Sunday, 21 March 2010

Go, Westbrook

Top 4: 21st March 2010

Last week! It was props week, and I wasn't on recapping duty, which I was very upset about. It was a good week for Danniella, who hit the top of the leaderboard for the very first time, knocking Hayley down to second place. And Danny faced Kieron in the skate-off, with the former being sent home after the hat decided to strike out against weeks of tyranny from Frankie. We're now into the semi-final, and one skater must be sent home tonight. If we could make it Gary Lucy, that would be fab. Thanking you in advance.

Post-titles, we have Phil and Holly. Holly's boobs are looking magnificent again in a yellow dress with a glittery rim. I feel like I should be calling her Tinsel Tits. Because we've got a lot of time to fill tonight, we begin with a group routine where the celebs join Jayne and Chris to skate to 'As', accompanied by enough dry ice to completely cover Luxembourg. You will, I'm sure, be shocked to learn that Gary Lucy looks positively mortified to be involved in the entire thing. While it's nice to see the real skating stars of the show hitting the ice with the celebrities, I'm not really feeling this routine. It's a bit slow and laboured in places, especially where Jayne and Chris go off for individual spots with two celebs apiece. Still, I guess they have to fill the time somehow, and anything's better than more ad breaks, right?

Holly beckons Jayne and Chris over to the rinkside, and Chris talks proudly about how far they've all come. Jayne says they've all had to learn stuff for the final as well as their regular routines this week, so everyone has been very busy indeed.

It's time for a VT! Jason blathers on about how the competition is really starting now. A washed-out looking Gary Lucy talks about how no one wants to go out now. Karen calls Gary the strongest male skater. Nicky and Emma criticise him for not delivering performance-wise. Hayley is loving every minute. Karen knew that she was something special. Robin thinks she's the complete package. Nicky isn't sure that she can skate on her own. Kieron feels like he's earned his dark horse status by making it this far. Bunto thinks he's now a strong, confident man. [When she said this I couldn't help be reminded of Chandler's hypnotism tape: "You're a strong, confident woman, who does not need to smoke." - Carrie] Jason loves being proven wrong, although you wouldn't think it, and believes Kieron's in with a chance. Danniella can't believe she's in the semi-final, especially having gone from two skate-offs to the top of the leaderboard. Robin thinks she can command your attention, and believes she can bring out a performance that will get her to the final. The contestants all gaze moodily into the camera, and there endeth the VT. With almost ten minutes of content, that must make it time for an ad break!

When we arrive back, it's time to learn this week's required element: the solo spot, where the celebs must skate out of the tunnel alone and perform at least the first 20 seconds of the routine by themselves. Much is made of it being a huge test of nerve, but come on: Coleen Nolan got to this stage last year. It can't be that difficult. The ice panel are introduced, and are all looking very nice tonight. Even Jason's dressed like a sane human being for once. Robin explains that the required element is a chance for the celebrities to shine. Holly asks if Danniella's performance has thrown the competition wide open, and Robin non-answers that this is a new week, and if the contestants come out and dance like finalists, they will be finalists. Although one of them still has to go home.

First up this week are Hayley and Dan, and we're reminded that they've been top of the leaderboard every week in which they've performed, until last weekend, when they were a whole ONE POINT behind Hayley. Hayley is forced to say that she isn't jealous of Danniella, lest we all think she's a scheming Tonya Harding type. Chris says that she now has a point to prove, and it turns out that they've invented a lift of their own this week to impress the panel. It involves Hayley sticking her blade between his legs, and Dan admits that one rehearsal did leave her heel touching his "undercarriage". Ooer. Hayley's also had an old injury flare-up, but she's determined not to let it get in the way. "Can't breathe, can't move, broken arms, but apart from that, I'm happy," she grins.

Hayley enters solo like a pro, looking very graceful. Her routine is to 'In My Life', and her solo skate is rather lovely - very controlled and very dramatic, and she makes it until Daniel's arrival without any mishaps. It's meant to be a bit of a love story, this one, and their natural chemistry stands them in good stead. The risky lift goes without a mishap (although Daniel seems to be gritting his teeth a little bit - who could blame him?) and there's a nice mix of showy lifts and technical skating. Very nice indeed. Hayley looks very relieved when it's all over. Gubba calls her "Hayley's comet" but says that she's around every week rather than every 75 years. Heh. Scores: Karen 5.5, Nicky 5.0, Jason 5.5, Emma 5.5, Robin 6.0 for a total of 27.5. Hayley's thrilled by her score from Robin. Hayley tells Phil that the solo skate is petrifying, but it was a challenge, and that's why she's there, and she loved it. Dan confirms that his tackle is still in good working order: "It's nothing that a bit of witch hazel wouldn't sort out." Snerk. Jayne thought Hayley coped beautifully on her own, and when Dan came in, it got even better.

Holly's with the judges. Robin says that he loved her practice earlier, but tonight's was even smoother, and he liked that there was no difference in the quality of her skating whether she was on her own or with Dan. Nicky congratulates Hayley for being poised and precise, but criticises her for being SLOW OVER THE ICE. It's a slow song, Nicky. What is she supposed to do? He says she is a DANCER ON ICE, but not a SKATER ON ICE. [Seriously, we could just get a tape recording of someone droning on and alternating the words "ON ICE", "DANCING ON ICE", "SKATING ON ICE" and "SLOW OVER THE ICE" in place of Nicky, and I guarantee it would have a sharper critical faculty. - Carrie] [I vote we just replace Nicky with a speed camera and have done with it. - Steve] Jason says that he wasn't even worried about her being on her own, and that they moved so beautifully together, it was sublime. However, he would've liked a little more release in the back drapes, which is presumably what kept her from a 6.0.

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On our return, Phil's in the audience with two new judges for the tour: Kyran Bracken, and BIGGINS. Kyran says he's nervous for everyone, and they all deserve to be in the final. BIGGINS thinks his judging style will be a mix of Jason and Robin, although he's not sure which way around.

Phil introduces Gary Lucy as "the macho star from The Bill". Dude, he was in Footballers' Wives. He really can't sell himself as being "macho", believe me. Gary complains about the indignity of having two props last week, but he survived. Chris says that Gary got good marks, but because the rest of the competition is so strong, he was bottom of the leaderboard. Gary is happy that the public liked him enough to keep him in. Gary is concerned at having to be on his own for 30 seconds (I could've sworn they said 20 earlier, but Chris is saying 30 now). It seems to be going okay for him in rehearsals. Jayne pretends that Gary has had a JOURNEY since the beginning when he was too embarrassed to dance to music. Who the hell does she think she's kidding? We all saw the look on his face during the opening routine, lady. Gary reminds us all that he is NOT A DANCER, and then we're into his arrival onto the ice.

He does a kind of jump spin that looks sort of like a trip, but I assume it was on purpose. He's dancing to 'You And Me Song' in a pink vest and still looking horribly uncomfortable, although you'd think that being asked to basically hug himself for choreography would be something he'd quite enjoy. Still, he is reasonably fast OVER THE ICE, because he has an uptempo song, which I'm sure will impress Nicky. There are lots of lifts and jumps which are all very strong. Gubba lies that Gary has "really loosened up" and mentions that Gary was a young footballer, because he is dead macho and that. Scores: Karen 4.5, Nicky 5.5 (I am WARNING YOU, Slater), Jason 4.5, Emma 5.0, Robin 5.0 for a total of 24.5, his personal best. Oh well, there go my hopes of getting rid of him this week. Gary is relieved not to have tripped or dropped Maria or knocked over a cameraman. He doesn't know why he decided to put a jump in. Chris thinks he did really well, and continues this fallacious journey that Gary is supposed to have had where he doesn't look uncomfortable on the ice any more. I call shenanigans. Emma says that his solo was strong and he's a strong partner, but he does still look self-conscious sometimes. Karen can't fault his skating ability, but he's on his toes a little bit and some of his lines were a little off. Jason says that Gary is like skating valium to him - he's still waiting for a performance, but there's no dynamism or thrill in his presentation. The audience boos, but Jason is not wrong. Jason finishes by saying there was more energy and vitality in his VT than there was on the ice there. [And there's a little pause there where the audience aren't sure whether to boo or not. HA. Idiots. - Carrie] Phil tells us to vote for Gary if we want to see "Lucy in the sky with sequins" next week. DO NOT WANT.

Competition. More ads.

Who's next? Danniella. In her VT, she says she felt convinced she was in for her third skate-off, so she was determined to go out and do it as best she could - and as a result, she ended up on top of the leaderboard. "It's the first time anyone else has been top of the leaderboard all series," she says, happily. However, she's less happy about skating solo, and tells Matt she only likes skating with him. Aww. She says it's going to be very odd without him being there, and skating out solo will be really scary. Matt promises he will be cheering on from backstage, and Danniella says she hopes to put her nerves to one side.

She has a very slight wobble before she exits the tunnel and is slower ONTO THE ICE than her predecessors, but otherwise Danniella makes it out. She's skating to 'When Love Takes Over', and her solo spot is a little slow, but it's quite measured and precise, which is admirable. She does look very grateful when Matthew arrives, though. The song kicks up its tempo a bit and they do a bit of dancing on the spot, including a jump, and then head out around the ice for a bit of showmanship, including some very fancy lifts. I have to say, Danniella's really improved her dismounts over the past couple of weeks. Scores: Karen 5.0, Nicky 4.0, Jason 4.5, Emma 5.0, Robin 4.5 for a total of 23.0. Seriously, I am beginning to think that all you need to do to impress Nicky is fire yourself out of a cannon and shoot across the ice at Mach 2. Danniella says that she's very proud of herself for making it through, because she's not a natural skater. Chris says he didn't see the nerves, and he thinks she's given consistently fantastic performances across the series. Nicky says that her presentation was super, and she had energy in the dance movement, but it's static, and her skating skills are tentative compared to some of the others. This next bit's amazing: Karen turns to Nicky and says in a voice dripping with disdain: "Did you give that a 4.0? I can't believe it." I start doodling "Mr Karen Barber" all over my notebook. Nicky tries to explain himself by pointing out that he gave Hayley a 5.0, and Karen is so not even interested in his reasoning. HEE! She tells Danniella that the skating skills are there, and that the solo section was very good, and they must be watching something very different. Bunto chips in, saying that Danniella's performances give her tingles - her spiral was a bit unsteady, but her performances are great. I guess we'll be seeing Danniella in the skate-off again tonight, then?

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When we're back, Phil promises that they'll have everyone flying next week, "unlike British Airways". Chortle. Kieron recalls last week, where he gave a great routine but had the double blow of being in the skate-off and seeing Danny go. Kieron's amazed that he got this far, and said that even his mum didn't think he would. Heh. One of their moves from this week is a one-handed death spiral, which is incredibly lame to watch despite its supremely ominous name. Chris cautions that there is a lot of room for error here (I think "potential for error" is really the phrase he was looking for) and that any mistake could jeopardise Kieron's chances. Kieron skates out solo with some lovely arm movements and hair that looks like he was having sex in a park before arriving to do the show.

He's skating to 'Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)' by Green Day. His solo spot is rather nice, with some floor gymnastics and lots of dramatic arm-waving, and then Brianne arrives and they proceed to the lifts, some of which are more successful than others - there's definitely one where she's rather wobbly on his shoulders because they seem to have their weight distribution not quite right. It's definitely testament to how far he's come, mind. The misleadingly-titled death spiral goes without a hitch. Gubba says something about him originally looking "more malnourished than olive oil", or possibly Olive Oyl, which would make a bit more sense. Scores: Karen 5.0, Nicky 4.5, Jason 4.0, Emma 5.0, Robin 4.5 for a total of 23.0. Kieron says that the others were a tough act to follow, and he's amazed just to get 23.0. Phil points out that Kieron keeps writing himself off, and Kieron says that he never ever thought he'd get this far. He thanks Brianne for letting him do the death spiral, and says that he quite liked skating on his own, before adding, "sorry, Brianne". Bless. Chris says that he's impressed with how much Kieron's developed, and trots the dark horse out again. Jason thought the performance of the solo spot was rather ugly, because he was doubled over. He thinks Kieron skates well, but his arm movements and presentation let him down. He also didn't think Kieron was counterbalancing the death spiral properly. Karen says that they've watched him grow in strength and in confidence, and he did a lot of hard movements with speed, which made it one of his best performances.

Final leaderboard: Hayley back in first, Gary and Maria second, and Danniella and Matthew and Kieron and Brianne tying for third. The lines open and we're treated to a video recap of the night's performances, wherein Hayley was graceful but SLOW OVER THE ICE, Gary titted around in a pink vest hugging himself and looking embarrassed, Danniella flew through the air a lot and Kieron and Brianne did a death spiral, without any death.

And there we have it. It's time for everyone to get voting - hopefully not for Gary - before we discover who's in the skate off. The audience chants for Kieron, and then we're outta there.

The Skate-Off

We're back, and Phil teases a performance from Alexandra BURKE still to come this evening, and reminds us that one of our hopefuls will not continue to next week's grand final. There is, apparently, still time to vote for our favourites, so much so that we're given a reminder of the numbers. Some small print at the bottom of the screen explains that the lines will not close in a matter of nanoseconds, but rather after Alexandra BURKE's performance.

Time for a recap of earlier: Hayley was serene and had "everything right tonight" per Robin, but was not a skater ON ICE to Nicky. Hayley was really pleased to have good feedback from Jason, because she needed to impress him after last week. Gary gave it his all, according to Bunto, and started to excite her. The same could not be said for Jason, however. Gary openly says that he will not listen to Jason. Danniella's skating skills were too tentative for Nicky's taste, and Karen wished it was still props week so she could whack a cane across his head. Danniella just hopes the public will vote for her. Kieron had a lot of material in his programme, and gave his best performance yet according to Karen, which he thinks is the icing on the cake for him.

Phil reminds us that the lines are still open, and then Alexandra BURKE is here with her new single, 'All Night Long'. I think she's singing live, but in all fairness, I don't know what the studio version of this song sounds like, so I have nothing to compare it to. Stuart and Alexandra (I think?) [edit: huge thanks to loyal reader Michelle for pointing out that Alexandra was actually skating with her husband and skating partner, Lukasz Rozycki, something I would not have worked out for myself in a million years - Steve] come out and do some fairly terrifying lifts to accompany the song, which is pleasant enough but desperately in need of a decent chorus. It's no 'Broken Heels', let's put it that way. On the other hand, it's also no 'Everybody In Love', so she's doing something right, at least. And then Lovely Matt (hooray!) and Frankie appear and skate for us, and Lovely Matt is in a mesh top, not that that should matter, but it's my job to point these things out. Aw, the song is still going, and it's still a bit substandard. Poor Alexandra BURKE - she is actually quite an ace popstar and deserves stronger material than this, which I don't think is going to shift many units. Although her appearance has reminded me that I haven't bought her album yet, so maybe I should go and do that. The song finishes, the pro skaters clap for Alexandra, and she giggles. Bless.

Phil tells us that the lines are closed, and teases the never-fascinating Dancing On Ice Friday, which this week will feature the contestants getting ready for the final. As you might expect. Holly's with the judges next, and says that Danniella has gone from top of the leaderboard to joint bottom, and therefore does this mean it's anybody's game? Robin says there's pressure on all four of them, but the nerves showed for him tonight.

Now Phil has got the results. *touches ear* But we're not going to hear any of the answers until after the break. Who saw that coming? Oh, right: everybody.

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Right, where were we? The first couple through to the final is Hayley and Daniel, and the other couple definitely joining them is Kieron and Brianne. That leaves Gary and Maria facing off against Danniella and Matthew in the dance-off! I mean, Danniella's obviously going home, but Gary's presence in the skate-off is heartening, at the very least.

Gary skates back out, and his jump is a little more of a hop this time. He's obviously trying to give it his all for the skate-off, but his arm movements are still rather limp and lacking purpose. Is it wrong of me that I'm actively willing him to fall over just so Danniella gets an automatic bye? It is? Yeah, I thought so. Still, they lose their balance in their end pose and topple over, so maybe that'll count? A boy can dream, anyway. [They should have just got up and pointed at the camera, a la Chris The Pie Man. - Carrie] Oh, and there's a shot of Gary Lucy's DAUGHTER crying in the audience. Stay classy, ITV.

Danniella skates back out, still a little tentative, but more confident-looking than she was the first time. She's still rather slow this time around, but her solo spiral is a little stronger. It looks as though one of her lifts with Matthew goes very slightly wrong, but they cover it reasonably well, and they're giving it their all. I hope against all hope that the judges decide to save her, because I'd much rather see her in the final than Gary. She says that she thinks she nearly took Matt's leg off earlier, but for someone who couldn't tie her boots a few months ago, she's doing quite well. (Do you actually tie skate boots?)

Karen saves Gary. Nicky says that Robin as head of the judges has called that the fall at the end of Gary's routine doesn't count because it was after the routine has ended. BOO, say I. Anyway, he saves Gary, "by the skin of your teeth". Jason says it's about performance for him, and he wants an exciting final, so he votes for Danniella. Emma votes to save Danniella, for the same reasons. So it's down to Robin to decide. He votes for quality, content, skating style and movement, and saves Gary. DAMN YOU, COUSINS. For one blissful second there, I thought we were rid of him.

We see Danniella's best bits, including her mass of impressive performances, but sadly no reprise of her amazing Dusty Springfield number. Phil says that he's really going to miss her, and Danniella says that everyone left is a fantastic skater, and she's thrilled to have come that far. She thanks Karen for her help and patience, and she thanks Chris and Jayne, saying that she joined the show just so she could skate with them. Matt says she's been an incredible partner. Danniella thanks the voters, and her kids and her husband, and promises to do the school run again tomorrow.

Ooh, and this bit is interesting: there's a quick shot of the other celebs and pro skaters, all of whom are clapping for Danniella, apart from Gary, who rubs his arm before tucking his hands behind his back. Tosser.

So that's it! Carrie will be here for the grand final next week, which will give us flying, bolero, and a winner. I'm trying not to focus too much on the fact that Dancing On Ice precedent thus far has always given a winner from whichever gender had the higher proportion of the 2:1 split - which doesn't bode well for Hayley. Until next week!


Michelle said...

Great blog as always but Alexandra Schaumann wasn't skating with Stuart Widdall during Alexandra Burke's performance. She was skating with her husband and skating partner, Lukasz Rozycki. He was in some of the group routines earlier in the series and will be one of the pro skaters on the DOI tour, skating with Clare Buckfield.

Carrie said...

I meant to ask this - seriously, is anyone going to watch the live tour this year? Least. Inspiring. Line-up. EVER.

Steven said...

Ooh, thanks Michelle! I didn't realise that - I freely admit I'm not the best viewer in the world when it comes to picking the pro skaters out of a lineup unless they're Fred, Lovely Matt, Mad Frankie or Daniel.

Livilla said...

Finally caught up on this now... I'm pretty sure Jayne, Chris and Karen are all just drunk from this point in the show onwards. That's the only explanation. And completely understood, IMO.

Also, all you have to do to impress Nicky is to have a dick. Which explains why Karen wants to throttle him all the time now.