Monday, 8 November 2010

Badly done, ballroom voters

We are halfway through the competition, according to my calculations, which must mean that we are due for a Shock! Departure! I can say this with the calm authority of someone who already knew the week's results when she started writing this. But still, make no mistake, even at the start of the show there is a whiff of Gaby Logan in the air. Eau D'Injustice is a bitter, bitter scent.

Still, let's pretend we don't know the sad thing that we know. Man up everyone, put on your best paso face and let's rewind to the beginning.

Kara and Artem are first up and – romance, showmance or nomance – things seem to be getting a little fraught in the training room, as Artem is learning to handle Kara's mood swings. OK, so you're putting up with them now, Artem, but will you be able to put up with them in 10 weeks' time on a luxury, all-expenses-paid-by-OK!-magazine holiday to the sun-kissed Seychelles where the two of you will be taking part in a photo shoot and 12-page interview about how you Found Love On The Dancefloor? Will you? Will you? Yes, I agree, you probably will. Kara and Artem dance a brilliant salsa. Or, more specifically, Kara's hair dances a brilliant salsa. She shakes it around A LOT. Kara is ever-so-slightly passion over precision, but I love her for it. She's the anti-Ali Bastian.

Pamela and James are dancing the foxtrot. James is tetchy in the training VT and Pamela says it's because he's cross about last week's disappointing performance but can't really talk about it, so he's taking it out elsewhere. At the end of their much, much better foxtrot, Pamela and James do the most cheesy look-back to camera ever, so I'm wondering if this incident will also manifest itself in the training room next week, perhaps by extreme nausea and feelings of deep shame. I don't know. I'm no psychologist.

Next up, Felicity and Vincent. After bringing out Vincent's adorable son last week, the VT makers are running out of options, so they take to the streets to interview Great Britain's men (most of whom are apparently played by Paul Whitehouse) about how hot Felicity is for her age. One of them is actually a taxi driver mouthing off out of his cab window. What they say can be condensed into: 'Felicity? 64? Phwoar! Wahey! Gertcha!' Let's not dwell. Felicity doesn't really throw herself into the paso doble enough. Maybe she's just guarding her joints carefully. She's 64, you know. Also, she is hampered by having to wear a revolting false plait, which is presumably representing the bull's tale. You really should get an extra mark off each judge for having to wear any kind of hair that is not your own. At the end of the dance, when Felicity the bull is slain, Vincent takes his jacket off and swishes it around, exposing his bare chest, before dragging Felicity away by the foot. But instead of thinking 'The cruel elegance of the matador! The terrible beauty of the kill!' you just think, 'Aww! Look at little Vincent with his top off!'

Jimi and Flavia pay a visit to Jimi's daughters school in their training film. Jimi's all: 'Yeah, my little princess thinks her old dad's kind of awesome.' His daughter is all: 'This is the worst day of my life, Dad! You're SO EMBARRASSING!' Her schoolmates, unburdened by the social niceties of adulthood, give their dance skills very short shrift indeed. Still, it's all come right by Saturday as Flavia and Jimi do an ace Jazz Age quickstep with a mini dance-off at the start. (I love a dance-off.) Jimi still has a strange expression on his face. This week, it's one of expectation, like he's waited too long for his food in a restaurant and is looking up hopefully at every dish that emerges from the kitchen.

Matt and Aliona have a bit of a tiff in training. I don't think it's the first. Matt says, 'It's not an issue.' It quite obviously is an issue, to the extent where at one point he seems to be gazing out of a window, wondering whether he can jump out. They begin their Viennese waltz dancing around a spectacularly twee swing, which was apparently bought by the props manager from a Las Vegas wedding chapel, who were selling it on account of it being a bit OTT for them. Matt and Aliona's arms keep getting caught up in the ropes of the swing which must be super-annoying. After catching a tantalising glimpse of Dark Matt in training, I would love it if the rope thing totally tipped him over the edge, and he went berserk, kicking the swing in until it collapsed in a sorry heap of cheap wood and fake flowers, while Aliona stands there crying. This doesn't happen. But there's still six weeks to go and, presumably, a whole lot more props in the warehouse. Instead, they complete their dance to Where The Wild Roses Grow by Nick Cave and Kylie. You've probably heard that Nick Cave likes nothing better than to put on a velour leisure suit and watch Strictly on a Saturday night with his wife and a posh pizza from M&S on a tray table. Kylie loves it too, but obviously has to pretend she prefers X Factor.

Next up, it's Ann and Anton. I think the hair, make-up and wardrobe departments have done very well with Ann's rigid list of costume dos and don'ts (she's practically J-Lo). However, this week, with her Charleston headband, it's all gone a bit a bit 'mad nan'. Ann says that there is no need for any dance to turn into 'mating antics', and her dress will not be rising any higher than her ankle. I think everyone's just fine with that, Ann. What follows is less a Charleston, and more something from The Generation Game. You've got to hand it to Anton, he is working HARD here, putting on a show with the raw material he has. But if I didn't know, I would find it almost impossible to guess which dance they were doing, as Ann's Charleston content is practically nil. But then, as we've established, I know nothing about dancing. Len gives them a 6. Len, as I've said before, is the real problem with the Strictly judges, even though he is a kindly, lovable old man with a sovereign ring and a twinkle in his eye and a shiny gold farthing for any urchin he sees begging on the street.

By managing to escape the cut yet again last week, Michelle and Brendan seem to be living out the lyrics to Michelle's Grammy award-winning hit Survivor – she literally is a Survivor, she's not gonna give up, she's not gonna stop, she's gonna work harder. Michelle, I want you to know that, for my part, I'm not going to diss you on the internet, cause my momma told me better than that. The dancing stuff does seem to be coming together a little more for Michelle – although as Craig points out, this may just be because the waltz allows Brendan to drag her around the floor. She's getting her sass back though. I love the bit in her training video when she assumes a deranged waltzing posture and says 'Lower! Prepare! DRIVE!' Brendan makes a feeble plea for voting benevolence by claiming they were waltzing to a foxtrot piece of music which is apparently INCREDIBLY HARD. Brendan, no one cares about that. Try adding some slapstick instead. People will love it.

Patsy, meanwhile, is now only able to speak in coverlines from Closer magazine. 'I've got my confidence back!' 'I've dropped two dress sizes!' 'I feel good about myself again!' She and Robin dance to All The Lovers by Kylie, which is an amazing choice of music, but perhaps not for this particular dance, which may or may not be the cha-cha-cha. I think they go quite badly wrong, but then I'm always thinking people get it wrong when they don't. Then, when they do, I never notice, I'm just thinking, 'This is BRILLIANT!' The judges have some issues with it, but they mostly seem to be Robin's fault, so that's OK.

It all goes wrong for Scott and Natalie this week. They are dancing the stupid rumba, so you can't really blame them. The first problem is that Scott doesn't actually have very much to do, apart from unfurling his arms a bit and holding onto Natalie while she does some Sexy (it says here) Writhing. Again, Len marks them ludicrously highly. As Alesha dishes out the criticism, Natalie smiles and nods, while clearly thinking, 'I'll get you, Dixon. I'LL GET YOU.' Craig gives them a 4. I love him for it.

The cha-cha-cha is the first dance of Gavin's that I have watched without hiding my eyes, or my whole head, or full-body flinching. Katya has a 'sexy rugby' outfit on, while Gavin is wielding a ball. They both seem to be participating in some rugby-themed soft-porn musical. They should totally make that film. They're sitting on a goldmine. It's Gavin's best dance by miles, although I can't help thinking he's doing all the same moves as he did last week for the paso.

And so to the matter of the results, where we see that Jimi's daughter and her chums were not the only ones who didn't enjoy his dancing. I hope she doesn't grow up feeling bad about this, watching her ageing dad sitting in his armchair in a threadbare sequinned shirt, playing and rewinding videos of the night he danced to Thriller in freaky contact lenses. It's genuinely upsetting how shocked Jimi and his on-show pals like Brendan are by the result. Now, of course, we are entering what's known as Sargeant Season, where people who foolishly think that Strictly is a fair and just dance competition get increasingly FURIOUS about Ann and say 'Well, I like a joke as much as the next person but it's gone too far now. She's keeping better dancers out of the competition.'

To them, I say that this has been happening since series 1, you fools. You think it is all sequins and skills and showmance, but it is HEARTBREAK and TRAGEDY and SHAKING YOUR FISTS AT THE HEAVENS. DEAL WITH IT!

Till next week.


Alison Cross said...

You are so good at these reports!

Jimmy was cute, but not very good. Much lower entertainment value than Ann and Anton. He could have been GREAT, but just didn't manage to pull it together.... poor Flavia....she's my favourite.

Ali x

Travelling Pamster said...

I was waiting for Matt and Aliona to get to the last verse.. you know, the one where he clubs her to death...

InvisibleWoman said...

Oh Jimi, pull yourself together you big girls blouse. I can just hear the scenes at home. Daughter shrieking "Dad, how could you?. You cried on TV. I will NEVER GO TO SCHOOL AGAIN" The humiliation. Poor child.

Anonymous said...

Miss Jones, Did you watch the documentary about Kara Tointon and her dylsexia on BBC3? She investigates the effects of dyslexia on her life, and also interviews other children and adults who have got it, to find out about their experiences and how difficult it is to cope with. If not you should watch it on i-player. It makes you realise what she is doing on Strictly is remarkable. Kara to win for me now!

Miss Jones said...

Yes, anon, I saw it and thought it was brilliant. I couldn't believe the laborious method she had to use to learn her lines. I liked her a lot before and now I like her even more. I'd be really happy if she won (although I don't think it will happen).