Friday, October 25, 2013

Strictly Come Dancing Week 4: Calm down, Kevin

Sophie serves up a little bit of awesome.
Britons hate maths. That's my suggestion as to the reason Rachel found herself in the bottom two this week. Or, perhaps they just really hated the strange Frisbee hat the "Countdown" presenter was wearing. Either way, it was a shock to see her in The Dreaded Dance Off and not at all surprising to see Julien there with her. Meanwhile, Keane performed in the results show. Which makes me think that Strictly's booker is simply selecting acts by showing up for open mic night at some pub in Chorley.

Anyhoo, here's a look at the Week 4 action, starting with the exiting couple.

Julien and Janette - 23
In fairness to Julien -- and believe me, it pains me to admit this -- he was improving week by week. And, really, that's the whole point of Strictly. Or, well, that's the point of the dancing side of things. But success in Strictly also involves luck and personality, and Julien was lacking especially in the latter. He never struck me as an actual human being. Instead he seemed like a bacon-skinned space alien caricature of a a gay character on a 1960s sitcom.

Fiona and Anton - 22
I think Fiona was a little undermarked here, especially by Craig. It wasn't a bad dance, but perhaps I think this because my standard for Anton's partners is so low. Having said all that, it was an odd performance. Usually a slow dance, this rumba moved along at pretty good clip and Fiona had the smile of a person demonstrating unique kitchen appliances at a county fair: "And with the Spankdangler Juicitron Grill you get a perfect burger and kale smoothie from just one machine!"

Karen makes the broom look good.
Dave and Karen - 23
Karen, yes. Dave, no. But by Dave's standards this was a good dance. Primarily because he managed to remain relatively unobtrusive, leaving me free to focus entirely on Karen. Golly, she's a graceful lady, isn't she? She really is the Dolph Ziggler (a) of the TV ballroom world. Perhaps for future dances Karen could just lithely twirl about a cardboard cutout of Dave; I'm pretty sure his scores would go up.
Deborah and Robin - 23
Robin's wig was disturbing -- creepy guy you'd call the police on disturbing. He looked like hell's own Keith Partridge. I realise that is a pretty dated reference, but that makes it no less true. Meanwhile, Deborah's shoes were like those worn by the sort of nurses who have been in hospitals so long it's entirely possible for person to be taken care of by them both when entering and exiting the mortal coil. In other words, not the shoes of a sexy lady doing a sexy jive. But since this jive wasn't sexy, I suppose they were appropriate.

Rachel and Pasha - 26
Though I don't think Rachel deserved to be in The Dreaded Dance Off, it is fair to note, at least, that this was not her best dance. Things started out OK, but then she and Pasha shuffled upstage and suddenly it seemed like she was a step off and unable to catch up. And again she seemed to have that issue of running through the various steps -- I go here, then move over there, then jiggle my rear -- without really hearing the music. I blame the hat. You can't succeed wearing a hat like that. History proves this. Name one person, in the whole of human experience, who ever accomplished something great whilst wearing a hot pink Frisbee.
Mark and Iveta - 26
It says something about the nature of Strictly that Mark and Iveta's dancing to a 23-year-old hip-hop song felt edgy. And I am in love with tiny Iveta's twisted little mind that she was sitting around one day and thought it would be brilliant to dance to MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This." The leggy Lithuanian was right. OK, sure, there was so little actual ballroom dancing that I don't actually know what dance they were performing, but, well, meh. If Mark were to make it to the final, would it really be on the strength of his alemana turns? No. He an Iveta are entertaining and at the moment I can think of at least two other couples who should go out before we need to start worrying about these two.

Susanna in full MILF mode.
Susanna and Kevin - 29
Susanna looked like a Welsh Valleys lass going to a baptism. Actually, no, true Welsh gals never dress so conservatively. I mean, you couldn't see Susanna's ass is that fringed dress of hers, and there wasn't nearly enough cleavage. Kevin, meanwhile looked like some sort of hipster Indiana Jones; I didn't get that.
More confusing, however, was when, right in the middle of the dance, Kevin went nuts. Did you spot that? They're supposed to be doing a nice little bit of the ol' samba shakety-shake and Kevin loses his shit. If you live in the UK, here's the video of their dance. Kevin starts out with his usual too-many-lattes enthusiasm, but at the 44 second mark it's as if he suddenly thinks: "Oh, who cares? I'm going for it! I'M LIVING THE DREAM!! WOOOOOOO!"
It was a wildness that resulted in my saying aloud: "Calm down, Kevin." Which is now what Jenn and I say every time we see him on screen.

Ben and Kristina - 31
Homey's getting better every week, yo. Jenn had her own little hysterical Kevin moment when Ben stripped down to his sleeveless undershirt, but the thing I marked out for was the way he was rockin' dem lifts. I mean, that part of their salsa when he just flung Kristina into the air -- he did that with no effort. I watched it back and the strain on his face is roughly equivalent to the strain that would be on my face if you asked me to drop a tea cup. None. None at all. I have a man crush on Ben, so it delights me to see him improving.

Ashley and Ola - 31
I am getting really distracted by the fact that Ola looks so tired these days. Is she OK? Can someone check on her, please? I suppose it means Ola can claim to be able to, quite literally, dance in her sleep. It was a good routine as far as Viennese waltzes go. I think I've only seen a handful that have really impressed me. Afterward, Brucie got lost down the rabbit hole of his 85-year-old mind complaining about Ashley's costume in such a way that no one understood. I imagine that chatting with Brucie must, at times, be like visiting Latvia: All you can do is nod and smile.

Patrick and Anya - 33
I always feel I'm missing something when it comes to Patrick. I don't dislike him. But his dancing doesn't really do it for me. I find myself struggling to identify all the stuff that everyone seems to be liking. That was especially true in the case of this cha cha cha. Patrick reminded me of a fitness instructor, rather than someone who was feeling and reacting to music.

Abbey's "Little Teapot" dance needs work.
Sexy Abbey ® and Aljaz - 35
I cannot figure out what it is, but Sexy Abbey ® is to me like having a tiny wood splinter in my hand: annoying in part because it can't be totally ignored, and difficult to get rid of. Since I have nothing to say about Abbey, here's a quote from another Strictly blog that I read: "Isn’t it disheartening that Abbey achieves heights of glamour with mud all over her, fresh off an army assault course? On the positive side, most of people's boyfriends have never paid for a prostitute with a credit card, so Lady Luck gives a little, she takes a little."
Meanwhile, in honour of Aljaz, here's Slovenian Fact #5:  The Slovenian language has 32 different dialects (compare this to English in the United States where there are just three main dialects [b])

Natalie and Artem - 35
Awesomesauce. There's a grumbling amongst some Strictly fans that Natalie is too good, which is no doubt why Natalie suddenly had a load of back pain. It makes a good story, you see. For more on how to win fan support through injury, see John Cena battling back from a terrible triceps injury against that nasty ol' Alberto del Rio. That is the second pro wrestling reference I've made in this post. Get used to it. Anyhoo, I don't think Natalie is too good. I like seeing people perform well, and I like her. I loved her quiet aside after the dance, referencing that she was on painkillers for her back: "I'm as high as a kite."

Sophie and Brendan - 35
I'm loving your work, Sophie. Anyone who can temporarily make me put aside my Brendan hate has got to be good. And I especially love how graceful and effortless she manages to make things look. Why aren't we complaining that she's too good? You can see in her a full musicality, a faith and security in the beat that is hard to develop. Jenn and I take Lindy hop dance classes, and after more than a year I still have a tendency to rush moves because my mind is panicked about doing it in time with the music. But a beat is a beat; it's not going to play tricks on you. It's going to be there, in the exact place it's supposed to be, every single time. Sophie seems to get this. So if she has two counts to move her arm from here to there, she takes the full two counts. And it looks great.

--- Jenn and I have come up with a new game: Guess the Brucie Punchline. The rules are simple. as soon as Brucie starts the set-up of a joke, shout out the punchline. The earlier you do this, the higher your score. Jenn is unbeatable.
--- Keane. What?
--- Bruno falling out of his chair was a highlight of the week. He'd be awesome at a dinner party, even though he'd break all your plates.
--- I miss watching "It Takes Two," the daily programme that talks about all things Strictly. I've been too busy this year to watch a single episode.

Deborah Meaden, I feel your time is near. Deborah has had some weak performances of late and unless she suddenly pulls something amazeballs out of the bag I'd expect to see her in the bottom two this week. As far as who will be there with her, Fiona seems the logical guess, but my my gut is telling me Patrick may find himself there.

At the moment, I'd put my money on Sophie, Natalie, Ashley and Ben.


(a) Dolph Ziggler is a professional wrestler renown for his ability to make his opponents look considerably better than they actually are.

(b) Which break into 26 sub dialects. Remember, too, that accent and dialect are not the same thing. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Strictly Come Dancing week 3: Like being waxed

Vanessa looked like she didn't want to be there.
She got her wish.
Ah, poor Vanessa Feltz. That was a shock exit, yo. Sure, she wasn't likely to have made it to the Blackpool show, but I was still surprised. She wasn't terribly awful and I would have thought her to posses more fanbase to keep her away from The Dreaded Dance Off. But, such is the nature of the Strictly machine; you've got to earn that glitterball trophy, yo.

The theme this week was "love," which I thought for sure was going to produce some especially cringeworthy moments. But thankfully, things remained at their usual cringe level, something to which I've grown almost immune over the years. Here's a look at all this week's action, starting with the exiting couple:

Vanessa and James -- 20
As I say, I was surprised. Perhaps many people failed to warm to Vanessa as Jenn and I did. Or perhaps she was just terribly unlucky. Though, it has to be said that tango was less than amazing. Her rigid goose-step kicks were straight out of "Springtime for Hitler," lacking a fair bit of finesse, and the whole thing felt laboured.

Karen is valiant in the face of awfulness.
Dave and Karen - 16 
This was marked too highly by most of the judges. I had to look away when Dave was waving the cape about, like a 3-year-old pretending to fight a ghost. One does admire Dave's enthusiasm but he's awful on a level that surpasses even John Sergeant. Len's comment afterward was: "It was like being waxed: painful when it's happening but lovely when it's over" (a). Another way in which this paso doble was like being waxed was that both are things Dave has clearly never done. Kudos, though, to Karen for maintaining an air of awesomeness throughout that nonsense.

Julien and Janette -- 22
I love the Blues Brothers; it remains one of my all-time favourite films. So I can't fully express to you my sadness that references to it on Strictly are always done so poorly. Remember when Gavin Henson and Katya Virshilas did a Blue Brothers routine a few years ago? Substandard. Julien and Janette's homage to the film was even worse.
I'll admit flat out that I don't like Julien. Someone seems to have taught him to stop shouting AT THE END OF EVERY SENTENCE. But his weird enthusiasm for everything still suggests a high intake of drugs. His overly white teeth could redirect ships in the fog, and the rest of him looks like a beef jerky tribute to Judy Garland. So, imagine my pleasure upon seeing him again in the dance off this week. And imagine again my woe as I watched the dance off, where he suddenly pulled his head out and managed to get most of the steps right. It hurts me to admit he was better than Vanessa and therefore deserved to stay.

Mark and Iveta -- 26
Mark sells so well. Dance-wise, there wasn't a tremendous amount of content here, but as all the judges pointed out, Mark was brilliant at selling the moves he had. He told the little story of the dance and wee Iveta looked very pretty swirling all around him. It was the sort of thing to make you sit back and say: "Ah, that was so nice." But I feel Mark has yet to peak and that somewhere in his back pocket is a performance that will serve as one of the signature moments of the series.

Rachel and Pasha -- 27
Jenn summed up Rachel's performance with the observation that her movement suggests a thought process that is something like this: "I go here, two, three, four. And wave my hands and three and four and turn this way, two, three, four..."
The "Countdown" hostess doesn't seem to be responding to the music as much as she is a series of commands. Her cha cha cha was similar to James and Ola's tribute to bad wedding dancing at the start of the show (the two of them doing the robot, Gangnam Style and the funky chicken in the show's opening sequence). However, I've softened to her quite a bit on the knowledge that she loves Strictly enough to have had a Strictly-themed birthday party. I'm beginning to question my earlier prediction of her hitting her stride in Week 6, but I'm hopeful it will still happen.

Patrick and Anya.
Patrick and Anya -- 27
Everyone knows that the best version of "Let There Be Love" is by Sammy Davis Jr. I just want that to be known. Though the part of this performance I enjoyed the most was when Patrick squished up his face like Bill Cosby. Personally, I think dancing like The Cos should be a dance in and of itself. Scrap the rumba -- no one's particularly good at that one, anyway -- and introduce the Cosby Shuffle.
I'm going off on a tangent here because I don't actually have anything to say about Patrick and Anya's foxtrot. It was OK.

Deborah and Robin -- 28
I'm a fan of the quickstep, though I wasn't a great fan of this particular interpretation of it. Credit to Robin for being full of energy and cleverly placing the trickiest bits of the dance far away from the judges (they went off into a far corner to do a bit where they switched from foot to foot). It was good enough, though I still feel like there's something missing from the overall Deborah and Robin package.

Ben and Kristina -- 28
Kristina in that dress, y'all. Oh, my. Well, it wasn't actually a dress but rather an M&S bra and panty set that had been attacked by a BeDazzler and some bits of chiffon. But still. Oh, my. Jenn's observation was: "Can you imagine making love to her? It would be a terrifying experience. She'd be all over the place."
The very start of their dance was definitely post-watershed, with Kristina in heat as she stares into the mirror. Then Ben pulls off her robe. Oh, my. And she is quite the flexible young lass, isn't she? No doubt Jenn is right...
Beyond all that, Ben managed to perform the notoriously challenging-for-men rumba relatively well. As shown after the dance, he's starting to relax and be more playful, which is the sort of thing that will help him in terms of both dancing and winning audience vote. Also, did you notice how easily he picked up Kristina at the end of the dance? I can't wait for the two of them to get a dance that allows lifts.

Fiona and Anton -- 28
This was really Fiona's week in my opinion. First we got to see her dancing around with her daughter in an unflattering bathrobe and sans makeup, which is the sort of thing that can endear you to a person who is famous for being pretty. Then her waltz was not only solid but showed she is improving each week. Later, she showed more of her personality by standing behind an open-shirted Ashley Taylor Dawson and growling as he was talking to Tess. All of this is the sort of stuff that makes me like her more. Already one can see the field splitting into two types of celebrities: Those Who Might Win and Those Who Are Still There. With the latter group you hope very much that they will at least be entertaining/interesting/likable during their remaining time on the show. Whereas previously I had predicted I would hate Fiona, I find myself now happy to see her back each week.

Abbey and Aljaz -- 28
I am less and less interested in seeing Sexy Abbey®. I'm really starting to doubt that she will last too terribly long in the show. She was only passable last week and this week there were some real weak spots. Any time you spend several seconds of a dance sitting down it's a bad sign. I think Abbey's talking about her love of Liverpool was a blatant ploy to shore up a large and faithful voting bloc. Voting for Liverpudlians on reality shows is the No. 1 family activity in Liverpool.
Meanwhile, I forgot to put a Slovenian Fact in last week's recap, so here are two of them:
- Slovenian Fact #3: Slovenia has only one island; it is more than 500 metres above sea level, in an alpine lake.
- Slovenian Fact #4: Slovenia declared its independence from Yugoslavia on 25 June 1991; it was attacked by the Yugoslav Army two days later.

Ola arrives on the love swing...
Ashley and Ola -- 31
After a fair amount of hooting and growling at Ashley's exposed chest, Jenn's observation of his samba was this: "He does look like a pervy salsa instructor at La Tasca on a Tuesday night."

Sophie and Brendan -- 31
Did you hear that pop for Sophie and Brendan? "Pop" is a wrestling term, it refers to the sudden "pop" of applause and cheering when a wrestler comes out to the ring or in some other way draws a big response. Sophie and Brendan got a big pop just before their dance, which was surprising to me. She may be more popular than I had thought. Or that's residual love from her Charleston the week previous. The dance this week was good-ish but Sophie seemed to fade in and out of the character of the dance. Brendan, meanwhile, is just too creepy. He makes me want to punch things -- namely, his face.

Susanna and Kevin -- 34
Did anyone else ever own Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album? Remember that bit where they play the sound of John Denver being strangled? That is all I could think about while Susanna and Kevin were dancing to "Annie's Song." The nature of the Vienna waltz is such that their dance wasn't really enough to pull me from those thoughts. But apparently they did well because the judges scored them as such.
On a side note: If Susanna and Kevin fail to dance to "Mrs. Robinson," replete with The Graduate undertones, they are missing a trick.

Natalie and Artem -- 36
You thought a 10 was coming, didn't you? None of the judges had even the slightest bit of criticism, they kept their comments short and sweet, and you thought: "This is it. Somebody's 'bout to drop a 10 all up in this hizzouse." But no.
That rumba was the bomb-diggity, yo. Especially for a Week 3 performance. The only other good rumba I can think of, ever, was the one performed by Artem and Kara Tointon a few years ago. Apparently the scandal is that Natalie took dance classes when she was a little girl. I don't care; I played rugby for a number of years but that doesn't mean I could start for Saracens. I liked this dance. And I think if it had been performed a little later in the season it would have scored a 10 from at least one of the judges.

--- Does Andrea Bocelli come on Strictly every year?
--- James Blunt has a new album out; expect him to be on Strictly at some point singing that "Bonfire Heart" song. Expect it to be stuck in your head for a week afterward.
--- Jenn and I loved how happy Karen was for her fiancé, Kevin, when he and Susanna scored well. Just over his shoulder you could see Karen smiling and clapping.

I've got to think Julien and Janette will find themselves in The Dreaded Dance Off again next week, though based on the audience's apparent love for Dave Myers I don't think he and Karen will be there with them -- even though they should be. I think Patrick and Anya are still struggling to show any sort of personality, so if they have a bad week, expect them to do battle against J and J.

As things stand, I'm predicting a final four consisting of Natalie and Artem, Ashley and Ola, Sophie and Brendan (ugh, like he needs the ego boost), and Ben and Kristina. That last choice is, admittedly, unlikely but I'd like him to be there. More likely is Abbey and Aljaz.


(a) It turns out Len is reusing his best lines. He said the same thing to Bill Nye on the US version of Strictly, about a month ago.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Strictly Come Dancing Week 2: A duff dance

Probably the best thing I've ever seen from Brendan Cole.
The second week of "Strictly Come Dancing" has come and gone, claiming its first casualty of the season: that guy you had never heard of who doesn't even live in Britain anymore. The highlight of the week for me was the surprise awesomeness of Sophie Ellis-Bextor. More on that in a second, but here's a recap of Week 2, starting with the exiting couple and working up the scoreboard:

Tony and Aliona -- 13
Poor Aliona.
The first part of the dance involved Tony standing still, then turning away from the audience and hitting an imaginary golf ball. For some reason the audience chose to applaud this action, perhaps in recognition that Tony Jacklin is such a poor dancer it is more enjoyable to see him pretend to do something he's good at. I'm sad to see Aliona go, but the departure is hardly surprising.

Dave and Karen -- 16
Isn't Karen a lovely dancer? I mean, she moves with such a beautiful flow and style. In professional wrestling there is a guy, Dolph Ziggler, who is so good at what he does that he has on occasion wrestled a broomstick -- he doesn't need an opponent. That's Karen, basically -- she doesn't need a partner. But perhaps she's even more impressive, because I reckon a broom has more sense of rhythm that Dave Myers. Did you catch that little sketch on the results show where he was supposed to be lip synching but got the words wrong? The man's sense of rhythm is so appalling he can't even lip synch!
Julien and Janette -- 18
No likey. Respect for the considerable amount of additional sparkle to their costumes, which almost certainly must have been a touch from Julien himself, and kudos to the Merthyr Tydfil lad for managing to finish one or two of his sentences without yelling. But that doesn't change the fact that when he dances it looks like a 3-year-old who needs to poop. He and Janette were lucky to be up against Tony and Aliona in the dance off.

Rachel and Pasha -- 20
Jenn's observation was that Rachel was doing all the moves and quite pleased with herself but without realising that the moves are supposed to mean something, that they are meant as an expression of music. To use Bruno's analogy that each move in dance is like a word written in a novel, Rachel was tapping out a set of instructions on how to operate your new dehumidifier. But, oh my goodness, she did look good doing it.

Mark and Iveta -- 22
The big man is probably the best performer of this year's group. I think that's the benefit of doing Hair Spray, a musical that very much involves getting reaction from the audience; the man knows how to work a crowd. There is also something amusing about the sight of him -- roughly three times the size of Iveta -- getting his boogie on with such a stick-thin dance partner. My only complaint is that the Strictly hairdressers seem to be keen to have him come out each week in the most unflattering hairstyle imaginable. I expect next week he'll have cornrows.

Fiona and Anton -- 22
Jenn likes to point out that Fiona is what Rachel Riley will look like in 30 years. I think she does this so I will stop perving on the latter. The dance was OK-ish but there's only so many times she can start out a routine well and fluff it halfway through before viewers give up on her.

There's no crying in ballroom!
Vanessa and James -- 23
I've never been a terrible fan of waltzes, but clearly Vanessa is because it made her weep. This, in turn, made Jenn get teary eyed. Admittedly, that's not saying much; Jenn and I are emotionally unstable people. We cry at anything. The other day I was telling Jenn about a Harley-Davidson advert and had to take a moment to compose myself. In other words, if a woman wants to cry on television after performing a waltz to a Whitney Houston cover, we are 100-percent behind her.

Deborah and Robin -- 24
I wasn't impressed. Is that mean of me? I feel somehow like there is supposed to be something quirky/likable about her but I don't really see what it is. There's nothing I particularly dislike but, well, meh. Maybe if she would cry. Or develop a sassy catchphrase. Or speak with a lovable Northern accent. Or something other than talk about visiting South America several times. Know your audience, Debbie -- very few of us have had multiple holidays in Peru. Go camp or go home.
On a side note: the crowd hissed at Craig's statement: "Dragon versus drag queen, darling. Look out." I think they interpreted him as saying Deborah looked like a drag queen, but I'm certain he was referring to himself there and the fact that going head to head in an attitude battle with a man who wears dresses is one of the classic blunders, along with starting a land war in Asia and going against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

Ben and Kristina -- 25
Stand up, boy. What's wrong with you? Ben was hunched over Kristina as if they were doing a waltz in a war zone and he was trying to protect her from bullets. He needn't worry. Kristina's got those adamantium boobs and those vice-like thighs. Indeed, she is Weapon X: bred in a Soviet laboratory as part of a project to create the perfect dancing and killing machine -- the idea being that once Soviet dominance was established all the killing agents could retire to serve as cruise ship performers. The project went horribly wrong during an incident known as the Kamchatka Cha-Cha. Kristina killed four dozen soldiers with a variated fleckerl and escaped.
Patrick and Anya -- 27
See, now, I didn't like this dance all that much. I didn't get the whole wind-up toy thing nor what connection it had to Michael Jackson's "Beat It." And I wasn't a fan of Patrick's overly stern face. Whereas everyone else seemed to enjoy it. Jenn insisted it was good and the judges gave him decent marks. What'd I miss?

Abbey and Aljaz -- 30
Did you happen to notice that Aljaz's nipples were always hard? I realise his shirt was open but I used to work in TV -- studios are hot. What strange sort of nipple Viagra is he taking that he's able to pull that off? And that open shirt of his was equally distracting. From the back it looked like a be-spangled high-vis vest. I found myself imagining that the theme for the dance was: "World's Sexiest Building Site."
Meanwhile, it's Jenn's feeling that Abbey's failing to give herself completely to the Tao of Strictly because she is afraid of being unattractive. So, everything she does maintains an element of Sexy Abbey®, which doesn't really fit with, oh, say, any sort of dance that requires you do more than stand there and pout.

Oh, Susanna.
Susanna and Kevin -- 31
MILF. That is all.
Ashley and Ola -- 32
I told you he'd improve. Though, as Jenn pointed out, it probably didn't matter. He just needs to be seen holding his newborn baby and he'll coast through the next few weeks. Which might be of help to Ola: she looked rough on the results show. I say that and there will almost certainly be some sort of heart-breaking news story in the next couple of days to make me feel bad about commenting on how tired she looked. Something along the lines of her having to fly to and from Poland every day because she is, in fact, Bronisław Komorowski's most trusted advisor. And, yes, I did have to Google the president of Poland's name.

Natalie and Artem -- 34
Holy smokes, on one level, this was the dance of the night for me. Natalie nailed it. Her posture was brilliant -- especially the way she held her neck and head. Amazeballs, yo. Absolute amazeballs. I feel like there wasn't enough acknowledgement of that in the show. Darcey mentioned it (and I suppose, from a dancer perspective, hers is the only opinion that matters), but I really feel there should have been a stop-the-show-and-draw-attention-to-how-awesome-that-was moment. Also, I loved the song. "If I Ain't Got You" has long been on the list of songs I would claim as my own if I could go back in time and build a music career by stealing the hits of future artists.

Sophie and Brendan -- 36
Natalie had Week 2 won in my opinion, until Sophie and Brendan pulled this off. My feeling is that they were hurt by the fact the dance was performed in Week 2, well before that magic point at which judges are willing to throw down a 10. Honestly, if they were to have done the exact same dance in, oh, say, Week 6, it would have been scored higher. I love how Sophie makes it look like the most effortless thing in the history of effortless things. And as much as it pains me to compliment Brendan Cole I have to give him credit for choreographing a dance that wasn't slapstick zany. 
The Charleston comes from one of the most artistically and intellectually explosive times in the past few centuries and I've always been just a little annoyed that the Strictly representation of the dance is so often cartoonish and goofy. Sophie and Brendan did the whole thing with style

---- Who is this Matt Goss? Where did he come from? I have Google searched him and he appears to always be wearing the same hat. It's a crutch for him, like Miley Cyrus and her tongue. At the end of his performance in the results show he wore a look on his face that suggested he had been forced to perform under duress.
---- I think Tess-Tess made a solid host, with Claudia Winkleman serving as an excellent mad sidekick. I have and will argue at length in favour of Brucie, but I'll admit that it is nice to have a break from him every now and then.
---- Huzzah for free online voting. I will be interested to see if it affects how the show unfolds. Previously, Strictly fans such as myself have watched the show at the mercy of those people who are silly enough to pay to vote (via phone). With free online voting will more people now be participating? If so, how will it change things?

I'm predicting Julien and Janette will be there again next week alongside Fiona and Anton. I feel Dave should be in that position instead of Fiona but am guessing he has more fan support.

As good as Sophie was this week, I still don't see her going the distance. The final four as I see it will be: Ashley, Natalie, Vanessa and Rachel.