Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Strictly Week 2: God save the dancing queen

I hate to start out exactly as I did last week, but, honestly: Russell Grant, bitches. If you don't like Russell Grant, there is something very wrong with you. No, really; you are suppressing some kind of deep psychological trauma and if you don't seek help soon you may be a danger to yourself or others. I cannot imagine what kind of sick, twisted, miserable state of mind a person would need to be in to sit and watch Russell mincing about the dance floor and not feel at least a modicum of joy. If you are such a person, I pray for you.

On a side note, if you ever happen to find yourself in the great state of Minnesota when the mighty 3 Minute Hero are performing, I suggest you go. You'll find my friend, Jeff, lead singer of the band, employs a number of similar moves on stage. He is like the sleazy, heterosexual version of Russell Grant.

Back in His Majesty's United Dancing Kingdom, all was made right this week with the exit of Edwina "Did I mention I shagged John Major" Currie. I found her to be disturbing in all sorts of ways, not least being the fact she looked a bit like Rob Brydon in drag.

Starting with the exiting couple first, here's a look at the second weekend of "Strictly Come Dancing:"

Edwina Currie and Vincent Simone ~ Foxtrot ~ 19
At this stage in the competition, a routine is just 1 minute 45 seconds long. Edwina and Vincent ate up the first 30 seconds by sitting or stylishly placing themselves near a table. Some 15 more seconds were then eaten up by their swaying back and forth behind the table, thus hiding any shoddy footwork. Once they finally got moving there wasn't much to keep you from wishing they would sit back down. The dance was emblematic of the whole Edwina/Vincent dynamic, which is that they were kind of creepy in a child-predator sort-of way. I am sure great rafts of curry puns had to be thrown out by Brucie's writers, but it's for the best.

Nancy Dell'Olio and Anton du Beke ~ Salsa ~ 14
Anton and latin dance have never gone well together. They are like lemon cake icing and a chicken enchilada; it's never going to work. With a fair amount of tweaking it may be possible to make the pair tolerable but no one, ever, is going to sit back after the experience and say: "You know, I really, really enjoyed that."
So, even if Nancy could dance, this would not have been one of the couple's best routines. And, of course, Nancy cannot dance. On Saturday she appeared to be stumbling down a very steep hill, with Anton unsure as to whether he wanted to help out.
Using an algorithm based on social media and online searches, the Guardian predicted earlier this week Nancy would be dropped. She wasn't, which, I have to admit, doesn't yet upset me. I strangely like the bickering dynamic between her and Anton. They are like a post-modern buddy film: the Turner and Hooch of the dancing world.

Dan Lobb and Katya Virshilas ~ Salsa ~ 21
Dan's growing on me. I liked his seemingly impromptu slapping of Katya's ass late in their dance. It seemed as if he had forgotten what he was supposed to do and just thought: "Go for the bum."
You would, wouldn't you? I would. Katya strikes me as 32 flavours of crazy but, still, you would. In terms of actual dancing, however, the two remain non grata as far as I'm concerned. I don't imagine Dan as ever being anything more than one of those people who fill out the show.

Rory Bremner and Erin Boag ~ Salsa ~ 22
In his comments after the dance, Len said: "This is not a natural dance for an Englishman... it's not what we do, is it?"
I'm sure there are a few million people who would like to point out Rory is Scottish-born and -raised. Not that it has any effect on one's capacity to perform the salsa. His promise last week to channel Sean Connery for this dance was a clear sign it was never going to go well. Sean Connery and salsa dancing? No, Rory. No. And even the costume department knew he was doomed, kitting him in what I have deemed to be the Loser's Shirt.
It's well known amongst Strictly freaks the costume department will often re-use outfits from one year to another. The budget of Her Majesty's British Broadcasting Corporation demands as much. Tweaks are made here and there according to a celebrity's particular frame and the nature of the dance, so often the recycled clothing isn't obvious. The shirt Rory was wearing, however, has been worn at least twice in other people's salsa performances -- those performances being so forgettable I cannot now remember who wore it. It is the shirt of salsa mediocrity and it was right to be worn by Rory.
Erin's body, meanwhile. Hello.

Audley Harrison and Natalie Lowe ~ Salsa ~ 23
I'm not sure why Audley was dressed in the uniform of a Star Trek security officer, but I suppose it fit. You could imagine him wielding the bat'leth with a special kind of ferocity. Meanwhile, the aerobic workout routine Natalie and he performed was acceptable. It was far more zumba than salsa, but fun to watch. I was upset to see him in the bottom two; he strikes me as being pretty likeable. But perhaps he has no real support base. The average Strictly fan is unlikely to be wildly fond of boxing and the average boxing fan unlikely to be wildly fond of Strictly. Additionally, according to my friend, Simon, Audley's not that well-respected in boxing circles, though I'm not sure why.

Lulu and Brendan Cole ~ Foxtrot ~ 25
What was that whole thing with the mirror? It was a strange attempt to add artistic flair to a dance that wasn't good enough to merit artistic flair. The whole routine had the feel of a son dancing with his slightly intoxicated mother on the day they both discovered he is dying of AIDS.

Russell Grant and Flavia Cacace ~ Salsa ~ 25
Amongst the myriad things I love about Team Flaviant is the joy both sides seem to be having as a result of the experience. Flavia is actually smiling. Not that crazy, "Someone's gonna die" smile she usually has, but the smile of a person for whom there is some kind of actual emotion behind the act. To use a second Star Trek analogy, this is like when Data got an emotion chip. You feel a kind of happiness for her as she discovers what it's like to be a real girl and not simply an incredible set of abs.
Russell, meanwhile, is rightly making the very most of every moment. In their dance Saturday, there was a part when he grabs Flavia by the shoulders and the two just sort of spin around madly in the centre of the dance floor. In slow motion the next day, we saw Russell was effectively in the throes of ecstasy during that spin. Good on him.

Harry Judd and Aliona Vilani ~ Foxtrot ~ 27
Under-marked. Again. Jenn is so in love with Harry she went all wobbly watching his dance. I can't say my reaction was exactly the same, but I agree he danced really well. There is a certain teenage mopeyness to his face and frame when he dances that could be ironed out but he easily out-danced a number of the people who finished above him on the leader board. Also, who's idea was it to dress him like a gay James T. West?

Anita Dobson and Robin Windsor ~ Salsa ~ 28
A score of 28 is a little high, but perhaps the judges were concerned about the repercussions of giving Anita low marks. Can you imagine how devastating it would be to see her little face turn to a frown? You might as well stomp a puppy to death on live television. There is something imminently likeable about Anita. Similar to Russell Grant, she seems to be savouring every blessed moment of this experience that has plucked her from the celebrity obscurity of being someone who's name is usually followed with, "And who is that again? Oh, really? She's still alive?" to being someone for whom a room full of people hoot and cheer. And you can't begrudge her for enjoying it. The only questions I have are: 
1) When are they going to dance to a song by Queen? 
2) When is she going to start actually dancing?

Chelsee Healey and Pasha Kovalev ~ Salsa ~ 29
Mr. Tumnus with an enormous rack: that is what Chelsee looked like on Saturday. Those car-wash-brush trousers were a bad idea, as was exposing her less-than-chiseled belly. In fairness to the vapid, unintelligible, love child of the Hamburglar, Chelsee is not fat, she is simply someone who should not have an exposed midriff on national television. It made her look like a genie who'd been left in the bottle too long.
I dislike Chelsee in almost every way, but I have to admit that after starting out like a hot mess near the judge's table, she managed a pretty good -- if not actually pretty -- salsa. I am not sure, though, this is enough to overcome how utterly unlikeable she is. Rubble-rubble, Chelsee.

Robbie Savage and Ola Jordan ~ Foxtrot ~ 29
I don't really like Robbie Savage, so I'll go back to talking about Russell Grant. Another point in the dancing queen's favour is the fact he so totally enjoys the show and is supportive of everyone else. Case in point was his diverting away from the fawning praise and standing ovation he had just received Saturday to say: "You know, can I just say, I am more thrilled about my friend, Robbie, getting such fantastic marks."
And, indeed, he did. Robbie is annoying and looks like an Elvish warrior who's moved to Vegas and is now doing three shows daily at the Luxor, but he is, frustratingly, not a bad dancer. I am struggling to come to terms with this. Additionally, I am torn over the fact he seems somewhat genuine in his nervousness and attempts to do well. It's like the American Civil War is being fought inside me, y'all. In that conflict, as in this one, a man named Grant played a decisive role. And I fear my hatred for Robbie is on the Confederate side.

Alex Jones and James Jordan ~ Foxtrot ~ 29
Admittedly, I was a little disappointed this dance did not allow for James to use his superpower of getting women to behave like harlots, but this was, for me, one of the best dances of the night. It was under-marked. Alex looked very much the part and even made me wish, just for a moment, I was John Prescott, which is something I never have before wished and never will again. There are minor improvements to be made here and there but I am so looking forward to seeing her carry on I can't even think of anything particularly snarky or perverted to say. 
There. The balance is restored.

Holly Valance and Artem Chigvinstev ~ Salsa ~ 30
On "It Takes Two" Monday Craig Revel Horwood expressed concern that Holly may be just a little too confident. I think this is a diplomatic way of suggesting he thinks Holly feels she is too cool to be on the show. It's hard to tell. I think Holly is like Artem's partner from last year, Kara, in that she probably won't decide internally until about Week 6 whether she genuinely wants to be on the show. If/when she does decide to put her heart into it, I think she will improve dramatically.
Thus far, however, Holly's yet to produce the stunning dance of which one suspects she is almost certainly capable. And what I mean by that, of course, is this: Holly has not yet worked me into a fit of lust. I mean, Holly should be dancing in such a way that I wonder whether I should be watching her alone, with the door locked. I'm not getting that from her, though. Which is kind of disappointing. Obviously, there is work to be done.

Jason Donovan and Kristina Rihanoff ~ Foxtrot ~ 33
The J-Train rolls on. But here's the thing: he was sitting down for the first 23 seconds of the song. Where were you on that, Len Goodman? Len famously hates "faffing about" at the beginning of a dance but said nothing in this case. Once again, Jenn and I couldn't help muttering the word "fix" as the scores came in. Yes, the music was good and Kristina looked like sex in a full-body unitard and Jason got all the steps right but I would not say his footwork was all that much better than Harry Judd's or Alex Jones'. As with last week, I've found myself having to watch the dance again in attempt to see what the judges were so crazy about. I'm not seeing it. As a matter of fact, on second viewing I'm spotting a cavalcade of goofy facial expressions. I don't think he should have scored higher than Alex Jones and I don't feel he was a full six points better than Harry Judd.

This week has done nothing to shake my belief that the J-Train is going all the way to the finals. I am uncertain, though, about the three others who will be there with him. At the moment, I'm going to stick with my prediction of those other two being Holly Valance and Harry Judd. Though, I think Alex Jones has a strong chance.

  • On "It Takes Two," discussing last week's dance disaster, Zoe Ball asked Anton: "When did you realise it was all going a little bit wrong?" - "Thursday before," quipped Anton.
  • Randomly, I miss Lilia Kopylova.
  • Lulu and Anton are set to dance the rumba this week. Make the bad man stop.
  • Will Young's musical performance seemed a bit odd to me. Jenn would not agree. She refers to him as "Willy Yum-Yum" and confessed to me she has seen him twice in concert.

1 comment:

Kez said...

Russell also lives in Snowdonia North Wales and is learning Welsh, so how could anybody not love him -the thought is ridiculous!