrassed and sorry about it, which is more than Mumba did when she almost put paid to Pavel's chances of becoming a father.

Aw, Zaraah looks lovely in her pink dress with silver sparkles and trim. They are skating to One, and she does her solo spot in fine style. Fred sneaks up on her and lifts her as they go into the pairs routine, with some really impressive lifting, and she's even getting quite speedy across the rink. They end with an inverted swan spin, apparently, but regardless of Gubba's neologisms, it was spectacular. [Not to be spoilerific about this, but I think that ending's what got her through this week - it really was breathtaking to watch, and the way she kind of hopped out of it and landed back on her feet really showed just how far she's come since she started in the competition. - Steve] Scores - 5.5 from everyone, except a 5.0 from Karen, of all people, for a total of 27.0. Zaraah squawks. Jayne and Chris do praising. Jason declares that "a sem-eye final peformance" and raves about her arm lines.

Finally, Chris and Frankie. He talks about how lovely it is getting 5.5s and HOW DIFFICULT IT IS BEING AS GREAT AS HIM. He would like to get a 6.0, please. Thus, they are chucking in a couple of huge lifts (with Frankie shouting, "That's IT, Fountain!" when he finally manages it in rehearsal). They are skating to Livin' La Vida Loca, so obviously Frankie takes him to a salsa club. Sigh.

Chris is all in black, with a shirt open to the bellybutton, displaying his hairy chest, which I suppose would be nice for a certain demographic. [It certainly beats Gareth's nipples. Ew, ew, ew. - Georgi] Anyway, he showboats it all round the ice, and it all goes properly salsa when Frankie joins in. If there was any consistency in this show, Chris would get told off for letting his head drop in the dance steps, because he's concentrating on his feet, but this is going to get a 6.0 anyway, isn't it, Nicky, so it doesn't matter what I say. Scores: Karen 5.5, Nicky 6.0, Jason 5.5, Ruthie 6.0 and Robin 6.0, for a total of 29.0. Chris and Frankie hug, and he almost knocks her off her feet. Chris is pleased with those scores; Frankie tells him that "you were salsa out there tonight". Chris D does one of those stupid 'we're not worthy' waves. Holly is excited because there are three 6.0s on the scoreboard. Robin says it was a "great job" and he loved it. Jason says it wasn't flawless, and so the audience boo. Imbeciles. He says there is no question about his talent but there were a few glitches with the dancing. Chris and Frankie seem to think it's a fair criticism. Nicky witters on about them only having seven days to prepare their routines. [Jason: "Like everyone else." Ha ha, you tell him. - Georgi] Shut UP.

So there we go, our four couples fighting for three places in the final. Chris and Frankie are top of the pile, Gareth and Maria are at the bottom. Now it's time for us to have our say. Or in fact for us to sit on the sofa and not vote and then moan about it afterwards if people we like get voted off. A quick recap, and it's over and out for now.

The skate-off

Earlier tonight, blah blah blah THE SKATE-OFF! Whoop!

Phil welcomes us back; Holly beams at us benignly. The lines close, but of course we can't go directly to finding out the results. First we must listen to Leona Lewis sing again, and it's not even like there are skaters accompanying her this time round. [At least she had a band this time. I wonder if a grand piano would count as a prop? - Georgi] [I'm sure it wouldn't be as difficult as A HAT AND A CANE, though. - Steve]

Another recap, with the backstage comments - Gareth was wearing a boob tube, had fun on the ice, and wants to be in the final; Suzanne and Matt were adorable and technically gifted; Matt gazes affectionately at Suzanne while she speaks; Jason said Zaraah deserves to be in the final; Zaraah says Fred is the best partner EVAH; Chris was a showboating fiend and accepts that he wasn't perfect, but HE WILL BE NEXT WEEK COS HE IS JUST THAT AWESOME.

Robin says this is the strongest semi-final we've had so far; Jason says that the difference between a semi-finalist and a finalist is "a week". LULZ. Phil has the results...

...

...but we can't have them till after the break.

Break!

Back, and Phil has decided to stop tantalising us. The first couple through to the final...Chris and Frankie! Shocker. The second couple...Suzanne and Matt! Hooray! They kiss and look generally ecstatic. So it's a Zaraah/Gareth skate-off, which is probably fair, but Zaraah must be dead pissed off that she's skated so well and it's still not good enough. [I was secretly relieved hat it was a Zaraah/Gareth skate-off, because I knew she didn't really have a chance of getting through on the public vote, but at least she stood a fighting chance against Gareth with the judges. I was worried that it was going to be a Zaraah/Suzanne skate-off, in which case she would've been doomed. - Steve]

Anyway, we get the two routines again, and srsly, Gareth has to go - Zaraah is a much better skater and performer. We go to the Ice Panel for their verdict. Karen isn't quite sobbing yet, and she opts to save Zaraah. Nicky wibbles on about fighting, ice-dance, entertaining, and eventually saves Zaraah. Jason says that he wants a finalist, thus he saves Zaraah. Ruthie seems to be quite tearful, and saves Zaraah. Head Judge Robin Cousins makes it a clean sweep.

Hooray! Gareth does the usual thank-yous, claiming to love Maria "to bits". We see a compilation of his series highlights, mostly crashing to the ice in rehearsals. A lap of honour, and Gareth is out of the show.

Well, that was the right result, kids - we have a proper final next week. [When you say "proper final", I think you're ignoring the fact that they're going to be flying again, and therefore not really skating at all, thus making the whole final a farce. - Georgi] Will anyone ring in to vote for Zaraah? Can Suzanne go a week without breaking a bone? Will Chris attempt to dance Torvill and Dean's entire Bolero without amendments BECAUSE HE IS JUST THAT GREAT? Tune in next week to find out!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Mad props

Week 8: 2nd March 2008 (aka PROPS WEEK!!!!111!!!)

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!

The Skate-Off

By the end of tonight's show, Zaraah one of the contestants will hang up their skates for good! Just in case we weren't sure how it worked by this fairly late stage in the competition, of course.

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!