Sunday, 30 November 2008

The summit of Snowdon

Week 11
TX: 29th November 2008

Wow, how awesome is that BBC HD trail where Fiona Bruce dives through the air in slow-mo to rescue a priceless antique from certain doom? Not that that's relevant to Strictly Come Dancing at all, but I just thought I'd mention it.

Last time: Rachel broke all kinds of records by getting 40 for her Foxtrot, while Jodie and Lisa battled it out in the best dance-off ever, which ended up in Jodie getting the boot, which was sad but not hugely surprising. I miss Jodie. This week: everyone has to perform two dances! Lisa is going to fight for her place! Austin is going to aim to be top of the leaderboard! Tom is on a mission (to get a ten, as we've all heard ad nauseum this week)! This is Strictly Come Dancing! Live!

There is Bruce, and of course there is Tess, and there is their obligatory bobbins routine to open the show. Daly Dresswatch: it's very red, and extremely saggy under the bosom, with a sort of rosette on the right shoulder. I'm not loving this one, to be frank. [I thought she looked frumpy/ Poor Tess. - Georgi] It is nice to see us, to see us nice. Tess asks Bruce if he's feeling better, and he says that he's a bit better, but it's doing the rounds - Jodie had it, Tom's got it, he's got it. Tess says there's a lot of flu around, and Bruce says it's not flu, it's Saturday night fever. Arf arf arf. Then Bruce jokes about being ready to die, and it's all a bit odd.

Shall we move on to matters less morbid? Yes, let's. Here are our couples: Tom and Camilla, Christine and Matthew, Lisa and Brendan, Austin and Erin, and Rachel and Vincent. Rachel does a bit of an Alesha-style boogie to the music. Oh, Rachel. It's far too late to start pretending to have a personality now, dear.

Tess reminds us that each couple will be performing one ballroom and one Latin dance this evening, and Bruce reminds us that the two with the lowest combined score will be in tomorrow's dance-off.

Rachel and Vincent are on first, and there's a bit where Bruce pretends that Rachel implied 'Greensleeves' was music from his youth. This doesn't work as a gag, really, because 'Greensleeves' is music from my youth (I remember learning to play it on the recorder!), but that doesn't mean I was born at the time it was written. Why am I spending so much time analysing a throwaway gag? I have no idea. Anyway, Bruce is not doddery, etc etc.

Rachel says in her VT there is no room for error at this stage, and we relive the awesome moment from last week when Craig whipped out his ten and Rachel almost had a seizure. Backstage, we see them being "literally on cloud nine", which looks a lot like the corridor outside Studio One. Their Latin will be the Paso, which requires Rachel to be fiery, something she's struggling with. First, however, they have a waltz. In rehearsals, Vincent wears a white bowtie with his t-shirt. Okay then. Rachel wants to make Vincent proud by getting to the quarter-finals, and dries up and sheds a single perfect tear.

Rachel appears to have taken her dress from Ola's wardrobe, as it is almost entirely backless, and what front there is all flesh-toned and covered with sparkleees. They're going back to the "Rachel closes her eyes and rests her head on Vincent's shoulders" bit for their waltz, which I'm a little tired of now. Oh, it's to 'Angel' by Sarah McLachlan. It is a lovely waltz, admittedly, but is anyone really surprised? I mean, this is the sort of routine we know Rachel is great at.

Bruce almost forgets to welcome back the fabulous singers. Heh. Bruce says that because there are two dances this week, we'll be getting double comments from Len, double comments from Craig, double comments from Arlene, and the usual double Dutch from Bruno. Ha! That was a good one. [I am pleased that Bruce has moved on to make Bruno the butt of his jokes, instead of Craig all the bloody time. - Georgi] Bruno smiles beatifically at the slight on his communication skills. Len says that the judges are still expecting perfection from both dances, and he loved it - he would've liked to see more of Rachel's feet, but he blames the dress for that. He also likens them to a couple of mice who've got the cheese, which seems weird until you remember that "cheese" was one of the words that Claudia dared him to include on the show during this week's It Takes Two, with "taut" being the other. [It was even kind of topical, what with the mouse in their rehearsal studio. - Georgi] Bruno says Rachel looks and dances like an angel, and that her technique in this dance was perfect. Craig thought the shaping through the hands was exquisite, but the choreography was a bit stop-starty. Len looks like he's just inhaled a gherkin and starts babbling on about this being a load of old nonsense, and poor Arlene has to separate the two of them AGAIN so she can say her piece, which is that it was "one of the most soul-tingling waltzes" from this show, and if Rachel can deliver in her Latin, two words: Alesha Dixon. Fine praise indeed. Bruce asks if our number one singer can be a number one dancer, but Rachel never had a solo number one, and all the S Club numbers ones were the ones where Jo was on lead vocals, weren't they? Apparently I am very pedantic tonight.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Rachel is thrilled to be compared to Alesha, and Vincent applauds her for pulling off some tough choreography. Rachel is feeling the pressure of living up to her score from last week, but she wants to enjoy the moment. Scores are in: nine from Craig, tens from everyone else for a total of 39.

Next are Lisa and Brendan, on near the beginning again. Seriously, who do I have to sleep with to get Lisa on in one of the showcase spots? (Please not Len, please not Len, please not Len.) [Maybe the cute producer man we saw on ITT the other week? Worth a try, anyway. - Carrie] Lisa's second dance will be the cha cha cha, so there are the obligatory jokes about Craig's pronunciation. Lisa says that being in the dance-off has left her wondering if anyone actually likes her, and while this is a tad self-indulgent, I can see her point. She cries in her VT about Jodie going home, and poor Lisa really does have survivor's guilt. Brendan says that Lisa keeps doubting herself, and Lisa's afraid her cha cha may be her lowest-scoring dance. Brendan will not allow this, however. Lisa says it would mean so much to get through to next week, but she knows she needs the audience's support. Fine, Lisa, I will vote for you, if only to stop you being so needy that you make Tom Chambers look balanced.

Lisa's foxtrot is to 'Walkin' My Baby Back Home', and it looks great - it's very smooth, and largely effortless, and I'm impressed at the hip-to-hip connection after their criticism last week. [But it ended again with them walking along at the end, which I know makes sense in the Story of the Dance, but Brendan already did that choreographically once this series and I am bored with it now. - Georgi] Bruno tells Lisa she has improved beyond recognition, and says the advert was so glamorous it could be used in a Chanel ad. Craig says that Lisa is wasted on radio because that was uh-may-zing and he loved the out of hold sequence - there were two moments at the end where her feet didn't quite come together, but he loved it. Arlene points out that Lisa corrected her gapping problem from last week and has improved her posture throughout the competition. Len calls it "a smorgasbord of gorgeousness" and Lisa's best dance yet.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Brendan is very happy, and Lisa says it's been tough to stay in, but she really wants to stay. Also, Brendan is engaged! Scores: nine from Craig, tens from everyone else for a total of 39. Lisa doesn't have a Rachel-esque eye-popping reaction, sadly, but she does look fairly overwhelmed by the entire experience.

Next are Christine (who's dressed as Elvira for her tango, apparently) and Matthew. She was lacking in confidence last week because everyone else was so good, and was convinced she'd be going home because she was bottom of the leaderboard. Then she got saved by the public, and her "YOU ARE FUCKING SHITTING ME" face was truly a sight to behold. She's very grateful to still be here, living that dream. It's humbling to be liked by the public (Lisa is probably crying in the corner while listening to this). She's struggling with the salsa because it's so tough, and worried about the performance aspect of the tango, so Felicity Kendal CBE comes in to help her with the aggression. Felicity learned a lot about aggression when her agent put her forward for Rosemary and Thyme, I'm guessing. Either that, or maybe she bitchslapped Richard Briers once. Who can say? She tries to help Christine develop a story to go with the dance, and dances with Matthew slightly terrifying. Can she be a contestant next year please? I think I'd like that. Christine wants to do well to thank the people who're voting for her.

Their tango is to 'Addicted to Love', and, well, she's not smiling, which is a start. It's a bit limp, though. It's not as staccato as I generally prefer my tangos to be. Indeed, large chunks of it seem to be Brian Friedman-esque walks around the dancefloor masquerading as actual choreography. Craig found it not sharp enough (boo!), and it lacked tension and aggression - he thinks at this point in the competition it wasn't good enough. Arlene agrees - the body contact was there, but Matthew was moving her around like a ragdoll, because Christine doesn't have the core strength she should have by now. Somewhat embarrassingly, Arlene compares Christine's take on the dance unfavourably to Felicity Kendal's in the VT. Oooh, OUCH. Len agrees that she should be "taut" in her core (which will make Claudia very happy), and he thinks Christine's nerves are getting to her. Bruno says she needs to attack this dance like a black widow, and she didn't have the required strength - he calls it limp, and tells Christine the passion has to come from inside. Christine is, unsurprisingly, Bruce's favourite.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Matthew tells Christine that she did a great job. She says she enjoys it, and wishes she could put that across in her dancing. She says she hasn't lost her drive to stay in, though, so she's going to forget about this and focus on the next dance. Scores: six from Craig (boo!), seven from Arlene (smattering of applause, people clearly don't know how to respond to this), eight from Len (cheers), and seven from Bruno (confusion again). A total of 28; Christine thought it would be lower, so she's happy.

Fourth to compete tonight are Austin and Erin. Apparently Austin can knock a door down in one blow, as we all discovered when Arlene locked him in her dressing room, lulz. Austin was apprehensive about following Rachel and her perfect score last week, and ended up dislocating his finger. He says that he wasn't dancing well enough, so Erin grabbed his hand and twisted it. Erin laughs like she wouldn't actually do that. [I had the weirdest dream about Erin last night. I told her I liked her new face, and then we sang I Know Him So Well on the stage at my old school. - Carrie] This week they have a foxtrot and a paso, the latter of which Austin thinks suits his character. Austin is struggling to take in all the information, and his kids are teething, so he's not getting much sleep. Austin's wife is very pretty, but since she is not RECENT like Tom's, we don't get to see very much of her.

Austin's trousers for his foxtrot look rather ill-fitting. They are dancing to 'L-O-V-E', and it's rather lovely, if not quite as lovely as Lisa's or Rachel's. Bruce chides Austin for not playing in the rugby today. Arlene calls him "one foxy guy". Oh, Arlene. I do try to defend you, but you make it very hard sometimes. Arlene thought it started well, but he lost the performance halfway through. Bruno disagrees, but it's Len's turn, so he'll have to wait. Len said that it's tough because Austin can't give both dances the requisite amount of polish when he has to learn two in a week, which kind of flies in the face of his earlier comment about not making excuses for people just because they have to learn two dances in a week, but it's not like I expected better from Len. Anyway, he loved it. Bruno reminds us that the foxtrot is the most difficult ballroom dance, and he thought Austin's performance was superb, saying Austin led brilliantly. Craig said that people who didn't know would think it was amazing (oooooooh, burn), but there were a few small points that the trained eye would spot, like Austin's feet sickling at points, but he applauds Austin's balance and control.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Austin has lipstick on his cheek. He thinks that was the best they've done that routine, and Erin thought he was "a real English gentleman". Unlike Ruth. Oops, sorry, wrong show. Tess's ovaries go into overdrive talking about Austin's kids, who are called Betsy and Bebe-Dee (or BBD, or Beebeedee - I'm buggered if I know how to spell that). Scores: eight from Craig, nines from Arlene and Len, "I loved it - ten!" from Bruno, for a total of 36. Austin gives us a sneak preview of his Paso Face, which is way better than Tom's.

Tom "CAN I GET THAT TEN, ALREADY?" Chambers and Camilla are the final couple, of course. Tom has had flu this week, which he claims was a leaving present from Jodie. And seriously, if Jodie gave him the lurgy on purpose to sabotage him, that's about the only thing that could make me love her even more. He was pleased by his scores last week, even though there was no ten. He calls himself a "jack of all trades, master of none". Tom's and Camilla's lunch appears to include an entire bucket of Flumps. Wow. They have a waltz and a samba on the cards this week, and Camilla thinks this could be their best week yet. Tom hacks his way through rehearsals, and Camilla gets very strict on the technicalities with him.

Their waltz is to 'Moon River', which Alesha said on It Takes Two was likely to make her cry, though I imagine she was already quite tearful after she saw this week's midweek album chart. Their waltz is pretty proficient, but I'm just finding the music a bit diabetes-inducing and rather try-hard. I know, I know, such behaviour from Tom and Camilla is shocking, isn't it? Len says it was fantastic - he sees little mistakes in everyone's dances, and if he were to be pedantic no one would ever get a ten (pull the other one, Len) - when Tom lowers his supporting leg, his arse sticks out, basically. Presumably because John Barrowman told him that was his moneymaker last week? However, Len says he has TOTALLY IGNORED IT, and this total betrayal of professionalism merits rapturous applause from the audience. Shut up, Len. Bruno says it was romantic, but Tom's bum did sometimes stick out, and he demonstrates this right in Len's face. Len tells him not to stick his bum in his face lest it "go off" (and as much as I don't like Len, that is a fairly reasonable request), to which Bruno replies "ees not off, ees on!" and stands up again, bends over and smacks his own rear. "BOYS! You are a mess today," chastises Arlene, like this isn't typical behaviour from all parties. [I did laugh at this quite extensively, though. Len is such a twat. - Carrie] Craig makes a point of how he DIDN'T ignore the bum - he loved the rise and fall, but when he did fall, the bum stuck out and ruined the line. He says the line of his head was a bit sympathetic, which earns confusion from the other judges - Len, as is his wont, asks what Craig is on about and then talks over him when he tries to answer, saying Craig needs to go to the Betty Ford Clinic. [You're not in the U S of fucking A now, Goodman. Shut the fuck up. - Georgi] Craig demonstrates that what he means is that Tom's head was sometimes slightly inclined to one side. Arlene says the dance had charisma and control and was beautiful, arse notwithstanding.

The House of Tesstosterone is hilarious at this point: before Tess can say a word, Tom says he was talking to Peg and Dan, Clare's grandparents, before he came on. "Your NEW WIFE's grandparents," Tess supplies helpfully. He says that their favourite dance of all time was 'Moon River' (isn't that a song, rather than a dance in and of itself?) and that Dan said if he wasn't already married, he'd go after Camilla himself. That is quite an impressive playing of the I HAVE JUST GOT MARRIED and the I AM DOING IT FOR THE OLD FOLK cards, in addition to the I AM SICK and I JUST WANT TO GET A TEN cards he played in the VT. Lisa, you can stop worrying: you will never be more needy than Tom. Camilla says the judges were right to pick up on the bum thing because they've been working hard this week. Scores: seven from Craig (ILU CRAIG!), nine from Arlene (who's so horrified by Craig's score that she almost forgets to hold up her paddle, hee), ten from Len and nine from Bruno. So Tom finally gets his ten, but only after Len basically admitted that he was abandoning all attempt at judging fairly based on what he'd just seen. Excellent. [I felt that Craig would have given Tom an eight, if it wasn't for the fact that he wanted to compensate for the ten that he knew Len would give him, thus making sure Tom got the score he deserved. Take that, Head Judge! - Georgi]

Leaderboard: Lisa and Rachel in joint first, Austin third, Tom fourth and Christine bringing up the rear. Fnar.

Now it's time for the Latin, and Rachel and Vincent are back. Rachel is dressed in a way that suggests she's off to audition for the movie remake of I Dream of Jeannie right after the show. Their dance is to 'The Final Countdown', and begins with Vincent doing a lot of caping, which we know will not please Len because it constitutes Mucking Abaaahhhht. Rachel relives Vincent of his cape and throws it on the floor by the judges, momentarily losing her footing. It's not a fiery as a Paso probably should be, and Rachel's not really as imperious in her footing as I would like, but there's some lovely choreography here and when they're in hold, it looks amazing.

Bruno says Rachel has gone from an angel to a devil - he loved to see her going for it, though it wasn't as steady as it could have been. He thinks she could've been more precise, especially at the end, but she did well with tough choreography. Craig loved the flamenco hand-shaping at the beginning (me too!) - he would've liked more aggression at the beginning so that Rachel was equalling Vincent, and he mentions her almost slipping when she threw the cape down, but it was a brilliant attempt. Arlene loved the drama once the caping was over, but she felt the drama was not present in the face. Len thought they did what they did well, but as predicted, he did not enjoy the Messing Abahhht with the cape. He says there wasn't enough paso content. The audience mutters their disapproval at this, which probably causes Len to flicker in and out of existence, since the love of the people is Len's lifeblood.

In the House of Tesstosterone, Vincent is all "was that Rachel? It didn't feel like her." Tess, clearly not following, duhs, "who did it feel like?" and Vincent clarifies that it felt like "a different person", saying Rachel scared him. Don't overdo it, Vincent. Rachel growls at him, adorably. She says it was very different to what they'd done before - she had the fire inside her, but it was hard to put it in the dance. She knew it would be a challenge, but she enjoyed it. Scores: seven from Craig, eight from Arlene, eight from Len and nine from Bruno for a total of 32. That gives them a total of 71. They're hoping to still be here next week to do their tango.

Lisa and Brendan take to the floor with their cha cha cha, and Lisa has apparently skinned the non-human cast of Sesame Street to make her dress. It's orange and hot pink and all fringe, and man is it ugly. Their routine is to Amy Winehouse's 'Tears Dry On Their Own', which is an odd choice, and while Lisa's footwork is a little hesitant in places, it's another good performance from them. The ending is really lacklustre though, involving Lisa just walking away from Brendan and waving at him.

Craig says the modelling has paid off - she really strutted her stuff, and was fantastic. Lisa then says something that I can't quite hear, but I think she's describing her dress as making her look like a giant car wash, which is a pretty good description. Anyway, Bruce looks at her like she's from another planet, and we move swiftly on. Craig says he would've liked a better end, but that's his only criticism. Arlene says Lisa has tamed Brendan (drink!) and is delivering the best cha cha cha of the series, because she straightened her knees. Len liked that there was no Messing Abaaaaht and likes that Brendan gave up his talent to show Lisa's talent (backhanded compliments, yay!) - he thought there was too much knee-flexing in the New Yorks, but it was great. Everyone compliments Brendan on being Such A Good Boy this series. Bruno says Lisa has blown away all doubts about her Latin skills, and that was the best cha cha cha of the series.

Backstage, Lisa jumps for joy and says she's having the best time - the dance-offs have been scary, but she'd love to make it to the semi-finals. Then she realises that next week is actually the quarter-finals and hastily corrects herself. Aww. Scores: nines from everyone except Bruno, who awards a ten for a total of 37. That's a total of 76 for both dances, and seriously, if that doesn't keep her out of the dance-off, she might as well give up now.

Christine (wearing an entire Christmas tree's ration of red and gold tinsel) and Matthew next - Matthew starts leading her out before Alan announces their names, and then stops and looks back at a member of the crew just to confirm that they are actually supposed to go now. Hee. Their salsa is to Jamiroquai's 'Cosmic Girl', and begins with Christine's signature move of sliding between Matthew's legs. Seriously, he does seem to fling her from one side of him to the other an awful lot. The salsa is better than her tango, but my problem with it is that she always seems to pause at the end of every little bit of choreography, as though lining up the next section in her head - it just doesn't flow smoothly like it really should. It's a decent stab at it, though.

Arlene liked seeing Christine smile again, but she wasn't going through the balls of her feet to get the hip action. Len liked that she attacked the dance and wasn't overly careful. Bruno liked that it was flirty and cheeky, but she still needs to work on her core and her finish. Craig thought it was stompy, but the energy was good - at times the moves were lazy, but it was much better than her tango. She natters about being the underdog for a bit backstage, and then the scores from in: sevens from Craig and Arlene, eights from Len and Bruno for a total of 30, which gives her a total of 58 out of 70. "Oh dear," says Christine.

Austin and Erin are next with their paso, and this is awesome right from the moment they walk onto the floor. Austin walks to the centre of the floor and makes bull-calling noises, does a bit of foot-stomping and then does that move where he leaps through the air, turning around and landing on one knee, which I do not know the name of. "Olé!" shouts Austin, and the dance begins. The audience absolutely loves this, but again we know it will be far too much Mucking Abaaaahht for Len. I must admit, I love that Austin does lots of "ha!"s when he stomps, which really adds to the bullfight atmosphere of the dance. It's a shame more of this isn't in hold, because that's what it really lacks, but it's easily my favourite paso of the series. It ends with a couple of twist-turns and then Austin pulls Erin through his legs. The audience goes nuts, and gives them a partial standing ovation.

We get a shot of Len with his head in his hands, so we know how this is going to go. Len says Austin was like a Spanish waiter, and Erin's all "whatever, loser", which brings forth The Wrath of Len, who bellows her name until she finally deigns to look at him, and then he berates her for what he perceives to be the utter absence of Paso content, saying he's very disappointed. "It was all performance, and no content," sighs. Much like your scoring system then, Len? Bruno says Austin started like Michael Flatley and then turned into "the Lorrrrrrrrrrd of the Paso". He said he wasn't just selling it, it was like a giveaway. Craig loved it because it was arrogant and full of attitude. Arlene calls him "a little devil" and says every stamp sent vibrations through the floor - it was just what the show's about, combining the dance and the performance. That, and throwing Len into a hissyfit.

No time for talk, here are the scores: tens from Craig and Arlene, eight from Len (BOOOO!) and ten from Bruno for a total of 38. That's the highest Paso score on the show, apparently. Their total is 74, though Tess does not say this.

Tom and Camilla round things off with their samba. It starts off with a bit of hugely annoying business where both Tom and Camilla overact horribly, but this is at least mercifully brief. Their routine is to 'Mr Melody', and the actual samba itself is quite fun and enjoyable. Bruno declares it "camper than a row of tents". Craig thought the voltas lost a bit of bounce, and the whole thing needed containing and calming down, but he's impressed with Tom's energy. Arlene goes for Understatement of the Year by saying "sometimes you try too hard", but she liked the Mardi Gras atmosphere. Len found it repetitious and tells Tom he did his voltas back to front. I'm sure it still deserves a ten though, eh Len?

Backstage, Tess admires Tom's chest hair. [I admire the fact that he hasn't been henpecked into waxing it, like Austin obviously has. - Georgi] Camilla thinks they might end up having to do their waltz again. Scores: eight from Craig, nines from everyone else for a total of 35. That's a total of 70.

Final leaderboard: Lisa at the top, Austin second, Rachel third, Tom fourth and Christine at the bottom. This week's results should be interesting.

Video recap: Rachel's lovely waltz, Lisa's glamorous foxtrot, Christine's hot mess of a tango, Austin's nice-but-dull foxtrot, Tom's saccharine waltz, Rachel's shiny Paso, Lisa's impressive cha cha cha, Christine's moderate salsa, Austin's batshit-but-brilliant Paso, and Tom's bootylicious samba.

It's still not over, because we've got a VT of why it means so much to everyone: Tom says it's the best and biggest thing he's ever done, apparently including his RECENT WEDDING (poor Clare), and that it would be the biggest hole in his heart if he had to leave. Christine says she's the fighter of the competition, and she's not ready to go. Austin never expected to get this far, but every week he feels like he's closer to a dance-off, and would feel gutted if he had to go. Lisa remembers being a mess in week one, and says it's a dream to have got this far, and guess what? She'd be sad to leave. Rachel would find it "amazing" to be in the quarter-finals, and has made a great friend in Vincent, and doesn't know what she'd do if she left now. Presumably whatever she was doing before she came on the show, which seems to have been not very much.

In the results show, Estelle will be singing 'American Boy', despite having said recently how much she's sick of singing it. [We can only hope that Brian will dance to it. Again. - Carrie] Who will be going home? We'll find out tonight - join us later...


ht said...

The salsa is better than her tango... It's a decent stab at it, though.
I'm biased, because I do actually know how to salsa, but I actually had to watch Christine's latin routine from behind a cushion. Painful.

ht said...

Apparently I am also addicted to the word "actually". Sorry about that.

SALLY said...

Ive just discoverd your blogs guys... and I love them.Almost look forward to them as much as I do the actual show! Spent hours the other week reading and catching up.You're all brilliant x