Sunday, 19 February 2012

Elementary

ULTIMATE SKILLS TEST
Tx: 19th February 2012

What did I miss last week, then? Oh - hang on - I'll just read Steve's brilliant recap.

So a lot of schmaltz and sentiment, then? And inappropriate jokes from your blogger about losing his virginity? ["Jokes"? - Steve]

You can expect no such family-unfriendly comment this week. Although perhaps you should prepare yourself for foul and abusive language. For this week sees the return of the Ultimate Skills Test, and two couples will be departing after a three-way skate-off. Yes, even the show itself feels we're getting through it rather too slowly, and is endeavouring to wrap it up sooner than we anticipated, for which I think we can all be thankful.

As an aside, did you see Dancing on Ice alumna Kerry Katona's piece in the Guardian this week? Devastating.

So last week! Jennifer kicked herself in the head. Seb jumped. The remaining SamandMark grinned. Jorgie was thrilled. Chico is hungry. Matthew is sulking after being third on the leaderboard. Behind Chico. To be fair, I'd be quite annoyed as well.

This week! They are all trying to do skating. About time, one would think. Dance talks about the need to do skills. Even though he can't judge them, because he is Dance.

Titles then?

We're in the rink, and here are Phil and Christine, who continues to look worryingly thin. It's not even muscular leanness, it's boniness. Her hair is bigger than her face. She scares me. They blah on about the skills test - steps, spins and jumps, all worth two points - and the skate-off is a solo routine, with all three contestants performing the same.

Who will leave? Could it be Chico and Jodeyne? Jorgie and Matt? Sam and Alexandra? Heidi and Andrei? Jen and Dan? Seb and Brianne? Andy and Vicky? Chemmy and Sean? Or Matthew and Nina? Who can say? Jayne and Chris are here though, so that's nice, and Jayne's dress is lovely. So it was worth tuning in after all!

In case you hadn't heard, there's a skills test this week, and it includes a step sequence, an unassisted jump, and a one-footed spin. Jayne agrees there is an element of cruelty about this, but some of these tossers need to pull their fingers out and get skating. Chris beams smugly, because he loves vaguely masochistic training techniques. Katarina says there is no hiding place for anyone tonight. Dance reminds us that there needs to be performance and entertainment and he wants TITS AND TEETH, a la Sheila Hancock. Robin pretends that he cares that the final decision is down to him.

Right, so Chico and Jodeyne are first, which means we can at least get it out of the way. Last week was his "skate of the series", leaving him second on the leaderboard. I have never ever heard the song he is skating to, because I am in my 30s and have no interest in youth culture any more [it's called 'Mama Do The Hump', which is something Chris Dean should never attempt to say. Oh, and I'd never heard of it either. - Steve]; however, Chico flits between pretending he is youthful and reminding us he is 40. Anyway, there is a lot of rhythm to this routine, which results in a hilarious section where everyone, including Chris and Karen, attempt some urban moves.

Chico gurns his way through the entire thing, as you'd expect. Also, his arms look weird, like he's always using them for balance rather than artistry. He is however a decent technical skater, so whatever, he's going to do well. Scores - straight 8.0s for a total of 24.0. He screeches about positive mental element, and Jodeyne says that he did well (although she says it in an exceptionally unenthusiastic way). Chris says Chico works in a very methodical way, always in the moment. Robin says that over half of Chico's marks were skills marks, although he didn't get 2.0 for each element. Dance then asserts some kind of dreadful urban youth accent and I wish I was watching anything else as I am embarrassed to be human. Katarina calls Chico "Chici" by accident, and tells him his landings were sloppy, but he is becoming a thoroughbred.

Phil does some "hilarious" mic work whereby he adopts the VOICE OF GOD to say THE ULTIMATE SKILLS TEST, and then announces Chemmy and Sean. Chris thought last week was one of her best skates, but she still had to skate off. She thinks that is a good thing to get under your belt, but she does not want to do it again. This week, she is skating to the amazing 'Hold On' by Wilson Phillips, meaning she has to do some softer movements and tone down her aggression. All the while she must also remember THE ULTIMATE SKILLS TEST and she is struggling with standing on one leg because she has not practised that since breaking her leg. Poor Chemmy.

She's obviously tentative on the one-footed stuff, but she does it creditably. There is significantly less speed over the ice than in their previous routines, but that may be a good thing. Gubba talks about naming the day, but she isn't getting married, she's just skiing again. Whatever. Scores - the boys 7.5, Katarina 7.0 for a total of 22.0. Chemmy thanks Dance for putting his arms out when she looked over to the judging panel, and then reveals that her muse this week has been Katherine Jenkins. I...really don't know what to do with that information. Chemmy then talks a bit about returning to skiing, and says that Katarina and the show have been a big platform to give her the confidence to do it. Katarina sits there looking wise and proud. Jayne laughs at Chemmy practising ballerina arms all week. Katarina says she likes the more feminine side of Chemmy, and she suggests work on her leg shapes, but she did well to take on the challenge of a jump combination. Dance says that she has "made a small but perfectly formed homosexual very happy", to which she replies, "That is my mission in life." Robin says that even though the softness might not feel natural, it does look good.

Last week Jen smashed her head open. Everyone talks about it a lot, and there is a lot of Dancing on Ice injury porn. She panics when she returns to the ice for rehearsal, and Jayne says that kind of injury would knock a pro skater let alone a celebrity. Jen weeps a lot into the camera. Dan says, "You're allowed to get emotional," like she needs some kind of carte blanche to do that.

They're skating to the Aguilera's Candyman, and it's all a bit stiff (not in a good way) and out of sync in places, and though Jen beams hugely at the end, there's not so much smiling during the routine itself. Scores - Dance 7.5, Robin 6.5, Katarina 6.0 for a total of 20.0. Jen does a lot of sadface about the pressure on her for not being good at skating and from the injury. Chris says they were told not to turn Jennifer upside down lest all the blood come pouring out of her head again. Nice. Katarina says that she is sorry that her scores were the lowest. Don't be sorry, Katarina, this is your actual job. She says she gave Jennifer one point for each of the skills, but she liked the rest of the routine. Dance says he is pleased she returned after nearly decapitating herself.

Andy does not think his routine last week was safe; he thought he did a lot of skating. "When I watch other people, I think I'm just as good as them," he says. So - Andy's going home this week, then? Having said all that, he then struggles with the required elements. Perhaps he's not as good at the skating as he initially thought? Just a suggestion.

They're skating to Wilson Pickett's 'Land of A Thousand Dances'. Vicky looks very dubious about this entire thing, and keeps looking over with encouraging glances to her partner, who returns her looks for reassurance as he plods through his routine. Scores - Dance 7.5, Robin 6.5, Katarina 5.5 for a total of 19.5. The audience boo, and apparently they think Andy deserved more. (A clue: he didn't.) Andy admits he got a bit tangled, and Jayne lies it was a great performance. Robin says there were problems with the steps, but Andy managed to fix it. He then says that Andy compensated for failing the Ultimate Skills Test with the rest of the routine. That's...so not the point of an Ultimate Skills Test. [Seriously. I feel like Katarina's the only one who knows what's supposed to be going on tonight, and yet somehow she keeps getting booed for it. Is this what's come of the world? Is knowledge actively despised now? - Steve] Dance talks about the routine having personality. No. Katarina gets booed for marking logically; she felt Andy was hiding his skills, and then says something about nuts and legs, which results in a bemused silence in the entire rink.

Ooh, we're over in Karen's little den. She says it's been one of the hardest weeks on Dancing on Ice, and everyone is physically and mentally exhausted. And that's just the viewers. And then we are reminded AGAIN about the Ultimate Skills Test. Really? How stupid do you think we are? Hang on, we're still watching this dire series. Don't answer that.

Seb and Brianne are next. Last week he did a big jump. Shocking. Nobody was entirely happy with it. This week he is skating to the Prodigy's 'Omen' and there is a lot to remember. Chris says that Seb has to be pushed, because otherwise he will just practise one thing until he gets it absolutely right, and there simply isn't enough time. He gets upset when it doesn't work, and apparently on the evidence of their training footage, he sits in a chair while Brianne glares at him. Happily, he does Gallicly shriek, "Ohhhhh, mon Dieu!"

Seb skates very fast in very tight trousers, catches his toe pick in places, and I just don't really get this routine, I don't think. It doesn't seem to make any sense even if you watch Brianne skating it. (She's also doing exactly what Vicky did - trying to keep a close eye on her partner who's clearly not to be trusted skating alone.) Scores - Dance 8.0, Robin 7.5 and Katarina 6.5 for a total of 22.0. Katarina is the only one who is not on crack, evidently. Brianne says that Seb did very well. She too is quite unconvincing. Chris says that Seb puts a lot of emotion in his routines. Dance says to forget about perfection, there isn't time. Katarina says that she likes Seb's speed, but thinks it was all a bit over-ambitious.

Jorgie and Matt now. She's thrilled at her own awesomeness, and is excited to dance to 'Louder' with its "dirty beats", and a choreographed headbanger. She's worried about losing brain cells. I wouldn't be too concerned about that, lovie. Chris says it's like a "really exciting merry-go-round, but with consequences". She dons the helmet and throws herself into the headbanger with gusto, which is admirable. If daft.

They begin with some gymnastics ON ICE before moving into the routine, and Jorgie really is beautiful to watch, lack of fame and ditziness nothwithstanding. The headbanger comes from a lying start [boo! - Steve], but it looks pretty good in execution (although the camerawork again is useless). Scores - straight 8.5s for 25.5. Jorgie says she's not afraid of the headbanger because she can't see it. Matt says it is not normal for someone not to be worried about doing the headbanger. Heh. Jayne says how nice it is that Jorgie and Matt work so well together and trust each other. Robin says Jorgie always delivers a performance, and he thinks that she could learn to skate well enough to enter the headbanger properly. Dance says he's not sure she'll ever skate the fast numbers better than she skates the ballads. Katarina admires Jorgie's fearlessness - "I just think you are the cutest thing on earth," she concludes. Phil tells Jorgie that a quarter of the people playing judge via the pointless app thing awarded her a 10.0. Whatever, Schofe.

The remaining SamandMark and Alexandra are up next. They have a froglift this week, and Sam is not happy about it. He is concerned about being castrated. Let us not forget Pavel's injury post-Mumba froglift. Poor Pavel.

In rehearsal, Sam sprains his knee, meaning he can't rehearse on Saturday, and he's finally given the all clear on Sunday afternoon - but he's not allowed to do the froglift. And...I don't watch a single second of the routine, glancing back at the end just to see him limp off the ice. Sorry, I'm not rewinding to watch. Steve is much more thorough and dedicated than I am, but I can't bring myself to do it. Scores - Dance 7.0, Robin 6.5 and Katarina 5.5 for a total of 19.0. There is more booing for poor Katarina. Sam says he was disappointed to take out the lift but he is glad "Little Sam" is intact. Katarina says she will take all the boos tonight but it is about the skill, and although Sam was trying to be precise, he was holding back his performance. Dance also is glad that Little Sam is intact, but thought the performance was lacking. Robin thought it was neat and precise, and the focus was on remaining safe.

Over to Karen's playpen, where she is teary (of course) with pride in her charges, and then she says this utterly ridiculous sentence: "With respect to Katarina, get the marks up, they should be higher!" Karen, there's a reason the coach is no longer on the judging panel. It's because you marked RELATIVELY like bloody NICKY all the time. She then justifies it by saying that the elements are important, but the entire routine needs credit, completely and obtusely missing the point that the elements are worth 6.0 out of the 10.0 available this week. So in conclusion, shut up, Karen. [I sort of agree with Karen in a manner of speaking - the marks SHOULD be higher, it's just not Katarina's fault that they aren't, it's the rubbish contestants. Anyway: shut up Karen. - Steve]

Heidi and my lovely Andrei now. Last week didn't go particularly well, because she fell over and was quite wobbly and basically only got 14.0 but was still saved. This week she is skating to 'Push the Button', ie one of the songs she released with the Sugababes. She says the video for the single was raunchy, and it's weird and different doing that on ice. Then Karen does a VT about the need to do the elements correctly in order to get good marks, in direct contrast to her rinkside comments a minute ago. She and Andrei push Heidi to stop being a wuss and do a big scary spinning lift despite her screams and wails.

Heidi has a lovely tummy. That is what I take from the beginning of this routine. She moves into the lifts awkwardly and she still skates quite slowly, but she doesn't fall over, and Andrei is awesome, so all in all this is pretty good. [I feel it was no accident that the camera focused entirely on her upper body at the part of the routine where she was supposed to do the jump. - Steve] Scores - Dance 7.0, Robin 5.5 and Katarina 5.0 for a total of 17.5. Heidi says she's relieved not to be launched into the audience, and she feels more confident now - even though they had to push her, she's proud of herself for managing it. Jayne agrees that she should be proud of herself, and Dance thinks it was a vast improvement on last week (when she fell over) and then joins Karen's bandwagon of lunacy by saying that the rest of the performance apart from the required elements needs to be given equal credit. Dude, it's not even mathematically possible, let alone logically possible. Katarina says she hopes Heidi doesn't take it personally, but her feet are not moving with her, and she is relying on Andrei's strength. Heidi then whines about it being scary. Shut up, Heidi, as well. Robin says the big lifts is what Andrei does, and the routine didn't go anywhere, but at least she attempted the elements. Heidi whines some more. SHUT UP. [She whined even more post-show about how Katarina never said anything like this to anyone else. This is because EVERYONE ELSE WAS BETTER THAN YOU AND DIDN'T WARRANT SUCH FEEDBACK, you goon. - Steve]

And finally in the pimp slot, it's Matthew and Nina. He thought Chico deserved to be second on the leaderboard, but he was also pleased with his own performance. Jayne thinks his elements are very good, but Matthew is unhappy with his step sequence. They're also doing a wrist-ripper and Nina is putting herself in severe danger as Matthew keeps changing his mind about what he's doing midway through the move. Nina looks very pale and miserable.

They're skating to 'Without You', and the wrist-ripper comes quite early on - as soon as they do it, Matthew grins and suddenly throws himself much more into the routine, which is fun and technically great. Scores - Dance 9.0 and 9.5 from the people who know what they're talking about, for a total of 28.0. Matthew admits that was the best they've ever skated it. Nina says...something, and not even Phil has a clue what it is. Chris admires Matthew's confidence, skills and big lifts. Katarina thanks him for the incredible performance, and mocks his pink shirt for a bit. She liked the mood and the performance, giving him 5.5 for the skills element. Dance thinks Matthew has got his spark back and then whines on Heidi's behalf about lifts being a two-way thing. Shut up, Dance, you know fuck all about skating, and you only like Heidi because she is/was a Sugababe. Robin has nothing to add. Thanks, Robin!

Right, that's it, thank goodness. Matthew and Nina are at the top of the leaderboard, Heidi and Andrei are at the bottom. Will you bother voting? I know I won't. Join us later for the results!

The skate-off

So earlier on people skated, and now three have to skate off, performing the same routine with the same content, and two of them will be eliminated. Robin looks serious and reminds us that he has the final say. Ready for some results? Let's go!

Phil and Christine are still here, and they welcome us back. The phone lines are still open, so in the meantime we get a recap of what happened in the first show. Chico is pleased that he got over half his marks for his skating skills, and thanks Jodeyne, who still looks vaguely nauseated. Chemmy hopes the public appreciate her journey (drink!). Jennifer never thought she'd be able to do a jump, so if she has to skate off she'll be fine. Andy thought he did OK with the skills even though he got a bit tangled. Seb has lots of energy left so he'll be fine if he has to skate off, and he wouldn't like to have to compete against him (Brianne looks horrified at such arrogance). Jorgie looks appalled when Matt says that headbanger was one of the highest he's bounced. Sam doesn't know if he's done enough to stay out of the skate-off; Alexandra was just pleased to have a partner. (Karen then whines about Katarina not taking his injury into account. Yeah, just like they do at the Olympics.) Heidi says the panel know what they're talking about, and she's pleased with herself, even if they're not pleased with her. Katarina and Robin are totally unbothered by her pitiful moaning, and conclude: "The truth hurts." Matthew is over the moon and has no words. Chris says Matthew was off the scale this week, and now we can truly gauge who is best and who is weak.

Right, the lines are now closed. Who will face the skate-off? Katarina says that everyone should be proud of progressing so far, but it's a competition - she's not judging effort or whether people are in pain. HA! Take that, Karen. Dance thinks their independence has been improved from working on their skills. Robin says he thought some would struggle, but they all got the elements in, although some did better than others. He doesn't want Chemmy to leave.

So who's safe? Matthew; Andy; Jorgie; Jennifer; Chico; and Sam.

What the fuck?

Chemmy, Seb and Heidi must now skate off to impress the judges with their solo routines. Seeing as Robin has already said he doesn't want Chemmy to go, she must surely be feeling happy here. Jayne advises them to focus on the next minute, and Chris says they have to believe in themselves - they have nothing to lose.

Chemmy is first up, and we get LIVE! GUBBA! COMMENTARY! She has a little stumble, but picks it up, and her balance looks OK. She says it was very nervewracking, but she was happy just to make a single mistake. The judges then give their comments - this seems a bit weird, seeing as two others have to skate afterwards. Katarina and Robin both liked the elements, Dance clearly hasn't got a clue what he's looking for.

Now it's Seb, who has lots of energy, as he's already told us. His leg-lines look rather peculiar, but that might be the weird trousers. He then totally forgets the routine, and just wobbles along for a bit with his hands over his face before trying to get back into it. He bites his lip and Chemmy comes over to hug him, and then they both cry. Brianne suddenly appears to give him a hug and they sob. Oh, this is very sad. Phil puts his arm round him, and Katarina is all choked up too. Robin says that the celeb skaters don't have anything to fall back on if their memory fails them, and Dance adds that it's just the nature of competition.

Finally, there is Heidi and her tummy. She's still a bit shaky and slow because she has no Andrei to hold on to. I think we all know how this is going to end. Heidi says her legs were like jelly, and although she's used to remembering dance steps, she has no bottle. Chris says that's the most skating she has done ever, and he applauds her for that. Dance says there were no obvious stumbles, and it was the cleaner performance out of the three. Robin says it demonstrated everything she's learnt over the series, and Katarina doesn't think her legs looked like jelly.

So decision time, then, and the three of them stand in the middle of the rink clutching hands as Robin announces that the person they are saving is Chemmy. It's an unanimous decision, and it's not a surprising one. I am sad to lose Andrei, obviously, but other than that I don't think that was unfair. Although getting rid of the other SamandMark would be something I would have liked to have seen this week.

Seb says he has to accept what happened, and thanks Chris and Jayne, the judges and the coaches; Heidi says she's had the best time and then goes all weepy as she does her thank yous (and she remembers to thank Sylvain as well). Andrei kisses her head, because he is lovely. Seb weeps on Brianne some more. Dear, dear, dear, we need to finish this show now, it's so uncomfortable to watch.

Applause for everyone, flowers for everyone, laps of honour for everyone, and Phil announces that next week is Rock Week, featuring the cast of Rock of Ages. Thankfully, Steve has to deal with that. Bye for now!

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