Saturday, 27 November 2010

Strictly Come Dancing week 9: Sqeaky bum time

You can tell it's now 3 weeks away from the final and the pressure is beginning to hit hard at the real dancers. Pure talent alone is not cutting it and it's as important now to be able to convert the scoring chances as to make them. Strictly come dancing 2010 is lurching towards the finals in a most bizarre atmosphere I've seen in years.The things that separates the top 4 , Kara, Scott, Matt and Pamela are nerves and self confidence. We'll be finding out these next few weeks just how fast and how hard these dancers can go without loosing bits on the way. The other obvious thing is the tension and  fatigue creeping into every dancer, at some point even the best of them were going to crack and loose focus or energy for at least part of the time. Barring some disaster, ( where have we heard this before), all four should be there next week . Patsy, who is a contender to make it to make it to the finals or at least the show before, has the most to prove as she wants at all cost to stay out of the "public" bottom two.

As for the judges bottom two, one who's finally getting it and the other who thinks it's Britain's got talent, what can I say?  I'm shocked the trend is no nearer to petering out. And if Sunday sees another talented dancer leave while these two stay it will mean a complete branch and root review of the voting system as well as the manner in which contestants are chosen. If the public are intent on voting for something so far removed from actual dance, then the programme needs to remove the joke party candidates before the first night.

  Tonight's show while an hour long was finally getting to feel like some of the filler was beginning to show. The entire cowboy montage was too much and could have been filled as easily with a dance from the professionals or a song by the band. Here's a novel idea, we could have seen the judges dance! The x factor type filer was all the more lame as we had to endure the hamming of some people who are about as appealing as cold toast. Judging however, was as usual the mixed bag of honest critique and occasional moments of hallucinations. Once Alesha and then Len, not sure what happened but every so often they see something nobody else saw. Best moment had to be when Bruno nearly started dancing with Alesha who clearly wasn't having any of it. If there was one strong point throughout, it had to be the music. The band was on top form and even the musical choices were on the whole complementary to the dances intended for them.

And so without further ado, the ratings

Kara Tointon : Jive. What a happy dance number that was. Nice hip action  with lots of realy good kicks and flicks. No mistakes and she looked like a pro. I loved it.  Could she have on reflection given it more? Maybe, but if that was her dancing tired, what will she do when she's rested and ready??? Rating 9

Ann Widdicombe: Maybe this time the Titanic will stay sunk.

Rating:  joke long since past it's sell by date. 

Patsy Kensit: Argentine Tango.  Performing on a bad ankle, Patsy could have had more pure intensity, but given the fact she was on injured, the dance was moody sexy and bendy and she didn't miss a beat. This is the sort of performance you expect from troopers who are taking this seriously. Rating 7

Scott Maslen: American Smooth.  It looked good, it looked well executed, but all along you got the feeling he was holding back. Turns out he was thrown by a loss of step early and it affected the performance. That and the fact he was knackered from a schedule that had given him 2 days rest in several weeks. Any bad dancer under the circumstances would have died on the spot as well the dance itself is far harder than it looks, so hats off to Scott for making it look easy. Rating 7

Gavin Henson: Jive.   Let me be nice for a change to start. He moved, he realy tried dancing, HE HAD A GO. Had he danced like this in week one, he'd be respectable by now.  His moves were stiff and blocky often, his hip action  bad, there were timing issues. There was a moment when it looked like he was about to have a poo on the dance floor. An embarasing routine best forgotten  except for the fact he at least tried. Rating 3

Matt Baker: American Smooth. Elegant , smooth and romantic, his dance was punctuated by nice lifts and some wonderful fluid spins. Then he had to pull those faces. I know now it was part of the story but that element did not work. You can't blame Matt for the Choreography. Aside from the faces, one of the best dances of the night. Rating 8

Pamela Stephenson: Charleston. Best for last it seems, even the few acrobatics they did  were sort in line with the history of the dance, so no complaints from me. As a whole the routine was brilliant and joy to behold. Funny, amusing and great footwork with no awkward breaks, just what a Charleston should be. Rating 9

Bottom two prediction time, despite coming bottom two in the same order as the first night and every other night, in the judges table, Ann will likely stay up :(, Gavin However will probably be joined in the public bottom two by Patsy who does not deserve to be there. If we're honest, and pretend the two joker cards had been sent home already, it should be Patsy and Scott. Patsy because compared to the rest, she's not getting any better and Scott, because he was poor tonight and he knows it. I think  the public behind Scott are far more forgiving so he's safe, but Patsy hasn't got that kind of support and will likely be in the drop zone. If we get a fair result, Gavin will be heading home to family and full time rugby. What we get of course is anybody's guess.

See you all tomorrow night when we find out who is the least popular of the 7 left standing

Watch tonight's Strictly week 9 on the iPlayer

Leaving aside the elimination for a moment or two, the results show was rather fun to watch. Highlights include the verrrrry sexy dance by James and Ola , honestly, I felt like I was intruding, then the pros came out and did an ensemble piece featuring MORE women in skimpy outfits, who as it happens danced well, didn't notice the men if I'm honest. Our stars took the format of filler clip from last night and made it work finally, aside from Ann Widdicombe, the rest of them were brilliantly cast in bits that highlighted their personalities and adventures so far on the programme. Gavin, whom I often have less than kind words was perfect in the ode to the Full Monty. Much to my surprise, James Blunt wasn't making me want to slit my wrists, his song was finally out of the scary stalker rom-emo territory and was somewhat autobiographical. The kind of content I would have expected last night but did not get. Oh and thank you Strictly, we got Bruno and Craig in a dance if only for a few seconds, MORE PLEASE!  So next week is movie week, Ann will be doing Frankenstein before the villagers storm the studio with pitchforks and torches, one hopes.... the pitch forks that is. 

Bottom two according to the public?  50% right at least ..... Pamela and Gavin, but classy Pamela was sent home instead. Gavin himself admits he's "close to dancing now", he may even be good by week 25, pity it ends in 3. The biggest farce about this continues,  " Have your votes changed anything?" OH YES! Dancers leave while an entire part of the voting public turn a dance contest into a popularity and piss take competition. It's one thing to vote for Wagner on Yechhh Factor to protest the murder of music by Darth Cowell, but what did Strictly ever do but try to show proper dance can be healthy fun and enjoyable? I want to reward the good dancers, not sacrifice them to some skewered sense of  "good on you" for not being total crap and Howay the Lads! If Alan Shearer, long may he be praised, came on and danced so badly I wanted to gouge my eyes out, I would not vote for him, in fact if Alan Shearer was half as bad as the Horror from the House of Commons, he'd have had the good sense to remove himself in order to stop just such a farce. Just to prove I'm, not so viscerally anti Tory that I would not be horrid to a Tory, if Cameron himself was on and danced like Fred Astaire, I would want him to win, in fact. But any time people ascribe non dance reasons to vote for somebody, they rob the show of the reason it was put on the air.

Next year, IF the rules are changed, and the stars are better chosen I will watch, but as it stands, I'm very close to swearing off this just as I did BGT and X factor. I honestly don't care if it goes on to be a hit with people keeping the corpse of Marcel Marceau and Stephen Hawking in, while the near professional dancers are hoyyed off tot eh scrap heap.  BBC, PLEASE this is not ITV and you don't need ad revenue. Fix this or you will loose the support of the dance professionals and fans who thought it was a talent contest.

Watch the results show here

For more information on Strictly 2010 you can go to the Strictly Come Dancing home page