Sunday, 12 October 2008

Quickstep and rumba, or: flappers and slappers

Week 4: Laydeez Night Part II
11th October 2008

Last week, Strictly was a night full of dancing drama! The male celebrities took the competition to another level! Tonight, the girls have to up the ante - and Jessie is going to be better. This is Strictly Come Dancing! Titles!

Daly Dresswatch: Tess has finally taken SCB's advice and gone for something with straps (in bright red), which bolsters her bosom instead of flattening it, and looks fabulous. She must have finally got herself a decent wardrobe manager. [I thought she looked a hot mess, personally - what the hell was that ornamental ring around her waist? - Steve] Bruce Jokewatch: Strictly has a much bigger audience than Jonathan Ross. Whatevs. It's time to meet the stars of the show! Whoop! They are, of course: Tom (with some chest hair on show - do you think he realises she's going to make him wax it if they get anywhere near the final) and Camilla; Jessie and Darren; Christine and Matthew; Don and Lila; Lisa and Brendan; Austin and Erin; Jodie and Ian; Mark and Hayley (and I love her dress - I think my Barbies used to have one just like it); Heather and Brian; John and Kristina; Rachel and Vincent; Andrew and Ola; Cherie and James. Bruce points out that,"They all have that focused look in their eyes - is it determination or medication?" I think most medication's likely to have the opposite effect, unless Brucie is suggesting they've been handing round the poppers backstage. Tonight the ladies will be performing a rrrrrraunchy rumba or a quickstep, and the men will be doing a group rueda, whatever that is - Bruce and Tess don't seem to know.

Christine and Matthew are opening the show. Two weeks ago, Christine was wondering if she could do a runner before the show without gettting into trouble. She shouldn't have worried though, because the judges were nice to her and they got through. Christine treats us to the incisive comment that, "Our quickstep does exactly what it says on the tin." Christine is starting to remember what's coming next, which is probably a good thing. She says that she and Matthew are hanging out outside of rehearsals. Yes, but until you become one gestalt entity, Mattesha-style, it's just not happening, love.

Christine and Matthew are dancing to Scouting for Girls' 'She's So Lovely', which viewers of ITT will know Head Judge Len hates. It works surprisingly well, actually. They're light and bouncy across the floor, and I didn't see Christine messing up any footwork - although the camerawork has been really annoying this series; they keep zooming in when you really want to see what their feet are doing. Sort it out, Beeb! It's not a good time to welcome back Dave Archer and his singers and orchestra [it's NEVER a good time to do that - Carrie] - but at least he's wearing a sparkly tie. Bruce jokes that, "We nearly lost a lady before the show - the men aren't dancing this week, so Arlene wanted the night off." Arlene doesn't get called a lady very often. Over to Head Judge Len first, for a precis of what a quickstep should be - "It's a light bright dance. You've got to be fleet of foot, move round the floor effortlessly, and you've got to produce very precise footwork" - and the inevitable comment that that's what they did, but only "by and large". Len didn't like the 16-bar intro of prancing on the stage, he thought it went on too long, and Christine was clinging on for dear life with her left hand. Bruno says that Christine "captured the ebullience of a 1920s flapper", although she lost her frame occasionally, but it was a good effort. Craig loved the opening, just to irritate Len, because he thought their cheekiness came through, and he thought Christine was elegant and gorgeous to watch. However, he felt they were "coming too high off the floor, chasing the beat a bit, and weren't dancing entirely together". The audience doesn't boo his constructive criticism for a change. Arlene says that the quickstep should be "like dancing over hot coals", but sometimes they seemed to land in them. They didn't have the spark she was looking for. Arlene likes Christine's lemon yellow dress though, and describes her as "heaven on a plate".

House of Tesstosterone: Christine thinks she might cry, she's so disappointed with the judges' comments. I didn't think they were that bad. [I was trying to like Christine this week, but she makes it hard. Her comments weren't bad at all. - Carrie] [Also, Christine needs to never wear her hair pulled back that tight ever again - it's not a good idea when you suffer from wideface. - Steve] Tess points out that some of them were encouraging, and Christine is like, "Who??" At least she enjoyed it though. The judges' scores are in: 6s from Craig and Arlene, 7s from Len and Craig, for a total of 26. Looks like they're heading for a dangerous mid-table position.

Next up, Jodie and Ian. Bruce makes a joke at his own expense about how old he is, and then accuses Jonathan Ross of sabotaging his autocue. Two weeks ago, Jodie was in the dance-off, and wowed the judges with her improvement. She says that being in the bottom two has made her more focused. Ian says he's turning Jodie from a tomboy into "something more sensuous", but he's struggling to make her be sexy. Jodie has her fingers crossed that they won't be in the bottom two this week.

They're dancing to 'I Just Can't Stop Loving You', and it's not as bad as I thought it might be. Jodie is in purple, and Ian's top is open to the navel. Jodie has her acting face on. [And they SNOG at the end. Ew. - Carrie] [My mum thinks this means they're definitely shagging. She also thinks that about Christine and Matthew. Bless. - Steve] Head Judge Len says the rumba is very difficult dance - because it's so slow, you need a lot of control. Len thought Jodie's footwork was good, but he didn't see the emotional aspect of it coming out. Bruno says Jodie reminded him of "a classic Maserati Ghibli" - which no, me neither, and most of the audience didn't really get it, but it's some kind of car - "curves all over the place, great to look at, but you keep stalling". She kept stumbling between phrases, and she needs to keep the performance going. Craig thought they were off to a good start because it was "slightly pornographic at the top", lulz, but she seemed "self-conscious and slightly nervous", which ruined it. Arlene says the important thing for the rumba is "not to let the man outdance you", which she thought Jodie was going to manage at the beginning, "but the ice maiden came back" and she lost it. Bruce calls them his favourites, which may be the kiss of death. These scores won't be pretty.

Back in the House of Tesstosterone, Tess points out that "from tomboy to temptress is not easy", and Jodie's disappointed that the judges didn't get her acting. She hopes she has done enough, but she hasn't. The scores are: 4 from Craig, 6s from everyone else, for a total of 22. Ian says that it was "out of her comfort zone", so they are going for the sympathy vote. [I love Jodie because I think she has such an endearing personality, but I'm beginning to think that dancing, generally, is out of her comfort zone. - Steve]

The third couple tonight is Heather and Brian. Bruce gets his hips out, and his new "not doddery" catchphrase. Blah. Heather says she's "having business cards made up - Queen of the Salsa". Hee. She's worried about the quickstep because it doesn't come naturally to her. She's brought her son and nephew to rehearsal - they look bored. What does Brian look like in rehearsals? Open shirt, gold chain... is it the '80s all over again?

Heather's dress is awesome, silver with hot pink trimming. It's not bad, but Heather doesn't look as confident as she did with the salsa last time. They're not really light enough on their feet. Bruno says Heather was "so tight it looked like Russell Brand was chasing her around the room"! It didn't quite work for him. Craig is in two minds about it: the timing at the top wasn't brilliant and technically it wasn't very good, but he loves her energy and thinks it was a great routine. Arlene says the quickstep should bubble and sparkle, but it was "like the champagne had gone flat" - as though Arlene would ever let that happen to her champagne. Heather's shoulders were up in hold, and Craig interrupts and says it wasn't that bad, and accuses Arlene of exaggerating. Len criticises the footwork, because Heather didn't go forward on her toe, but he liked her "top portions". [So basically "I thought you were rubbish, but you've got nice tits"? - Carrie] Arlene says that Brian could "wear anything and look fabulous", and he kisses her hand. Ewwws, so much wrong with that.

Backstage, Heather says she will take the judges' comments on board, but she didn't think she was clinging on. The scores are in: 6s from everyone except Arlene, who gives them 5, for a total of 23. Danger!

Cherie and James are up next. I am so looking forward to their rumba. They topped the leaderboard two weeks ago, with a 9 from Len. James is talking it down. He says Cherie's putting too much pressure on herself, and she says she doesn't want to fall below the high standard she's set for herself. Then she calls James her "rock" because he's so supportive. Bless.

Cherie has her sexy acting face on. They're looking classy in black and white, and they're dancing to 'Songbird'. Cherie does look a bit awkward in the slow steps, so it's probably not going to score as highly as her last dance. It wasn't as raunchy as I was hoping for either. It does have the right emotional feeling for a rumba though. Over to the judges, and Craig says that, "Every single inch of you worked that dance. It was Fab-U-Lous." Arlene says it was beautiful and Cherie's like a hypnotist because she has "never known James to dance so tenderly". Cherie is like: what about the wife? Len says it was "brave of [them] to put in the forward and back basic" rather than cramming in lots of trickery. He thought it was emotional, unlike Jodie, although occasionally she "lost the musicality in [her] arms". Bruno is "revving up", and says it was a cut above everything we've seen so far: "A powerful woman in charge, you know what you want, you know how you're going to get it". He liked what he saw.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Cherie says she's happy that she lived up to her first dance score, and she knows where she did a few things wrong. Tess says Cherie has a figure to die for. The scores are in: 9 from everyone except Len, who shockingly gives them an 8, for a total of 35 - the highest score ever for a rumba. I didn't actually think it was that good. [Me neither, I thought it was a bit stiff - and not in THAT way, either. HA! - but I suspect Cherie's Journey as an Older Lady is one of this year's chosen narratives. - Carrie]

Time for a quick look at the leaderboard: Cherie and James are obviously top with 35, and nobody else can touch them; Christine and Matthew are second on 26, with Heather and Brian on 23, and Jodie and Ian bringing up the rear on 22. Jessie, Lisa and Rachel are still to come, but first some VT filler on the men's group dance rehearsal. Austin decided everyone should dress as Fame for their group rueda rehearsal for some reason. John Sergeant says he has to be paid extra to shimmy. Hee! Tom says that they're "going to make it brilliant, whether we like it or not". Andrew explains that "rueda" means wheel in Spanish, but they're going to "reinvent the wheel". Alrighty then. Mark says that the girls' group dance was amazing, while "ours is what it is". Tess asks John about not dancing with his darling Kristina the whole time, and John says the girls are all throwing themselves at him.

Jessie and Darren are next. Bruce says that last time he called her "Jelly Wallace", and when he asked her if she minded, she said "she was a trifle upset". Ha ha! Jessie got too overexcited in her salsa. She was prepared to do the dance-off, but the audience would never let an 'Ender get in the bottom two. [Except Phil Daniels. And Gillian Taylforth. - Steve] Darren says Jessie is "a bit like a springer spaniel", which is rude. I like their training. Darren: "Does it hurt yet?" Jessie (through gritted teeth): "Yes." Darren: "Which foot next?" Jessie: "Left. Right. It was a choice of two." Hee. Jessie says she wants to impress the judges this week.

Jessie and Darren are dancing to the Beatles' 'Help', which is an unorthodox choice but I can see it working. Jessie's footwork isn't very good though, and they're pretty leaden. I fear the judges will tear them apart, again. Arlene says the quickstep needs "a sporty delivery", and sometimes it was like they were on the dancefloor, and sometimes like they were on the football field. Arlene says Jessie's kicks were emphatically "not good", and she needs to "let your feet rule your shoes", not the other way round. Len advises her that if Jessie's bosom is pushed against the man's body, her posture is wrong. Bruno says if you get that wrong, everything else doesn't look right: "it has a casual, rough look" that isn't right for the elegant quickstep. Her smile was good though. Craig agrees with the rest of the panel: "Not your finest hour."

Backstage, Jessie is devastated, and the atmosphere is funereal. Darren tries to buck up her spirits by saying that she's trained very hard, and they got through it. The judges' scores are: Craig - 3 (boo!), 5s from Arlene and Len, 6 from Bruno "for the smile". That gives them a total of 19.

Lisa and Brendan are the penultimate couple to dance. Bruce jokes that he warned Lisa about Brendan's lifts, and she said "from now on, I'll take the stairs". Lisa says that her salsa was like "an out-of-body experience". Brendan was "brassed off" at the judges' comments, and stormed off outside. But he wasn't upset with Lisa. Really not. Got that? Lisa says she's not going to let the nerves get the better of her this week.

The start of their routine is a bit weird, because the music starts as they're walking on to the floor. They're dancing to 'Suddenly'. Lisa looks awkward at times, and a bit off-balance. She does a good spin though. Her dress is quite nice. It has a jewelled bodice, with blue draped down one side. At the end they carry on walking again. Ooh, I remember now, on ITT they explained that the story of their rumba was like a couple walking in the park. I see what they did there. Bruno says there was "plenty of juice tonight" - "those hips and legs are going to make the wishlist of every man in the country. People will pay good money for that!" Has Bruno turned into some kind of pimp? Craig says he has to congratulate Brendan, "I think you got it right tonight". He loved the choreography, but it was a shame that Lisa's nerves got into her footwork. Arlene says, "Tonight it was 'Come to me, hold me, touch me, feel me'. Everything was right about the rumba", and she thinks Lisa can go even further. Len says once she gets her feet right, her legs and hips are right. He thought they did a very good job.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Brendan is happier with the judges' comments this week. Tess says she's missing the tantrums, so Brendan is like, "Right, I'm off". Hee! Lisa was pleased she got the emotion and the steps working together. The scores are in: 8s all round, for a total of 32. Brendan looks pissed off that he didn't get any 9s.

Finally, Rachel and Vincent. Bruce wants to introduce them in a way young people will get: "a well-fit hottie and her partner who is no minger". Rachel says that last time her legs "literally turned to jelly". I don't think they did. [Unless she means they turned around in the direction of Jelly Wallace? - Steve] She says Bruno should have a book of quotes, and she's right about that. Rachel says she's been "bitten by the Strictly bug", but she's worried and insecure. Stop crying in rehearsals! Vincent says she's going to be fantastic. [Oh, Rachel. You are so sweet, but you really have nothing interesting to say. - Carrie]

Rachel and Vincent are quickstepping to 'Little Green Bag', and it's a dance that quite suits this dinky couple. They're light and elegant across the floor, and there are some good flicks. Rachel loses it a bit when she's out of hold, but it's pretty good - probably the best quickstep we've seen tonight. Craig says it was "light, tight, bright", and he loved all the Charleston stuff". Arlene also chooses to judge them in the form of a list of adjectives - it was "fast, fleet-footed, quick, quirky", and she doesn't think they'll have any trouble when they go head to head with the boys next week. Len says he didn't like all the "fiddling about" at the beginning, but once they took hold it was fantastic. Bruno says they were "flying high with effortless ease, your musicality is so natural". [It's in the science! It's genetically proven! - Steve] He agrees with me that it was the best quickstep of the night.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Tess reminds us that Rachel and Vincent have had an "emotional week", but they're perfect together. Over to the judges for the final scores of the night: 8s from everyone except Len, who gives them a 9, and the world is the right way up again. So that's a total of 33.

Time to check out the final leaderboard, which goes like this: Cherie and James are on top again with 35; Rachel and Vincent, 33; Lisa and Brendan, 32; Christine and Matthew, 26; Heather and Brian, 23; Jodie and Ian, 22; Jessie and Darren, 19. I am predicting Christine and Matthew and Heather and Brian in the dance-off.

Now, time for what we've all be waiting for - the boys' group rueda. Bruce explains that it's a Cuban dance, in a circle, with partner-swapping. Oo-er. The quality of shimmying is varied. This is chaotic. Sorry, I didn't manage to type anything more during that dance because I was in fits of giggles. Bruce knows what he thought: "John Sergeant, you never had it so good." Craig says that John stole his focus, "a bit of conquering to do there, darling - the peripheral vision was working overtime". Lulz. Arlene thanks the girls for pushing John around. She says Mark's shimmy was good, but the rest of the dance he just walked around. Len had his beady eye on Tom and Austin, and he's concerned for the other five guys because they're up against the ladies - "good luck to you, but don't hold your breath". Bruno says that for most of them it was a wheel with a slow puncture. He says there were two top dogs, "you know who you are", and the rest of them need to raise their game.

That's it for tonight - join us tomorrow for the results show, when the nine-time world Latin champions will be here performing a samba, plus an American smooth showcase, and Simply Red. Or just record it, and fast-forward that bit - I leave it up to you.


Essen said...

There's something creepy about Brian, isn't there? I want to like him but it's a bit difficult. He's very early-90s-boyband and he kissed his mum on the lips on ITT. And then he kissed Arlene's hand last night. His taste is pretty suspect, isn't it?

Rad said...

I swear Brucie introduced Jessie as 'Jenny' last night.

Carrie said...

I thought he did too, Ruthie...

N/OutofFashion said...

As usual, I agree with everything you said!

I am trying to like Brian, but he's a bit plastic.