Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Strictly recap week 7: Kiss of the Saracen

Is karma punishing me for actually liking the way Katie Waissel sings? Is that why Widdy is still on (and destroying) my favourite show? Her continued presence undermines the programme; it means that the quality of performances are not relevant.

Perhaps, in that aspect, Strictly has become a metaphor for the randomness and cruelty of life; it has become the most real of all reality shows. One of the great challenges for religion is answering the question of evil: explaining why bad things happen to good people. You can work hard, treat everyone with respect and love, but still be wiped out by some screeching fat catastrophe. In his roundabout way, Thomas Aquinas said that evil helps us to identify good; we need the dark to identify the light. And indeed, Widdy's dancing before Kara Saturday made the skill of the latter all that more obvious. I personally feel Kara and Artem were under-marked by two points. Kara deserved full points simply for ho well she fit into her dress.

Thomas Aquinas also said that happiness is the greatest good -- happiness being defined in part as the fulfilment of will. That which is contrary to said fulfilment is evil. I want (it is my will) for Widdy to leave Strictly; she makes me unhappy. She is, therefore, evil.

Falling victim to the Voldermort of ballroom this week were Michelle & Brendan.

Michelle & Brendan ~ Paso Doble ~ 24
With her frilled white dress and scarlet bra, one thought of the glorious death romanticism of the Spanish Civil War era and before, when it was far better to die magnificently than, you know, stay low to the ground and not get shot. The red bra was symbolic of a creature stabbed through the heart. Her nothing-inside blank stare, talking to herself and aggressive stomping through the routine gave it the feel of a woman marching stoically to her certain end -- urging death to take her sooner than the fear of death. It made for an effective (if not necessarily good) paso doble, itself a Spanish dance glorifying the bullfight, but also an appropriate way to embrace the inevitable truth of her leaving the show. Michelle had been in the bottom two thrice before; it was only a matter of time. I tend to think she and Brendan were under-marked in this routine. But it wouldn't have mattered. Her time had come.

Ann & Anton ~ Foxtrot ~ 20
Earlier in the week, as part of Remembrance Day, dancers Kristina Rihanoff and Ola Jordan visited some WWII soldiers in a veterans' home and allowed themselves to be groped for the common good. I'm all for this sort of thing, by the way. Military personnel have and continue to put their lives in terrible danger for the sake of their country's will and I think the very least we can do to repay them in old age is sending big-breasted women 'round to dance with them.
On Saturday, I was reminded again of those tottering men in their 80s and 90s as I watched Widdy and Anton stumble through a foxtrot. The veterans were far better dancers. Widdy's routine had all the style and grace of a wedding dance with grandma after someone's made the mistake of leaving a bottle of sherry in her reach. Stop voting for her, Britain, or I will strangle you all with my bare hands.

Felicity & Vincent ~ Salsa ~ 26
I thought salsa was supposed to be fast. I also thought it was supposed to involve dancing. Clearly I am wrong, or perhaps -- thanks to Widdy -- it just doesn't fucking matter, because Felicity and Vincent spent the first 50 seconds of their routine standing still and slowly waving their arms. That was probably for the best, though. Once they got moving it looked like Felicity was taking part in the cheese-rolling festival. Clearly they should have followed the advice of one of Felicity's grandsons, who said in a video piece: "Perhaps he could just carry her."
It's a good bet that Felicity is next to go from the programme. She was in the bottom two this week and seemingly resigned to her fate, saying in the results show that she hadn't expected to make it past week 4.

Pamela & James ~ Cha Cha Cha ~ 32
Tear-away clothing for the win. Pamela started out wearing a business suit and ended up looking like a showgirl. I have no doubt that there are any number of City workers also wearing show girl outfits beneath their pinstripes. An amusing little thing to note is that both Pamela's business suit and showgirl outfit had a poppy.
Beyond the instant costume change, however, the dance was plodding. I think in part because the dude singing "Money" was doing so with the least amount of enthusiasm possible. He didn't want money, he wanted a nice kip. The video piece that ran before the routine of Pamela and James chatting with Scottish children had been far more exciting.

Patsy & Robin ~ Viennese Waltz ~ 32
One of my usual complaints about the Viennese waltz is that it's just a load of twirling about in hold; not much happens. Patsy and Robin attempted to answer this complaint by dramatically chasing each other around the floor for the first third of the dance. They didn't go into hold until 38 seconds into the routine. I was shocked and amazed that Len said nothing about this, but perhaps the presence of Widdy has caused him to lose the will to live. Sure, fine, spend a third of a dance that is all about hold out of hold? Why not? Nothing matters. We are all just specks of dust in a vast and cruel universe.
That said, Mad Patsy and Big Gay Robin did alright once they actually started dancing. The story of the routine was done well and gave you a sense that Mad Patsy might be able to act. Also, it is worth it to have her in the programme simply for her insane reactions to being put through to the next week. The internet has failed us that there is not already on YouTube a compilation of Mad Patsy reaction clips put to music.
Needless to say, Widdy is to blame. She's slowly killing all the joy.

Gavin & Katya ~ Quickstep ~ 33
In this godless Widdy Age the most important aspect to a dance, it seems, is managing what the professional wrestling world would refer to as a "spot pop" -- pulling off a move that gets audience reaction. There seem to be a lot of them this series. Widdy has created a situation where dancing well is not as relevant as getting a huge cheer for doing something difficult (other people) or ridiculous (Widdy). Obviously, I like spot pops for the most part, but I do recognise them for what they are: tricks designed to draw one's attention away from lack of actual content.
Having Gavin run up and kiss Bruno full on the lips was one of the best spot pops of this series. I'm willing to bet that no one remembers any other part of the dance. I personally spent almost the whole of the dance clapping and shouting at how hilarious that move had been. It easily scores a place as one of the most memorable moments in the show and deserves kudos if for nothing more than the fact that it stole attention away from Widdy. The next day, homophobic Telegraph readers were pissing and moaning over a "gay" kiss on a family programme (Really?) rather than cawing about Widdy being some sort of national treasure.
I didn't notice until watching the dance again later that it was surprisingly slow for a guy who makes his living running very quickly and weaving about. I remember a commentator once describing Gavin as having "ghost-like speed" for his ability to move quickly and suddenly through gaps in defence. Surely this would make for the ability to perform a pretty stunning quickstep. Apparently not.
But I still like the guy. Last week I got in an argument with a couple over whether Gavin is, in fact, an idiot. The vast majority of people I know believe that he is but I don't agree. If you listen to him speak, yes, he will say some dumb things but always in a very dry way. He rarely, if ever, says "uhm" or "ah" and doesn't repeat the same phrases over and over, as one expects from a stupid athlete (for example: Peter, who used to play goalie for England). He displays no other characteristics of a stupid person but for the things he says, which are said in a dry, sarcastic tone. I really do feel that Gavin is often being ironic and that people are interpreting him as stupid or self-centred because they are not giving him enough credit. Obviously if he's going to win the public's heart he'll have to stick to kissing judges.

Matt & Aliona ~ Rumba ~ 35
In these tough economic times, Strictly was not able to afford a dress for Aliona this week, so she was kitted out in some glittery duct tape and a napkin. Worked for me, mind you.
The rumba is a particularly tricky dance, I think. Due primarily to the fact that it is impossible to tell when someone is dancing it correctly. If I understand the history of the dance (more accurately known as bolero són), it comes from clubs in Havana in the pre-revolutionary period and was -- as is the case with a number of dances -- just a sneaky way of getting a chance to rub up against another person. How are you supposed to judge that?
"Well, are they shagging yet? Nope. This thing's definitely not going to get a 10."
But by the standard of feeling each other up in public I thought Matt did a pretty good job, especially in tiny actions. At the start of the dance he moved his head in that erratic "I'm going to kiss her neck, no, wait, I'm going to nibble her ear" way one does when making out with a girl. Then later in the dance, standing behind Aliona he buried his face in her hair as if breathing in her smell. When they were doing the sliding doors step, though, or anything else that didn't involve groping Aliona, it lost fluidity and looked like two people caught between heavy petting and modelling appliances.
If I am ever on Strictly, I promise that will be the story of my rumba: torn between wanting to show you the great features of a new washer-dryer and wanting to get naked with my dance partner.
On a side note: in looking up YouTube videos that would explain what I mean by "sliding doors step" I found this video, which takes every possible ounce of sexy out of the rumba.

Kara & Artem ~ Argentine Tango ~ 38
Would you like some awesome with your awesome? I didn't actually hear the judges' comments after Kara's dance because I was too busy pointing at the television and shouting: "You are so awesome! I love you!"
And I do. Ours is a complicated love, admittedly, due primarily to the fact that Kara has only spoken to me once -- via Twitter -- but I could tell we had a special something, a certain connection. We belong with one another.
But it's fine that we're not together right now. She's focusing on winning the Strictly trophy. We'll be together for Christmas, and that's what counts. Just the two of us by the fireplace -- the Strictly glitter-ball trophy reflecting the fire's warm glow -- doing the rumba in a sleeping bag.

Scott & Natalie ~ Jive ~ 39
Boxing Day, of course, will be spent with Natalie. She and Scott were undeniably good on Saturday. A part of me was annoyed to see them earning one point more than Kara but it was well-deserved. I think perhaps Craig would have given the dance a 10, as well, had it been later in the season; he seems to have a moral objection to handing out 10s too early.
If you watch their routine you'll see that they managed to add not only spot pops (when Scott stands up and she slaps him) but actual good dancing. It is so good that I think it may take over Jill Halfpenny and Darren Bennet's jive as The Best Jive In Strictly History.
Perhaps Natalie has simply been blessed with good partners, but as it becomes more obvious that she will at least be in the final for the second year in a row, one wonders if perhaps she is a Strictly genius. She seems to be able to get the very best out of her partners; have you noticed how much weight Scott has lost? Fella's probably dropped two stone since the start of the series.
Maybe Natalie has secret dance powers. If so, this means a confrontation between herself and the anti-dance, Widdy, is inevitable. The fate of Strictly is in Natalie's hands.

Elsewhere in the show
- The most important bit of information from this week's show is that Tess' area has a name: Tess' Tinsel Tower.
- Tess went for some odd dress choices this week. In the main show she wore a black dress with feathered shoulders that made her look like the bloke from Raven. In the results show, she was wearing a weird number with shoulder pads so intense you imagined the outfit to have been stolen from the set of Alexandra Burke's "Broken Heels" video.
- Admittedly, Tess need not try very hard for the results show because she is always stunning compared to Claudia Winkleman, who seems to prepare for the show by having herself fired through a charity shop.
- Annie Lennox was the lamest musical guest ever. Thankfully they put in Alesha as a second guest. I don't remember Alesha's song because her dress was quite low in the front. Needless to say, then, Alesha's performance was my favourite part of the results show.
- Next Saturday is the Blackpool show, yo. Ah hells yeah. Last year, Blackpool was the best show of the series. All kinds of mad additional shit took place (Jill Halfpenny dancing in a sparkling Union Jack dress, for example) and everyone stepped it up just a bit for the occasion. With Matt, Kara and Scott all performing amazingly I am really looking forward to Saturday's show. I am heartbroken at not having been able to get tickets to see it live. I have put my name into the random draw for tickets to each of the live shows and have thus far been unlucky. I had thought my chances would be better for Blackpool considering that the audience is bigger; the Strictly studio in London holds about 150 people, whereas Tower Ballroom has space for roughly 2,000. No such luck. I will be at home in front of my cheap Asda-bought TV, port in hand. If anyone tries to disrupt me, I will stab them in the face.

Who's going to win:
This week I'm torn between Scott & Natalie or Matt & Aliona to win in a final with the other couple and Kara & Artem. My gut says it will be Matt & Aliona because they have more personality.

1 comment:

Jo said...

Hello, friend of Annie. I am delighted to see this blow by blow Stricktly report because my kids don't let me watch it and it's at just the wrong time. Exquisite entertainment though...

Your novel reads great! Will be back for more soon :)