Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Tardy Come Catch-up

I'm a bit late with the Strictly catch-up this week. It's not like I have better things to do on a Sunday – I rarely do, and I'm OK with that, it's a day for private reflection and personal growth, after all. But this week I have been busy. ANYWAY.

It's Halloween on
Strictly, which can mean only one thing. More gimmicks. Halloweeny gimmicks. I love Halloweeny gimmicks in any area of life, but particularly in Marks & Spencer. There is no Marks & Spencer in Marbury's luxury penthouse flat, where I watch this week's show, but Strictly will do.

From the start, the boys are wearing eyeliner, which is pretty bloody edgy for Strictly. Tess is wearing a dress made of the chocolate-covered-toffee wrappers from Quality Street and a belt designed by the people responsible for the London 2012 Olympic logo. As Miss W, my other sofa companion, remarks, 'Dress, fine. Belt, fine. Dress and belt together? No.' She works on a fashion magazine, so she Knows. I work on a fashion magazine occasionally, and rarely Know. But this is one of the occasions when I also Know.

We start with a dance by the male professional dancers, which involves a lot of topless stutting about staring at each other. I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm finding it really hot. Also, Matthew Cutler seems to be the boss of them all, like a kind of sexily evil homoerotic overlord, which only makes it hotter.

First up are
Pamela and James. James is wearing one of Neil Diamond's red jumpsuits from the 70s with the sleeves cut off. Pamela is wearing a costume from an old Steps tour, when they covered Better The Devil You Know. You might have been wondering whether Pamela could carry on being effortlessly brilliant at everything, week after week, rumba after salsa. I think we all know the answer now, post-jive. It's no nightmare, but it's no 9 out of 10 either. Do people like Pamela? I do, but I worry she's too far from the nice-funny-young-man-trying-really-hard image that the big amorphous British Voting Public persist in clasping to their big amorphous bosom. (Alesha was an exception to this, obviously, but she was a ridiculous amount of better than anyone else.) I don't know. But I wouldn't be surprised if Pamela was a Shock Departure over the next few weeks, is what I'm saying.

Tina and Jared, with their Argentine Tango. Their attempts to get sexy together in training are so awkward, like teenagers rehearsing for a school play with kissing in it. They don't seem to have the same... well, I can't help it, I'm going to use the word 'vibe'… between them as the other couples. I hope Jared is alright. He's so young and far from home. The other new dancers on the show (Artem and Robin) are older and musclebound and can playfight and compare 'guns' with the rest of the Strictly boys and benchpress each other at lunchtime, while Jared eats his peanut butter and jelly sandwich and drinks his milk in a toilet cubicle on his own, like Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls, psyching himself up to make his regular upbeat phonecall home: 'Hi mom. No, everything's fine. [Voice cracks.] It's going great. What? I sound upset? Oh no, I'm just losing my voice. Too many parties with these crazy guys from the show. We just have so much fun.' Tina and Jared have gone for a kind of sexy-70s-disco-brooding-Halloween-Argentine-tango, which is exactly the theming pile-up it sounds. It's good enough, but I'm not sure it's going to be good enough, if you know what I mean.

Kara and Artem are doing the Paso Doble. In preparation, they go and see The Phantom Of The Opera, which has the desired effect, I think, by getting Kara 'all revved up'. This is one of the most excitable reactions to Phantom Of The Opera I've ever heard – more than 'What time does the coach pick us up?' or 'All those seats but only two toilets!' Kara and Artem are very good, although there's too much swishing for me. I know the swishing is, like, one of the points of the Paso. But I know what I like. So does Alesha. She gives it a 10.

Next are
Patsy and Robin. In training, she has to keep making excuses to go out of the training room so she can have a sit down. This is why I love Patsy. She looks like a man-eating sexbot but she's actually a normal person who likes sitting down, rather than sweating through her clothing and shouting 'Woooh! Yeah!' The judges like her jive, and so do I, although I'm not sure there's enough of that light bounce action the judges love to talk about. Robin is apparently all about a different kind of bounce action by doing the 'Brrrr' thing in Patsy's boob area during the dance. I sense that Robin may have been 'acting' when he did this, but still, eww.

Felicity and Vincent! Vincent brings his son to rehearsal. Awwww x 100,000 to the power 75,000. There's really no good reason for Vincent to do this, apart from luring the voting readers into The Awwww Trap. And I fell right into it! God, I feel such a fool. I say no good reason, but I suppose childcare difficulties might be a good reason. You may be a high-flying professional dancer on the BBC's flagship Strictly Come Dancing programme, but that doesn't mean you're free of the financial noose of nursery fees. Anyway, F & V's dance starts with some weird Venetian masked dancing and Tales Of The Unexpected-style music. It's kind of cheesy, like the set-up of a glamorous period whodunnit on ITV in the 80s. They dance a bit on the top of the stairs – I think I may take to calling it the 'landing' – but then spend AGES getting down to the main floor, and taking their capes off, before carrying on. Urgh. We all know the Viennese waltz can be boring, but walking slowly down some steps in the middle does not constitute 'jazzing it up'.

Flavia and Jimi's VT, Jimi's mum says he may slip the moonwalk into their Paso (which they are dancing to Jacko's Thriller). DON'T ENCOURAGE HIM, MRS MISTRY. I really like Jimi, but I think he may have a very mild case of the Craig Kelly Affliction, which is that there is a gulf between what he thinks his face and body is doing, and what they actually are doing. It's very minor, and he's so lovely and puppyishly enthusiastic and very good really, but sometimes he looks a bit... funny. However, Jimi was the lucky person who got to wear the one pair of spooky contact lenses the budget could stretch to, and they are proper good. I bet James Jordan really wanted to wear them and had a massive sulk about it until Ola told him to pull himself together, at least he's still IN the competition. The judges like Jimi and Flavia's performance and Bruno says something about Jimi being the living dead. [Bruce Forsyth joke writes itself.]

Brendan and Michelle are back! Well, Brendan is. Michelle has never been away. Clearly the other dancers bagged the best costumes when Brendan was in New Zealand, as he has well and truly drawn the short straw. Neck up, he's doing the Riff-Raff-from-Rocky-Horror, Francis-Rossi-with-his-hair-down-but-the-hair-is-white look. Neck down, he's the bloke from ACDC who dresses in school uniform. Michelle really gives the jive some welly, in a totally bonkers way, resulting in her most successful dance to date. Alternatively, you could say she's moving so fast, it's just harder to see the ropey bits. Either way, it's closer to the Michelle we thought was going to be the most spunkily awesome kind of loose cannon when we first met her. During the judging, Brendan has a row with Len. Who says the show is deserting its core values?

This week's Training VT Gold from
Gavin & Katya shows The Henson saying that after last week's poor performance, 'I realised I am human'. It seems to have come as quite the revelation, like: 'I am not a shiny immortal god of grooming. I am nothing more than flesh and blood.' [Sheds mortal tear, drawing further attention to his own humanity.] Katya gets him an acting coach AS I PREDICTED LAST WEEK. Unfortunately, and with the greatest of respect, a chunky balding 60-year-old man in a beige suit calling Gavin 'a welsh twerp' was never likely to inspire genuine fire and aggression in him. Still, in preparation for the dance, Gavin says he's been thinking 'really bad thoughts' that have put him a dark place. What could they be? 'I'm really pale and my hair is all fluffy! HELP ME! I'm looking in a mirror and I can't see my own reflection. It's a NIGHTMARE.' But when the dance starts... oh Gavin. His capework looks like he's shaking out a tablecloth before he lays the table. Katya has clearly decided it's crisis time because Gavin is topless. There is nowhere they can go after this unless he also takes his trouser off and wears some kind of Chippendales-style pouch. It's probably his best dance, but Miss W and I still have to hide behind some cushions. They get a standing ovation all the same, but it's just possible this has nothing to do with the dancing.

Scott, of
Scott and Natalie fame, is ill He has a lot of mucus. Natalie says no sickness bug will get in the way of them having fun. Natalie's kind of intense – I'm not sure what would constitute fun for her. Maybe staring into each other's eyes and saying all the things you really like about each other. I think at the start of the routine, Scott is meant to be a statue who comes to life, but he's doing the Bruce Forsyth fist-to-forehead pose, which rather undermines the mood for me. Still it's darned impressive and they are only one Revel-Horwood point off full marks. Also, during the routine, Natalie has a cauldron. What? Nothing. I'm just saying that Natalie has a cauldron. No jokes to make here. Move along.

Ann and Anton are doing the Paso Doble. Let us start with the music. They are dancing to Wild Thing. I feel like if you were going out with Anton and he wanted to spice things up in the bedroom, he might do some kind of striptease to this song. During it, he would a) rip his satin shirt open, b) hold a rose between his teeth, and c) say 'Grrrrrr'. Please don't judge me for having imagined this scenario. This is not Ann's greatest dance. I say dance. She's really just wandering about. We are all waiting for the legendary 'being dragged around on the floor' section, as it translates into English, which in this case goes on for AGES. Both have their arms outstretched, which looks like Anton is a caretaker using one of those hardfloor cleaning machines that always make me think of a hovercraft. In other caretaker news, and also this week's 80s TV reference, Anton reminds me a bit of Mr Bennett, the caretaker off Take Hart. Craig only has three letters to describe the dance 'O...M...G'. Ann probably learned what this means from some delinquent youngsters she met on an estate, who she tried to rehabilitate by suggesting they join the Young Conservatives.

Matt and Aliona go last. Matt looks like he's in Good Charlotte. He's gone totally emo. They also have a vampire theme to their routine. They really are going all-out for the youth vote tonight. In that case, it's probably not a great idea to dance to Meatloaf. Matt also has a particularly shiny jacket on. It's clear that you can't start a fire (Dave Arch's band, incidentally, make Meatloaf sound like Bruce Springsteen) with the sparks from manmade fibres, or TV Centre would have burnt down one Saturday night years ago.

I don't often say much about the results show. That's because I've normally gone on long enough. But this week, I must salute the brilliant pro dance to
Ghostbusters. Erin as Sigourney Weaver! Everyone else as dancing ectoplasm! It's brilliant until Anton comes on and ruins it by being... you know... Anton-y. It's less the crumpled, world-weary charm of Bill Murray, and more the cheesy showbiz grin of Mr Light Entertainment.

It's not a huge surprise to discover that this week marks the end of the road for Tina and Jared. Jared must now find an ally within the BBC who can find tapes from last year's show and digitally superimpose his and Tina's heads on the bodies of Chris Hollins and Ola, so he can send them to his family in the US. They think he's going to win.


Alison said...

I was getting all dreamy about Anton after you wrote about what it might be like going out with him, and him spicing things up in the bedroom. I actually imagined me & him, living that scenario. Then, you compared him to Mr Bennett and I can never feel that way about him again. It's OK though, there's always Dave Arch :) Great blog Miss Jones, and you are right about Natalie. She is terrifying.

Anonymous said...

Just before the series started I was stark naked in my gym when Nathalie walked in. I hadn't seen her on TV for 9 months so I thought she was an Australian personal trainer I'd had a session with last autumn so I stared at her and said 'Hi!' As she stared at my flaccid, untrained body with the cold dead eyes of a killer, sorry, highly competitive achiever, I realised my mistake. Nathalie and Gavin play havoc with my Pilates class scheduling - bloody annoying, they waltz in and make us go in the cold dark torture chamber studio whilst they have the big bright one. They never show that on the training updates, do they, a load of pissed off middle aged women from Highgate complaining because Nathalie's denied them access to the proper mats.

John D said...

You've nailed it brilliantly as usual! Dave Arch in a topper and cape plus pumpkin scorecards made it the most memorable dance-themed 90 mins of Saturday evening TV ever.

InvisibleWoman said...

Getting odd looks at work as I'm spluttering over my hot chocolate lunch break. Seeing Anton wipe the floor with Ann was almost as good as seeing her shot from a cannon. I live in hope. Now stalking you on twitter (under Count_stuff alias). Marvelous blog, just loved the Jared scenario.

Miss Jones said...

Alison, have you read the feature about Ann in the Guardian this week? It should be enough to restore your romantic fantasies about Anton.

Anon, this is hilarious. Please could your middle-aged Highgate female army find some way to storm the BBC?

John D - thank you kindly. I do love Dave Arch, but am not wholly convinced by his Halloween get-up.

Invisible Woman -I notice that Bruce actually referenced Ann being shot from a cannon this week!

Anonymous said...

Matthew Cutler's paso was so hot, so hot in fact that i had a wierd sex dream about him last night! It's had me perplexed all day!

Alison Cross said...

I've been sitting here chortling away at this! Excellent as ever!

I too thought that Vincent was wringing the vote-winning thing to the max with bringing in his son. Is this the same son that he buggered off and left when he found out his girlfriend was preggers?

I love Patsy because I've realised that she DOES look like a sexy goddess, but really she's just like the rest of us. I SO want her to do well.

Am also enjoying Pamela Connelly's dancing - she and James have deffo a bit of spark going.

I don't like Felicity Kendall because she ran off with Tom Stoppard while Mrs Stoppard was buy fixing all our problems in magazine pages *folds arms, sits back*

Can't wait to read next week's installment!