Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Strictly week 4: Pasha's weekend

Pasha Kovalev's feet. That's what stands out most to me from this past weekend of "Strictly Come Dancing." There alongside Katya Virshilas to add a bit of flair to Caro Emerald's musical performance he effectively stole the entire weekend, as far as I'm concerned. Did you see that? He had cartoon legs. This, coupled with the fact he and his insufferable celebrity partner, Chelsee Healey, performed amazingly on Saturday night, made it very much Pasha's weekend. Yes, Russell Grant and a teddy bear is TV gold, Robbie Savage broke his nose, the J-Train was derailed and Nancy Dell'Olio appeared to be fighting with Anton du Beke in the middle of a routine -- it was another brilliant Strictly weekend -- but the most important thing to take away from this weekend is that Pasha is a bit awesome, bitches. He can move his feet superhumanly fast. Dude's a freak.

Here's a look at everything else from Week 4, starting with the exiting couple:

Rory Bremner and Erin Boag ~ Cha Cha Cha ~ 24:
Rory's early exit felt inevitable. Take a look back at previous Strictly recaps and you'll see I've always labelled him as an Also There, i.e., one of the people you'd struggle to remember if challenged to list every celebrity from this season. But it was never going to help having him perform to a song that forces irony. Rory and Erin did their cha cha cha to "Dance to the Music," which only drew attention to the fact Rory was not really dancing. To music, or otherwise. He was moving into a set place on stage, performing a sequence of steps, then moving to a new spot. The transitions weren't too far from having him simply walk from sequence to sequence.
Rory seemed genuinely sad at his exit and one couldn't help but feel a little sorry for him, but not so sorry that you particularly lament the fact Nancy Dell'Olio was clearly the one who should have left.

Nancy Dell'Olio and Anton du Beke ~ Pasodoble ~ 18:
Anton frantically pointing ay and screaming, "CAPE!" was a bit of Strictly gold. The outburst came in response to the question of whether Nancy was portraying a bull or a cape in the pasodoble story of the matador. There is something amusing about the Anton/Nancy dynamic; they are like a bickering version of Henry Crun and Minnie Bannister, being rolled down a hill in a large barrel. That's definitely one of my more obscure references, I realise. But trust me, they are like that.
They seem to do very little other than argue with each other. Even within the dance. At about 1:25 in this performance, Anton jerks his hand away from Nancy as if she were covered in poo. It's hard to gauge these things but he seems to be genuinely annoyed by her. Meanwhile, Nancy lurks around like a burned out señora in a Federico García Lorca play, a woman who was once the object of every man's desire now lost in the falsity of clothing and makeup, deluded by alcohol.

Russell Grant and Flavia Cacace ~ Tango ~ 24:
"You're already a Strictly legend," Alesha told Russell after his dance Saturday. Which is code for: "Judges' scores have become irrelevant in your case."
Queen Russell (or "Mama Rose," as Flavia calls him) is having the time of his life and I can't imagine the Strictly voters are going to put a stop to that any time soon. In terms of what we've come to love about Russell, this week's dance was lacking just a little bit of something, featuring a bit more actual technique than other dances, but it was still enjoyable. Russell again took on the persona of a big gay queen who looks up from his martini, waves away the the thong-clad cabana boys doing his nails, looks his naïve and overly idealistic niece in the eye and growls: "Honey, first thing we do is teach you how to tango."
Yes, I make up my own little narratives for the dances. Don't judge me.
Mama Rose has promised to bring back the campness (Did it ever leave?) for next week's Halloween-themed samba. Why can't it be next week right now?!

Lulu and Brendan Cole ~ Samba ~ 25:
Meh. It wasn't bad. Watching the dance, Jenn observed: "She seems to be adhering to my philosophy of the bigger the hair, the closer to God."
Lulu's enormous coif made her look like a Charlie Brown character. Unfortunately, that made her no more likeable. Both Lulu and Brendan seem eternally lost up their own backsides and I find them to be as genuine as a £15 "oak" dresser from IKEA.
Also, how shit of a dance is it when even the pro admits to wasting time? Len got on their case about the bit in which they run up the stairs and Brendan defended himself by saying: "We had 1 minute, 15 seconds of content. I think that's enough."
It would be if the dance were 1 minute, 15 seconds long, but they're not. 

Audley Harrison and Natalie Lowe ~ Foxtrot ~ 25:
The first 20 or so seconds of this dance involved Natalie twirling about whilst Audley rose from a chair in a supposed-to-have-been-debonair way. My grandfather is in his mid-80s and also takes about that long to get himself out a chair, and with an equal amount of panache.
Once on his feet, Audley performed admirably. It just didn't click, however. I think Natalie needs to try an alternate route to success; these two are in need of a Kenny and Ola-style paso.

Alex Jones and James Jordan ~ Rumba ~ 25:
Craig was right. It was sexless. I have spent years perving on Alex Jones, she had her boobs almost falling out of her top and was sporting a pair of slutty tights to make even the Cardiff girls on the pull blush, and still I found myself thinking: "This is all rather awkward."
Somehow, bafflingly, the combination of James, who usually gets his partners to behave like absolute whores during the rumba, and Alex, whom I would like to lock in a shed and keep for personal use, created a situation that was wholly not sexy. It's like taking the best chocolate in the world, combining it with the best raspberries in the world and discovering it tastes like garlic butter. What the hell?
I'm not even sure it would have helped had they listened to Jenn's advice of: "Touch yourself! You need to touch yourself, Alex! Why are you not touching yourself?"
On a side note, the fact my girlfriend shouts this at the television is one of the myriad reasons I love her. 

Robbie Savage and Ola Jordan ~ Jive ~ 27:
According to the always-reliable Daily Mail (and conformed by the actually reliable Guardian), Robbie may have broken his nose doing a knee slide into the camera at the end of his dance. That ranks up there with some of the greatest Strictly injuries: Austin Healey dislocating a finger in the cha cha cha, and Jade Johnson tearing a ligament in the tango. Strictly will break you, bitches.
Whether Robbie did or did not damage his proboscis, it's a sign of how much he was putting into his performance Saturday. The fact he seems to be generally trying and strangely loving the ridiculousness of it all is changing my overall impression of the guy. I still don't really like him, but more and more I'm content to see him do well.

Jason Donovan and Kristina Rihanoff ~ Pasodoble ~ 27:
Ah, the fall from grace. It happens in every good Strictly journey. This week the J-Train started out full throttle, wearing a Freddie Mercury-like matador coat and dancing to Queen, but rather quickly into the dance things went a bit stompy. You could see J-Train was trying to remember the steps. He might as well have done that "I'm remembering something" face of looking up and slightly sticking out the tongue. It wasn't a bad dance, and I think perhaps the judges marked him a bit harshly, but it wasn't what we had come to expect.
Also, how utterly mental was the video package before their dance? I want to see more of the J-Train simply running around supermarkets wearing a cape and a ridiculous moustache.

Holly Valance and Artem Chigvinstev ~ Viennese Waltz ~ 30:
Remember last week when I said I think the Viennese waltz is boring and can really only think of only one example of a good one? I said, also, I couldn't remember who had performed that one good Viennese waltz but randomly guessed it was Ali Bastian because she got a really high score for it. I was wrong. It was Kara Tointon's Viennese waltz, which was choreographed by Artem. And by the same token, I am pretty sure that Holly's Viennese waltz will be the only one I like this series.
Len didn't like the lamppost props set up on the stage but I think they served to show the audience movement in the dance. Holly and Artem ran a little slalom course through the lampposts and I thought it worked. Well, it worked as well as it was ever going to work. It was still a Viennese waltz.

Anita Dobson and Ronin Windsor ~ American Smooth ~ 32:
Anita Dobson, the likeable and portable stage actress! So easy to carry! And fits in most hand luggage! I realise Robin's a muscular guy but he made Anita look as if she only weighs about 12 pounds.
There's a kind of subtlety to the interaction of Anita and Robin. For a big camp fella who likes to train in man cleavage ripped T-shirts, Robin tends to tone down his performances. Watch the dance from Saturday again and pay attention to his facial features. It's rarely more than a wink or grin. That's admirable in a way, because you can see he's keen for all focus to be on the celebrity, to let Anita be the star. But I think at the same time it causes a kind of void. One forgets about Anita and Robin during the week.
"Each week I think, 'She's not going to be very good,'" Jenn said of Anita. "Then she comes out and I remember I love her."

Harry Judd and Aliona Vilani ~ Slow Waltz ~ 35:
Jenn was very well-behaved this week, only kicking her legs into the air once in teenage glee at the sight of Harry. As such, I am not boycotting him and can confess it was a quality dance. I agree with Len, though, that the bit on the stairs was a waste of time. I disagree with Alesha that it was a 10. Harry still shows all the emotion of a saddlebag when he dances. That kiss on the cheek he gave Aliona looked the sort of thing you'd see in a Nativity play put on by 10 year olds.
"Oh. Mary. I love you."
"I love you. Too. Joseph. (smooch) Now we will go to Bethlehem. And I will have the baby Jesus."
"Oh. What a. Happy day."
The dance earns the distinction of getting the first 10 of the season. But then, that 10 was from Alesha, so it doesn't really count.

Chelsee Healey and Pasha Kovalev ~ Quickstep ~ 36:
This dance was really good. That I am able to admit such a thing despite my overwhelming dislike of Chelsee probably means it was, in fact, really, really good. I had expected it to pull the first 10 of the season. Chelsee seemed to have decided at some point during the week she actually wants to try and it showed. I think it helps, as well, the costuming department didn't again try to make what is, in fact, an average-looking girl look like a super-hottie. Her massive top end was battened down and her midriff covered, and it was a look that flattered her. Now if only they could secure something over her mouth to keep her from speaking. 
Also, points to the both of them for being able to use the props with fluidity. Props are more often than not a bad idea in dances, especially when the prop has an integral role in the storytelling. The end bit, in which Pasha covertly unbuttons his jacket so Chelsee can pull it off his shoulders and reveal a "boarding pass," could have gone so very wrong.

  • Jenn and I came up with a new term this weekend: "faux-mance." That's the faux romance, or chemistry, the show would have you believe exists between each of the couples. The one between Russell and Flavia is awesome; the one between Lulu and Brendan is creepy and false.
  • I liked that Lulu and Brendan were so crap Len had a go at playing the trumpet rather than watch them dance.
  • I love this picture of Flavia and Mama Rose in their tango.
  • Tess' dress on the Sunday results show, yo. It seemed odd rather than sexy. Tess didn't seem to be selling the thing very well. It was as if someone had put her into it, she had walked out onto stage and then only realised upon seeing herself in the monitors it had been a bad choice. She then spent the results show attempting to cover up, folding her arms and often placing her script cards in front of her.
  • I was correct last week in guessing Nancy would be in the bottom two but wrong in claiming Audley would be there with her. But I'm going to make the same prediction this week and guess Nancy will be the one to go. I would like to think the cantankerous faux-mance between herself and Anton is wearing on the patience of other viewers as much it is mine.
  • Despite the setback, I'm still betting on the J-Train to be in the final. Joining him will be Harry Judd and Holly Valance


JMH said...

García Lorca reference. I'm impressed. I was a Spanish Literature major, which got me a property management job.

If you ever want descriptive updates on Midwest weather, hit me up.

Brandon Randall said...

I think you're underestimating Chelsee a bit. I've never been very fond of her before now (though her cha cha cha was pretty good, I thought), and I understand probably 10% of the words she says, tops. But her dance this past week turned me into a fan. Completely. I think I might want her to win or something. It was that good. (And hey, at least when the dance is going, she isn't talking. That's a plus.)

Chris Cope said...

Good observation, Brandon: When she's dancing, she's not talking. I support that. More dancing for Chelsee!