Sunday, 23 November 2008

Closer to perfection

Week 10
TX: 22nd November 2008

Previously on Strictly Come Dancing, tens were handed out as liberally as bottles of fake tan if you were Austin or Rachel, but proved ever elusive if you were Tom. Snerk. Rachel attained the highest score for a rumba ever in the show's history, and for once we didn't have to stick in the usual "EXCEPT FOR COLIN JACKSON" caveat. But of course, none of that mattered, because John Sergeant quit! So now there are only six dancers left, and they're all good, and the people who want to exercise their voting right to stick it to the those judges for daring to offer actual dancing-based opinions are shit out of luck. This should be interesting.

We're live from London as usual. Tess Daly Dresswatch: oh dear. Initially from the front it looks all right - it's a sort of giant purple curtain which actually hangs to her frame rather nicely, but then she turns around and it's like she's got a giant double-strapped black bra with a skirt underneath it. Len would give this a SEV-UN!, I meanwhile think it's a five at best. As Bruce and Tess finish their dance, Tess does a dramatic face that I can only assume Tom Chambers taught her.

Bruce assures us that John already has some work lined up, and I'm not saying this is an obvious joke, but I knew what it was going to be before he even said it: bad dancer, good with people, he's got a job on GMTV. Wah wah wahhhhh. As if our epic hour-long It Takes Two extravaganza on Wednesday wasn't enough, we now get a VT to explain to us how it all went down. I must admit, the sheer amount of coverage given to this was impressive, and the producers must have thought Christmas had come early - it was on Newsnight, for crying out loud. I wonder if Kelly Brook and Jimmy Tarbuck were disappointed not to get a televised press conference when they withdrew. Anyway, John's statement of "I might have won this competition" sounds less obnoxious out loud than it did in print, which is a relief. Incidentally, did anyone else see the article in the Metro which printed a picture of John dragging Kristina along the floor during his Paso Doble and ran an accompanying capture saying that this was John "saving the day" after Kristina fell over? I couldn't figure out whether it was a joke that wasn't funny, or just possibly the most ill-researched piece of showbiz journalism I've seen in a very long time, excluding my own. Anyway, John says thank you and goodbye, and we're out. However, Bruce promises that they will treat us to one last dance.

You wouldn't think it, but six couples are actually still in the show, so let's meet them: Tom and Camilla, Christine and Matthew, Lisa and Brendan, Austin and Erin, Jodie and Ian, and Rachel and Vincent. I've probably said this before, but the pan along the contestants clapping as the band finish playing just isn't the same without Alesha shaking her hips in time to the music. Mind you, it is brilliant that they put Jodie and Ian (WHO ARE TALL) right next to Rachel and Vincent (WHO ARE NOT) in the line-up. It's like the show's being broadcast from Liliput this week.

Tess lies that there is still no clear frontrunner, and Lisa is on first again. They seem to be putting Lisa on first or near the beginning of the show quite a lot lately. Brendan says that he knew the samba was going to be difficult, which is rather at odds with what he said on It Takes Two the other week. The judges bickered and Brendan had to separate them, and Lisa knew they were vulnerable because she hadn't been that low on the scoreboard since week one. Except Lisa didn't dance in week one, because none of the women did, and in week two, when she did dance, she was joint fifth rather than sixth, as she was last week, but that's just me splitting hairs. Lisa's nan Nora, who is rather lovely, says that she thinks Lisa was undermarked last week, and Brendan gives Lisa a little pick-me-up through the medium of NanCam on a laptop, which makes Lisa a bit misty-eyed. Lisa wants to make her nan proud, and also avoid the bottom two.

They're dancing the quickstep to Merry Clayton's 'Yes', from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. [Oh, Brendan. You and your Swayze obsession. Expect the use of a watermelon as a prop sometime next series. - Carrie] It looks good, and Lisa is very airy and light on her feet, though there is one moment where they pause in a hold and it looks like she's about to topple over, but it's fairly well covered by both Lisa and Brendan.

It's still not a good time to welcome back the "marvellous singers", but it is time for the obligatory joke at Craig's expense when Bruce introduces the judges: Bruno is full of energy, Len is full of knowledge, Arlene is full of charm, and they're not allowed to say "Craig is full of shit" before the watershed so Bruce lets the punchline hang in the air. And come on: if anyone on that judging panel is full of shit, look no further than Human Colostomy Bag Len Goodman. [I wanted Arlene to be the punchline - "full of alcohol" or "full of Botox" would both have worked. - Carrie] Oh, and the good news is that Craig's had a haircut and lopped off those rats' tails from the back of his neck. Hooray!

Since no one cares about the dancers who are actually still here, Len opens by saying how sorry he is that John Sergeant has quit, and wishing him well in whatever he's going to pursue. Political journalism, one would assume. Unless he's going to use his exposure from the show to found a pop career like Alesha did, or to become team captain on Hole in the Wall like Darren Gough did. [How about chairing a quiz FOR MEN on Dave? - Georgi] Anyway, everyone applauds Len's magnanimity and we're finally allowed to talk about Lisa: Len says he was worried for her this week, not through any fault of her own, but just because, but he thought she handled the dichotomy of the quickstep (lovely calm face, manic feet) very well. Bruno says that Lisa delivered a vintage quickstep and praises Brendan's choreography. Craig thought it had the potential for perfection, though it was let down by the gapping and the moment where Lisa tripped over Brendan's foot. Lisa claims that Brendan has one very large foot, and Brendan looks alarmed and says he doesn't know what that means. Heh. Brendan got the memo about protecting your celebrity at all costs, however, and takes full responsibility for it. I didn't even see it, so it can't have been that bad. Arlene liked how Lisa tackled the jeté, and asks them to go away and practise some hip-to-hip contact so they don't have that gapping problem in the future. As usual, everyone titters about how Arlene almost talked about sex, hee hee hee.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Lisa says the competition has flown past, and she wants to stay in because she's loving it so much. Having clarified that Lisa is not ready to go yet, Tess says "neither's Nora, your nan", which sounds rather unfortunately as though they're debating switching off her life-support machine. Smooth as ever there, Tess. Brendan says that the audience is electric tonight, and it's time for the scores: eight from Craig and nines from everyone else, for a total of 35. Tess says she can't tell if Brendan's happy: "I'm always happy," Brendan deadpans.

Christine and Matthew are next, dancing the cha cha cha, which is another excuse to make fun of how Craig says it. Bruce's extended gag (involving the words "char char charity", "gar gar gala" and "Prince Char Char Charles") is actually pretty funny, and Craig takes the whole thing very well. Christine was tense last week, but it didn't matter because she got three nines. She says she's climbing up the leaderboard and waving at the people above. They receive delivery of a bunch of good luck cards from a nearby primary school, so they pop in for a spontaneous visit to say thanks. An absolutely adorable little girl calls Christine "the best dancer ever" and Christine and Matthew give them a sneak preview of their char char char. It's all very cute. [Matthew is SO sweet with the children. I love him. - Carrie]

They're dancing to 'I Like It Like That', which just feels a mite too slow for a really exciting cha cha, and as a result the routine just feels very slightly hesitant. There's some good footwork from Christine at the beginning, though, and a very smooth backdrop. At the end some of her footwork gets a bit leaden and clumsy, to my (admittedly untrained) eye. [What got me the most was that her hips just didn't move. - Georgi]

Bruno felt that she didn't engage as much as he would like, and she lost her footing a few times, and her hip action was wiry. So again Christine gets the "top half good, bottom half bad" critique. "More more more, Christine, give it to me!" cries Bruno, to which Bruce replies: "not too much, I've got the flu." Hee! Craig calls it "disappointing", "wooden" and "sticky", but on a brighter note he thought there were some wonderful finishes, but it wasn't her finest hour. Arlene says Christine needs to feel the rhythm, and she was flat-footed, which is why her hips weren't on the move. Len's pulling a shitface at all of this, so we know we're in for shenanigans, and sure enough: "Don't it all get on your wick?" If you're referring to your shameless attempts at crowdpleasing and your appalling grammar, Len, then: why yes, it does. Len calls the other judges' comments "a load of piffle", and the crowd applauds, as if Len needs any encouragement. Len thought it was neat, precise and clean, and says that what the other judges obviously meant is that Christine needs to sell it more, and he advises her to whip off her knickers and fling them in the air. "Wonderful advice, Len!" Craig snarks, and because the rules on this show dictate that Len can disparage the other judges' comments as much as he likes but heaven forfend the road should run the other way, Len has a hissyfit worthy of Louis Walsh: he starts yelling at Craig about how he slipped that in as a joke and a bit of humour, and how Craig is always negative and never says anything positive and gets on Len's wick. This would be the same Craig who complimented Christine's wonderful finishes and said Lisa's routine had the potential to be perfect, just so we're all clear on that one. Shut up, Len. Perhaps when you've discovered paddles one to six, we might be able to talk about whose opinion is actually worth something. Bruce lightens the mood by saying that we had enough knicker throwing with Tom Jones last week.

Brilliantly, in the House of Tesstosterone, Brendan is leading the other dancers and celebrities in a chorus of "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!", which Christine gaily joins in with. Christine jokes that if she'd only known all she had to do was take her knickers off, and Matthew points out that at least they prompted some emotional responses. Tess reminds Christine that she's the only dancer who's not been in the dance-off, and Christine would like it to stay that way. Scores: sixes from Craig and Arlene, eight from Len because SEV-UN!! would clearly not have the desired impact at this point, but we do get a SEV-ANNNNNNNNN! from Bruno, who's loving not being the object of Len's ire for a change. A total of 27, then, for Christine.

In a brief intermission before the next couple, Tess explains how people who voted for John and Kristina last weekend can apply for a refund on the cost of their call. [Fucking selfish bastards. Send them down to the charity offices to demand their money back. - Georgi] Sadly she does not also give them details of where they can find a nice padded cell to sit in while they froth at the mouth about how it's OMG MEEN of the judges to award people low scores for dancing poorly.

Jodie and Ian are next, except Bruce calls her "Judy". It's better than Jelly, I suppose. Bruce calls the audience ugly and does a vulture impression - it's a long story. Jodie was amazed at getting two nines last week, even if they were from Len and Bruno, and she's thrilled to have the support of the public and the judges. Jodie says that the jive reminds her of dancing with her dad when she was a kid, but unfortunately she's had flu this week and spent two days in bed. Jodie's determined to deliver a fun jive, even if she collapses afterwards. "And you probably will," adds Ian. Hee.

Jodie leads Ian onto the floor by his sparkly tie, and they're dancing to 'Great Balls of Fire'. I have to say, this is much better than a jive by Jodie and Ian has any right to be - Jodie's a little unsteady on her feet, as you might expect, but she's surprisingly agile and really giving it some welly. Her kicks and flicks are good, and it's a very enjoyable routine, which pleases me greatly because I was honestly expecting it to fall apart for her this week, what with having the flu and being tall and the fact that Ian's jives are traditionally not great. Bruce hands Jodie a glass of water to stop her coughing, and Jodie is very grateful.

Craig says that "for a gargantuan couple" he was pleasantly surprised - he found it confident and tight, and he loved Jodie's toe-heel swivels, though it was heavy in the chasse section and there were some timing issues with the jumps, but overall he thought it was very well done. Arlene never thought she'd see Jodie perform like a great actress, but there's a dancing trophy at stake and the kicks and flicks have to be sharper. Len disagrees, he thought the kicks were beautiful and the whole thing was very fun, though he would've liked more change of places. Bruno was expecting this to be like a big marshmallow, but he counted all the way through and Jodie was sharp and on time throughout, so she should be proud. Bruce compliments the tall people on being able to jive.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Jodie needs more water because she's "about to die". Tess asks Jodie if she thinks she's a contender, and Jodie has no idea, but Ian is pleased to have their worst dance out of the way. Sevens from Craig and Arlene, eights from Len and Bruno, for a total of 30. Jodie and Ian are very happy with that score.

Thus far on the leaderboard: Lisa and Brendan are top, Jodie and Ian are in the middle, and Christine and Matthew are at the bottom.

Tom and Camilla are next, and Tom's VT is all about him being butthurt over not getting any tens. Despite getting one eight and three nines last week, Tom sighs that it would have been nice to have a ten. I feel sorry for Tom's future children when they come back from school to tell daddy that they got 98% on a maths test and he sighs at them that it would've been nice to have 100%. Anyway, Camilla has an idea for how she can make Tom into an arrogant ladies' man for his tango - she takes him to Holby General. As they walk through the doors, she asks him if it's strange to be back, which is idiotic because he only left about three weeks ago. They meet with Amanda Mealing, who is apparently a "genius" at being emotional and passionate at Acting. They reenact the locker room scene that I think we all saw during the preview show, which is so very Days of our Lives as she slaps him and they then make out. Camilla squeals that this is precisely what she's looking for, and as they rehearse, Tom asks her to slap him. Me, me, me! I'll do it! [You would have to snog him afterwards though, Steve - is it really worth it? - Georgi] They tango around the nurses' station, and Amanda Mealing jumps for joy. Tom says that it won't be Tom on the dancefloor, but Sam Strachan. Anything that means less Tom Chambers in my week is fine by me.

Their tango is to 'Please Mr Brown', which is an awesome song to tango to, and Camilla is being all haughty and doing lots of Acting. Tom is doing Paso Face Redux for this - it's not quite so ridiculous, but it does seem rather emotion by numbers. Incidentally, I was very late getting home to watch this show last night because of a meltdown on the London Underground network, but when I walked in and saw this, at first I thought they were replaying Camilla's tango with Gethin. I guess they have a certain type in mind when they're casting partners for Camilla these days. Despite the Face, it's a very competent tango, though I wonder what it says about Tom that Camilla is acting him right off the dancefloor. [I had the misfortune to channel-surf across an episode of Holby City last week, and Tom plays an arrogant twat, so I'm not convinced there's much acting involved. - Georgi]

We start with Arlene, who says it has "drive" and "passion", calling it a "gripping tango" and she's ready to see the sequel. Len tells Tom that he needs to lead with his body rather than his arms, but aside from that it was excellent. Bruno says that it wasn't just arrogant, it was disdainful,, I guess? Craig: "I wouldn't mind coming to your hospital for a little bit of slapping, darling." HA! I love it when Craig gets all rambunctious with the contestants. He loved it, but thought it lacked a few moments of stillness.

Nothing of any great interest is revealed in the House of Tesstosterone, so let's cut straight to the scores: four nines, a total of 36. But no ten, so it might as well have been zero as far as Tom's concerned.

Rachel and Vincent are up next, and we're reminded of the horror from last week when Len threatened to dance naked with Claudia if Rachel was in the bottom two. Bruce says that Rachel received 20,000 votes - all of them from Claudia. Rachel and Vincent returned with an awesome rumba last week after their bottom two upset, getting three tens from the judges. Rachel is thrilled, and can't wait to do the foxtrot. Vincent thinks Rachel's confident now, and having more fun. Rachel's friends turn up to rehearsals wearing pink tutus, and it all looks a bit like the hen night from hell, but it makes Rachel smile and therefore achieves its main purpose.

Their foxtrot is to 'Close To You', and while I can never really get excited about the foxtrot, this is beautiful - smooth, elegant, lovely. Len reminds us that he thought Rachel would never knock his socks off if she couldn't do it during the jive (because the jive is for SMALL PEOPLE, lest we forget), but ever since then, she's done nothing but knock his socks off. As long as it's only your socks, Len. Bruno tells Rachel it was "close to heaven" and calls it "bliss". "One word: fab-u-lous," says Craig. Arlene calls it "close to perfect, Strictly something special." I'd say it must have been good to render Arlene incoherent, but we all know that doesn't take much.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Rachel is having a great time and loves dancing with Vincent, and she hopes people enjoyed it. Scores: tens from everyone, and Rachel's eyes get progressively wider as each one's announced. Seriously, if her face had that been expressive during her early dances, she might never have been in the bottom two. I did think that was a teensy bit overmarked, but honestly, it was worth it just for Rachel's face. Tess confirms it's the highest scoring foxtrot in the history of the show. Yeah, no shit, Sherlock. No mention of how this is by far the earliest anyone has received a perfect score on Strictly, which would have been a far more interesting factoid.

Last but not least are Austin and Erin. Rugby jokes ahoy as we're told that Austin "tried and converted the judges" last week. He had the highest score of the show for ten minutes until Rachel and Vincent performed, which he is comically chagrined about. Their cha cha cha will be performed to 'It's Raining Men', which Austin notes is a song loved by women but not men, except for rugby players and Homer Simpson. Seriously, the more I hear about rugby, the gayer it gets. So Erin invites Austin's rugby pals to watch him train, and they do all that macho posturing about how much they hate it when he's good at stuff. Austin thinks that at least two of the judges will be dancing on their chairs (no prizes for guessing which two), and at the end of the routine one of the rugby chaps says "sev-unn!" Heh.

Austin mouths along to the chorus, and I think it's little things like that which make him the only SPORTSMAN I can actively feel compelled to support. There are still some problems with the lines of his arms, but his footwork is great and full credit to him for not getting the requisite amount of gay panic most men would get from this song. [He's an English rugby player. The sport is riddled with homoeroticism. - Carrie]

Bruno thinks Austin could be hired by the Chippendales - not perfect, but great fun. Craig thinks it's one of the cheekiest char char chars he's ever seen, in more ways than one - he loved the suggestive gyrations, but found it a little square of hip. Arlene loved the interplay and the hips, but she worries about his timid arms. Bruno counters that Austin has fabulous arms, and yells at him "take your top off!" I think Bruno thinks he is watching the Chippendales at this point. Arlene demonstrates what Austin needs to be doing with his arms and almost hits Craig in the face, so he restrains her. Len does his "oh, these morons" face, as if he isn't singlehandedly responsible for at least 60% of this show's bullshit footprint.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Austin reveals he dislocated his finger during the dance. Ouch. He loved the song, but says that sometimes he gets carried away dancing to it and forgets the steps. Tess says that she didn't notice, and Austin says that he meant in rehearsals, not just then: "that was perfect." Everyone cracks up, and Austin hurriedly backtracks. Scores: eight from Craig, nines from everyone else for a total of 35, Austin's best Latin score (though only one point higher than his jive). Tess drools over his pecs.

Leaderboard: Rachel and Vincent at the top, Tom and Camilla second, Lisa and Brendan and Austin and Erin tying for third, Jodie and Ian fifth and Christine and Matthew at the bottom.

The lines open, and we recap: Lisa being sprightly, Christine being lumpy, Jodie being tall and yet somehow still good, Tom doing The Face, Rachel breaking records all over the place, and Austin gaying it up like a good'un.

It's not over yet, though, because we've still got John and Kristina's last dance on the show. They're reprising their waltz to 'Come Away With Me' from week one, and if anything, I think it's slightly worse than it was the first time. Still, as a send-off, it's nice enough. John gets a standing ovation (though not, interestingly, from the judges). Bruce begs John to confirm that he jumped and was not pushed, which he does: John says it's been "strictly fantastic". He thanks his supporters for their kindness and generosity, and thanks the judges "for the extraordinary way in which they whipped up public support in our favour." Heh. And of course he thanks Kristina, who's barely keeping it together. He calls her "the best dancer in the world", which is sweet. Kristina thanks the show for giving her a chance to be part of it and pairing her with John. Wiping away a tear, she tells him she admires and respects and adores him. Aww. Or bleurgh, depending on your temperament. Bruce tells John he's been "an inspiration to us all" - yes, because now I quite want to see if I can be on the show displaying such obvious contempt for the concept of effort and commitment to the moment as John did and see if I become a national treasure. Anyway, Bruce concedes that it's about time John went or he would've still been here next series, and Kristina tells Bruce she's dancing with him next. Heh.

That's all, but don't forget to tune in later for the results show, where John Barrowman will be performing. Feel free to watch it on time-delay so you can skip that bit. There'll also be a group dance choreographed by Arlene, which should be exciting. See you then!


acanthe sauvage said...

Tom's tango/paso face reminds me of Robert de Niro as Captain Shakespeare in the film Stardust.

ht said...

Austin gaying it up like a good'un
Never a truer word spoken!

Anemone said...

[Fucking selfish bastards. Send them down to the charity offices to demand their money back. - Georgi]

I love this blog, really love you guys but FFS there are enough idiots out there who still haven't realised there is no charity element to the voting this year. Will you stop adding doubt!

<3 <3 <3 Anne <3 <3 <3