It’s a freezing night out if you come from where I come from; so what better way to warm up than with another toasty episode of Dancing With The Stars. While not my favourite reality television series, it’s always fun to see these celebrities dance and watch the judges self-implode.
We start with a recap complete with the novel self-big-up the show gives itself in relation to all the controversy it tries to create before we are introduced to the hosts. Sonia is looking a lot better than last week; she’s actually wearing a dress this time. This is the first time the hosts have come down the stairs for the season apparently.
After we’re told for the third time of the all star line-up the show has tonight (Jennifer Hudson, Olivia Newton-John and James Blunt), we say hello to those infamous judges.
The episode this week is moving much faster than last week; the introductions are short and joke free. Lovely; and not a moment too soon, Olivia Newton-John looking wonderful as usual flies down the stairs. She will be acting as a fourth ‘judge’ tonight and even has a very stylish chair to sit on, situated away from that desk of hell.
They now bring out the ten stars still competing in the show. Daniel and Sonia go through a few compliments before wondering if Arsen will kick off again this week (in relation to the argument between him and Joshua). In my opinion, he didn’t start it nor did he finish it; it was just a farce created by the judges and he was dragged into it.
Now onto the dancing, with much better timing this week; and first up is Jan Stephenson, and she’s doing the Samba.
Before the dance begins; a quick sweep of the audience shows various stars from Winners and Losers sitting in. This show and it’s cross promotions- I tell ya!
The dance is very colourful and Jan really gets into it and has a good time. I think the chemistry between her and her partner is the best for this season. The dance is wonderful in my opinion; nothing out of the ordinary; but great to watch. Jan is puffing a lot more this week than last week so I wonder what the judges are going to say. Oh wait, I forgot; this show does judges comments after the break. How annoying. So as we head into the break, I notice there’s a bit of a technical fault. Where I assume was meant to be highlights of Jan’s performance there is just a black screen. I always thought this show was a little cheap…
So onto the judges and Olivia thought it was amazing and she should get 10/10 (however Jan is supporting Olivia’s charity so a little bit bias?). Joshua is first and he wanted to see a lot more twist and bumps and the rhythm was slow but liked some of the moves Jan pulled off. He takes time to appreciate the work they went into, though.
Helen is amazed at Jan’s composure and loves her competitive edge. Todd agrees with Joshua for the most part; especially with the work they do. He is glad Jan didn’t break a hip during the show (Oh, god) before saying they should ‘break a leg’ next week.
In the green room, Sonia is sipping a fake cocktail, she hasn’t had breakfast guys! Now onto the judge’s scores and Jan gets an eighteen. Sonia congratulates them for coming first (?) before cracking the infamous ‘Winning!’ Charlie Sheen line. It didn’t work for him and it doesn’t work for her. Rob Palmer, last year’s winner comes into the green room. A few laughs here and there, love how Sonia’s awkwardness brings out the comics in anyone even remotely funny. Contestant George Houvardis is there as well and they look back at some comments they made about Kyle Minogue (George) and Olivia Newton-John (by Rob Palmer). Some funny moments; even Sonia’s ‘Hermaphrodite’ comment was funny.
We cross back to Dan who introduces Jennifer Hudson to the stage for a very powerful performance. For someone who isn’t too well known in Australia; this will definitely do something for her down here. Although, on a negative note, she does scream a lot which gets a bit annoying after a while. She gets a very nice standing ovation before a fleeting interview with Daniel in which he seems to forget the name of her album; a bit of a no, no in my books. The good news; she’s sticking around to perform her title track later in the show.
I don’t know if it’s just West Beach; but is this show skipping a bit? The glitches don’t look like they are coming from my reception as there are whole bits being skipped.
After an ad break, Dancing With The Stars’ most improved star, Mark Occhilupo is next and he’s doing the waltz. His partner takes him to a suit shop after a comment made by one of the judges who said he could improve if he glams up a bit.
Now he’s done just that; it’s time for his routine. There are a few good moves; and he doesn’t look as stiff as last week, but you can see he’s concentrating and it just makes him look like he’s eager to get his ‘job’ over and done with. I don’t know what to think of it but it’s judges now and Olivia is first who thinks he would make her feel secure if she was dancing with him. She loved it. Next is Helen who thinks he’s handsome. She said that he won’t get much love from the dancing panel but nothing could be worse than week 1 and he’s keeping his head above water.
Joshua thinks he’d do well on a dance machine at an arcade but must learn to move his upper body. Todd has bad news and good news. The bad news; he’s not very good, what else did we expect. Also, his pants are heaps big. The good news; he knew where he was going and he is improving. Surely this means an improved score. In the end, he gets a 16, which is one better than last week. For those who are curious, Jan’s 18 was down 4 points from last week.
Dan Ewing is up next and after last week’s mediocre performance; he is asked to repent with the Samba, the ‘exact opposite of Dan Ewing’, says Dan Ewing.
It starts off quite well; very smooth and with the camera moves; this performance goes well with that quirky tune being played throughout. There are times however that look sloppy and some of the mistakes are obvious.
To the judges and Todd thinks it is a big improvement on last week but believes Dan needs to let go a bit. Probably the best review Todd has given all year. Helen agrees with pretty much all of what Todd says and Joshua commends Dan for dancing with Luda and says the routine was a bit ‘Raah’ and hip-hoppy. No comments from Olivia as Dan moves to the green room.
Sonia congratulates her for wearing a unitard, a comment that goes a bit awkward after Luda reveals she doesn’t know what a unitard is or at least didn’t understand what Sonia was talking about. To the judges scores and he scores a nice 21, up 5 points from last week.
Last week, Haley Bracken fired up the stage with her Cinderella style performance however is this week aiming to steer away from the ‘Barbie’ image. This week she is performing the Argentine Tango. It is very burlesque-y and is matched by a swathe of brilliant moves. Yet again, Haley is taking home the stage. She is simply flawless. She isn’t stiff, out of tune or boring. It’s a very versatile performance. I wonder what the judges will think. Joshua thinks it was beautiful characterisation but the part where her partner picked her up and she tried to extend her leg was a bit awkward however this can be put down to her rib injury. Todd’s face spelt ‘mixed review’ saying she could do better, claiming she is still a Barbie. He gives her a list of things to improve to the boos of the audience. Helen sort of disagrees but also has some things to say about the performance. They end up getting a 23, only 1 down from last week. While Sonia is talking, the tweets come on and it seems Seven is listening to viewers and putting on tweets that criticise aspects of the show, not just complementing them (although it is still mainly the judges).
Olivia Newton-John joins Sonia in the green room for an interview which turns out to be both versatile and fun without being awkward. There you go, Sonia; this is what happens when you cut out all of the dad jokes.
Time for another musical performance, this time by James Blunt. Some clever lighting work and an emotional sounding Blunt makes this a very good performance. Definitely a highlight for the episode. Another standing ovation for another brilliant performance. For what I call a cheap show; they do well with the musical guests. James has quite a sense of humour; cracking a few jokes in what is probably the least awkward interview Daniel McPherson has ever given.
Up next is Damien Leith who is excelling in this competition considering some of the reality stars they’ve had on in the past. This week he has the samba. Molly Meldrum comes to give him a gold certification for his latest album (nice self-promotion there). It’s a fun performance but there’s a few awkward movements here and there. I don’t expect him to improve on his scores nor get a swathe of positive reviews but he’s doing alright. Olivia is back to give a few words and feels Damien was amazing but Todd thought this week he went balls up; calling him nervous and unnatural. He tells him to lighten up, saying the song was ‘Love is in the air’ not ‘Leprosy’. Some guy yelled out a chant during his comment, thought I’d point that out. Joshua thought Mel was ‘HOT’ and appreciates how hard the samba is and said the performance was going ‘in and out’ of awkward, saying they didn’t go back, go forward, but went sideways.
Helen thought it was good but there was a bit of stiffness in his lower half (sorry for those with dirty minds out there). After a great score last week, he scores a 20, highest score came from Joshua. Overall, his score is 7 down from last week.
The leader board is now being displayed at Haley is in the lead on 23 points. Dan is in second on 21, Damien in third on 20, Jan on 18 and Mark down the bottom with 16.
Dan joins Sonia in the green room to discuss the musical performances of the night; but while asking ‘how about the contestants’ in relation to their performances, Sonia interrupted with quite a pointless comment. It was quite awkward and added to the list of awkward moments this show has racked up this year.
Onto Nick Bracks who performed quite well last week is next to perform the waltz. There’s a few risky facial expressions and moves he needs to perform, so I wonder how he’ll do. It starts off very grand and professional but I’m afraid that Nick can’t capture the facial expressions the judges are after. It was a good performance though and Nick was quite happy. Olivia loved the performance, of course. She thought the lift they did was amazing. Joshua thinks there was a bit of hesitation in his starting run and has some other tips for improvement including telling him to eat air. Helen thought it was good and there’s a bit of silliness on the panel. She thinks they coped well on some of the harder aspects of the performance. Todd didn’t know if he could buy the performance and asks for some emotion. He says he normally loves the couple, but not tonight. He achieves a 20, even on last week.
Before the ad break, Daniel gives a tribute to the late Bill Hunter. Thank god it didn’t sound tacky.
After the break, Samantha Armyatage comes up with the Samba.
On stage, I just love her facial expressions. This performance makes me feel very happy; it’s bright and colourful and Sam looks like she’s having fun. I just find it funny to see a newsreader do what she’s doing. She does it so elegantly. Helen was a bit concerned however as she was in and out of time and questions how much time she is able to commit to the show. Overall, she didn’t seem to like it too much however enjoyed the facial expressions. Todd has a few things to say about the performance as well, again, not buying the performance. He wants to love Samantha more. Joshua agrees with Todd and points out some highlights of the performance, including whipping her leg over her partner. He wants more next week; saying it was a slightly awkward performance, however this was directed at Brendon.
She scores a 15, down 3 points on last week and slips into last place. I must say I don’t agree with the judges; I really liked the performance.
Lara Bingle is next and will be performing the Argentine Tango. She goes to a performance to get some inspiration. Hopefully it all translates to the dance floor. She has a sore ankle and has to battle through the illness to practice. Her performance is a little robotic, but I’m liking the closeness of the couple. Se also has some great leg flicks; paramount for an Argentine Tango. What’s also good about the performance is the Finish dishwashing commercial theme song being played as the music; it works really well.
Joshua is proud that Lara didn’t make excuses around her illness but is worried about the panic in her face because Carmello is giving her too many hard steps. Actually, his feedback is a little over the place but he concluded by saying that he loved the performance. Helen trusts that she is trying to do a better job and enjoyed it. Todd gave his best comment of the night; and shortest, saying it was good. That was it, ‘it was good’. From Todd, I’d be happy with that. They get an impressive 24 and place first for the night.
Up next is Brynne Edelsten who has been the one to watch for the past two weeks. I wonder how she will do tonight with the Waltz. Brynne was hoping for this so maybe we’ll see a great performance. We see an insight into Brynne’s Paris Hilton-style life before we get into the performance. It’s a little stiff, but at times, quite nice to watch. The facial expressions Brynne is giving are also quite bland. I really don’t know how she will go this week with the judges.
Olivia thought Brynne was beautiful before Todd commented on Helen’s ‘puppies’ (!). Todd notices that her arm movements were a little awkward. He also says she should cover up a bit. Helen called the performance ‘a waltz’ (she was conveying that it was like a proper waltz). She recounts how Brynne can dress for the moment (like at the logies) and says she is doing it tonight. Joshua picks out her facial expressions but formally welcomes her to the competition. So she got quite a few good comments on her beauty, not many for her dancing style, well, not many positive ones anyway. They were able to score a brilliant 19, up 5 from last week and ahead of Jan, Mark and Samantha. Well done Brynne!
After a quick break (only 1 ad break occurred in between a performance and the judges comments tonight; an improvement), Jennifer Hudson is back for her second performance of the night. This one doesn’t have as many screams in it and is just as powerful as her first one. Very enjoyable performance.
A bit of a niggly for me is the fact that after every performance, the screen fades out momentarily into a black screen. This is pretty unnecessary and seems really pointless. Doesn’t do well to increase the shows professionalism.
Last but certainly not least is Manu Feilel with the Argentine Tango. After dropping 4 points last week to mixed reviews; I wonder how he’ll go this week. He has potential to score well, so it will be interesting to see how he performs.
I love the way the voice over guy pronounced Manu’s name; definitely be waiting for that next week. It’s a good performance with a lot of moves led by a seemingly powerful Manu. It’s also quite a sexually driven routine and very spicy; a great way to end the night but Manu causes a minor controversy after saying he was a bit ashamed that a ‘woman’ was telling him what to do in his own kitchen (Alana, his partner, came to his restaurant for a lesson) but Olivia quiets the crowd down with another wonderful review; telling him it was passionate. Helen thought the room temperature went up by 10 degrees. She also likes the passion and loved the performance. Joshua loved it, loved it, loved it! ‘Todd won’t lie; see ya next week’. Another short but sweet comment from Todd, the best they can get really. I reckon they will get the best score tonight, but let’s see how they go. They end up scoring a fantastic 27, putting them in first place. Sonia picks up on his sexist comment from before, yet again exacerbating a problem when it really isn’t needed.
Finally, a short interview with Olivia who thinks the show was amazing. It was definitely better than last week, I’ll say that.
Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Why do we have to wait until the end of the night to do this? It’s the elimination!
After the voting numbers were announced I was surprised that there wasn’t an ad break! Manu is first safe, along with Brynne who is saved second. Nick Bracks is third to be saved with Haley Bracken saved fourth.
With six couples left, the next celeb safe is Samantha Armyatage. Dan Ewing is also safe with Occy also surviving. Damien Leith is saved leaving Lara Bingle and Jan Stephenson (again) in the bottom two.
Ultimately it is Jan Stephenson eliminated after surviving last week. Lara Bingle is safe however Jan Stephenson is very emotional She was going to do a solo next week, so it’s a bit of a shame she left. She wouldnt’ve been my first choice. And with that, we are left with nine. Jan was supposed to give a performance, but she is just way too emotional to give one.
So with that who will go next week?
This episode was much better than last week; with less jokes from Sonia and a few moments I could actually laugh to; it was definitely on a better track than the season has shown so far. The performances were great; even though I didn’t agree with the judges in some respects however this show achieved to make its guests Jennifer Hudson and James Blunt shine on stage; which is something I didn’t think they could pull off. They deserve a pat on the back for that; especially when it came to James’ performance which sent shivers down my spine.
Olivia Newton-John as a guest was refreshing as we could get an alternate view, even if it was universally positive, on the performances of the night.
Lastly, Rob Palmer and George Houvardis on the show was definitely a bonus and probably helped Sonia to her finest moment on this show.
That is it for Dancing With The Stars; hope you enjoyed the episode and I’ll be here next week to blog all about elimination 3!
Courtney’s Verdict: 8.0/10