Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Strictly week 8: Farewell, Mama Rose

This is my blog post from last week, which I never got a chance to complete and put online because I was so busy. Considering the fact it is now out of date I have decided to leave it incomplete. I had thought of simply skipping over this post but I like the idea of having a string of posts from every single week. And I had managed to write quite a bit, so some part of me laments the idea of simply abandoning all that "work" (if one can refer to writing blog posts about Strictly as "work").

~

That really came out of nowhere, didn't it? I mean, there's Mama Rose bespangled to the hilt and lifted into the sky. Then, suddenly, he's saying adios, mofo.

Always leave 'em wanting more, darling. That's what Mama Rose used to say when strutting off stage. In Paris, London, New York, San Francisco, Rio, and on and on. All the queens and dykes and hags and stags would be falling over themselves, in a state of rapturous ecstasy over Mama Rose's performance. They would be screaming, tearing at themselves in yearning, desperate, frantic need for more.

"Just one more number, Mama Rose. Please," the house manager would scream. "It's inhumane to leave them out there like that without an encore. They'll riot."

"Damn right they will," Mama Rose would say, martini already at hand -- a silver-thonged cabana boy rubbing oil into his feet.

So, perhaps Mama Rose knew all along this was coming. Perhaps he orchestrated this farewell. It's not hard to imagine. We've heard the rumours about the time Mama Rose "turned" King Abdullah. That, they say, is the true reason Saudi Arabia maintains such cozy relations with the West. It is not American money that keeps them sweet but knowledge that with a single click on Mama Rose's iPhone, a series of photographs could be released to the press that would completely destroy the Saudi royal family. And if those rumours are true, what hope has a lowly BBC production assistant against such charm? It is entirely plausible that Mama Rose knew the show's outcome before the first note was struck because he had planned, entirely plausible that Mama Rose wrote the leader board on a cocktail napkin, handed it to a production assistant and promised him "more" after the results show.

But Mama Rose will never give you more; he will always leave you wanting. This, poor Flavia didn't take into account. The glitter-ball trophy was nearing. The glitter-ball trophy. After all these years. Those awkward moments with Matt Di Angelo and Jimi Mistry, smiling stupidly whilst Jimmy Tarbuck relived his non-existant glory days. And Craig Kelly, for fuck's sake. All those years of being saddled with morons who just got lost in her looks and turned to mush on the dance floor. Now, with Unce Russell, with Mama Rose, she had a chance. The glitter ball trophy! Each week it got closer. Each week she could more feel it in her hands -- its texture, its weight. Each week the vision of her lifting it into the air felt more real.

But Mama Rose doesn't need a glitter ball. Not another one, at least. And though Mama Rose knows he doesn't need good scores from the judges, knows that big queen Craig is just judging harshly because he's still being bitchy about what happened in Milan in 1987, he didn't like the low scores. He didn't like always being at the bottom of the leader board. Because, honey, if there's one thing everyone knows about Mama Rose it's that he likes it on top. So he crawled into that cannon, just for one moment looked wistfully at Flavia -- dancing there, not knowing it was the end -- and fired himself into "Strictly Come Dancing" history.

But the Strictly machine is bigger than all of us. There are still seven in the game. Here's a look at this past weekend's action, starting with the exiting couple.

Russell Grant and Flavia Cacace ~ Jive ~ 24
The routine is 1 minute 35 seconds long. Russell spends 42 seconds hooked up to wires. Flavia looked gorgeous but, really, the most impressive part of the routine is the stage hand at 00:50 doing a brilliant bit of rugby grubbing for the helmet, which Jenn likes to believe was flung by Mama Rose like an empty martini glass.

Robbie Savage and Ola Jordan ~ Salsa ~ 26
That salsa had all the latin flavour of a bratwurst. I realise Robbie and Ola were hampered slightly by the theme of British pop anthems, Her Majesty's United Kingdom not really being renown for its salsa scene, but not hearing the announcement at the start I spent the whole dance baffled as to what, exactly, they were supposed to be doing. It was a high-energy performance, though. Well, apart from the first 23 seconds of it, which Robbie spent unsteadily jerking about on a pillar. Then he comes down, meets up with Ola -- who had apparently lost her dress in the bus ride to Wembley and chosen simply to wear a bit of spray paint -- and she pulls off a hurricanrana. Impressive, but not very salsa-like.
Going back to Ola's outfit, though: Thank you, God, for giving me eyes.

Anita Dobson and Robin Windsor ~ Samba ~ 27
Robin accidentally laid the smack down on Saturday. Usually he is very good about toning down his style to suit his partner, not doing the Brendan Cole thing of making them both look bad by performing too well. But I think the excitement of the occasion caused him to be "overblown," to use a Chelsee Healey expression, and he mistakenly was awesome. The result, then, was that Anita looked at times as if she wanted more to watch him dance rather than dance with him.
But, oh, how can you not love Anita? Her sadness at being in the bottom two last week caused Jenn to produce actual tears. What cruel, foul-hearted cad would ever want to make Anita upset ever again? Someone will have to eventually. She is not good enough to stay. But this week I was happy to not see her go.

Holly Valance and Artem Chigvinstev ~ Quickstep ~ 31
Artem was clearly on some quality Russian side-street medication for his back problems. There was that slide he did at the end of the show but also did you notice how happy he was. Artem? Happy? This is not the miserable Russian we've come to know and love. Besides, happy Artem doesn't seem to result in good-dancing Holly. She looked like she was surprised to see him out there.
And, to a certain extent, I suppose she was. Artem's back has been acting up almost a fortnight now and through the week Holly was practicing with both Artem and Brendan. According to Alesha's comments, it was uncertain until Saturday morning whether Artem would dance that evening. That can throw a person off. But now that Artem appears to be back, I would like to see the experience of being in the bottom two shock Holly into no longer being not as good as she could be.

Jason Donovan and Kristina Rihanoff ~ Jive ~ 34
Kristina looked like an 80s home video fitness instructor who had been thrown from a moving van. And Jason looked like a TV movie child predator. Not a real child predator, but a bad actor who is portraying one. Like when Dean Cain plays a bad guy; he might as well wear a shirt emblazoned with: "I'm the bad guy."
The J-Train looked a bit like that. But, regardless, he was en route to a kick-ass score when he completely goofed one of the sequences of the dance, reduced to sort of hopping and grinning whilst trying to figure out how to catch up with Kristina. There seems to be some tiny little something missing from the J-Train's performances and as my predicted bottom two found themselves safe in the results show I started finding it more and more believable that J-Train might not make it to the final.

Harry Judd and Aliona Vilani ~ Salsa ~ 34
One of the reasons I simultaneously lust after and fear Aliona Vilani is her penchant for pro-wrestling-style spot moves. That crazy thing of being flipped over Harry's back and then swinging over to do the splits beneath him was amazing. And when she just falls back and Harry catches her with his thigh, that was impressive, too. Plus there were fireworks. All in all it was an impressive routine, though I agree with the less-than-high score because the footwork wasn't much to write about. The salsa is supposed to be a male-arrogant dance, the mentality of it like that Old Spice ad: "Look at her. Now look at me. At her ass. Now back at me. Keep looking at me. This is what you want, ladies." 
Harry wasn't quite getting that. Or perhaps he was. Jenn was suppressing squeals over his bare chest.

Chelsee Healey and Pasha Kovalev ~ Samba ~ 35
I had consumed a beer and two large glasses of port by the time Jenn and I started watching the results show, but I don't suppose that's any excuse for my cheering Chelsee's getting through. Something's changed in my attitude toward Chelsee and I'm not sure I approve.

Alex Jones and James Jordan ~ Tango ~ 35
Comment here.

Elsewhere
  • The true highlights of the show, I think, were the antics of Craig and Bruno. Craig's prancing dance when heading to the stage was a thing of beauty. But that was blown out of the water by Bruno's fit of manic dance hysteria as the show was starting. Honestly. Click on that link. That was a moment of pure gold.
  • This past weekend's show was a really good advertisement for the Strictly Live tour, wasn't it? The tour plays larger venues like Wembley Arena, so I would expect those shows to have more of this feel. It kind of makes me want to get tickets for one of the seven (?!) nights they'll be in Cardiff in February.
  • James Morrison's still performing?
  • Brendan Cole is becoming the dance equivalent of a spare tire, as he is set to dance next week with Anita because Robin is out of commission. Robin is recovering from a severe infection in his foot. Interestingly, both Artem and Robin used to share a flat together. What kind of crazy masochistic training do those two get up to that they are injuring themselves?
Predictions
I completely missed it last week.

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