And with that, the top 10 is already upon us, which couldn't have come soon enough given the rather modest choreography we've suffered through all season (i.e. last week), though the top 12 performance got off to such a sorry beginning that you kind of had to wonder if the UK was just going to sink under the weight of its mediocrity.
Robbie and Yanet, Hip hop
I'm stunned that there have been opinions about this number that do not involve the words "worst" and "ever," in that precise order. OK, maybe I'm overstating things -- my memory of the first season, with its in-bloom Karaty-ness and hip-hop challenged dancers, is pretty murky -- but Robbie and Yanet easily surpassed the recent low-water mark (Evan and Randi). Mostly, Robbie's at fault; I thought Yanet did ok, but I can see where she might be seen as too wild. But Robbie nearly biffed on the back somersault, not to mention the kip-up that he whiffed on.
Gavin and Chloe, Broadway
Another mess. Neither of them have the prototypical dancer's body -- they're both stocky with short limbs -- so they were really going to have to fight uphill rather than getting intimidated (Gavin) or getting paired with an intimidated partner.
Hayley and Drew, Contemporary
Right then, a glimmer of life. Really excellent choreography -- the female lifts weren't done for the sake of a woman lifting the man, it had a purpose and it looked great. Hayley and Drew weren't perfect in this -- emotion was lacking, first and foremost -- but they were better than competent, and I'd take that. (I have to think that half of the contemporary dancers from the US SYTYCD could've managed the same level of dancing, though.)
Alasdair and Mandy, Cha-cha
I don't know how to appreciate fastish Latin dances, so I'll just say that they avoided the ignominy of Nathan/Mollee salsa status.
Tommy and Charlie, Pop Jazz
Maybe I'm an utter imbecile, but I thought that Tommy actually had some decent choreography. I can see, however, his point -- what he's managed to show would seem to indicate that he can bite off much more challenging routines.
Lizzie and Mark, Viennese waltz
Not the disaster I was expecting. Lizzie looked smashing with her hair all glammed up, while Mark was quite dashing. (And I liked how the stylists tried to make a pompadour out of Mark's tuft.) I watched her more closely, no surprise there, and though she could've extended herself more, she avoided the heavy-footed stomping that she seemed perfectly capable of back in Vegas.
The lighting and stage crew also need to raise their game. Did they think it was a good idea to have a bright, white back-lit screen behind a bunch of pasty dancers? If you looked closely, you could practically see through Robbie, it was so blindingly white.
You know what I find really strange? I'm ok with the Britishisms that go straight over my head, but when I hear or see references to American culture, my head gets a little bit scrambled. Arlene compared one of the dancers to Brad and Angelina -- granted, they're international megastars, so that shouldn't have felt so weird, but it did. Like, "Britain, get your own superstar couple!"
But more relevantly, why were two Britons (or so I presume they're UK-born) wearing American sports gear?
I can get why Kenrick was wearing a Yankees cap -- in hip hop, the vilest team in baseball is a fashion accessory as much as anything -- but why is Robbie wearing a Steeler's hoodie? One identifying them as divisional champs, especially considering that they won the Super Bowl that year. Is this the English equivalent of ironic trucker hats?
Indie rating: Prairie Dog Flesh - "Donovan Out"