Monday, 29 October 2012

StrictlyChat, Week 4, in which I love Pasha again some more a lot but am mostly otherwise bored and cross

Shall we do some StrictlyChat, you guys? Weird experience this week. With the exception of about three dances, my overwhelming feeling was one of extreme boredom. Extreme. But then when they did the recap of the dances, I kept thinking, “Oh I liked that one. And that one. And that one.” So why was I so bored? It’s often a risk this early in the series – there’s too much rubbish still around and the judging is often painfully repetitive. But this was something more. I’ve always quite enjoyed Halloween week previously, despite the gimmicks, but we’ve only just had Hollywood week, so did we need another theme week? Couldn’t it just be Here is Some Dancing Week? I know they do this on Dancing with the Stars, but we are not Americans. We don’t need a theme every week. We will literally cope.

Anyway, here are my thoughts. A bit of change-around from last week, just so you know. (Not about everything. I still hate James Jordan. And in other news, the earth is still on its axis.)

Group Dance
You know the bit where they actually did Thriller and Pasha was at the front being awesome at it? They should have just done that.

Dani and Vincent
Quite liked this. I like them as a couple and the costumes were excellent and her feet move like the clappers. Her short arms freak me out a bit – is that wrong? But this is one of the dances this week that I should have loved and in fact just bored me. Possibly you just can’t make a cha cha interesting by year 10 of a show.  Can’t blame Vincent for that.

Richard and Erin
Erin busts out another mental paso. Nothing will ever match Austin Healey, and obvs Richard wasn’t trying to do so, but I love that even with someone with much less dance talent than Austin, Erin just goes bananas. I’m not saying it wasn’t a bit crap, but full marks for gusto. (I was still bored though.) I really like Richard, mind you. He has totally figured out how to get himself to the second half of the series – be likeable and humble and stuff, but STILL TRY TO DANCE and look like you give a shit. Hearts and minds, people. Hearts and minds.

(Quick aside, speaking of being bored, to say that I honestly never thought I would miss Alesha on the judging panel, but the truth is that Darcey is sucking the life out of things. Alesha talked rubbish and overscored everyone and never quite got it right, but at least she was a laugh. FIX IT, SHOW.)

Lisa and Robin
Hmmm. I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong, but sloppy doesn’t even begin to cover it. I wonder if Robin didn’t overreach himself a bit on the choreography front this week – Lisa really couldn’t keep up. The real problem, though, is that it felt like we were seeing the same dance three weeks in a row and the judge and public backlash was almost tangible.  (My other problem here was that the styling just made me think: GROTBAGS. I’m not proud of it.) She’s going to have to have ballroom next week, surely, and she’s got some ground to make up. I don’t seriously think she’s in trouble yet, but next week will surely see at least one female celeb in the bottom two so she needs to do something a bit different to keep people interested. I think the producers want to keep her around for a bit, though, so if they have to give her ballroom I bet it’s a tango. Also, my worries that she is this year’s Russell Grant have not gone away – we know she can lift you, Robin, we know. Ha ha. Move on.

Sid and Ola
What’s to say here, really? Ola couldn’t train all week and turned up for the live show looking as though she couldn’t give less of a toss, and really, when your mum’s ill and Random Iveta choreographed your dance and your partner is Sid who always looks like he couldn’t give a toss until he gets criticised and then looks TOTES WOUNDED, looking like you couldn’t give less of a toss is basically inevitable. Anyway, they wore beige, danced beige, looked beige during the comments and were then eliminated. Beigely. Bye Sid. I won’t miss you.

(Random Iveta has now already killed two celebs this series. Anyone want to club together to get James Jordan a holiday and give Iveta to Denise for a week?)

(Strike that. It won’t work. She’ll get Ian Waite and then I’ll be forced to like her for a bit.)

Nicky and Karen

Fern and Artem

Christ, watching this whole section of the show again is bloody torture. Was this the most staid, tedious American Smooth in history? Artem can’t wait to be booted off, you can see it in his eyes. Whither your crazy Black Swan choreo now, Artem? It’s dead, along with your enthusiasm. Fern for the bottom two next week, you guys. Fern and Colin, unless he busts out some masterful ballroom. And Fern to go home. She has to be the first lady out this year, or there ain’t no justice in the world.

(Edited to add: This should have said the first lady other than Jerry. Oops. Was I foxed by her having a man's name? Or had I blocked out her very existence? You decide.)

Denise and James
I thought this was a horrid, trashy little cha cha that was unpleasant to watch. She is not managing to come across as likeable at all and I stand by last week’s view that the only way she is making it to the final rounds is through the judges saving her. I am looking forward to her being in the bottom two with Pendletears one week, just so I can imagine the producers’ heads exploding. Also (Technical Comment Klaxon) her heels were much too high and her balance was off the whole time. DULL.

Michael and Natalie
Hurrah hurrah HURRAH! This was so good and so fun and it made the whole evening worthwhile. Bravo Michael Vaughan. Now, I don’t want to take all the credit (spot the deliberate lie) but I do just want to remind you all that my advice to Michael last week was: Work hard, be humble, be nice to Natalie. Combine that with Natalie’s usual stellar choreography work (she seriously works the accents in the music like nobody else) and Michael being in hold and not having to fake hip action and having naturally good posture, and this is what you get. He probably only has a few more weeks in him, but we’ll always have Halloween week, Michael. Amazing stuff.

Victoria and Brendan
No Pendletears this week, and for this small mercy I am grateful, but I just didn’t care. Not one little tiny bit. If she’s not crying, she’s entirely blank. DULL

Colin and Kristina

What an unbelievable disappointment. He was absolutely crap and she was overdancing it like mad in desperate compensation, which just made him look even worse. In some ways he was unlucky it wasn’t Fern in the bottom two instead of him, but Fern has a fan base while Colin (because he WASN’T ACTUALLY JAMES BOND) does not. I’m assuming he’ll have an American Smooth or a Foxtrot or something next week. Or he will if the producers care about keeping him in and frankly, at this stage, I am not sure why they would.

Louis and Flavia

One or both of them is going to have to get knocked down by a bus to lose it at this point, I am beginning to think. This was another really, really good night for these two – I mean, obviously the dancing was excellent, but what I loved was that Louis actually did all the character stuff as well, which is what is lifting him from Finalist to Victor territory. We might still have some wobbles along the way – he’ll have a week when he’s tired and gets a  bit crotchety, and I suspect one or two of the Latin dances might not bring out the best in him – but Flavia’s choreography usually stands up against allcomers until she gets into showdance territory, so I know where my money’s going. Mind you, if they get into a Showmance, things could be different. The Great British Public has put up with it twice from Flavia – third time could be very unlucky…

Kimberly and Pasha
You guys, I love Kimberly and Pasha. She is definitely the best Girl Aloud (though I do just want to say: Kimberly, no need to show us your midriff every week, we know the Tabz gave you a hard time about being the fattest one in the group but a) the rest were all unattractive Skinny Minnies and you are not and b) you lost a crapload of weight and we all know about it, you don’t need to show us every week) and though technically she’s not as good as Louis yet, her placing and shaping in this paso was amazing. Pasha’s choreography is really good too – he’s like Natalie in that he finds every accent in the music, which automatically makes his celeb look a minimum of three times better than she actually is (not to mention making a routine easier to dance). Loved it. Even though (or maybe because) Pasha looked a bit Teen Wolf.

My views about the top four remain the same:
  • Louis and Flavia
  • Kimberley and Pasha
  • Dani and Vincent
  • Denise and James (ugh)
Beyond that, though, I am genuinely baffled as to who will make it to the late stages and to whether I even care. The truth is that only two couples didn’t lose ground with me this week (Louis and Flavia and Kimberley and Pasha) and only Michael and Natalie gained ground, and that’s just a postponement of the inevitable so it doesn’t really count. In short, Show, MUST DO BETTER. See you next week!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Let's talk about Strictly, yeah? Yes? OK?

This is not a recap, you guys. I can’t do those. They’re too difficult and I’d have to watch the bits with Bruce and Tess, and to be honest, why would you read my recaps when these guys and especially this guy do it so much better?

These are more like mutterings. Chunterings. Overthinkings. They’re going on the blog because I think I have exhausted even my most loyal other Strictly devotees with my theories and storylines and they’ve got to go somewhere. My brain needs to be cleared. My mind must be tidied.

So, my thoughts on the series so far with reference to specific couples and to specific dances where I can remember them, which basically means this week. Are we calling it Week 2? Week 3? I hate it when they don’t do an elimination in Week 1, it messes with my terminology, as well as letting cannon fodder needlessly off the hook. Let’s call it week 3, shall we?

Fern and Artem
Does anyone care? I don’t care. I don’t think the producers care either. They can’t give her an elegant older lady storyline because she’s not old enough and they had Jerry Hall for that, they can’t give her a weight loss storyline because she’s already done it in real life, they can’t give her a showmance even though it’s Artem, and they can’t give her the ITV morning presenter who can’t dance storyline because of Richard Arnold (though stand by for further thoughts on this) and also because she’s not that awful, though there was no Charleston in that Charleston, even from Artem. In conclusion, there will be no caring about Fern, and she’ll be out in a few weeks.

Victoria and Brendan
I was totally over Victoria way before the show even started, because the crying and the “I’m so competitive and it’s SO HARD not to be the best in the world at something” crap was always going to be too painful. Brendan looked so happy to get her as a partner and I just wanted to give him a hug and say, “Better luck next year, sunshine,” because I knew it was all going to go to utter crap. There were a number of ways this could go: Gabby Logan over-competitive and unpleasant; Tom Chambers have I mentioned that I’m in LOVE and there’s my FIANCE and isn’t it ROMANTIC; or Lisa Snowdon weepy insecure bullshit. Right now we’re headed for Snowdon with a sprinkling of Logan, with an added measure of overscoring because the producers are bricking it. I say a week 6 boot when the rest of the British public finally wakes up to the fact that an Olympic gold medal doesn’t automatically make you likeable or watchable.

(As a quick aside, is anyone else surprised Greg Rutherford isn’t doing this series? Possibly he is saving himself for Celebrity Great British Bake-Off. Do they do that yet?)

Michael and Natalie (can’t call her Nat, sorry. She could take my life with a glare. You don’t abbreviate someone like that)
I have strong feelings about Michael Vaughan, but most of them relate to his sports commentary rather than to his current Strictly stint. The problem with Vaughan is that he is trying so damned hard to be a Personality on Test Match Special and elsewhere that he is losing everything that in his early days of commentary made him so charming. Like being actually good at commentary, for example. And it’s all crossing over into Strictly as well, as he tries and tries to bust out funny anecdotes and one-liners and ignores his partner to do it, which makes him look crass and unlikeable. And his rubbish dancing means he only has a week or two of survival in him if he doesn’t try something else. Vaughan – you are not Tuffers. You are not Goughie. Natural, wacky charm is not in your wheelhouse. Work hard, be humble, be nice to Natalie and you might, MIGHT, make it to week 6.

Jerry and Anton
Jerry was always going to be toast in week 2 unless Anton could find a gimmick, because Jerry was always more Stephanie Beacham than Cherie Lunghi. Turns out even Anton has limits. Buh-bye, Jerry.

Sid and Ola
There is no greater pro dancer than Ola at making us vote for slightly ropey celebs. Chris Hollins won Strictly through the Power of the Pivot and his and Ola’s utter likeability throughout his series (well, that and the fact that it was probably the least talented and least recognisable Strictly cast ever). Hearts and Minds, that’s what Ola’s good at. She’s giving it a good go with Sid, I’ll give her that. Week 3 and she’s already busting out the lace catsuit, which gives significant insight into how rehearsals are going. Sadly he doesn’t have Hollins’ likeability or Savage’s bravado, so their only hope is to manufacture a Letitia Dean-style needy much-loved soap star turns from ugly duckling to swan situation. Ola’s fan-base might keep him in for a while, but I think the worm has turned on both Jordans, to be honest. Though it is possible that the worm is only me.

Pasha and Kimberly
I love Pasha. This is well-known. And most of all, I love a Pasha quickstep, so this was a good week for me. And obviously, and perhaps more importantly, for him and Kimberly. Kimberly ought to be a ringer, but she’s actually doing a very good job of not seeming like one. That doesn’t sound like a compliment, but I promise you it is. I think she’ll get to the final, provided Pasha can keep making her interesting, which she doesn’t do a particularly good job of on her own.

Denise and James
Dull. Dull dull dull. My hate for the male Jordan is well-documented – I don’t care how much the show tries to rehabilitate him with decent partners and comedy VTs, I think he’s unpleasant and a bit tacky and I hope he never wins. People are worried that he and Denise will win. They shouldn’t be. She is quite obviously the best, but the biggest ringer hasn’t won since series 2, because even though Saint Jill of Halfpenny was amazing, people only really let her win because it was only series 2 and we weren’t quite as alive to all the ringer-ness stuff back then. If it was nowadays it would be Denise Lewis all the way (except I’ve gone off her too, but that’s another story, and it’s only really because she was crap on the Olympics and I’ll like her again as soon as I watch this quickstep). The only other real ringer who has ever won was Tom Chambers, and that’s because there was a bigger ringer in the series (Rachel Stevens) so he was out-rung. Denise will be in the final because the dance-off will make it so, but she is going to have to bust out some serious storylines to get us voting for her because their “cheekiness” isn’t going to do it. Reality show love with Lee Mead? Being a mum and how hard it is to dance after that? Not very compelling, is it…

(Another aside: does anyone remember any of Strictly’s foxtrots? Any of them? I like to watch them, but they’re not terribly memorable. The only one leaping to mind is Tom and Camilla’s and that’s because they danced to one of my favourite Dolly Parton songs, so really it’s Dolly I’m remembering. Dolly, and Camilla’s rictus grin.)

Colin and Kristina


Other than that, I am totally a fan and I reckon he might be a quarter-finalist at least.

Richard and Erin
ITV daytime TV presenter. He’s not bad, so he can’t go full Andrew Castle. But I fear the show is trying to make him Russell Grant. To be clear, I did not buy into the Russell Grant comedy crap any more than I bought into the Widdy-LOLZ. Please, please do not go down this route with poor Richard Arnold as well, show. I can’t bear it.

Dani and Vincent
They are going to go to the semis at least, these two, that’s what I reckon. She’s more Louisa Lytton than she is Rachel Stevens, which is good news for likeability and for memorability. Vincent deserves a win. Right now, I am on Team Them.

Lisa and Robin
I was a bit worried when this partnership got announced because I was concerned that Robin was just becoming a repository for the female dancer most in need of a confidence boost in life as well as in dance and Robin is totally your Gay Best Friend who Gives The BEST Hugs. Turns out Lisa is well cool and can dance like I don’t know what. I feel this might get a bit Russell Grant as well if we’re not careful – the jive was even camper than their Cha Cha, and I didn’t think that was physically possible – but she’s better than Russell ever was and dances with all the joy that he had, so I think they’ll be sticking around for a while.

Nicky and Karen
What an anonymous pair. They’ve done the new girl a favour and given her what they must have thought would have been a good partner with a high profile, giving her a chance to build a fanbase (even though I STILL don’t know why we needed a new dancer – I miss Katya and can only assume she was a ruddy nightmare backstage because how can this be better). Unfortunately, he is the least interesting man in Westlife (let’s just think about that for a moment – the least interesting man in WESTLIFE) and her only distinguishing characteristics at the moment are being a bit overly sexual with every dance move and looking exactly like Nicole Scherzinger. Only chance of survival beyond the next few weeks is some major VT and studio appearances from the recognisable ones from Westlife and probably an American Smooth to Flying Without Wings (because they can do lifts in that one, see? So she’d be flying? Without wings? Yeah?)

Louis and Flavia
Long-time fan of Flavia. Long-time fan of Louis Smith. I was worried this might be an “I’m super-competitive” storyline, and there’s definitely a bit of this going on, but he’s unlikely to be punished for it because he’s a man and being super-competitive makes him More of a Man rather than making him an Ice Queen Bitch like that Gabby Logan that time. But actually I think he might be more Ramps. He’s not super-rowdy in his VTs, he’s a sportsman who can move his hips, and the Latin dances totally bring him out of his shell. Flavia is overdue a win as much as Vincent is, and provided Louis busts out some serious ballroom, keeps doing amazing lifts, doesn’t bang on about his gold medal too much and smiles nicely for the ladies at home, this could be her year.

So there we have it. My couples for the later rounds are:

 - Flavia and Louis
 - Dani and Vincent
 - Pasha and Kimberly
 - Denise and James (but not because I like them. In case I wasn’t clear.) (I was probably clear)
 - Colin and Kristina
 - Lisa and Robin

Major bet-hedging going on here, but I think the top four here are obvious (as they usually are) and the next couple of places are still up for grabs… See you next week!