Sunday, 23 November 2014

Week 9: After Blackpool – The Boys

It's post-Blackpool week, Strictly watchers. The inevitable comedown. And how are you feeling? Listless? A general lack of purpose? All-encompassing fug of despair and futility?

You are not alone. It's natural to have these feelings. And in keeping with its status as a public-service broadcaster, the BBC has taken a look at its resources and come up with a plan to ease your suffering.


However low things are, let us remember that in this stinking world, there is still Aljaz. Famine and pestilence must all take a good hard look at themselves and resolve to give it a bit of a rest in the presence of his LOVELY DIMPLES.

There he is in the pre-credits VT winking at the camera. There he is in Claudia's area looking dashing in a suit. Being a sexy, strict policeman walking her on at the top of the results show. Dancing to Barry Manilow. Are they crocuses and daffodils I see on the grass outside? Has spring really come again? NO, IT'S JUST ALJAZ. 

Also, Claudia. Everyone is pleased to see Claudia, and she gets her very own standing ovation (which, for once in her life, Tess neglects to remark on). Don't make Claudia cry, audience. Oh, too late. And for me, also. 

I like how Anton looks as though he's giving her an extra-special hand-hold as he walks her down the stairs. Anton has clawed back some big nice-guy points this series.

There are now eight couples remaining, and a conveniently equal male-female split. Kate has some issues she needs to work through with one particular female celebrity, so I'm taking on the men.

And first of those is Steve. Steve is jiving. This was never going to be an easy alliance. The jive is an angry rhino and Steve is a helpless zookeeper and there was only ever going to be one winner and, that my friends, was not Steve. Before they start dancing, you can already hear Len saying, 'It's a difficult dance for a big lad' (what he actually says is 'It's a tough dance for big chaps,' but I'm claiming it). Craig is not happy AT ALL. In fact, this one minute-and-a-half seems to have totally taken the shine off his deliriously camp dance-on. Steve and Ola's jive is – in alphabetical order – awkward; comprised significantly of just running around; flat-footed; laboured; tentative; xylophone; yoyo; zebra. (These last ones among the little-known vocabulary of true dance aficionados.) Ola seems ecstatic at the end. She is either thinking, 'I am still alive! I did not get dropped on my face!' or 'Yes! this will definitely put us out of the competition and now I can be a late entrant into I'm A Celebrity. I have always wanted to meet Michael Buerk!' 

Mark and Karen are dancing the tango. I am apprehensive about how I will sit through Mark's range of faces (let's all have a period of reflection prompted by the word 'Superman'). But first, the show attempts to inject their training VT with a sense of jeopardy because – oh no! – Mark has to work in Tenerife. What on earth will he do? That's at least a two-hour flight away! Karen has to fly out to join him! Will they ever be ready? Somebody put out my eyes as I cannot bear to watch!

These are the challenges you face daily when you are a co-host of Take Me Out - The Gossip

When it gets to the Actual Dancing, the cameras do a good job of concealing Mark and Karen's footwork a lot of the time, which is unfortunate as I am prevented from making a lot of tremendously insightful and knowledgable comments about the technicalities of their dance. The choreography does not inspire me, and Mark has an unnerving habit of looking into the camera near the start. It's not a vintage Mark performance in any sense - emotionally, physically and familially (it's possible I've invented that word). Still, Bruno's Planet Of The Apes comparison more than makes up for it..

Jake is doing the samba. There is much talk of his 'legendary' hips. Pfffft. Let's book those hips in for three month at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, alongside Celine Dion and see who sells more tickets. Right, Celine? Still, were Celine Dion on Strictly Come Dancing, it's unlikely she could pull Danny Dyer AND Natalie Cassidy into a single training VT, so maybe I've been hasty there. What is fair to say is that Jake's samba is totally demented. Some of the choreography is brilliant; some is deeply weird. Jake is all chest shimmies and buttock wiggles and bump and grind. It is tight, and accurate, and muscular but.... where is the joy? Isn't the samba one of the party dances? If so, the party here is a country fayre in Somerset circa 1972 and Jake has entered the gurning competition. I've heard it said that if you spend long enough working on EastEnders, you lose the capacity to feel happiness and elation on any level, and I think Jake may just have hit that point. Still, 9s and 10s for the samba? Watch it and weep, Pixie and Frankie. And everyone else who's been on Strictly ever.

(As an aside, I have two favourite non-dancing parts of the show tonight. The first comes here, where Jeanette tries to high-five Jake, he leaves her hanging, and she has to nonchalantly turn it into a fond chest slap.)

You want joyful? Here's Simon and Kristina dancing the salsa. Man alive, I love this. I love the song, and let me talk about how much I love the sequence it soundtracks in Footloose, which is almost certainly what I referenced the last time someone danced to this on Strictly. Hey, show, you repeat yourself, I repeat myself. At least one of my friends has said to me in the last week that she is now Team Simon and who am I to argue? He's experiencing the kind of transformation we miss when a series is stuffed with Pixies and Frankies. Sorry if this makes me sound like a wanker but he seems to be inhabiting his dances now, rather than just going through the steps. Those steps are too big for a salsa, but Simon makes it look effortless and innate, where Jake made his samba look angry and inflamed.

(My second-favourite non-dance related part of the show is Kristina welcoming Claudia back and Claudia almost losing it completely. I can't deny I would LOVE it if Kristina won.)

And there go the boys. It's another fair elimination this week. Caroline (or more specifically Pasha's choreography) is back in the game for me, and she and Simon were my favourites. Neither will win. That's just showbiz, I guess.

Next week it's 'Round The World' week, which is absolutely nothing like every week on Strictly. Bring on the Welsh samba and the St Kitts And Nevis Smooth! See you then!

1 comment:

  1. Can we change our sub-heading to "The Jive is an Angry Rhino" please?