Sunday, 2 December 2012

Boogie Blunderland

Top 7 performance show: 1 December 2012

Last week!  Nicky wasn’t shit for once!  The curse of the salsa struck again and Victoria and Brendan were both set free!

We open with an appalling VT featuring everyone dressed as panto horses. And quite frankly, mentioning it gives it far more attention than it needs, so moving on…

Bruce and Tess enter and Tess’s list of clauses against sexual harassment grows ever longer as ‘the leg’ becomes even more grope-like than usual.  Bruce blames her dress. [That excuse really doesn't fly in 2012, Bruce. - Steve] Speaking of which: Daly Dresswatch – a nice bluey-purple colour, strapless, with a gold belt sitting at an awkward place and a huge slit up the thigh, teamed with some vaguey Egyptian-looking jewellery.  It’s not a triumph but it’s far from her worst.  Bruce then grabs her again even more forcefully, which she grimaces at, and says ‘I’m just in that kind of mood tonight’.  Just because people are over 18 doesn’t make it right, Brucie.

Bruce tells our celebrities they’re better than last year’s but next year’s will be even better.  That charmer.  Ann Widdecombe is with Karen on the red button.  I was tempted to try that out to see how horrible it could be but you don’t seem to be able to get red button on HD anyway.

Kimberley and Pasha are our first couple of the evening.  Last week they were commended for their storytelling (aka Kimberley pouting).  Tonight they’re doing jive, which was one of Pasha’s best dances last year, no pressure or anything.  Kimberley is struggling with the pace in training.  And then the most random thing ever happens.  Pasha says he’s bringing in a friend who is the ‘best’ at jive, and then ‘Swing the Mood’ kicks in and someone in a rabbit suit claiming to be Jive Bunny turns up.  However, this is what Jive Bunny looks like so I would be worried if I was Kimberley, Stranger Danger and all that.  It could be Anton trying to injure Pasha (and Artem, Ian and Brendan) so he gets to be rentapro for a change or ANYTHING.  Oh, 1989 and your heady days of megamixes when Jive Bunny could score three straight number ones in a row – and seeing how Jive Bunny haven’t been heard of since, this was odd, to say the least.  I genuinely have no idea what that was all about and nor do Kimberley and Pasha by the looks on their faces. 

They’re dancing to Land of a Thousand Dances and it starts well, with a lot of energy but about halfway through it becomes clear that Kimberley just can’t kick.  They then have a couple of stumbly moments including a bit where Kimberley goes under Pasha’s legs and basically stops, but they pick it up again and Kimberley at least has the Strictly exaggerated dance face (of which: more later) and that’s something.  The pace is good but it’s not very sharp – a serviceable jive, but not one of this series’ best, and certainly no Shrek jive, let alone the Blessed Jive of Saint Jill Peace Be Upon It.  Randomly, NotJiveBunny is then shown being molested by Karen, Natalie, Michael and Nicky.  Clearly he swings (the mood) both ways – again, a theme we will be returning to later in the show.

Len thought it was a lot of fun although they made a couple of mistakes.  Bruno calls her a frisky rabbit and says “Jive Bunny” did a great job.  With this and Christopher Maloney on The X Factor, you could be forgiven for thinking you fell asleep and accidentally woke up in the 1980s.  Not that that would be in anyway a bad thing.

Anyway, Craig says going through the legs was clumsy and will lose her a point.  Darcey says she has a strong core and then Bruce tries to lead the audience in  the ‘na na na na nas’ from the song.  NotJiveBunny is up in the Tess Circle as well because they hired that costume, so they may as well get their money’s worth.  (It’s so Anton in there, isn’t it?)

Scores 9, 8, 8, 9 for a total of 34.

Vincent and Dani next, and Dani’s wearing more fake tan than Christopher Maloney, Rylan and the cast of TOWIE put together.  If you’re sick of getting called a smurf, then I’m not sure aiming to be called an Oompa Loompa instead is that much better.  Their VT yet again is about Vincent talking about what a marvellous lover he is.  Send him on tour again, clearly he needs to get some [not that we’re implying anything has ever happened on tour – Telly Bitching lawyers].  Vincent’s FORRIN LOLZ get turned on their head slightly because apparently Dani doesn’t know Bella means Beautiful.  I thought Chelsee’s VTs were patronising last year, but I think the Vincent/Dani ones shade it with their power to demean us all.

They’re dancing their Viennese Waltz to That’s Amore, which is just about the cheesiest song imaginable and always reminds me of Lady of the Tramp although Google suggests it wasn’t even used in that film.  DAMN YOU MEMORY.  They arrive in a gondola with Vincent dressed as a gondolier and Dani as one of those ballerinas from a music box.  Or something, I don’t know.  I’m kind of hating this already and I don’t normally mind these two.  The footwork is actually quite nice, but it’s kind of hard to overlook how godawful the costumes and music choice are, and the whole thing is thus very twee, which is a shame because movement-wise, it was pretty good, if unexciting. [I liked it, but I did have to work really hard to ignore the awful staging and costumes. - Steve]

Bruce welcomes Hayley, Tomy, Andrea and Lance, the singers, Dave Arch and the wonderful wonderful orchestra, who don’t get names, apparently.

Bruno babbles in Italian and then calls it Belisimo and says it was lovely.  Craig says it was sweet but didn’t blow him away, which gets a chorus of boos.  Bruce then tells the audience to blow him… away.  Darcey goes on about a necklace or something.  She liked the turns and promenades.  We cut to the audience, where Anneka Rice is sitting. 2013 champion, anyway. Len loves it, and then for NO REASON, says ‘Bon Jovi’.  And then Bruce says ‘he’s a jockey’.  Seriously, did I wander into a parallel dimension Strictly tonight?  I mean, I know things are often a bit… left field, but tonight is something else.

In the Tess Circle, Dani says Strictly has changed her life and Vincent makes her say he’s changed it.  Tess asks them if they’ll be top of the leaderboard.  Unlikely, I’d have thought.

Scores: 8, 8, 9, 9 for a total of 34.

Tess triumphantly proclaims that it’s not their highest score.  Everyone on the Tess Circle then breaks into ‘That’s Amore’ but none of them seem to know the lyrics so just go ‘Na Na Na Na That’s Amore’, even though everyone knows that song.  Unless it was a tribute to our fabulous singers.  Bruce shouts at them all to stop the singing, like he didn’t start ‘Na Na Na Na’ wars with that thing he did after Kimberley and Pasha’s dance.

Michael and Natalie next and Bruce makes a joke about Michael’s odds of winning being terrible so I’m guessing the show wants him gone tonight if possible.  Michael says he really enjoyed last week and was pleased to do the dance better in the dance-off and get the moves right.  This week they’re back training in Sheffield for some of it and Natalie is trying hard to get Michael’s feet to do what they should.  They’re doing the samba to Tequila.  When I heard that news, I was very excited because this was the sound of my uni days.  Sadly it’s the other Tequila.  Boo. [I wonder what sort of dance you could to do the other 'Tequila'? Probably still a samba, to be fair. - Steve]

Anyway, Michael is wearing a terrible dad shirt and sequined string vest and giving it epic gurn-face.  Natalie comes on in an epic turquoise showgirl headdress which looks amazing (though doesn’t match her pale pink dress) and is dispatched to Bruno before we got to see it properly.  Natalie gives several of her patented winks to the audience so you know she’s trying to mask Michael’s bad dancing.  Bless him, he’s trying, but it’s very clumpy and he walks about more than anything else, and he has a go at wiggling his hips, but he’s more Olly Murs than Ramps, sadly.

Craig says it wasn’t completely dreadful but it was still clumsy and his free arm needs a lot of work and he didn’t like the hips.  Darcey compliments his hard work and the CONTENT (which is this year’s addition to the drinking game, n’est pas?) was good.  Len says his right hip never knows what his left hip is doing, and he’s a TALL SPORTSMAN and there was lots of CONTENT.  Bruno says it’s good for him to let himself go with gay abandon.  He then says it was a bit one sided and that Michael has to swing both ways, much as Bruno does (at least in the context of this show) – you don’t want much Bruno, he was a straight bloke (I assume) and only just complemented him on turning gay a couple of sentences ago.  Anyway, Natalie find it hilarious and Michael says ‘I can’t go in the pub swinging both ways’.  Point off for that, Michael.  I know you’re a SPORTSMAN, but still.  Bruno points out that ‘lots of people do’ and then Bruce makes the same joke I did about him covering everything by saying gay abandon and now I feel dirty.

Up on the Tess Circle and Michael says he let himself go a bit too much on the left and Natalie says she put in forty hours’ training on the left hip.  Michael says he’s improving but he needs lots of votes.  Tess asks what his sporting mates will think.  Michael says they’ll be watching at home but he ‘certainly don’t swing both ways, Bruno, sorry’.

Scores, 5, 7, 6, 6 for a total of 24.  Natalie looks kind of gutted because, let's face it, they're probably gone this week.

Tess implores us to use social media and things.  Thanks Tess!  At least they’re not shilling a terrible app. Nicky and Karen next and Bruce makes a rubbish joke about the trains because of their railroad track Charleston last week and then gets all aggro at the audience demanding they laugh more.  Nicky loved getting a good score last week.  Karen, clearly taking tips from The X Factor, turns on the tears to try and get people to love her and cries that Nicky works so hard and they do have chemistry honest please stop hating me now, British public.  You could have fooled me.  The rest of their VT is a James Bond-thing but we’ve been here before several times with Colin and Kristina so you can just read the recaps of their performances.  Honestly, I thought we were through with these shenanigans once he’d gone.

Their Argentine Tango is to Skyfall and it starts well – Nicky has a decent grasp of the legwork.  It does become a little clumpier as he goes on though, and the second half mostly consists of Karen spreading her legs a lot and hoping people don’t notice Nicky isn’t doing much.  Oh, the Ola Jordan school of choreography, how we love thee.  Also, I know we diss the singers a lot, but their version was better than Adele’s.  I mean, that’s not hard, because Adele’s version… but still (faint) praise where it’s due.

Darcey thought Nicky needed to be more sexual and the audience guffaw at her filth.    Then she says ‘I’m not going to get this out’ for more laughs.  I wonder if Widdy has stormed out yet.  BAN THIS SICK BBC FILTH ETC.  Len says it was a bit too ballroomy and ‘steppy’ and hard, and when he gets a boo he retorts with his ‘I’m only telling the truth’ snark.  Bruno says people like it hard.  Oh, BRUNO.  He says it was a bit staccato but the performance was powerful.  Craig liked the storytelling but it was too stompy, like a little boy not getting his way, but it was still a great dance.  Oh Craig, you have such a way with a backhanded compliment.

Tess says she thought it was plenty lustful and starts fanning herself.  Calm yourself, Daly.  Nicky would like to be in the final and not the dance-off.  Insightful.

Scores: 7, 8, 7, 8 for a total of 30.  Len goes ‘Double O Seven’ and gets booed by the audience.  Love the audience for that.

Lisa and Robin are next, dancing a quickstep to ‘Bring Me Sunshine’.  Bruce says Morecambe and Wise got 28 million viewers largely because he was on the other side.  Then he snaps at the audience for laughing.  Oh, Bruce.  Either do self-deprecating humour or don’t.

Last week the judges were very underwhelmed by their rumba.  Lisa says negative comments are like a food to her and she’ll work so hard to get things right.  Then they do a terrible VT of Lisa trying to be Eric Morecambe to show Robin who Morecambe and Wise were.

When a dance opens with Carole Kirkwood on a fake TV giving a fake weather forecast and your two dancers on a prop settee watching it, you don’t have much hope – then they stand up and start dancing with their backs to us, which emphasises how out of sync they are with each other and Robin is giving it way too much hip wiggle for a quickstep.

Lisa’s dress is really ugly in its cut and fabrics although I am the one person on the planet who likes the canary yellow colour they were both wearing.  Her hair and make-up are rather flattering for a change, though.  Robin has a very weird expression on his face throughout and he can’t really do the skippy bits although his kicks are fun. [This is the bizarre thing. I've got used to Robin choreographing dances that his celebrity partner can't do and I've learned to accept that, but why is he choreographing dances that he can't actually do himself? - Steve] When they’re moving, they each seem to be dragging the other around a bit and Lisa isn’t very sharp in her movements – although what’s new?  There’s also a bit where she gets lost.  She ends with a somersault, which is brave, although it goes a bit wrong at the end and she collapses headfirst onto the prop sofa. 

Len says Eric and Ernie will be looking down on her and cheering her on.  Not sure about that, but they’ll probably be glad that she didn’t desecrate their legacy as much as this abomination.  Bruno loves a comedy fall and then breaks into hysterics before eventually confirming that he loved the dance and then collapsing again.  Craig says her left hand needs more shaping and there was a messy bit but the energy was incredible.  Darcey says she shines and she loves her energy and she sailed through it.  I’m beginning to wonder if Lisa’s ego is as fragile as Victoria’s, because these comments are a bit like the ones Victoria got when the judges were being soft.

Up on the Tess Circle, Tess babbles a bit and then Flavia gets bored and plonks herself down in the background.  Tess reminds Robin that it’s week 9 and he always leaves in week 9.  Thanks Tess!
Scores: 7, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 31, one below their highest score of 32.  Tess then quotes the lyrics of the song in a way that suggests she might be making a joke, except she isn’t.

Next up are Denise and James.  They don’t take being top of the leaderboard for granted, which is a good job because they have the cursed dance of salsa this week.  They have BANTER LOLZ about James’s shimmying.  Their arms don’t look very good in the VT.

Still, they have some lovely colourful lights and firework effects behind them, which I always appreciate.  They’re dancing to Rhythm of the Night, and again, my dreams of reliving the 90s, BUT THIS TIME WITH BETTER QUALITY ALCOHOL! are dashed yet again because it’s not this

It follows the pattern of the evening by starting well – apart from a rather ungainly lift, and there’s plenty of Dirty Dancing-esque moves (I can just sense Flavia growling), although her hips don’t move enough and I’m wondering if she just isn’t cut out for the fast Latin dances, but hides it a bit better than Michael.  Then there’s a bit where they totally forget what they’re doing and just shimmy a bit and there’s a better lift and it ends with Denise in a giving-James-a-blowjob pose.  Not their finest hour.

Bruno continues the bisexual theme by saying you can spin Denise any way you want but points out the near misses but she covers it well and her hips need to be more fluid.  James says the pro dancers get just as nervous as the celebrities and he went blank.  I don’t know whether James was being gallant here to save Denise’s embarrassment, to redeem his public image, whether he genuinely messed up or whether they were both to blame.  Craig  is gleeful that he can now blame James for things but says Denise needed more fluidity in her movement and they need to build up to big lifts – James says that was where he went wrong.  Craig says you need to think of something to fill it and not give the game away.  He says she has the best spins he’s ever seen on any celebrity though.  Darcey says the under-arm turns were fast and clean but when they’re fast they can look a bit clumsy and Denise puts her elbows in too much when she’s shimmying.  Denise says she was worried about her skirt because apparently she’s been listening to Fern and not to everyone’s criticisms of Fern.  Len says she can’t get a ten but she recovered well.  That was OK and everything, as far as salsas this series go (which is all the way home), but I can’t say I’m looking forward to their samba, which is a shame as I really like Denise, despite her being a BLOODY RINGER.

Scores: 8, 8, 8, 8 for a total of 32 and only one point higher than that thing Lisa and Robin did, which has got to hurt.  Denise implores people to phone.  Maybe that shock bottom two they’ve both been expecting is coming their way tonight.

Finally, it’s Louis and Flavia.  Bruce makes an awkward joke about Rio 2016 and him not being sure if he’ll live that long and the audience laugh uncomfortably because it’s a bit close to the bone, then he demands they ‘aww’ instead.  On the subject of Bruce’s dodderiness, by the way, as awful as he is, I did feel sorry for him when I read the Radio Times letters page this week when there was a letter supporting him, another one criticising him and the editorial note snarked that the overwhelming majority of letters the RT received about Strictly were anti-Bruce. [I feel sorry for you reading the Radio Times in the first place; it's dreadful these days. - Steve]

Louis says you need to ACT the Charleston, so brace yourselves for the return of ACTING COACH who is making him pretend to be a four year old who does karate kicks.  He then plays up to the camera with a pained look on his face.

They’re dancing to a song I’ve never heard before, but apparently it’s ‘Dr Wannado’ by Caro Emerald, whom I really dislike.  I can't really stomach all that faux 1940s kookery.  Anyway, the story of this dance seems to be that Louis is a four-year old Doctor (so take THAT, Doogie Howser, MD) with a penchant for red shirts, who is visited by a woman from the 1920s, who also likes red.  But instead of asking her why she’s come to the surgery, they both gurn about a bit whilst he flaps a folder with confidential medical records in about the place.  She then flirts with him even though he is four years old and he tits about with a stethoscope and then they dance a bit and he does some gymnastics and they end up shagging on the bed in his surgery.  God bless the NHS!

Dance-wise, it’s pretty fun when they’re doing the Charleston bits, and Louis’ legs are really good, but there’s too much MUCKIN ABAHT, with Flavia spending ages just pratting about on the bed, and more gymnastics nonsense than actual Charleston, which makes you wonder where they’ll have left to go when it comes to their show dance.  There are also a couple of bits where Louis goes into R’n’B video dance moves rather than Charleston ones.  As for his ‘acting’ – it consists of opening his mouth and leaving it wide open for the whole thing, but that’s a change from usual, right. 

But as this is the dedicated week in the script where Louis gets a personality, Craig and Darcey love his acrobatics and his performance.  Len decides to abandon all pretence at heterosexuality and tells everyone to call him ‘Mary’.  And it was a SPORTSMAN that finally turned him, whodathunk it?  Bruno says he has personality, characterisation and a sense of fun.

Up on the Tess Circle, Tess says he wasn’t a natural performer, but now he is.  If he was then they wouldn’t have needed the acting coach, surely.  And also, he so isn’t a performer. 

Scores: 8, 10, 9, 10 for a total of 37.  Len’s 9 gets a boo from the hormones in the audience who then go mental at the 37 as if we were in no doubt where the ovary vote was going this year.  So that’s another Charleston getting crazily high marks.  Of the three good Charlestons so far this year, I’d say only Denise’s warranted the score it got, and then only because every other dance at WEMBLEY was so inflated.  Mind you, Kimberley and Dani and Lisa were also overmarked tonight and I think I enjoyed Louis more than them, but still, 10s?    I know we probably say this every year, but the scoring this series is… interesting.

Louis and Flavia 37
Kimberley and Pasha 34
Dani and Vincent 34
Denise and James 32
Lisa and Robin 31
Nicky and Karen 30
Michael and Natalie 24

Tess opens the phone lines for a whopping twenty minutes (!) and then we’re done.  Tomorrow JLS and Alfie Boe will be performing.  Join me then!

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