Monday, 28 November 2016

Balls to the wall

Week 10: Top 6 Results - 27 November 2016

We open with a sports-day themed group routine from the pro dancers, and because everything on this show has to be viewed through some sort of rose-tinted nostalgic timewarp, we don't get to see everyone in lycra or short shorts because this particular sports day appears to be taking place at Butlins in 1938. The good news, however, is that back in those days everyone wore their crispest cricket whites for just such an occasion, which means we get to ogle Gorka's magnificent arse in his white trousers as he plays the role of the officiator. Craig and Len do a spoken-word intro as sheepskin-jacketed commentators declaring "Gorka's got his whistle out" and guys, you already had my undivided attention, there's no need to go overboard. What follows is a charleston/callisthenics hybrid to 'You Gotta Have Pep', which is pretty flaily but also features Neil and Pasha sticking their heads between each other's legs for a series of assisted cartwheels and well let's just say I'm not hating it. Gorka is unimpressed, however, and scores them a 2. Janette then wins a tug of war single-handedly (lucky AljaĆŸ) and Chloe, Karen and Natalie provide a hula hoop tunnel for Pasha to dive through, which Gorka scores a 7 (I never said any of this had to make sense), then Pasha and Neil have a bizarre rematch in a sack race which they (both?) score an 8 for even though it doesn't look like either of them actually wins, and it all ends with a race where Gorka cheats and declares himself the winner. Sure, why not? (Seriously though, full marks to whoever chose the costumes for this routine. In fact just make all the men wear white trousers for everything from now on. As I have just demonstrated, I am more than willing to overlook narrative shortcomings if there are butts on display.)

(PS Welcome back Gorka, I'm very glad you're okay after all of the horribleness of last week.)

As the pros troop off (I like how some of them are pointedly staying in character until they're off stage and some of them, mentioning no names ANTON, are already yukking it up the second the music stops), Tess and Claudia walk on. Tess is wearing a hideously unflattering jumpsuit with a slash right down her cleavage and seriously flared trousers, and Claudia is wearing all of the lace. No really, all of it. Tess reminds us that Saturday's show was a night of firsts: the first ever Cha Cha Challenge, and the first ever perfect score awarded for a samba. One of these is slightly more momentous than the other. The pair point out that next week is Musicals Week, but one couple will not get a callback for it. Coming up, Ellie Goulding will be doing a thing and we'll get a Len's Lens, but first it's time to look back at what happened on the performance show.

Everyone is very excited about having made it to week 10, and Ed can't quite believe he's in the top six. Louise tries to persuade us that the cha cha is "everybody's toughest dance". It is a week one dance, Louise. [But, to be fair, it's a week one dance most people do terribly - Rad] Judge Rinder thinks it adds a level of extra pressure to have to do two dances, and Danny says that they're all dancing for a place in the quarter finals. Everyone rehearses in the corridor, Ed does Blue Steel again (such a total dad, just learning the one joke and running it into the ground because it's all he knows), and Darcey renames the upcoming danceathon "the cha cha cha challenge", because wordplay is lost on her. Backstage after performing, Ore celebrates getting a 10 from Bruno, AJ tells Claudia she was amazing, Ed tells Katya he really liked being taught the tango by her, Judge Rinder had a wonderful time doing his rumba and it meant the world to dance with his teacher (I half-expect him to interrupt Alan Dedicoat at the top of the show, yelling "teacher! Robert Rinder and his teacher, Oksana Platero!" next week at this rate), Louise is the happiest she's ever been, and Danny can't put into words how amazing it feels to get the first ever perfect score for a samba.

Back in the studio, Tess is toting those Cue Cards Of Doom, and these segments are getting shorter and shorter as the herd thins, so the two couples who are safe and guaranteed a spot in the quarter-final are Louise and Kevin, and Danny and Oti. The first couple in the dance-off is...Judge Rinder and Oksana. They don't look overly surprised by this development. Judge Rinder tells Tess that he just wants to do his very best for "this excellent lady here", and Darcey tells him that he needs to develop the story between the two of them in the steps, it will read so much better. Len's opinion is also sought, and he says that Judge Rinder was unlucky to get a tough dance on a tough week, and he advises them to "just glance at each other" and get a bit more chemistry going. Glances, eh? Phwoar! Are people allowed to glance before the watershed these days? Won't somebody think of the children? [And romantic glances between student and teacher are surely very much frowned upon - Rad]

The Clauditorium looks very deserted these days as Claudia asks Danny if people are yelling "show us your charleston!" at him on the street nowdays. ("Charleston", yes, that's what they're asking him to whip out for them.) Danny jokes that he's rarely allowed out of the rehearsal room, but that when he does see people who aren't Oti, they're very supportive. Claudia asks Louise if she's going to get competitive now, and Louise provides the obligatory story about how they're all Such Good Friends, and that if they start looking at each other as competitors, then it won't all just be about The Joy Of Dance any more. Boooooo! We paid for bloooood!

Next: Ellie Goulding sings 'Still Falling For You' while dressed as Cavegirl with Kevin and Karen contempowafting aggressively in front of her.

After that, the judges join Claudia on the balcony for another unmissable Len's Lens. Len gets overexcited about Ore's bodyshaping in his paso doble and then demonstrates paso shaping for us with his hanky. Darcey wants to admire Claudia F's upper body and her core strength in her Argentine tango again, and Claudia W asks on behalf of "Planet Earth" what Claudia F has to do to get a 10. The audience noisily applaud at this, and I feel very much on my own in believing that nothing I've seen Claudia F do yet has had enough wow factor to merit a 10? [I'm with you - Rad] I mean yes there were some lovely lifts in there, but she's a gymnast, I already know she can be chucked about in the air, I want to be moved by her dancing. Darcey says that Claudia F needs to connect more with AJ to get a 10, so I assume she'll be coming out dressed as a mirror next week. Craig revisits Louise's raised shoulders, and the other judges try to convince him that this was just Louise expressing herself, but Craig is having none of it. Finally, Bruno weighs in on Danny's samba, and Bruno thinks the secret is Danny making it look so natural and believable before declaring it "probably the best male samba we've ever seen". I love that it's the only samba ever to get a perfect score, but Bruno still won't give it a superlative without adding two qualifiers into the same clause.

Back over to Tess for the final set of results, and Ore and Joanne are given the all-clear into next week, leaving Claudia and Ed waiting to see which of them is about to get the red light. It's Ed, at long last, which means Claudia and AJ are also through to next week, though from the look on Claudia's face I think she was expecting the worst. Ed walks over to Tess who tells him it's his first time here in the dance-off (lol at the very idea that Ed was ever going to get more than one appearance in the dance-off) and tells her that it was a fabulous dance and he's looking forward to doing it again. Bruno advises Ed to "keep the entertainment value going, because that is your ace". In other words, "don't try and dance now, there's no point". Tess asks Craig if he can give Ed a boost and Craig says no, but then adds he's "secretly enjoyed your dancing". Which I'm sure is easy to say when you know it's about to stop forever in the next ten minutes.

In The Abandoned Clauditorium, we spend a bit more time railing at the injustice of Claudia F not having a ten yet (*shrug*) [I was more invested in Ashley Taylor Dawson being trapped in a rut of 35s if we're talking boring scoring storylines - Rad], and Ore talks a little bit about how they all started out as a family, and that's why it's so hard to see people go each week. Joanne reveals that next week they're doing a foxtrot and Ore's going to be Willy Wonka. Because it went so well the last time he had to do a candy-themed dance?

There follows a trailer for Musicals Week, and for an alleged West End Wendy Ringer, Danny doesn't appear to have the strongest singing voice. Also, Tess and Claudia sing, and it's every bit as magical as you might think.

Afterwards, Claudia asks Judge Rinder how much he wants to stay in, and he says that he really wants to stay in for Oksana, but he's having a wonderful, joyous time. Oksana says that this is a very special dance for both of them, and she just wants him to enjoy it. They are dispatched to the dancefloor while Ed says that Katya has never compromised on teaching him to dance, but they've always tried to make it fun too. Katya says she's pushed Ed really hard, but he always delivered and she's his number one fan. It's either very sweet or Stockholm syndrome.

Judge Rinder and Oksana go first, reprising the Rinderumba - it's not vastly changed from the first time we saw it, but I think he is trying to be a little softer and smoother in his steps, and to look as tenderly at Oksana as possible. Then Ed and Katya try their tango again, and if anything it's a little more bumpy this time, though Ed does switch things up a bit this time by handing the rose that he was clenching in his teeth to Darcey instead of Craig. It's very sweet to see Judge Rinder jumping up and down and clapping heartily for him when it finishes, too.

The outcome here is unlikely to be a surprise, but let's hear from the judges anyway. Craig votes for Judge Rinder and Oksana "on a more technical performance", Darcey saves them too "on their better technical ability", and Bruno doesn't even bother to dress it up by saying that he's saving the better dancers - Judge Rinder and Oksana. Len makes it unanimous, and everyone gets to their feet in tribute to Ed. Tess asks Ed if he thinks he might carry on dancing. I thought we were still waiting for him to start dancing? Ed runs through a long list of all the wonderful people on the show who've made his time here so enjoyable, but of course none more so than Katya, who he thinks is going to go on to be a "total dynamount [sic] knockout Strictly star". That is genuinely lovely of him, I have no sarcasm here. Tess of course ruins it by patronising the living shit out of Katya, who's crying and telling us she couldn't have wished for a better partner.

Tess sends them off for their last dance and Katya sob-giggles that they "haven't practised that". Well no, I imagine it was enough of a struggle just getting him to learn the main routine each week. They dance to 'That's What Friends Are For' and it's mostly just hugging, but I'm okay with that. I know I've been harsh on Ed (and I think not undeservedly so), but you can tell from the way that everyone runs out to tacklehug him that he was clearly very well-liked by his other contestants.

Post-mortem reactions: Danny says that if you ask people about Strictly 2016, they will say two words: "Ed Balls". (Oti goes along with this, though through slightly gritted teeth, as if to say that she senses her upcoming glitterball triumph will forever be overshadowed by a man who did a Gangnam style one time.) Judge Rinder calls him "decent and funny and passionate and authentic", and Louise says he was "such a big personality around here" and they looked forward to watching him each week. The grieving ends as Claudia expresses her glee at being in the quarter finals, and Ore thinks next week will be magical.

Ed Balls.


F a t i m a said...

With Ed gone and Rinder likely to go next, we're probably only ever going to get one more "Sev-un" from Len, if that.

Katy Boyer said...

I highly recommend watching the Ellie Goulding segment on mute.
Whatever Karen and Kevin were up to was utterly hilarious with no context. (Although it may have been hilarious with context, but I can only cope with so much at once)

Steven said...

F a t i m a - you say that like it's a bad thing :)

Katy - trust me, it was also hilarious with the volume up.

Rad said...

F a t i m a - there's still Christmas...