Welcome back to Puck Daddy's coverage of Battle of the Blades, the figure skating-meets-hockey CBC reality show that I hate a lot less than when it began.
Now, that may only be because it's almost finished. It's been a little over two months, but we've finally reached the end of this competition: Sunday night was the last performance show of Series III.
With the final decision solely in the hands of the voters, the judges' scores were deemed unnecessary Sunday night and omitted from the program entirely. Mind you, considering the absolute uselessness of Sandra Bezic, Jeremy Roenick, and whomever, it probably should have happened eight weeks ago.
With the judges no longer able to have any actual impact on the show's outcome, BotB took the opportunity to invite Don Cherry to sit on the final panel. It's no coincidence they waited until this week to bring him on. Suffice it to say, allowing this contest to be determined by a guy that couldn't pronounce five of the six names with a week to prepare would have been unideal.
Going into Sunday night, I wondered how, with only three pairs to trot out, CBC was going to stretch tonight's episode into an hour, and I worried they'd do it by recycling content, a tactic to which they've shamelessly resorted numerous times throughout this series. They did exactly that, as each couple skated twice -- one original performance, the other recycled from earlier in the competition. Canada: CBC does not respect you.
Still, with the way the couples have improved throughout the program, selecting a performance during which that improvement is noticeable might be an excellent strategy towards winning the prize. At least that would be my advice.
Sandra, who is a grey shawl and an armful of cats away from being the Simpsons' Eleanor Abernathy at the best of times, was a little less helpful: "Find the magic of the night," she said, "The magic of the moment, that intangible essence that we can all feel, and truly connect with the audience and with each other."
Blech. That is some airy, noncommittal crap right there. It's a wonder she didn't say, "Find the dragon balls and wish for victory."
But why dwell on it now? We're almost done -- let's find out who found the magic of the night, or whatever.
Tessa & David opened the program, apparently after being selected to do so in a draw that you can watch live on CBC.ca. (Why the Hell would you want to?) Their original skate was set to These Kids Wear Crowns' cover of Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody".
The skate had a lot of energy, and the couple moved about the ice at a speed completely unbeknownst to them only weeks prior. It was almost flawless, really, except for a near-fall by David as Tessa dropped into his arms at the close of the performance.
As for the judges, Don Cherry was particularly incoherent, comparing Tessa to Bobby Orr in that both are defensemen and both memorably flew through the air. Of course, this comparison would have worked better had Cherry remembered to say the words "Bobby Orr".
As usual, Ron Maclean filled in the blank.
For their second skate, the couple reprised their performance set to the Tragically Hip's "Long Time Running."
My favourite part of both was David's budding handlebar Movember moustache.
Bryan & Marie-France were next, skating to "Wish You Were Here" by Avril Lavigne. Strangely, the performance they opted to recycle later in the evening was set to another Avril Lavigne song in "Sk8er Boi". I guess they really like Avril Lavigne?
Granted, so does most of Canada, inexplicably, so that might have been a nice piece of pandering on their part.
The pair has had a nice chemistry throughout the program, and it was on full display during their first skate. They were together from beginning to end, even showcasing a nice bit of synchronized footwork in the middle.
Sandra had the standout comment: "Tonight, you just make us want to hug our kids." Really? I get that Bryan is a bit ogre-ish, but Sandra, he doesn't eat children.
The other two judges combined for another laughable moment when commenting on the second performance. After Cherry claimed that Marie-France "looked like a little fairy out there," Roenick added that Bryan looked like a little fairy as well.
Not sure he realizes that statement has slightly different connotations when you say it to a man.
Tanith & Boyd skated to "Seven Day Fool" by Jully Black, and they made it a tough call for Canada by having the third straight excellent performance of the evening.
In the last few weeks, it's become fairly apparent that, among the hockey players, Boyd has taken to figure skating the fastest. He also has the most natural rhythm, a fact that was apparent as he and Tanith stayed on beat and in synch throughout the skate. But, man oh man, his finger snapping has not improved in the slightest.
The judges often rave about Boyd's natural ice dancing abilities, but from the waist up, this dude is the worst. Check out his opening moves:
Seriously, he should dance with his hands in his pockets. That's disgusting.
Ron Maclean won the worst post-performance comment award this time, terribly punning, "That was a week performance." He meant in reference to the song title (again, "Seven Day Fool"), but no one got it, and he wound up having to add, "Just kidding, obviously."
And that was it for the final performance show of Season III. I can safely say I don't care who wins, but if I had to pick a winner, I'd go with Marie-France and Bryan. Sure, Boyd is the better skater, but he looks like such a goof out there I can hardly take him seriously. And Tessa has always seemed a little stiff to me.
Anyone else? Who are you pulling for?
Be sure to check back here tomorrow night for the results.
Stray observations and things my wife said:
• I've pointed out the show's obvious attempts to ensure that viewers realize Tessa is the hockey player before, and it made me chuckle to see it again throughout Sunday night's fluff pieces. While Bryan Berard and Boyd Devereaux were simply allowed to stand there in their grey hockey jersey, any time Tessa appeared in the same sweater, she shared the screen with some piece of hockey paraphernalia. In one shot, she was removing her helmet (to reveal perfect, non-helmeted hair). In another, she was flipping a puck with a hockey stick. Seriously, it's the series finale. If the viewers are still clueless, there's no helping them.
• Am I the only one that thinks David Pelletier looks a bit like Joel McHale?
• My wife: "Is this finally it, or is Yahoo going to make you start reviewing "Whitney" now?"
• Ron Maclean's eyebrows are incredible. There's no way a human being can have that sort of control over them. I suspect they're added in post-production.
• Each week, I pan this show, and a handful of people take to the comments to decry my criticism of a show that's for charity. Let me clarify that I think the charitable aspect of this show is excellent and admirable. As television programming, however, it's much less so.