Sunday, 25 September 2016

Let's Dance

My, what a glorious pink puffball of an opening sequence. Give me that over Pans-People-Do-Star Trek any day. I enjoyed Friday evening's show - lots of potential but no ringers - so had high hopes for last night. So, Saturday night - did it hit the spot? Don't believe me, just... er... read.

The Right Louise and Kevin

Faff Rating: 6

Louise was holding back but it was a nifty little (swingy) jive nonetheless. She clearly has natural ability and it's endearing she's not overly confident. Twitter was awash with costume haters but, despite it looking a little like it might have once belonged to Santa Claus' wife, I didn't think it was all that bad. Kevin's choreography is often a little all too much about Kevin (we need to talk about him) but Louise may end up being quite a match for that. Technically, she's a bit too good for week one but perhaps her journey will be one to confidence. I can cope with that.

Melvin and Janette

Faff Rating: 8

Let me start by saying that there is absolutely no reason why Melvin should not be a good dancer. He has all the same bits and pieces as everyone else and he was in time, which is well over half the battle won before you've even started. The problem? I'm so sorry to say it, but it's Janette. She just doesn't seem to have the same level of ballroom and latin expertise as the other pros and it really does show. It was loosely a cha cha (so loose in fact I suspect it would have been more comfortable in a TV studio snarking alongside Carole McGiffen and a random Nolan) but mostly filled with poorly executed tricks, standing still and Janette dancing around him like a maypole. I worry for him. 

Daisy and Aljaz

Faff Rating: 0

Oh isn't Daisy a delight? Don't you just totally want to be her when you grow up? (She's younger than me. I don't care.) I loved her dress for starters. I want to wear it. Like, for work and stuff. One could argue, much like in the case of Louise,  that the dance was a little too good for week one but that seems all the most excusable when the person performing it hasn't had extensive previous dance training (note Abbey Clancy.) She does have the air of that girl at school that was good at everything but you couldn't hate even if you wanted to because she was actually really nice. Let's wait for her to break out a latin but I'm possibly tipping her for the final already...

Danny and Oti

Faff Rating: 4

Well doesn't Oti look like the cat who got the Cornish clotted cream? Great to see her able to stretch her choreography skills. He's excellent. But therein lies the issue. His timing was bang on, he was spotting in turns, to be blunt, he's this year's uber-ringer. I'm not warming to him - he isn't in any way humble, which is kind of why we excused Jay of the same level of expertise. I'm getting Ricky Whittle flashbacks. 

Tameka and Gorka

Faff Rating: 4

A really tough dance to get week one but perhaps being an actress helped out with that, as it needs so much character. One of the judges commented on her arms but I thought they were excellent. She really seemed to be moving from her core to me, which is something that is not easy to do. I think she's a natural dancer so I hope the props, themes and jokes don't take over in the coming weeks. My favourite thing was basically Gorka being happy to be on 'The Strictly.' 

Anastacia and Brendan

Faff Rating: 8

First of all, is Brendan trying to get a presenting gig by mimicking Brucie's famous pose? Second of all, this was much-faffy for Brendan, who, in recent years has choreographed some gorgeous stripped-back routines. Like many of the contestants on Friday evening, Anastacia displayed just the right balance of potential and 'improvement required' to make her a very interesting one to watch. 

Ed and Katya

Faff Rating: 7

A little tentative but Ed is perhaps the contestant who is furthest outside his comfort zone. It wasn't a bad job. I spotted heel leads. We've seen trained dancers *Cough Kelly Cough Brooke* dance without those. Being with a new pro may go against him in the public votes.

Claudia and AJ

Faff Rating: 6

One trick would have been cool. Two OK. Many. A bit too much. Still enough cha cha content to just about excuse it though. And I don't really remember anyone going on to Louis Smith about it. However, I guess the purpose of the first dance is to make an impression, and she certainly did that. She's good actually. Very good. And they make a cute pair. Looking forward to seeing how they tackle a ballroom.

Will and Karen

Faff Rating: 6

Really wish they wouldn't break out the tango in week one. It's so unfair as such a dramatic dance is way way better a few weeks in. Nevertheless, Will did do a good job. Quite clearly has danced before but doesn't come across quite as... cocky... as other contestants. Karen pulled a bit of a Janette and did way too many kicks and flicks whilst Will stood there as though waiting for a bus. My main problem with these two is that when I think Will and Karen, I basically this Truman and Walker. If Karen Clifton can break out these moves, they could go a long way.

megan mullally will and grace karen walker 215863

Friday, 23 September 2016

Off to a flying start!

This episode had me hiding behind a cushion before it was confirmed the Strictly spaceship wasn't going to appear again, that was scarier than the daleks...Thankfully, after a quick cup of tea, we got down to dancing and spangles pretty quickly!
Laura and Giovanni
Well the winning formula states that she should be sailing through to the final, pushed out into the blinding lights first and all that. She also had the perfect song and outfit for a cha cha, all the pieces were there. Props to Giovanni for not giving her a ridiculously hard routine, lots of basic cha cha in there for her to get to grips with. It was a bit hesitant in places, but a perfectly passable first dance - she also had very good Karen Hardy Facial Expressions potential.

Naga and Pasha
That is a seriously gorgeous dress for Naga. Now this time last year, Pasha descended from the ceiling on a sparkly thunderbolt, and I don't think there is anything anyone can do to top that so a gentle waltz was probably the way to go. Her top line was lovely, lovely, lovely and will stand her well for the other ballroom numbers, but they were right that she kind of lost it right in the middle. I would have put her more for ballroom than latin, so it's all to play for...

Rinder and Oksana
Was it just me that was happy that he could bang the gavel on the glitter in time to the music? I need to watch that again cos those spins at the start temporarily blinded me. It was all a bit crazy and SO MUCH, but I definitely want to see more from the two of them. Hopefully it won't be comedy all the way, he's got some natural talent that needs to be harnessed.

Lesley and Anton
Well it all seemed a bit predictable. The biggest shock was when the black and white effect faded and I saw she was wearing a neon pink dress. Lesley also pointed out in the VT that she is too short for Anton, but he can deal with that and it's better than a celeb male trying to sort that out - although getting lost in Anton's chest sounds a bit scary. The actress in her certainly added something to the routine and she will hopefully bring that again. Who knows where we will be with the latin...

Ore and Joanne
I had been waiting for this one, with Ore as my designated Dark Horse of the series, and also a chance for Joanne to flex her choreography muscles. But first Ore had to ride a bike for no reason. NOW, there was a good tango hidden in there somewhere, but I was glad Len went off on one of his rants so early - the break in the middle especially infuriated me. I thought the word 'faffing' was going to trend on Twitter.

Greg and Natalie
O to the M to the G, we were so exited. Greg and Natalie finally getting to step out, and I didn't even mind an early jive so they could get it out of the way - and then he went and did a pretty good jive anyway! It was a bit rough around the edges and gangly at times, but there was content, he remembered the steps and actually performed them. We thought performance was going to be a weak point for him - I guess it goes to show Olympians know how to give 100%.

What an exciting opening night! We're back in the game people, see you tomorrow!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Winning Formula - Version 8.0!

As I sit down to write the 8th version of the Winning Formula (for the newbies, the totally-scientific way I determine who will win SCD every year) I think to myself, should I have pursued a career in algorithms? Then I realise that last year the Formula only predicted two of the finalists...admittedly, it was Georgia and Jay, so that's pretty good, but it also included Kirsty and we all know how that turned out. (The fact that I also had to Google how to spell algorithms should also say something). Formula, you have your work cut out this year.

1) Get the party started
I'm astounded that year after year this seems to work - it started out as a joke way back in series 4 I think (sigh, those were the days). If you dance first on the opening show, you get to the final. End of. Last year it was Kellie Bright, with the really annoying pseudo-tango-with-60s-theme-wedged-into-it on the Friday show, and the fallback option of the Saturday show saw JAY dance first! Seriously, we might as well just decide after the first 10 minutes if we are to believe the evidence. I don't think we should expect Ed Balls on first this time around...

2) Quit your day job
If there's something Jay vs Kellie taught us last year, it's that being an unemployed boyband member makes for a much more relaxed contestant than one that is being simultaneously flogged to death in the Eastenders sweatshop of the performing arts. This will bode well for Ed Balls, I'm sure, although I fear for Tameka's sanity. Saying that, I don't think there's an abundance of day jobs this year, Laura and Melvin may still be working, but I'm not seeing a lot more. Although I'm sure for Rinder, the law never sleeps. As for the BBC-newsreader-anomaly, we actually have TWO contestants this year, who's up for a Naga-Ore final?

3) Blondes don't have more fun
Another blonde was pipped to the glitterball, soz Kellie, the odds were stacked against you. I don't know what the British public has against blondes, but Anastacia, Laura and Rinder have an uphill battle on their hands. Also, as it is officially the Most Ginger Year Ever on SCD, we will continue to root for Greg in our crusade to have our first ginger winner - hey, if he could even make the final that would be a triumph for his species.

4) Latin fever
It's true, we have never had a ballroom specialist pro win SCD, the latin types continue to rule the sparkly roost. Now this means that whoever Anton dances with is automatically disqualified, but it also leaves us GUTTED that it means Natalie's partner has to go, and there has never been a time I have wanted to be proven wrong. Joanne has also made a return, evening up the balance of ballroom vs latin pros ever so slightly - could this be the year one of them finally lifts the glitterball? 

5) Age is more than a number
Well since this is supposed to be the youngest line-up since 1987 or whatever, it seems unlikely that someone over the age of 40 is going to finally break that age barrier and win SCD. British public, you are so cruel with your hatred of slightly older people, blondes, ballroom dancers and...people in employment? This includes Anastacia, Ed and Lesley. Louise is 41 and should have given in to those long-standing requests to do SCD a couple of years ago, same goes for Naga. They should have taken a leaf out of Tameka's book and snuck in aged 39!

6) Embrace the sparkle!
As we have learned, year on year, embracing the sparkle is key. Whether it be fake-tanning to a delightful shade of teak, to double-dipping yourself in glitter, you've got to feel it, or you won't win it. And it has to be said, this year's line-up of people seem to have it in bucketloads! You've got super-fan Laura, the ball of energy that is Tameka, bonkers Anastacia, Ore desperate to get on the dancefloor, and Rinder seems to already be having a life-changing experience. People who I think are holding back include Louise and Will, but give them a couple of weeks cha-cha-ing and I'm sure they'll be swinging from the glitterball.

So there we are, here is my patented Winning Formula equation:

Dance first - day job + brunette x latin pro > 40 years old + sparkle = WINNER!

Come back after opening weekend to see who the Formula predicts will make the SCD final!

So, the results are in and it appears our finalists should be...

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Blast Off!

OK, first things first. What was with that opening? Whose brain concocted that sparkle-infested oddity? The only explanation must be that one of the producers has genuinely lost his/her heart to a fecking starship trooper. I never seen anything quite like it in my life. From Craig busting questionable moves to Brendan doing a cartwheel, it was nothing short of bonkers. And not really in a good way.

Louise and....... KEVIN!

She needs no surname. She is the right Louise, despite what dem yoofs on Twitter may think. There was a little talk online about her costume not being as nice as some of the others - but some folks had heard she had actually asked to cover up a little, which implies she's a little wary and inhibited. That's not necessarily a bad thing. We all love a journey, after all. I'm not always Mr Clifton's biggest fan but I think in this circumstance they will make a really great pair. He's such a perky little package of energy, he's bound to bring her out of her shell.

Naga and........ PASHA!

Naga has already perfected her Paso Face. That's the only reason for having perfected a death stare. Right? At least that will get put to use. Looking fabulously statuesque in red, Naga already seems to be (to use Frankie's phrase) 'embracing the sparkle', despite it being so far removed from her usual reality. Pasha is an all round darling and I'm looking forward to seeing what these guys come up with. 

Anastacia and.........BRENDAN!

We get so super excited when an American is on the show. Why is that?! Do we expect they will be bringing over stockings and gum? And remember Williamsgate 2010 where we all expected her to be the bee's knees and she was about as rhythmic as a baby giraffe who has been slipped a dram of Scotland's finest? Not that I am expecting Anastacia to to be terrible by any means. Brendan's reaction and her performance in the group number suggest she's going to be good. And embrace every second of it. Love her ombre-mermaid dress. 

Laura and............. GIOVANNI!
Oh I do love a Strictly-Superfan-On-Strictly. Their excitement is infectious. I'm expecting the tabloids to latch onto this partnership like a limpet on a sequin-encrusted rock. She's the standard PYT (Pretty Young Thing), bound to start relatively well and end more or less on the level of a professional backing dancer. But Strictly needs these stock characters as much as it needs feathers and fake tan. 

Melvin and.......... JANETTE!

I didn't realise he was quite so dinky and therefore almost inevitably destined to be partnered with Janette. He seems like he's going to be a jolly good sport and possibly a nifty dancer. Perhaps how many times 'Dance of Odoom' is uttered by the presenters could become a drinking game. 

Greg and....... NATALIE!

I have never quite shipped a couple from this early on before. This pairing seems like destiny. I was eyeing him closely in the group dance and his timing looks good. I already love these two. Natalie managed to get Michael 'I have no rhythm' Vaughan to dance a passable ballroom, I genuinely can't wait to see how she does with Greg, who actually seems to have potential. He's humble and doesn't take himself too seriously either. My very-early-on faves. This rarely happens. 

Judge and ................ OKSANA!

Yes, yes, he shall henceforth be known as 'Judge'. That is his first name right? I'm not so much looking forward to his dancing (although he does look like he has some rhythm going on) as his out Craiging Craig at judging time. This partnership should be a good measure of Oksana's televisionability (I'm totes coining that,)  Remember how adorable the partnership between John Sargeant and Kristina was? They don't always need a ringer year one to make an impression.

Danny and .................. OTI!

Ooh, he's a wee bit of a charmer, isn't he? Oti seemed positively delighted with her new partner. I have to admit, the last time I watched Hollyoaks, Monica and Chandler were not yet married, we had only just been introduced to the KitKat Chunky and construction began on the Millennium Dome. That is, I had absolutely no idea who he was. He's another PYT. Expect to see him at least up until the quarter finals. 

Claudia and............. AJ!

Have we seen a couple this tiny since Tina and the teeny one from High School Musical who didn't know how to dance ballroom? And still the height difference is huge. I hope they don't fill all their routines with gymnastics instead of dance. I'm not sure I can stomach a triple full layout in the middle of a Viennese Waltz. Her little pink costume makes her look like a little cupcake. They are uber cute. 

Daisy and....................ALJAZ!

Now officially a modeliser, Aljaz looked delighted with Daisy. And boy, they do make a pretty pair. She seems genuinely excited, which is nice. Who doesn't want to bathe in glitter? She has a touch of the Sophie E-Bs about her. I'm expecting some nonchalant cool. But perhaps I'm wrong and she'll go all eyes-and-teeth camp? Who knows?

Lesley and......... ANTON!
Oh these two were always a certainty. She can quite clearly boogie though and these two are going to be great fun. Prime candidates for the Race-To-The-Bottom, I'm wondering whether Anton is going to camp it up enough to rival the pure weirdness of Ed Balls taking part. 

Tameka and........ GORKA!

I don't watch Eastenders so I wasn't sure who she was. But I love her. If you could bottle that enthusiasm and take it to Dragons' Den, they'd be throwing offers all over the place. She looks all kinds of fabulous in her take-me-to-the-emerald-city costume. These are potentially the most fun pairing of the series...

Ore and...........JOANNE!

Oof, now this two could be a pair to watch. He is quite clearly a good dancer. I just hope he can overcome his nerves. Joanne should now get the chance to show us what she can do. I was impressed with her on It Takes Two last year and she clearly knows what she is talking about. 

Ed and.........KATYA!

Officially the most random contestant of the year. Yet, his taking part, seems like a weird kind of inevitability. It was always going to happen at some point. Katya didn't seem all that impressed, but with a line up full of potential ringers, getting Mr Balls is quite surely a short straw. But see above re Kristina and John. Sometimes the one that seems like the dud is a blessing in disguise, especially if he can make fun of himself. I'm expecting dad dancing and high camp. 

Will and ......... KAREN!

Karen! Let Will go! No wonder he was wanting to initiate a #SaveWill hashtag. I adore the thought of him dancing a rumba in his kitchen. I totally do that. That kind of self-deprecating nugget of information gives him a wonderful air of inevitability. I think he'll be pretty good from the start. I hope not too good though, as that often can ruin the show for me...