Fifteen couples, you guys. Fifteen couples. No wonder we’re all so exhausted this week, am I right? I watched all the bloody dances, but I basically fast-forwarded through everything else, so I only have the tiniest idea about what the VTs were like, though I am guessing Jordan was annoying, Ashley Wassisname went on about his baby and Natalie and Artem pretended she wasn’t a massive ringer some more forever please don’t hate me just because I’m amazing. Let’s get down to business. What follows is a bit stream-of-consciousness because there are too many bloody couples and I wrote down a load of nonsense as I watched, so a load of nonsense is what you’re going to get.
Once again we are taunted with the perfect world of a Bruce-less Strictly, and lo it was good. I think if there is one thing we have all learned in eleven (ELEVEN) series of Strictly, it is that Tess hasn’t got a natural unrehearsed bone in her body. Therefore she is about eighty times as good when she’s doing all the scripted bits. And she keeps a show running on time, which is a lot harder than it looks (I am guessing – I mean, it’s not like I’m a host of live TV, which does seem a crying shame now I come to think of it) and Claudia is ALL natural unrehearsed bones, so this is a good combo, and let’s just stick with it, ok BBC?
Let’s all just say a big NO to Matt Goss remixing Bros songs and wearing a hat, shall we?
And did anyone else think that pro dance looked weirdly under-rehearsed? Possibly it just seemed that way to me because I wasn’t really watching it – I spent the first three-quarters looking to see which of the fifteen pros was missing and then I realised that of course it was Anton. It is always Anton.
Susanna & Kevin - Tango
Let’s just get this out of the way – PLEASE stop giving us VTs of EARLY MORNING WOES for breakfast presenters, ‘kay? I mean, I get it, it’s a gruelling schedule, blah blah blah, but they did after all choose to do the show. It’s not our fault they’ve got breakfast jobs as well. Having said all of which, I do hope Susanna copes with the schedule better than poor Andrew Castle did – he looked like a sweaty, hollowed-out shell of a man by week three. I liked this, though. Floppy frame and some wobbly moments, but she had to do the jive and the tango first up, and didn’t screw it up, and I reckon that is HARD CORE. Susanna is steely. I wouldn’t want to get in her way.
Tony & Aliona – Charleston (I suppose)
BYE ALIONA IT’S BEEN REALLY FUN SORRY IT’S OVER SO QUICKLY BYEEEEEE.
Poor Tony. Why did he do this show? I imagine he will console himself with his pots of cash and Florida mansion, mind you. That would help me get over elimination pretty damn quickly. Len got to say SPORTSMAN! though, so it wasn’t all for nothing.
Natalie & Artem - Waltz
I am so disappointed to learn that you pronounce her surname Goo-med-eee, and not Goo-mead. It makes me like her less. Beyond that, what is there to say? She’s insanely good, and to call her a ringer is to malign the ringers of previous years. She is the Muhammad Ali to their club boxers. Artem’s biggest challenge this week was getting his arm over her enormous hair do during the underarm turns. I will enjoy watching her dance, but where is the journey, producers? WHERE IS THE JOURNEY?
(Quick aside – how mental is Artem going to make their American Smooth, given that she can do literally anything (even Crazy Natalie Lowe headspins)? Could be epic.)
Hairy Biker and Karen – American Smooth
He’s terrible. He’s absolutely terrible. But I’m weirdly charmed by it. I KNOW! WHO HAVE I BECOME? New York has changed me, you guys.
Patrick & Anya – Tango
For God’s sake, Show, do NOT give this band a Michael Jackson song to sing. Have we learned nothing from Dirty Diana? I liked this though! The dance, not the singing! Attitude! Not perfect! Shitloads of mistakes! But attitude!
Deborah & Robin – Cha cha
This was completely by the numbers, but I smiled all the way through it. Why? WHY? Robin magic? Aretha magic? SOMEONE EXPLAIN THIS TO ME!
Rachel & Pasha – Salsa
Oh dear. Standard polite, chilly posh girl salsa (see Snowdon, Bastian). No amount of fringing on the dress and pouting at the camera is going to cloak the fact that she is too embarrassed to move her hips. Acting coach, my friends. Acting coach.
Feltz & Jordan – Waltz
Echoes of Pamela Stephenson here with the hamming and the styling, I thought, except with basically no dancing. Say what you like about Pammy (and I could say plenty) but she did actually dance. No monologue, thank God, but the crying OH GOD the crying. Loved it when Bruno said, “There were some technical issues to work on.” Oh really, Bruno? Like what? The footwork, maybe? The frame? The lines? THE DANCING? And just when I thought Jordan couldn’t annoy me more, I was reminded of how unbelievably annoying his resigned-to-the-dance-off-even-though-we-don’t-deserve-to-be-there face is. SHUT UP JORDAN.
Julien & Janette – Tango
Forgive me for this, everyone. Forgive me. But all I can say about this is that Julien danced the whole thing as if he had done a massive poo in his pants and he had to bend his legs and keep his feet apart to stop it falling out and hitting the floor. I have nothing further to say about it.
CHRIST THIS IS A BASTARD LONG SHOW.
Fiona & Anton – Cha cha
Nice posture, and Holy Dance-Face, Batman! Other than that, it’s an Anton and Older Lady Latin, so who cares, really? Starts well, goes madly wrong, pose a bit, Anton cracks a joke about it all being part of the choreography, the end.
Mark & Iveta – Salsa
Iveta is well clever and I love her. There was absolutely nothing happening dance-wise from Mark in this salsa, but somehow it was still a super-fun time. Arse bongos, though. NO, Iveta. No. If I wouldn’t put up with it from Queen Erin Boag, did you think I would put up with it from you? Should be an automatic point deduction, but there weren’t a lot of points to deduct…
Sophie & Brendan – Charleston
Well, this was awesome. Tons of soloing, amazing attitude, great dance faces, her and Brendan’s crazy long legs in perfect sync. Loved it. This sort of choreography is why Brendan has always been one of my favourites (echoes of Bruce, there. Sorry.) Not sure I agree with Claud that this was his best ever dance on Strictly, though. What about this? Definitely not this, though.
Ben & Kristina – Waltz
Look, it’s an early week waltz, ‘kay? What else can we say? Perfectly fine. But Ben, pleeeease make a facial expression. Anything will do. I really think he needed a taller partner, though, right? Like ERIN WHERE IS ERIN I MISS ERIN.
By this point, I was literally just going dance-to-dance. I skipped Claudia. I love Claudia. WHY IS THIS SHOW SO LONG?
Abbey & Aljaz – Cha cha
Footwork, on occasion, but no hips. None. How on earth did it get 30? Is it so it vaguely looks as though someone MIGHT be in the same league as Goo-Mead? And Abbey needs lower heels. I know she’s a model and stuff and totally used to high heels, but they threw her balance off. I think. By this point, I’m delusional with tiredness and possibly, POSSIBLY boredom, so what the hell do I know?
Ashley & Ola – American Smooth
Oh good the baby has been born oh god the baby is on the telly oh this is going to be so tiresome. Nice side-by-side sections, some patented Ola vote-getting spins and some nice lifts. He needs more drive though, lots of leaning back, which makes it look as though he’s not leading. I mean, he’s NOT leading, but at least fake it, Ashley.
(Quick aside – this dance led to the most amazing Tess moment of the night. “Ashley – they’re on their feet! (Pause) On this side!”)
In conclusion, Goo-Mead is a ringer, Abbey was overscored, Rachel continued to be dull, Sophie was a revelation, Ashley was the only male celeb who has a hope of making the quarters, there is SO MUCH CHAFF, and Aliona Redux was mercifully short-lived. Join me next week to see if I can manage to get to the end of a two-hour show two weeks in a row and maintain any semblance of sanity. I have my doubts, you guys. I have my doubts.
Wednesday, 9 October 2013
Thursday, 3 October 2013
StrictlyChat 2013, Week 1, in which it appears as though I never moved to New York, even though I totally did
So, guys, remember when I moved to New York, yeah, and that therefore we all thought my Strictly-watching days, never mind blogging the thing, were over? Well, it turned out that didn’t take. Oh – the New York bit did. I’m still here. But via the minor inconvenience of buying a whizzy new laptop, a whizzy lead, and doing a clever downloading thing, I can still watch Strictly! Instead of doing New York things like, I dunno, buying shoes and drinking cocktails and stuff! Which means I’m also blogging, you lucky devils.
So let’s get right into the first StrictlyChat of series 11, shall we? (Wow - SERIES 11. How the hell did that happen?) There’s way too much cannon fodder this early on (SO MUCH CANNON FODDER) to go couple-to-couple, so for the time being we’ll go with some general themes.
I totally get that it’s a good idea to mix it up a bit in the first week – those endless waltzes and cha-chas did get a bit wearing. But tangos and jives in week one? Very tough on the celebs who got stuck with them, plus it’s annoying to waste two of the coolest dances on the early weeks when nobody is going to be any bloody good at them.
The Dearly Departed
I officially already miss Vince and Flav. And Erin! Oh, I miss Erin. Even if by the end she had the half-crazed look of a Shawshank lifer who doesn’t have a chance of making it on the outside (Brooks was here. So was Red. Makes me cry every goddamn time.) But having greeted the unceremonious departure of Aliona with whoops of joy, what’s this? She’s back? And beloved Crazy Natalie is gone? Do these people actively WANT me to hate this show? Fortunately, it seems like the Aliona hate lives large still at the BBC and this was some kind of desperation move as she’s promptly been stuck with the first likely evictee (I mean, maybe he’ll survive a week out of pity, but COME ON) so I won’t have to tolerate[/scream at the telly during] her bleurgh choreography for long.
By the way, what the hell is Karen Hauer still doing on this show? They did give her the Hairy Biker, though, so perhaps the Powers-That-Be agree.
The New Kids
Like: Anya (though she made the classic new kid mistake of overdoing the choreography in week one; let’s hope she learns from this where others have not); Kevin; Notorious Partner-Killer Iveta.
Not like: Aljaz (though potential here to change my mind); Janette (no potential here to change my mind).
I have used the plural in this sub-heading for consistency. We all know there is only one ringer this year and she is a MIGHTY one – yes, Natalie Gumede, we’re looking at you. Whoever Artem’s agent is, he/she is doing a solid job, wouldn’t you say? In four years, Artem has had three serious contenders, which surely isn’t the norm. Do we think he just threw his toys out of the pram after the Fern-mauling he suffered through last year? What is his leverage? What does he know and who does he know it about?
Tell you what, in the Interests of Science, let’s look at the evidence. Here is a list of all the male dancers who have done at least four series, and here are their first four partners:
Anton – Lesley Garrett, Esther Rantzen, Patsy Palmer, Jan Ravens (writing was on the wall early for Anton, n’est-ce pas?)
Artem – Kara Tointon, Holly Valance, Fern Britton, Natalie Gumede
Brendan – Natasha Kaplinsky, Sarah Manners (she was on Doctors, and yes, I had to look her up), Fiona Phillips, Claire King
Darren – St. Jill of Halfpenny, Gloria Hunniford, Emma Bunton, Soap Star and National Treasure Letitia Dean
Beloved Ian – Denise Lewis, Zoe Ball, Mica Paris, Penny Lancaster
Jordan (Ugh) – Georgina Bouzova, Gabby Logan, Cherie Lunghi, Zoe Lucker
Matthew (I love and miss you, Matt Cutler) – Siobhan Hayes, Carol Smillie, Alesha Dixon, Christine Bleakley
Robin – Patsy Kensit, Anita Dobson, Lisa Riley, Deborah Meaden
Vince – Louisa Lytton, Stephanie Beacham, Rachel Stevens, Natalie Cassidy
A few observations:
1. There are certain dancers that the Beeb decides early are never going to be winners, eg. Anton, Artem. They are then given A Role. Anton partners the older ladies in elegant ballroom and clusterfuck Latin while he is groomed for BBC presenter stardom (Hole in the Wall, LOL). Bobby partners those lacking in self-esteem and bolsters them cheerfully with his rote choreography for six or seven weeks before everyone gets bored and boots them in a charming way that doesn’t dent their new sense of self-worth. No contenders for these chaps.
2. With very occasional exceptions, the rules are: top four or five one year, loser the next.
3. No other dancer in his first four years on the show got the same level of talent in his celeb partner as Artem. Fact. Even Jordan had to wait a bit before someone decided to Make James Jordan Happen.
I love Artem, I really do. His dances are never boring or by the numbers (yes, Ola Jordan, I am talking about you and your bloody writhing and your damned pivots). But I ask you: IS THIS FAIR? IS THIS RIGHT? Natalie seems like a laugh, though (a genuine laugh, not an I’M WACKY, ME!! sort of laugh like DVO) so maybe I’ll get over it.
The Possible Future Flowering of Talent
Patrick Robinson, if Anya tones it down a bit and gives him some time and space.
Rachel Riley, if Pasha can loosen her up a bit. The first Latin week could get awkward.
Susanna Reid, as long as she attempts no further cartwheels and Kevin keeps being adorable. I quite liked this jive, however (though let’s all just remind ourselves what a genuinely good jive to this song looks like).
Abby Clancy – I think so anyway. Am I right about this? She was right at the end of the show, and I was really, really bored by then. And I’d had wine. Oh wait, it was to that HORRIFIC bloody Des’ree song. That song is completely unforgivable.
Ellis-Bextor, MAYBE, though I have my doubts (as, I am sure, does Brendan).
The Tom Chambers Memorial Category for Tedious Personal Storylines
Ashley Taylor Dawson and his soon-to-be child. Right now we’re dealing with: the baby could be born at any moment! Soon it will be: new dads get very little sleep and Ashley isn’t really coping, followed by many montages of him sleeping on the training room floor. I ALREADY DON’T CARE.
(Incidentally, I haven’t watched Hollyoaks for years, but my chief memory of ATD was that he spent most of the time with his mouth hanging open, so I thought of him as being generally adenoidal. Is this still the case?)
The Early Acting Coach Klaxon
Ben Cohen. Footwork was awesome, but the man was shuffling about the place shamefacedly like a dad at a wedding. I give it three weeks at the most till Rihanoff calls in that grey-haired dude to get Ben in touch with his inner diva.
Possible other candidates for the acting coach: Rachel Riley (I’m no performer! I’m just good at maths!) and Ellis-Bextor, the most self-conscious pop star of all time. Have they ever called in the acting coach for a lady? I don’t remember them doing it, it’s usually just for the SPORTSMEN. And Gethin the Faux Sportsman because he played rugby that one time because he’s Welsh and stuff.
The Older Ladies and Gents who Won’t be a Total Embarrassment
Mark Benton – lots of charm, not too shabby in week one, likely to have the best of him brought out by Iveta, who seems promising (and who we love for killing off Rickaaay last year).
Fiona Fullerton – she’s not going to last long, but I thought she was reasonably charming. I reserve the right to change my mind completely if they follow the bastard James Bond theme every week. Didn’t we talk about this after Colin Salmon? Have these people LEARNED NOTHING?
Hairy Biker – he’s just going to go full Russell Grant/Richard Arnold, yes? Sadly for him, I don’t think Karen has the wit of Flavia, or the high camp of Erin, so this shtick is unlikely to keep him around for long.
Deborah Meaden – inexplicably high scores for Deborah, I can only assume because she could literally buy each and every one of those judges for cash money.
Julien MacDonald – he is batshit, and his partner is not that appealing. Could go out first.
Tony Jacklin – he is a total legend, but he was hopeless, and the Latin is going to be a car crash. Why on earth did he say he would do this show? Did Bruce talk him into it?
Vanessa Feltz – we can only pray that this comes to a conclusion swiftly and brutally. She is going to be RELENTLESS and Jordan is going to mug endlessly to the cameras during her non-stop monologues and really the only thing that might make this worth it would be if she went full Jan Ravens at the end of everything, but she is far too clever and good at her job for that, so instead we’ll all just have to settle in for several weeks of Craig baiting her and her Witty Retorts while James throws looks to the camera and occasionally tries to interject which will end up in a camp remark back from Craig which will then devolve into a catfight that will be played out in ITT all week and Oh GOD I want to die.
I was totally going to keep it brief. Yeah. Anyway, chime in with comments if you feel so inclined – I am terribly isolated over here in New York, you know, and I need StrictlyChat, so bring it on…