Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Strictly Recap Week 1: The smell of Strictly

One of the the things I've never understood about the BBC is its fondness for shifting programmes around in its schedule. It's as if the person in charge of deciding which programme goes where and at what time feels viewers must be kept on their toes. Perhaps the programmer receives kickbacks from Radio Times, thus ensuring the magazine is relevant and necessary. Whatever the reason, the exact time that "Strictly Come Dancing" airs is different each week. I have a general idea of when it will be on -- usually some time between 18:00 and 19:15 -- but need to check listings to be sure. Or, simply listen to Bruce and Tess.

At the end of the evening, once the hosts have told you not to vote after such and such time because your vote will not count and you may be charged, Tess Daly will give the broadcast time of the next show. As she does this Bruce Forsyth will usually step on her read, emphasising the time and urging viewers to adjust their schedules accordingly. Most often it goes like this:

TESS: "Remember we're on next week at six o'..."
BRUCE: "Six o' clock!"
TESS: "Yes, six o' clock."
BRUCE: "So, do your shopping early."

I'm not sure why, but every time Brucie says that -- "Do your shopping early" -- some part of me feels warm and happy inside. For a tiny, tiny fraction of a second my mind sends me back to a particularly joyful moment in my life. It happens so quickly I am not able to hold on to the memory, so I don't know what it is, but the overall sensation is one of connectedness. That sense of being with family, of belonging. My guess is my mind is kicking back to sitting and watching the programme with Rachel. Perhaps I am remembering a cold December day, when it would have been wet and dark and miserable outside, but inside the house warm and good-smelling from her cooking. She would often choose to sit on the floor when we watched television, while I sat in the armchair. She would sit between my legs, using the chair as a backrest and sometimes propping an arm up on one of my knees. She would have been drinking hot chocolate; if it was December I might be drinking port.

That is all just a guess, though. I sometimes suspect it may not be wise to delve too deeply into why I love Strictly so much. I might come across some troubling answers. Whatever the reason, I feel happy connectedness when I watch the programme. Myself so far from home, somehow Strictly provides some of those feelings of being with loved ones. Tess a matriarch, Brucie an embarrassing but loveable old uncle -- it is as if Strictly is a weird surrogate family. A family in which I want to have sex with most if not all of the female members.

Anyhoo, here's a look at what the family got up to on the first proper weekend of Strictly:

Paul & Ola ~ cha cha cha ~ 16
One of the most important things we've learned this week is that there is such a thing as British Sausage Week. This fact came to light amid the furore that erupted over Paul's telling judge Craig Revel Horwood not to quit his day job "tasting sausages." A number of viewers thought Paul was being a homophobe. But it turns out that Craig is, in fact, a celebrity judge for British Sausage Week, a role previously occupied by Paul himself. According to the surprisingly-not-a-fake website LovePork.co.uk, Craig will be spending the week of 1-5 November "fox trotting his way around the country in search of Britain's Star Sausage."
I'm sure he will, darling.
Meanwhile, Paul's cha cha cha had no meat to it.
See what I did there?
As so often happens when someone dances the cha cha cha, the whole thing had a weird "Love Boat" feel for me. And I found myself feeling sorry for Ola. There was something of the graceful death to her as she stood there with fixed grin, shaking in an outfit that appeared to be made of shredded bathmat and twine, being circled and randomly pointed at by a fella who looked like Yoda's less-talented brother. You know, the one who dropped out of Jedi academy and got a degree in hotel management.

Ann & Anton ~ waltz ~ 17
If the howling applause delivered for Ann and Anton's every step in Saturday's show is anything to go by, the two will be around a while. The British public seem to have a love for the awful, an affection for the individual who possesses not an ounce of talent for the task at hand. How else does one explain Ken Dodd?
And Ann fails with a certain aplomb, which makes her strangely likeable. Well, as likeable as a person who supports chaining pregnant mothers to beds can be.
"If you think that's bad, you should see the salsa," Ann declared upon completing her waltz.
Indeed, one can only imagine: the twirling troll wobbling about in another of her Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo dresses while rapid-beat music blares and Anton -- who has never been able to choreograph a good Latin dance anyway -- struts the floor with his unbreakable grin. It will be calamity.
But it will be sufferable calamity. The reason for Ann's fairy godmother-style dresses is her refusal to be risque. In a video package Saturday she said she would not take part in any dance she wouldn't be willing to perform "in front of the Pope himself." I doubt His Holiness is tuning in, but Ann's vow of modesty offers a comfort to those of us watching: we can rest assured things won't go as badly as perhaps they could.
Ann and Anton's waltz most certainly was bad. She appeared to be chasing Anton around more than actually dancing with him, and toward the end there were a series of odd high kicks, which Len described as "like Germany in the 1940s." Hmm, perhaps the Pope was watching.

Goldie & Kristina ~ cha cha cha ~ 20
Goldie is an example of someone I'd be happy to see leave before Ann. Fella gets on my nerves, yo. He clearly likes attention, doesn't he? Ooh, he's wacky. He's a prankster. He's the life of the party. He's a cheeky chappy. He's a funny guy.
He's a jackass.
I think perhaps Kristina feels the same way. I've noticed she never really smiles around him. Instead, she wears the face women start giving me a week or two before they break up with me. It's the "You are no longer amusing" face. Goldie is treading on Ms. Rihanoff's last nerve. He's going to come in for training one day, do something "wacky" and find himself receiving a visit from Kristina's coke-head boyfriend.

Peter & Erin ~ waltz ~ 21
Peter used to play goalie for England, did you know that? Give him 15 seconds and he will remind you of it.
As a boy I would occasionally be required to play soccer in physical education classes. This effectively broke down into the four most athletic kids playing a game that the rest of the children ran around to watch. If you were me, you occasionally had the misfortune of being able to keep pace with these kids and then had to suffer the shame of having the ball kicked in your direction and not really knowing what to do with it. After years of having this happen, I eventually figured out the ball had been passed to me with unspoken understanding that I would immediately pass the ball back, having drawn the defender and therefore creating space for the athletic kid to do something awesome. But in the early days I would just take a shot at goal. To the surprise of everyone involved, these shots were sometimes successful.
The reason for that is primarily down to the fact that kids put on goal were idiots. They didn't possess the mental acumen to both run and kick at the same time, so they were placed in a confined space to wave their arms about and occasionally get pegged in the face with a soccer ball, or sit and watch it sail past them.
Perhaps Peter, who used to play goalie for England, possesses more talent than that, but I doubt it. My general feeling about goalies is they are not athletes but simply tall fellas with a high pain threshold.
So, Peter, who used to play goalie for England, came out and trudged around like Frankenstein's monster while Erin did a bit of twirling. Fair play to Erin, she wore a dress that put her magnificent breasts on display. Goodness, that was a lovely dress. I can suddenly understand Anton's unbreakable grin. I was hypnotised by Erin's boobies for at least 30 seconds, which meant that for at least 30 seconds of her waltz with Peter, who used to play goalie for England, I wasn't sitting there wishing it would end.
After appearing to drop Erin in the final move of the dance, Peter, who used to play goalie for England, then went over to interrupt the judges' comments with allusions to the fact that he used to play goalie for England.

Patsy & Robin ~ waltz ~ 22
That Robin's a bit of a creepy fella, isn't he?
Meanwhile, Patsy seems to love a good cry. That seems to be all she's good for. She was crying in the video package before her dance. She was crying as soon as she went to talk to the judges. She was crying when she went to talk to Tess. She is probably crying right now. Next week, she will perform the world's saddest salsa.

Felicity & Vincent ~ cha cha cha ~ 23
Alesha said Felicity showed "just the right amount of sex kitten" in her dance. I'm not sure I want a great deal of sex kitten from a 64-year-old woman -- at least not until I'm 64 -- but give her credit for being agile. When she tried to move she was unsteady and got lost, but it's not like it matters, anyway. I suspect Felicity is destined to be one of those people who, when all the past couples come out and dance during the final, you will sit and think: "Oh, yeah. I had forgotten she was on the show."

Tina & Jared ~ cha cha cha ~ 24
Jared is from the United States. He reminded us of this in the video package before his dance. In case we didn't understand, he said it in front of an enormous U.S. flag. To underline the totally awesome fact that he (like the majority of Strictly's professional dancers) is not from here, he and Tina danced to California Gurls. Being from America is apparently all Jared has going for him.
Tina and Jared's dance featured a wee vignette at the start which reminded me of the sort of thing Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto are wont to do in their ice dance routines.
Yes, I just referenced ice dancing.
Things really aren't going well in my life, are they?
Tina had silvery pants. I can't remember the actual routine, though. No, wait. I remember one part of it: the bit when they were standing there doing that thumbs-over-the-shoulders-jive thing (in this video at :57). I hadn't forgotten it, I had blocked it out.

Michelle & Brendan ~ cha cha cha ~ 24
Shoop! Michelle's high-level enthusiasm reminds me of the SNL version of Whitney Houston. Calm down just a wee little bit, love.
Perhaps Michelle is cranked to 11 as a result of doing too many things at once. I don't know what, exactly, she is busy doing these days, but her outfit Saturday suggests she didn't have time for a costume fitting and instead slapped on an M&S bra and just went for it (a). Additionally, it appears she had little time to rehearse her routine. Without question, Michelle and Brendan were the biggest letdown of the weekend. I had really been looking forward to seeing them dance, envisioning their putting Alesha's golden record to shame.
Not so much. It was surprisingly ungood.

Jimi & Flavia (aka Team Flavistry) ~ cha cha cha ~ 26
Flavia's had some of the great duds in Strictly's history. There was Matt di Angelo, who once chose to sit down rather than finish his dance, and Craig Kelly, who seemed to be the only person on earth unaware that he couldn't dance, and Phil Daniels, who was booted out after one dance. One feels badly for her, and when I first saw Jimi I figured perhaps her string of bad luck was continuing.
But on second glance that may not be the case. Jimi is cooler than his haircut suggests (I liked his line: "Deep Heat and hair gel: it's the smell of Strictly!") and definitely held his own in choreography I thought was pretty tricky for the first dance. Flavia was clearly pleased. As soon as they were done, she jumped into his arms squealing, causing him to look dumbfounded for a moment, and causing me to be jealous of a bloke who looks like an Indian Steve Carrell.

Gavin & Katya (aka Team Gatya) ~ waltz ~ 28
I think the nation of Wales breathed a slight sigh of relief Saturday night upon discovering that Gavin Henson was, at least, not going to embarrass them.
Last year with Joe Calzaghe was difficult. We supported him here in Jonesland -- because he's Welsh -- but we have eyes; we could see Joe uncomfortably yerking about. It made us uncomfortable, too. Gavin, though, is someone who will bring no more shame than any other national icon wrapped in sparkly tight outfits. Indeed, somewhere in north Wales, Gareth Thomas probably sits and watches sick with envy that Gavin gets to look so pretty.
I know the si in Wales is that Gavin is a bit of a prat in real life, but I find myself liking him more and more. I am convinced he is capable of being a comic genius. He has a quiet, wry delivery that seems to make everything funny. My favourite line from him Saturday: "I'm known for playing rugby for Wales, but maybe I missed my vocation in life. Being in the changing room the other day with the male dancers, and they're all plucking their eyebrows and doing their hair, I was like: 'Yeah. This is me.'"
If you watch Gavin and Katya's waltz you'll see Gavin looked alright on the floor. Though I'm not sure what that grabbing-Katya-by-the-head thing was toward the start.
Perhaps that sort of behaviour is why Charlotte left him.

Scott & Natalie ~ waltz ~ 29
"I'm not sure," Len said after Scott and Natalie's dance. "It was a tad on the raunchy side."
I, for one, welcome the raunchy waltz. I hope it means a raunchy salsa next week and equally raunchy versions of all other dances. Hooray the raunchy waltz. At least where Natalie Lowe is concerned. I am in love with Natalie. I want her to have my babies. Or, I want to try to make babies with her.
That thing at the end of the waltz when she slid through Scott's legs? Yeah, she can come over to the house and do that anytime.

Kara & Artem (aka Team Kartem) ~ cha cha cha ~ 30
Midway through her routine Kara's heel got stuck on a section of her dress, causing her to slip slightly. Artem did a spiffy job of angling himself to cover the flub and the two carried on without the mistake showing any visible damage to Kara's confidence. At the end of the dance, walking to her mark to listen to judges' comments, she muttered to Brucie: "I knew the dominatrix thing was a bad idea."
No, Kara. No, it was not a bad idea.
It was a really, really good idea.
Having Artem look like the gimp at the start of the dance was a wee bit off-putting (he was wearing a hooded waistcoat, apparently), but there was nothing wrong with Kara's outfit. I should like to see more of this sort of thing. Perhaps involving Natalie Lowe in some way. And me. And baby oil.

Pamela & James ~ waltz ~ 31
I am already tired of Pamela. I like James a lot and am always amused at his ability to get older women to dance like naughty, naughty, naughty bitches (thank you, baby Jesus, that James did not end up with Ann Widdecombe), but I'm not entirely sure I care to see that from Pamela. I'm not entirely sure I care to see Pamela at all. Though, I do enjoy having Billy Connolly popping up all the time. Upon meeting James he growled in his super-awesome Scottish accent: "It's difficult for me, to see a man in pants that tight."

Matt & Aliona ~ cha cha cha ~ 31
I doubt any of us were expecting to see the "Countryfile" bloke crack open a big ol' can of Cartwheelin' Awesomeness. When I saw that, my whole attitude toward Matt changed instantly. I think I may now have a man crush on Matt Baker. I may actually start watching "Countryfile" just because of him. Ooh, tell me more about bird watching in some corner of Britain I'll never go to.
Additionally, the video package featuring Aliona without so much makeup and shit in her hair made me like her a little more. The dress she wore in her cha cha cha made me like her a lot more.
By the way, I'm surprised no one has yet referred to her as "the Kazakhstan Cutie." I'm trademarking that one.

Elsewhere in the show:
- Brucie seems eager to create a new catchphrase of, "I didn't want to do it -- they made me." His using it three times during Saturday's show made me really wish I could have been in the studio audience, so I could throw my shoes at him. It stops trying to create a new catchphrase or else it gets the hose again.
- I did, however, like Brucie's comment to Craig: "You're getting more like Tennessee Williams every week." I wonder how many people caught that reference.
- I don't care what you say, Robbie Williams amuses me every time I see him. I liked the suits he and Gary Barlow were wearing. If I had money, I would wear suits like that every day.
- Although, why didn't Robbie and Gary have dancers whirling about, as is the custom with musical guests? Perhaps because Robbie would have gotten distracted.

Who's going to win:
This week I'm going for Matt and Aliona to win, in a final against Team Gatya and Team Flavistry


(a) All credit goes to Mari Fflur for spotting that.


Wierdo said...

I look forward to reading more of these!

By the way, I'm not sure how to put this, but the references to sex only increase as the post goes on...

Just an observation....

Chris Cope said...

Weirdo - Does that mean you feel there should be less sex? Or more?

Wierdo said...

I'm not sure.It just sounded that watching it, or writing about it, or thinking about it was making you want sex more and more?!

Chris Cope said...

Being awake makes me want sex.

arosebyanyothername said...

Come to your blog via the party last night - remember it?

I can't watch Strictly here in France where I am living until November and I miss it. Your hilarious post nearly makes up for it.
I agree with Weirdo's observation and it's distracting. I am too old.