The Magnificent Seven
Tx: 27th/28th November 2010
Hello all! Lovely to be back with you after Steve stole the joys of BLACKPOOL from me last week. Now, obviously tonight won't be as exciting as BLACKPOOL, because nothing in the world is, but we are at least edging towards the series finale. We've hacked off most of the deadwood - though Gavin Henson, and his lovely mahogany hue, is still clinging on with his inconsistent performances - and we're left with a decent field of contenders. And Ann Widdecombe.
So we begin with Tess reminding us about how exciting BLACKPOOL was, as if we could forget, and introduces a Magnificent Seven montage, because, of course, we have seven contestants left. Just so you know, that will not be the only time that phrase or gimmick is used this weekend. [I think I would've preferred the Secret Seven. Or S Club 7. Or the movie Se7en. - Steve] Titles!
Here are Bruce and Tess. Tess's dress doesn't look too awful on first glance - it's another cerise coloured thing which bunches at the waist but at least doesn't have an asymmetrical shoulder line. She does however seem to have borrowed Mr T's necklace collection, and is positively jangling with jewellery. Bruce makes a terrible gag about Ann and Anton having an affair. And then we meet our dancers - Scott and Natalie, Patsy and Robin, Matt and Aliona (whose breasts are escaping from her corset), Kara and Artem, Pamela and James, Ann and Anton, and Gavin and Katya.
Kara and Artem are up first tonight. I love the way Artem scrunches up his nose when he smiles. Kara does a VT about meeting donkeys, which was apparently the highlight of BLACKPOOL for her. But seeing as she nearly broke Artem's neck, it's probably understandable. Anton then invades Kara's VT to castigate Artem - "Bad neck from lifting this little thing here? Tell you what, let's swap for a week." I hate to laugh at an Anton joke, but that was quite funny. So this week, Artem has mostly been contracting tonsillitis (is he cursed or something?), but rehearsing anyway. "He's like a Russian MACHINE," says Kara. I don't think we need to know about your behind-closed-doors steamy relationship, Tointon, thank you. [Speak for yourself. - Steve]
They're jiving to Runaround Sue, and Artem's tattoos look quite weird in this 1950s-style context (and his braces keep falling down). Kara's kicks and flicks aren't quite there in the side-by-side section, so the synchronicity falls apart, meaning that the ending, which is her upside down with legs split, doesn't happen at the right place, but it's performed nicely. It kind of seems as if Artem has choreographed a routine but not had the chance to tell Kara what she should be doing. Which, if they only started rehearsing on Wednesday, may well be the case.
We go over to the judges. Len says it was a top-drawer jive, with one or two steps that weren't attacked properly. Alesha, who seems to be wearing her Viennese waltz dress from back in the day, says it was full of personality. Bruno says there was sex appeal but it lost some of its sharpness. Craig says it had attention to detail but the side-by-side section wasn't great, which is true, and what I said, but the audience boo anyway, because they are idiots. He then criticises the ending, and Bruce interjects, "The ending was a bit strange," like he is supposed to give his opinion or as if any of us care. Kara admits that she didn't really know what she was doing this week. And it showed. Scores - Craig 7, Len 9, Alesha 9 and Bruno 9 for a ridiculously high total of 34.
Ann and Anton next. Ann VTs about how much people liked their routine in BLACKPOOL because they were so very hilarious - "we lit the place up with hilarity," she claims. Gosh, she really has got ideas above her station, hasn't she? STOP ENCOURAGING HER, VOTERS. In rehearsal, she shushes Anton. "Strictly hasn't changed me," she concludes. More's the pity, some might say, you despicable human being.
And there follows one of the most painful visions of my life - Ann and Anton dancing a Titanic-themed rumba to My Heart Will Go On, with a bloody fibreglass iceberg in the middle of the floor. Anton hams up his dancing; Ann plods around and doesn't do anything. It's hideous and painful.
Seriously. I'm always saying that if someone is voted through, they deserve to be in the competition, but I've reached my limit now. This makes my soul hurt. Ann and Anton must go.
Alesha diplomatically says there was not much content. You can say that again, Dixon; there was no bloody content. She also comments on the "genuine love" between the two. Bruno says they sank the rumba into the darkest and deepest depths of dance disaster. Craig looks like he wants to die, which I think we can all empathise with, and then finally manages to say that the iceberg showed more emotion than Ann did. She tries to do the talking-back thing yet again, which is so annoying, and a decent host would stamp on it. Unfortunately we don't have a decent host on any Saturday-night television. Claudia wouldn't let people get away with this shit. Len says he is shaken but not stirred: "it was the daftest dance I have ever seen." Ann calls Anton a "comic genius". Not a choreographic genius, you'll note. Scores - Craig 1, Len 5, Alesha 5 (for a routine with "not much content"), Bruno 3 for a total of 14.
Patsy and Robin next. They were in the bottom two last week after the drama of BLACKPOOL. This week Patsy has mostly been going to the physio due to swelling in her toe joint, and rehearsing their routine, but primarily the bits with a chair in it. Robin is concerned that she might have a sit-down more than she dances with him. Their days are numbered, really, aren't they?
They're dancing the Argentine tango to that song by Jem, which I think Anton and Kate tangoed to a few years ago. It's not hugely complex and Patsy's foot movements are gentle rather than sharp, but it's nicely acted, and her leg placements are good.
Bruno suddenly grabs Alesha mid-comments to demonstrate how you should dance the Argentine tango with passion. Her face is a sight to behold. Craig says it had intent and purpose, though it did lack attack. Len liked it, and thought the mood was captured well, suggesting that in future she stops being so "careful", because she won't win Strictly being careful. She won't win Strictly anyway, Len, and we all know it. Alesha thinks Patsy held the intensity the entire way through and had a great composure. Scores - Craig 7, Len 8, Alesha 8 and Bruno 7 for a total of 30.
Scott bemoans his life, because he is working two jobs and it is so very, very hard. You'll get no sympathy from me, Maslen; I'm working five and staying up overnight to watch the cricket. MAN UP. He falls asleep during rehearsal; and even manages to doze off standing up at one point, which we then get to see in slow motion. It is not gripping viewing. "He's giving me his all," says Natalie. "Except his all is VERY LITTLE." Don't CROSS her, Scott, she'll DESTROY YOU. [I heart Natalie. - Steve]
They're dancing the American Smooth to Fly Me To The Moon. Scott's in tails and looks like he's going to fall over during their first cross of the floor. He doesn't, though. Natalie has a brilliant American Smooth face. Then there's a bit near the judge's table where Scott gets in the way and Natalie nearly trips over him. They end with an incredible spinning lift with Natalie horizontal around Scott's neck. Craig comments on the terrible footwork at the start, and ends: "A complete disaster, really." "It was, mate," says Scott, who is at least pragmatic. Len decides to be a cheerleader for Scott, despite him not being a SPORTSMAN, who he says is a class act who's not done himself justice tonight. "Try and stay awake, and come back stronger," is his advice. To be fair, that is quite good advice. For Len, at least. Alesha tells Scott that some people - eg Matt Di Angelo, is the subtext - would just give up when they make mistakes, and he just carried on. Bruno says that Sssssscott is still sssssmoother than everybody else. Scott says he blanked. Heh, Alesha did that in her championship year. I am so fond of the memory of Alesha and Claudia cackling about it on It Takes Two: "Went wrong there. Still wrong now. Still wrong." [Best ever. - Steve] Scores - Craig 6, Len 7, Alesha 9 and Bruno 9 for a total of 31, which is just ridiculous.
After a pointless filler waste-of-time Magnificent Seven montage better suited to the results show (and let us be sure we will get more filler montages then), with all the contestants in Wild West costume, back to business. And let's just note Erin Boag's brilliant tweet: "What's going on with the judging tonight! Are the two on the end blind!" Erin is staging a bid to challenge Karen Hardy's future Head Judge supremacy. [I can't wait for her to vent her rage on The Machine on It Takes Two on Wednesday. - Steve]
Gavin and Katya next. He is cross with himself for messing up last week, but now wants to head towards the top half of the leaderboard. Katya tries to teach him the jive - "I saw Scott do it, and he got 10s, so thought it must be easy, but it's not." She then tries to get him to express some emotions, and he tells her: "I hate the jive. Not as much as I hate myself right now."
They're dancing to Hey Ya! which seems odd to me, but loads of the music choices in this show do, so I guess I should be used to it. There's an odd bit at the start where Katya is just sitting there and Gavin kicks his legs up in front of her, and it is just like that episode of Friends when Jennifer Coolidge is the girls' friend Amanda and demonstrates her dance prowess to Chandler: "Can you believe it? I've had no formal dance training!" Apart from that, Gavin seems to have the speed of the footwork, as you'd expect from someone as swift as him, but is still a bit tentative. They get some comedy in there too, with him pretending to prepare for a cartwheel, and then running away, and a shimmy in front of the judges' table. Weird stuff all in all. [It really was - especially since the side-by-side kicks and flicks were genuinely brilliant and the rest of it...wasn't. - Steve]
Len reminisces about wearing an angora hat in his childhood, for he has mistaken "going to work" for "going to therapy", and says that Gavin hated it so he hated it too. Alesha says there were timing issues throughout, but he is "admire-able". Bruno demands that Gavin give it to him, and turn into Superman from Clark Kent. Katya tells Bruno that they CAN do it, "give us a chance!" Well, Katya, you have a chance EVERY WEEK, and pretty much most weeks you balls it up. Craig tells Gavin that the bottom-wiggling was unnecessary. Katya says that Craig was taking notes when Gavin was dancing and was missing some of the things he was doing; "thank goodness," is the retort. Gavin reveals that Katya was ill during the week so he danced with her boyfriend instead. This comment does not get the attention it deserves. [WHY WAS THIS NOT ON THE TRAINING FOOTAGE? This bloody show sometimes. - Steve] Scores - Craig 3, Len 6, Alesha 7 and Bruno 6 for a total of 22.
Matt and Aliona next, he in a in scarlet outfit that are almost as garish as her hair. Matt talks tediously about getting TENS (finally). "Our secret is we understand each other very well without talking to each other," says Aliona. And indeed, they don't seem to talk that much when they're rehearsing. Except, as we see, when Aliona swears in his FACE, which he finds horrendously offensive, nice vicar's son that he is.
They're dancing the American smooth to that blinkin' Empire State of Mind song which has been murdered over and over again on The X Factor. It's a pretty routine, well danced, but I have to say Matt's facial expressions are HILARIOUS. It's as if he's channeling Richard Chamberlain in The Slipper And The Rose. And his tippy-tappy circles round Aliona are just ridiculous. [I didn't even realise it was an American smooth until afterwards. I would've sworn it was a paso doble. - Steve] Alesha says she was disappointed tonight because she didn't feel as relaxed as usual because he carries so much tension in his face. Bruno says that Matt puts so much into what he does, but goes from beautiful lyricism to American Psycho. Aliona talks them through the narrative of the routine. Aliona, love, if you have to explain it, it didn't work. Craig says the opening sequence was fantastic, as were the lifts, but did think Matt tried too hard with the expressions. Len just repeats what I said about it not being a very successful routine if you have to provide a synopsis afterwards. Bruce tells Matt and Aliona not to listen to the judges. Great idea! (Actually, you'd probably be best to ignore three of them.) Scores - Craig 8, Len 8, Alesha 8, Bruno 9 for a total of 33.
Pamela and James next. They are wearing mortarboard hats. This is going to be messy, isn't it? There'll be hanky-panky, I am sure. They talk about their Charleston being fun, and yes, when you think of "Pamela and James" you definitely think "fun". They panic about getting their mics entangled, which happens in rehearsal with Pamela stuck under James's crotch, and James is worried about doing a cartwheel and letting Pamela support his weight. Well, don't choreograph it then if you're that scared. Silly.
They ham up a school-themed Charleston to Let's Misbehave with a glittery classroom, and Scott and Natalie's front door from a couple of weeks ago reinvented as the door to a staff room. The epic cartwheel goes well. I've yet to ascertain why James is wearing Argyle socks pulled up to his knee with old-fashioned golf trousers. Some of the arm movements are a bit out of sync, and I'm fairly sure Pamela headbutts James in the groin at one point, but they finish with Pamela balanced upside-down on James's back, which is brilliant, and this is a sight better than anything else we've seen tonight. Bruno says it was a funny mini-play set to music, and they will get a Bafta from him. Bruce reminds us that Pamela is married to BILLY CONNOLLY. For a minute there I thought we were going to get through a whole episode without being told that. Craig says that they danced it without fear. Len says it tickled his fancy, and Alesha finishes up with, "Best dance of the night!" True, that. Although everybody else has been pretty mediocre, to be fair. Scores - Craig 9, Len 9, Alesha 10 and Bruno 10 for a total of 38.
So Pamela and James are last up and they top the leaderboard, with Ann and Anton fucking awful and rooted at the bottom, but they won't be going. So who will?
So "last night," our seven remaining couples danced and they were all pretty disappointing, except for Ann and Anton who were suicide-inducingly bad and made Billy Zane's performance in the movie Titanic look competent, and Pamela and James who were quite good despite her headbutting his testicles. Tonight, we will see whether Patsy has managed to avoid being voted out this week as Ann coasts through yet again. Let's get going, shall we?
Voiceover Tess isn't too far off the mark when she refers to last night as "ballroom bedlam". And we begin with some more bedlam tonight, with the pro dancers doing something that almost looks like a jive but isn't quite, and features the ladies standing on chairs as if they're hiding from mice in a cartoon for most of the opening section. Aliona seems to wander off and do a dance of her own near the end, but eventually gets dragged back into the group and back on track. Jared hasn't shaved - who knew he ever needed to? - and looks funny.
When we finally see Tess, she is wearing a grey off-the-shoulder Lycra thing, as if it's 1984 and she's in Desperately Seeking Susan. She wishes Bruno a happy birthday for Thursday and completely nonplusses him and us. Time for some backstage action as the judges seem to be standing around in a darkened warehouse: Len, who gave Kara a 6 last week, asks Craig how he could give Kara a 7, and meanwhile Kara admits that she didn't think they'd get marked that high, so SHUT UP, LEN; Ann says "darling" in her VT and gets mocked for being showbiz by Anton; having molested Alesha in his attempts to show Patsy how to dance the Argentine tango, Bruno decides to then dance with Craig, which is a little more successful; Scott cries about "going blank"; Alesha, Craig and Bruno all imitate Gavin, and not in a flattering way; Alesha, Craig and Bruno all mock Matt's facial expressions but clarify that they do not want him to leave; "thank GOD for Pamela!" exclaims Bruno, and Alesha deems her the one to beat. Oooh, exciting!
First lot of results. Safe are: Matt and Aliona; Pamela and James; and Ann and Anton MY EYES THEY BURN. In the bottom two are Patsy and Robin. Well, who could have guessed?
Time for another pro routine. Pamela wails to Claudia that her partner James is about to dance "with another woman". Yes, it's his wife, the lovely Ola, who is looking exceptionally gorgeous in one of her trademark catsuits. They rumba. I'm glad I'm already lying down, otherwise this would make me a bit faint. I love the Jordans and their palpable passion.
So as if Strictly wasn't enough like Dancing with the Stars these days, next week is MOVIE WEEK. (NB - Steve has to recap MOVIE WEEK, hahaha!) [SIGH. - Steve] And this necessitates a montage of the contestants pretending to be in films, including Kara making a fairly decent attempt at being Jennifer Beals. And Scott and Pamela as John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. And a hideous section where Ann is Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. And Scott and Gavin stripping a la The Full Monty. Gavin is rather more adept at the clothes-removal than his colleague, who doesn't seem to be able to get his shirt off. Bless.
And then some more results. Who's safe? Kara and Artem. So who's with Patsy and Robin in the bottom two? It's...Gavin and Katya. That means Scott and Natalie are safe. One hopes he can get some sleep before next week. And not in the training room. Would be sad to see him fall by the wayside now.
Claudia talks to Gavin. He mumbles things back. "I don't understand what you just said," says Claudia. He says more things. "Literally no idea," she says. And if that wasn't painful enough James Blunt then takes to the studio and performs his new single. [Oh, like you're suffering. I have to recap JUSTIN BIEBER and THE WANTED on X Factor this week. You got off lightly. - Steve]
After that, it's finally time for the Moment of Truth., and the couple leaving tonight is - Patsy and Robin. WELL WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED THAT?
So farewell then, Patsy Kensit. You made it much further and improved much more than I ever expected at the start. Farewell too to Robin, who's done well in his debut year aided by a variety of oddly-shaped vests. Join Steve next week to continue to marvel at Widdecombe's survival!