Sunday, 13 February 2011

Dancing on Ice (The Final 9) - Judge Cole's Verdict

Last week saw a real shock with Jennifer Metcalfe's departure from the competition. Tonight was therefore always going to be a fascinating programme as a result to see how the remaining 9 coped with the unpredictable nature of the people's vote that that result had served as a reminder.

Tonight we saw the final 9 contestants perform and the theme was the 'West End' with the skills steps sequence continuing this week to notch up the pressure on those remaining. The required skill this week being a 'jump'.

But first of all before we start, as I've done over previous weeks, we start with a vintage performance by Torvill & Dean. This time it's their Paso Doble from the 1984 European Championships.

This is what I'm talking about...

The Final 9 - Ice Ice Baby! Vanilla Strikes Back!
So, we're now down to the final 9 contestants for the competition proper and it's getting ever more competitive. Tonight in particular has seen some real competition changing performances. The 'West End' theme again worked well and just as I loved the music last week, I did again this. How could a mix of the likes of Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, the fantastic Flash Bang Wallop, Les Miserables, Spamalot and Grease not work?!

Vanilla Ice is back on form
We began with last week's big mover Jeff Brazier who gave another excellent, confident performance. He did well with the additional skill and his lifts again were excellent. His scores are showing constant improvement and he's continuing to demonstrate a growing mental toughness. Next up was a personal favourite of mine, Denise Welch, who gave a good performance but one I felt that wasn't quite up to the standard that she set last week. She dealt with the 'jumps' quite reasonably. Next was series pace-setter Sam Attwater. Despite the pressure of being expected to lead the way, this really was a stunning, series best performance to date for me. He performed it so well and it was a really entertaining performance in all. It helped that it was to the tune of 'Flash Bang Wallop' which I can recall performing too in a YFC talent competition years ago and which holds happy memories for me. Fourth up was Kerry Katona who has really struggled over recent weeks. Well this was her best performance for some time and full credit to her - she even did some solo skating! Certainly an improvement.

Chloe Madeley was up next and her Les Mis performance was another solid affair but I don't feel that she's made much progress on last week. She's got more potential but if she doesn't demonstrate it on the ice then it's wasted. Johnson was next and his performance was a strugle for me - nothing for me to get excited about. The judges judged him well but I didn't see the comedy and character that we were told afterwards was on show. Another favourite of mine, Vanilla Ice, had a shock last week when we ended-up in the skate-off. This week he was back on form! His jumps were the best of the night and his final jump over his partner really was something! Comedy Dave Vitty, also struggled last week and whilst his performance this week was an improvement, it didn't do much for me. It's still all rather basic. Last up then was Laura Hamilton and she's been a front-runner all series but tonight she stepped up another level with another fun, entertaining performance. Her back flip was sensational and her scores put her deservedly level with Sam.

So Sam and Laura continue to prove to be the pace-setters with Jeff continuing to makes great strides forward and is my dark horse in the competition. After last week's slip-ups, Vanilla Ice bounced back in style but Chloe I felt has stagnated somewhat.

They are the clear top 5 whilst Johnson, Denise, Dave and Kerry continue to be a show apart. I felt Kerry made decent progress this week (albeit from a low base) whilst Denise, Dave and Johnson showed limited improvement.

The Skate-Off
After last week's shocks, nothing can be taken for granted. I have a feeling Kerry, despite scoring the least with the judges, will survive the skate-off again. Dave will probably do so also. Denise I think is particularly vulnerable but my hunch is that Johnson and Chloe will be in the skate-off. The latter is a big shout admittedly but time will tell...

I'll update this post after the results...

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Well, maybe not then! As it turned out, for once the public went the same way as the judges. The bottom two on the day were the two to perform in the skate-off. Whilst Kerry has struggled over the past few weeks I did feel that she made a better job of it today and Dave's problem is that he has always looked so wooden.

But in the final analysis, I felt that the majority decision (the first of the series?) was the right one. I can see why Robin supported Dave for his skating ability but taking the performance in the whole, Jason and Emma were right to save Kerry. Admittedly it's a stay of execution for her but she deserves on tonight's performance, at least one more week in the competition.

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