The group numbers were mostly superb. I didn't think the final number was tight, and it seemed a bit scattered. The opening was both bizarre and exquisite, and I could have watched Joannie Rochette with her umbrella glide/glide/glide step off the ice, glide/glide/glide, etc. all night long.
Unless I was miraculously comatose just for the exact length of Duhamel and Radford's intro/solo program/transition, we only got them in the opening and closing numbers.
On the on-ice corner monitors, there was a series of slides that said, "Sochi 2014, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir/Patrick Chan" and then "2014 Stars on Ice/Kurt Browning" so they seem to be optimistic for a show next year. If they can't draw in crowds post-Sochi, there's no hope.
I didn't see the Victoria show; I can't describe what they did differently, except that I doubt it was part of the standard show when Patrick Chan was doused with a bucket of water (I think by Browning) as he, Browning, Buttle, and Virtue and Moir were waiting to start the first act closer. (When Jeff Buttle gave his World Vision speech, he started by saying that this was the last show of the season, which Patrick knows more than anyone, and then faux-sneeringly called Chan "rookie.") In the group number with umbrellas, did water always squirt out of them? Did rain always pour on Kurt Browning at the end of "Singing in the Rain"?
I thought the quality of the programs was so uniformly good, the only distinctions I can make were likes. Ashley Wagner's two programs were clearly designed to keep her sharp, with intricate and difficult entrances into jumps, like a spread eagle into a triple on the reverse curve in her first number. I preferred her second program to "Sweet Dreams", which she skated like a fireball of energy. If she can skate with that brutal confidence during the season, she will have nothing to worry about. The Kerrs programs were a contrast, but how do they manage to be 2000x hotter than Virtue and Moir, who started their "Stay" number with Virtue in a pink negligee dress by (carefully) rolling over each other and ended "Carmen" with Virtue's orgasm? Some of the things in "Carmen" that looked contrived to me on TV in the competitive version, like the modern dance segment, were really strong live, and the lifts were (The main part they dropped for CSOI was the "Flower Song" section.) Sawyer is such a pro as a performer. The caterpillar suit at the start of "O Fortuna" had the four-year-old behind me squealing with delight, and the butterfly wings showed off Sawyer's signature moves brilliantly.
I loved both of Buttle's and Rochette's programs, but I have a soft spot for Rochette's second, "That Man," which was so light, precise, and cheeky without any winks. She is such a delight to watch. I thought the Van Cliburn/Dave Brubeck tribute with the two of them was moving. Both of Browning's programs showed him at his signature best, with intricate footwork and his trademark timing. As Rochette said at the end of the show, it was such a privilege to see him do "Singing in the Rain" live, at the end of which nearly the entire arena was up on its feet. (She also said it great to see him do the program live, since the broadcast was 20 years ago, at which he looked mock hurt, and then she said to him something like "I was alive then" to make him feel better.)
Chan is starting to get the hang of this, but I didn't much like "Mannish Boy": for me, he's not a very convincing ass-shaker. He doesn't need to: he more than held his own in the group numbers with Buttle, Kerr, Browning, Sawyer, and Moir just by dancing -- if he can transfer some of that to his competitive FS this season, it would be grand -- and he's plenty panties-worthy without it. I loved the high five between Browning and Chan in the finale when four of the them did simultaneous 2A's and nailed the landings. As the skaters spread out to interact with the fans in on-ice seats, Chan was very cute with the two little girls from whom Scott Moir stole some pop corn earlier: I think they eyed him suspiciously, thinking he was going to steal more food from them. Moir was very gracious to the fans in our corner of the rink. Browning thanked the crowd for coming as he skated by.
The show this year was fantastic.