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. 

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