Last week, this show left me bitterly disappointed and I couldn’t bear to give this show any more than a measly 3/10. Bear in mind, I was a little agitated, however I still feel it is a well deserved number for a veteran show with the production values it has.
Tonight, I am expecting better with Downton Abbey an established show and no guest’s heralding from Australia’s Got Talent; this show doesn’t have any incentive to cross-promote the heck out of anything. If it does find a way, it’s just going to look even cheaper.
But onto the show itself; I’ve heard there will be two dances per contestant. I wonder how this will turn out.
The recap that begins this show does well to bring the excitement up, and it’s actually not too long; however it does put a lot of emphasis on how many stars are left and how it’s all shaping up. Bit of a weird time in the show to do this?
Dan McPherson and Sonia Kruger (who’s not looking too bad tonight I must admit) open the show by telling us that tonight’s theme is ‘rock’. They put on some ridiculous looking glasses before they introduce the seven remaining stars. Samantha is wearing a nice looking short, black wig.
As we return to the judges, I immediately notice that Sonia has lost her belt! Dan recognizes this too. He then reiterates the rock theme before he talks about the two dances the contestants have to learn.
A few more points of conversation with the remaining stars and the hosts move on to introduce the judges. I love how they don’t interview those three.
They also mention Carrie Underwood’s performance which will take place later on before Damien Leith is introduced for his first dance. They will be dancing Tango for this one, which will be interesting to see coupled with a rock song, in this case AC/DC!
I love the footwork for this dance, and the way his partner (Melanie) can spin! Damien also looks the part in his rock god outfit! Would I say this is his best dance? Hmm, maybe not. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but it didn’t jump out at me.
Dan congratulates them for kicking off the night before congratulating the band (I bloody hate that band, always have) and after a brief interview, he turns over to the judges. Todd commends his commitment however his ballroom top line is letting him down which he’s fed up with. He also calls the middle bit of his performance as a cop out as it deviated away from what he expects from tango.
Helen agrees with some of Todd’s point however loves his feet and legs. She gives some pointers to fix his top line before Josh tells him that the rock theme may have shaken his confidence, and it wasn’t his strongest performance. He did however like the free ballroom element.
Damien heads off to the green room where he finds out (after a bloody ad break; seriously, would it harm them to put it on AFTER the score announcement) he scores a 22; down four points from last week; oh dear.
Next up is the queen of season eleven, Haley Bracken! The last few weeks, she has pulled out big numbers, however this week, she too has to perform the Tango to rock music, and may feel the same downturn Damien did.
She has to dance to ‘So What’ by P!nk, a particular favourite of mine, so this bloody band better not screw this song up! I’ve noticed that both her and Damien are screwing their faces up in a bid to make their performance look more ‘rock’ however I think with their outfits and the song choices, the ‘rock’ theme already has a place on the stage; and they should attempt to make themselves look more ‘tango’ to compliment their dance. Again, the leg moves Haley pulls off are quite incredible and she gets a bit of a standing ovation.
Dan calls her ‘Pamela Anderson’ and it’s a bit of an awkward moment before he throws over to the judges. Helen says she is growing in confidence every week. Helen was looking to see if Haley has picked up on the differences between international Tango (which she is performing tonight) and the Argentine Tango she performed 2 or 3 weeks ago and Helen believed Haley has.
Todd is smiling and absolutely loved it, calling it a good routine. Todd has never seen talent like Haley’s from anyone who has never danced before. Haley says that she did a bit of dancing when she was younger. Todd tells her that he asked her that question in week one and the answer was ‘none’ so he looks, but doesn’t seem too annoyed at this. Haley says she did mention her training, however it may be a question to ask the video tapes. Lastly, Todd tells her the Barbie image has been lost, so great job!
Josh loved the most part of the routine but wants her to work on her leg kicks. He also gives some advice to her partner, Aric.
Back in the green room, Haley and Sonia discusses Todd’s question before we move onto the judge’s scores and she musters up a 27, one up from last week.
After the break, some guy is seen running off the stage, a bit odd… anyway, it’s Nick Brack’s turn. For his first outing tonight, Nick will be dancing the Paso Doble; an interesting fresh dance for the season. He goes to get some tightrope lessons for his balance, before we see the dance.
He looks a little stiff and his expression is still monotonous and for some of the dance, it was more of a showing off of the muscles game. His partner Jess does a very good job, but to be honest, Nick’s been getting worse and worse in my books.
Todd believes he’s getting better before asking him jokingly if he’s had any dance training (for the slow one’s out there, he’s referring to his comments to Haley before). He tells him his partner is incredibly strong however his layering of the performance needs work. He’s referring to his emotions, which as I pointed out, was very monotonous. Josh also tells him his expressions need work, telling him he forgot to breathe. Josh is worried that Nick is plateau-ing at this late stage in the game. Helen didn’t think Nick told a story; as is required in the Paso Doble.
Last week, he got a 21 however this week Nick was able to retain this number.
As we come back from a break, we have a small rock solo by the band before we jump straight into Manu Feildel’s first dance which will be the Cha-Cha-Cha.
His dance begins and already I’m loving that eyeliner. Manu certainly has no problems regarding his expressions; he’s pulling that department off brilliantly. Not to mention, his hip work is also really good. I feel his chef posture, which he certainly hasn’t shaken yet, is still there.
Josh thought his top part of his body was fun and playful however his bottom half was (bad). He could be back in the game with more work. Helen thinks he is putting too much pressure on himself, noting the ending which was sloppy. She also doesn’t like his footing, telling him to chill out.
Todd agrees with Helen, chill out! He’s too busy to get to the next step which is why he’s stuffing up all the time. This gets an ‘aww’ from the audience before Manu reveals to Dan that he agrees with the judges. There are also questions as to whether he’s still enjoying it.
Back in the green room and Sonia believes he was enjoying it despite the fact Manu’s face says the exact opposite. After she tells the judges to chill out, Manu kind of back’s up what his face is saying by asking her politely to go to the judge’s scores. They score him a 21, down three points on last week.
I must note I do actually like the friendly rivalry between Todd and Sonia. Considering there is limited communication between the green room and the judging panel, it’s quite funny that whatever communication there is, is through Todd and Sonia taking jabs at each other.
Next up is the sometime’s overhyped Brynne Edelsten who will be performing the Paso Doble. She seems to get into it in the practices and we get an exclusive look at Brynne’s huge mansion. Bloody hell that’s a swanky living room!
The dance begins with Arsen kind of pulling and dragging Brynne around the floor before the dance really kicks in. Brynne is really pulling out the serious look tonight, but she may be overdoing it. It’s a pretty bland performance, nothing too new. The stiffness of Edelsten remains however I would argue that her footwork is quite splendid.
Todd again whips out the dance training question however he tells her she will come out of this competition really well saying the country loves her. Throughout his entire comment, there was nothing on her technique; so unless he had nothing to say and will give her a ten (which I sincerely doubt), it’s a bit shocking that now even Todd’s comments are about her popularity and not about her dancing.
Helen tells her she played it smart and praises Arsen’s direction. She says it turned out interesting, but didn’t maintain this. Josh also liked the beginning however told her she looks too nice, saying she needs more anger. I actually thought it was too much!
Back in the green room, she gets a 13 and I’m getting the feeling that the reason why Todd mentioned Brynne’s personality and not her dancing was because he knew that it didn’t matter what they said, she’ll remain in the game; which is sadly true. Not that I don’t like her, but it’s really not good for the show. Anyway, her score is still better than last week.
Sonia is about to ask Samantha if Todd is a grumpy pants however doesn’t let her answer as she hasn’t gone yet! Anyway, surprising moment, no ad break before Lara Bingle’s Cha-Cha-Cha!
Another Pink song, and the dance itself look quite good; probably because of Lara’s lovely expressions; she just makes it easy to watch. The vocal’s are disintegrating this song, deteriorating my enjoyment factor of this dance, but oh well. There is a really tricky lift and drop at the end, however I think they pulled it off.
Helen tells them they had the audience eating out of their hands, commending their commitment this week. She calls her legs a bit heavy, however gives her a well done. Todd also compliments the dance, considering the song choice.
Todd liked it however as a male dancer, he has a lot of female partners. He can see Arsen pulling his weight however wants to see more from Lara.
As Lara tells Sonia that she found the ending on YouTube, Sonia actually cracked a half decent joke about adding things from YouTube in dances. Lara gets a 24, 1 less than last week. Lara is super nice, complimenting Sonia’s highlights.
Last for the night is Samantha Armyatage (not including the marathon performance coming up) who will be hoping to increase on last week’s nice score. Today, she is dancing the Tango, and is a little nervous. Nervous Tango dancers usually don’t do so well. Kylie Gilles comes in because she’s a former contestant (and therefore a good way to remind viewers of the show’s history) and the closest thing that comes to a news reader.
Well, on the dance floor, there is no hint of newsreader on the glammed up Samantha. She keeps an angry face all the way through but I don’t think she’s lifting her legs enough. She breaks her seriousness however during a funny looking solo and I didn’t really enjoy the ending too much, but let’s see what the judges thought.
Before that, an ad break, however I will take this time to lay out some expectations about Carrie Underwood’s upcoming performance. Firstly, it is her FIRST Australian performance, so with that in mind, I’m expecting big things. Now, as I’ve stated, and I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but last week, I noticed the production team spent a lot of effort on Brian McFadden’s performance, especially when it came to spruiking up the stage despite the fact other (more high profile) performers haven’t been given the same royalties. For such a special performance from Carrie, despite the fact she isn’t that well known, I am expecting BIG things in terms of stage set up, lighting and props in her routine.
Before that, we shall have a look at the judge’s comments. First up, Todd. He doesn’t think it was too bad, saying she stuffed it up a bit but she’s moved the best she has moved in the competition. She does however have to work on her emotions.
Josh says she should give 200% in rehearsals so she can give 100% on the stage and his comments just went funny from there; making a mention of her floppy head work, implementing she looked a little drunk and ‘wee I’m dizzy’.
Helen is last and tells her she isn’t off the hook, asking if she has watched herself back. Helen is a little disappointed that she hasn’t. Helen calls it a ‘step forward’. So she should get a better score than last week’s 20. In the end, she gets a 21, so it is a little step forward. Still, it’s her best score for the night, putting her in joint fourth with Nick and Manu.
With all dances finished except for the marathon, Dan joins Sonia in the green room. He asks whether Samantha is single, before mentioning the rock and roll marathon again!
Another ad break and we return with Carrie Underwood. She has five Grammy awards, 30 million sales and what do you know; a fancy set up! It’s not as busy as Brian’s, but this is a good thing. It’s a fitting catwalk style stage with big fancy lights. The best thing about this performance is that she sounds as good as she does in the CD. Well, I don’t really know that as I haven’t listened to her CD’s however she definitely doesn’t sound like she is singing at a live event. Brilliant work.
As Dan interviews her, I notice her speaking voice doesn’t even sound like her singing voice; love it. A smooth interview by Dan, much better than usual. He makes mention of the terrible dancers on this season (and although it was a joke, there’s a little truth behind it, right?!) and then asks her a question about a comment made by Simon back in her Idol days. Umm… those were 7 years ago Dan, sounds a bit old fashioned to be talking about them now! I guess this is her first Australian interview, so maybe it’s legit.
She just looks beautiful, and I really enjoyed every moment of that. So up next is the marathon, and the aim of this marathon is for the contestants to grab some more points (there are 10 up for grabs). Cannot wait.
Helen goes through the workings of the marathon; 7 teams will be on the floor at once dancing swing, jazz and indie hop and they must give it all they’ve got because if they don’t, the judges will tap them out and the last person remaining will receive ten points. The first person eliminated will receive only 4 with the amount of earned points increasing by one for every person eliminated.
Ok, it begins, and they will be dancing for a whole four minutes maximum! Here we go; it is an absolute marathon and is definitely exciting. Probably the first official time I’ve been excited for this competition.
Lara takes a tumble and Todd takes them off stage in seventh place with four points. Josh comes down and eliminates Brynne in sixth with five points going to them. Helen now goes down to eliminate Nick in fifth place with 6 points. Todd comes back down and eliminates Samantha in fourth place with seven points. Dan is doing a good job at commentating this fun performance. There’s so much going on to see who’s doing well or not. Josh eliminates Damien in third place with 8 points.
Now, only Manu and Haley remain and Todd comes down to tease the finalists. He goes to Haley, but bypasses her to go to Manu. After doing a bit of a dance, he taps out Haley with Manu crowned the winner.
The judges give their comments. Josh tells them that they are vexious while Helen calls it fun. Todd just wanted him to stay there the longest as he stuffed up the cha-cha-cha.
The points now stand at:
And with that, Sonia joins Dan on stage to recap the final performance which she correctly calls fun and exciting.
Up next is the all important elimination, which is sure to put a dampener on the festive mood of the competition tonight. Love it!
Beforehand however, we must sit through the traditional montage of voting numbers for those who choose can vote one of these stars out.
Ok, finally, onto the actual elimination and Sonia joins Dan for the reading of the results and I realise she STILL doesn’t have the belt. It mustn’t have just fallen off. First safe is Haley of course. Second safe just happens to be Damien Leith. Third safe is Samantha Armyatage with fourth safe being Nick Bracks (hmm, kinda wanted him to leave). The last person safe before the bottom two is Manu Feildel leaving Lara Bingle and Brynne Edelsten in the bottom two.
Dan announces that the next person leaving the show is Brynne Edelsten who is finally eliminated! It’s been a while, but it seems as if the public is voting for the best dancer! Dan reminds us about the first few weeks; but I won’t go too much into that.
So what can I say, BIG improvement! There has been NO cross promotions, the special guest was treated with dignity and actually sounded really good, the public has shown that it cares about the dancing and Sonia has actually been on form all night. Not only this, but the marathon was just gold.
The only problem remaining are those pesky ad breaks being inserted where they shouldn’t be. The judge’s comments just aren’t worth the cliffhanger treatment.
Courtney’s Verdict: 8.9/10