Sunday, 6 December 2009

18 steps to Saturday's Strictly Come Dancing

Ready? Off we go…

Bruce and Tess, blah blah blah. Bruce makes a Tiger Woods joke. Topical! Tess has been at the curling tongs. Barbie!

2) A professional group cha-cha-cha. I know! At the beginning of the evening! This is highly irregular. Now, you could say that I'm easily annoyed, and you would be right. But honestly, this is RIDICULOUS. It's like the professionals are deliberately taunting me with MORE WHITE POLONECKS. We start with three of the lady dancers, and Erin and Flavia are wearing the p***necks, while Kristina invokes the 'Minimum Flesh Exposure' clause in her contract and flashes a lot more skin. When the boys (and by that, I mean Brendan, James, Matthew, Ian and Vincent) step up to do their boys-only bit, they strut forward one by one like Zoolander, but – quelle domage – no Blue Steels. Anton is not taking part in this, since they are dancing to the Motown classic Get Ready, and he has a 'No Music After 1950' clause in his contract. Oh yes, and he is still in the competition.

3) The competitive dancing begins with Ali and Brian dancing the tango. Ali says in their training montage, 'If there was ever a time to be passionate, it's the tango.' Basically, in every weekly training montage, Ali says, 'If there was ever a time to be passionate it's the [INSERT NAME OF THIS WEEK'S DANCE]'. Any time you like, Ali. They are dancing to Born To Be Wild which, thanks to numerous driving-themed compilation CDs, has surely now become permanently dislocated from any sense of rebellion and breaking free, and instead merely conjures up the Aura Of Clarkson.

We meet Dave Arch and his band. Hello, Dave! I've seen Dave Arch on It Takes Two, out of his Light Entertainment Band Leader's uniform, and he looks quite young and attractive. Yet somehow on Strictly he seems to get totally Kaplinskyed, which is to say groomed into disorientatingly dowdy middle-age.

4) Darcey Bussell has joined the panel. *Waits for this to move the competition on in any way whatsoever.* In Strictly Come Groundhog Day, starring Ali Bastian, the judges tell her she needs more fire. Ali does her 'angry' face and says 'grrr'. It's extremely cute, which you have to say is not really mission accomplished.

5) Laila and Anton do the American Smooth. While this should be right up Anton's strasse, the judges are unimpressed. Alesha tells Laila to 'fix up, look sharp'. It would be amazing if Dizzee Rascal was on Strictly. He could be partnered with Erin Boag, and after some initial clashing and frostiness, he would achieve true respect for her headmistressly discipline, and she would find a sincere and enduring love of grime music which releases her from the shackles of the ballroom, like Julia Stiles in Save The Last Dance.

6. Chris and Ola dance the waltz. I am nervous for them. Chris is doing That Face. Stop doing That Face, Chris! There is much judges' talk of Chris's Face. Erin O'Connor probably hasn't had her face talked about as much as Chris Hollins.

7. Ricky and Natalie do an excellent foxtrot. I find it hard to care.

8. Second round! Time for Ali and Brian's Latin. But before each Latin dance, there is a pre-recorded segment in which the judges stand in front of dancing holograms of each couple and discuss them, and then robotically turn in synchronisation to watch more dancing on a giant screen behind them. Give them capes and helmets, and they are dark sci-fi overlords of dance. Well, that is, until the conversation moves on to how Ali needs to get her sexy on, and then they all start singing Timberlake's SexyBack, and it is like the inhabitants of your average provincial staff room cutting loose after a sherry or two on the last day of term before Christmas. Embarrassing.

In her samba, Ali is dressed as a flamingo. She is technically excellent as ever, but her SexyFace is awful. (I cannot comment on her SexyBack). The band are singing 'Ain't nothing gonna change'. You said it, lads. Ali's expression is that of someone pluckily smiling their way through sheer terror, like she's in a 60s children's drama and she is rescuing her pet dog from Mild Fictional Peril.

9. Laila and Anton's salsa. Anton has the chest rug out. They start pretty encouragingly, even if the way Anton moves reminds me slightly of Bob Downe. But before long, they have buggered it up royally and they get a total pasting from the judges. Even before this, it really should be Anton and Laila's time to go tonight, but now I am concerned that this particularly stern criticism will galvanise Anton's many fans into forming an army of phone voters, like some kind of menopausal Twilight Barking.

10. Chris and Ola dance The Dread Samba. From the initial head-and-shoulders shot, Ola looks to be wearing straps of diamanté at the front and a blue satin cape at the back. From the ribcage up, she is like She-Ra, Princess Of Power, the dance-master of the universe. She will need every bit of that power to get them through this. There is not hip action in abundance, but there is chemistry and crowd-pleasing. Chris does a brilliant surprised face at the end, as if he can't believe he survived it. The audience go mental. They score 8s across the board, apart from Bruno who gives them a 7, which starts off a House Of Commons-style low-level booing and braying that goes on and on.

11. Ricky and Natalie dance the cha-cha-cha. This should be dynamite, right? It's one of the easier dances, so they could really turn it on. It leaves me a bit cold though, and the music doesn't really catch alight, but Ricky does get to use his acting skills, when Natalie walks away from him on the dancefloor at the end, and it is like the bit of Hollyoaks that comes after the closing credits, with Ricky's character left alone in the shopping precinct, thinking Serious Soap Opera Character's Thoughts. They get 9s and 10s so I know nothing. Like, surprise!

12. The dancing is over, for now, so it's time to move on to the This Is How Much We Really Want It video package, where the contestants emote to the strains of… hmm, the music from The Piano. It makes you wonder whether if they actually played some contemporary music on Strictly, everyone involved would start screaming and holding their hands over their ears and falling to the ground in agony, brains a-buckling.

13. It is time for the results show, in which I enjoy a clip of Darcey Bussell walking along the corridor clutching an exercise book. I would have loved it if, when they'd introduced her earlier, we could have seen her unzipping a brand new furry pencil case, and putting out her felt tips on the judges' desk in colour order. It would have been far more memorable than anything she actually said tonight.

14. Vincent and Flavia dance the Argentine Tango. I know some people who will be salivating over their Radio Times at the mere printed promise of this. I always find it a bit hoppy, skippy, pointy, twitchy, stoppy, starty and Not For Me. Also Flavia is wearing black shoes with a red dress, and I don't really like that either.

15. Chat with Tess in the red green room. Close-up on Ricky, who says you have to dance each dance like it's your last. Wow. Someone really should write a viral email about that and forward it to all their friends. This is all very inspiring, of course, but I am more fixated on the hideousness of Natalie's French manicure as her hands dig into Ricky's shoulders from above, in a way that says, 'He may be back with his ex-girlfriend but HE IS MY BOYFRIEND IN THE DANCING.'

16. Bette Midler is the star turn. Naturally, since they are both Genuine Showbiz Legends, she has to have an embarrassing scripted chat with Bruce, and then, after a laboured lead-up about Bette's birthday and how Bruce has got her a stripogram, he starts doing a striptease. Surely no toe of anyone watching can remain uncurled. At this point, I imagine Simon Cowell watching his BBC adversaries through a telescope, like Fenella in Chorlton & The Wheelies, cackling mercilessly at their ineptitude. Seriously, BBC, WTF? FFS. ETC. Anyway, Bette sings The Rose, and Ola and James dance a rumba. I'm not in favour of the sexing up and ageing down of Strictly, but really, both parts of this entertainment compound make Dynasty look edgy and modern.

17. Lights down! Tension! Ola looks like she's crying already. Who will be first to go through? Ali and Brian! Aww. They hug for AGES. It is adorable. When the lights finally go off them, I think they do actually start snogging. Who else is safe? Chris and Ola! Yes! This surely means Ricky was bottom of the viewers' votes. Right, Strictly Hivemind?

18. Ricky and Natalie and Laila and Anton compete in a dance-off that has about as much dramatic tension as Eldorado. Farce ensues when Anton lifts Laila and her dress completely covers his face, leaving him to stumble around in the dark like Some Dancers Do Ave Em. Predictably, they are ejected, and justice has prevailed.

Next week, we attempt to answer the question pondered by Strictly bloggers the world over. OK, in London then. Why oh why are Ricky and Natalie not more likeable? There may not be answers.


ktuk said...

Ricky Whittle. It's a mystery. He's good-looking, he can actually dance and he and Natalie did my favourite dance of the whole series. Plus his Dad is cool. And yet... and yet...

At least it's not just me. By my rudimentary workings-out, if Chris and Ola were top of the public vote, Whittle was either second or last. If Ali and Brian were top, Whittle was dead last. Either way, next week could be interesting - they won't be able to fudge it like last year because we, the public, won't have it. But can Chris and Ola do a good enough Argentine tango to maintain their impetus? I am nervous, I won't lie.

And yes, I am aware that doing the maths displays a serious need to get out more. Maybe get a hobby.

Anonymous said...

Miss Jones, once again you have succinctly captured all that is Strictly this year. The scariness of the vast of white tracts of stretchy nylon that keeps appearing as polo necks, the endless brown (Bette Midler, we're talking to you!) and (and I don't say this lightly) the sheer blandness that this series has become. I love Strictly. I do, I do but this year…

Ricky and Natalie have gone from being exciting and fun to dull. Laila was a tad too dramatic for my tastes and lovely Ali, well, why do they keep dressing her in such nondescript shades of pastel bleurgh? I'm finding it hard to keep my excitement going even though she and Brian are so sweet. The only thing I'm watching for now is Chris. I want him to win. Not because he's the best dancer but because: 1) neither he nor Ola have yet sinned in the White Polo Neck of Evil scariness, and 2) he's the only one who seems to be enjoying himself.

And, like you, lovely Miss Jones, I have a level two crush on him too, even though he'd probably only come up to my elbow.

Come on Strictly, pull yourself together. Stop trying to be The X Factor and start doing what you do best.

Give 'em hell again next week Miss Jones, maybe it'll bring them to their senses!


Miss Jones said...

KT, I share your concerns for Chris on Saturday. He is doing the Argentine tango and rumba which means two outings for his cringey Sex Face, and no outings for his cute, giddy excitableness. However, as there is no dance-off, I think it could well be a Bastian-Hollins final.

Bella AquaMarina: keep the faith. Strictly will survive. Although not if Vernon Kay starts presenting it. Then it really is all over.