Let me start by saying thank the Lord that I have the ladies this week, you guys, because I loathed Jake's Charleston with the power of at least one thousand fiery suns in a way that makes me almost nostalgic for my Pixiephobia and my reserves of indignation might have been replenished by my Thanksgiving break but there's indignation and then there's INDIGNATION, you know?
We start with a black and white VT in which the producers urge our celebs on to ever sadder, more worried faces. Frankie looks as though she's about to edge it by throwing in a nail bite, but nobody will ever look more sad and worried than Mark, so he is the VT Victor.
Brendan and Aljaz are this week's arm holders. Where is Anton? Has he done a hip or something?
The judges dance on. Craig would like you to know what swivel really looks like (that seems dirtier now I've typed it), Darcy poses again, Len whatevers, and then Bruno dances on his own for an unnaturally long period of time which freaks both him and me out.
(Other things that have freaked me out this week - how much modern day Rolf Harris looks like Colonel Sanders. I walked past a KFC on Monday and it quite upset me.)
On with the show!
Caroline and Pasha
Ugh Olly Murs in the VT. This whole segment would have been eight million times more entertaining if they had somehow got Harry Styles to do it. What year do you think Olly Murs will do Strictly, out of interest? 2017? I mean, I know he's got an actual pop career (somehow) but so did Harry McFly. Caroline is in stupid fringing again, which makes me think Wardrobe legit hates her, or she actually requested to dress in all this stuff, in which case she's an idiot. This Argentine Tango is another choreographic triumph from Pasha, and I can only imagine it was tremendously challenging to dance. The changes in pace are extreme, and the slow sections need so much balance and core strength that I am amazed she manages them as well as she does. It's Caroline, so there is a mistake, but it's in the footwork at a time that the producer has cut to a shot that doesn't show her feet (not that this is a show about dancing or anything) so it gets covered pretty well except for Pasha bellowing, "DON'T WORRY NOBODY NOTICED" right into the microphone at the end. This didn't quite explode for me in the way it seemed to for the audience, but the lifts were fab, and I really enjoyed it. Pasha gets quite carried away at their 39 and lifts Caroline up for a spin, but she is too preoccupied trying not to flash her undercrackers at the nation to really get into it. Poor Caroline.
Pixie and Trent
I don't really like a school VT, but this features an adorable boy who talks about "Assem-ber-ly" so I am basically sold. As for the dance... I mean, it's fine, but it's about as bland a cha cha as I've seen on this show, plus it looks like someone vommed Pepto Bismol all over the set and the Pixies. Pixie flicks her hair about and does her angry Charleston face again some more a lot, and that's about it. Look, don't get me wrong, she is obviously a far better dancer than Simon and I'm surprised that she is going home, but I still won't miss her. As my sister texted me afterwards, "Shocker! But then I looked back at all her dances and just went: meh." That about sums it up.
Frankie and Kevin
There is a VT in which Kevin is ill and The Saturdays win an award for being best friends or something. Is it so unusual to find a girl band that doesn't want to tear each other's hair out that we're giving out awards for it now? This tosh is then followed by a rather lacklustre salsa. Kevin has thrown all but the kitchen sink at it (next week: an actual kitchen sink MADE IN GRIMSBY), but it looks a touch under-rehearsed, and Frankie takes advantage of the more freeform salsa to throw in all her bad pop star habits, including her weird tendency to tilt her right knee in at various intervals. Take out the shakily performed lifts and what you're left with reminds me of nothing so much as a dance choreographed by you and your best mate in the front room that you dance with abandon when it's just the two of you and that sort of lulls you into the sense that it's actually good so you make the mistake of showing it to someone else and then halfway through you realise it's actually really terrible so you get a bit sheepish in case they think you're not cool any more and that just makes it all unbearable. I will point out that this does not come from actual experience. Nobody ever thought I was cool in the first place.
Then we move on to the WaltzaWHATTHEHELL, which is incredibly dumb. All six couples waltz at the same time, and it's basically impossible to see anything at all, but here is one observation about each celeb, because it's all I could manage:
Mark - takes up position in the centre of the room and LITERALLY DOESN'T MOVE which is very much not the point.
Pixie - she looks elegant, Trent sweeps her around the room in a manner that almost crosses dance etiquette borders (oooo, let's watch this while we're talking about ballroom etiquette, it's fab).
Frankie - the floppy frame is back.
Simon - sings along
Jake - I have no idea.
Caroline - Pasha looks delicious when he waltzes.
Here is how annoying the WaltzaWHAT is - it lasts 90 seconds, the male pros have a massive advantage over the male celebs, and it has a serious effect on the leaderboard, moving Pixie from second last to second place, and bumping Mark down from being tied with Pixie to being dead last. Here is how pointless the WaltzaWHAT is - this has absolutely zero effect on the outcome of the show, because Pixie hits the bottom two anyway, and the judges save Simon, which... is basically inexplicable. I mean, I guess it's possible that Mark being at the bottom made more people vote for him, but I would be surprised if it had that much of an impact.
Before I go, I'm just going to hit you up with some Strictly maths for a sec. For Pixie to be in the dance-off and Mark to be safe, Mark must have been at least third in the public vote. Third. Mark. At least. Maybe you're cool with that. Maybe you think it just wouldn't be a final without Mark. But right now: Mark. Third. At least. Think on that, and I'll see you at the weekend for the two-dances-each semi-final EXTRAVAGANZA.