Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Strictly week 5: Strictly Come Haunting

I was right, yo. That's the most important thing to remember about this past weekend: I was right in predicting how it would turn out. Take a look back at the week 4 recap. Whom did I say would be in the bottom two? Nancy and Audley. And whom did I predict would be leaving? Nancy. I was right and I was right. Go Team Chris. I should be putting money on this.

No. No, I definitely should not.

Week 5 of the Strictly Come Dancing experience felt just a little low-energy for me. Perhaps the months of dancing is starting to wear on the celebrities. There is usually a bit of a lull from about week 5 to the Blackpool show. But there were still some highlights this week, including Harry and Aliona's eight-bar tango and the J-Train getting back on track. Here's a look back at the weekend, starting with the exiting couple, Nancy and Anton.

Nancy Dell'Olio and Anton Du Beke ~ Rumba ~ 14
Anton Du Beke. Rumba. Those two things rarely fit together perfectly. He's too much like a World War II RAF pilot to be sexy. He should be up in the air, blasting Jerrys, not routing about on the dance floor with some wobbly Italian. But that's where fate found Lt. Du Beke this weekend and, though he kept calm and carried on, it just didn't work. Admittedly, a fair share of the blame also falls on the strangely unsexy Nancy Dell'Olio. Her wide-legged gunslinger stance again brought to mind visions of a washed-up Lolita drunkenly staggering through town, muttering of sexual conquests of long ago.
Nancy was so bad she was drawing heat from Alesha, for the love of Pete. Alesha finds nice things to say about almost everyone. Yet, in this case she told Nancy: "You're a walking disaster."
It was so out of character for Alesha (and so true) no one thought to boo her in pantomime style, as they did when Craig said more or less the same thing.

Audley Harrison and Natalie Lowe ~ Jive ~ 20:
He's 100 feet tall and weighs roughly the same as the combined population of Saipan; what did you expect? A jive was never, ever going to be Audley Harrison's time to shine. Other potential disasters include the rumba, the Charleston and any other dance that involves moving with grace and/or speed. Of course, he didn't help himself by spending part of the week back in Los Angeles. Gotta be in it to win it, dude. Audley is incredibly likeable and brings good energy and enthusiasm to the dances but, uhm, well, I'm getting a little tired of him. In his dances he has a tendency to repeat the same action several times. Case in point: pretending to play the piano. Twice. Snooze. I suspect Natalie has given up.

Russell Grant and Flavia Cacace ~ Samba ~ 22:
Mama Rose has been suffering some knee pain as a result of all this dancing and it appeared this week that he was lost in a Vicodin-tinted world. Russell was uncharacteristically low key and reserved. In the alternate-universe narrative I maintain for Russell, he was once the biggest queen on the circuit. From Miami to Brighton to Sydney, the queers, dykes, fag hags and fag stags would fill the clubs every night almost breaking into riots to see the glorious Mama Rose perform. 
But after a time it became too much. 
The fame.
The boys.
The alcohol. 
Well, darling, one can never have too many boys. But, still it became such a strain on Mama Rose that he started dusting his margarita glasses with crushed painkillers rather than sugar or salt. Eventually, it all fell apart and Mama Rose slipped into anonymity and legend. 
Now, his estranged niece, daughter of his ridiculous heterosexual brother (honestly, how embarrassing!) has come to ask Mama Rose for help. Innocent little Flavia dreams of winning the glitter-ball trophy.
"Honey, you don't know what you're getting yourself into," says Mama Rose, signalling with a swizzle stick to one of his be-thonged cabana boys that another cocktail is desired.
"Please," begs Flavia. "I know I can win."
"You think it's that easy, do you?" snaps Mama Rose. "This is the glitter-ball trophy, sweetie. Do you even understand that? You think you can just show up with your little abs and white teeth and they'll just hand you the glitter-ball trophy?! Ha!! They. Will. Tear. You. Apart."
"Uncle Russell..."
"Uncle Russell, indeed. Don't play the family card on me, darling. I will never understand what went wrong with my brother that he ended up with a woman. Ugh. I feel ill thinking about it."
"Mama Rose, please. Please. I know I can win. I know we can win."
And so Mama Rose came back. And word spread. And again they cheered his name from the balconies.
But now, the old ghosts have come back, too. The old fears. And new pain. Mama Rose is not the vibrant queen he used to be. And this past weekend he was out of it. Tired and moody, removed. Maybe Mama Rose just doesn't have it in him anymore. Can Flavia pull him back? Can the greatest be great again? We'll have to see what happens next week.

Robbie Savage and Ola Jordan ~ Paso Doble ~ 26:
I was mildly confused that they looked a bit like zombie Cherokees, and then was overall disappointed in a routine that felt disjointed. I dislike Robbie considerably less these days, but this dance did little toward making me actually like him. It's the whole Michael Jackson thing, I think. The crotch-grabbing and such. It's just creepy.

Lulu and Brendan Cole ~ Paso Doble ~ 29:
Nothing says, "This woman can't dance for shit," like hooking her up to some wires and having her flown about the room. That's not dancing, it's holding on. Anyone can do that. Well, with the exception of Owen Hart, perhaps. Lulu spends the first 20 seconds simply being in a harness or being removed from the harness whilst the camera is conveniently pointed at something else. I did like Brendan, looking like a zombie Ed Norton, doing a no-look slide down the bannister but everything else in this performance was a waste of time. Lulu flaps about a bit of mosquito netting, they do an arm thing that almost puts the audience to sleep and then Brendan distracts the camera for another 20 seconds whilst Lulu gets hooked up to the wires again. She spent 40 seconds of a 90-second performance messing about with a prop. It's time for her to go.

Anita Dobson and Robin Windsor ~ Tango ~ 31:
Anita is the same age as Lulu but did she need to be strapped into wires? No. She comes jumping out from a tombstone and, bang, she and Robin actually dance a full routine. A few too many pantomime-villan scary faces for my liking, but all dancing. I'm confused, though, as to why the costuming department consistently puts her in unflattering frocks. This past weekend she reminded me of Liza Manelli performing as Lola in a Muppet Show version of Copa Cabana.

Alex Jones and James Jordan ~ Paso Doble ~ 31:
James looked incredibly un-scary as a Dracula. He far more resembled a cross between Jerry Lewis' nutty professor and J.D. off Scrubs. Meanwhile, Alex was about as sexy as a bra from Primark. That said, it was easily an improvement for Alex. I want so much for her to be better, though. I sometimes wonder if my issues with Alex stem from the fact I know she is a Welsh speaker from West Wales. And every other woman I've ever met who fits that description is, like Alex, affable but somehow lacking in the sexiness that exists away from pragmatism. I mean, one can imagine doing the naughty with Alex but not feeling very naughty about it. You know, really just doing it because you need a few kids to help out on the farm.

Chelsee Healey and Pasha Kovalev ~ Tango ~ 32:
Chelsee's notorious top end was too great a challenge for the fabrics known to the BBC costuming department, creating a wardrobe malfunction that threw her for a loop. I'm willing to bet any number of teenage boys have spent any number of hours attempting to spot the "gift," in Claudia Winkleman's words, of the wardrobe malfunction but without success. I think Chelsee simply felt that structural integrity was compromised, rather than there being an actual breach. The whole thing upset her to the point that she just stood there crying after the dance, which is still better than listening to her speak. All told, however, it wasn't a bad dance. But, in watching it back again, it also wasn't great. Even before the puppies tried to escape she was a little wobbly, looking at one point she was being thrown around by Pasha.

Harry Judd and Aliona Vilani ~ Tango ~ 34:
Harry only seems to have one facial expression. Fortunately, this was a dance in which a slightly catatonic stare was appropriate. Len complained there was not enough tango in this tango but it's not as if Harry was strapped to wires or faffing about pretending to play the piano, so I've no complaints. I find I really like Harry, even if he does make Jenn go all teenage-girly.
Drummers are an interesting part of a band. Vitally important to the actual musical product they are often the guy you forget about. Without looking it up, who's the drummer for the Rolling Stones? Who was the drummer for Guns N' Roses? My cousin tells a story of once managing to blag his way into the VIP section of a club by asserting he was the drummer for Seether, "because no one knows what the drummer for Seether looks like."
So, this is Harry's moment in the limelight and one senses he's enjoying it in a kind of likably uncomfortable way. I want him to do well. And this past weekend showed again that it's a good bet he'll be in the final.

Holly Valance and Artem Chigvinstev ~ American Smooth ~ 35:
There's still something missing, isn't there? I like Holly but keep waiting for that moment when I think: "Wow! She's hit it!"
That moment never comes. I feel kind of let down, though I don't really understand why. I think it's that she doesn't follow through with all the steps. She gets them all right, but doesn't add the bits of flair that make a dance enjoyable to watch. She's like a British Olympic gymnast. Holly Valance is the Beth Tweddle of celebrity dancing.

Jason Donovan and Kristina Rihanoff ~ Quickstep ~ 37:
Has anyone else noticed just a slight change in Kristina's style over the past few weeks? As much as one can when done up for ballroom dancing, she looks oh-so-slightly more like a real person. She no longer seems like a scary, burned-out Russian gymnast. This endears her to me. And that human-ness seemed to come out well in her dance this week with the J-Train. Now if only she could get Jason to be a bit more personable. Presently, I think this is their biggest stumbling block. There's something just a little too Sunday matinee about them. Never go see a Sunday matinee performance of a play or musical, friends, because the performers know they have another show to do that day. As a result, they will naturally be holding back. Sure, the show may be good, but it will almost never be great. That's where the J-Train is at the moment. Like his fellow Antipodean frontrunner, Holly, he is more often than not lacking something that would make you jump from the sofa and cheer.

Elsewhere:
  • Crikey. The Wanted are a creepy-looking group of fellas, aren't they?
  • Artem's nerdy guy impression in the results show professional dance was hilarious.
  • I think it would be interesting to know who choreographs the various professional dances. Does anyone know where I could find this out? Is my being so interested in Strictly a sign I need very serious help? 

Predictions:
  • I think time is fading for Audley Harrison. If he is in the bottom two next week, he will go. Sometimes, however, a person will avoid being in the bottom two on consecutive weeks because viewers feel sorry for him or her. If Audley isn't there I predict Lulu and Anita will be there. Lulu should go, but it will probably be Anita, giving us our first "Too Soon" casualty of this series.
  • I am still placing the J-Train and Harry in the final. In there with them will be Chelsee Healey, a name I've not suggested before as a contender, in part because I dislike her so much.

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