Week 11: Top 6 Results - 7 December 2014
Perhaps to make up for the total absence of professional dancers the last time Annie Lennox was on this show, we open with a professional routine to 'Here Comes The Rain Again' featuring Ola, Janette, Kristina, Karen, Pasha, Trent, Aljaž and...some random guy whom I don't think we have seen before. They're dancing on a set of four squares of staggered heights, originally just whirling around and brandishing umbrellas until it becomes clear that they're actually standing in water, so they all start splashing around and everyone's clothes get progressively wetter and tighter and the audience basically start whooping "off! off! off!" like this is what the wrap party would look like if it were left to Tess and Darcey to organise it. Ain't nobody paying much attention to the dancing, is all I'm saying. (On that note: Pasha's shirt is open practically to the navel. Thank you, wardrobe.) It mashes into 'Umbrella' halfway through, but by this point nobody is paying much attention to the music, either. Well, you can't fault the show for giving its audience exactly what they want, I suppose. Especially (spoiler) considering what else they're planning to give us tonight.
Tess and Claudia turn up in bright yellow raincoats (arguably a more flattering outfit choice than 99 per cent of what Tess gets given to wear, amirite viewers?) and Claudia explains that the stranger at the feast was world Latin champion (he's very good at declension, I hear) Neil Jones, who presumably was filling in the spot that Kevin would have taken if he hadn't been too poorly to rehearse this week. The judges walk on (and I do mean "walk", although I think Darcey would prefer to be carried on in a sedan chair at this point), and Tess promises us OneRepublic later.
First, however, a recap of last night, though personally I'm not sure I'm all that keen to revisit it. It takes the form of somebody's dubious fanfic wherein Craig plays the schoolmaster and takes attendance backstage. It doesn't really lead to anything, although when you consider the places it could have ended up, perhaps we should all be very grateful for that. Everyone talks about how they never dreamed they'd make it this far, Hot Greg The Floor Manager corrals everybody into place, anonymous fingers slide up the faders, Tess looks at her script, everybody goes out on stage and does all the things we saw them doing last night. New material of note: Pasha does counting. It is precious.
After a quick leaderboard refresher, Tess announces the first two couples who are safe: Mark and Karen, and Caroline and Pasha. The former are entirely shocked, and I guess that's understandable - pretty much everyone on Twitter thought they'd be going tonight, and I'd imagine Mark and Karen thought it too. The first couple in the dance-off is...Pixie and Trent. Pixie winces, but she's still smiling, and Trent grins even as the light over their heads turns red. I expected more of a reaction from them, but then I suppose they haven't really reacted to anything at all throughout the competition, so in a weird sort of way it makes sense that they'd take something like this in their stride. Janette, on the other hand, looks horrified - and since Monkseal informs me that Janette was one of the favourites to win her season of So You Think You Can Dance until she got booted around this point, I assume she understands what they might be feeling. (Either that or now she's super-worried that she and Jake are going to be the couple competing against them, and that history is about to repeat itself.) Tess asks them how they're feeling, and Pixie giggles that she's scared. Her skin is a lot thicker than I expected. Tess asks Craig if Pixie needs to sort her legs out for the dance-off, and Craig says "only slightly", and adds that Pixie has been one of the best dancers of the entire series. He tells them to "change nothing - just don't get it wrong!" Tess babyvoices that Pixie is shaking. Hush, Tess.
Up in the Clauditorium, Mark blathers on about being the underdog and says he was "astatic" (AARGH STOP THAT) to have his name called first. Caroline says that she thinks every week could be her last week, since everyone else is so good. She says Pasha is brilliant and, well, no objections here.
OneRepublic appear and sing 'Counting Stars'. I know that people who bore on about the pre-recorded Sunday show and the "pretence" of it being live are the worst, but at the same time, I like the show to meet us half way in terms of suspension of disbelief, and it really doesn't help to have Trent dancing to this (with Kristina) in an entirely different outfit from the one he was wearing about 30 seconds ago. I mean, I'm sure it's theoretically possible for it to have happened in real time, but we all know it didn't and this sort of thing just forces us to focus on it.
After that, it's time for Len's Lens. The first subject up for discussion is Pixie's legs (and I get the impression that they filmed this before the reveal that Pixie was in the dance-off), and Len wants to mention that Pixie had great cha cha leg action at the beginning of her dance, but it got weaker as the dance went on. Darcey wants to gush about Mark's transitions and top line again. Craig backhands Simon again about Kristina choreographing a routine that doesn't require him to get his hands right, and Len adds that this is exactly the job that the pros are there to do in the first place. We also get to see Craig repairing his five paddle with duct tape, and after that Bruno wants to look at Jake doing Les Dawson face in excruciating detail.
Next, Tess has the results for the final three couples. Frankie and Kevin are safe, and Kevin's screams of ecstasy can probably be heard in Sharm el-Sheikh. Not bad for someone who was bedridden with the flu a few days ago. So it's down to Jake vs Simon for the other spot in the dance-off, and of course it goes to Simon, because duh. Tess tells them that they didn't look awfully surprised, and Simon's all "can you blame me?" [I like the self-awareness and general apparent lack of diva-ness among this year's batch. Although divas are always fun, too - Rad] Darcey advises Simon to just relax and enjoy the routine in the dance-off.
In the Clauditorium, we revisit the "Frankie is always practising for the dance-off" topic for what is, I think, the third week in a row. Frankie's sniffling a little bit, so I think this week she really did think she was going to be there. (I wonder what the fireworks would've been like tonight if it had been a Pixie vs Frankie dance-off.) She tells Claudia that Latin isn't her strong point, and thank everyone who voted. Kevin says that the waltzathon really helped them on the score front, but they still knew they were in a precarious position, so they're both very relieved to be safe. Jake adds that he doesn't think anyone is safe at this point (although I'd say after this that he and Frankie are about as safe as they come), and reveals that he's got an entire week off EastEnders coming up so he can actually devote a decent amount of time to practice the two dances that he'll have to learn next week. I'm glad he learned something from Scott Maslen, anyway.
And speaking of two dances, here's a VT of everyone talking about how difficult that's going to be. Points of note: Mark has got his t-shirt on back-to-front. Simon isn't even sure that it's physically going to be possible to learn two dances. I'm not being funny, Simon, but Holly Valance managed it, and nobody else in the history of this show has ever been as averse to exertion as she was. [Possibly Ben 'always time for a nice sit-down' Cohen - Rad]
Afterwards, Tess 'n' Claud are with the two dance-off-bound couples, and Claudia reminds us that both of them scored 35 for their individual dances, so it's very much all to play for here - although she does then immediately bring up that this is Simon's third time in the dance-off as opposed to Pixie's first. Simon says that he's enjoyed every single moment of the competition, and Kristina says that she's extremely proud of what he's achieved. They head down to the dancefloor while Tess turns to Pixie and Trent, where Pixie says that she'd be "super-sad" to go tonight, but Simon always does a great job. Trent says he's been really lucky on his "first season out" to be paired with someone like Pixie (and god I hope they do still ask Trent back, because if he's gone next year and I have to put up with Robin, I will not be amused), and he just wants her to give it her all out there.
Simon and Kristina repeat their American smooth. Both of them dance it with more gusto than they gave it the first time around, and I think they're both treating it as the coda to their Strictly experience at this point. I still have my issues with Simon's transitions, but it's a very solid performance, and the advantage of being in the dance-off is that it gives Kristina a second attempt at getting her heel up for that closing lift. (It's still not entirely clean this time, but it's a lot smoother than before.) Then Pixie and Trent reprise their cha cha cha, and they have the bigger problem here because it's much easier to fix "botched lift" in an evening than it is to sort out "not doing the legs properly", but at least Pixie manages to keep her foot on the floor for that drag-swing manoeuvre this time, so Len can't count it as a lift. Again, they both give it their all, so there's not an awful lot to choose between the two routines.
So it's over to the judges. Craig says it's tough, but he'd like to save Pixie and Trent. Darcey wishes she didn't have to make this choice because both couples are outstanding, but based on tonight's dance, she would like to save Simon and Kristina (possibly because of TEH GUNZ, although she doesn't actually specify this). Bruno says it was great to see both routines again, but he wants to vote for overall dance ability, so he votes to save Pixie and Trent. So Len gets the casting vote again, and says that he has to judge this on the dance-off performances alone (why, exactly? Bruno just openly stated that he was voting for the dancer with the better overall ability, so I'm pretty sure there's nothing in the rules that says Len can't take the entire competition into account if he wants to), and continues that it's "hard as a judge but harder as a person". Oh GET ON WITH IT. Judged on the strength of tonight's routine, however, he votes to save Simon and Kristina. Simon drops to the floor in a mock-faint, and I get that he really didn't expect to be the one staying, but it also means that the couple who are actually going home end up being the ones to initiate the consoling goodbye hug, and that doesn't make him look great. It's not your moment, Simon. Sorry.
Tess tells Pixie that they never expected to see her going home at this point, and that the competition won't be the same without her. Pixie says she's gutted to be going home now, but she's had the best time ever, and while she's sad not to get to learn the salsa and the American smooth, she's just pleased that she decided to do the experience. She also adds that she couldn't have asked for a better partner (HINT FUCKING HINT, pro-dancer casting team, don't even think about giving Trent the Anya treatment next year) and that she loved the entire "class of 2014". Darcey is in tears, as though this isn't at least partially her doing. Tess prompts Pixie to say whether she'll miss dancing with Trent, and Pixie says she really wants to keep dancing with him somehow, and Trent offers to "throw in some lessons". He echoes that he couldn't have asked for a better partner either, because she's talented, hardworking, and genuinely sweet. (This seems like as good a place for this sidebar as any: I didn't think I was going to like Pixie going in to this series, but she's actually won me over. She seems like a genuinely nice person, if a little dizzy, and she probably struck the best balance between precision and performance of anybody this year, so she probably would've got my votes had she made the final. I doubt that's much consolation for at this stage, but there you go.)
Claudia arrives and reminds us to tune in to It Takes Two on Monday for Pixie and Trent's final farewell, and also that next Saturday's show will be starting a bit earlier (6:50pm, synchronise your watches), and Pixie and Trent have their last dance to 'When You're Gone'. The other dancers flood the floor to wish her well, and we close on a nice prominent shot of Kevin's arse, to remind us that there is still some good left in the world.
From there, we just have the post-results confessionals to get through, and they're very much as you'd expect: a lot of praising of Pixie in hushed tones as though she's actually dead, and Mark saying that Pixie is "going to be a sad miss" (as much as Mark's mangled English annoys me, I do quite like the mental picture of Pixie as Miss Havisham that this conjured up in my head). And that's it: join Rad next week for the semi-finals, as we see who gets the spot in the final that we all assumed was earmarked for Pixie. Advance warning: if it's Mark, I may be capslocking in fury quite a lot when I come to recap the final. I'm not saying that should influence how you vote, but just bear it in mind.