Thursday, November 12, 2009

So best

When Jill Halfpenny came out in a skimpy Union Jack dress. That's when I realised that this was the best episode of "Strictly Come Dancing" I had ever seen. There have been shows that had more drama, more excitement, better dancing, and so on, but at the moment, looking back on the past four seasons of Strictly that I have watched, I cannot think of an episode that was better in an overall sense.

Some of it had to do with the show's travelling to Blackpool, I suppose. For those of you playing along at home, Blackpool is a town full of things you wouldn't want, all left to deteriorate no less than two decades in the cold and spitting rain. At some point in history, perhaps when U-boats made a channel crossing particularly dangerous, it was a major holiday destination for the British. For lack of any real investment in the town, Blackpool has held desperately to this image and still manages to draw a strange mix of of old people and classless binge drinkers to its rotten bespangled seafront.

But the British are nostalgics at heart. They don't like to change their long-held romantic visions of a place. So, despite the fact that there is not a single deep-pit mine in the whole of Wales, they still like to tell themselves that it is essentially a mining community. Despite the fact that the majority of people living in East London are of Asian or African descent, they still like to tell themselves that everyone there is like Peggy Mitchell. And despite considerable evidence to the contrary, they still like to tell themselves that Blackpool is in some way glamorous.

That said, however, undeniably the interior of the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, where this past Saturday's episode of Strictly was held, is glamorous. It was an amazing venue, making you pine for those happy, simple times that we like to tell ourselves existed in the past. And its glamour had an effect on the dancers, bringing out the best in them.

Well, most of them. Blackpool's very own Craig Kelly performed a cha cha cha that was so bad you could almost see the soul of his professional partner, Flavia, dying just a little. Our Craig's dancing made me think of this guy, which is endearing in some sort of way, I suppose, but still deserving of no more than the 18 points awarded by the judges. The only high point was that it seemed to genuinely upset Alesha and you kind of got the sense that if someone had pushed her just a little she might have gone all "urban" and slapped someone.

Ricky Groves and Erin - Salsa - 25
Pop quiz, kids: What's a guaranteed way to earn point from Chris the imaginary judge?
That's right, shout in your routine.
And for that reason alone Ricky and Erin deserved to stay in for another week. I fear, though, they may not survive beyond that. They are doing a Viennese waltz, which doesn't usually lend itself to shouty bits, thus putting Ricky at a serious disadvantage.

Phil Tufnell and Katya - Rumba - 28
I have never understood why the rumba is a part of the Strictly rota. Why not drop it for mambo or Lindy hop? A good 7/10 of the time, the rumba is a painful thing to watch. Considering that Phil and Katya seem to have a kind of father-daughter relationship, I was fretting all week. I was dreading sitting through 1:30 of full-on uncomfortable creepiness, so imagine my surprise when it turned out to be not awful. It wasn't good and it wasn't sexy, but it was technically there and it didn't make me want to claw out my eyes. Phil did a good job of both performing the dance and somehow conveying to the audience: "Hey, nothing to see over here, just watch the pretty lady and all will be well."
My favourite part of their dance comes right at 1:02, when Phil flashes a very un-rumba-like shit-eating grin.

Laila Rouass and Anton - Paso doble - 30
This dance was undermarked. OK, fine, points were deducted for the illegal lift but even still a 30 is too low. Perhaps the judges are simply so baffled by Anton's still being in the competition that they don't know how to mark him. Whatever the case, Laila was robbed, yo. Every time we see a paso doble we are reminded again by the judges that the dance is supposed to be a reflection of a bullfighter and his cape. This was the first time I can remember seeing the dance in which that was so brilliantly clear. Watch the video from about 0:34 to 0:49 and the movements are straight mimic of bullfighting postures. It was brilliant.

Natalie Cassidy and Vincent - Quickstep - 31
From about 20 seconds into the dance one got the feeling that Natalie was simply holding on for dear life. I think it would have fit perfectly for her to have started screaming: "Heeeeeeeeeeeeelp!" while tearing around the dance floor (and it would have been shouting, which would have earned an automatic point from me).

Jade Johnson and Ian - Jive - 33
Oh, the Lioness has some legs on her, doesn't she? I could watch that all day. Every day. I want to be Jade Johnson's plaything. Sure, she'd break me; my gangly white-boy body simply could not sustain the demand. It would be like standing amidst a stampede of wildebeest. But I don't care. Let her destroy me. I would go happily to my end if it were to be amidst those legs. And with my last breath would come the words: "thank you."

Chris Hollins and Ola - Foxtrot - 34
I'll admit that wee Chris isn't my favourite. He's got that whole weird slave-dominatrix relationship with Ola that is more creepy than funny. But still, I couldn't help but cheer for him when he managed to pull off a properly good routine, thus earning a big kiss on the cheek from Ola right at the end. She was so genuinely pleased with him, and he so genuinely surprised at her response. I couldn't help but warm to him just a bit. I am sure, however, that next week he will return to completely weirding me out.

Ricky "Probably shagging Natalie" Whittle and Natalie - Tango - 35
Speaking of things that weird me out, the VT (ftypah: short video piece) that ran before Ricky and Natalie's dance was quite affectionate, wasn't it? I think our Ricky's done the classic thing of falling for the hot chick who tells him what to do. I guess I can see that. It's certainly happened to me. Although, in my case the girl wasn't teaching me how to dance, she was just telling me how to live my life and crushing all sense of self-respect.
Ricky made a mistake or two in this week's dance, which is mostly not worth mentioning but for the way he reacted to it. When he was standing in front of the judges he looked as if he had just spent 20 hours strapped to a chair being forced to watch episodes of "Hollyoaks" -- he was a man defeated. Therein lies the reason I think he'll come crashing down before the final. He's always been just a little too keen, without really enjoying it. Dude, you're on a TV show that puts Phil Tufnell in glittery open shirts. Stop taking it so seriously.

Ali Bastian and Brian - Viennese waltz - 40
Monkey Face and his girlfriend rocked the perfect score, bitches. I think it may have been a bit early in the series to be breaking out the 10s, but what do I know? Nonetheless, I'm predicting now that Ali will be in the final three. If Ladbrokes allows me to make bets online I might even put money on it.

A 40 was dealt out, Jill Halfpenny strut her stuff, Brucie sang (I've got to admit to being impressed by his ability to actually carry a tune at his age), and then Rod Stewart performed while his wife (2008 Strictly participant Penny Lancaster) danced. It was a pull-out-the-stops show. One wonders if Strictly has dealt all its cards too soon -- where do they go from here? There are still several weeks left in the show, what can they do? Bring back Zoe Lucker to perform a woman-on-woman rumba with Kristina Rihanoff while Muse plays alongside a 120-piece orchestra?

Santa, if you're reading, you now know what I want for Christmas.


Wierdo said...

"Bring back Zoe Lucker to perform a woman-on-woman rumba with Kristina Rihanoff while Muse plays alongside a 120-piece orchestra?"

YES! Yes please! That would be the most awsome piece of TV. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Never mind Strictly, Dr Who!!!!....Fuck me, I had to fish my kids out from behind the sofa.

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

Toodle pip

Anonymous said...

Shit! And thank you.
Seriously Chris, I have a deadline. But instead of writing, what have I done for the past two hours? I’ve read all of your posts on Strictly and then tried to watch the dances on youtube – Dear BBC One, I can get Torchwood on Netflix a week after it airs in the UK, why can you not let me see all of the dances?!

Thanks for leading me on a walk down some weird, twisted nostalgic path which includes random, completely heretofore forgotten high school memories and most things British; with just a dusting of evil for balance, nice. I’m sure your beloved Wales and my beloved London are so not the same, but for the girl who hasn’t been back in almost two years – your words are all music.

I’d like to give you a word picture of something here in MN in return, but it’s not even snowing yet – and snow really is the best imagery – so I’ve got nothing. Well OK. The JHS field – you know the one that sits there abandoned, because as far as I know, it’s never been used for anything remotely school related – is still full of a veritable white ocean of sea gulls every morning. At this time of year that ocean is speckled haphazardly with Canadian geese honking like a pack of broken bicycle horns.

My on-the-fly imagery will probably not make you weep with joy like reading your blog just did for me; but hopefully there was at least a sardonic smile.

Honestly. Thanks for that,
Mariah (Glover) Whurr