Saturday, 4 October 2014

Strictly Come Dancing, Week 1, Show 2: Bye James Jordan and Please Take Aliona With You

In this brave new world of co-blogging, I got the Saturday show this week, you guys, and IT WAS A SLOG, I won’t lie. I love Strictly, you know I love Strictly, but the early week combo of cannon fodder and VT filler as we are forced to “get to know” these poor doomed clodhoppers makes for some grueling viewing. Here’s another thing – I don’t miss Bruce, I will never miss Bruce, but the tumbleweed blowing through the studio every time Tess murdered a joke with her utter lack of comic timing was almost enough to at least have the question, “Do I miss Bruce?” pop into my mind. I KNOW!

Onto the show.

That pro dance was fun. I didn’t really understand the VT, and I don’t want one Aliona on my telly, never mind three at once, but it was fun. Two main takeaways – Joanne Clifton’s dance faces are AMAZING, and do you think Ola is as relieved that she can dance with Pasha instead of James now as we all are? BYE JAMES JORDAN.

Also – is this the first year they have let the singers have names? Or just the first time I’ve noticed? Either way, Hayley, Lance, Andrea, Chris – I KNOW YOUR NAMES AND I AM COMING FOR YOU.

Mark & Karen
I still don’t really know who Mark is, but he does seem to have charm, I will give him that – and when he’s dancing, at least, it isn’t even smarmy charm – he just looks like he’s having fun. I might be a fan. Incidentally, this routine was danced to Wham’s “I’m Your Man”. Not 24 hours earlier, after considerable amounts of wine, two of my male friends danced together around the kitchen to this exact song. I can honestly say their dance was more memorable than this one. As ever with Karen, two days on from viewing I can’t remember a single thing about the dance. Come on, Karen! This one’s got potential! Don’t stay the pro who didn’t win with Nicky Westlife! Don’t make me do another season of "yawn"s in review of your routines….

Alison & Aljaz
The brief bit of VT I actually managed to sit through suggests Alison has the potential to go full Riley, both in success and downfall. I have a bit more faith in Aljaz than I did in Robin, though – do you hear me, Aljaz? Let’s own the camp, not let the camp own us. I am VERY PRO a disco cha cha, it has to be said, and this was tremendous fun. If I were Bruce, I would say “You’re my favourites,” right now. But I’m not. So I won’t. Moving on.

Steve & Ola
I live in America now, you guys, so here’s a bit of American for you about Steve: THIS DUDE IS JACKED. Seriously, I actually have pre-traumatic stress thinking about him trying for some Spanish shaping during the paso with those shoulders. Anyway, this is a tango from Ola so, motorcycle cartwheel aside, I am 99% sure I have seen this entire routine before. Several thousand times. Pretty well-stomped though, Steve, I’ll give you that.


Lady Irish & Chap Irish
Oh, this poor lady. She has zero clue. Chap Irish has apparently been fairly successfully steering older lady contestants around in Dancing With The Stars here in the US for a few years, and he’s clearly been tapped up for that role in the absence of Sweet Darling Bobby. But they gave poor tall Lady Irish the jive in week one, and it was cruel and miserable. Also, HayleyLanceAndreaChris, this was hands down the most joyless version of Happy that I have ever heard. The song is literally called “Happy”! It is impossible to make it joyless! And somehow you managed it!

Tom & Iveta
Let me start by saying that “You Raise Me Up” is not only an egregious song crime, it is also not a waltz. It is not a waltz. And it sounds really, really dumb as a waltz. Also, I’m pretty sure that Tom doesn’t have a personality. Is that wrong? Did I miss it somewhere along the way? Have any of you seen that episode of Parks & Rec where they’re running a campaign for a handsome congressman who switches off entirely, like a robot, whenever he’s alone? That. Iveta does have a personality, though, so maybe that will be enough for me. The footwork is terrible, and Tom does his swimwear model smile throughout, but Iveta wins this week’s Ola Jordan Memorial Award for Most Obvious Use of Pivots as Cloaking Device.

(Also, they do not get a Standing O. I would feel judged SO HARD if I didn’t get a Standing O on this show.)

(Sorry for calling it a Standing O. I’ve gone native.)

Sunetra & Brendan
Sunetra plays a doctor, you say? On a show about doctors? So, maybe we should mention doctors? Involve doctors in some way via props and sets? Anyone know a song about doctors, preferably with Doctor in the title? Twice? Quick, someone write Tess some jokes about heart rates, no need to resuscitate that one etc etc. Do we need a dead on arrival joke? No need, it’s Brendan, he’s always pretty good week one, keep it in the bank for Craig week 7 when it's time to boot her out.

Perfectly serviceable tango.

Gregg & Aliona
Jesus effing Christ. Aliona – for real this time, just quit. In a show that has made an art form out of unconvincing VTs, Aliona’s, “I hope maybe it goes well,” stands alone in its horrificness. This poor fellow has absolutely no clue, and Aliona literally abandons him on the dancefloor -  she looks bored to death, and makes no eye contact with him EVER, and at the end where a pro would usually throw the celeb an ecstatic squeal and squeeze, or maybe a consoling hug, Aliona just pats Gregg nonchalantly on the shoulder and goes back to contemplating what she’ll be doing with her winter while these fools are all on tour.


Kevin & Frankie
This isn’t a bloody waltz either! Just pick a bloody waltz? How hard is it? There are loads of them! HayleyLanceAndreaChris are bad enough as it is, but trying to get them to sing Adele in 3/4 time is tantamount to physical cruelty. This is, however, a pretty dance, and it is rare that more can be said about a waltz than that. Though it’s not unknown. Here is my favourite. I don't have much to add about this dance - very competent, she's a ringer - so can we quickly acknowledge that whatever Kevin is doing over Frankie’s shoulder during the credits is weird and should be stopped?

Simon & Kristina
OH THANK GOD IT’S FINALLY THE END. Seriously, that’s a long bloody weekend. Turns out I am a fan of Simon Blue. I wish I could say I am surprised, but All Rise appears on a surprising number of my playlists. But quite aside from that shameful  confession, Simon turns out to be adorable in the training room and bouncy on his feet. This was super fun, though I hold back from full fandom until I see something he has to dance with more precision (TANGO, BABY), but he sold the hell out of this with charm alone. Kristina did, however, choreograph a move in which he played her like a piano. We’ve talked about this before – automatic deduction as far as I’m concerned, and Kristina’s got serious form for this shit. You heard me, Kristina – I’m watching you.

Faves of the weekend were Simon and Alison, you guys, because there was joy and delight. Judgment reserved on true contenders until week 2...


  1. 1) The singers. Whither Tommy?

    2) Waltzes. I take my Artem Memorial Trilby off (did we miss Artem, btw?) to Frankie for dancing to that 4/4 ballad crowbarred into a waltz. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Struggling musicians, write a song in 3/4 time and then watch the Strictly-related royalties roll in year after year. Also, WHAT IS KEVIN DOING OVER FRANKIE'S SHOULDER? I totally missed this.

    3) If Frankie, Caroline and Pixie are the Bananarama of ringers, then Mark, Steve and Simon are the 911 of fun, confident, non-cringey, bloody-Blackpool-and-beyond bloke dancers. It's rare to find them in these numbers before the acting coaches have been called in. Big plus for me.

    4) On Kristina's business card it says 'dancer and pretend musical instrument for hire'. I'd like to see her stretch herself a bit, though. Bagpipes (pass that one on to Judi and Anton, maybe)? Trombone? Barrel organ?

  2. Seriously, keep your eyes on Kevin. He does this weird lurky thing, and it's deeply uncomfortable.

    I now want Mark, Steve and Simon to do a boyband dance together. How can we make this happen.