Sunday, 14 February 2010

So...You Think Charlie Can Dance. Apparently.

Final - Results: 13th February 2010

Wow! I never thought they'd do it. After years of trying, finally 2655929 IS the Dream Number. After we finish watching Scott Mills literally twiddling his thumbs for a minute over the credits to the National Lottery (seriously man, take some pride in your work), we're back in the studio, with Cat still in her astroturf, informing us that earlier this evening, the three finalists gave everything, but only one can get the £100,000 prize money, dance in Hollywood, and earn the title "Britain's Favourite Dancer". I think they could probably dance in Hollywood one day Cat regardless. It might be on a street corner until the police move them on, just after they hurl a bottle of Jaegermeister at Fox Studios as they record the finals of the US version, yelling "IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME! STUPID STAGE SCHOOL BRAT! I CAN GET MY LEG UP OVER MY HEAD! LOOK! S'EASY! STUPID LANGFORD!". But they might still get to dance there. If we believe Kate Prince, the tramps do it, why can't Lizzie?

The show proper starts with this group number featuring the Entire Top Fourteen (Minus Robbie) we've heard so much about. It's to a "poppers o'clock" remix of Bad Romance with everyone dressed in white with gold accoutrements, possibly with a cane or seven in there somewhere. Chris is particularly noticeable, with gold frosted tips and his hair and his chest on display. Whose chest HAVEN'T we seen this series? Gavin's and Mark's and I think that's about it (ZOMG ETHNIC CONSPIRACY!) The girls who stand out most costume wise are probably Mandy, who has come as a rejected character from Dead Or Alive, and Anabel (remember her?), who is wearing hotpants wedged so far up her butt-crack they now how Nigel feels this evening in relation to Charlie. (Hi-oh!) It's very manic and clubby, and then at the end the three finalists walk out and... they just walk through the pack and finish. Makes all that whining about "WE HAVE TO LEARN 6 ROUTINES!" seem a bit much. I think even I could have done that.

The sad thing is that Charlie is wearing the best costume of them all - a half white and half gold cat-suit. I might have liked to see that on somebody actually dancing you know?

As they retreat, Cat compliments them on their strutting and warns us all that there will be a Robbie Williams performance coming up, and after that we'll find out who is Britain's Favourite Dancer. Unaccountably, this is going to take half an hour. Explaining why that might be, here's the section why we ask the judges their opinions. Nigel starts by saying that the person he would have voted for is Charlie, but he'll be happy to take any of the dancers to Hollywood and "expose their talents" to 20 million people.

You know, I made fun of a Guardian article on twitter for claiming this show gets "regular audiences of 20 million in America" (the last summer version struggled to hit audiences above 7 million) but it suddenly became very clear who was selling them that particular line of horsecrap.

Arlene is then asked who she would pick and she said based on tonight she would have gone for Charlie, but she thinks her dialling finger (*waggles her thumb*) would have been working for all three contestants, because apparently she's one of THOSE people. Who vote for everybody. Despite the fact it makes no difference. Everyone basically points and laughs at Arlene for her stupidity. As it should be. [It's my favourite part of the show. - Steve] Louise next, as Cat lays down the law and demands that she at least hoiks herself off the fence, and after a lot of mush-mouthing, she plumps for Lizzie, because of the table routine. (I'm So Glad To See The Back Of) Sisco finishes, by saying that before the question was asked, he would have said that for technical consistency he would have chosen Tommy and Lizzie, but because of tonight, he's going for Charlie. She blew everyone away apparently. I'm even more glad the judges had no power this week now, not that it would have made any difference.

Cat then tells us that it was 5 months ago that the show first asked Britain "So... You Think You Can Dance?" and got the response "who are you? Go away. I've got an alarm." and then went and scoured Britain's stage schools and begged for assistance. As a reminder of this phenomenon that has swept the nation (and put all the chairs up, after everyone had left for the evening) we're getting a recap VT covering the ENTIRE SERIES!

Somebody setting the bar very high! Hugo not having his visa! Lots of mentally ill people auditioning, who we didn't see then, so I don't know why we're being subjected to them now! Professor Deckchair! Fabia Cerra! Somebody whose feet were upset! Lots of golden tickets! Choreography Camp! Big Fat Inspiring Ros! Head Judge Tanatha! James Jordan... being James Jordan! Louise Redknapp being selected as a judge at the last possible minute! The creeping dread as we realised that yes (Shut Up) Sisco was going to be there every week! [Don't joke about it. The pain is still fresh. - Steve]

Mandy falling over in the opening routine! Alistair dressed like a pimped out golfer! Anabel flailing around like a broken Buckaroo and beating the shit out of Drew! "Colin Farrell" letting his partner down via not being loose enough! Yanet & Robbie's Crappy Stargate hip-hop! Bed Dance! Giant Lady! Gavin falling on his arse! Yanet teaching Tommy how to salsa! Cancer Dance! Hayley being a whingy little bint! Mark's baby! Yanet and Sisco being daggers drawn over her being the weakest girl! Drew's cock-phone! Tommy & Charlie's Hot Boxx! Goofy bell-hops! Mandy and Alistair doing the worst routine in the history of dance! Robbie breaking himself! Charlie growing as a woman! Lizzie becoming less shy! Tommy...being Swedish at all times!

It's been a hell of series if you condense it down to 180 seconds hasn't it? [Ironic, considering half the complaints about this series from the naysayers was that it was too short to work properly. - Steve]

As we return to the studio, Cat points at the eliminated dancers and calls them all reprobates and tells us that we've seen some incredible routines over the course of the series, but the judges have been asked to select their favourite to be performed again this evening, and (PHERRRRRRRR-NOMMM-IN-UWWWWWWWWW!) Sisco is asked what it was. The absence of a giant Stargate in the background tips me off slightly that I'm about to be disappointed. He runs through Lizzie & Mark's Viennese Waltz (eh?) and Cancer Dance, but the judges favourite is... well my favourite as well. It's time for a reprise of BED DANCE!

Anyway this has already happened, so there's not a lot to say. I'm sure we've already explained enough why it's amazing. Especially after these past few weeks, I do have to prise Raphael Bonjella Cool for spare and appropriate use of the prop. It might be CALLED Bed Dance, but the actual use of the bed is more of a framing prop than anything else. Also I'm still slightly amazed that the best routine of the whole series features HAYLEY of all people. [What? She was good! - Steve] It's exactly the same as last time, only Drew's had a haircut since (it was overshadowing him slightly) and if anything Hayley shrugs him to the floor a little harder this time.

Fun Fact : Lady Gaga wrote this song about her dad telling her had serious heart problems. So many of the best routines this year have been inspired to some degree terminal illness. I don't really know how to feel about that. Maybe make next year's series a bit happier? Maybe some routines about puppies and kittens?

Cat calls them over and they thank Rafael for the amazing routine and giving them the chance to dance it on television in front of TWENTY MILLION PEOPLE (/Nigel) before Cat shoos them off and tells them she'll see them at the party afterwards. I GUARANTEE Drew did body-shots off her. Guarantee.

HERE COME THE RESULTS (FIRST WAVE!) The three finalists troop out on stage, and Tommy has thankfully now put a vest on. Not that I object to Tommy nakeeness, but it's a bit undignified to get your results like that. Of course before anything happens we have to squeeze the judges dry of every last drop of opinion juice, with them being asked what the finalists major strengths are. (Oh Cock Off) Sisco says that Charlie's major strength is her "journey" (*roll eyes*) [how supportive - your biggest asset is an entirely fabricated reality TV conceit that you have no control over! - Steve], Louise says that Tommy's strength is that he's a pleasure to watch (always helps) and that he dances with conviction, and Arlene says that Lizzie's strength is "being Lizzie". Yeah... ok, get on with it now please.

Get on with it they do, with the axe falling on Lizzie first with a swiftness. After tonight I can see why. Her good routine was on first, then she suffered the CURSE OF LATIN, then her solo was a bit pants. Ah well. After the results are announced, there's an embarrassing faff as Lizzie thinks Cat is shooing her, when in fact it's Charlie and Tommy being nudged off so Lizzie can get a decent send-off. This is sadly nothing compared to the last US final, where someone crippled themselves mid-show, and Cat was left stood on an empty stage for at least 2 whole minutes squawking "WHERE IS EVERYONE? WHAT'S GOING ON?". Good times. Arlene is asked to eulogise Lizzie off, and so she does, saying "sod the public and their stupid phones, choreographers and ting will be calling asking for you RIGHT NOW LIZZIE!". But the lines have closed, so their opinions don't count and they will still be charged.

Lizzie is asked how she feels, and she says she feels very lucky to have got a different style every week (compare this with Charlie : two jazz, two contemporary, two hip-hop and Tommy : the same but minus contemporary) and she doesn't care what the show might say, she's going to go to America and kick arse anyway! Yay! Giant Lady therapy worked! She said "arse" on national tv! She can do anything now! Off she goes to the eliminee pit, where they all descend on her like zombies in Dawn Of The Dead as she is now ONE OF THEM and officially no better than Gavin.

Next, MORE RESULTS! BUT BEFORE THAT! Oh Cat... I thought you might have forgotten then, for one brief sweet moment. Yes, it's the holder of 6 UK number 1s, an outstanding benchmark of 55 million album-sales worldwide, the FERR-NOM-IN-UW Robbie Williams, with the "somehow even worse than Footprints In The Sand" Sports Relief single.

OK, I'm sorry I ever complained about Mika. For a start, for all its faults, I can actually remember his stupid "No Scrubs" rip off song now. I guarantee I'm never going to be able to remember this particular sufferance. Also, Robbie is noticeably incredibly out-of-tune throughout. Also, he does that itch-making "talking with the audience" thing throughout, which is quite likable when it's people who are actually enjoying themselves, or connecting with the song, or who want to sing along, but here's he's just picking on somebody who is waving their arms out of time (which I would blame on the song being completely lacking in rhythm or beat or anything at all tangible myself, but hey ho). Oh and half-way through he does some dad dancing, because, like, it's an ironic counterpart to the contestants who can dance, whilst he can't, or something I can't even be bothered to parse out (although that would certainly explain his performance of Angels with Olly on The X Factor Final). Anyway, it's stupid and boring and contains the word "troubador" and YUCK YUCK YUCK! I preferred him when he was on drugs. [He's not still on drugs? God, that just makes that performance even worse in hindsight. - Steve]

Cat and Robbie LA air-kiss and insincere themselves up forever, and it's his birthday and he's 36, and Cat jiggles around like a 16 year old and gets all ugly and none of this has not one thing to do with the results of this show, the most important of which is about to be announced in...ooh 3 minutes or so.

Final VT of the series now (hopefully!). Dancing means the world to Charlie and, despite the fact that she repeatedly referrs to herself in the third person, I still remain one of her few detractors to not dislike her as a person. She seems really nice, I just don't think she's a particularly great dancer. [Yeah, I'd agree with that - a bit overly-earnest, but that's not such a bad thing. And after tonight, I actually don't even dislike her dancing that much, though I still think Lizzie and Tommy were far stronger overall. - Steve] Tommy by comparison is much more stoical. Basically he has a really healthy attitude to the competition, and he sees it as an amazing experience and a great challenge but you can tell from his tone of voice that he wouldn't see it as the worst possible thing in the world if he lost. Which is just as well. Cause (*spoiler*) he's totally about to.

Back to the studio now, and Cat waves the results around obnoxiously whilst Charlie and Tommy hug in the centre of the stage. Once more she goes to the judges for another opinion, this time it being of Nigel saying "oh for God's sake get on with it" before making up some lies about how this is the first time in his extensive reality show history he hasn't known whose name was in Winners Envelope. I'd argue that's because it's impossible to discern who, if any, of these people the public actually like, but hey ho. The results come down and they are...

CHARLIE! She bends in half just as the fireworks of victory go off, giving the unfortunate lingering effect that they literally shot out of her ass.( Hey, just like this result did.) Now if they worked THAT into a routine I wouldn't have minded her winning. I must admit I never even once thought of the possibility that anybody other than Tommy might win once Alastair was eliminated so good for her. I guess. I can't help feeling her dancing on the Final of the US version is going to be a bit like when Will Young sang on Idol and they were all "who's this LAMEWAD?"

Her family go mental in the audience, and Tommy's very graceful and humble but... that's been his mode the entire series so who knows? Off he shuffles as Charlie is told that she is Britain's Favourite Dancer, and that people have been voting in their billions (/Nigel) for her and that she has won £100,000 dollars to spend on all the Cookie Monster t-shirts she wants. Charlie is at this point, like the best reality tv winners, utterly speechless, snotty, weepy, and incoherent and she fist pumps and mouth-farts through the entire moment. Nigel gets to eulogise her one more time, saying that she and Tommy both grew so much over the course of the series [what, no mentioning of how Lizzie learned not to be shy via Giant Lady Therapy? - Steve], but Charlie just edged it tonight, and he's going to be so glad to take her to America and show her off to everyone. He kind of makes her sound like King Kong.

Cat asks Charlie what she's going to remember and her answer is "everything". That's more than I will. We cut to Drew doing a little girly clap for her in the audience and then Cat growls out "That's it, BRITAIN!" sounding really aggressive. And it really is. That's your lot BRITAIN!

Thank you for reading, and commenting, and, against all the odds and possibly sanity (on both our parts and theirs) we'll be seeing you again next year hopefully. Along with (*fingers crossed*) Hugo.

Four to the floor. Oh, wait: three to the floor

Final: 13th February 2010

Well, folks, here we are - the grand final of So You Think You Can Dance. I'd like to say it's something that the entire nation has been talking about, but to be honest, I don't think that's true. The entire nation may be talking about it, but perhaps in more of an "oh, is that still on?" kind of way. But! For the six of us who are totally invested and do actually care about the result, Chris and I will be bringing you a blow-by-blow account of the final, and I would just like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who've stuck with us throughout the whole process. In particular, I'd like to thank the person who arrived here after googling the phrase "who is that twat sisco". I'm sure we'd have been married in another life. (Make it Mormon - Chris)

Anyway! After some quickly-cut establishing shots that they filmed for that solitary audition show that we saw, involving people in various stereotypical forms of dress representing different areas of the country, there are the judges, and some shots of last week's eliminees, as Cat reminds us that tonight is the grand final. We see brief snippets of the journey here, most of which we saw in equally brief snippets during the aforementioned standalone audition programme, including the much-missed Tanatha. Come back for season two, Tanatha! You've totally got our support! (Which means you'll be in the bottom two repeatedly, but hey, it's still support, right?) Anyway, over shots of the TOP 14 STARS, Cat informs us that the country's best dancers (and Gavin) made it to the live shows. We see clips of Drew and Hayley's Bed Dance, which doesn't, as you might think, segue into assorted other highlights from the series, but instead into the faces of (deep breath) Chris, Anabel, Gavin, Chloe, Mark, Hayley, Yanet, Drew, Mandy and Alastair as they were eliminated. SHOOGANOOGABOOGADANCE! However, Cat tells us excitedly, the past seven days have still been very exciting for the remaining finalists - particularly for Robbie, who we all know by now has fucked his shoulder up and thus eliminated himself. I'm not sure that's "exciting" for him so much as it's probably "gut-wrenchingly frustrating", but hey, maybe that's why no one asks me to do voiceovers. Well, that and the fact that I still have a bit of a lisp when I'm nervous. "It's over," a tearful Robbie tells us, while standing outside a posh-looking medical centre with his arm in a sling, just so we're really clear on this one. (He broke up with his unsupportive doctor boyfriend and it went BAD. That's what I got from that - Chris) So now there are three finalists: "this is the final," Charlie tells us unnecessarily. "There's only going to be one winner," Tommy says, equally unnecessarily (although I daresay there are still a few people out there who thought perhaps we might be voting for one male winner and one female winner, so I guess I'll allow it). "Everything comes down to this," says Lizzie generally, and boy howdy, are we about to see just how true that is. So, who deserves to be crowned Britain's favourite dancer? That's what Cat's wondering. Tonight, we'll get to decide. Except I was out at a party, so my opinion was not taken into account. (Didn't stop you with Jade on Strictly - Chris) Still, that's what I get for having outside interests. This! Is So You Think You Can Dance!

Titles, for the last time this series, so that calls for one final, very heartfelt SHOOGABOOGACANDANCE!

Someone is so excited to be here for the final that she literally stands up from her seat and turns her back to the stage, just so she can wave to the introductory panning camera shot. Calm down, dear. This is the final of a minority interest show about dancing. You'd reach a much wider audience waiting a few months and doing that on Britain's Got Talent. Even better: just sit there and roll your eyes at someone with bad hair who's about to reveal a reasonably good singing voice - you'll get a close-up and everything. Anyway, there's no all-dancing intro tonight, perhaps because you can't do "these are the boys!" when you only have one boy left in the competition, and perhaps also because they've already got seventy billion costume changes ahead of them tonight, and the producers felt it wise not to muddy the waters any further. Cat strides out, looking tall and wonderfully Amazonian as usual in a sequinned green dress, though her hair's a bit flat, and her make-up artist has been a little over-enthusiastic with the rouge on her cheekbones, which makes her look a little bit like an eccentric auntie. Still, she'd be an awesome eccentric auntie, wouldn't she? (I thought she looked she'd been rolled up in turf and blasted with the make-up gun set to "Aunt Sally". Worst she's EVER looked - Chris)

Cat praises the audience as usual, and then gets straight down to business, by saying "we knew that anything could happen on this show - and it has." I'm not saying this is an untrue or unfair statement, but...try and find me a show that a statement that vague couldn't be applied to. Still, it's all leading into a VT telling us stuff that we basically already found out from the pre-titles VT, so quite what the need is for Cat to be so coy, I'm not entirely sure. In the VT, we see Robbie and Tommy rehearsing their hip-hop routine (which will be performed later in tonight's show by Tommy and Mark), and things are going fine until Robbie spins and lands on his shoulder, immediately grabbing hold of it and crying out in pain. FutureVTRobbie describes it as "instant, blinding pain". Tommy helps him up and summons a medic, telling us that a dislocated shoulder is a terrible thing, and the final is a really bad time to get it. I know this is BBC One light entertainment and everything, but I think we could've all quite happily reached that conclusion by ourselves. Standing in a hospital corridor somewhere, Robbie quietly talks to the cameras about how this is a pivotal moment in his dancing career, and earns my respect for remaining fairly level-headed and not getting all Michael Underwood about it. (TYPICAL! TYPICAL! (ROFL!) - Chris) There are shots of Robbie lying on a gurney with his arm in a sling and his eyes closed and looking...kind of dead. Eek. The VT ends with the shot we saw earlier of him standing outside the clinic, and saying sadly "it's over". And man, I wish I weren't quite so sleep-deprived today because I'm welling up already, and this is really not the start I need.

So Robbie's in the studio with Cat now, still bandaged up. "Some people will do anything for votes," quips Cat, and I like that she's bringing a touch of gallows humour to the proceedings, because Lord knows on certain other shows you'd never be allowed to pretend that a contestant self-eliminating due to injury was anything less than an event of national tragedy. Cat asks Robbie what's going on, and Robbie explains that that it's dislocated very badly, and while his shoulder is painful, it's not as painful as having to pull out of the competition. And while that is a little bit trite-sounding, it did disqualify him from the final, so I'm willing to let it pass. Cat says as much, that having made it this far, he can "touch it, taste it, feel it",(they didn't mention THAT in the prize package - Chris) make it, who do you think you are? Robbie says that he's devastated, but he won't forget how lucky he was to be there in the first place. He thanks everyone who supported him and allowed him to get that far (and made sausages in the shape of his name - Chris), and says that he'll try to dance as much as he can for the rest of his life to make up for tonight. Awww.

Nigel's hair is still BIZARRE, and he says Robbie's situation is terrible: "it's like being an Olympic athlete, and just before you get into the games, you've trained for four years, and you can't make it." It's not quite like that, Nigel. No one had even auditioned for this show this time last year. However, and this is why I love Nigel, he follows it by saying: "I have to say, it's wonderful drama for a reality show, though." Hee! I love how there's no artifice with him, he's quite happy to sit there and go "yep, this does well for ratings, so I'm happy." He consoles Robbie with the knowledge that he's a brilliant dancer with a fantastic future ahead, and Cat wishes him a speedy recovery on behalf of the show, and with a final round of whooping from the audience, Robbie is gone.

Cat counts off the remaining finalists on her fingers and explains once more what they're all competing for tonight. She also reminds us that the judges have lost their power, and asks Arlene how that feels. Arlene: "We've relinquished everything that we thought we had." I'm assuming this includes dress sense, perspective, and bowel control. Anyway, it's now down to the public to decide who they want to "shower in stardust", as Arlene puts it. Cat says that there can only be one winner, and someone in the audience shouts a name - I can't make it out, and it doesn't sound like any of the finalists, but Cat giggles and shouts back that it was "more of a hiccup than a name". Again, I don't get why people have been knocking Cat on this show - I love how she's just so relaxed and assured with her role on it that little things like that don't bother her, whereas Dermot O'Leary still can't adequately fill the slot between the two sing-offs on The X Factor after three years in the job. Cat promises that while we've lost Robbie the dancer, we've got another Robbie to replace him: bloated borewhore Robbie Williams, who'll be here later in the part of the show that I don't have to recap, thankfully.

Finally, it's time for some dancing: Charlie, Lizzie and Tommy are dancing a hip-hop routine to 'I Gotta Feeling' by the Black Eyed Peas, which seems to have been inspired by the film Mannequin (/that awesome Sophie Elis Bextor video - Chris) - Tommy is a poorly-dressed boy walking down a grimy street, while Charlie and Lizzie are hookerish dummies in a shop window. It starts slowly, with a bit of business as Tommy pantomimes the moves that Lizzie and Charlie make behind the glass, and then - awesomely - Lizzie and Charlie smash the glass and sass their way through it. Well, I say "awesomely" - it's pretty fantastic, and one of the two moments in tonight's show that genuinely gave me a giddy thrill, but I couldn't help noticing that Charlie's pane doesn't really shatter properly. Poor Charlie - even her glass-smashing lacks technical finesse. Anyway, it's not entirely unexpected, given that hip-hop is Tommy and Lizzie's discipline of speciality, but Charlie does struggle to keep up in this number - she's noticeably a few beats behind them at several points, and just doesn't have the dynamism that the other two have, but credit where it's due, she's a lot better than I thought she would be, and really does come surprisingly close to matching them. It's also nice to have a really strong hip hop routine on this show that's being well-danced to boot - apparently Frank Gatson was responsible to this, which definitely makes up for that mess he choreographed for Charlie and Tommy in week two. Oh, and there's no Kate Prince anywhere in sight tonight, I'm sure you'll be relieved to hear. Anyway, it's a good scene-setter for tonight, and suggests we've actually got some genuinely exciting stuff coming up. Whether the rest of the night delivers on that promise, I'll leave it to you to decide.

A VT plays with the contestants' numbers on it, though the lines are not yet open: poor Lizzie begins her run of misfortune tonight when her VT involves an alarming close-up on her face that shows every pockmark on her skin (and I'm not even watching in HD) and genuinely makes her look slightly terrifying. Tommy looks cute in his, though his weird teeth are kind of prominent. And Charlie just has that eerie stage-school glare of intensity in hers, though I'd say she looks the most normal of the three of them. I'm marking relatively here, obviously. (She looked like a Who from Whoville - Chris)

Cat explains that each of the finalists will be dancing as couples tonight, and Lizzie and Tommy are the first two to pair up. We get a Tommy-intensive VT to lead into it, in which Tommy reminds us that he is an adrenaline junkie, and we see his first audition, back in the good old days when Sisco was just some gonk in a stupid hat and not the bane of my existence. We see him getting good feedback from Nigel and Arlene, and he confesses that week three was the first time he took on a style that he'd never done before (which was his salsa with Yanet, wherein the CURSE OF LATIN landed him in the bottom four). He says that he felt very lonely when the public didn't support him with that, which is unusual for him because he's on his own a lot. Because his (awesome - Chris) sister is in Sweden. Except when she is here! Doing surprise visits and being supportive, as she is now. Then there's a clip of his amazing Broadway performance with Mandy, and Sisco asking Tommy precisely what it is that he can't do. I'm assuming "slap Sisco" is one of the items on that list, sadly. Tommy says that he wants to win the show for everyone who's supported him, and that he can become Britain's favourite dancer.

Big close-up on Tommy's sister, as Cat introduces their dance, a jazz number to 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)' in which they appear to be acting out a deleted scene from Working Girl, which requires Lizzie to wear a hideously unflattering jumpsuit. It's a pleasingly energetic routine, particularly on Tommy's side as he keeps vaulting over Lizzie and/or the table. There's one high lift which seems to go very slightly wrong, as Lizzie seems to overbalance at the apex, but they recover fairly quickly. There's also another awesome move in which Tommy leaps onto the table, supports himself on just his hands and raises his legs up at a 45-degree angle and just holds them there, which hurts me just to look at it. It's a well-danced routine by both of them, but I think he outshines her on the whole.

Nigel quickly avoids any controversy by telling Cat that she'll remember this routine from season three of the show in America, where it debuted (avoids controversy except via the fact that we're sudenly announcing this about a routine that didn't involve Charlie *strokes conspiracy beard* - Chris) - it was choreographed by Mandy Moore (no, not that one) and got her an Emmy nomination. It was also danced by Sabra, who went on to win the competition, trivia fans. I know some people aren't thrilled at the number of recycled routines we've been getting, but frankly, anything that gets Mandy Moore on our version is fine with me. (She has choreographed routines to both "Alone" by Heart and "Heartbreaker" by Pat Benatar. I can hear Steve's excitement from here - Chris) I wonder if we'll be getting NappyTabs next year? (Aw HAYULL no - Chris) Anyway, Nigel says that she's extended it for this version, and that the routine is better for it. Also (and this is getting rather old meme now), that two contemporary dancers did it originally, whereas "you are hip-hop and a breakdancer - you haven't done this style, as such, before." That's because poor Lizzie ends up having to learn a new discipline every week, unlike some I could mention. Nigel commends them for their storytelling, and for Tommy's plange (fnar) where he suspended his legs in mid-air. He says that they've set a target for everybody else - i.e. Charlie. Arlene says they can both dance, that's a given, but the acting was feisty, fiery and fierce. She then turns to Lizzie and points her finger, and for a second I think that, given the number of business metaphors Arlene's been spewing in the last ten seconds, she's about to say "you're fired", but instead she calls Lizzie a dancer, a goddess, and a star. Louise is pleased to see them both in the final and compliments them both on their timing and precision, and she can see both of them capable of being crowned Britain's favourite dancer. And finally, Who Is That Twat Sisco says it was a fantastic opening to the show, and gives us our first "phenomenal" of the night. The first of many, I assure you.

Tonight's running order is a bit off, because Lizzie's now got to do an extremely quick change before coming back to dance with Charlie, but not before we see that scary voting numbers VT again. Once we've defeated the end of level boss in Scary Closeup Land, Cat tells us that we're going to get to see our girls perform together, and rings the "Lizzie is very shy" bell again. In her VT, Lizzie admits to having been petrified at the auditions because so many people were there. However, she just put her nerves behind her, and got a golden ticket from Arlene for her troubles. She admits that because she was up against dancers from all across the country, that she knew she was in for a massive challenge. We see Tramp Dance briefly again, and Arlene overuses the word "unique" beyond all recognition. She feared having to wear heels and a dress for the Viennese waltz, but still managed to be awesome during it, and set off Nigel's "street dancers excelling at ballroom" lightbulb above his head. That gave her a boost of confidence, which was subsequently eroded by Giant Lady bellowing in Lizzie's face that she'd need to thrust her tits at Drew good and proper (and as much as I love Giant Lady, I really wish we could've relived their getting-to-know-you playdate here, because that was awesome). Disco gave her confidence again some more, then she went back to visit the adorable moppets in her class (and props to this show for portraying teaching as a valid career choice and something that can be hugely defining for the kids, unlike on X Factor where it's just something Bellowing Beverley does until she's vaguely famous enough to tell the kids to fuck off and educate themselves). Lizzie thought that this competition was about dancing, ON ICE. Oops, wrong show. But she now realises it's about growth and self-belief, and hating Sisco. (much like life - Chris)

Lizzie and Charlie take on their Broadway routine, to the movie version of 'All That Jazz' from Chicago, starring as bloodthirsty chorines - is it too easy a joke to suggest this part requires no acting from Charlie? It is? Tough, I'm going to say it anyway. It's great to see two girls dancing a number together, though for some reason Charlie and Lizzie don't quite gel as a duo for me. Too different, I suppose. It's a minor gripe, anyway. There's some lovely synchronisation between them in the early stages, though it gets a little sloppy midway as the music kicks up a notch and they start running on adrenaline. They're pretty evenly matched, which is nice, but Charlie's wider breadth of experience in this genre puts her ahead of Lizzie, just about - Lizzie still looks slightly nervous throughout, but Charlie's giving it some proper West End sass.

Afterwards, Cat calls them "two completely different women" (well spotted, Cat), and leads them into the lions' den once more. Except the judges aren't really lions. Meerkats, perhaps. (bobcats-Chris) Arlene is briefly praising of Lizzie before exclaiming that if this was Oscar night, Charlie would've swept the board. Unless that was "swept the boards", and she would in fact have been removing Meryl Streep's footprints at 3am once the ceremony was over and the champagne had run out. Louise points out that they've chosen difficult careers and therefore have to love it to survive, and says that this was Charlie's moment, while Lizzie danced with an edge and was "personable". Sisco was looking forward to this one "because you have hip-hop and musical theatre/jazz merging together", and thinks that "cheeky Charlie" (ugh) gave a mature performance. I didn't really see "mature" in there, but okay. Lizzie on the other hand, was "LIVING! LIVING!" Well, of all the digital channels to be, that's a pretty good one. Better than Granada Men and Motors, anyway. Nigel wanted them in the parts of Roxie and Velma in Chicago, and thought they proved their worth as "Britain's favourite girl dancers", an accolade right up there with "Britain's favourite Labour MPs", I shouldn't wonder. Cat compliments the girls on their sparkles and promises more from them later.

After a reminder that Robbie is ill and thus the three most recent male eliminees will return to substitute for him later, Cat leads into Charlie's VT, describing how Charlie is basically a dancing foetus and everyone thought she was too young for the competition. Dudes, she's 19, not 9. VT Charlie says that it feels like a different girl auditioned for the show, because (say it with me now) she never stood out at auditions and her confidence had gone. This is after, what? Maybe three years on the audition circuit, if that. Cry me a dripping river, princess. I spent that long trying to get any job where I couldn't be replaced at any given moment with a well-trained hamster. Luckily the judges saved Charlie from the horrors of looking for a "real job", though she was criticised in the early shows for being a bit stage school, in much the same way as Tommy was criticised for being "a bit Swedish". Charlie wants to come across as a woman, despite being the youngest, and then she got Cancer Dance. "It was my time," says Charlie, sagely. Well, in that case, it was brave of her to wear such revealing underwear. Oh, sorry: "it was my turn around and go 'there's no way you can tell me I'm a little girl now.'" Instantly, she became a woman and Sisco became a quivering wreck. Well, more so. Now she's in the final, and she wants to win - "I'm going for this, big time."

Her piece with Tommy is a tango (looks to me like it is specifically an Argentine tango) to 'El Tango De Roxanne' from Moulin Rouge (as sung by Animal from The Muppets - Chris), and they're on chairs, which are being masterfully controlled by Tommy. It's actually very nicely controlled from both of them, and for all my griping in recent weeks about Charlie never finishing her moves properly, she's pretty sharp in this one. If I have one complaint with the routine, it suffers a bit from Gatsonitis: it shows off Charlie at the expense of Tommy, who doesn't get to do much other than be a very supportive partner.

Cat talks excitedly about bordellos while Katya And Her Attractive Professional Partner Klaus, applaud in the audience. Nigel is alarmed by the disappearance of Cheeky Charlie and her replacement with some temptress in a red dress. He praises the choreography and the chemistry, before saying he would've liked Tommy to get a bit more angry with it. Well, we saw where that got him when he tried it with Frank, so I can understand why he'd opt for just gritting his teeth. I wonder if anyone's ever tried getting angry with Giant Lady? I'd pay double the licence fee if they can promise me that in series two. By contrast, Nigel thought Charlie's face showed she was really feeling it: "young lady, you shouldn't be going to places like that!" Nigel, she's 19. (and it's a BAR - woooooooooooo - Chris) She's allowed to work at Places Like That if she wants to. He says that they're being pushed in all different directions - first the Broadway routine with Giant Lady, and now this, and the diversity of the routines is showing how hard all the contestants are working. He thinks Charlie's "eased into the front" for him. (I would speculate she let him "ease into her...*libel deleted* - Chris) Arlene thought it was full of "love, lust and longing", and basically didn't pay any attention to Tommy at all. Poor Tommy. Louise thought they did well to make themselves bigger than the terrifying music, and tells Charlie she's getting sexier, "so I'm pleased it's the final because I don't know what's going to happen." Hee! She then gives Tommy some long overdue praise for being so strong and "holding it together". Cat, earning her wages in a way that Tess Daly can only dream of, reminds us that even in a dance that showcases the female, she needs a strong and reliable male there to stand any chance of making it work, (normally I'd agree but Daly? Miss an opportunity to talk about how much harder it is for the men? No. - Chris) and Louise says that it's testament to Tommy's ability that Charlie was obviously so comfortable with him. Sisco, surprisingly useful for once, offers Tommy more credit for being the most consistent dancer on the show, never offering a duff performance. "And your sister's here tonight too!" Cat non-sequiturs.

With all three finalists having performed twice, Cat declares the phone lines open for 30 short minutes. (Yes, a minute can vary in length - you've obviously never travelled on the London Underground.) Time for the return of the prodigal sons to take the place of Injured Robbie - first up, Alastair's here to assist Lizzie. In her second VT of the night, Lizzie talks about being in danger for the very first time last week, and how scary that was. Backstage, Arlene counsels her to believe in her head that she is a winner. Lizzie storylines that she has six routines to learn this week: jazz with Tommy, Broadway with Charlie, samba with Alastair, the pop-jazz group number, and also a group number with the entire Top 14 (and I'll let Chris explain why that one is a bit of a red herring in his recap), and her solo, which involves a lot of spinning on her head. Lizzie is always rehearsing, either in her mind or in her body, she tells us. Her next routine is her samba with Alastair, which is both the CURSE OF LATIN, and the curse of...being partnered with Alastair who, while arguably lovely, is not the most versatile dancer to have graced this competition. He's excited to be back, anyway, and Lizzie hopes they'll have a good connection because he's pretty. I believe that's the exact same way the Hollyoaks casting people check their leads for chemistry. (They do what now? - Chris)

Their samba is to 'Magalehña' by Sergio Mendes (BESTEST. SONG. EVER - Chris), and it opens with some lifts which are rather shakily supported by Alastair (backing up Cat and Louise's earlier point about the importance of strong, supportive male dancers even when a dance is designed as a female showcase), though once it gets going there's lots of shimmying and I think Lizzie is making an impressive fist of it despite it not being her discipline, once again. It's perhaps a little rough around the edges, but assuming we're just evaluating the actual competing dancer, it's one of the better Latin performances from this series. Louise loves Lizzie, but thought that performance lacked "dirt and passion". I swear, the first time I heard her comments, I could've sworn Louise said "it was good, but it was just a bit shite", though repeated rewatching has proven that she said "just a bit shy and a bit English." (JOURNEY FAIL - Chris) Damn you, random glottal stops! Louise wishes Lizzie good luck for the night, and then Sisco disagrees, and says that while Alastair did a great job, he wasn't giving her anything to generate chemistry with. He tells Lizzie that she was doing a one-woman show, and then barks out "LIVING! LIVING!" again, making me wonder if he's got some kind of product placement deal with Virgin Media Television. (Or sofa manufcaturers. I appear to have just punched a hole in mine - Chris) He can't believe it's the same shy girl, now in her two-piece. Nigel agrees with them both, somehow, saying that it was a one-woman show, but that's no bad thing, and thinks he's seen better chemistry between her and Alastair and basically that he always thought they were fucking - except the only other time they danced together, he said he didn't believe they were in love with each other. This seems like a very odd time to be trying to develop a showmance, especially such an internally inconsistent one. However, Nigel appreciates the difficulties they've had with the last-minute substitution, and he thinks that she's done a fantastic job considering what's been asked of her tonight, though this routine was not her best. Arlene says that while they may have been doing "some very special practising" (and I am SO calling it that from now on), but she doesn't care, because she's amazed at how Lizzie picked up the complicated samba footwork in such a short amount of time. "Phenomenal!" count: approximately one billion. Cat asks Lizzie what the kids she taught make of her being in the final, and Lizzie says that they've always seen her as a hip-hop teacher, so to see her doing different styles has been amazing for them. That is assuming they weren't just all going "SQUEEEEE! ALASTAIR!" like they did when she went back to see them.

Cat accuses Nigel and Arlene of being "stirrers" and then Nigel and Arlene make sexyfaces at each other, and it's all very disturbing, so I'm not going to go into any more detail on that one.

Next up are Tommy and Mark: in his VT, Tommy says that it's been a tough week and his body's more tired than one of Arlene's similes, while his mind is more frazzled than Sisco's hair. He's very excited that he now gets to do his hip hop routine with Mark, because they've wanted to work together in their shared discipline, and now they finally have the opportunity to do so. Wooo! Bromance! Tommy can't wait to get on stage and nail it. The routine. Obviously!

It's to 'Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger' by Daft Punk and they spend a good quarter of it standing in front of screens on opposite sides of the stage from each other, miming the sliding of stuff. It's probably the most eye-catching routine of the night, though for my personal tastes, it's a little over-choreographed in places - they're trying to shoehorn so many moves in so quickly that you can't really see any of it individually, and that annoys me when I'm trying to evaluate if they're doing it well or not. Nonetheless, it's frenetic and engaging and ends with them clotheslining each other and knocking themselves out, so how can you not love that? It's definitely lucky for Tommy that Robbie was injured though, because no way could Robbie have kept up with him in that one as effortlessly as Mark did. (I thought Mark out-danced him quite significantly. Might have been better to have someone he could out-shine. Although the possibility of Robbie decapitating him with one of his limbs probably balances it out - Chris) Choreographer Simeon Qsyea applauds, and Cat says it must have been fun for Tommy: it was. Nigel love Tommy's warmth (ooer), but feels like he needs another persona, because he's been Tommy in every number: it might be enough because his dancing is superb, but presumably he needs to grow and simultaneously be both CHEEKY and also A WOMAN like Charlie has been tonight. Nigel also worries that at time his attention was drawn more to Mark than to Tommy, but he's thrilled to have seen popping done properly on the show. As opposed to when he saw Drew backstage, when he just saw poppers being done properly. Kidding! I love you really, Drew. Call me! Arlene thought it was "like the Winter Olympics and you were heading for the downhill slalom or something." Who in the what now? She calls him a master of "this old-school style" and literally bows to him. Louise was pleased to see two of the UK's best hip-hop dancers on the stage. Sisco was pleased to see it all being done properly, both old-school and new-school, and that the floor work was floorless. Er, flawless.

Next up is Charlie and DREW! YAAAAAAY DREW! God, I've missed him and his general aura of awesomeness. In her VT, we revisit Charlie's confidence boost from making the final, and she's determined to make it a great show. Like Lizzie and Tommy before her, she cops to being basically knackered, and even talks us through her new collection of blisters. Heh. She's dancing a lyrical (ie. contemporary) piece with Drew, who arrives complete with fetching new haircut, and they're both excited to be working together again, even though the last time they worked together, he was eliminated and she had her only visit to the bottom four. Drew thinks their duet is going to show Charlie at her very best, and Charlie says very seriously that she hopes this lyrical routine is as good as her first. You might even say she's as serious as cancer (when she says rhythm is a dancer).

They're dancing to 'I Surrender' by Celine Dion (with choreography courtesy of Mandy Moore), and honestly, I'm just floored by this routine - it's tricky stuff that they've been given, requiring a hell of a lot of confidence and control and trust, and they're just breathtaking together. There's a particular bit that Chris and I both loved where Drew scurries across the stage to ready himself for Charlie to jump into a lift, and you just see the tiniest nod of his head as he's coaxing her on (which made us both scream "BRING IT, BITCH!" in our position as instantaneous dance-to-English translators) and the resulting lift is epic indeed. Drew and his awesome new hair wave goodbye sunnily, and Cat is impressed that Charlie has been walking on air. Arlene thinks Charlie is an inspiration to any little girl who wants to dance, and she squeezed so much passion into that routine. She is, in fact, touched by what Charlie has done. Louise says that dancing is about connecting with your audience, and Charlie captivated her tonight - she's grown as a dancer AND AS A WOMAN, and is now the whole package. Then Sisco reverts to type after his brief flirtation with being useful, just sighing the name of the contestant he's judging repeatedly in an awestruck sort of way and taking ages to say anything beyond that. In fact, he doesn't really say anything other than thanking Mandy for her choreography, though he does call it the best routine of the night. Charlie says that their comments have made her night. Nigel says that Drew was brilliant in it (DARN TOOTIN'), but Charlie had to raise her standard to meet Mandy's choreography, which she did. He's also pleased to be able to go back to America when Mandy rehashes this routine for season 7 (presumably) and say that this one was originally done in the UK by two amazing dancers. Sisco screams "UK!" and pumps his arms obnoxiously. Nigel closes by saying he doesn't care if people think he's biased - Charlie's just the best, okay?!?!!?!

After all those couple dances, it's solo time! Lizzie's up first: her solo to Rihanna's 'Don't Stop The Music' is a bit of a let-down, at least in terms of the awesome solos Lizzie has delivered before. It's fine, but unexceptional, I imagine because she's had so much other stuff to work on this week that this has probably had to take a back seat. Her head spin doesn't quite seem to get up the necessary spin, and lands rather awkwardly. Louise says that it's not a one-horse race, because Lizzie delivers exciting and unique solos every week, and she loves watching her. "Let's hear it for it's Lizzie!" says Cat, as Lizzie vanishes.

Next, Tommy is shirtless and wearing oddly proportioned trousers, dancing to 'Cry Me A River', proving once more how scarily flexible he is, and doing a somersault that looks like Liu Kang's death blow in Mortal Kombat. Arlene busts out a couple more "phenomenals" for good measure and expresses her appreciation of Shirtless Tommy. Cat warns Nigel not to follow suit, and reads Tommy's phone number out for the viewing masses. Someone in the audience screams "I want your babies!" (maybe it was Natasha Bedingfield) and Cat's mock-appalled: "He's only taken his shirt off! Easy!" Heh.

Charlie's solo to 'Livin' La Vida Loca' finishes things off, and is more of the gymnastic, stretch, splits stuff that all of her solos revolve around, but it's executed well enough. She finishes with the splits, and just in case we were in any doubt that she's a woman now, we've all seen her vagina and have all the evidence we need. Nigel has nothing more to say to Charlie, so he lines up Arlene instead. Arlene says it was "one of your best, it wasn't necessarily your best" -- what?? Seriously: what?? Are these really the refined expert opinions we were so afraid to lose from Strictly Come Dancing? Nonetheless, Arlene thinks what Charlie has done tonight is "mega", and possibly also "rad" and "wicked".

And that's it! All that remains is the video recap, and as always, it feels somewhat redundant to recap the recap, so I'll skip over that. Cat urges us to vote, and Nigel says that the dancers have all been inspirational, particularly to the people who are debating taking part in series two, plug plug, for which auditions will apparently be happening soon. Arlene thinks it was like a "pick 'n' mix" tonight with all the choice, and it comes down to whether you like the pear drops or the lemon drops, but she thinks it's a battle of the girls, and Lizzie may have won it with her acting in 'Sweet Dreams'. Louise agrees with that, but also cites Charlie in the lyrical, and Sisco thinks the "hip hop was representin'". Time for a final VT as they beg for votes: Nigel claims they'll never get the opportunity to dance in America again (I find that claim somewhat dubious), Tommy thinks dancing in Hollywood is every dancer's dream (I think Drew had some dreams that beg to differ. About Alastair - Chris) , Lizzie would love to go over there and work with some of the best choreographers in the world (yeah, they'll be LINING UP AROUND THE BLOCK - Chris), and Charlie thinks it would be "mind-blowing" (we can but hope - Chris). Tommy thinks he can win because he's put everything he's got into the competition. Charlie came here to win, and therefore presumably not to make friends. Lizzie, meanwhile, has never won anything in her life, so winning would prove to her that it's all been worth it.

Cat teases the delights coming up in the second half, and also Robbie Williams. Cat declares the phone lines closed, and the top three will discover their fates after Scott Mills reads out some numbers. Ooh!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Mañana Montanez

Top 6 Results: 6th February 2010

Cat's looking very serious (or at least what passes for looking very serious in the field of light entertainment) as she informs us that there are six dancers competing for four slots to have a shot at one prize. We've all had our say, the lines have been closed and the votes counted, and we're about to find out who we've left at the mercy of the judges. The dream is over for one girl and one guy, but who they? Titles!


We come in to a deleted scene from Working Girl 2: Working Girls, the little known straight-to-DVD 2004 sequel starring Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff. Mandy, Charlie and Lizzie are in skirt suits and answering telephones (and I feel it necessary at this point to clarify that none of these phones are situated in their pants), while Tommy, Alastair and Robbie lurk behind them carrying briefcases. A remix of 'Big Spender' plays as the girls roll around in a pre-watershed version of "sexually aroused", while the boys apparently ply them with trinkets. A furiously-applauded solo spot in the middle involves Charlie sticking her leg right up in the air again, as though we're supposed to still be surprised that she can do this. It goes on for about eleventy billion years, and then the girls relieve the boys of their jackets, and then pull their trousers down so that we can see they're all wearing matching red boxer shorts. Regrettably, there is not then a brief breakdown in which Tommy chastises the other two for not following the plan they'd set out weeks ago about running their underwear choices past each other before the show started. (Hey, several of pairs of Alistair's pants went missing after Yannet and Drew were eliminated. They're working with what they've got left - Chris) Anyway, the boys end up on the floor while the girls pose over them holding briefcases and waving their new jewellery while money falls from the ceiling, and this is why female emancipation is a bad thing. I'm kidding! Maybe.

Cat enters and invokes applause for the routine and Giant Lady, who choreographed it. She tells the dancers well done, and then advises them to go backstage and put some trousers on, since the lines are now closed and it's too late for their pant-displaying state to benefit them. She may not have said that last bit. Cat then tells us that the results are imminent, as is a performance from Leona Lewis. She also points out that this is the last time the judges can save people from danger because next week is the final. To be honest, the judges should have lost their save power weeks ago, but I guess I should be glad they're letting go of it at all, rather than sitting there on finale night and saying "fuck the public vote, we declare Charlie the winner", which would not really be the best way to reward the 300 people who are still watching. (I'd LOL - Chris)

The judges are reintroduced, and nobody has taken advantage of the hour the show was off the air to sort Nigel's hair out. What exactly do we pay our licence fee for, if not that? Time for a reminder of what happened earlier, viz: Arlene loved Lizzie and Robbie's vaudeville-style Broadway routine, and they were too busy getting changed for their next routine to celebrate. Mandy and Alastair ripped off Bed Dance, and she was good and he was not, and Sisco liked it a lot, and backstage Mandy said that it was the best they'd ever done it. Tommy danced with his shirt off and gave Louise the vapours, while Nigel thought they rose to the challenge. Lizzie and Robbie's hip hop routine got less enthusiastic reviews, but was still well-received in the broad sense. Alastair and Mandy's paso doble was considered a hot mess by just about everyone, and backstage Alastair felt like he'd let Mandy down, which he sort of had, because he wasn't very good (And he sort of hadn't, because she sucked as hard as he did-Chris). Charlie and Tommy finished things off with a bonkers quickstep by Karen Hardy, which they got a great reception for and squealed about backstage. Louise doesn't know how they'll decide who to send home. Nigel thinks that they really need to impress the public. Sisco thinks that not all the routines were successful, but everyone "gave it 110%" (cock), (If Alistair had given 110% cock he might still be there...-Chris) and Arlene was apparently too busy sticking pins in an Alesha Dixon voodoo doll to comment.

Time for another VT, this time telling us all how much the competition means to everyone. Lizzie says that it's helped her to grow both as a person and as a performer - she never thought she'd get here, but now she's here, she'd love to make it to the finals. Charlie also never thought she would be here "at 19 years of age" (fuck off) and really wants to prove herself to the public. Mandy's husband has been very supportive, and she thinks that being in the final would prove that all of the hard work she's done in her entire life was worth it. (Calm down dear - Chris/the nation)

Three beautiful girls stand before her, but Cat only has two photos in her hands. Oops, wrong show. Anyway, she congratulates them all for making it this far, but warns them that two people will be in danger tonight. Mandy got called a "true survivor" by Sisco, Lizzie got told by Nigel that her personality had come through, and Charlie was told by Arlene that she can't keep in rhythm. The first dancer definitely in danger is...Mandy. Cat hugs her, but Mandy's all "what the fuck ever, I've done this twice already, I knew it was coming." Cat asks Arlene for her opinion on this, and Arlene says that Mandy's solos are always strong, so she needs to dance her heart out later. She means that literally, Mandy: dance it out, and then Arlene will have it for dinner later with a dash of soy sauce and a red cabbage salad. That leaves Lizzie and Charlie awaiting their fate, and the contestant with a definite slot in the final is...Charlie. (BOOOOOOO! - Chris) Charlie covers her face and whimpers, while Lizzie hugs her, and Cat reminds us that Lizzie has never had to dance FOR HER LIFE before. Louise assures Lizzie that every dance she's ever done on this stage has been exceptional, and she's sure this one will be no different.

Lizzie runs off, and Cat turns to Charlie and says: "and now I have to talk to you." HA! I mean, she said it cheerily enough, but in print, it just sounds so unwilling, doesn't it? A teary Charlie thanks the public for voting and keeping her in, and runs off into the pit, where there is no one to hug. Ah, the perils of being successful.

Right, onto the boys, so it's VT time all over again: Robbie says he's been through so much, and to go out now would let down his friends and family and devastate him. Tommy agrees that going out in the semi-final is the worst thing in a way, because you're so close to the final. It probably doesn't suck as much as making the final only to come 4th though, surely? Alastair says that making the final would be the only way he can say thank you to everyone who's supported him this far. Spoiler alert: Alastair is an ingrate.

So, the boys all stand in a line next to Cat, in solo-ready clothes, looking various degrees of nervous (Robbie is twitching, Alastair is solemn, Tommy couldn't really give a shit (I love how the nation was all WE NEED MORE AUDITIONS TO GET TO KNOW THESE PEOPLE'S PERSONALITIES MORE and now they're about to vote someone without any "personality" (in reality show terms) whatsoever the winner - Chris). Cat reminds Tommy that Arlene called him the most versatile contestant, and Robbie that Sisco said his hip-hop number took him from zero to hero (it did? Surely the other way around? Then again: why am I debating the inner logic of something Sisco said?) (I think he meant in hip-hop terms when comparing it to his first attempt at it, with the lovely Yanet - Chris), and Alastair is told that Nigel loved his contemporary dance, though the scatching reviews for his paso doble are unsurprisingly omitted. Cat opens her envelope (ooer) and reveals that the first dancer in danger is Alastair. Robbie grabs Alastair's shoulders as he walks past, and Tommy taps him on the arm supportively.

Cat asks Sisco, since he loved the contemporary routine, what did he see that the public didn't? I can't answer that, but one thing Sisco clearly did not see before leaving his dressing room this week: a mirror. Thank you, I'll be here all week! (Not really, this isn't Dancing on Ice.) Anyway, Sisco wishes Alastair good luck, and Alastair takes the walk of shame stage left. Giant Robbie and Tiny Tommy put an arm on each other's shoulder, in a way that has to be kind of uncomfortable, and Cat reveals that the male dancer definitely through to the final is...Tommy. Awesome! He's my pick of the boys at this lamentable, Drew-less stage. Cat stands in between them, and very sweetly tells Robbie that this means he will have to do his solo, but it isn't necessarily the end of the road. Nigel's opinion is solicited, and he says that looking at it the other way, clearly Tommy did a great job tonight. Nigel doesn't think Robbie needs to do anything to improve, he's doing brilliantly, though obviously something is not connecting with the viewers. This disregards the possibility that Chris explained to me earlier, that due to the unique way So You Think You Can Dance is voted for by you, the viewer, Robbie could've been 8th out of 8 last week and 2nd out of 6 this week, and still have been B4 both times, so two consecutive danger-zone appearances at this stage doesn't automatically mean an absence of public support. Anyway, Nigel hopes that Robbie can remain next week and find that level of support. Somewhere offstage, Alastair's all "well, shit." (I know - Alastair obviously pissed Nigel off this week for some reason - Chris)

Cat congratulates Tommy, the "first finalist" (because nobody cares about Charlie) and Tommy thanks everyone who's voted him to the final, and he can't wait for the big challenges that await him next week. He runs off into the winner's pit to give Charlie someone to hug, at long last.

Arlene is asked for some final words of advice, and she starts spouting about clouds and stars and last chances, and I honestly don't think there's been a single occasion in the past two weeks where I've watched Arlene in something and not wondered if she was wasted.

It be solo tiem nao: Mandy shimmers out in her glittery dress to 'Feeling Good' and sasses her way through a solo that isn't quite as awesome as last week's was, but is still pretty great. She even does a little head pop at the end, and damn, that's a good note to go out on. Lizzie's next, doing her feats of bending to 'Bleeding Love', and I'd say that technically this is about on a level with Mandy's, but I'd keep her anyway thanks to her body of work on the show being stronger. Alastair returns and pirouettes and spins and prances his way through something dramatic sounding, that I don't really recognise, and it's all very nice, but nothing we haven't seen before, and he ends it by jumping to the floor in a fist-pumping "yesss!!!!" sort of pose which I find rather offputting. (That was the only bit I liked :-( - Chris) Robbie does more stretching to landfill indie, and I really don't enjoy his solos at all, because I just feel like there's nothing new in them. I enjoy Robbie as a dancer well enough, I just don't think his own choreography showcases him that brilliantly.

Everyone runs off for consolatory hugs, and the judges put their heads together to make a decision. Nigel says that he's looking forward to next week where they don't have any say in anything and can just sit back and enjoy it. While they're debating, Leona Lewis is here performing her new single, 'I Got You', which is not as sinister as it sounds. She's miming, which is just as well when you take this into consideration. The performance is surrounded by the European dry ice mountain, and a lot of people dressed in black doing contemporary dance, or pretending to be horses, or something. I dunno, you'd think that after a month of blogging this show I'd know anything at all about dance, and I'm still utterly clueless. I do enjoy watching attractive young men dancing with their shirts off though, and really, isn't that why we're all here? Well, here, or watching Chicago.

Once all that's over, Cat welcomes back the "four in danger", which is presumably one of the lesser-known Enid Blyton adventures. Mandy and Lizzie are called out to learn their fates first, and Nigel tells them that the judges are unanimous, both in their decision, and in seeing both of them in their top three dancers, and they should both be aware of their general levels of amazingness, yada yada yada. Lizzie is told that her personality has grown across the series, and Nigel's just sorry it's not happened sooner, though he notes she's not been B4 before, "and yet you find yourself at probably the most important week of the series. However, you're still here, step back." Heh. Mandy is assured that whether she makes the finale or not, all of her hard work has been worthwhile - which is just as well, because she is out. Lizzie receives the news soberly, hugs Mandy, and is ushered offstage by Cat. Mandy totally knew this was coming and is still upbeat: we see her JOURNEY over the series, and I'm sad that I didn't realise how awesome she was until last week. (That's because she wasn't awesome until last week - Chris) Then again, she was kind of inconsistent, so it's not entirely my fault. In fact, it is anybody's fault but mine, like most things. Back in the studio, Mandy's in tears and apologises for being "the blubbering American", thanks her family, and implores everyone who dances to keep doing so, because "it's worth it". This moment came to courtesy of the L'Oréal School of Performing Arts. Cat wishes Mandy good luck, kisses her, and sends her off to the Stool of Elimination.

Alastair and Robbie come forward, and are also informed that the judges are unanimous, again in their decision, and in seeing the boys are inspiration to all the men out there who are worried that maybe dancing might make them look gay or something. Alastair is called forward, and Nigel wonders how he got into ballet from being a farmboy, and loves that he goes off drinking WITH THE LADS and still looks like that, and advises him to keep drinking beer. Then there's an odd bit of business where Nigel says that they overdramatise stuff on telly (I am SHOCKED by this revelation, I don't mind telling you) (I ALMOST DIED - Chris)) when they say that people were dancing for their lives, and things like that, but someone really was dancing for their life tonight - and at this point Alastair mouths a small "thank you", thinking, not unfairly, that Nigel is talking about him, only for Nigel to say that that person was Robbie. Oooh, awkward. Nigel goes on to say that Robbie overwhelmed Alastair in the solos, so Alastair will be leaving us tonight. Robbie gives him a man-hug and runs off stage, and Alastair heads for the soothing arms of Cat. Alastair's VT shows him dancing around a tractor, being shirtless a few times, wearing argyle, being inconsistent but still being kind of hot, and saying that he will walk away with fantastic memories. I'd rather he danced away with fantastic memories, but perhaps I'm just being greedy.

Back in the studio, Alastair thanks all the people he's been working with - and the sound's a bit muffled here, but I think he singles out Drew, which is awesome - and the people at home who supported him this far. Mandy's there too, and beaming, and Cat reminds us that next week, we have all the power in deciding who gets the cash, and the chance to be mocked on the US version of the show. We're told that Robbie Williams will be here next week (o, the incomparable joy), and Cat signs off.

Dance party! Robbie runs onto the stage at a considerable lick and full-on glomps Alastair, while Mandy shares a warm hug with Lizzie and Charlie sort of attaches herself to the end of it, and then both Charlie and Tommy are pulled into the embraces by the respective eliminees, and it's all very cute, and then they all start hugging each other. Dancers, eh?

Well, that's it for another week. SHOOGABOOGACANDANCE!

So You Think You Can Make Karen Hardy Cry?

Yeah, s'not that difficult is it?

Top 6: 6th February 2009

LAST WEEK : was the most dramatic yet! Robbie & Yanet exposed themselves to Sisco and... if there were any felony I'd be committing at Sisco, it would not be that one, I'll tell you that much. Drew and Yanet then went home, taking their Latin Passion and Love Of Judy with them, leaving a final 6 who are all VERY KEEN TO GIVE IT THEIR ALL AND COME OUT AND WORK HARD etc etc. Yes the reality tv semi-final clichés are out in full force, with everyone trying their hardest despite the fact that really, hasn't everyone at home got their favourites at this point? In my case: not Charlie.


Out onto the stage tumble our top six : Lizzie (Jan), Tommy (Bobby), Mandy (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia), Robbie (Peter), Charlie (Cindy), Alastair (Greg) and apologies if you have no concept of The Brady Bunch, but they so are. I've also just noticed that during the "these are the girls, here are your guys" bit, the girls actually dance (well...vamp) towards the front of the stage, whereas the boys just walk in time with the music. Where's the equality of labour? Suddenly the use of "This Woman's Work" a few weeks ago is even more appropriate. Yes, sometimes this show really is like childbirth. Especially when Arlene's speaking.

Once they're done dancing/walking, Cat comes out, wearing a black dressy thing with what appears to be an angry grasshopper embossed onto the front with gold studs. It's *a* fashion choice I'll give her that. The audience, you'll be surprised to hear, are "amazing tonight". She gives us notice that this week will work much like any other, but instead of having rubbish awful group numbers, we'll be having two coupled routines per partnership. But we're still having the solos, and one at a time rather than two in one go, so you'll have to make that piss-break very quick indeed. She then introduces our judges - Nigel (looking very Rock-A-Doodle-Do), Arlene (looking very WI treasurer who nobody cares for, but she makes a mean cucumber chutney), Louise (looking very superfluous) and Sisco (looking very...punchable). Apparently it's Sisco's birthday tonight as well.

Any long term viewer of reality tv will tell you that "eliminated on their birthday" is a very very common trope. Just saying. [Or on the day of your high school gradation, which you missed to compete in said reality show. Tyra Banks is such a bitch. - Steve]

Cat then asks Nigel what the dancers can do to leap that final hurdle into the final, and he says they need to become more brash and confident and American about the whole thing, and not be so humble and English about wanting to move forwards. Yes Mandy and Tommy, stop being so darned English. Be MORE AMERICAN MANDY! There then follows an extended riff where he apologises to Arlene for calling her a Wicked Witch because it was offensive to witches, and then tells her that Andrew Lloyd Webber is holding open the part of the Wicked Witch in "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" for her. Are they saving the role of Chief Munchkin open for Sisco? [That, or the annoying little yappy dog. - Steve]

Moving swiftly on, and Cat Deeley gives out the numbers, then imitates the Shugga-Bugga CAN DANCE robot voice. I've said it before and I'll say it again - don't get the hate.

First up, Lizzie & Robbie, dancing together for the first time. Dressed as bell-hops and mugging frantically. Their VT informs us that this week they'll be dancing Broadway under the watchful eye of... hooray, Giant Lady returns! She's apparently choreographed a vaudeville number which is full of laughs and is a "real show-stopper". Which is of course why they're putting it on first. Lizzie's excited that she's going to get to show a full range of facial expressions (*eyes to Tommy*) and Robbie is loving the "banter" in the routine. Anything described as "banter" automatically makes my toes curl. It's basically code for "straight men being bitchy, but it's not bitchy, because they're straight men, it's just "banter""

Although having said that, I can't actually see where it'd fit into the routine, unless they're planning to stop halfway through and have a natter. Actually that might have improved some of the other dances this week.

The other half of their VT is Lizzie-centric and this week is apparently "family visits" week. In this one, we learn that Lizzie has seven adorable nieces and nephews, who she is training up into her own private dance army. By So You Think You Can Dance 10 (it so is going to recommissioned that many times) they're going to be the entire top 6. Minus the one who got bored of the constant hip-hop training and rebelled to become an accountant. We get lots of pictures of Lizzie growing up, on her journey to womanhood, and then it's time for the routine.

So yes, they're dressed as bell-hops and they're dancing to that instrumental number from Chicago that gets played over the credits as you wonder how in the name of all that is holy Catherine Zeta Jones managed to get an Oscar (I mean, really). Basically the story is of two hotel porters messing around with the luggage trolley and attendant luggage, whilst pretending to be civil-war soldiers and explorers and all sorts of wacky zany antics like that. What's interesting is that I think Lizzie's facial expressions are marginally more appropriate than Robbie's. I mean don't get me wrong, Robbie's facial expressions are giant and adorable, but you can tell he's a theatre dancer, because there is not a single person in the theatre who can't tell exactly what he's thinking, and the people in the front row can probably tell what he's had for dinner. Then again, physically the routine is quite flaily and zany, so it suits the rest of him a tad more than her. At any rate, it's very fun and silly and they both perform it exceptionally well. Good job to open the show Giant Lady. It ends with him leapfrogging over her head (with her in a standing position no less) and landing in splits position - excellent.

Over to Cat they trot, as she marvels at how Robbie managed to jump quite that high with all those limbs to get in the way. Nigel starts for the judges, telling us all that that was danced to the "Hot Honey Rag" which sounds like something used to clean the drains at Kraft World (formally Cadbury World) and then he totally games the audience by saying "I have to say Lizzie, that sometimes your facial expressions don't come through...erm...*wait for boo*" before camping up that what he was GOING TO SAY was that SOMETIMES she's like that but NOT TONIGHT. And he does this with none of the prissiness that a Simon Cowell might give it, and with the wink to the expensive seats that this is all showbiz nonsense, and this is why Nigel Lithgow is my favourite judge currently working in reality tv. [I'm telling Mary Murphy you said that. - Steve]

Anyway, he liked all the physical comedy gleaned from the height difference between the two and also gives Giant Lady the shout-out she deserves. Arlene next, and she says the routine needed a cartoony energy, like Tom & Jerry or Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. I know Liza Minnelli is a cartoon, but I think her mother was in fact real. Although thinking about that's making me feel a bit "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?". Anyway she then utterly nonsenses that she "didn't think they'd deliver because they were picked out of tens of thousands of dancers because they were excellent in their styles but then they delivered on every level". That makes NO.EFFING.SENSE. She thought they'd be rubbish BECAUSE they're good at their style? Seriously, no effing sense whatsoever. Louise said she liked it, but worries that people at home might underestimate just how hard it is to get that sort of comic repartee down in dance, and then Sisco finishes by squeaking that if the public don't put Robbie & Lizzie through "I'm a gonna git you" and making animal noises.

Does he know there's another routine coming? That might (*spoiler*) be a bit poo? Oh Sisco. Cat gives out the numbers, talks about the "Stockport Spider getting squished" and Robbie then makes more adorable giant "I was in We Will Rock You - Germany" faces.

First solo now - it's "Cheeky Charlie" dancing to Gloria Estefan and her Miami Sound Machine. I'll let Stephanie Beacham cover this one :

Stephanie Beacham: That Charlie creature can get her leg up over her head

And that's all she ever does. That and shaking her tits around a bit. I bet she thinks that's "Latin Passion". Zzzz.

We're apparently getting (mercifully brief) reviews of the solos this week and Nigel tells Charlie that this solo was a sign of how she's really grown as a performer, because four weeks ago it would have been full of silly winks to camera and stage-school affectations, but this showed that she's really grown as a woman. JOURNEY! DRINK!

Alastair & Mandy next, because I'm sure both of them want to re-visit that partnership again, and as we go to VT I see that he's wearing a deliberately undone bow-tie. HATE! I swear the rest of this episode is just me shouting at the variety of costumes I find personally offensive. It's like Tess' wardrobe people did everybody this week. Mandy's dress just makes her look fat.

The VT cuts straight (after a brief reminder of her "I'M SO HAPPY! PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIKE ME!" moment of safety from last week (yeah...turns out not so much)) to Mandy's story about how her entire family live so far away, and phones and the Internet and skype all haven't been invented yet, so she's a bit lonely. Never mind, her MOTHER-IN-LAW really likes her, and is putting up posters in the Post Office of St Asaph (population 3,500, which, if you proportion down, means about 292 people who watch this show. ALL POWER-VOTING FOR MANDY NO DOUBT) along with the "bar-help wanted" and "missing kitty" posters, and generally being proud. Apparently she and Mandy used to do girly things together and so she's apparently like the daughter she never had. Probably fortunately, because I'm guessing if Mandy's mother-in-law had popped out a baby looking like Mandy there'd be a few rumours spreading around the town.

We finish with some footage of Mandy & Alastair rolling around on top of a sofa repeatedly injuring themselves and talking about how demanding and tiring and potentially crippling this routine is. So obviously, after we open with the show-stopping number, we put the potentially injurious and definitely tiring routine on second. Do we think someone got the running order upside-down this week? I bet the closing number is done to "Get The Party Started".

The routine is in the "Fighting" proportion of the Contemporary sphere, and... Right, it's choreographed to Coldplay and they're rolling around on sofas and tables hurling plates and books and stuff at each other. Basically it's a DFS advert that's stopped being polite and started getting REAL. It's very passionate and DRAMATIC and it might just be my residual Mandy love that suddenly blossomed last week, but she's really very very good in it. Alastair on the other hand starts off fine, but looks a bit lost from about halfway through. His movements start to get a bit skiddy and confused and off and he looks like he's holding onto the performance at the expense of the technique of the routine. This turns out to be exactly the opposite of what the judges think so I'm probably wrong but... it's not his finest hour. She's still pretty epic though. It's odd, because they keep on putting these two together (entirely randomly obviously *strokes chin*) but I've never seen a performance where they both look good - I think they hamper each other to an extent.

Anyway, as they emote over to Cat, we get a shot of her GIANT HEADED husband in the audience looking moved, and the choreographers (who are never identified) applauding. At least I think it's the choreographers. They certainly LOOK like contemporary dance choreographers. As the stage-hands clear up the carnage Arlene tells us for the zillionth time what contemporary dance is about - it's about PASSION and PERFORMANCE and NOT BEING AS HARD AS BALLROOM AND LATIN. This dance was apparently about "one of the classic break-ups" - Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton for her generation, and Katie & Peter for "the new generation". Is she saying that Katie Price is my equivalent of Elizabeth Taylor? I am boycotting the rest of her comments in outrage. Never mind that it was more "Elizabeth Burton and Richard Taylor" from the previous generation of Hollyoaks.

Louise says that last week she was worried by Mandy's routine (really? The routine that was in Mandy's field of expertise, danced with the most versatile male left in the competition, aired at the end of the show, choreographed by Giant Lady? Competing against three pretty terrible routines? That routine? Whatever Louise) , but she's so glad she got the chance to come back and do that. She then tells Alastair that he's growing and becoming stronger, and they both "fixed it" for each other this evening. I kind of want her to operate a giant mechanical arm with a tacky medallion at this point a la "Jim'll Fix It". Sisco follows by saying that it was "like watching an episode of EastEnders". Hang on, Sisco, it wasn't THAT bad. Anyway, he then gushes about what a great support system Alastair was, and that Mandy was amazing, and their chemistry is amongst the best in the show. Of course at this point, as though to disprove his point, Mandy looks up Alastair in delight at the compliment, and he completely blanks her.

Nigel then goes an extended, actually funny (bizarrely given the thin material) diversion about how the routine reminded him of him and his ex-wife, back-and-forth-ing with Cat, and then eventually gets round to his comments that he thought it was a good routine, danced well, but he didn't really see the connection. Of course you can then tell that Nigel's the judge whose comments really matter, as the others all react and blow raspberries (guess which one, go on, guess) at him. When Louise says something they disagree with, they all just stare off into space.

Next up for the solos is Lizzie, wearing offensively tacky beading that Latoya Jackson would wrinkle her nose at. Heck, '80s Latoya Jackson would turn her nose up at it. She's popping and locking to 'Bleeding Love' and it's very nice - quite fluid and with a decent amount of content. Not terribly memorable, but enough to add to her body of work in a positive way. Please note for later, that the review for this solo from Arlene is that it's "breath-taking". So so far we've had "a real sign of growth" and "breath-taking". So if anyone in the Results Show says that the judges only really liked one solo this week, you can call their ass a liar from me.

Oh and Arlene also calls her "wicked". Dear me.

Next up, Charlie & Tommy, whose segment Cat leads into by saying that they've never been in the Bottom Two when paired up, but when apart one of them's always been there. It's this sort of random stat that I love, and of course it's obliterated by the next shot of the pair of them pawing at each other in ugly shiny red PVC. And Tommy's got his shirt off, should you be so interested.

The Charlie-centric VT starts off with us being reminded that she was in the Bottom Two last week, but she reassures us that this has only made her more determined. We struck her down, but now she has come back more powerful than we can possibly imagine. Personally I always prefer it when being in the Bottom Two sends people IBBLE IBBLE MENTAL but that's just me. [Ahhh, Zoe Lucker. - Steve] Apparently she went to ask Arlene for her advice about how to connect with the public more. Sadly Arlene's one trick of "get replaced by a younger girl so everyone forgets what a rancid old hag you are in the frantic rush to be politically correct" won't work with Charlie, because she's 12 years old, so Arlene (staring at Charlie's tits the whole time incidentally) parps out some crap about really believing she's a woman.

If Charlie had solo'd to "Man I Feel Like A Woman" complete with yelling "LET'S GO GIRLS!" at the beginning, I might have actually voted for her. Charlie's response incidentally is to do the Langford Nod (oy!) and go "yup". Get a personality girl, seriously.

Anyway, to highlight the fact that Charlie is now a woman, her mum and gran are going to come in and help her out. I know that'd get me a lot more respect in my workplace. Turns out her mum and her gran are both experienced professional dancers (no really, try to look surprised I DARES YOU). They also both have "-eeeeeeeeeeee" names (Sally, Molly) which if anything surprises me even less. Three generations of stage school smiles all twirl around in unison. I would kill for a family group number this week - not gay Alastair and his not gay brother, Lizzie and her army of nieces, Charlie's Stage Family, Tommy and his awesome sister, Mandy and her mother-in-law doing "girly things". Wouldn't it be at least better than solos?

This week, she and Tommy are doing "hot jazz" which presumably means "jazz in man-made plastics". It's being choreographed by Sean Cheesman who I am informed did some stuff for Britney or whatever. [I'm glad to see that literally the only thing I know about pop choreographers came in handy at some point. - Steve] His instructions to her are basically "SLAG IT UP!" and "BEHAVE LIKE A WOMAN!" and "SHAVE ALL YOUR HAIR OFF, SHOW EVERYONE YOUR VAGINA AND ATTACK A CAR WITH AN UMBRELLA!". Well alright, I was just wishing for that last one. Except for the vagina part obviously. Sigh. Didn't Charlie prove she was a woman when she had (fake) cancer? Why are we doing this again? (Giant Lady : She's got tits, she's a woman - move on)

I am at least glad the Britney number they are dancing to is "Circus" and not "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman". Or "3" because that song sucks. I love that they gave that VT to Charlie before this routine because... is anyone really watching Charlie in this what with Tommy being all naked? She puts in a credible performance but there's just something about her movement that I don't really like. She's not as hard-hitting as I think she should be, and the end of her moves are kind of throwaway. He on the other hand is really nailing it, and is in fact the one having the performance breakthrough, because he doesn't once smile with his scary teeth (seriously, between Tommy and Robbie, our winner isn't going to disabuse the Yanks of any of their views on British dentistry are they?). They end up necking up against their giant prop to end (two big white boxes like the "Human Nature" video) and it is at least a more convincing expression of heterosexual desire than anything else we'll see this evening.

Louise starts for the judges by hooting obnoxiously about Tommy's torso whilst Sisco fans her down. She praises Charlie for not getting upstaged by the beefcake on display next to her (seriously Alastair, this is how you play the topless card - make them wait and then pay it off when you need it. You sell it cheap, nobody wants to buy any more). She did however think the routine stayed too much on one level, and never exploded. Sisco's comments are then basically him perving over Tommy and quacking on about the sexual chemistry and how Charlie is now a WOMAN because she jigged around a bit in a burst red pepper. Transition clinics across the nation take note.

Nigel jokes to start that he hadn't noticed Tommy's buffness until it was pointed out, and by God the man even manages to make "I AM HETEROSEXUAL I AM!" not seem that obnoxious. Anyway, it was terrific, and it was a great routine. He also mentions in passing that it was really a hip-hop jazz fusion, which is accurate and informative and... don't make me gush this much about Nigel Lythgoe please show, it's going to put the readers off and make them vote for Kym Marsh on Popstar to Operastar even more than they are already inexplicably doing. Arlene finishes by praising Charlie for maturing in that performance, and Tommy for being so versatile, but then returns to Charlie for putting her on blast for having no sense of rhythm and never being in time with the music. Erm... it's the semi-final, should someone not have mentioned that before now? It's quite important for a dancer to have rhythm isn't it?

Next solo up to the plate is Alastair doing ballet to what sounds like fight music from Planet of The Apes. It's quite light and throwaway and not terribly memorable. Louise reviews and drones on about how she likes Alastair but she thinks he has more to offer. I agree, but I think the "more to offer" might well dwell in the "clothes to remove" part rather than the "dancing" part.

At this halfway-stage Cat runs down the numbers for us, and tells us in the Results Show we'll be seeing a routine to Big Spender choreographed by Giant Lady, and also a performance by Leona Lewis (I'm so jealous Steve. So very jealous. I bet they make me recap Robbie Williams next week and all).

Next up - Robbie & Lizzie, dressed like what would have happened if Sky One made "High School Musical" rather than Disney. We're informed in his VT that being in the Bottom Two did not in fact fill Robbie with the steely insane desire it did Charlie, it actually broke him like Alexandra Burke's Feminism Heels. He gives a to-camera interview, looking gaunt (well... more gaunt) talking about how he can't let up for a second, he has to keep going, otherwise he'll just collapse and genuinely, give the boy a sandwich and some perspective. Nigel makes it worse in his advice session by basically telling him he can't give him any advice and he's doing everything that can be asked of him. Poor duck.

This week he's with Lizzie, and they've got hip-hop and this has caused Robbie to have horrible, waking-up-in-sweats-in-the-middle-of-the-night flashback to Sisco's hat the week he and Yanet murdered hip-hop forever. And the comments for that routine a little bit, but mostly Sisco's stupid bloody hat. He (and Lizzie to be honest) have come to the conclusion that TALL PEOPLE CAN'T HIP-HOP. And as he is a tall person, that makes him screwed. This hip-hop iteration is being choreographed by Simeon Qseya who has thus far been responsible for Heelies Dance and Bench Dance, which puts him just above Kate Prince, but only barely. So I can see why Robbie might be worried. He tells Robbie to forget all his preconceptions and just try it, and he'll totally BE FINE. Then there's a lot of talk about challenging pre-conceptions yadda yadda, and I would love to join in, but we all know that whatever this routine is, it won't be hip-hop, it'll be installment 57 in Propapalooza, so let's just get on with it shall we?

Right on cue, we cut to Lizzie & Robbie lying (visually speaking - they're actually stood up, with the bed vertical behind them) on a bed and making heiroglyphics with their hands. Cause this is "lyrical hip hop" as it seems to be every bloody week. Lizzie and Tommy better get the chance to throw down next week, or I will be MIGHTY PEEVED. Robbie and Lizzie are lovers, in bed, who are FIGHTING for whatever reason (I can think of a few reasons why this relationship might not work out, and they're not just the height difference) and they dance about a bit, and then they're happy again, and rub each others faces like they're smearing scent in an episode of SVU so the hounds can come and track the other person down. Robbie's skills at hip-hop (what little there is) are noticably better this time, but his attempts at "attitude" are a bit silly. Lizzie's quite good, but not really standout, and the whole thing is basically an advert for FEWER PROPS AND MORE DANCING PLEASE.

Nigel starts by pointing out said abundance of props this week (and indeed every week recently. Remember when it seemed new and interesting that they had a bed onstane? Yeah, not so much now eh?) and giggles about how they're going to need to get that bed back to Sisco's apartment. It does seem like the sort of ugly, outsized gewgaw he would favour. He then moves onto the performance, saying it was alright, not terribly memorable, and wouldn't make him pick up a telephone for either of them. I doubt you'd be allowed Nigel. [Every time people talk about picking up telephones now, I just think of Drew's crotch. Thanks for that, Drew. - Steve] Sisco follows by saying that he disagrees, and that Robbie went from zero to hero, and that Lizzie is now the clear front-runner for the girls. Of course he gabbles this and stumbles over his words on the way there but that's his basic thrust. So to speak.

Arlene praises Lizzie for not just walking out and blowing everyone away as she so obviously could have given the material she was being given to work with, but instead really helping Robbie to grow as a (lyrical) hip-hop dancer. She's glad they ended up in bed because the pair of them "really made it happen" ("it" presumably being scoffs of disbelief at the idea of these two as a couple) and she WOULD pick up the phone to vote for them so THERE NIGEL! P'NURR! I'm sure Nigel is so burnt. Cat reels off the numbers and Lizzie looks appealingly at Robbie and the camera.

Next solo is Tommy dancing to... The South Bank Show theme-tune. [I'm guessing that that soundtrack choice allowed the BBC to count this week's show in their government-mandated percentage of arts programming. - Steve] Excellent. It's very exciting and athletic breaking and, just like Mandy's solo was last week, clearly the stand-out performance of the evening solo wise. I still say him dancing with his awesome sister would have been better though. Sisco's critique is calling Tommy an alien and telling people to vote for them. For real - new judge next series please. Well, three really, but start with that end of the panel and work left. Cat gave better critique than that whilst Tommy was walking over.

Next up for the pairs, it's Alastair, looking very Dragonball Z, and Mandy, looking very smiley for someone about to do a paso doble. Cat informs us that Alastair's supporters have been "giving it some serious welly". Oh good. More farm related stuff.

Right on cue we cut to a frozen field with the Hovis music playing in the background and some woman walking dogs saying "Alastair couldn't have more support if he tried really" which... he could, and he IS trying, but the poor woman's wearing a promotional t-shirt and nothing else (on top I mean, she is in trousers) in the middle of February, so I'll let her off the logical blips. Anyway, as well as promotional t-shirts, Alastair's family have hit upon a great way to drum up support - clog up the streets with a massive tractor rally. Really going for the motorists vote there aren't they? We see lots of clips from people being really impressed by the sheer volume of tractor pounding through their village. Notably, all these people are ON FOOT.

The whole sequence would frankly be improved by a shot of Drew driving a tractor complete with flat-cap and piece of straw between his teeth. But then that's true of every week isn't it?

We cut to the studio, where Alastair and Mandy are being taught how to paso by Katia and her Fittie Professional Partner from Strictly (hopefully, in the case of the latter.) and there's a lot of talk of how it's a real man's dance and Mandy is both terrified and a bit vageen-tingly about Alastair throwing her around. Additionally there are some bits that may very well kill her if they go wrong. Mandy, you're doing LATIN. The only person to beat the Curse Of Latin this series was the professional salsa dancer and salsa teacher dancing salsa. You need all the tricks you can play, fractured leg or no fractured leg. Alastair closes by saying he can see the finish line, and he just hopes he gets there. Ah well. Never mind eh?

Their paso doble is apparently set in a bar. A bar in which Mandy is dancing on the counter. Basically it's a geriatric (SHE'S 30!) version of Coyote Ugly. Alastair stomps up, still being very Dragonball Z and the music suggests BAD THINGS ARE ABOUT TO HAPPEN but not in the way they quite do because... basically it has all the fire and passion and aggression of an American Idol Final Two photo-call. Mandy's far too nice and happy for this routine - she looks constipated throughout and Alastair is like someone tried to write "funfair" and it came out "fair" so lacking is he in "UNF". [*facepalm* - Steve] It's all quite graceful but there's no passion or eroticism or anger or ANYTHING. It's just really really drab.

Nigel starts for the judges, saying that the music sounded like something out of The Exorcist or The Omen, and the dance should have reflected that. I would have loved if it did, and Alastair rode in on a little red tricycle whilst Mandy's head turned 360 degrees. Apparently his walks were like "a farm hand in Magaluf going up to the bar for a pint" and it lacked any passion whatsoever. The audience boo, and then he warns them he's going to get worse, as he tells Mandy she had about as much passion as a cloak and that the whole thing was just too meek and mild. Worst routine he's ever seen them do. Worse than when Mandy fell over to open the whole series, worse than when Alastair's hips would not move in the cha cha - just bad. Arlene agrees, telling Mandy that her twist-turns were appalling, and Alastair that he looked like he couldn't kill a rabbit, let alone a bull, and Alastair gives a wry little eyebrow to someone in the audience which makes me feel ooky, because it suggests Alastair has killed things far bigger than a rabbit. LOOK OUT ARLENE!

Louise next, saying that she thinks the problem is that they never really grasped the music, and Mandy was missing all the passion and aggression she gives in her solos. If they'd just let her wear a sparkly hoodie, I'm sure it'd all come flooding out. She closes on telling Alastair that she feels like he opted out on the show this evening. Cat looks a bit like she wishes she'd done the same, and just stayed in America where everyone loves her, and let Fearne Cotton do this instead. THEN you'd really see insincerity, viewing public. She gives out the numbers and we cut to Katya and her pro partner giving epic bitch-face in the audience but as anyone who watched Strictly last series (I know you're out there somewhere) will tell you... that's just Katya.

Next solo - Robbie dancing around to Scouting For Girls in a t-shirt with the Confederate flag on it. Let's send him to America wearing that. It'll be like that time we nearly sent that blacked-up Lionel Ritchie impersator to Vegas as the winner of Schedule Filling Celeb Impersonator Fun-Time Hour or whatever it was called. The dance is... to Scouting For Girls. And so can bugger off whatever. Arlene's review calls it out as stuff she's seen a million times before from him. Ouch.

Finally for the couples, it's Charlie & Tommy, looking like an 8 year old's idea of elegance. Incidentally there have been five performance shows now. Guess in how many of them Charlie has gone on last? Three. And in one of the others she was on second-to-last. And the week she wasn't in either of those positions she was in the bottom two. Just. Saying.

Still, at least the final VT isn't Charlie-centric, as we instead focus on Tommy, talking about how much it would mean to him to make the final. Some amount, is how much. What? He's Scandinavian. Ask Bjork, she'll tell you what they're like. This week he's in training with Screaming Neurotic (and hence one of my favourite Strictly pros) [mine too - Steve] Karen Hardy, doing the quickstep with Charlie, which is apparently the "hardest ballroom dance". But one of the more popular with the public so shrug.

At this point we move to the family section of Tommy's intro this week (what were Robbie's family doing? Poor lanky thing) with his sister, Elena, coming over from Sweden to visit him. She talks about what a tight bond they had growing up, and we see lots of pictures illustating the fact that apparently Tommy came out the womb looking exactly as he did now. As the strains of "Hometown Glory" play, much to Steve's delight [AAAAAAAAAAARGH - Steve], they reunite in his flat, with Tommy's look of surprise being enormous indeed. Happily this is "I'm so glad to see you" shock, not "I owe you SO MUCH MONEY" shock and they have a chinwag about how she hopes to inspire him to reach the final, so she can come and watch him there as well. And then they hug and it's sweet. Also her child is adorable. I love Tommy's family best of all I think.

Their quickstep is being danced to "Do Your Thing" by Basement Jaxx, and I wish they'd either not dance these things in the Smooth style, or make it very apparent they're doing so, because this is not your Strictly Quickstep, and so shouldn't be judged by the same standards. The hold's far apart (and a bit awkward besides) and they're out of it most of the time but what the routine does have is a real vibrancy and sense of fun to it. It all gets a bit gummy and slow at the end, but on the whole it's alright, and certainly compared to some of the absolute horror shows I've seen on the US version, it's positively brilliant. Apart from the bit where he plays her entire body like a guitar but, well, it's Karen Hardy. We have come to expect such things. Oh yeah, and when they finish, she's crying. Nothing less than I hoped for.

Over to the judges, and Cat congratulates Charlie on succesfully negotiating her way out of getting her dress caught in her heel and turning it into a move. That's where Cat earns her money. Bruce wouldn't even have noticed they were doing a QUICKSTEP let alone that they'd made a mistake. Arlene starts for the judges by congratulating Charlie on actually being in time in that routine and then award Tommy the title "Maestro of Dance" which I think might be a little like "Artist Of The Millennium" in that she just made it up herself. She then waffles about something Karen said in the notes about the pair of them dancing all night, and saying they did (metaphorically speaking) and then Karen cries like a loon some more.

Louise next, saying it was a very fun and entertaining and light-hearted routine and she particularly liked the bit where Tommy plucked Charlie's vagina like a guitar. Yeah, she's a woman NOW. Sisco next, saying he was really worried, because the quickstep is really hard but they both blew him away. Sadly not literally. Nigel finishes by talking some more about the American show, and how the Quickstep is the DEATH DANCE there. He then says that whilst it wouldn't win any prizes in Blackpool (Charlie: Langford, Langford, Langford) it was very entertaining, and that's what this show is all about. Except when Sisco speaks obviously. Or when Gavin danced. (Remember him?) Cat reads out their numbers again, whilst Karen carries on screaming in the audience until someone can get a tranquiliser dart lined up.

Finally for the solos, it's Mandy, failing to recapture the magic of last week, via the mistake of dancing sans hoodie, and avec le musique de Mickey Bubbles. Feeling Good really is played out on these shows isn't it? Sisco reviews, saying it made him "feel good" and that that solo shows why Mandy deserves to be here. I guess?

Judge Chat now, with Nigel being asked who impressed him most this evening, and he replies that they all did, because they all faced challenges. But now the public have to completely forget what they've seen tonight, and weigh up how the dancers have performed over the entire series when casting their votes as to who they want to see in the "finale". Not final. No sir. "Finale". Arlene's asked about the quality of the solos this evening, and she says they were alright, but only Tommy gave a really outstanding one (not what you were saying earlier Arlene. At. All.), packing as many intricacies into the dance as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber packed into the piece of music. WOW! AS COMPLICATED AS AN ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER PIECE! PRAISE FROM CAESAR!

Louise is then asked what her favourite couples routine of the evening is, and completely ignores the question in favour of saying that Robbie & Lizzie were the best couple on the night. Not even the question Lou, not even the question. Sisco is then asked the same question, in the vain hope that we might get an answer, and he says Alastair and Mandy's contemporary routine. Apparently he thinks it'll save them single-handedly despite their mess-up of a paso. A ha ha ha ha NO. Oh and the hip hop wasn't that bad either. Well that's a first.

Cat gives out the numbers, and we get our recap : Lizzie & Robbie jumping around pulling faces at the behest of Giant Lady, then rolling around oon a stupid bed prop ; Alastair & Mandy having the wussiest domestic ever and then being about as passionate and Spanish as Judith Chalmers ; and then Charlie & Mandy being all nudey-naked up in each others boxes, and the making Karen cry for no real reason.

And that's it. Cat asks Alastair how happy he is to be this far (very happy), Cat thanks the families, we cut to a shot of Anabel, Yanet, Drew and I think Chloe somewhere in there (remember her?) cheering their heads off, and we go to Dale Winton. The losers, the survivors, Leona Lewis and Steve will join you all on the other side of his glowing orange fizzgog.