Friday, December 3, 2010

'Strictly Come Dancing' Week 9 recap: Vote for Matt

Last weekend saw the removal of three insufferable reality show contestants: Wagner Carrilho, Katie Waissel (though, I actually like her voice) and Gillian McKeith. Sadly, Widdy survives. To the chagrin of even her partner, it would seem.

After a routine that featured Anton screaming, "Iceberg!" at Widdy (perhaps because she is large, frigid and wrecks things), Anton was beleaguered standing in Tess' area. His iron smile seemed especially forced and he was talking to himself, seemingly unable to comprehend why people had applauded the one-minute-forty-second poo-fest he and Widdy had just produced. Out of nowhere, he shouted: "Vote for Matt; he's lovely."

Listen to poor, soul-destroyed Anton, Britain. He wants you to vote for Matt & Aliona instead of him and Widdy. He wants out.

Perhaps it was the continued presence of Widdy, but everyone seemed weary and off their game Saturday. That often happens when the show gets to this point. The contestants are tired and there are still enough weeks to go that the end doesn't feel close enough to build up energy for. Different people are handling it in different ways. Matt Baker is handling it by becoming increasingly charming. Scott Maslen is handling it by slowly coming undone.

Falling to the curse of Widdy this week were Mad Patsy and Big Gay Robin, which was a surprise to me. I thought they were well-liked by the public.

Patsy & Robin ~ Argentine Tango ~ 30
There's that old Strictly line of thinking that if one must leave the show, it is ironically best to do so on one of your better dances. That feat was accomplished by Mad Patsy and Big Gay Robin on Saturday with an Argentine tango that -- while perhaps not the most technically brilliant routine ever -- was transfixing.
I will miss Mad Patsy, if not just for her crazy need to kiss everyone and tell them how wonderful they are. It was as if she was always being led away to be thrown into a volcano. Rather than weep, she was choosing to face her doom with aplomb: "Farewell, my dearest Brucie. We shan't meet again, I'm afraid. But do remember always how I adored you so. Au revoir, Tess. Remember us as happy. Oh, the times we had, darling. And sweet, sweet Kara -- I shall miss you most. Think of me when the smell of honeysuckle carries in the wind..."

Ann & Anton ~ Obliterating Anton's Dignity ~ 13
I'm so tired of Widdy that I refuse to comment this week. I will leave it to other people.
Bruno: "The Ark Royal follows the Titanic and sinks the rumba into the deepest and darkest depths of dance disaster."
Len: "It was the daftest dance I've ever seen."
Craig: "It was awful. Truly a testament to bad dancing."
Guardian Strictly blog: "I cannot bear this... I've reached my limit now. This makes my soul hurt. MY EYES THEY BURN!"

Gavin & Katya ~ Jive ~ 22
We learned after the fact that Katya had been poorly for some of the week, so Gavin had been rehearsing his jive with Katya's boyfriend. Mr. Phin, meet your match.
A few years ago, Mrs. Phin was particularly ill and so Mr. Phin woke in the Ungodly Hours to travel to the school where she taught and lead a group of teenagers on a field trip. That is dedication to one's partner, yo. I'm relatively sure I could beat Mr. Phin in a fight (if not simply because of his particular aversion to violence), but when it comes to attentiveness to one's partner he is without equal. Or, so I thought. Heading in to dance the jive with Gavin Henson just so one's girlfriend can get a bit of rest is definitely above and beyond the call of duty.
Nah, who am I kidding? Hell, I would jump at the opportunity to teach Gavin how to dance the jive. Even though I don't know the jive. Judging by Gavin's performance on Saturday, though, Katya's boyfriend doesn't know it either.
The whole thing seemed like a series of ideas loosely strung together rather than an actual routine: "In this bit, Gavin shows Katya how to dance. In this bit, Gavin decides not to do a cartwheel. In this bit, Gavin shakes his ass for the judges. In this bit, Gavin falls down."
Like his trousers and glasses, none of it fit or made sense.
The Gavin highlight of the week came in the results show when Claudia Winkleman was unable to understand what he was saying due to his Welsh accent and dry delivery. After he finished talking about his dance, she said: "I did not understand a word of that."
He quickly repeated himself and she turned to the camera, making a face and saying: "Literally. Not a word."

Scott & Natalie ~ American Smooth ~ 31
Natalie is going to kill Scott. Over the past few weeks we've seen him grow more and more gaunt; now he's not sleeping. The cumulative effect being that Scott is going mad. Training footage showed him to be like some kind of prisoner of war (the sexiest war ever), wandering deluded and babbling through his routine. Then he came out and did the same thing in the performance.
Alesha and Bruno scored the dance scandalously high because they love Scott, but it was, in truth, a dance-floor train wreck. It was hard to watch. I did so through my fingers. If you dare watch the dance yourself, you'll see it goes wrong within seconds. The highpoint of fuckery comes at 1:16, lasting about 10 seconds, when Natalie is forced to drag him around by the scruff of his neck. Scott just stands there babbling at Natalie and she grabs on even tighter, her smile turning from graceful to: "I will stab you in the face if you don't pull your shit together."
The routine ends with a spot move involving Natalie spinning on Scott's shoulders. It should be impressive but its actual effect is to make you think: "Oh, fuck! Natalie's about to die!"

Matt & Aliona ~ American Smooth ~ 33
Matt has also been working nonstop as of late. He's performing on "Strictly Come Dancing," travelling to the outer reaches of the British Isles for "Countryfile," and serving as host for "One Show." Soon there will be no television but for Matt Baker: "Coming up next on BBC 1, join Matt Baker as he explores the outer Hebrides. At 9, Matt Baker stars as Mr. Darcy in a new interpretation of 'Pride and Prejudice.' Then it's the 10 o'clock news, read by Matt Baker. Afterward Tinie Tempah performs on 'Later Live with Matt Baker.' Meanwhile, over on Radio 4, Matt Baker is reading the shipping forecast..."
But rather than go insane, Matt seems to be adapting to all this stress by becoming an even more delightful chap. In interviews, he crosses his leg in that old school British chat show way and responds to it all with grace and charm.
And he dances well. I don't really get what the judges didn't like about his and Aliona's performance Saturday, and Erin Boag is right that it made no sense they should have received 8s while Scott & Natalie got 9s for fucking up. Aliona -- with whom I am more and more in love each day -- choreographed something different and unique from the usual, tired, "Fred and Ginger"-style American smooth. And it worked, in my opinion.
I think Matt and Aliona were under-marked because they didn't come out and do what the judges expected. From Matt they were probably anticipating acrobatic leaps to 1940s big band or Rat Pack-era swing. Like children opening a Christmas present that is not the thing they had in their head, they failed to be aware of what was actually in front of them.

Kara & Artem ~ Jive ~ 34
To some extent, I think the same thing happened in Kara and Artem's jive. The judges were expecting a lot more crazy shit. When presented with a dance that was slick and stylish, rather than reckless and insane, they just sort of stopped watching. But also the couple scored a little lower than we've come to expect because there were parts where Kara forgot what was going on. She managed to cover it up, though, with her actual dancing ability and a wry smile. So, one had no idea of any problems until she missed the timing of a handstand at the very end of the routine. That's how awesome Kara is: she can blag her way through a dance and still get good marks.
Actually, the more I think of it, that routine was filled with lessons on how to be awesome. From the very start of the dance, Artem has trouble with one of his braces ("suspenders" for those of you playing along at home) constantly falling off his shoulder. Does he let it bother him? No. He just continues being awesome. Kara doesn't know what she's doing. Does she let it bother her? No. She just continues being awesome. And gorgeous.
I mean, really gorgeous. Have I mentioned that I love Kara? Because I kind of do. A lot. A whole lot.

Pamela & James ~ Charleston ~ 38
Meh. Charleston. It's a dance that always seems to earn high scores but not one that I particularly enjoy. With the exception of Kara and Artem's Charleston. I liked that. But mostly for Kara's outfit. Mmm... Kara in her Charleston outfit...
Back to Pamela and James, though; I wasn't all that impressed. I think they were over-marked. The dance wasn't bad but it definitely wasn't better than Matt & Aliona and Kara & Artem.
Kara & Artem.
Mmm... Kara in her Charleston outfit...

Elsewhere on the show
- On Saturday, Tess managed to regain her fashion sense but then lost it again on Sunday when she wore a grey dress that matched her grey eyeshadow, thus making her bright red lipstick seem mildly disturbing.
- But both days she outmatched Alesha. The Guardian's Strictly blog described her Saturday as "wearing her Viennese waltz dress from back in the day." Though, I liked Jenn's comment that Alesha looked "like a child playing dress-up."
- Next week is "Movie Week." I can't really picture what this means, but I kind of like that "Strictly Come Dancing" is picking up a trick from its American offshoot and incorporating themes. Obviously, the appropriate movie for Widdy is Misery. We can only hope for a role reversal, and Anton is the one to break Widdy's legs.
- I found myself looking through the comments on the official Strictly blog this week. There's nothing of interest, but I loved this utterly random comment: "Polar bears are born autocrats."

Who will win
This week, I'm putting my money on Matt & Aliona to win, in a final with Pamela & James and Kara & Artem.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I'd forgotten you witnessed that amazing act of dedication! He had also stayed up most of the night cleaning up my vomit so you (literally) wouldn't stumble upon it.

THAT'S dedication.

PS If you ever beat Mr Phin in a fight, I will mow you down in my Ford Fiesta.