Sunday, 28 December 2008

Two tribes going to war

Dancing on Ice at Christmas
Tx: 25th December 2008

It doesn't seem like eight months ago that we all cheered at the smug smile being wiped off Chris Fountain's face as Suzanne Shaw stepped up her game and trounced him in the Dancing on Ice final. The new series starts in a fortnight's time, and as a taster, we've got Team Torvill versus Team Dean in the Christmas special.

Phil does a scary VO - "the season of goodwill is OVAH!" he declares, which is the cue for much trash-talk from our contestants and team captains prior to the titles, which have been mashed up with We Wish You A Merry Christmas. And if that wasn't enough tweeness, the opening number is to Wizzard's I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, complete with saccharine-sweet child skaters. Ugh. It's a very hectic routine, with the pro skaters scooting about all over the place in two mobs, while Jayneandchris skate around the outside. Anyway, it's all very festive, and the audience are clapping along (drink!), and it finishes with pyrotechnics for no real reason that I can see as well as a Christmas-tree formation, so that's good.

Here are Phil and Holly, her bump hidden behind a hell of a lot of tinsel. Holly asks Phil if she can call him "Ivy" for one night only, which is reasonably funny. They explain the concept of Team Torvill versus Team Dean, because this is obviously a very tricky format to get one's head round.

And here are the teams! Team Dean's Duncan James and Maria Filippov; Team Torvill's Clare Buckfield and Pavel Aubrecht (what no Andrei? swizz); Kyran Bracken and Melanie Lambert; Zaraah Abrahams and Fred Palascak; Chris Fountain and Frankie Poultney; and Suzanne Shaw and Matt Evers.

So it's girls versus boys, and I think it is pretty clear whose side I am on, bearing in mind that Team Dean includes a) Chris Fountain and b) Christopher Dean. I seriously cannot think of a worse team captain; I would do a Buckfield and just weep all the bloody time.

Everyone is taking the COMPETITION very seriously. Chris Dean says that he wants to win. Shocker. Jayne says she wants to win; Suzanne is the reigning champion; Zaraah has "a presence"; Clare wants to get things right. Chris is adamant his boys will win, "no doubt about it"; Kyran is a past champion; Chris is a "jump master", except for when he falls over; and Duncan has passion. Losing is NOT AN OPTION. VT of the girls shopping, because that is what girls do. Presumably the boys are in a strip club or drinking beer or playing with gadgets at this point. And Chris finishes the VT by saying that beating Jayne is "a foregone conclusion". Nice talk, Dean. I truly think the police force missed out on a fine officer when you decided to concentrate on skating.

Back by the rink, Chris reviews his comments as perhaps a bit strong, but he is still confident. Jayne says it's the first time they've been against each other, "so to speak". Anyway, before we can see any skating, we must, of course, have an advertising break.

Oh, and meet the Ice Panel - Karen Barber, Nicky Slater, Jason Gardiner (booooooooo!), Ruthie Henshall, and Head Judge Robin Cousins, who is positively resplendent in a checked velvet jacket, bless his heart. Holly wishes them all a happy Christmas, and asks Robin if we can expect "mega-high scores". He says yes, if they are good. What a pointless interlude.

Duncan and Maria are first to skate. We get a quick VT of them in the 2007 series, and then some VT of them training, with Chris's hyperbolic waffle over the top. Duncan whines about Chris making the routine really tough, and then Team Dean go to the funfair. Wow, macho stuff. Duncan enthuses about being part of a team, which makes him feel like being back in Blue again, which is both hysterically funny and oddly touching.

They are skating to Last Christmas, at which point I begin to laugh uncontrollably and do not recover my composure until the end of the song. From what I can see through my tears, it seems like a standard Duncan/Maria routine - quite fun, nothing particularly wrong with it, but nothing particularly amazing either.

Gubba talks about a sash lift and a rotating cradle and an aeroplane spin, and then the marks come in - Karen 5.0, Nicky 5.0, Jason 5.0, Ruthie 5.0, and Robin 4.5, a total of 24.5. Duncan says he was really nervous and then says it looks amazing in the studio, "with the ice and everything". Maria thinks he is a better skater than he was last year. Phil mocks the pink streak in his hair. Holly talks to the judges - Jason admires the lovely partnership, points out a few hesitations, and says Duncan has the best arabesque line in the competition. (Spirals, surely?) Robin marked him down on the skating, which is fair enough, but he still gets booed.

Over to Team Torvill, and Clare. VT of her competing (complete with my Andrei); VT of her training for this with Pavel. Clare says she has a really hard routine ON ICE, and tries to narrate it, before getting utterly confused. They're doing a headbanger, and Clare's sister is not impressed. They're skating to Sleigh Ride, and Clare's dress is beautiful, all sparkly and turquoise. The backing track has been slaughtered to shit, by the way. Lots of nice lifts, and Clare does not die nor incur serious injury in the headbanger, so all is well.

Gubba calls her "Miss Congeniality, the girl with an infectious smile, certainly more welcome than flu". This is the quality of his commentary today, kids. Scores - 5.5, 5.5, 4.5, 5.0 and 5.5, for a total of 26.0. Clare pats Pavel affectionately, and Pavel is proud of Clare. Drink! Jayne says Clare won the gold at the Olympics. What? Karen says Clare has come very far in her skating; Jason loves watching Clare but there were moments when her head and neck tightened and her mouth looked like she was sucking an egg. Everyone looks puzzled.

Bizarre insert - a choir sing The Holly and The Ivy, surrounded by candles from the Brian Friedman memorial home for insane cliched staging, and a routine by JayneandChris. Whatever.

Back to the competition. Kyran and Mel, whom I love, are next. VT in which we are reminded of Jason's hairplugs. Kyran exclusively reveals that Chris is "a hard taskmaster". O rly? Mel fears doing an upside-down lift. Kyran is looking good, by the way. They are skating to Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree (the Kim Wilde/Mel Smith version), and Kyran's foray into pro skating is obvious; he's so much quicker across the ice and his transitions are mostly smooth. There's a weird bit where they both stop so Mel does a somersault up him; and another weird bit where they stop along with the song's false ending, mouth the words, and start up again. Scores: 5.5, 5.5, 5.0, 5.5, 5.5 for a total of 27.0.

Kyran witters about being nervous, Mel says she trusts him completely, and Chris says he does too sometimes, the ungracious git. Nicky calls him "superman on skates" and says more fluidity is needed. Ruthie disagrees with Nicky, which is good, admiring Kyran's grace and cuteness. I love that Ruthie has clearly given up rating the dancing and is just on the lookout for a nice arse or a well-defined chest.

Zaraah and Fred wave adorably at the camera. VT - they meet up again and are all excited. Bless. Jayne is pushing her girls - "You have no idea what we're doing, do you?" asks Fred. "Nah," replies Zaraah. Heh. There is much clunking to the ground. They are skating to Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas and are dressed in white and sparklees. Bless! I love watching Zaraah and Fred; they seem to have so much fun. Not like when Fred looked suicidal the entire time he was skating with Kay Burley. They do a magnificent lift, where Fred basically hoists her into the air just holding her blade. Scores - 5.0, 4.5, 4.5, 5.0, 5.0 for a total of 24.0.

Zaraah says she loves skating with Fred at Christmas to a routine that Jayne choreographed. Awww. Robin admires Zaraah's loveliness and leg-lines. Nobody else gets to talk.

Team Dean are on 51.5, Team Torvill on 50.0. But! Both teams have one more competitor to go!

But first Jayneandchris skate amidst much dry ice to Merry Xmas (War Is Over). Phil reminds us that Team Dean are ahead in the leaderboard, and introduces the final boy - Chris Fountain. VT of his ludicrous Cry Me A River, and fittingly there's a quote from Karen - "You don't know how good you are", possibly the least accurate thing she has ever said. Chris says not winning was the worst moment of his life. HAHAHAHA. I am quite glad I contributed towards it. He reckons he has a score to settle. Chris says the boys will win "cos I'm a lot more daring than some of the girls". He practises the axle and falls over a lot, and whines that he is not going to let a girl beat him twice.

He has more stupid glitter face make-up, by the way, which is reason enough for him to be punched hard. Frankie is wearing a negligee. They are skating to Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End). When they skate separately, their synchronicity is out, and he TOPPLES OVER, but as we know from last series, that is no reason to lose marks. He does the axle, loses his balance, and they finish on a blur spin. Scores - 6.0, 6.0, 5.0, 5.5, 5.5 for a total of 28.0.

Chris says he wants to be able to do the routine better and would like to match the steps better. Yeah, good plan. Frankie perpetuates the myth that Chris couldn't skate before doing the series. Nicky talks nonsense - "you could say the foot caught at the end of the axle, but it's Christmas, so it's a 6.0!" Jason smacks him down - "You've spoken rubbish, it's MY turn." He tells him the timing was off and it is a COMPETITION.

Finally, Suzanne and Matt, she in a Santa costume. VT of her wiping the floor with Chris in the final; VT of her singing Girls in rehearsal. It is not good. "No doubt Chris will do well, but he is not going to do as well as us," she says. And then crashes to the ground. Ha! Dean is spying on rehearsals and will not tell Jayne how he lifts her into the cartwheel. Jayne looks bewildered that he is taking it all so seriously. They are skating to Santa Baby, and Suzanne is doing some brilliant Acting. There is some lovely intricate footwork, and they end with many kisses, which is adorable. And even better than that, Suzanne has managed not to break any bones. Scores - straight 6.0s. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Team Torvill take the judges' vote! There is much squealing and a standing ovation from the other skaters. Chris sits down very promptly and has a right sulky face on. HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ruthie says Suzanne is sexy, cute, and fearless, but was not as good at playing Roxie as she was. (She may not have said that last bit.) Robin likes their partnership, and calls it the perfect way to finish.

Looking at the leaderboard, Team Torvill are on 80.0; Team Dean on 79.5. Now the studio audience must vote for the celebrity dance they liked the most, and while they press their keypads, we get a recap. Duncan and Maria loved being reunited. Clare and Pavel had a very busy routine and she was "weeeeeeeheeeeeeeeeee!" going into the headbanger. Kyran and Mel look really pissed off. Zaraah and Fred enjoyed it, and that is the most important thing. Chris wasn't happy with the axle but thinks he has done well for the team. Suzanne was pleased to beat Chris again. Heh.

Chris Dean says his boys would love to win but it has been a tough competition. Phil notes the increased humility in his words and laughs at him. Jayne is not counting her chickens. Phil touches his ear, and we all know what that means - the results! The votes have been counted, and the winners of the Christmas Special are TEAM TORVILL!

Marvellous. Well done, ladies (and Fred, Matt and Pavel)! There is much screeching and applause, and Jayne collects the trophy. I have literally never seen Jayne Torvill look so excited. The Chrises are on the sidelines looking thoroughly gutted. Holly and Phil thank everybody and bid us farewell, reminding us that the new series begins on Sunday 11th January.

Except that's NOT ALL. Because SHAKIN' STEVENS IS IN THE STUDIO, singing Merry Christmas Everyone! This is my favourite Christmas song EVER, mostly because it has a bloody amazing key change. The whole squads come back onto the ice - celebs first (Chris and Suzanne are skating together. He doesn't deliberately drop her, you'll be pleased to note), then the pros, and then everyone collects their rightful partner. The girls do a sort of conga round the rink while the boys look lost; and then the boys do the same, and then there is THE KEY CHANGE, and then the pros skate together while the celebs clap along and the judges do some rather dismal clap-step-arm swing dancing, and Shaky wishes us a merry Christmas and a happy New Year, and that was AWESOME.

Holly and Phil bellow, "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" and we're reminded once again that the new series starts soon. And we'll be back to bitch about this year's line-up, the costumes, the judges and any poetry that crops up randomly - so join us then!