Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Strictly recap week 6: The curse of Widdy

Saturday marked the halfway point in this year's Strictly campaign. If "Strictly Come Dancing" were the U.S. Marine Corps, it would have by now taken Iwo Jima. From this point onward you can expect two things:
1) The quality of the dancing should improve dramatically.
2) My hatred of Widdy will increase exponentially until the British public stops voting for her.

I've grown weary of Widdy. The reason I love Strictly so much is delicately balanced on a number of factors and high among them is that the celebrities actually try. They put forward a serious and often emotional attempt to do things of quality. Then Widdy comes out looking and "dancing" like a sequinned barrel and somehow that makes her just as good? Fuck that noise. This sort of nonsense is why Britain lost the empire.

OK, yes, hoping for a lack of stupidity from those people who actually phone in to vote is perhaps unrealistic. I mean, the act of voting already implies a certain questionable judgment; they're spending money to tell a computer that they like someone. Admittedly this is the biggest risk of being a Strictly fan: one has to accept that dummies are steering the ship. That's why Chris Hollins won last year; it's why Tom Chambers won the year before. But this Widdy business is a step too far. She is not a national treasure. She is a squawking virginal troll who would quite happily legislate against the personal lives of a number of the people on the programme.

Widdy has become a curse, slowly eroding away all the Strictly goodness from within. Falling victim to that curse this week were Jimi and Flavia. Poor Jimi was so sad about being dropped from the show he couldn't even speak.

Jimi & Flavia ~ Quickstep ~ 32
Obviously Jimi and Flavia were unfairly ousted, but it has to be said that there was something fundamentally wrong about this dance. Perhaps it was the slightly pornographic trombone mime to a bit of music that was, in fact, trumpet with plunger. Perhaps it was the fact that Flavia had stolen Freddie Mercury's trousers from Queen's iconic 1986 Wembley performance. Perhaps it was the fact that Jimi danced as if receiving instructions via Logo. Whatever the case, it didn't quite work for me. It felt a bit like one of those YouTube videos in which the sound has been removed because of copyright violation and replaced by some generic song; none of the bits really fit together.

Ann & Anton ~ Charleston ~ 17
In Tess' area Saturday, Anton suggested there was really no point to listening to the judges' comments. Widdy supported him in this, noting: "Without the viewers we wouldn't be here."
Exactly, Britain. They wouldn't be there. Stop it with your shit; stop voting for them. Watching a Tory sit on her ass and stick her arms out like a child imitating a B-17, waiting for a rodeo clown to drag her around does not good television make. As Alesha pointed out: "The only thing Charleston about that dance was yo' headband."
Widdy reminds me of a short, unpleasant and untalented Margret Dumont. Actually, that's probably really unfair to Margaret Dumont; she's been dead now 45 years and could still dance better than Widdy.

Scott & Natalie ~ Rumba ~ 28
I have always been a fan of Craig Revel Horwood, going back at least to the "It Takes Two" in 2006 when he wore a tinsel boa and sang Christmas songs next to a sparkly piano. The man is a legend, and it is rare that I don't agree with his assessment of a dance. But homeboy completely lost his mind in scoring two of the dances Saturday night. His first WTF moment came in giving Scott and Natalie a 4. A 4? Dude! A 4?! What the fuck, Craig? What the fucking fuck?
OK, it's fair to say that was not Scott's best dance ever -- there was something going on in the middle bit where Natalie was talking to him (I wish "It Takes Two" would do a kind of "Under the Helmet"-style feature in which you get to hear what the couples say during performances), and he repeated the same step three times -- but it was a relatively strong performance deserving far more than a 4.
I mean the song choice alone deserved four points. It was some weird 70s-feel tune I had never heard before, which was basically a battle between a Steely Dan saxophone riff and a drum kit, with a woman wailing over the top.
Natalie's dress, meanwhile, deserved six points. Beloved Blackpool lass Jodie Prenger said of the dress "a tea towel would cover more," but that's kind of the point. If I were a judge, Natalie could do well by me by remembering a simple equation: more Natalie skin = more Natalie points.
But, in a desperate attempt to be a Craig apologist, I have come up with a theory: perhaps Craig gave Scott and Natalie a 4 in an attempt to ensure they would make it through to the next show. Had Craig awarded a 7 or 8, as he should have, that would have put the couple somewhere in the middle of the standings. And as the All-Seeing All-Knowing Winkle has pointed out on numerous occasions, people in the middle actually face the biggest threat of being dropped. So, by giving Scott and Natalie a stupidly low score, he forced them to second from bottom of the leader board, thereby ensuring the two would be carried through on public sympathy vote.

Felicity & Vincent ~ Paso Doble ~ 29
If Craig secretly understands how to pull the audience's strings, I'm starting to believe Vincenzo also possesses a bit of evil genius. He saw last week how the crowd went wild for Anton's unceremonious dragging of Widdy, so, at the end of his dance he ripped off his jacket and threw it at Felicity, then dragged her by the ankle over the judging area. A little bit brilliant.
Another good trick was having Felicity completely on her own for the first 20 seconds of the dance; Vincent wasn't even on the floor. The thing I didn't quite get, though, was Felicity's long Swiss Miss-like plaited hairpiece. Why?
Perhaps, along with the other tricks in the routine, it was designed to make Felicity more memorable. She and Vincent, like Jimi and Flavia, have spent the past six weeks in the dark hole of Other People On The Show -- the ones you forget were ever there until they show up in the big looking-back number in the Christmas special. If she has any hope of making it to the Blackpool show (20 November), she has to stick in people's minds better.

Patsy & Robin ~ Cha Cha Cha ~ 29
Mad Patsy's nerves seem to have ebbed quite a bit since the first week. In Saturday's routine she made a misstep but rather than looking flustered, just sort of laughed and kept dancing. Additionally, there were bits where you felt she was leading the dance: "Come on, Big Gay Robin, come over here! Wheee!"
Mad Patsy managed to make the dance look effortless, like she was just out there not really caring. And perhaps that's partially the truth. In the video package before the dance, Mad Patsy pointed out that Strictly has resulted in her dropping two dress sizes. So, some of the point of her dance was to come out and not look like a frumpy Mad Patsy, but now cougar Mad Patsy.
Whatever she was doing, it worked. Even well into the first hour of "X Factor" her name was trending on Twitter ("X Factor" immediately follows Strictly and talk of the show usually dominates Twitter trends).
I think Mad Patsy and BGR should roll with her new cougar physique and perhaps work a routine in which she molests wee Jared Murillo (he's got nothing to do now that he and Tina are out of the show). In the routine, BGR has to pull Patsy off the unsuspecting Mormon and then pay off Jared so he doesn't talk to the press. If Jared's not cool with that, I will take his place.

Gavin & Katya ~ Cha Cha Cha ~ 29
Hey, look at that: six weeks in and Gavin Henson decides to show up. The presence of a rugby ball was a bit cheese, but he looked genuinely comfortable moving around this week and did a good job of playing the role of cheekily taunting Katya through the routine. He may have done some other good things, too, but mostly I was focused on Katya, who looked amazing. Mmm, Katya.
Stupidly, Craig only gave them a 5.
Points to Katya for the bit in the video package when she made fun of Gavin by saying, "Hold on, I need to get my self-confidence back," then lifted her shirt to look at her abs.
An interesting thing to note about the dance was that Katya was wearing a glittery kind of rugby jersey with Henson's name on it and the number 10. Gavin almost always plays centre, and occasionally fullback (numbers 11, 12 or 15, for those of you not watching a lot of rugby). Was the flyhalf jersey a reflection of ambition at Saracens or simply a number sewn on by a costuming department that didn't know any better?

Michelle & Brendan ~ Waltz ~ 30
Michelle is like the Katie Waissel of Strictly. Well, in the sense that both strike me as mentally unstable and they regularly find themselves in the bottom of the standings of their respective reality programmes. The difference, of course, is that one can sing and one can't; the former being on a dance show, the latter being on a singing show. Also, the contest isn't rigged for Michelle. I tend to think the odds are somewhat stacked against her.
With the exception of Alesha, black people historically have struggled to win a great deal of public support in Strictly. This is, after all, the same viewing public keeping Widdy in the competition. I would like to believe that it is not so much racism as lack of exposure. A bit like Louis Walsh telling X Factor contestant Paije that he was "a little Lenny Henry." My guess is that Louis' thought process went something like this: "I like this fellow. He's black. The only other black man I can think of is Lenny Henry. I like Lenny Henry. Therefore Paije reminds me of Lenny Henry."
Of course, the fact that Michelle staggers about like a heroin addict doesn't help her. Nerves are to blame, but I don't get that. In the week before Saturday's dance, Michelle sang the U.S. national anthem at the 49ers-Broncos game held at Wembley. For an American singer, the national anthem is The Most Important Song Ever And One That You Cannot Fuck Up Unless You Want To See Your Career Go Up In Flames. Performed in front of a crowd of 90,000 and a worldwide viewing audience of who knows how many tens of millions.
She had no problem with the anthem, so why does Michelle brick it in front of an audience that is minuscule by comparison? Yeesh. Lenny Henry wouldn't be nervous.

Pamela & James ~ Foxtrot ~ 33
Bruno described Pamela as dancing like Ginger Rogers with the equipment of Jayne Mansfield. I wonder how many people get those references. I wonder how many people watching Strictly have actually seen a Ginger Rogers film. Why does no one ever draw comparisons to Vera Ellen?
It's not a comparison that would work for Pamela, though; she's not anorexic. But her dancing is getting better. I found myself actually liking the routine Saturday. Part of that, admittedly, was down to song choice. "Let There Be Love" is guiltily one of my favourite songs -- the Sammy Davis Jr. version especially. The line, "Let there be wind and occasional rain, chili con carne and sparkling Champagne," just amuses me. I don't quite know why.
Bam Bam Pam's top-heavy nature worked against her again this week and she misstepped slightly just before the end of the dance, spoiling the mood it had created. Had the mood held, I think the cheek-to-cheek smile to the camera at the end wouldn't have seemed quite as cheesy.

Matt & Aliona ~ Viennese Waltz ~ 35
The swing was a bad idea, yo.
The dance started with Matt and Aliona pulling shapes around a little swing of the sort featured in films like The Music Man. But in turns each of them managed to slightly catch the rope with their hand in passing, causing one to pay attention not to the dance but the possibility of things going horribly, horribly wrong.
I imagined one of them catching the rope and somehow pulling over the entire swing-in-a-doorframe set-up; the prop would then crash into one of the stage lights, which would then explode and set fire to the plastic-vine-covered set-up; this would result in Aliona's dress catching on fire and her running in screaming circles while other dancers run on stage and try to beat out the flames with paso doble vests; in the midst of the chaos, Michelle would get overexcited and start evangelising and speaking in tongues; Pamela would come over to calm her with an embrace but in doing so lose her balance and the two would go toppling legs akimbo into a panicked audience; the madness and flashing lights and flame would trigger in Bruno a drug flashback from his Studio 54 days and he'd start stripping down and writhing on the floor; within seconds the whole Strictly set would be engulfed in flames; realising the end was nigh, Widdy would start screaming that she doesn't want to die a virgin and begin frantically clawing at the first male she could get her hands on; sadly, the only male slow enough for her would be Brucie and he would be killed both by shock and being crushed under Widdy's weight.
This is what I imagined in the first seconds of the dance, so whether it really was, as Aliona claimed, a "dreamy fairytale," I do not know. I was distracted.
Also, it should be pointed out that Matt and Aliona danced to "Where the Wild Roses Grow" -- a song about the murder of a woman. Equally distracting.

Kara & Artem ~ Salsa ~ 36
Holy shit! Kara Tointon rules you! Obviously, in that dress she was wearing, she can rule me anytime she likes. Again and again and again and again. And again.
On Twitter, Kara later confessed she had messed up the main part of the dance. So it's likely she missed out on a perfect 40, because the parts she pulled off were amazing. The routine contained two incredible moves that caused me to actually shout, "Whoa!" out loud and almost drop my glass of port.
The dance started with Kara running at Artem and flipping over his shoulder. If she were a pro wrestler she could build an entire career in TNA based simply on that move.
Later, she did this amazing sort of flippy-flip thing where she launched herself into the air at Artem, who caught her and swung her, one-armed, between his legs.
Incredible, amazing stunts like that are part of why I love Strictly and why I hate Widdy. Kara almost broke her freakin' neck (said in the voice of Kurt Angle), whereas Widdy sat on her ass. The two are not in the same league, and the continued presence of Widdy is an insult to my future second wife.

Elsewhere on the show
- Have you noticed Alesha's starting to get a bit of attitude? Last week was the first time I had ever heard her booed by the studio audience. This week they tried it again on her, but she shut it down by snapping back, "Nyuhh" in the same "You're retarded and deep down inside you know it" voice that Trish Fagan was always able to destroy my confidence with when I was 13 years old.
And after Felicity and Vincent's dance, Alesha sneered: "I've seen one too many splits."
Hanging with Roll Deep is making Alesha a bit more gangsta, bitches. My only hope is that this eventually leads to her bitch-slapping Widdy with a fist full of sovereign rings.
- Tess' dress in the results show was a rare but quite spectacular fail. She looked like she was wearing a chicken costume.
- Anyone else noticed how rarely the show dancers actually dance in the show? I don't quite understand why they are there.
- In the results show Len stated that the judges would now start cracking down on illegal lifts. Six weeks in, yo. Bit late.

Who's going to win
This week I'm predicting Matt & Aliona to win, in a final with Kara & Artem and Scott & Natalie.


Mari said...

Perhaps the number on the shirt reflected the mark he'd like to have gotten. But I like your conspiracy theory about Saracens.

Curly said...

Also going for Saracens conspiracy, it was the Black and Red colour of their kit. He was a 10 for a long while at Ospreys and played a handful of times there for Wales.

I saw the Strictly pic on a rugby website strangely.

Anonymous said...

How is the singin' goin' mate?


ps quite warmed to our Gav on 71 degrees North.....