Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Strictly week 6: Hands that do dishes

Yes, I am fully aware of UN resolution 1515: "Nobody puts Baby in the corner." I understand its implications fully and am perfectly willing to accept the use of military to see the resolution properly enforced. But why did they have to put Baby in the seat of a "Strictly Come Dancing" judge? 

The presence of Jennifer Grey was, to me, one of the most difficult aspects of this past weekend of Strictly. The excuse was that Len (yes, that's him on the left -- back in his glory days) went on holiday, which almost certainly has to be false. Who schedules a holiday right in the middle of a show's run? Originally, I had guessed he had accidentally been double booked, since he is also a judge on "Dancing with the Stars" over in the United States. But Bruno Tonioli also judges both shows and was there on Saturday. Did "DWTS" end up with some forgotten British star as guest judge in exchange? I've not seen Dale Winton recently, perhaps he's been shipped over there. If not, where was Len? Why aren't British tabloids hacking phones to find out the truth behind that one? Why did I just use an outdated phone-hacking reference?

Actually, in my own extensive research (typing Len's name into the Google search box) I've learned that Len was treated for prostate cancer in 2009. So, it's quite probable that this absence was related to a routine check-up of some sort. Whatever the reason for his absence, it was one that showed how important is Len to the whole circus. Because J-Grey was a disappointment.

Due to some sort of production error she was only given the 7, 8 and 9 paddles and her input was roughly what one would expect from a person who had never watched the show. Or seen a person dance. Honestly, BBC, next time a judge has to go on a mysterious "holiday," run a quick competition offering fans a chance to be the fill-in judge. Or just call in Jodie Prenger. She'd be awesome.

That all said, it was still a pretty good weekend on Strictly. Fatigue is starting to set in, but the performances improved technically, Artem once again almost killed himself for the sake of dance, Mama Rose got his groove back and Lulu was given the boot.

Lulu and Brendan Cole ~ Tango ~ 27:
J-Grey made some sort of reference to porridge after this dance that I didn't get. But I'm guessing she didn't get it, either, because she was clearly reading the comment and Americans don't tend to say "porridge." Most of us simply call it oatmeal.
Though, there were elements of Lulu and Brendan's performance that had the look of dancing through porridge. Toward the end, Lulu was simply holding on to Brendan. The self-apointed bad boy of ballroom, meanwhile was giving it approximately 60 percent. Possibly he was distracted by having to talk to Lulu all the way through the dance, but he seemed a bit bored as well and appeared to be looking out at the audience to see if there's anyone he knows. On "It Takes Two" Monday the two spent a long time saying that, yes, they would often disagree with each other in rehearsal but they got along and never had any actual fights. Which, by the very nature of them denying it, means they totally hated each other.

Russell Grant and Flavia Cacace ~ Paso Doble ~ 24:
After a lacklustre performance the week previous, Mama Rose was back with a strange routine that involved sitting on a bull. One felt there was almost certainly some sexual allusion there but I'm not sure exactly what. In the Mama Rose alternate universe in my head it was a reference to the time Mama Rose's drag queen extravaganza was touring Spain and caused a national scandal in a notorious incident involving five naked picadores, one matador's cape, 54 prophylactics, an untold quantity of dramamine and 78 litres of chocolate syrup.
In our world, I didn't get it but at least he wasn't up there for long. Another thing I don't quite get is how Mama Rose ended up at the bottom of the leader board. His paso doble was undoubtedly sloppy but it was more technically sound that Lulu's bobble-head dance.

Audley Harrison and Natalie Lowe ~ Viennese Waltz ~ 27:
How many times can Audley survive the bottom two? What's the record for bottom-two survival? I would guess it to be the four appearances achieved by Heather Small in 2008. If that is the record, it means Audley is now set to at least tie with Heather. If he can somehow survive again, I would think it would make him the Strictly comeback king. Whether I want that, I'm not so sure.
I'm not so sure Natalie wants it, either. Have you noticed there's something in her manner that seems to have given up? I worry she has the Brendan Cole attitude of: "If I'm not winning I'm not caring."
Being Australian, perhaps she's just struggling with the British weather and lack of sun. I know the feeling. Obviously, she should come visit and I will console her...

Jason Donovan and Kristina Rihanoff ~ Rumba ~ 28:
Trains are not sexy. They get things done. The J-Train doesn't seduce, he makes babies. He gets things done.
Technically, his rumba Saturday was on the money. Jenn and I have a tiny television and in the wide shots, when Jason's face was unrecognisable, it was a very good routine. In the times one could see his facial expressions, however, or lack thereof, it felt a bit creepy. Like being loved up by one of those security blokes who just stare at you as you walk into Tesco.
Honestly, Tesco. Teach your fucking employees how to use the word "hello."
But I digress. The J-Train got all the steps right but somehow managed to get the dance wrong. He's had some less-than-great performances of late. I blame his enthusiasm for sporting dodgy moustaches in the introductory video pieces.

Robbie Savage and Ola Jordan ~ Waltz ~ 29:
Being disconnected from one's dance was a theme this past weekend and Robbie played his part by not twitching a facial muscle through the whole of his waltz. His response to criticism of his looking miserable, despite twirling around with a Polish sexpot squeezed into a dress that was probably originally intended for an 8-year-old, was that the song was about unrequited love. He wasn't supposed to be happy. And fair enough, that's true. But Robbie also didn't look sad. He looked embalmed.

Alex Jones and James Jordan ~ Quickstep ~ 31:
Alex has an old-school charm to her, doesn't she? At the end of this dance, when she and James fell over, I was reminded of some old video of Carol Burnett that I am now too lazy to make any attempt to find on YouTube, but you understand what I mean, right? Carol Burnett or Lucille Ball or the like would come out and do a hilarious/amazing routine and at the end of it, whilst the audience were going wild, they would slap their partner on the back or laugh in that big "We're the best of pals sharing a side-splitting in joke" sort of way. Like Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye at the end of the "Sisters" routine. Know what I mean? No? Well, I do, and somehow that results in this fact: she is back on my perving list.
Because Jenn reads this I feel unwilling to elaborate, however, beyond two words: custard wrestling.

Anita Dobson and Robin Windsor ~ Charleston ~ 31:
I have to admit I've never been a fan of the Charleston being on Strictly. Partially that is because I feel there is a failure to fully recognise the spirit of the dance. It is supposed to be a post-watershed affair, but people tend to lampoon the various social revolutions of the 1920s, picturing the whole thing to be a Bugsy Malone-style romp. We coulda been anything that we wanted to be, Robin Windsor. And for some reason you chose to be the gayest lumberjack in all the land.
The thing I want out of a Charleston is for it to be risque, a thinly-veiled excuse for a woman to flash her knickers. Instead, in the modern age, it tends to be hijinks. Which is fine, I suppose, if the hijinks don't feel forced. And that's where Strictly goes wrong. What you end up with is something that doesn't feel authentic, doesn't feel fun.
Within that, though, Anita did OKish. She was definitely wearing down toward the end and I'm not sure what it says about the dance that I felt the most impressive thing was the pouring of a martini without looking, but it wasn't bad.

Harry Judd and Aliona Vilani ~ Samba ~ 33:
In the same sense it is not dancing for Lulu to be hanging from the ceiling it is not really dancing for a fella to stand around with his shirt open. Fortunately for Harry, he can actually dance. He can't display any kind of emotion in his face, but he can dance. If this were pro wrestling I'd suggest putting him in a luchador mask. Actually, I suggest that here, too. I think his scores would improve.
Of course, none of this matters to any of the females watching, including Jenn, who usually just sort of whimpers through Harry's performances, rubbing her knees. No, she doesn't do that. She just wants to. I sometimes think I should just give her some time alone when Harry dances.

Holly Valance and Artem Chigvinstev ~ Jive ~ 34:
Similar to last year when he threw out his shoulder flinging Kara about, Artem this year caused himself serious injury just before Friday's show but managed to suck it up enough to perform a dance that I felt was undermarked. Holly's casual attitude played to her favour this week with her coming out and performing a tricky and high-energy dance wearing a face that said: "This? No problem. Pre-breakfast warm-up, mate. This kind of thing I do with a hangover."
That said, her actual movements were sharper than usual. Or perhaps Artem's were duller. Either way, it worked well.

Chelsee Healey and Pasha Kovalev ~ Charleston ~ 36:
I think it would have been funny to force J-Grey, who was reading everything she said, to attempt to have an actual conversation with Chelsee. And when I say "funny," what I mean, of course, is "terribly cruel."
It was the Charleston again and again the dance was neither risque nor carefree. At one point you can very much see Chelsee thinking through the routine, which is a dangerous thing because Chelsee's limited brain power means that any intense thinking might accidentally cause her brain to overheat and motor functions to cease. Like when my laptop is rendering videos and struggles to open new programmes at the same time. But, as Artem has shown, you've got to be willing to put yourself at risk in order to win. So, Chelsee made it through a laundry list of standard Charleston moves then did a little roll over Pasha's back and stood there for a movement whilst her brain restarted her kidneys.
Some part of me supports her, though. I definitely don't want her to win but I'm happy for her to do well.

Elsewhere
  • I edit a vlog every single day, so I realise that sometimes you get a little bit tired and just slap crap together, but did you catch how poorly the results show was cut? Claudia is talking to the judges up in the balcony, then throws to a performance by Brucie; he sings and then whilst he's milking applause we see the judges back down on the set floor giving him a standing ovation; then it's straight back to Claudia in the balcony where a number of the celebrities are sitting. Nonsense.
  • It turns out Artem suffered a spinal fracture. And still danced the muthahuggin' jive, y'all. He is the Kurt Angle of professional dancing.
  • Whether Artem will be good to perform this Saturday remains to be seen but in the meantime Holly will be dancing with Brendan Cole.
  • Have you noticed how Alesha is really coming into her own as a judge? I am starting to like her more and more. Although, it's still a given that she'll always be the one giving the first 10 of a series.
  • Sometimes I watch clips from "Dancing with the Stars" and get a bit jealous. The American version seems to be higher impact.

Predictions:
  • If Audley is in the bottom two, he will go. I'm going to predict that will indeed happen and Robbie Savage will be there with him.
  • More and more I feel a nagging doubt about the J-Train but I'm still going to place him in the final with Harry and Chelsee.

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