Saturday, 20 December 2014

Crackers for Flackers!

It's the final! We're finally at the final! It feels like it's come around suddenly this year, or maybe we're just getting old? After last week's rather lacklustre semi-final I'm expecting to have my sparkly socks blown off by this final - no pressure contestants! Our super-scientific poll has Caroline down to win by a mile, but it's been wrong before (I'm looking at you, Joe Calzaghe supporters!), so let's see what surprises the night will bring!

As ever, we're just going to whizz through the first dances, since they've done them before, but just to summarise....what the hell were these dance choices about? Were they trying to sabotage everyone to make it fairer? I genuinely don't think anyone wanted to see these dances again.

Exhibit one, Frankie in the death slot doing her worst latin dance, no one cared about this samba. Mark's cha cha actually looked a bit too easy for him, it needed more content for the final! Caroline rocked the golden lampshade once more and delivered her amazing cha cha. Simon probably got the most random choice with his Charleston, but carried off with the vim and vigour we'd all expect, and Kristina's cheapo wig didn't burst into flames!

Personally I quite like the idea of seeing their week one dances. Shows how much they have improved. Or not. This dance really highlighted the fact that Mark was the weaker banana of the bunch, but I can't help but smile watching him dance, so jolly happy he was there. And mostly that Jake-My-Only-Body-Part-Is-A-Hip was not. I think I'm supposed to add #sorrynotsorry to that. I thought all four kicked ass in these somewhat questionable choices, and all showed some improvement on their first performances. Much disappointed Simon didn't do his samba again. I would have loved to have seen him smash it. 

SHOWDANCES

Frankie and Kevin

Will Frankie fall off a bench and die? That's what I took from the VT. Plus they said her dress would be a pink dream and it was mainly a horrible nude. The bench bit was actually really underwhelming as they didn't really do a lot while they were up there - while their ballroom content was wonderful. There was more razzmatazz than I was expecting from Frankie, Kevin uses razzes everyone's matazz for them - well done to Frankie for bringing it personality-wise in the final.
This was perky, nimble, classy and cute. All at once. I loved Frankie's Disney-princess dress, and despite the random benchscapades (I didn't get the Sound of Music reference either), this was a bit awesome. 

Mark and Karen

I was really excited to see this one, all the elements seemed right to bring out Mark's best - which is basically an over-excited child in go-faster stripes! Someone said it was like putting a mento in a bottle of coke, which I loved. It was a 'traditional' SCD show dance, eg take a latin number and go crazy with it. A befitting ending for the two of them, hard work and sheer joy.
Mark, dressed as a cricketer circa 1974, running around the floor, bobbing about with the odd bit of jive choreography? Fitted him perfectly. Not a worthy winner, but a worthy fourth, and a jolly good sport. 

Caroline and Pasha
I can't remember the last time I was so nervous for a showdance, contempo makes me think of the Lisa Snowdon bacofoil disaster. And do you know what? They only went and pulled it off! It had the fluidity of a rumba, it was totes emotes without making us want to vom and the lifts were epic. There was no rolling on the floor! All fears cast aside, well done guys.
Yes, I know had these been packaged as a 'rumba', it would have made me cross, but as the rule of showdance is don't talk about showdance there are no rules, then I allowed myself to find this moving and marvellous. It was as intense as a squirt of Jif lemon on Shrove Tuesday. It was as emotional as the bit in Titanic where SHE LETS GO. And to my untrained eye, she looked as graceful as a professional. Go Flackers! 

Simon and Kristina
This one was the biggest unknown quantity, I had no idea what sort of crazyness Kristina was going to throw at us, it looked like a bit of everything on ITT. And that's what it ended up being, a crazy pile of everything! Including a Bucks Fizz moment to reveal Kristina in the most spangle-tastic dresses ever. Simon's Greatest Hits was a great title for it, I would have expected a bit more control from the two of them, but whatever, it's final night.
More hesitant in parts than I would have liked but major kudos to Kristina for cramming every last bit of ballroom, latin, salsa and charleston choreography into there she could. It really proved that Simon ain't no one trick pony: he's a pony with more tricks than Paul Daniels on a caffeine high. His timing was on point. Loved it. 

PART TWO
We're back and the first person to go is....cue ITT-style faces to camera....MARK! Sad to see him go, after all the hard word and the epic j-word, but it probably was the right time. Mark, you've been an all-round good egg and a trouper, we'd have missed you on SCD this year.
Jolly good egg indeed. What's your favourite type of egg? Mine is... scrambled. Mark, you are a scrambled egg of the very best kind. 

So here we are with the final three and their last dances. Frankie blew us away with her Paso, I liked it first time around but she really cranked up the fierceness this time around - she's shown so much personality this episode, it's like she finally woken up to the performance aspect. Caroline and Pasha swivelled us to Timbuktu and somehow, Twitter folks, we appear to have slain the extra dancers. And as for Simon's Argentine Tango, oof, that was some serious dancing, it tipped us over the edge to hysteria!
Frankie's Paso was FIERCE. I had started the evening with her as my definite least fave, having not warmed to her at all throughout the previous weeks. However, she brought such vigour to this dance, I tweeted that I would also be happy if she won. This year's contestants have stood out as being delightfully friendly and especially lovely to each other, and Frankie is no exception. I loved seeing Caroline's charleston stripped down to wot-it-should-have-looked-like without the extra baggage of the human props, and it was just as - nay more so - wonderful. At this point, despite loving Simon, I was totes team Flackers. But then that tango. That tango changed everything. It threw me into an existential crisis and I did not know who to go for. My head said Caroline - think of all the tremendous dances she had done. But my heart, my heart went to Simon and that tango. Oh the dilemma! 

The returning group number was a delight as ever, great choice of songs this year, although I do like them a little bit more shambolic! Gregg merely handing Aliona a cake was hilarious though, along with Natalie styling it out with her fan and Alison bringing that crazy face back!
Natalie steals any show, doesn't she?

And so, our winner is.....CAROLINE! So very happy with this result: they've been the full package and worked hard to bring us some amazing routines. Also, it's great to see someone win who has wanted it to so much. What a nerve-racking final it's been, but totally worth it!
Great result, and a great finish to the series, which has been questionable in parts. But what a final. 

#SeeYouInSeptember 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Hemidemisemi-final

It's semi-finals time! I always say this is the most tense episode of the series, then forget what an overexcited wreck I am by the end of the final. Although this year it does seem like it could be anybody's game, did we ever say that before? I imagine we did...

This was somewhat underwhelming for a semi-final wasn't it?

Jake and Janette
Well that was a painful opening...delightfully uber-camp song though. This was not a semi-final standard, you can eyes and teeth a cha cha in the early weeks (or hips and bum in Jake's case), but you need the technique as well at this stage. Although props for Janette for doing all those pepperpot spins without vomming.
Imagine Wallace (of Wallace and Gromit fame) dancing a cha cha cha. Yeah. 

Frankie and Kevin
Has the Christmas special come early? If it was the Christmas special I'd have been ok with it, I'll take any old sentimental claptrap then, but this was just odd. Or maybe it was an excuse to be stiff and not do a lot of rumba-ing? As with a lot of their stuff, it was nice, but meh. I wouldn't wish a rumba on anyone in the semi finals, but that's not an excuse to try and do a different dance...
I'm with Len. I don't see why rumba has to be slutty. This was strange, but oddly charming. And I loved Frankie's dress. She looked like a sugarplum fairy.

Mark and Karen
After last week's shock of staying, Mark has once again worked his little sparkly socks off. Oh this was so twee, the song, Karen's dress, Mark's grin - there was everything. It wasn't his best ballroom, unfortunately, like Len said it lacked a bit of finesse. But there were great hands, that was a surprise. And any routine with The Dreaded Swing in that I still like deserves some points.
Swing Klaxon! This was nice. Not much more than that, but considerably better than Jake's effort and he definitely deserves to be in the final. He's not the underdog as his dance ability (and attitude) is way above Jake's. If he does make the final, I can't wait to see his little face.

Simon and Kristina
Now, we fell in love to a samba to this song on DWTS, like actually jumped up and down for it, so hopes were high for Simon. I was gutted when those samba rolls went wrong, especially when Kristina had decided to bring her fiercest game out this evening. And then they never quite recovered. Is it just me or is the two-dances thing wearing everyone out this week?
Oh, oh! My disappointment was tangible. I was, like, so looking forward to this and it had such potential. However, this is how it goes on live TV. 

Caroline and Pasha
Can Caroline save what has so far been a rather underwhelming semi final? Not quite, but she had a pretty good stab at it! This was probably my favourite dance so far tonight, they put so much into it and I liked the choreography - there were twiddly bits but still plenty of foxtrot content.
This must have been so difficult to dance to. Foxtrot is so hard and to do it without a regular beat in the music is insane. They did a good job on a very difficult task. Caroline has a real feel for music and the comments that it lost its style was because the music wasn't right - but she was right for the music. Does that make sense?

Right, all change, let's go round again, once more with feeling please...

Jake and Janette
Janette's dress is hideous, the poor thing. And it seemed to want to static itself to Jake half the time, it was really distracting. This was a pretty run-of-the-mill Viennese Waltz, but it was probably technically better than a lot of stuff he's done recently. Again, nothing much to write about and the judges' comments were tumbleweed central, can someone please wake us up!
I actually preferred this to most of Jake's other dances and it made me realise what he could have done if he had actually decided to learn to dance instead of acting like a jerk for the past eight or so weeks. 

Frankie and Kevin
Frankie looks amazeballs, I'll give her that. And do you what, this was actually pretty good, might even be my favourite since her paso! It was full of things that shouldn't have worked, but did; the song, Frankie being sultry, Kevin not wearing his specs. She said on ITT that she's not great at lifts, and I think that worked in her favour because they didn't make too much of them and concentrated on the tango content.
It's like the producers heard the cries for traditional music and got it completely wrong, thinking that traditional, classical European would do. Hm. They need to get a grip. However, this wasn't the worst choice and I like the band's rendition of it. It just hurts me because an Argentine Tango is so much better with authentic music. This was OK. Didn't blow me away, but there was a faint waft. 

Mark and Karen
I felt for Mark when I saw the rumba, this was never going to be his best. And then Karen went all contempo-emoootion on him. And wardrobe presented him with a pair of Gap khakis. But, do you know what, he did his best with what he was given and his performance was actually really good. Most men just look like they're cringe cringe cringe during the rumba, but he committed to it all the way. And then Len decided it was this particular couple he'd have a go at this week...
Whilst I agree that there should have been some rumba in this rumba, I do not agree that Len should have launched into poor Karen whilst the other pros have been getting away with all sorts for the rest of the series. He did the same to Trent last week. It's like expecting someone to play chess without knowing the rules and it's grossly, grossly unfair. 

Simon and Kristina
Simon just HAD to bring it with this dance, and asking someone to bring it with a foxtrot is a tall order, we mainly try to stay awake. But Kristina did it again, bringing the classic Hollywood glam that we love from these two, they're so smooth I'm surprised they don't slip over. And what a dress, Kristina, I'll even forgive you the cinema seat ending!
What Simon and Kristina do best. Cool as a refrigerated cucumber, and as classy as  a classroom full of classics students, this was great. I'm not convinced that the pros themselves are coming up with these arbitrary themes (in fact, I will put money on it), so I will not comment on it, other than that Kristina has been doing a great job shoehorning actual dance choreography into them. Lots of hold, and well executed. If these two don't reach the final I will be very angry. Raaa.

Caroline and Pasha
And now we're awake! A salsa song with someone singing in Spanish, heaven's above! On this night of all nights, seeing someone have such a bloody good time was a total tonic. There was so much oomph it even overshadowed the naffness of the pink outfits, great armography and energy all the way through too. Caroline's rise from always the bridesmaid to actually being the bride has been a delight to watch.
I actually didn't hate this. Those who are regular readers of this blog may faint in shock. I hate to break it to you all, but that track wasn't salsa. On the other hand, I was thankful of the latin flavour of it which was more appropriate than the usual tosh to which we are subjected. Caroline's body isolations were wonderful and Pasha's choreography was far more salsa than anything else we have seen this series. I would have liked to have seen more body movement in the basics in hold, but in the grand scheme of things, a big well done. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Gurn Baby Gurn

I hope you've all gotten over your travel sickness from the shocker that was Around the World Week, may it never darken our doors again. Lets get down to the tension of the quarter finals, hopefully with some proper dancing and battling it out to semis. And we have the waltz-a-thon - a group number based on ballroom, it's a revelation!

Simon and Kristina
These two look absolutely gorgeous, so old Hollywood and divine for an American Smooth. This had so much razzmatazz, Simon's worked so hard on his technique that he's now pulling off the ballroom numbers with aplomb. I think they were both so genuinely excited that the foot bit went wrong at the start of the last lift - other than that he seemed to be pulling off the lifts off with ease. I now want Simon to get to the final to see what Kristina does for their showdance.
I love the word aplomb. Genuinely thought poor Kristina was going to end up in a crumpled heap on the floor, but thankfully they managed to rectify the somewhat dodgy lift situation at the end. This routine may have had more clicks than the Addams Family, but they were seamlessly blended into the choreography and just exhibited Simon's spot on musicality. Love these two. I hope they're final-bound. 

Caroline and Pasha
After the epic horror of the so-called-Argentine-Tango of Jake's last week, this is exactly what we wanted - traditional music, low lighting and a hell of a lot of ooomph. The footwork was intricate and there was all the intensity that can be so hard to get. And like Darcey said, the lifts were great and didn't detract from the whole thing. Also liked the Rocky Horror moment of anticip....ation in the middle!
Great, a back-to-basics Argentine Tango 'show' style dance to a reet proper piece of tango music. Lovely arrangement by the band and this was beautifully danced. The embrace is never quite right for me in this dance, but by the standards of the show, and that neither is a trained AT dancer, this was a great job. Caroline for the final too, puh-lease. 

Pixie and Trent
Wow, Barbie and Ken are back in force! It's also hard to do a cha cha near the end of the series, but when you've got an amazing song like the Love Shack you might as well give it your all. Even if you're given a neon sports headband to wear. This was their 'straightest' routine for a while, I've grown fond of when they're just bonkers. It was fun and technically good, I could have done without Len going on for half an age....
And yes, here were Aerobics Barbie and Ken from circa 1986. This was kitsch, and cute. Yes, Pixie's technique is not perfect but it does seem to me that she was hammered to a different standard. That Len gave it an eight, yet gave Jake's ungainly spectacle a ten, is absurd. This two are an absolute joy to watch. They just exude energy like a shaken up bottle of cherry soda. 

Mark and Karen
The salsa of doom hit them last week, so it's nice that he got a ballroom number to work with, and oh my word Karen's dress is gorgeous. And celeb-girlfriend-prop, even if she is just on the phone - Andy Murray at least turned up eventually! There wasn't a huge amount in hold, but I can see why Karen did it, the foxtrot can be deathly dull and they needed to pull out all the stops this week. Mark's ballroom technique has really come on when you think about where he was at the start - we do love a tryer.
A lovely guy, and probably the most improved of this bunch. He genuinely had come from dodgy nightclub dancing and now look at him. Classy, elegant and charming. I don't see how a routine like this differs from what they call an 'American Smooth' - if routines like this are allowed, then surely the AS is obsolete? And rules apply to Pixie, but not Mark? However, I did like this, and I actually did vote for him. I would love to see him in the final too.

Jake and Janette
Has Jake got stuck in Around the World Week? Crikey there was some hideous gurning going on here, I just wanted to smack him round the face with a wet fish or something. Technically, this was great, there was loads and loads of choreography, energy and swivel, but my god it was annoying.
His technique wasn't bad at all - the little technique that there is in the charleston - but his gurning face made me want to stick red-hot pokers in my head. This did not, I repeat, not deserve a ten. Either: the producers want to keep him in to the final or Len just has a soft spot for him because he's a bit of a blokey LANDANAH. Ah oui, we all have our subconscious biases. He is an absolute good sport, but he is not a good a dancer as you think he is. Or he thinks he is. 

Frankie and Kevin
How many times have these two had the pimp slot this series? And what the hell was the sparkly angle-grinder about, most random proper ever?! I keep laughing at Kevin's lame outfit too, it looks like they got a shirt and trousers from Next and stuck some glitter on them. Yeah, it was a Strictly salsa, not much more to say, lots of steps and well performed and not even a vague attempt at being 'latin'.
This was not salsa. I can't even be bothered to say any more. 

WALTZ-A-THON!

The swing-a-thon has been packed away in a box forever, we can but hope. It's not the Grand Prix style of the crazy group Viennese Waltzes of old, but I'll take it. The dresses are prettier for a start.

As ever, these are designed to make it impossible to blog for, but here's a random stream of conciousness to keep you occupied. Pixie's top line is amazing, Simon and Kristina looked like they were in their own little world, Frankie's ballroom face is scarily blank, Caroline got lumped with the worst dress yet again. The whole thing was too short! Although, shockingly the judging was probably right!
The celeb girls really do have such a strong advantage with this, but Simon held his own - from the little the camera focused on them - and is far and away the best male left in the series. Far and away. Pixie stood out, but then she and Trent kind of draw you, which I guess, is the mark of a true show-person. I more or less agreed with the standings, and I wasn't expecting too, so well, I'm not going to moan about it, and that feels very odd. 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

How Bazaar

The mysteries of Strictly have always confused us: why did Erin think puppets were right for a show dance? Whatever happened to Hayley Holt? Just how does Claudia look like such a hot mess every week? And THEN we have the biggest mystery ever - whoever thought Around The World Week was a good idea? Buckle up, you're in for a bumpy ride...

Pixie and Trent

Death slot, Viennese Waltz, human props and the worst costumes of the night (well, actually that skirt is gorgeous) - but whatever, these two are so likeable and pull it off with a tongue-in-cheek manic smile as ever. Maybe the Dutch theming was that we'd all been smoking something. The song totally suited it though, round and round like a windmill.

WTF

Mark and Karen

My relief that Mark wasn't dressed as Elvis was so huge that I could have forgiven this dance quite a lot. Also, Karen's drag queen feather duster dress takes some beating. Unfortunately, he came a cropper with this one - I think it might have been under-rehearsed. The timing was off and it seemed a bit laboured. Also, apparently that was salsa. Let's hope the shirt-ripping gets him some votes, because that was his worst for a while.

WTF

Sunetra and Brendan

Being the favourite to go and getting the rumba in a themed week isn't really going to put a spring in your step, is it? Saying that, I loved the song, beautiful and appropriate and vaguely latin tinged, which you NEVER get with a rumba! Good work from Sunetra though, with some fluidity and smoothness and, as ever, a fab routine from Brendan. Unfortunately, I think they're already resigned to leaving this week...

WTF 

Oh, oh, OK, can I just say that this was a lovely music choice for a rumba and a beautiful arrangement by the band. Lovely simple choreography from Brendan but Sunetra's never really managed to sort out her sloppy legs and feet, so as nice as this was (and it was better than Jake's - so shoot me), I think she may possibly be a goner this week. 

Caroline and Pasha

This was the dance I was most looking forward to this week, if only because Caroline's been so excited about it! Pasha's fez probably wins the Biggest Stereotype of this theme week, he looks like he's in panto! This was totally their best dance - the sheer amount of Charleston she was doing, swivels and solos and lifts all over the place. And what's more, she was so good I barely noticed all the human props faffing around in the background - well done!

And... 

Frankie said earlier that this 'transcended the theme.' She's right. It was so good, you didn't notice the props and lops (live props). But please note, I am saying that this was good in spite of the theme not because of it. Well done Caroline and Pasha. 

Simon and Kristina

Appropriate-theming alert! And THEN they came out and did a properly lovely waltz. Who would have thunk? Lovely sherbet lemon dress on Kristina too, who seemed a little overwhelmed by the whole thing.

And...

OK, an Austrian themed waltz is about the most acceptable theme of the evening. I like Simon and he's going from strength to strength. And whoever had the idea to shove the extra dancers at the back out the way? Genius.  

Frankie and Kevin

It took me a while to work out that they're outfits were supposed to be Hawaiian, mainly because Frankie looks like she's been styled as Tiger Lily from a panto of Peter Pan. Despite the painful flying surfboard intro this was so cute, I couldn't help but like it. So much energy and so many steps - compared to their ill-advised Happy Days Charleston this was a lot more fun. Pixie wins the Battle of the Ringers for me, but this was an unexpected pleasure. 

WTF

Jake and Janette

This was the one we were all waiting for, the randomness of the Greek Argentine Tango. Well, the song was closer to a tango than a lot of the songs we've had this year I didn't think it was going to be all that random at first. And then Jake started shouting at me - what have I done Jake? I didn't make you do this panto routine and tangle you up with a load of backing dancers. It was odd, he didn't dance it well, I think Janette might murder someone. 

DON'T GET ME STARTED. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Hips Do Lie Actually, Shakira

We're back in the studio this week, after the blast-the-cobwebs-away weekend that was the Blackpool Bonanza. Now we're left wonder what is in store for this week, the Blackpool Hangover is now the stuff of legend, it's hard to get excited after all that camptastic wonder. But hurrah for Claudia being back, and rocking a Beyonce bedazzled jumpsuit, no less! Also quite shocked it's only four weeks to the final, where did the year go? I need Brucie and his lame Christmas shopping references!

Clauds! 

Steve and Ola

I never thought this was going to be good, but no need to wedge a mid-90s children's TV theme into it! Although props to him for doing a solo at the start, that'll always make you feel a bit sick with nerves. Considering we heard on ITT that Steve's body could shatter into a million pieces at any point, he didn't do too badly and stuck with the routine, but it was a bit clompy-stompy. I think Steve may have plateaued...

Whilst I know he has a bad ankle and this dance was always going to be tricky for him, it's week ... what week is it? 8, 9?... well, far enough into the competition to catch the faint whiff of final. And this dance was about the level of a week two or three effort. Steve's progression has not been great enough to warrant his continued place in the competition. If he's not gone this week, he will be the next. This was subject to bizarre and arbitrary themeage once again. If it's absolutely necessary to give someone a cheerleading theme (absolutely necessary), it ought to be someone with the potential to give more pep. Pep. I love that word. Pep. 

Caroline and Pasha

Caroline is allowed to look sophisticated for once and isn't made to wear a lime green puffball or something equally horrible. And an American Smooth with a classy song, who would've thunk? Yet more gorgeous arms from Caroline, she can waft like a pro! And what kicks, what they didn't do in lifts they made up for with showstopping choreography, I've never seen someone spin on the floor with such class.

Classy, elegant, appropriate song. What was with the under-marking, judges? Or even if these were about right, what was with the over-marking everyone else? Further convinced that the scores are decided before the show even starts. Conspiracy theory, you may shout at me in horror, but there is something just not sitting right with these scores... On another note: Pasha in a tux. 

Pixie and Trent

Pixie wins spangle-tastic dress of the week hands down. Like Tess said, probably the fastest Charleston ever, it was exhausting to watch! They threw absolutely everything at this dance, even the kitchen sink from the most random foxtrot ever a few weeks ago. I can't believe I'm saying this, but it might even have been a bit toooo manic, there was hardly time to recover from one step into the next. Not my favourite Charleston ever, but once again, Pixie and Trent bring a highlight every week. 

Pixie wins costume of the series so far. Of course there's the whole RINGAH thing but Pixie brings personality, charisma and pizzazz to each of her performances which makes me actually not care. I actually found her leg action a tad ... squatty... in this dance. As if this very sparkly celeb was trying to lay a very sparkly Faberge egg in the midst of her swivels. That saying though, these, along with another couple... who I shall mention further down the post... 

Mark and Karen

Oh look at Mr Cutie Pie Eyes-and-Teeth Mark trying to do a tango face! It's testament to his improvement that there is no way Mark could have done a tango that well four or five weeks ago. And my word, a tango song that didn't make me curl my toes in abject horror. Not his best dance, but certainly not anything to be embarrassed about, I now actually want to see him try and do an Argentine Tango.

This was a great song. If this dance had been a cha cha cha, not a tango. Love Mark and this was competent, but that Craig scored it higher than Caroline? See conspiracy above. 

Frankie and Kevin

What's New Pussycat is the most delightfully eccentric choice for a Viennese Waltz, I can't believe it's taken us about 10 years to get to it. A VW never really sets the world on fire, but it was classic and dizzy-making. The slide at the end looked a bit like she'd fainted, in a falling-with-style Buzz Lightyear way. Am I the only one who misses the group VW numbers when it looked like the contestants were about to end up in a mass pile-up?

No, they were lovely, I miss those. It was all very pretty and placed, but a tad dull. This pair reeks of Rachel Stevens. Lovely, but something missing. 

Jake and Janette

I don't think I've ever been as sick of hearing about a person's body part more than Jake's hips, they've had more attention than Bill Turnbull's mouldy ankle and Natalie Gumede's back combined! Decent samba rolls, proper shimmies, terrible arms, really quite worrying gurning face - all overshadowed by him basically pointing his bum into our living rooms! And who chose the lighting? I thought I was going to have some sort of seizure! Ginormous mess of a dance, massively overmarked.

I am getting the impression that Jake is more pleased with himself than he ought to be. He also seems to be labouring under the misapprehension that latin dances just involve moving one's hips. Fuelled by comments to that effect by the BBC and on Twitter, it took me completely by surprise when he moved his feet in this routine at all. Despite the judges saying that the only samba move in this samba was executed badly, they still gave this high scores. The samba rolls were about as roll at the Barbican.. I actually despair. 

Sunetra and Brendan

What a delightful change of pace, and sumptuous in velvet, it was like a Marks and Spencers food advert of a waltz. Not too sure about the song, it didn't quite work waltzing-wise or emoting-wise. Little bit worried that they'll get forgotten in the voting.

Trying to squeeze a random slow tempo into waltz timing again? The phrasing makes it sound stunted, and this is not the fault of the band who actually made a pretty nice arrangement out of a dreadful situation. But for a celeb who's used to hearing the track in its usual time signature, the forced phrasing it bound to throw them out. However, Brendan's usual beautiful choreography cheered me up in the middle of a more than usually grumpy evening. 

Simon and Kristina

After last week's breakthrough AT (has anyone had a breakthrough so late? Ah, Gethin...), the pressure was on for potential salsa of doom. As much as I hate comedy VTs I kinda loved the fake movie trailer "excuse me, you dropped your...legwarmers". Do you know what, this was an absolute delight! So much content, great armography, actual hip work rather than someone shoving their bum in your face, and both of them having a great time. Kristina is always so ridiculously happy when her partner does well, it really makes me chuckle - great work guys!

Hated the song. And it wasn't really salsa. But we know that now, guys? Please tell me you know that.  However, I shall do what I did when Natalie Gumede was in a similar situation last year. I shall overlook the music and the fact that the dance wasn't really the dance it said it was, and look at potential. And my, I think Simon could dance an amazing salsa given the opportunity. In fact, even despite the song, it was definitely one of the better salsa dances in Strictly history. Simon leads, and his timing is spot on. He dances with his body (NOT JUST HIS HIPS). So along with Pixie, Simon is fast becoming my favourite. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Blackpool Bonanza!

BLACKPOOL! BLACKPOOL BLACKPOOL! The Tower, candyfloss, trams, rock, donkeys, the tangerine football team, looking down on Fleetwood - there is literally everything about Blackpool in this episode. Hold on to your sparkly sunhats, and away we go....

Frankie and Kevin
Got to say I loved the kids pretending to be SCD pros, and the tiny Kevin and Joanne was so cute. Kind of like Frankie's dress but thinking of Cher from Clueless, or was this some sort of attempt to be...punk? Anyway, a delightful quickstep, charging around like that football pitch of a floor without even pausing for breath. I do have to say I loved watching Kevin having a Blackpool-gasm near the end, kind of upstaged Frankie there!

Jake and Janette
He's had a hairy few weeks, really hoping he didn't peak too soon - hopefully an AS at Blackpool will give it the wow factor. I can see that this was a very good routine from them, and I don't want to be grumpy for Blackpool, but this for me was ruined by the human prop dancers, they were completely distracting! Great piece altogether though, good job Janette, although would it really be the end of the world if Jake was allowed to smile?

Sunetra and Brendan
Hated the hen-night intro apart from the fact that Brendan got to go all Johnny Castle yet again! And, just like a night out in Blackpool, the staggering hens just kept coming back. Len was right, it was her best latin, a lot quicker and less clunky than some of them, but on the whole it wasn't that great when the standard already seems so high tonight. Extra points for Brendan's hips please!

Simon and Kristina
They finally unpacked the AT for this series, better than doing it as early as Halloween. They did a very clever job with the lighting marking out the smaller area of the massive floor, it gave it an intimacy that I didn't expect. Plus, EPIC song. I really liked this, Simon pulled it out of the bag more than I was expecting, especially when it built towards the end. Nice nifty footwork - could this have saved Simon in a week as sticky as Blackpool rock? (Omg, that was a pun of Tess proportions).

Judy and Anton
Anton is dressed as Bert Goes to the Seaside, I love it, someone make that sequel. And that song, I'll be whistling it until Christmas. I might be going crazy in all the Blackpool-ness, but I actually thought she'd made an improvement on her ballroom work. There aren't many steps in a VW and it seemed like they'd had a decent stab at it. Good job guys.

Mark and Karen
Karen looks a bit...naked? But fabulous, obviously. I had high expectations for this Charleston, Mark's quickstep and jive were so good it just made sense, I really should learn about having high Charleston expectations? I just never really lifted off into the hyper glee that you need in this dance. I think the song just might have been a bit ploddy and slow? Not that it wasn't well-performed, and not that I don't still want him to go far, just bring back the magic next week.

Pixie and Trent
They've raided the dressing up box again, are the Lannisters going Targaryen this week? Who cares, they had so much gumption they outdanced the human props and left them in the ashes! Gosh, it's a good job I've picked up the phrase bonkers-awesome because I can't think of any other way to describe them. Great Spanish lines from Pixie, oodles of paso content and more grrr than you can shake a stick at. Also, who chose War of the Worlds? The fine line between genius and madness...

Steve and Ola
Not going to lie, in the midst of the Blackpool crazyess, this was totally underwhelming. I can just see them turning up to rehearsal and seeing everyone else and thinking, 'oh bugger, we've just got some people wafting net curtains around'. It wasn't bad, Steve's ballroom is still coming along quite nicely, but I would worry they're going to be forgotten.

Caroline and Pasha
Nothing like having a Spice Girls outfit foisted on you for no apparent reason, although Twitter did seem to go into meltdown at the sight of Pasha in uniform. And wow, amazing solo at the start from Caroline, Pasha knows how to work his girls hard! Again, packed with jive content and great synchronisation from the two of them. What a night it's been!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

The Return of Ballroom

Halloween is over, thank goodness, for another year and Blackpool is on the horizon...can you see it? The sparkling lights, the smell of candyfloss and donkey poo - if you can't see it, they're going to mention it at least a million times this week, Blackpool Blackpool Blackpool! We love it, but first, we must see the celebs battle to make it to the Home of Ballroom - can't believe we're halfway through this series already!



Good to see Zoe back looking all spangle-tastic,

Was this ballroom and latin themed week?!

Simon and Kristina

Good to see Kristina back in Marilyn Monroe mode and Simon in tails, not good to see them in the death slot. Great music choice too - it might have been used before but it's so perfect for a rip-roaring quickstep. A bit sloppy on the top line and hold, but we didn't have to scream GAPPING at you all, which I'm sure you're grateful for. Great Charleston interludes too and both of them looked like they were having the time of their lives. Simon's 9 face was wonderful too, he looked like he'd been slapped in the face.

This was quite a delightful way to open the show. Zippy, syncopated and timing as spot on as Spot the Dog under a spotlight in Spott - FYI, Spott is a small village on the eastern fringes of East Lothian...totes had to Google map that - Simon is becoming a real contender. Dave Arch and his Strictly band always excel at these classics too. Welcome back, actual ballroom dancing. 

Caroline and Pasha

Despite the wardrobe department trying to sabotage her yet again, Caroline pulls off the sparkly-mermaid-caught-in-a-bit-of-netting look rather well. She's not had to do a lot of traditional ballroom yet, but she pulled it off pretty well. She might have looked a bit uncomfortable in hold, but the whole thing fit together, and gorgeous pivot turns. I do like a pivot turn.

Sweet Caroline, I couldn't tell if it was the dancing or the camera angles that made it look as though she were about to wobble over. The dress did not suit her, being half ephemeral mer-person and half Wicker Man. But it wasn't a bad job in the grand scheme of things - in the opening bars, her arms were just exquisite - it was all just a little tense-of-shoulder in parts. Perhaps she had a chilly neck. We will buy her a scarf. 

Jake and Janette

Ooh it's a blokey-rumba, whatever shall we do? Really liking the slightly left-field music choice, it's a slow number but not an OTT shmaltzy ballad. Wasn't 100% sold on this, but there were plenty of good parts. The hips were good, the top half not so much - it looked like he was repeatedly hugging her at times.

For starters, rumba does not have to be slutty. As Mr Cole argued last year, it can be gentle and romantic. It's all down to interpretation. So, in that respect, it was a nice dance. However, having smoke wafting around the floor was a sure fire way to disguise poor technique. But it's not fooling me *evil laugh*. Jake, we know you can move your hips and that is a huge advantage but you have to let other limbs join in the fun. 

Judy and Anton

It's ANDY! They've finally got Andy in! Blatantly under duress, but whatever. I cannot get over how bad Judy's paso arms were, how hard is it just to stick your arms out? Think this was their weakest dance for a while, the paso is very distinct and it just didn't come through and the themeing wasn't funny. I do have my suspicions Judy will bow out gracefully at Blackpool...

So Judy had a saunter about the floor and Anton did some ban-tah. At least she has the grace to be self-deprecating about it like any good British person.

Brendan and Suntera

Hurrah, they're back to gorgeous ballroom! Sunetra also wins the gorgeous sparkly pouffy dress of the week. Once again, and I don't know how many times I've written this now, Brendan brought out an amazing routine - even with the arm-hanky peekaboo incident. There was a mood to this, real romance and I actually went 'awwww' out loud at the end, I don't know what's coming over me...

Brendan over the years has become a dab hand at elegant, classy ballroom routines, and this was no different. The problem is, this had the potential to wow, but there were too many technical issues. There was gapping abundant - in parts, you could have driven the Tate Modern between them. If the Tate Modern was on wheels, that is. Still a fan, Sunetra, but it's getting closer to the end and an increased level of improvement is required. 

Alison and Aljaz

Well if Alison can't do a Charleston, we might as well all go home. Crazy song choice that somehow worked and Aljaz put together a great routine for it. A but sloppy in places, could have had a bit more swivel, but her best dance for weeks. Plus I think we're all properly awake after that!

Initially her swivel and double bounce action was great, but Alison can't sustain that level of energy throughout a whole routine. It was jolly good fun, and her best dance yet, but I can't help but feel she's on borrowed time now. 

Mark and Karen

Oh gosh, our naff-tastic Towie boy has grown up into a ballroom dancer. Even when he's distracted by dirty leaves falling from the ceiling. Yet another proper ballroom dance tonight, I'm starting to sound like Len! Well done boy. Well done to Karen too for pulling off a pepto-bismol princess dress without looking like Barbie.

Despite the saccharine nature of the whole affair, this was lovely. My favourite dance of the evening and fast becoming my favourite couple. Loved the appropriate waltz music, despite it being a repeat, and loved the simple, traditional, elegant choreography and costumes.  

Frankie and Kevin

Well those outfits are...something. Are we at the stage where we're sticking glitter on stuff from the Primark bargain bin again? There is a donkey as a nod to Blackpool though! I didn't have high hopes for Frankie and the samba, thought she'd be a bit stiff, but she actually gave it some welly. Probably her best latin since the Paso (aka the Paso of Donny Doom), great samba rolls too! Disclaimer - not as good as the bonkers-awesomeness of Pixie's samba.

Appropriate music and a latin flavour, so very pleased about that, though seemed much faster than other sambas we've seen. Props and theme not necessary. This was packed full of steps but Frankie had very little hip movement and seemed disengaged throughout the performance. Kevin's top looked like something a children's TV presenter would have worn circa 1986.

Pixie and Trent

So these guys get the crazy themed vintage dance - of course! Thank god these two can style out pretty much anything, even dancing around furniture from a low-budget kitchen sink drama. Great foxtrot content and brilliantly performed, although it's hardly keepin' up wit da kids! Not sure about the 10 for such a random dance, but Pixie is bringing us something new, skilled and entertaining every week.

Bizarre theme. But, and I can't believe I am saying this, it kind of worked. Maybe it's just these two have the chutzpah to pull off whatever's thrown at them. I'm not sure I would have given it a 10 but I suspect there's a ploy to create a rivalry between Frankie and Pixie. Conspiracy, much?

Steve and Ola

Don't know what's funnier, Steve's emergency facial hair or Ola's Christmas knickers! I do love watching Ola do the paso, it's one of her best, I was a bit scared by Steve's face though - there's serial killer face and then there's hiding behind the sofa face! This was always going to be one of his best, even after the Ballroom Breakthrough a few weeks ago, and he gave it some oomph, but it didn't set my evening alight.

So Steve reminded me of Dexter in this dance. Yes, the serial killer. I half expected him to stop in the middle to slice up a blood orange. I'm not sure that's what you want in a dance, even a paso doble. Having said that, it was strong, and danced well. I preferred his ballroom, but this is his best latin. As Frankie says though, it was always going to be. 



Saturday, 1 November 2014

Fright Night V

Get ready to hide behind the sofa, it's the FIFTH Strictly Halloween Special, mwaaahahahaha! We usually open these posts by being rather grumpy, and by the end we're epically grumpy (Halloween is not our favourite night of the year for SCD) - but this year I, at least, am going into it with an open mind. Just so long as there aren't more props than actual dance steps...

I'm grumpy.

Halloween Dress Watch: Tess looks like that person who thinks wearing a black top counts as a Halloween outfit...Zoe looks properly spangly and on-the-money. Speaking of Zoe, very glad to have her on board, and may the little Winkleman get well soon. I'm also still loving the judges dancing on - so there!

I do not like the judges dancing on. In the words of one of my colleagues over a watermelon mojito last week: "it puts me in a bad mood for the rest of the whole show."



Opening number? Scooby Doo acting abounds as ever - and how does every pro Halloween number just look like Rocky Horror these days?!

Sunetra and Brendan

Literal choreography alert! Running to...running from....praying! The moving around of the furniture did manage to cover up that this wasn't really Sunetra's best dance. The jive is really hard and she seems more of a ballroom girl, Brendan's kicks just looked so much sharper than hers. Good to see that they keep the original Northern Soul music though. I hope being in the death slot doesn't mean an exit in this week of all weeks!

First things first, was this bed formerly the table from last year's boardroom tango? Or possibly one of the beds from the NHS segment of the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony? For I thought I had not seen bedography before, but then I had forgotten about Danny Boyle's brain. Sunetra's definitely a ballroom girl. She manages the top half of latin relatively well, but below the swarovski-encrusted belt, it's all a little flollopy. I do like her - and Brendan, despite his facial get up of a ghostly version of Lorne, the karaoke demon from Angel - but sadly this week not enough to give her one of my precious votes. Loved the song though.

Alison and Aljaz

Aljaz wins the guyliner wars for the second year in a row, he's also one of the few male pros not buried under 9 tonnes of makeup. I think this might actually have been Alison's best ballroom - the American Smooth doesn't need a lot in hold and when they actually were in hold it did seem a little better. But my word, the facial expressions! Alison looked like she was on a lot of medication - can we all have some please?

Well. I'm not quite what to say because this was incredibly surreal. all. She came in like a wrecking ball (as proclaimed by a friend of mine, who incidentally also once peed next to Brendan Cole - true story) and proceeded to waft her way around the floor like linen sheets in a tumble-dryer. And yet, I loved it. I smiled from beginning to end. Alison can dance, and I actually think this week she was under-marked. 

Simon and Kristina

EPIC paso song - Poison is camp, over the top and creepy. I'd take it in a normal week, let alone Halloween week. Also, he's dressed as the Riddler in green eye shadow for some reason. This was pretty good, very strong performance from Simon, he's given 100% yet again. Kristina looks amazing in the catsuit, but think I would have preferred a full paso skirt.

Can we all just take a moment to consider the point that Simon is leading Kristina around the floor? I'm not seeing that from any other male celebs this year - no, *dodges bullets*, not even The Untouchable Mr Wood (is that the porn version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown?). I thought this was great - his lines could have been better but there was a musicality in his movement that I'm not seeing in all other contestants this year. He totes got some votes. 

Steve and Ola

AMAZING costumes, I think they might be my favourites of the night. My hopes were really, really high for this number and I was sad that it didn't turn out quite right. After his energetic quickstep I thought this was going to be epic, but I guess it just wasn't the right dance for him. Hopefully they've picked up enough fans along the way to get through this week.

In a dark, dark town, there was a dark, dark street; and in the dark, dark street there was a dark, dark studio; and in the dark, dark studio there were two skeletons dancing a somewhat mediocre charleston. This could have been very good but all mistakes were unfortunately magnified by the studio lights reflecting off dem dry bones. 

Pixie and Trent

I'm genuinely a bit scared of Trent, most weeks, not just Halloween. Although that was overshadowed by Pixie's hair, as was the audience, the studio and the sun. This was suitably bonkers, I rather enjoyed it actually. The fact that they were able to put little electric details in the routine alongside the tango just shows how far ahead of everyone Pixie is (dirty ringa klaxon!). It was pure bombast, but great fun.

So this is what it would be like if the Lannisters went to hell and took control of the underworld. And there was a musical version of that. It was packed full of tango - and exquisitely executed, but I couldn't keep my eyes off Pixie's hair - in itself, the size of a small nation. Trent sort of just looked like a waxwork version of himself. 

Judy and Anton

Well, we just knew this would be a camp as knickers, didn't we? I did worry that Judy couldn't even take off her coat without looking clumsy, but what a marvellous outfit. Anton on the other hand has just come in his own clothes. The stiffness returned, I loved how she grimaced every time they went into a lift. The steps were better, but she's still behind everyone...apart from Scott.

Judy looking as classy and as lovely as ever. But yeah, in the words of a schoolgirl-witch-doppelganger-vampire: bored now. 

Jake and Janette

I really loved this, they were wearing Halloween outfits but that dance could have come from any week. He struggled a bit with the Spanish line at first, but then really got into the grrr of it all. I seemed to be in the minority on Twitter about that, but I really enjoyed Janette's choreography.

Now I'm not saying it was bad. It wasn't. It was good. But it's not automatically good just because it's Jake. I'm glad the judges brought up issues with it because he's kind of been getting a free ride. His line was more Spennymoor than Spanish, and he's got a very straight upright kind of posture in every dance he does. He isn't dancing from his middle - something that I think Simon, for example, is doing - he's very arm-and-leg. I'm actually feeling a bit mean whilst writing this (seriously - I do have a heart) because he is, quite honestly, very, very good. But that doesn't explain why it looked like a six year old had drawn on him with a 2b pencil. (I've had a really bad week...)

Caroline and Pasha

These two seemed to get the bargain bin costumes for Halloween this year, plus the samba is the worst dance to be given for Halloween. Felt quite sorry for the two of them with this one, it was a perfectly perfunctory samba and performed well, but nothing to write home about amongst all the madness.

Besides a few rolls, I saw very little samba in this routine. The first few steps looked like poorly executed cha cha, American Rhythm style, and many of the other steps seemed more like salsa. Ish. That's no slight on Caroline though, as she's technically great; it's also not really a slight on Pasha because - again - that was an appalling choice of music for that dance. As for the aforementioned rolls though, I wonder if we should call them samba barms in the north. Just a thought.

Scott and Joanne

Joanne looks amazing as Morticia, much less jazz-hands than usual. I actually quite liked this, I can't believe I'm saying this but it was actually quite charming. There was foxtrot content in there, even with the face pulling, and he managed to do it without falling over. Despite the gimmicks, they had put some work into the dancing - I think this could save him for another week.

This does not deserve my words. Fine, if you find it entertaining. (Do you? Do you really? I worry for you.) But Darcey, praising the performance and marking as she did narks me to next September. If the show were called Strictly Come Acting, her comments would actually be relevant. 

Mark and Karen

Loving Karen's post-night-out-on-the-lash look, but not as much as I loved this jive! So cute and bouncy, lots of content, everything you'd want from a jive. Has this made Mark suddenly a real player this series? He's been quietly plugging away whilst still keeping his excitable-puppy style. He can even over shadow Karen looking like she's been pulled out of a ditch.

THIS IS MORE LIKE IT. This was my favourite dance of the evening. These are the reasons: Mark started out OK, but not amazing, hence: journey -we may not say it but we do still like it. It was also relatively gimmick free. And the dancing was spot on. They were completely in sync and his timing was excellent. Mark is the male Abbey Clancy. I am now saying this at least once a week. And the more I say it, the more I believe it. 

Frankie and Kevin

Frankie and Kevin look marvellous, but this is a terrible, terrible song choice for a tango - it screams American Smooth! Saying that, it was full of content and very well performed by the two of them. The song is so good everyone got a bit carried away - I can't say this was a bad dance, because it really wasn't, but for heaven's sake BBC, pick the right songs!

Poor Kevin. Having to choreograph a tango to a piece of music so unwholly unsuitable it might as well have been the dance of the bloody sugarplum fairy. Not only was it in 4/4 time, there were variations in tempo that made it impossible to have any consistency of movement. But it wasn't about the dancing was it? It was about the production. But whoever's 'genius' idea it was to pick that, please don't praise yourself too much. Copying a West End show does not a creative make. Grow an imagination, dumbass.

As for Frankie, she can dance, we know that. She's just an unfortunate pawn in my rant of the week. But also, weird math: Frankie + Green Make Up = Kelly Brook. Watch it back. Spooky. 


Monday, 27 October 2014

Shake your coconuts

What's this? Another week without extra judges, themes or other such twaddle? Rejoice! You'd better actually because it's Halloween next week and we'll get seriously grumpy. Speaking of Halloween, Claudia appears to have come as a pair of 80s goth curtains - but it's Claudia so we'll let her get away with it.

Jake and Janette
I don't know how they manage it, but every now and again the SCD costume people make someone look frumpy. Janette looks like a 1920s movie star in her 70s, swigging gin from the bottle or something. I wasn't enamoured of this, I think it might have been Jake's worst - one his strengths is that he has confidence enough to perform and I got the impression he just wasn't feeling this. Top line a bit wonky, but good footwork.

Sunetra and Brendan
Fabulous song, fabulous dress, slightly odd hair - like a small startled dog. But my word what a dance, Sunetra's best and yet another amazing routine from Brendan! I was captivated, which is pretty impressive for a VW, it was probably the drama of the song and Sunetra being able to channel the emotion. Great work, guys!

Scott and Joanne
When did the Charleston become all about cockney, it's really getting odd! I can't decide whether I loved or hated Joanne's sexy Victorian nightgown, it was cute but weird. It was Scott's best dance, mainly because you can make a Charleston step-then-gurn and get away with it.

Iveta and Thom
Even though I said this about Frankie last week, Iveta now wins all the Strictly dresses ever, have we ever had anyone so fabulous? I was pretty impressed by this - Thom really looked like he was enjoying himself. In the first few weeks he looked so scared of going wrong and now he's actually just getting on with doing it! (Edit: Oh dear, look what happens when you try and enjoy yourself...)

Frankie and Kevin
Look at these two delightful little cranberries out early for Christmas, so cute. At the start I went into a hate-spiral about how there was nothing in hold, but then once they got into it there was a lot of content. Foxtrot is hard/boring, don't forget. I also liked Kevin's Full Grimsby moment, he's not been as fun this series without hyper Susanna. Not technically brilliant, but a bit less bot-like than before.

Alison and Aljaz
Alison finally gets to some ballroom again, it's been about a year, hasn't it? Walking holding Aljaz's hand is not tango-ing by the way. She put a lot of work into the performance, but the technical parts of the dance weren't great. She seemed to miss some footwork and it just seemed like there wasn't a lot going on.

Mark and Karen
Mark needed to bring it this week and there was no way Karen was going to sit back and take the bottom-2 drama - and woah did they pull out all the stops! The shimmies! The hips! I need a new adjective to talk about how fierce Karen gets. I have a kitschy love of a disco samba and Mark has really being working his socks off.

Simon and Kristina
Hmmm, not too sure about this one. It was pretty fast for a VW, when it should be all flowy and dream-like. And the song dominated it a bit, I'm all for a bit of Queen, but the singers turned it up to 11 and it didn't work with the style of a waltz. Simon could be in trouble again....

Judy and Anton
I secretly quite like an Anton Charleston, he's actually rather good at them and was basically born in the wrong century. After last week's high-point of a tango I think Judy might have broken through some sort of barrier, she suddenly seems a bit more relaxed. Especially when Anton picks you up and all you have to do is wave your arms and legs about! It was cute, she is kind-of-improving, so she's probably earned herself a trip to Halloween week - what will Anton come up with then?!

Caroline and Pasha
Out of all the non-traditional paso songs, Live and Let Die is the pinnacle of appropriate-ness. You can''t NOT do a drama-filled paso to it, if you don't, you're dead. Good choreography, great flamenco arms, great Spanish line. What a team these two are, they bring it week after week, and yet no one seems to notice - show some love for Caroline!

Steve and Ola
Another traditional ballroom number, Strictly you are really spoiling us tonight by sticking to your remit. Steve tried to act, it was terrible, but quite endearing. Not much to say about this one, it was competent and had a bit of smoothness to it that I wasn't expecting from Steve - he's a grafter, that one.

Pixie and Trent
I am totally in love with Pixie's bonkers samba outfit, all it's missing is feathers. I bet it took a lot of dry shampoo to work that hairdo. My god, this was a full-on amazing, knock your socks off coconuts samba! I think Pixie may have had a few drinks beforehand because she let it go like never before. Also, samba roll watch: they were brilliant and they had to get their arms extra-high to clear her massive hair. Love it.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Anton du Beke: Bad(ish) Boy of the Ballroom

Smoulder.
....and we're back! Donny is gone and there's no themes, maybe we can just have a nice spangly week on Strictly? Even Tess and Claudia have brought out some nice dresses and Darcey is dressed like some sort of fabulous ghost of Miss Havisham.

Frankie and Kevin
It's a Call Me Maybe cha cha - my dreams her finally been realised! After all the dross we've suffered in song choices and then the perfect cha cha song choice comes along, and Frankie has the fringe-tastic dress to end all dresses - I hope she realises how lucky she is! It wasn't the pinnacle of cha cha-ing on Strictly, but it was fun and cute. The judges suddenly got a bit technical too - maybe they realised how embarrassing Donny was last week.

Mark and Karen
Pardon my French, but this had a serious case of the trots. He was trotting around that dancefloor like an over-excited little shetland pony. It was a tough, jam-packed routine from Karen that I think he was struggling to keep up a little bit. The Charleston section was promising though and that boy can eyes and teeth with the best of them too! He should stay in for a bit, he's working hard and his technique is starting to improve. Karen just rocked that amazing dress, by the way, on anyone else it would have looked like loo roll cover.

Judy and Anton
Illegal lift! Judy sliding on her bum and nearly mooning the camera! Anton just trolling us like he did with Widdy! This was completely bonkers but also her best dance so far, gotta love that natural stiffness being put to use. Despite all the weirdness, I feel like she deserves to stay in this week, some of the footwork was pretty decent. I also feel sorry for her because they didn't bother to make her a new dress and just stuck a frill on her launch show one.

Simon and Kristina
Well that was....interesting. It was cute, it was a Charleston, it was full of moves and swivel. IT HAD A PROPER GURNING FACE. But it was also themed to Pearly Kings and Queens -  why?! Kristina is wearing a random 99p wig, why? Fair play to them though, despite all the randomness they pulled off something pretty good - probably the best since his jive. This bodes well for a good cha cha.

Alison and Aljaz
That was a bit of anticlimax, wasn't it? A bit like last week's jive, there just wasn't enough going on - which is odd when you think how much oomph there was in her cha cha moves. There were also some really quite bad samba rolls. Amazing lampshade dress though and somehow I am also loving Aljaz's mustard ruffled shirt.

Scott and Joanne
Will Scott and Joanne be able to do a routine that isn't a comedy cringe-fest? Well they had a go at it at least! I would rather watch that than the stupid lobster routine. Although the problem might have been that his contribution the routine seemed to be entirely walk-then-grab. We did also have the delight of Total Eclipse of the Heart, which I love and Clover hates, so that kept us entertained!

Steve and Ola
Wasn't sure about the cocktail opening, it's a good idea to keep us away from the idea of dodgy suburban wine bars with the salsa. This was alright, but interchangeable with a lot of male salsas on the show - a bit awkward and not enough fluidity in the hips etc. Not his best by far, but he's so chipper and likeable I'm sure he'll get through another week.

Pixie and Trent
It's Jamie and Cersi Lannister all over again, cover your eyes children. A bit balletic, but not enough hips. What is it about ringers and not being able to do the rumba? Then again the judges followed the pattern of pick-a-dance-apart-then-give-it-8s, which takes us all the way back to the grand old tradition of Emma Bunton. Also, at the end I thought she was injured, but no, she was just milking it.

Tim and Natalie
Natalie looking absolutely gorgeous, steeling herself for the campest paso ever. And THEN unleashing some seriously fierce paso faces, I admit I was hardly looking at Tim. It was the John Sargent school of walking with a funny hat as far as I can tell. He's such a good egg though and really trying for Natalie, keep at it you two!

Sunetra and Brendan
Not her best, after the marvellous American Smooth last week, but there's something totally infectious about Sunetra when she's dancing, she's just so happy and in the zone! I can't really comment on the salsa-ness of it (maybe I was distracted by Brendan's trousers) I just hope they don't end up in middle-table danger.

Thom and Iveta
This was weird, there were so many things that were just a little off. The song, the...er...theme? It also doesn't help that the foxtrot really isn't the most exciting of dances. I was expecting Thom to whip out some sort of Dick Van Dyke accent afterwards since he's going all method acting these days. Definite improvement to his ballroom technique, but nothing much to write home about. 

Jake and Janette
What will the most left-field of couples be bringing out this week? A totally bonkers jive, that's what! There was so much energy I thought Jake was going to swing Janette around by her ponytail at one point. It was kind of bitty, going from section to section, but I don't feel like I can complain about there being too much choreography these days.

Caroline and Pasha
The costume people really don't like Caroline, do they? Gorgeous pouffy skirt, horrible top. I am however totally enamoured of Pasha's Palma Violet pants. I do love this song, but I'm also ambivalent to it being a quickstep. But these two were very fleet of foot and super-cute - and Pasha manipulating the British public by playing with that teddy bear, that's Erin levels of evil genius!