Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Byrne notice

Top 6 Results: 9th December 2012

On Monday morning I made the mistake of ordering regular coffee instead of decaf. This may sound like a minor mishap to you, but I've learned from previous experience that I do not cope well when a large amount of caffeine is introduced into my empty stomach. As a result I spent most of Monday in a strange kind of daze - with a thumping headache that left colours all blurring into each other, as I grew alternately giddy and nauseous and eventually both at the same time.

Why am I subjecting you to this protracted and tedious anecdote that would be more at home on my Livejournal? (Assuming that I used Livejournal like most people do, for wallowing in self-pity, as opposed to using Livejournal like I actually did - for reading homoerotic fanfic.) Because that was pretty much the same reaction I had to this week's opening pro dance. It's set to 'It's Oh So Quiet' and has a Mad Hatter's Tea Party theme, with Ola as Alice and a very heavily made-up James as the Mad Hatter. My tolerance for this dance was low from the outset because, as anyone who knows me will understand, this is the only Mad Hatter I have any interest in. Anyway, there are also eight dancers in the role of playing cards: Artem, Karen, Robin, Kristina, Pasha, Aliona, Brendan and Erin (who I understand was drafted in to replace a poorly Natalie, and wasn't entirely thrilled about having to take on the hair requirements that came with this role), and someone's clearly had a lot of fun doing the choreography and the costumes and the make-up, but I just wish I was having even a tenth of that much fun watching it. Instead, I just kind of want an aspirin and a long lie down.

Enter Tess and Claudia. Tess is wearing a red lace-effect dress that's...actually reasonably flattering on her, and thus in order to maintain the sartorial equilibrium of the show, Claudia looks a mess. I mean there's nothing wrong with her outfit per se, it's a fairly straightforward LBD, it just looks rather unfinished as an ensemble. If she'd thrown a little jazzy blouson over the top of it or something, I'm sure it would've been divine. (That may well be the gayest sentence I will write this year.)

Claudia promises Mickey Bubbles later in the show as well as Len's Lens and the Dread Dance Off. Before all that, of course, we must invariably review all of the backstage happenings from Saturday's Dance Fusion. The segment begins as the professional dancers greet the arriving audience members with increasingly naked desperation because at this point every vote counts - if the audience members had babies with them, you'd better believe those babies would be getting kissed right now. Various people express support for various contestants, including Kate Thornton generously chucking a vote Denise's way. (Why isn't Kate Thornton on TV more? She was a delight hosting the Strictly tour last year, someone needs to give her a job again.) [I suspect she is still being made to suffer for The X Factor.  But if this much exile is Kate's punishment, imagine how much worse Dermot's fate will be once the whole sorry affair is over - Rad] There are last-minute rehearsals happening in the corridors, and James angles for the newly-vacant post of Nicky's man-friend only to be snubbed in favour of Louis. Ha! The recap glosses over Denise rending her garment entirely, and also ignores most of Lisa's negative feedback. Nicky does not escape so easily (gosh, I wonder who's going home tonight?), and Len's "yum yum, pig's bum" comment is mysteriously deemed worthy of a second airing. Dani and Vincent are thrilled about their two 10s, Louis is typically stoic about his latest good score, while Kimberley is still a completely insane as a result of not only topping the leaderboard but also getting a perfect score. I know people complain about her not having much of a personality, but it was totally worth it if that was what was waiting when the floodgates finally opened. Once everything else has been accounted for, there is of course Len wandering the corridors by himself, opining that the semi-final will be a real challenge because the couples will have to do two dances. Hang on, isn't that what they've just done? If anything next week will be easier because they won't have to try to do those two dances at the same damn time.

Time for Tess to unleash the first set of results. The following couples are safely through to the semi-final: Kimberley and Pasha (SCREAM!) and Dani and Vincent (OMIGOD), but the first couple in the Dread Dance Off is Nicky and Karen (total absence of reaction because they saw this coming an entire week ago). The other three couples must wait to find out their fate, and Denise and Lisa look set to pass that time with a world championship woeful-gurning contest. Ladies, I appreciate you've put a lot of time and effort into this, but at the end of the day, it is still only a televised dance/popularity contest. Lighten up, eh?

Tess turns to the judges and says that she heard Bruno shouting "disgraceful!" when he heard that result. Except Bruno clarifies that he was actually saying "it's Craig's fault!" Heh. Also: every single judge gave Nicky their lowest score of the night apart from Len, who thought Lisa was the worst. How is this solely Craig's fault? Anyway, Bruno says that if we were judging for effort (and apparently this week we aren't, even though Lisa still managed to score 30 points) then Nicky would've got a 10. What, out of 40?

Claudia's with the safe couples, and Kimberley can't even pretend to care to be upset about the plight of Nicky and Karen or indeed those who are yet to be called safe because SHE GOT 40/40 AND SHE'S IN THE SEMI-FINAL, SO YOU BITCHES CAN EAT IT. Or something. She apologises for being unable to contain herself (don't apologise Kimberley, this is the most fun you've been all series). Claudia attempts to deepen the mythology surrounding Craig's 10 paddle, saying that "he's only got it out about twice". Yeah, for Lisa Snowdon's cha cha cha and Pamela Stephenson's quickstep. Really high standards he's got there. Pasha says he's proud of Kimberley for working so hard, and he's impressed with her fusion of dance and personality. Dani and Vincent joke semi-cutely about how they now have a ten each, and Vincent tells us that they've got the Argentine tango next week. That's basically Strictly shorthand for "see you in the final, then."

Next it's time for Mickey Bubbles and his cold, calculating eyes of hollow evil. He's singing 'It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas', accompanied by Anton and Erin who are constantly twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom. I'm afraid the appeal of Mickey Bubbles continues to elude me: I realise that he's quite an attractive man, but I can't get over the combined factors of the aforementioned evil eyes and the even greater evil that is his music. It ends with Erin holding some mistletoe over Bubbles's head and stealing a kiss. And then so does Anton. HOMOLOLS.

Things go from bad to worse, because then it's time for Len's Lens - or this week, Len's Fusion Lens. We begin by discussing Kimberley and Pasha, or rather discussing Darcey's stagey shock at Craig's unveiling of his 10. Whatever, I'd rather have seen Kimberley's reaction in slow-mo. Over and over and over again. Len explains that Kimberley captured the mood of each dance, and she totally deserved to get 40 because her transitions were so crisp and clean. I'm still not sure that many people are entirely convinced by this argument, but that's never stopped Len before and I don't anticipate it doing so now either.

After that, Claudia wants to talk to Darcey about Louis's fabulous arm shapes, but I'm a bit too distracted by the way that Louis's revealing costume for this week shows off his decidedly less-than-fabulous backtat. I had to endure Mark Ballas on the It Takes Two panel on Friday, and now this - Strictly clearly wants to torture me with cruddy backtats this week. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Darcey thinks Louis's arms are long, but well-placed and tender. Apparently the show can't be bothered with the "DARCEY'S MOIST FOR LOUIS!" storyline these days because that open goal is just left unchallenged as we move on to Denise and her two different types of flicks, which Craig loved, at least until her heel got caught in her dress. He attempts to chalk this up to Denise's leg being too high, but Len gets all pissy and says that it was probably just "one of those things". This is the same Len who told Denise that she'd kicked her leg too high and that was the source of her problem not three hours ago (in real time). I know Len always like to be seen as the people's champion with Craig as the villain, but does he really think we didn't notice him say that exact same thing on the main show? [FUCKING LEN. *Stabs things* - Rad]

Bruno talks extensively about the joy and synchronisation of Dani and Vincent's dance, and then we're supposed to delight in Lisa hamming it up as Robin rips her dress in half, but all I can say is that it was tedious the first time and seeing it in slow motion isn't making it any cuter. Len thinks that Lisa captures "the feel and the love of dance". Odd, because I think she's actually causing me to lose my love of dance.

There follows a trailer where everyone's all ERMAHGERD, SERMEH FERHNELS, talking about how they'll have to learn two dances in the same week. Even Nicky, bless him, even though the show stopped pretending he had any chance of making it that far ages ago. He's a sport, I'll say that much for him.

Time to reveal which of those final three couples is going to be saved over Nicky and Karen in the Dread Dance Off. It isn't Lisa and Robin, because they're safe and incredibly vocal (and slightly obnoxious) in their gratitude, and of course it isn't Louis and Flavia either, because: duh. So Denise and James finally end up in the Dread Dance Off just as they've been predicting since Kimberley had her unexpectedly early visit. "We knew," mumbles Denise, and buries her head in her hands. Yep, you and everyone watching the show on Saturday, love. I think most people didn't even bother to read the spoiler thread on Digital Spy this week because they knew exactly what it was going to say.

Tess asks Darcey what Denise can do now to ensure a place in the semi-final. Darcey does not give the correct answer (which is "continue to breathe"), but instead burbles on about WHAT A SHOCK this is [When they were fourth place out of six on the judges' leaderboard?  Notsomuch, Darcey - Rad] and how Denise just needs to enjoy herself in the Dread Dance Off. Yeah, I'm sure Denise is loving every second of this experience.

Lisa, Robin, Louis and Flavia are waiting in Claudia's Counselling Centre. Claudia asks Lisa about her reaction when she was declared safe, and Lisa replies "it was ridiculous". Yes. Yes, it was. Also, apparently Lisa owes her continued stay in the competition to a "lucky rubber band" that she puts around her finger until it turns blue. So, y'know, now at least we all know who - or rather what - to blame. [Eternal gratitude to the person who sneaks some scissors into the studio next week - Rad] Lisa vows to knuckle down this week, just as she has done every week, so I'm sure that'll make ALL the difference and come next Saturday she'll be like Baryshnikov. Meanwhile, Claudia tells Louis that he's very clever, and Louis says that he needed to step it up because it was scary "nearly being in the [Dread] Dance Off". Somehow I suspect Louis was as much "nearly in the [Dread] Dance Off" as I am nearly respected character actor Dylan Baker, but I guess we have to pretend he was in order for this series to still have some drama left in it.

Trailer for It Takes Two in which Zoe claims the show has "lots of great guests" and illustrates that point with Il Divo, Michael Bublé and Russell Grant. It took all my self control not to cancel my series record right there and then, I don't mind telling you.

Then we're back to Claudia on the Balcony Of Broken Dreams with James and Denise and Nicky and Karen for what is about to be one of the most perfectly misjudged soapbox moments in Strictly history. Ready? James would like us all to know that he's upset that Denise works HARDER THAN ANYONE ELSE AND THAT'S A FACT, and all that stuff about her having an advantage is LIES because she hasn't been to stage school SINCE SHE WAS THIRTEEN and even then she only ever went to all the sitting-down classes and PEOPLE EXPECT SO MUCH OF BOTH OF THEM, and also SHE IS A WORKING MOTHER WHO NEVER SEES HER DAUGHTER. There's not a dry eye in the house, but only because everyone is crying with laughter. Even better, once Denise and James have headed down to the dancefloor, Claudia turns to Nicky who has the perfect riposte, delivered with an entirely straight face: "Well, unlike Denise, I actually am a trained dancer." HA! Oh, Nicky. Why do you have to wait until you're doomed to reveal that you're actually hilarious and snarky? If you'd been more like this earlier, I'd probably have voted for you. [I know!  He so needs to up his reality show game - Rad]

So Denise and James reprise their jive-quickstep, and she manages not to get her dress caught in her heel this time, although they do get into a bit of a muddle during the spins in hold (my apologies for not knowing the technical term for this), and once again Denise does too many solo spins at the end, which means James misses her hand when he grabs for it. These errors are immaterial, of course, because Nicky and Karen then repeat their American smooth-samba which has more faults than a Dread Dance Off is capable of fixing. Nicky isn't even able to take on board Darcey's note about how he overextends his arms, so there's certainly no chance of him straightening his legs or correcting his posture or any of those other issues. It's their last competitive dance, and they both know it. On the bright side, they at least manage to finish in time with the music, which is more than Denise and James did on either of their attempts.

Time to get the judges' decisions on who's staying. The tension! Craig votes to save Denise and James. Darcey thinks both couples gave strong performances (lol), but she votes to save Denise and James. Bruno thinks both couples improved, but the outstanding couple were Denise and James, so Nicky and Karen are going home. Len, of course, would also have voted to save Denise and James. There's a standing ovation for Nicky and Karen in the studio, and Nicky declares this "the biggest and best show in the world", and commends Karen for her hard work with him every day, despite the "shaky start". And middle. And end. Tess asks Karen if she has any words (with the implied subtext of "this might be the moment that decides whether you're coming back next year or not, so don't fuck it up"), and Karen says that she wants to thank everyone on the show, and she couldn't have asked for a better celeb than Nicky.

Nicky and Karen head to the dancefloor for their last dance to 'Stay Another Day' and all the lingering hugs that accompany it. Farewell, Nicky. We'll miss the man, but not as much as we'll miss the manhood.

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