Post-Blackpool, after-Blackpool, the Blackpool hangover. There are many names for this episode of the series. That is especially the case when you add in a random competitive group number that ALWAYS throws a spanner in the works.
Danny and Oti
I had been positively salivating over this dance during the week, I was very surprised to see them out first - but Oti is wearing one of the best dresses of the series. It started with a samba roll...and we even got another samba roll at the end...and everything else in between! It was innovative, but also a samba, crammed full of steps but also the two of them really working together rather than Oti dragging him around the floor. There were debates over whether Danny deserved that 40 last week - he certainly did tonight!
First of all, LOVED the music. Both the selection and the arrangement were wonderful. Hurrah. The dance was full of content. I was a wee bit agin Danny at the start because he was just too good. But I believe the show is about improvement. And he's improved on too good. He's now quite awesome.
Ore and Joanne
How indeed do you follow the first 40 in samba history? Well they got something suitably moody for a paso, and managed to put a dramatic drumbeat behind it. When I first heard about it on ITT I thought it was going to be a car-crash, but I actually liked it more than I was expecting. But saying, it wasn't more than the sum of its parts like Danny's samba was. I also felt sorry for Joanne in a weird pair of shorts.
Dramatic. Atmospheric. When this first started I was like all ooooh. I just really wanted it to pick up pace a bit. I thought the music was building but it wasn't. It wasn't... marchy...enough for me. But don't get me wrong, the dancing was wonderful and I was quite captivated by the whole spectacle.
Louise and Kevin
Louise is back in the baggy dresses, why? It was a waltz right out of a Richard Curtis film, schmaltzy and playing to the crowd. Although I will say you might as well do something to jazz up a waltz at this point in the competition. But as ever, it was all about Kevin leading her through it. And also, toe lead where there should be heel leads.
Meh, I just can't think of much to say. It was nice. Like a custard cream - you're not sad it's there but you're not excited by it. And she did toe leads. Just saying.
Rinder and Oksana
People were rather wary of Rinder doing a rumba, and understandably, but this was actually pretty good. A lot of work had gone into those lines and hips, and as the judges said there was a lot of fluidity in the dance, which some people never manage. Also, points for Oksana's sparkly leotard thing.
Oh that was tough for Mr Rinder. It looked as though he was really thinking too hard before each step - I wondered if he was struggling to break on 2. The technique was ok in places but it was all a little awkward.
Ed and Katya
Well we've had some pretty random tangos this year and they weren't about to change that with this one. And Katya dressed as Nancy Del'Ollio because why not? For all the promoting of the 'catwalk' theme there was actually a fairly standard tango routine. Big problems with the frame in hold. Ed is best when he's allowed to be exuberant, so a tango probably wasn't going to work for him, both he and I were frustrated by it.
It was a hunched and stompy and didn't have the joyful pizzazz of some of his more upbeat performances. Ed's musicality is excellent though. And he's loving every minute. And, I'm pretty sure he did more heel leads in his routine than Louise did.
Claudia and AJ
I've never really warmed to these two, but after the disaster that was last week's jive (yes it was a disaster, judges) this was definitely one of their best performances. Although the world's longest lifts as she pawed the air with her feet made me laugh, which I don't think was what they were going for. But a definite improvement in technique and commitment to the dance, it could save her this week.
I was all ready to hate this because I miss Greg and Natalie. But ah bloomin' 'eck I actually really liked it. Although it was questionable how much time she actually sent with her feet on the floor. I thought her shaping was excellent. I even liked the arrangement of the song. Dammit.
The Cha Cha Cha Challenge!
Well this seemed odd when it was announced, a VW makes sense, even the swing-a-random had its novelty factor, but this looked like a new ballgame and potential for people getting kicked. And in eye-watering outfits no less. Danny and Oti led from the start, obviously, Oksana and Rinder were in their own world, which I liked to see, Lousie and Kevin were doing the same step every time the camera was on them. And as ever, the whole thing should've been twice as long...The scoring from the judges was laughable.