Welcome back to Puck Daddy's enduring, long-suffering coverage of Battle of the Blades, a program that, prior to being assigned by my editor to watch, I would have claimed you couldn't pay me to watch.
As much as I find this show to be insufferable -- heck, that word might not even be strong enough -- I should admit up front that this week's program had a few tolerable moments, the first of which was the cold open.
It was most badass opening montage the show's ever done, full of cringeworthy injuries (such as Curtis Leschyshyn's swollen, bleedy calves) and cursing (David Pelletier telling partner Tessa, "You gotta change it or I'm gonna go f***in' bananas.")
Unfortunately, this montage eventually ended, and my screen was then filled with the ever-hammy Ron Maclean, who proceeded to a) reminisce over last week's terrible pond hockey intro b) call Brad and Annabelle's reinstatement "the greatest save of all," a hilarious sentence for a guy that watches hockey for a living, and c) spew scripted nonsense like "bags of ice are truly badges of honour." Guh.
I actually looked forward to the performances, if only to get Maclean off my screen.
Tonight's judges: Jeremy Roenick, back after two weeks somewhere else, guest judge Chris "Knuckles" Nilan, whom Maclean described as a master of fisticuffs and off-the-cuffs, whatever the crap that's supposed to mean, and crazy old head judge Sandra Bezic, once again pilfering Jeri Ryan's wardrobe.
And then there was figure skating.
Anabelle & Brad opened the evening, skating to "Electric" by Shawn Desman. For those of you lucky enough to live in a country in which Shawn Desman isn't a pop star, let me just say this: the man's music is no good. I know last week I said it wasn't fair to render the voters irrelevant with a judges' save, but if Canadians are voting for Shawn Desman to do anything but stop making music, it's hard to defend their right to vote.
The performance was -- wait for it -- awful. Brad stumbled twice, he fumbled Annabelle more times than the 1978 San Francisco 49ers, and his hand flourish at the end was so bad and so late that he mouthed a curse word after he remembered it.
Then, Sandra claimed that, from last week to this week, "the step-up was huge." Think she's covering for the fact that she wasted a save on this garbage? Jeremy won the stupid comment of the day award, however, saying, "It didn't look like you slipped." No, Jeremy, it did. Total score: 16.8.
Tessa & David were next, skating to "Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson, apparently the request of a middle-aged bachelorette party. I don't have anything good to say about it, but you probably guessed that. I hate this show.
Among the judges, my favourite comment came from Chris Nilan, who raved that the skate had "a lot of continuity." What? It's true, they started on skates, and they finished on the same skates. Astounding. I liked Sandra's helpful tip, too: "Stand as though you have a diamond necklace around your neck." I wish she'd elaborated, because if Tessa stands paranoid of theft all next week, this one's on Sandra. Total score: 17.1.
Tanith & Boyd skated to "Fever" by Michael Buble, and it was a completely unique kind of terrible. Up until now, the skaters have looked awkward and wooden, but they've never looked downright dweeby because they're all former hockey players, and they have a certain edge to them. Not Devereaux; not this time. He looked like Tanith met him at a bird sanctuary.
Seriously, have these two ever snapped their fingers before? Because it looked completely foreign to them. This was like a high school math class on skates. I laughed out loud when Sandra raved, "That was so hot." No, Sandra thinking that crap was hot is hot: a woman that can find eroticism in something so unbelievably sterile is a keeper. Total score: 17.3.
Violetta & Cale skated to "Suddenly I see" by KT Tunstall, and they made Canada's job easy by having a noticeably poor skate. And Lord knows Canada needs it made easy for them. Again, they voted for a Shawn Desman song. Also, they keep this show on the air by watching it. Canadians appear to struggle with good taste.
The most unfortunate moment of the performance came at the end, when Cale attempted to lift Violetta above his head -- a lift that they clearly struggled with in practice, because Cale took a deep, nervous breath just before trying it -- and instead, dropped her. Thankfully, she fell forward into his arms, because it could have been downright scary if she'd dropped behind his head. It would have fit with the cold open, I guess.
It was downright incredible to me that Violetta kept smiling even when there was a chance she was about to split her head open on ice. Whether that's insanity or commitment to the craft, it's bizarrely admirable.
I was really hoping Jeremy would claim, "It didn't look like you dropped her," but no such luck. Still, the judges were quick to cover up for the error, claiming that everything prior to the drop was sublime. Sure, if 'lime' means 'par'. Total score: 16.8.
Elena & Curtis gave us the penultimate skate on the evening, dancing to "Give me everything tonight" by Pitbull. It started somewhat stupidly, as Elena and Curtis posed on a bench, looking like complete tools, then Elena spray-painted a heart on Curtis' back for no reason at all. However, the two pulled it out with a couple of neat lifts and a performance completely and thankfully devoid of dweeby finger snaps. The judges liked it, as they often do. Total score: 17.2.
And finally, Marie-France & Bryan closed out the evening, skating to "Can't Help Falling in Love with You" by Elvis Presley. Now, some of this may have been the song, which is one of the most beautiful tracks ever, but this was a shockingly elegant and moving skate. No lie. It was simple, but it was flawless, and Bryan and Marie-France had a genuine chemistry I honestly never expected to see on this program. I have no complaints with it whatsoever.
Neither did the judges, as this one took home the highest score of the season to date. Total score: 17.5.
Stray observations & things my wife said:
• Shameful disclosure: I sort of love Marie-France and Bryan. I can't believe I have a preference in this doofy competition, but I'm pulling for them now. I can't be the only one. Who's everybody else pulling for?
• Speaking of those two, I have to say, as much as I enjoyed their skate, I'm really, really disappointed that Canada didn't vote for them to dance to Angela Lansbury's version of "Tale as Old as Time", from Beauty and the Beast.
• At one point, Ron Maclean described Tanith and Boyd as "quick as satin". My wife: "I don't think I've ever used a fabric to describe a speed. Oh, they're as speedy as velour."
• If you took a drink every time someone says "Mayday", you would have to sleep on your stomach.
• My wife: "Okay, what is with Jeremy Roenick's choker necklaces? Does he shop at Ardene?"
• My wife: "I don't think Sandra even knows where she is. I bet she randomly yells out scores at the supermarket. Five point eight! I bet she's lucky if the words she says are numbers. Coffee point kitten!"