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.


Anonymous said...

Julien creeps me out, SEB was incredible. Sorry but I'm not missing Brucie..............

Kris Pierson said...

The Princess Bride reference was great, Cope!