Props week: 11th March 2012
Welcome to another week ON ICE. Forgive me if I'm a little more unforgiving with the show than normal this week, but I'm currently at the mercy of both a nasty cold that just won't go away, and also an irritating bout of conjunctivitis, so I'd rather be resting my eyes than forcing them to endure a couple of hours of pro-am skating - but hey, I'm here and I'm committed (or at least I should be, ho ho ho) so let's just all do our best to get through this, yes?
So, previously ON ICE: Matthew got 28.5 and broke the series record, while Chico achieved similarly excellent results by taking his top off, or something. However, 'twas all for naught, as Team Jorgie beat Team Matthew in the group challenge, so all the women got their points doubled. Sadly, an artificial boost up to second place on the leaderboard wasn't enough to keep Chemmy out of the skate-off for a third time, but at least this time she was up against Andy, who was never going to be saved over her in a million years. This week: it's props week! Not just any props week, mind, but CIRCUS props week. That's right, Dancing On Ice is doing comedy. It's going to be a long night, isn't it?
Titles! ON ICE!
Gubba welcomes us to Dancing On Ice: At The Circus, while Phil and Christine enter to a musical cue that suggests they're the clowns of the outfit. I'd take offence, if I were them. They remind us that it's props night with a circus theme (I feel this could actually have been two separate theme weeks without too much trouble, and given the lack of imagination that's gone into next week's theme, I'm struggling to see why it wasn't), and we're shown a VT which reminds us that the props must be seamlessly incorporated into the routine, and also be full of lulz for this is indeed the Dancing On Ice circus. Poor Andy - eliminated right before a week where the theme might just have played to his strengths. Anyway, let's meet our skating stars: Jenny Elly and Dan, Matthew and Nina, Chemmy and Sean, Jorgie and Lovely Matt, and Chico and Jodeyne. Chico has apparently come as the final boss from Rolo To The Rescue, if anyone remembers that. Oh, and we also have Jayne and Chris, who have sensibly opted not to don circus-related costumes because, despite everything that's happened so far, they're still clinging to a thin veneer of dignity.
Phil tells us that props night is his favourite because his whip gets an outing, which causes Christine to dissolve into incontrollable and vaguely unprofessional mirth. Up first are Chemmy and Sean, because no one's voting for her anyway so it's not like she's got anything to lose by going first. She says that despite being second on the leaderboard, she thought people at home might think she was safe (yeah, that was definitely the reason she keeps ending up skating for survival), so she prepared for the skate-off anyway. Having been in the skate-off three times, she decides this is three times too many. Chemmy has six props in her routine (the cane, the flowers, the rope, the magic hanky, the secret hanky and finally Bunton - sorry, "bunting") because it's magic-themed, and she's worried that all the tricks are taking away from her skating time. Karen throws a snit fit about being kept waiting in training while Chemmy and Sean prepare their props. Oh, cram it, Karen. Your opinion was barely relevant even when you were still on the panel.
They're skating to 'Magic', inventively enough [this was at least a song I knew. I'm so middle-aged. - Carrie], and Chemmy plays the role of the magician's assistant rather well, all stage winks and smiles, and doing a good job of pulling out the various props as if from nowhere. She even manages to include some skating - in fact, I'd say her footwork in all of this is pretty good, especially considering everything else she's got to worry about. Gubba suggests we don't think too deeply about where all those props were concealed, and for once he might actually be making a good point. [He also made a rather poor taste Paul Daniels/amputated finger joke. Oh Gubba. We can hear you, you know. - Carrie] The recap rather decently focuses on the skating parts of the routine rather than the shenanigans, and here are the scores: Dance 8.5, Robin 9.0, Katarina 8.5 for a total of 26.0 - her personal best. Chemmy's thrilled, and says that there were so many chances for it to go wrong that each thing going right was like "one down, four to go..." She tells Phil that she loves skating, while performance is less her thing, but she does have a soft spot for magic. Sean appears to have struggled with the magic in general this week, but very gentlemanly compliments Chemmy on her performance. Chris commends Chemmy on having started rather scrappily but getting it all under control on the night.
Robin loved the integration of the tricks and the solo skating, like the barrel rolls on her own. He thinks the skating was powerful and fluid, and that she ticks all of the boxes. Katarina loved the performance, and says that it easily could have been a "yard sale ON ICE" (I'd watch that, as long as Katarina was still involved somehow) if she'd lost all the props, but she coped well, and all the skating skills were there. Dance thinks her performance skills have really improved, and that comedy and props really suit Chemmy because she's naturally funny. Hooray! She's still pretty much guaranteed to be going home, mind.
Adverts. I've never had a box made out of tickytacky, but it sounds like it would be rather messy.
When we return, the judges have been positioned behind one of those hilarious pictures with the faces cut out, which strikes me as more of a fairground thing than a circus thing, but who am I to criticise the sort of things this show comes up with to pointlessly fill time? Up next are Chico and Jodeyne, and he admits he was really worried last week after losing the team challenge and being fifth on the leaderboard - so being saved by the public in spite of all that was his best moment of the series so far. Chico has some comedy strongman props, like a "test your strength" machine and two giant dumbbells, thereby bringing the total number of giant dumbbells in his routine to three. There are some big lifts in the routine this week, including some in which Jodeyne will be having to let go of him entirely, and she admits that she's "trusting him with [her] life up there." Chico says that he has to pull out all the stops because everyone else is doing so well at this point.
They're dating to 'Stronger' by Kanye West, and his routine involves a lot of "tiny Jodeyne can lift these weights while giant Chico cannot" comedy, until he conveniently develops enough strength to be able to lift Jodeyne AND the weights and therefore complete the routine. The giant death-defying lift goes without a hitch as you'd expect, and the routine ends with him successfully ringing the bell on the Test Your Strength machine. Gubba tells us that Chico has been offered the role of Prince Charming in panto in Swansea (not Woking, like the Fonz). Scores: Dance 9.0, Robin 9.0, Katarina 9.0 for a total of 27.0. Chris says that Chico was indeed the strongman tonight. Chico says that he loved the routine and worked really hard, and he wants to thank everyone at home for keeping him in this far, and he'd like to keep on in the competition please. Jayne explains the story for us, apparently feeling that the audience might not have grasped the narrative complexity.
Dance tells Chico that the props didn't encroach on his performance, which is very difficult to do. He thinks Chico is fantastic, and deserves to be here next week. Katarina thinks he shines in a different way every week, and he had some very difficult props. She thought the lift was just brilliant in terms of the safety and effortlessness of its execution. Robin thinks that Chico did a good job of balancing the comedy with the props and the partner work.
Adverts. I think it's very sensible of Virgin to leave Virgin Media out of that advert listing all the great things they've accomplished.
Upon our return, it's time for Jorgie and Lovely Matt. Jorgie has fond memories of last week, because she did well individually and her team won the challenge. This week, she's got a ribbon to twirl, and appears to be getting tied up in it a lot in rehearsals. There is some brilliant rehearsal footage of Lovely Matt flinching as Chris repeatedly flicks the ribbon at him. I want that in a gif. There's a bit where Jorgie has to chuck the routine over her head for Lovely Matt to catch, but because she can't see him, she's having trouble aiming it, and she's worried that if she doesn't get it right, it'll ruin the story. Karen points out that failing to lob the ribbon properly is a mistake that even Bunton would spot. Guess what? The lob doesn't even go right in the dress rehearsal. Will it be all right on the night? Let's find out.
They're skating to 'Video Games', and between the white and candy-floss pink costumes, and the pink ribbon, this might just be the gayest thing the show has ever done. The ribbon twirling seems pretty precise, as far as I can tell. In a move that will surprise precisely no one, Lovely Matt manages to catch the ribbon with his Lovely Arms. The whole thing is ridiculous and nonsensical and utterly gaymazing and I think I loved it but I don't even know any more. Gubba, thrilled: "Oh Jorgie, that really worked!" Hahahaha. Bless. It's nice that he cares - he's about the only person who does, I think. Scores: Dance 6.5, Robin 5.5, Katarina 8.0 for a total of 20.0. The audience boos (someone actually does a hugely theatrical gasp, which cracks me up), Jorgie purses her lips, Lovely Matt makes an "erp" face, and Phil wants to go straight to the judges for feedback, which seems like a good idea - Robin says his should've been 8.5 (bringing the total score up to 23.0), but Dance is all "MINE'S RIGHT!" and the audience boo.
Dance says he found it quite boring, and that 6.5 isn't a bad score, but this wasn't a performance that was of Jorgie's usual standard, because it was emotionless for him, so he just gave her points for being clean and tidy. Katarina disagrees, and says the performance was all there, and Jorgie is always pretty and beautiful, but the problem is that she was so good in the first show, that they expect so much of her, and Chemmy and Chico did a better job with more difficult props. Robin says it's tough to make a comparison, because Chico and Chemmy had a lot more technical stuff in their routine, while Chris and Jayne didn't give Jorgie as much to do. Dance chips in again that he found it bland. [This annoyed me. Shut up, Dance. - Carrie]
As is always the way when there's pointless drama on this show that needs milking for a bit longer, Christine asks Karen for her opinion. Karen says that the contestants don't choose the props or the choreography, and she thought it was beautiful, so "I must be missing something." Don't encourage us, Karen, that little guessing game could take a while. Phil tells Jorgie that a quarter of people playing along on the pointless app gave her 10. Lovely Matt is basically FURIOUS and adorably passive-aggressive about it, saying that he doesn't understand if the judges are judging on "progression or perfection". Tee hee. Phil suggests that we should perhaps allow Jorgie to speak now, but Jorgie's opinion is, as always, negligible. Chris is also struggling to conceal the fury over the QUESTIONING OF HIS GENIUS, and now I'm quite excited. I mean, we've seen what happens to contestants who dare to criticise the choreography, but what happens when it's one of the judges? I'm hoping for a serious mother of a smackdown next week.
When we return, Christine reminds us that Dance is being a bit of a cunt tonight and Dance does his "am I bovvered?" bitchface. Let's not dwell on that, and go instead to Matthew and Nina, who got the highest score of the series last week, and are now angling for a 10, because Matthew's kind of dull and that's really the only place that his storyline has left to go. He's got three props, which he gripes about despite it being about eleventy less than Chemmy had. His routine is lion-taming themed, and he's got a whip that he keeps whacking himself with, so they bring in a "circus arts trainer" to help him learn how to do it properly. He's also got a hula hoop, which he can't quite master either, but vows that he won't let his skating suffer because of the props. His VT ends with Nina on the podium (prop number three) as Matt accidentally whips his own testicles. Ah, family entertainment.
They're skating to 'Real Wild Child' and it's your standard Matthew routine of bland competency. I'm not spectacularly sold on this one, because the prop work - specifically the hoop - slows him down significantly, and some of the moves with the hoops are just ungainly looking. It's a bit dull to be honest, and doesn't involve nearly as much prop-wrangling as some of the others - half the time he's just holding the whip without actually having to do much with it, aside from one admittedly impressive moment when he uses it to burst a balloon from some distance away. The lion make-up on Nina looks good, though. Scores: Dance 9.5, Robin 9.5, Katarina 9.0 for a total of 28.0. Matthew says it was always going to be difficult to get a 10.0 on props week. Phil tells him he looked very relieved when he popped the balloon. Jayne says this is the first time they've used the whip, aside from that time they chased Rosemary Conley with it for shits and giggles.
Katarina says that it was obvious the whip was Matt's favourite prop and that he looked a real natural with it - and then dissolves into giggles. Katarina Witt - single-handedly making this show watchable since...well, since January, but that's not the issue. [Seriously. - Carrie] Robin says that it's all about the complete package, and the skating skills were all there as well as the circus performance. Dance tells Matthew that he owned the performance and all of the props, and there was light and shade in it and Matthew told a story. I think he's reading rather a lot into "man chases lion around some ice for a bit while holding a whip", but each to their own.
Adverts. I feel people whose hair has been "bleached, burned and singed" don't deserve healthy-looking hair, no matter which expensive products they buy.
Closing the show, it's Jennifer and Daniel. Last week they skated to Leona Lewis and got 24.5, at which point she burst into tears. Chris thinks Jennifer's coming into her own at the right time in the competition, i.e. at the point where all the useless people are all going home, and it's this or be the next one eliminated. She's skating to 'You've Got A Friend In Me' from Toy Story, which is apparently her little boy's favourite film. She says that the song "means something special". Yes, Jennifer, I'm sure you are truly unique in having a child who quite likes Toy Story. They've got two suitcases, a balloon, two hats, a bucket, and a flower for their clown-based routine. At the end of the routine, Dan's lying on the ice and Jennifer has to step over him - something she's terrified of doing, because the blades are dead sharp and she doesn't want to emasculate him. She's worried about losing her nerve, so her son comes along to rehearsals to cheer her up, because he's the reason she's doing all of this. And here I was thinking the reason she was doing this was "cash and exposure".
They come onto the ice doing some clowny schtick (full disclosure: I HATE CLOWNS) and begin the routine which involves sliding around on a suitcase and a fair pit of pretending to poke each other the ice. I'm sure this is all highly entertaining if you actually like clowns, but I do not, so I find the whole thing sinister and upsetting, so let's just say that she does the step-over without slicing his groin apart and move on. Score: Dance 8.0, Robin 8.0, Katarina 8.5 for a total of 24.5 - the same as last week. Dan confirms that his privates are still in one piece despite the walkover. Jayne chuckles that the routine made everyone in the room laugh. Really? No one in the room found it creepy because of CLOWNS? I doubt this.
Katarina says she was smiling the whole time because they're adorable and charming together, and she gives props (heh) to the costume department for their sterling work tonight. She thinks it's hard out here for a clown, but all the tricks and props worked. Dance thought it was simple, without huge amounts of choreography, but the people with more props have been more inventive and their performances have been fuller, and the people with single props (i.e. Jorgie) haven't delivered tonight. Robin thinks this drew on Jennifer's acting skills, and she's grown as a performer on the ice. He thinks the two of them gave a very honest performance, whatever that means.
So here's the leaderboard: Matthew and Nina at the top, Chico and Jodeyne second, Chemmy and Sean in third, Jennifer and Dan fourth, and Jorgie and Matt in a shocking fifth place. The lines are now open! We see a quick recap of all the performances, and Phil expresses his shock that Jorgie is at the bottom of the leaderboard, reminding us that ANYONE could be in the skate-off. But probably Chemmy, let's be honest.
Earlier tonight: five couples attempted to handle props while wearing ridiculous costumes. One of them's going home, and Phil's been entrusted with the whip, though Katarina has made him promise he'll return it to her when he's finished with it. It's Dancing ON ICE: The Skate-Off.
Post-titles, we're greeted by X Factor runner-up Marcus COLLINS lip-synching his cover of 'Seven Nation Army'. On the one hand, I'm glad it's not BixMix REPRESENTING WIMMINZ EVERYWHERE ON ICE, but on the other, this reminds me what an utter waste of everyone's time that series was. I actually quite liked Marcus, at least until they started making him sing Jackie Wilson every week until he became bafflingly irrelevant to modern society, but this is just not very good at all, no matter how much of a performance number they throw on around him.
Phil and Christine return and thank Marcus for his performance, as well as the professional skaters who accompanied him. The lines are still open, so they run through the lines again while warning us that we've not got long to get our votes in.
Recap time! Chemmy and Sean had a fun magic-themed routine that tapped into her natural sense of comedy, and backstage Chemmy is very pleased that Robin thinks she's special, and says that it shows how much Sean has taught her. Katarina was impressed with how well Chico lifted Jodeyne, and Chico was pleased that the lift was spot-on. He wants to be here next week, because he's worked so hard. Jorgie got a 6.5 from Dance for her ribbon routine, because he thought it was emotionless, and Robin called it out on a lack of technical content, as if that's Jorgie's fault. Jorgie says that she got a bit upset upon hearing that, and wonders if she's lost a place in the semi-final, while Lovely Matt looks THUNDEROUS and Karen thinks Dance has lost his mind. Dance reiterates that he thought the prop completely overshadowed everything. On the other hand, Matthew's lion-taming routine went down well, and he grins backstage that he loved it, saying that he'd been wanting to make it to props week all along. It's very sensible of him to only admit this after the fact, otherwise the laws of reality TV would ensure he was sent home tonight. Jennifer closed the show with her clowning around, which Katarina was impressed with and Robin thought showed off her acting skills. Jennifer would love to be in the semi-final, and hopes she's done enough. Chris thinks it was a controversial night, largely because Jorgie's at the bottom of the leaderboard, and that whoever goes tonight will be a good skater.
Back in the studio, Phil declares the lines officially closed, while Christine goes to the judges for some last-minute opinions. She goes to Dance first, saying that props week has really mixed things up. Dance says it's shown how far everyone has come, not just in terms of choreography but also in props, and some shone more than others tonight. Christine asks Katarina how hard this makes it from a skating point of view, and Katarina says that the more props the couples got, the better the skating was, so higher hurdles seem to yield better results. Christina asks Robin if it's still anyone's game, and he says yes indeed, they judge on performance and not reputation, and that the rest is in the public's hands.
Two couples are about to be in the skate-off...after the break.
Adverts. Those L'Oréal adverts are less impressive in HD - Cheryl Cole looks like she's got a wig made from Barbie's hair.
Finally, we're back and the couples are all lined-up behind Phil, waiting to learn of their fate. The first couple safe and through to the semi-final is Jennifer and Dan. The second couple is Matthew and Nina. The third and final couple is...Jorgie and Matt! Both of whom look incredibly relieved. So it's Chemmy vs Chico in the skate-off.
Backstage, Christine opines that this part of the show gets more and more difficult about it. Chemmy's clearly thinking "yeah, TELL ME ABOUT IT". Chico's feeling pretty positive, and Chemmy jokes about being queen of the skate-off, and says that she enjoyed her routine the first time out, so she'll enjoy doing it again. She hopes she can pull another performance out of the bag, because she's not a performer.
Chemmy goes first in the skate-off, and is every bit as energised and OTT as she was first-time around. If this ends up being her final performance, which it probably will be, it's an excellent note to go out on. They head over to join Phil, who is positioned over in Karen's Korner for some unexplained reason (the need to reset the props for Chico's routine, perhaps?) and Chemmy declares this performance was "magic". She calls herself "queen of the skate-off" again and says that she didn't even get nervous. Chris says that having to do a skate-off with props is tough, but he thinks Chemmy's got the routine nailed now. Chemmy chortles that she thought it was flukey that she got it right the first time, but it's not flukey if you do it twice. Indeed.
Chico and Jodeyne return, and the "weakling becomes strongman" theme of the performance is ruined slightly by the fact that Chico blatantly hits the target of the machine hard enough to ring the bell first time around. Like Chemmy, he's doing a fine job, hitting all the notes that he did before. He wobbles very slightly on the second jump over the dumbbells on the floor, but I don't think that's enough to jeopardise his chances. They head over to Phil, at the proper kiss-and-cry this time and the crowd chant his name. Chico says it's always more fun the second time around, and this way it was more entertainment for the public. Jayne compliments him on getting nothing wrong, saying that it's proof he can use the props correctly.
Time for the judges to weigh in. Katarina thinks it was very close tonight, but one performance really gave her magic, so she votes to save Chemmy. Dance thinks it was a very difficult decision and they both did well, but he votes to save Chico. Robin thinks it was two terrific skate-offs - and the person he's saving is Chico. So Chico survives, and it's fourth time unlucky for Chemmy. Chico sinks to his knees on the ice.
Chemmy tells Phil that she's gutted to be going, but she's had so much fun. We see her best bits, where Jayne applauds her bravery and determination, and Karen complains that Chemmy talks too much. We see her gradually getting better and more elegant during the competition, and that's it. Back in the studio, Chemmy reminds us that this time last year she was on crutches and couldn't walk, and now she's achieved all this. Yeah, fifth place! I kid, I kid - she did very well.
We have our four semi-finalists, and Phil warns us that next week there's yet another twist: the Ultimate Skills Test is back: 23 separate skills, solo-skating for one minute on the ice. Last time only three people had to face it, and it completely scuppered Sébastien, but this time everyone must do it. Another twist: the skater at the top of the leaderboard will win an automatic slot in the final while the other three slog it out for the public vote. Sounds interesting, assuming that "interesting" is a relative value where this show's concerned. Carrie, God bless her, will be here for her final recap of the series to guide you through it, and I'll see you in two weeks for the final. Cheerio!