Saturday, 20 December 2014

Crackers for Flackers!

It's the final! We're finally at the final! It feels like it's come around suddenly this year, or maybe we're just getting old? After last week's rather lacklustre semi-final I'm expecting to have my sparkly socks blown off by this final - no pressure contestants! Our super-scientific poll has Caroline down to win by a mile, but it's been wrong before (I'm looking at you, Joe Calzaghe supporters!), so let's see what surprises the night will bring!

As ever, we're just going to whizz through the first dances, since they've done them before, but just to summarise....what the hell were these dance choices about? Were they trying to sabotage everyone to make it fairer? I genuinely don't think anyone wanted to see these dances again.

Exhibit one, Frankie in the death slot doing her worst latin dance, no one cared about this samba. Mark's cha cha actually looked a bit too easy for him, it needed more content for the final! Caroline rocked the golden lampshade once more and delivered her amazing cha cha. Simon probably got the most random choice with his Charleston, but carried off with the vim and vigour we'd all expect, and Kristina's cheapo wig didn't burst into flames!

Personally I quite like the idea of seeing their week one dances. Shows how much they have improved. Or not. This dance really highlighted the fact that Mark was the weaker banana of the bunch, but I can't help but smile watching him dance, so jolly happy he was there. And mostly that Jake-My-Only-Body-Part-Is-A-Hip was not. I think I'm supposed to add #sorrynotsorry to that. I thought all four kicked ass in these somewhat questionable choices, and all showed some improvement on their first performances. Much disappointed Simon didn't do his samba again. I would have loved to have seen him smash it. 


Frankie and Kevin

Will Frankie fall off a bench and die? That's what I took from the VT. Plus they said her dress would be a pink dream and it was mainly a horrible nude. The bench bit was actually really underwhelming as they didn't really do a lot while they were up there - while their ballroom content was wonderful. There was more razzmatazz than I was expecting from Frankie, Kevin uses razzes everyone's matazz for them - well done to Frankie for bringing it personality-wise in the final.
This was perky, nimble, classy and cute. All at once. I loved Frankie's Disney-princess dress, and despite the random benchscapades (I didn't get the Sound of Music reference either), this was a bit awesome. 

Mark and Karen

I was really excited to see this one, all the elements seemed right to bring out Mark's best - which is basically an over-excited child in go-faster stripes! Someone said it was like putting a mento in a bottle of coke, which I loved. It was a 'traditional' SCD show dance, eg take a latin number and go crazy with it. A befitting ending for the two of them, hard work and sheer joy.
Mark, dressed as a cricketer circa 1974, running around the floor, bobbing about with the odd bit of jive choreography? Fitted him perfectly. Not a worthy winner, but a worthy fourth, and a jolly good sport. 

Caroline and Pasha
I can't remember the last time I was so nervous for a showdance, contempo makes me think of the Lisa Snowdon bacofoil disaster. And do you know what? They only went and pulled it off! It had the fluidity of a rumba, it was totes emotes without making us want to vom and the lifts were epic. There was no rolling on the floor! All fears cast aside, well done guys.
Yes, I know had these been packaged as a 'rumba', it would have made me cross, but as the rule of showdance is don't talk about showdance there are no rules, then I allowed myself to find this moving and marvellous. It was as intense as a squirt of Jif lemon on Shrove Tuesday. It was as emotional as the bit in Titanic where SHE LETS GO. And to my untrained eye, she looked as graceful as a professional. Go Flackers! 

Simon and Kristina
This one was the biggest unknown quantity, I had no idea what sort of crazyness Kristina was going to throw at us, it looked like a bit of everything on ITT. And that's what it ended up being, a crazy pile of everything! Including a Bucks Fizz moment to reveal Kristina in the most spangle-tastic dresses ever. Simon's Greatest Hits was a great title for it, I would have expected a bit more control from the two of them, but whatever, it's final night.
More hesitant in parts than I would have liked but major kudos to Kristina for cramming every last bit of ballroom, latin, salsa and charleston choreography into there she could. It really proved that Simon ain't no one trick pony: he's a pony with more tricks than Paul Daniels on a caffeine high. His timing was on point. Loved it. 

We're back and the first person to go is....cue ITT-style faces to camera....MARK! Sad to see him go, after all the hard word and the epic j-word, but it probably was the right time. Mark, you've been an all-round good egg and a trouper, we'd have missed you on SCD this year.
Jolly good egg indeed. What's your favourite type of egg? Mine is... scrambled. Mark, you are a scrambled egg of the very best kind. 

So here we are with the final three and their last dances. Frankie blew us away with her Paso, I liked it first time around but she really cranked up the fierceness this time around - she's shown so much personality this episode, it's like she finally woken up to the performance aspect. Caroline and Pasha swivelled us to Timbuktu and somehow, Twitter folks, we appear to have slain the extra dancers. And as for Simon's Argentine Tango, oof, that was some serious dancing, it tipped us over the edge to hysteria!
Frankie's Paso was FIERCE. I had started the evening with her as my definite least fave, having not warmed to her at all throughout the previous weeks. However, she brought such vigour to this dance, I tweeted that I would also be happy if she won. This year's contestants have stood out as being delightfully friendly and especially lovely to each other, and Frankie is no exception. I loved seeing Caroline's charleston stripped down to wot-it-should-have-looked-like without the extra baggage of the human props, and it was just as - nay more so - wonderful. At this point, despite loving Simon, I was totes team Flackers. But then that tango. That tango changed everything. It threw me into an existential crisis and I did not know who to go for. My head said Caroline - think of all the tremendous dances she had done. But my heart, my heart went to Simon and that tango. Oh the dilemma! 

The returning group number was a delight as ever, great choice of songs this year, although I do like them a little bit more shambolic! Gregg merely handing Aliona a cake was hilarious though, along with Natalie styling it out with her fan and Alison bringing that crazy face back!
Natalie steals any show, doesn't she?

And so, our winner is.....CAROLINE! So very happy with this result: they've been the full package and worked hard to bring us some amazing routines. Also, it's great to see someone win who has wanted it to so much. What a nerve-racking final it's been, but totally worth it!
Great result, and a great finish to the series, which has been questionable in parts. But what a final. 


Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Hemidemisemi-final

It's semi-finals time! I always say this is the most tense episode of the series, then forget what an overexcited wreck I am by the end of the final. Although this year it does seem like it could be anybody's game, did we ever say that before? I imagine we did...

This was somewhat underwhelming for a semi-final wasn't it?

Jake and Janette
Well that was a painful opening...delightfully uber-camp song though. This was not a semi-final standard, you can eyes and teeth a cha cha in the early weeks (or hips and bum in Jake's case), but you need the technique as well at this stage. Although props for Janette for doing all those pepperpot spins without vomming.
Imagine Wallace (of Wallace and Gromit fame) dancing a cha cha cha. Yeah. 

Frankie and Kevin
Has the Christmas special come early? If it was the Christmas special I'd have been ok with it, I'll take any old sentimental claptrap then, but this was just odd. Or maybe it was an excuse to be stiff and not do a lot of rumba-ing? As with a lot of their stuff, it was nice, but meh. I wouldn't wish a rumba on anyone in the semi finals, but that's not an excuse to try and do a different dance...
I'm with Len. I don't see why rumba has to be slutty. This was strange, but oddly charming. And I loved Frankie's dress. She looked like a sugarplum fairy.

Mark and Karen
After last week's shock of staying, Mark has once again worked his little sparkly socks off. Oh this was so twee, the song, Karen's dress, Mark's grin - there was everything. It wasn't his best ballroom, unfortunately, like Len said it lacked a bit of finesse. But there were great hands, that was a surprise. And any routine with The Dreaded Swing in that I still like deserves some points.
Swing Klaxon! This was nice. Not much more than that, but considerably better than Jake's effort and he definitely deserves to be in the final. He's not the underdog as his dance ability (and attitude) is way above Jake's. If he does make the final, I can't wait to see his little face.

Simon and Kristina
Now, we fell in love to a samba to this song on DWTS, like actually jumped up and down for it, so hopes were high for Simon. I was gutted when those samba rolls went wrong, especially when Kristina had decided to bring her fiercest game out this evening. And then they never quite recovered. Is it just me or is the two-dances thing wearing everyone out this week?
Oh, oh! My disappointment was tangible. I was, like, so looking forward to this and it had such potential. However, this is how it goes on live TV. 

Caroline and Pasha
Can Caroline save what has so far been a rather underwhelming semi final? Not quite, but she had a pretty good stab at it! This was probably my favourite dance so far tonight, they put so much into it and I liked the choreography - there were twiddly bits but still plenty of foxtrot content.
This must have been so difficult to dance to. Foxtrot is so hard and to do it without a regular beat in the music is insane. They did a good job on a very difficult task. Caroline has a real feel for music and the comments that it lost its style was because the music wasn't right - but she was right for the music. Does that make sense?

Right, all change, let's go round again, once more with feeling please...

Jake and Janette
Janette's dress is hideous, the poor thing. And it seemed to want to static itself to Jake half the time, it was really distracting. This was a pretty run-of-the-mill Viennese Waltz, but it was probably technically better than a lot of stuff he's done recently. Again, nothing much to write about and the judges' comments were tumbleweed central, can someone please wake us up!
I actually preferred this to most of Jake's other dances and it made me realise what he could have done if he had actually decided to learn to dance instead of acting like a jerk for the past eight or so weeks. 

Frankie and Kevin
Frankie looks amazeballs, I'll give her that. And do you what, this was actually pretty good, might even be my favourite since her paso! It was full of things that shouldn't have worked, but did; the song, Frankie being sultry, Kevin not wearing his specs. She said on ITT that she's not great at lifts, and I think that worked in her favour because they didn't make too much of them and concentrated on the tango content.
It's like the producers heard the cries for traditional music and got it completely wrong, thinking that traditional, classical European would do. Hm. They need to get a grip. However, this wasn't the worst choice and I like the band's rendition of it. It just hurts me because an Argentine Tango is so much better with authentic music. This was OK. Didn't blow me away, but there was a faint waft. 

Mark and Karen
I felt for Mark when I saw the rumba, this was never going to be his best. And then Karen went all contempo-emoootion on him. And wardrobe presented him with a pair of Gap khakis. But, do you know what, he did his best with what he was given and his performance was actually really good. Most men just look like they're cringe cringe cringe during the rumba, but he committed to it all the way. And then Len decided it was this particular couple he'd have a go at this week...
Whilst I agree that there should have been some rumba in this rumba, I do not agree that Len should have launched into poor Karen whilst the other pros have been getting away with all sorts for the rest of the series. He did the same to Trent last week. It's like expecting someone to play chess without knowing the rules and it's grossly, grossly unfair. 

Simon and Kristina
Simon just HAD to bring it with this dance, and asking someone to bring it with a foxtrot is a tall order, we mainly try to stay awake. But Kristina did it again, bringing the classic Hollywood glam that we love from these two, they're so smooth I'm surprised they don't slip over. And what a dress, Kristina, I'll even forgive you the cinema seat ending!
What Simon and Kristina do best. Cool as a refrigerated cucumber, and as classy as  a classroom full of classics students, this was great. I'm not convinced that the pros themselves are coming up with these arbitrary themes (in fact, I will put money on it), so I will not comment on it, other than that Kristina has been doing a great job shoehorning actual dance choreography into them. Lots of hold, and well executed. If these two don't reach the final I will be very angry. Raaa.

Caroline and Pasha
And now we're awake! A salsa song with someone singing in Spanish, heaven's above! On this night of all nights, seeing someone have such a bloody good time was a total tonic. There was so much oomph it even overshadowed the naffness of the pink outfits, great armography and energy all the way through too. Caroline's rise from always the bridesmaid to actually being the bride has been a delight to watch.
I actually didn't hate this. Those who are regular readers of this blog may faint in shock. I hate to break it to you all, but that track wasn't salsa. On the other hand, I was thankful of the latin flavour of it which was more appropriate than the usual tosh to which we are subjected. Caroline's body isolations were wonderful and Pasha's choreography was far more salsa than anything else we have seen this series. I would have liked to have seen more body movement in the basics in hold, but in the grand scheme of things, a big well done. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Gurn Baby Gurn

I hope you've all gotten over your travel sickness from the shocker that was Around the World Week, may it never darken our doors again. Lets get down to the tension of the quarter finals, hopefully with some proper dancing and battling it out to semis. And we have the waltz-a-thon - a group number based on ballroom, it's a revelation!

Simon and Kristina
These two look absolutely gorgeous, so old Hollywood and divine for an American Smooth. This had so much razzmatazz, Simon's worked so hard on his technique that he's now pulling off the ballroom numbers with aplomb. I think they were both so genuinely excited that the foot bit went wrong at the start of the last lift - other than that he seemed to be pulling off the lifts off with ease. I now want Simon to get to the final to see what Kristina does for their showdance.
I love the word aplomb. Genuinely thought poor Kristina was going to end up in a crumpled heap on the floor, but thankfully they managed to rectify the somewhat dodgy lift situation at the end. This routine may have had more clicks than the Addams Family, but they were seamlessly blended into the choreography and just exhibited Simon's spot on musicality. Love these two. I hope they're final-bound. 

Caroline and Pasha
After the epic horror of the so-called-Argentine-Tango of Jake's last week, this is exactly what we wanted - traditional music, low lighting and a hell of a lot of ooomph. The footwork was intricate and there was all the intensity that can be so hard to get. And like Darcey said, the lifts were great and didn't detract from the whole thing. Also liked the Rocky Horror moment of anticip....ation in the middle!
Great, a back-to-basics Argentine Tango 'show' style dance to a reet proper piece of tango music. Lovely arrangement by the band and this was beautifully danced. The embrace is never quite right for me in this dance, but by the standards of the show, and that neither is a trained AT dancer, this was a great job. Caroline for the final too, puh-lease. 

Pixie and Trent
Wow, Barbie and Ken are back in force! It's also hard to do a cha cha near the end of the series, but when you've got an amazing song like the Love Shack you might as well give it your all. Even if you're given a neon sports headband to wear. This was their 'straightest' routine for a while, I've grown fond of when they're just bonkers. It was fun and technically good, I could have done without Len going on for half an age....
And yes, here were Aerobics Barbie and Ken from circa 1986. This was kitsch, and cute. Yes, Pixie's technique is not perfect but it does seem to me that she was hammered to a different standard. That Len gave it an eight, yet gave Jake's ungainly spectacle a ten, is absurd. This two are an absolute joy to watch. They just exude energy like a shaken up bottle of cherry soda. 

Mark and Karen
The salsa of doom hit them last week, so it's nice that he got a ballroom number to work with, and oh my word Karen's dress is gorgeous. And celeb-girlfriend-prop, even if she is just on the phone - Andy Murray at least turned up eventually! There wasn't a huge amount in hold, but I can see why Karen did it, the foxtrot can be deathly dull and they needed to pull out all the stops this week. Mark's ballroom technique has really come on when you think about where he was at the start - we do love a tryer.
A lovely guy, and probably the most improved of this bunch. He genuinely had come from dodgy nightclub dancing and now look at him. Classy, elegant and charming. I don't see how a routine like this differs from what they call an 'American Smooth' - if routines like this are allowed, then surely the AS is obsolete? And rules apply to Pixie, but not Mark? However, I did like this, and I actually did vote for him. I would love to see him in the final too.

Jake and Janette
Has Jake got stuck in Around the World Week? Crikey there was some hideous gurning going on here, I just wanted to smack him round the face with a wet fish or something. Technically, this was great, there was loads and loads of choreography, energy and swivel, but my god it was annoying.
His technique wasn't bad at all - the little technique that there is in the charleston - but his gurning face made me want to stick red-hot pokers in my head. This did not, I repeat, not deserve a ten. Either: the producers want to keep him in to the final or Len just has a soft spot for him because he's a bit of a blokey LANDANAH. Ah oui, we all have our subconscious biases. He is an absolute good sport, but he is not a good a dancer as you think he is. Or he thinks he is. 

Frankie and Kevin
How many times have these two had the pimp slot this series? And what the hell was the sparkly angle-grinder about, most random proper ever?! I keep laughing at Kevin's lame outfit too, it looks like they got a shirt and trousers from Next and stuck some glitter on them. Yeah, it was a Strictly salsa, not much more to say, lots of steps and well performed and not even a vague attempt at being 'latin'.
This was not salsa. I can't even be bothered to say any more. 


The swing-a-thon has been packed away in a box forever, we can but hope. It's not the Grand Prix style of the crazy group Viennese Waltzes of old, but I'll take it. The dresses are prettier for a start.

As ever, these are designed to make it impossible to blog for, but here's a random stream of conciousness to keep you occupied. Pixie's top line is amazing, Simon and Kristina looked like they were in their own little world, Frankie's ballroom face is scarily blank, Caroline got lumped with the worst dress yet again. The whole thing was too short! Although, shockingly the judging was probably right!
The celeb girls really do have such a strong advantage with this, but Simon held his own - from the little the camera focused on them - and is far and away the best male left in the series. Far and away. Pixie stood out, but then she and Trent kind of draw you, which I guess, is the mark of a true show-person. I more or less agreed with the standings, and I wasn't expecting too, so well, I'm not going to moan about it, and that feels very odd.