My TV Week

This week I have mainly been watching….

Glee Season 2, episode 2 “Britney/Brittany” (E4, Mondays, 9pm)

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Thankfully I enjoyed this week’s episode (see here for synopsis) a lot more than last week’s season opener. It was fun to see Brittany S. Pierce (see what they did there?) take a more prominent role – wow, Heather Morris can DANCE. There were some great lines (my favourites below) and I’m happy to see Emma back, along with new boyfriend Carl, played by John Stamos. Hubba. However! I do have a few issues with this episode. I’m not that keen when the musical numbers are a straight copy of the original video (Brittany doing “I’m a Slave 4 U”, Rachel doing “Hit Me Baby One More Time” etc) – I prefer it when there’s a bit of a twist, as with Artie performing “Stronger” (even if it was cheesier than an explosion in the Wotsits factory), or when it’s a straight New Directions interpretation, like their performance of “Toxic”. Also, how annoying was Mr Schue this week? GOD. And I know we don’t watch Glee for intricate storylines but come on, a bit more plot would be nice.

Lastly, Britney’s cameo was so insubstantial they may as well not have bothered.

Favourite lines:

“How can you get caught between the moon and New York City? They’re like a hundred miles apart” – Finn

“The other day he made me buy the green grapes and the red grapes at the market, and then we just mixed them together in a bowl and we just ate them. It was madness! Sheer madness” – Emma

“I don’t brush my teeth, I just rinse with soda after I eat. I was pretty sure Dr. Pepper was a dentist.” – Brittany

“This room looks like the one on that spaceship where I got probed” – Brittany

“I’m actually kind of happy about it. Then I don’t have to fantasize about what song I’d sing at your bedside if you were in a coma” – Rachel (On Finn not being in the football team)

Episodes (BBC2, Mondays 10pm)

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Now, I originally intended to write about this after the first episode last week. But, having watched said first episode I was unimpressed, and grumpy about it, so I thought I’d spare you all a miserable post and watch the second episode before committing my opinions to the internet. And now, after having watched the second episode…..I still think it’s rubbish. Well, ok, maybe ‘rubbish’ is a bit harsh. Tamsin Grieg and Stephen Mangan are great, and I like the premise. I love Matt Leblanc, but it feels like the writers haven’t decided if his character (a version of himself) is meant to be likeable or a complete arse, and he seems constrained and uncomfortable in the role. And it’s just not funny – I wasn’t expecting it to render me helpless with mirth but I laughed perhaps once in the first episode and not at all in the second. So the upshot is I’m STILL grumpy about it. Harumph.

10 O’Clock Live (Channel 4, Thursdays, 10pm)

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Channel 4’s new weekly live comedy ‘n’ current affairs show started last night, and on the whole I thought it got off to a very promising start. I loved David Mitchell’s take on Jeremy Hunt’s plans for local TV news and Charlie Brooker’s ‘Sarah Palin for beginners’. Mitchell’s tackling of David Willetts on university fees bodes well for his future encounters with politicians, I think, and the presenters seem to have an easy chemistry with each other. Rather less successful was the ‘World News Now’ section, which fell flat, and Lauren Laverne seemed to be falling into the ‘token bird’ role with not much to do. I’m not Jimmy Carr’s biggest fan but as he’s not the main focus he was bearable. I hope that having got the first show under their belts they’ll be a bit less nervous next week – if they can relax into their groove I think the show will appear less hectic. There’s been a lot of comment online about the wisdom of scheduling the show against Newsnight and Question Time, but I do hope it holds its own.

What have you been watching?

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Glee, Season 2, Episode 1: Audition

Mondays, 9pm, E4

With much anticipation and excitement we’re back at McKinley High for season 2 of Glee. Hurrah! Something to cheer us on gloomy Monday evenings – I don’t know about you but for me this is VERY welcome.

After the disappointment at Sectionals at the climax of season 1 New Directions are even more unpopular – their budget is cut and no one’s put their name down to join up. Their attempt to recruit new members doesn’t exactly go according to plan – the two students who do show an interest, Sam and Sunshine, eventually decide not to join – Sam sees how unpopular it would make him and Sunshine is poached by Vocal Adrenaline as a result of Rachel’s jealous machinations (more on that later). I suspect we haven’t seen the last of them though. The Cheerios budget is also reduced in favour of the football team, much to Sue’s horror so she and Will briefly join forces in an unsuccessful attempt to get rid of the new coach, Shannon Beiste (pronounced ‘beast’, obviously). Finn is dropped from the football team after trying to help Artie win Tina back (she dumped him for Mike Chang’s abs over the summer), while Quinn returns to the Cheerios after suggesting to Sue that she can secure funding from a church group by being their spokesperson for teen abstinence. Sue demotes Santana to the bottom of the pyramid as punishment for her summer boob job in a scene containing my second favourite Sue line: You’re demoted to the bottom of the pyramid, so when it collapses, your exploding sand bags will protect the squad from injury. Now take your juicy, vine-ripened chest fruit and get the hell out of my office”

There was much to enjoy in this season opener – the aforementioned scene with Sue and Santana, the introduction of Sunshine (so cute and tiny you could put her in your pocket), and Rachel’s struggle to process this threat to her self-percieved position as the best singer in New Directions (culminating in her giving Sunshine the address of a crack den instead of the correct one for try-outs), the fact that Finn called Rachel on her behaviour (showing a strengthening of their relationship), and my favourite Sue line, on checking her pager, “Oh! It’s time to feed my gimp.” Ha!

However…..perhaps because I was so excited beforehand, I don’t know, on the whole I was a bit underwhelmed by this episode. The songs (with the exception of Rachel and Sunshine’s fab rendition of “Telephone”) were a bit blah – I loved “Empire State of Mind” when it came out but I’ve now heard it around 452 times. The whole “Sue and Will team up to defeat the Beiste” story line held promise, but felt underpowered – making the subsequent HERE COMES THE MORAL moment (where Will realises that ostracising someone is Not A Very Nice Thing To Do) even less subtle than usual.

Still, I’m very glad it’s back, and I’m sure (I hope) that forthcoming episodes will be sprinkled with more of that special Glee magic that I feel this one was missing. What did you think?

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Strictly Speaking: the grand final!

Awww, look at them! So, yes, Kara and Artem were victorious on Saturday. Yay! I’d love to be able to do a proper recap but I’ve got a house to clean, presents to wrap and an ENORMOUS amount of telly to watch. So here are my slightly condensed thoughts on the grand final (imagine the bullet points are tiny little glitterballs). Let me have your thoughts in the comments!

  • HOW cute was it when Kara and Artem got all emotional in their VT? When Kara started crying I must admit I started to tear up a little. I blame my Strictly cocktail (vodka, Cointreau, Chambord, cranberry juice and a twist of lime. ‘Tis delish).
  • I was really looking forward to the show dances this year. I actually thought that Matt and Aliona would win it with theirs, so I was a bit surprised when it wasn’t really much cop. Yes, Matt is great at gymnastics. WE KNEW THAT ALREADY. It would have been nice if Aliona had choreographed a routine that included some actual dancing. After all, as Mike said, it’s not called Strictly Come Gymnastics, is it? And did they glue that cap onto his hair?

  • Kara and Artem’s show dance was very ambitious, too much so it transpires as Kara tore a ligament in her arm while doing a backflip. OUCH. How she managed to even finish that routine, let alone perform two more, I don’t know (I imagine the painkillers were super duper strong). I did like the routine, despite the mistakes, as Artem included a lot of dance content alongside the acrobatics. Although, as much as I love Don’t Stop Me Now, perhaps a slightly slower song *might* have eased the pressure somewhat?

  • Now, I’m a sucker for anything with even a hint of Dirty Dancing-ness, so I’ll admit to squeeing when Pamela and James started dancing to The Time of My Life. And, yes, it was a lovely routine, performed beautifully. But! It didn’t feel like a show dance, it felt safe. There were a few lifts, and I certainly wasn’t expecting the same level of acrobatics as from the other finalists, but it lacked pizazz. I wish they’d thrown caution to the wind!

  • Despite finishing the first half top of the leader board Pamela and James are out first. I was really looking forward to seeing their Argentine tango 😦
  • I wasn’t keen on Matt and Aliona’s paso, probably because I detested the version of Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood that they used (love the Nina Simone original). They reprised their Viennese Waltz, and finally Craig was happy with Matt’s thumbs.
  • Kara and Artem’s waltz was lovely, if a little tentative due to Kara not being able to bend her arm and being in PAIN. They performed their American Smooth again – I LOVE that routine, and at last they got a ten from Craig. Len, of course, was still unhappy with the lack of time spent in hold. Next year the Strictly powers that be really need to make sure the judges are consistent in penalising rule infringements (see also Craig’s illegal lift pernickerty-ness), and that the pro dancers are given an official rule book.
  • All the couples, bar the finalists, return for a fun, lively group dance. Patsy! I’ve missed her. I WON’T miss seeing Widdy flung around the dance floor.
  • I was so convinced that Matt would win that when they announced that Kara had won I was positively jubilant. I may have done a little dance of my own on the sofa 🙂 I love how Artem stood back to let her lift the trophy (shame she only had one working arm!), and how emotional he was. Oh heck, I just love Artem.
  • So, that was this year’s Strictly. Despite a fairly lukewarm start I’ve ended up loving it just as much as ever. I’m so pleased Kara and Artem won (in case you couldn’t tell) – it’s the first year since Alesha that the person I’ve wanted to win actually has 🙂 I leave you (until the Christmas special, of course) with my favourite picture from the final. Altogether now: awwwwwwww!

Strictly Speaking: Semi Final!

It’s the semi final showdown! I bring you….yet more bullet points (hey, there * are* 3 shows to get through this weekend). So with no further messin’ abaaaaaht:

Friday Live Show

  • Pamela and James paso doble: In the VT Pamela says how proud she was to get the full complement of tens last week. Their training footage looks a little shaky (the dancing, not the camera work) so I’m afeared, but I actually thoroughly enjoy the routine. There’s some lovely skirt-work from Pamela, and it’s all performed with a great fierce intensity. I could have done without the Strictly singers mauling Bad Romance though. Len liked the spirit and the chair-ography (of course there was a chair), Alesha admires Pamela’s focus, Craig praises the stong lines but picks up on a couple of solo wobbles from Pamela, and Bruno does a frankly scary impression of Lady Gaga and calls Pamela a “red menace”. They score 35 (eight from Craig, nines from the rest).
  • Kara and Artem Viennese waltz: We learn that Kara thinks Craig was making up words when he called their tango phantasmagorical (Artem thinks it too, but English is not his first language). Kara’s found learning 3 dances stressful and has a bit of a tizz in training. Their VW is completely lovely (she’s in pale green, and looks like a very pretty peppermint), with  beautiful phrasing and there’s a lot of variety in the choreography (VWs can often be a tad dull). I just wish her foot hadn’t come off the floor – twice! – when she was being twirled by Artem! Not because I mind myself, but because Craig will spot it. And he does, of course, so they get a nine from him and tens from the other three judges. Pah to pernickerty-ness!
  • Gavin and Katya samba: As usual Gavin’s glued to the mirror in training, causing Katya to bark “Gavin! Get away from the mirror!” Ha. They’re going all out for the Welsh vote, with support from the mayor of Cardiff and a male voice choir. Somehow I don’t think it will be enough….Learning three dances is a trial for poor Gavin, who complains that he can feel his brain hurting then calls Katya a headache on heels. Apt. I can’t be bothered to talk about their samba. You don’t mind, do you? Katya’s outfit is pretty though. The judges are equally underwhelmed, giving a total score of 27.
  • Scott and Natalie Argentine tango: rather undermining his manly aura, Scott struggles to lift Natalie in training – although he does gallantly insist that it’s not because she’s fat. We do have eyes, thank you. For their routine there’s a lamppost! And a hat! And the music from that dishwasher powder advert! Thrilling. It’s not bad, but it is a bit languourous and lacking in heat. There’s a big lift at the end that I don’t think really fits with the routine, but at least Scott manages to pull it off without straining anything. Craig and Alesha would have liked stronger leading from Scott, while Len wishes he looked more like he was “out on the town trying to pick up totty” *insert appropriate angry growling here* Bruno is the only one to “get it”, likening it to film noir. He gives them a nine, and with eights from the others their score is 33.
  • Matt and Aliona salsa: Aliona says that her main aim is to make sure that Matt is “in the zone”. Surely, dear, it should be to choreograph great routines that suit him? Hmm? No. Instead we get a very basic salsa, with a lot of “sexy” grimacing, awkward armography and a bit with Matt on one knee clumsily thrusting his hips at Aliona that makes me feel quite unwell. The studio audience love it (fools!), which means Matt is completely unprepared for the barrage of criticism he’s about to get from the judges. Oh dear. Watching it back the criticism does seem to go on forever, and it’s all directed at Matt – it’s quite hard to watch really. Plus, WHY ARE THEY NOT HAVING A GO AT ALIONA? FFS. They get 28, their lowest score, and Matt looks utterly dejected. Aliona’s probably just thinking about custard.
  • Swingathon: I love the bit in the VT where Gavin talks Katya through tactics with the aid of a flipchart. Like that’ll help!! The actual swingathon (stop sniggering) is pretty hard to watch – there’s so much going on and the camera is whizzing around all over the place it’s hard to concentrate. I can tell however that Gavin’s not coping very well, and they’re the first to be dismissed (I don’t think they hear the announcement as they have to be ushered off the floor), receiving  one point. Next off are Scott and Natalie, followed by Pamela and James, leaving Matt and Kara to battle it out. Matt looks done in and is soon put out of his misery, making Kara and Artem the victors with five points. My mother in law likened the swingathon to They Shoot Horses, Don’t They – but without the grinding poverty, depression and death, obviously.

Saturday Live Show

  • Tonight we are being treated to the sight of Artem’s bare chest. Hubba. Remember my week 1 recap where I refused to find him sexy? Idiot.
  • Scott and Natalie Charleston: Scott is dressed as a sailor and they’re dancing to Anything Goes. It looks to me like he goes completely wrong at the start. The rest of the routine is jaunty but not particularly exciting – it’s a bit too floppy for me. The judges are all positive, although Craig does pick up on the odd beginning, calling it “nebulous”. They score 35 – eight from Craig and nine from the others. I’m not even sure I’d have given it eight.
  • Kara and Artem rumba: Craig is expecting perfection from Kara, which, given that she describes herself as a “wobbly person”, might be a bit too much of an ask. I think their rumba is STUNNING – tender, romantic, sexy *fans self*. Gorgeous lines, great connection between them (natch). And not ruined by the Strictly singers as it’s an instrumental, thank god. Alesha says it was pure magic, Bruno says Kara danced to a professional standard and Len thinks it was knockout. Craig, darling pedant that he is, says it was almost perfect but for the lift. At first I think there’s something wrong with his eyes, but having watched it back Kara’s feet do indeed leave the floor during a twirly bit. Bugger! This of course means he only gives them a nine, but at least the others wave their ten paddles.
  • Matt and Aliona tango: the VT shows Matt storming off after their horrible salsa last night, which some will say is ungracious. It’s clear he wants to get to the final so badly – I can understand his frustration. I think Len’s right when he says that sometimes Matt “overdances” – if he could relax a little and take some of the pressure off himself I think he’d get better comments. But mainly, as you know, I think the problem is Aliona and her lazy-ass choreography. They’re on better form tonight with the tango, but it’s nowhere near as good as Kara’s in my opinion. Their score is 38 (tens from Len and Alesha, pfft).
  • Gavin and Katya Viennese waltz: Tonight Katya’s resplendent in a red muu muu, which is an interesting wardrobe choice. Gavin, as usual, looks much happier and comfortable in hold, and it’s a nice routine. His timing’s all over the shop though and it’s a bit skippy in places. Still, for his last dance (surely?) it’s not a bad effort. Craig comments on the timing issues – Katya says the sticky bit was because they had to avoid the lamps at the edge of the floor. Surely she knew they were there before? Len tells Gavin he’s his hero, which is just plain silly. Maybe if he was in with a real chance of winning it, but not just for being a sportsman and turning up every week. Craig – six, Len – nine (!), Alesha  and Bruno – eight (total 31). Would have been a seven from me.
  • Pamela and James quickstep: Pamela looks fantastic in tails, leotard and top hat. She’s 61! They start side by side, with canes,  then Pamela does something to her outfit and hey presto! a skirt made out of pink streamers appears. It’s a lovely number, complete with a tap section. I do love a bit of tap dancing. Pamela’s so light on her feet that it looks effortless. The judges are all effusive in their praise, and out come those tens.
  • So, that’s it – the couples have done all they can. On to the results show!

Sunday Results Show

  • After a paso from the show dancers (why no Ian? And is it just me or is Darren sucking in his stomach all the way through?), the first couples through to the final are…..Pamela and James, swiftly followed by Kara and Artem. I am VERY PLEASED. Tess chats to them, and bless him, Artem is manfully trying to hold back tears. LOVE. HIM.
  • There is a moment of true horror when Brucie performs a duet with one of the singers, accompanied by Ola skipping about dressed as Goldilocks. Has someone put something hallucinogenic in my wine?
  • Take That perform Back for Good for the first time since Robbie rejoined the band. JOYOUS JOY.
  • And now, the final curtain for two couples. Gavin and Katya are the first to be shown the door, then Scott and Natalie. I’m happy with the outcome – I think Kara, Pamela and Matt are worthy finalists (although if Matt wins I shall ignore the fact that Aliona will get her mitts on the glitterball). Kara to win, please. I think the final is going to be fab – I can’t wait for those show dances!

    Strictly Speaking: Week 10

    Saturday Live Show

    Oh good lord, Friday’s here and still no Strictly recap. Prepare yourselves for more bullet points!

    • It’s Movie Week! There’s a Strictly twist to the MGM logo, with Brucie as the roaring lion (tbh, he sounds more like a pirate), and a pro dance medley that rampages through Grease, Top Gun (James and Ola with ANOTHER rumba), Easter Parade and Pulp Fiction. I don’t know about you, but this feels EXACTLY like being at the cinema – except for the sticky crunch of popcorn underfoot, of course.
    • Scott and Natalie are performing a paso to the Bond theme. Because Scott’s had a lacklustre/rubbish couple of weeks Natalie is being very strict with him in training, and plans on getting his chest out (no doubt with an eye on the competition from Gavin and Katya). I like their routine – Scott’s definitely back on form – but I’m not wowed. I want to be wowed! As promised Natalie rips Scott’s shirt open at the end, but it goes a little awry as it’s attached to his undercrackers. Ouch! Len enjoys the opportunity to bellow “Double-0 SevUNN!”, and Bruno wheels out “license to thrill”. Craig would have liked to see more paso shaping, and everyone agrees that they performed very well considering the music was difficult (was it?). The score is 35.
    • Widdy thinks the judges are only interested in their own clever comments, not her dancing. Oh do shut up, please. This week it’s the poor American smooth’s turn to be mauled (to the strains of Hello Dolly). I have written the following in my notes: “some attempt at movement” and “lifts not too bad”. FINALLY it looks like she’s attempting to dance rather than just stomp about. It’s still proper bad though, obv. Alesha and Len have clearly decided that, with the semi-final on the horizon, it’s time to get tough – Alesha tells Widdy that although it was nice to see some actual content, for her the honeymoon is over, and Len says Widdy’s like the snow – fun for a while but then you just want it to go away. Bruno likens Widdy to a Dalek in drag, for which he gets told off by Brucie (FFS!). They score 14, which is the lowest for an American smooth ever – Widdy now holds 5 records for lowest scoring dances ever, fact fans.
    • Matt and Aliona get stuck in the Outer Hebrides because of the SNOW, but manage to get to TVC to perform their Austin Powers themed jive. It starts BRILLIANTLY, with Matt doing a backwards somersault off the judges table. Matt’s fully in character, which is admirable, but I don’t know if it’s just me but after the acrobatics I find it a bit boring. There’s not a lot of movement around the floor, I don’t like the semaphore arm bits, it feels a tad slow for a jive and after a while the Austin Powers impersonation is a bit annoying. Plus Matt loses timing (and is alarmingly sweaty thanks to the red velvet suit). Oh, I am FRUSTRATED – I know I banged on about this last week but I really do feel Matt is capable of so much more. Yes Aliona, I am looking at YOU.
    • It’s Pamela’s birthday – she’s 61, a fact James doesn’t tire of announcing to the world. They have a Ghost theme for their Viennese Waltz (I shall gloss over the pottery wheel scene re-enactment in the VT), and the routine is SO lovely – it actually sends shivers down my spine. Pamela looks like she’s truly swept up in the emotion of the dance, and when James turns and starts ascending the stairs, a beam of light catching his white suit….oh! Alesha hits the nail on the head when she says it was the perfect song, the perfect dress, perfect choreography, perfectly danced. Pamela’s birthday present is FOUR TENS!! Whoop!
    • Gavin thinks his jive was better than the judges thought it was. Er, Gavin love, no it really wasn’t. Still, he’s back in hold for the foxtrot this week so let’s be positive. The theme is Blues Brothers, so there’s a cute bit of business with sunglasses at the top, and really it is an improvement on last week – he’s light on his feet and I like the quickstep section. He seems much, much happier in this routine. They score 33.
    • Kara and Artem are last to dance, with a Moulin Rouge-inspired tango. In the VT they address the rumours in the media that they’re having a relationship, with Artem saying that with all the training it would complicate matters if there was any hanky-panky going on (my words, not his). He states very clearly that he’s waiting for Strictly to finish, then he will ask Kara out. My hope is that they win, then as their eyes meet over the glitterball trophy they give in to their passion and have a massive snog. THIS MUST HAPPEN, PEOPLE. Where was I? Oh yes, their tango. It’s fabulous (apart from the usual song murdering – I know this version of Roxanne is meant to be gravelly but this is ridiculous), completely magnetic, dynamic and intense, with Kara producing beautiful lines. There’s some amazing chair-work, including a trick that makes me squeal LOOK AT THAT!!! Alesha, looking utterly gobsmacked, proclaims it the best tango EVER on Strictly, while Bruno yells Spectacular Spectacular! before falling off his chair. Nines from Craig and Len (mean! pfft) and tens from the more excitable judges leave Kara and Artem with a total of 38. UNDERMARKING AHOY!
    • Results show: Well, this Mamma Mia number from the show dancers is pretty horrible, isn’t it? Let’s all have a rousing chorus of BRING BACK LILIA! Tess has gone a step further with the one shoulder look this week, as it’s covered in metal spikes. I do hope she’s extra careful getting out of it, or she’ll do herself an injury. Gavin and Katya are the first to go through to the semi final, which surprises me – even though he was much better this week I still thought his time was up. As they have gone through I am now very worried about who’ll end up in the bottom two (so much so that Mike starts moving all breakable items out of my reach). Next safe are Kara and Artem (yay!), and Scott and Natalie are in the bottom two. What? Bruno is shocked, calling it the baddest and worst joke ever (has he not heard any of Brucie’s gags?). Anton and Erin perform a gorgeous routine to Moon River, and we see Gavin and Katya are a little emotional about making it through to the semi final. Back to the last three couples on the dance floor, Pamela and James are safely through, as are…….Matt and Aliona! My word, Widdy’s in the bottom two! I only vaguely recall the Manic Street Preachers performing before the moment of truth because I’m sat on the sofa chanting ‘calm, calm, calm’ to myself as I’m convinced Scott and Natalie are going. But they’re not! Widdy and Anton are out! AT LAST! Oh, the relief that washes over me at this moment, it’s just blissful.

    So, there we have it. Gavin, Kara, Pamela, Matt and Scott are in the semi-final, which starts tonight and carries on tomorrow and Sunday, when there’ll be a double elimination. Oooooh!  I know I want Kara and Pamela in the final, but I’m reserving judgement on whether I want Matt or Scott there too until after tomorrow night. Who do you want to see in the final?

    Strictly Speaking: Week 9

    Folks, it’s week 9. Everyone’s exhausted and mired in a post-Blackpool slump, even me. It’s Thursday already, hence the bullet-point-tastic recap.

    • Kara and Artem’s jive is pretty good, but lacks punch. Kara admitted in the VT that she wasn’t looking forward to the jive, and with Artem’s Blackpool injury and subsequent bout of tonsillitis they weren’t able to train that much. It shows – Kara’s loooking at her feet a fair bit, and I get the impression that she’s preoccupied with worrying about Artem injuring himself again. I think they’re slightly overmarked (not by Craig, obv, who gives a 7).
    • Widdy thinks her samba was hilarious, high comedy. Er, no, it really wasn’t. This week, the rumba, which I watch through my fingers. They’ve gone for a Titanic theme, complete with plastic iceberg, although disappointingly no-one shouts “Oiceberg, sir, roight ahead!”.

      Kate & Leo

      Widdy & Anton

      Apart from some open-outs there doesn’t appear to be any actual rumba content, which I suppose we should be thankful for. Widdy indulges in her usual snarky answering back at Craig, and Len and Alesha continue their RIDICULOUS approach to scoring by awarding fives, FFS (for a total of 14). Oh, I am very weary of all this.

    • Patsy and Robin might as well be Argentine tango-ing to the sound of clanging, doomy bells, I’m that certain it’s their last week.  Patsy’s hurt her foot, so much of the routine is based on and around a chair. The connection between her and Robin is great, and she holds the intensity all the way through but it’s not nearly sharp or sexy enough. Bruno grabs an alarmed Alesha while demonstrating the fleshy, carnal, passionate feel he was looking for, and Len tells Patsy she needs to have a go, and not be careful. They get 30, for all the good it will do.
    • Scott knew the samba wasn’t going to be one of his best dances. Unfortunately the VT for their American smooth doesn’t fill me with anticipation either – he’s so knackered that at one point he falls asleep standing up. It looks like he’s sleepwalking throughout the whole routine – there are glaring mistakes and on the whole it’s very tentative and flat. Lord alone knows how he managed to pull off the lifts without there being a terrible accident – Natalie must have been terrified! Scott tells Tess his mind went blank right at the start. Still, at least he didn’t just wander back to the steps and have a sit down, eh? More RIDICULOUS scores from Alesha and Bruno, who give it nine each. SERIOUSLY?
    • There’s a VT of the remaining contestants all dressed up cowboy-style as the ‘Magnificant Seven’. I shall say no more about this.
    • Oh deary me, Gavin and Katya’s jive. It’s really, really ODD. In training Katya tries to get Gavin to release his emotions, which just results in him telling her how much he hates the jive. I quite like Gavin with stubble and glasses, makes him look like a scruffy grown-up Harry Potter, but the outfit! Oh my word, I worry the whole way through about trouser splittage. I don’t know what Katya was on when she came up with the choreography, it’s all over the shop. Len: “You hated it, I hated it, we all hated it”. EZACKLY (although, Len, if you hated it why the six, hmm? Hmm?).
    • I find Matt and Aliona’s VTs a bit strange – he’s always going on about what a good connection they have and how well they get on, but then the clips of them in training often seem to be a bit, shall we say, frosty? Their American smooth is performed to Empire State of Mind, and Aliona’s gone for ‘modern’ choreography. Which basically means that instead of the ‘traditional’ Hollywood-style routine we get a hell of a lot of EMOTING. Matt’s wearing a red chiffon blouson, poor thing. Technically it is very good, with a fabby lift at the end but I’m not wowed (unlike the audience, who give a standing ovation). The judges are a tad lukewarm too, pointing out that Matt’s facial expressions were a bit ‘psycho killer’. I have a theory, d’you want to hear it? I think that if Matt were partnered with Natalie he would have this competition sewn up by now, because I think she would create routines to suit him – I can understand why Aliona might want to do something different but I think she did it at the expense of Matt. His personality is much more suited to something lighter, less….anguished.
    • Pamela and James close the show with their Charleston. The prop door is back! I’m just waiting for it to be painted green….Full of cheeky energy and fun lifts (including one where Pamela lifts James) it’s a really spirited performance. It’s not perfect though – there are a few clumsy moments – so I think the tens from Alesha and Bruno are a leetle excessive. Still, Alesha’s right, it is the best dance of the night.
    • In the Sunday Results show we’re ‘treated’ to a VT about next week’s movie theme. My eyes are still burning from the HORROR of the sight of Widdy dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Way to ruin my favourite film, Strictly producers. THANKS. Kara thinks she was overmarked, Scott is upset he went blank, and the judges mock Gavin’s jive. James and Ola perform a steamy rumba – Ola’s wearing one of her sparkly catsuits, so Mikes eyes are ON STALKS. Heh. In a surprise to NO ONE, Patsy and Robin are in the bottom two with Gavin and Katya. God does not hear my fervent prayers to save Patsy, so it’s time to say goodbye to her. *sniff* She’s very gracious, saying that she’s happy she got to Blackpool and to perform the Argentine tango. I shall miss her.
    • So, the end is in sight now. I reckon Movie Week will be Gavin’s last, unless Katya resorts to desperate tactics and has him dance topless again. Or maybe, just maybe, the public will FINALLY get bored of the Widdy…….

    Strictly Speaking: Week 8

    Saturday Live Show

    There’s something different about this week’s show, I can’t quite put my finger on what it is….Oh yes, Tess is wearing a bright red nylon jumpsuit. It’s quite horrible, like something out of Abigail’s Party. The professionals open the show with a routine to Viva Las Vegas, which is actually a bit rubbish. I’m confused as I notice that  ‘BLACKPOOL’ is spelt out in lights on the backdrop. Why would this be? Does this mean that – gasp – Strictly is coming to us DIRECT FROM THE BALLROOM MECCA OF THE NORTH? Why did nobody tell me?!?

    *Ahem*

    Right. Tonight Brucie actually makes a joke that makes me laugh, when he calls Widdy a politician nobody can vote out. Granted, it’s a hollow laugh. VERY HOLLOW. It’s Patsy and Robin’s turn to get the party started with a samba, and Patsy is hoping that her inner showgirl will make an appearance. Her confidence still seems rather shaky – in the VT she proclaims “we all know that I’m average”. Oh, Patsy. Still, she brings great energy to the routine and they certainly warm the audience up. It’s a bit skippy in places, and there are no samba rolls, which makes me sad. I love samba rolls. Len notes that there were a lot of nice basic steps but also a mistake, Alesha thinks Patsy looked like a real showgirl, and Bruno calls Pasty a scrumpet. I love it when Bruno makes up words. Craig is underwhelmed, saying it lacked hip action and lightness and was very stompy. Up with Tess Patsy says how she was dying to go and dance in ‘the North’, as she loves it there – as much as I’m sure Robin loves her I bet he wishes she’d zip it occasionally. They get 28.

    During training for their American smooth Artem sustains a neck injury (while lifting Kara – surely she’s about as heavy as a marshmallow?). There are tears aplenty in the VT as Kara worries that she’s really hurt him, and he worries that she thinks it’s her fault (awww), and everyone else worries that they may not be able to perform. They do though, and I LOVE IT. I love the choice of music (the Buble version of Cry Me A River), the swirling dry ice, the lifts, the paso elements (unusual!), the intensity, all of it. Kara dances so beautifully I could weep. As they walk over to the judges they applaud each other, and Artem looks like he’s really suffering but is determined to remain stoic. Alesha says it was a seductive, smooth and intense routine and she felt she was watching two professionals, Bruno calls it a star turn and Craig agrees, praising Kara’s gorgeous lines and exquisite arm placement. Then we get to Len, who is “as confused as a baby in a topless bar” – he goes off on one about how he can’t judge it as a foxtrot American Smooth as they weren’t in hold enough. The audience boo, to which he stands up looking mightily pissed off, saying “don’t boo me”. Er, Len, Craig gets booed EVERY WEEK (often more than once) and he’s able to take it. Look and learn. Tess manages to confirm everyone’s suspicion that Kara and Artem are DOING IT by asking them if they’re enjoying  their romantic weekend in Blackpool. SHOWMANCE! Craig gives them a nine, and they get tens from Alesha and Bruno but Len gives them a measly six (total 35). Lennard Gordon Goodman, I am very disappointed in you.

    Will Matt and Aliona get a ten this week? That’s basically the gist of their VT. I really enjoy their samba – Matt’s got that hip action down pat, there’s great movement around the floor and they perform my beloved samba rolls extremely well. The routine finishes with some great acrobatics from Matt, resulting in the third standing ovation of the night. At this rate I’m not sure it’s worth the audience sitting back down. Bruno has never seen a celebrity move their hips like Matt, and Craig praises his bounce action and improved thumbs (phew!). Len, of course, is not keen on the ‘flip flops’, telling Matt that just because he can do something doesn’t mean it belongs in the routine. Pfft. Tess yammers on about tens again so Alesha and Bruno oblige just to shut her up (with nines from Craig and Len they score 38).

    Vincent is perturbed to have been in the bottom two again last week “Where are my women? They should be voting for me. Where are they – doing the dishes?” Oh Vincent, now I’m disappointed in you. Their American smooth begins with Felicity as a Hollywood star on the red carpet and Vincent as a papparazzo. It does nothing for me – half the time it looks like Felicity’s just walking about, looking confused. I’ve written “has she been drinking??” in my notes. The judges are rather more keen, however, with Alesha saying that it’s Felicity’s best dance. Hmmm. 30 is their score.

    I’m not keen on Gavin and Katya’s American smooth at all, I’m afraid. The music (Tom Jones’s She’s A Lady) doesn’t fit this dance at all, and the start – with Gavin at a microphone miming along while moving his hips in a Tom Jones-esque way – is just tacky. The less said about Katya’s hat the better. Gavin still looks very self conscious when not in hold, and the much heralded Spectacular One-handed Lift Of Danger is not particularly exciting (especially as Katya wobbles around like a precariously placed Christmas tree fairy). Bruno tells Gavin off for getting nervous when he’s so big and strong, Craig thinks it was lame and lacklustre, Len says that it was excellent in parts (which parts?) and Alesha thinks Gavin is continuing to improve. They get 27 (it’s the 4 from Craig that brings it down).

    Scott has taken to wearing a flat cap in training. Will no one point out that it looks really silly? He’s not comfortable with the hip action required for the samba, and tells Natalie that promenade runs sound like something you need to get tablets for. Something tells me his samba is not going to rival his jive….And I’m right, it’s not as good – his hips are a bit stiff and he looks like he’s desperate for the routine to be over. It’s by no means bad, I like the choreography and love the music, but there’s no doubting that Matt is more gifted in the hipular region. Alesha says he gave it a good go, Bruno calls Scott a Brazil nut, and Craig says he didn’t like the routine at all (no time for Len). They score 32, with a 6 from Craig that I think is a tad stingy.

    Apparently James is the man to go to for hanky panky. Don’t all rush at once ladies! Last week the judges said they wanted to see more risks from him and Pamela, so there are some pretty daring lifts in their American Smooth. It’s a lovely routine, with a great ‘story’ and Pamela seems more comfortable than in recent weeks (even if she does look a bit woozy coming out of the first two lifts). Bruno says it was a beautifully danced American frisky, Craig remarks that it was a well structured routine danced extremely well but Pamela needs to lengthen her neck. Len proclaims it the best American smooth of the night, and Alesha crowns Pamela Queen of Blackpool. They get their first tens (James’s first tens EVER) from Bruno and Alesha, and an eight and a nine from Craig and Len, leaving them just behind Matt on the leader board. I’m not sure their performance was quite worth a ten, but hey ho.

    You know what they say about saving the best for last? With Widdy and Anton closing the show with their interpretation of a samba I think (hope?) we can all agree this is not happening in Blackpool. They are costumed in bright yellow and gold – there are comparisons that could be made but I don’t want to insult Sesame Street characters. Widdy is adamant that she won’t be performing any ‘improper’ moves, so that’s all the samba steps out of the window. And here we go again, with yet another routine that consists largely of Widdy stomping about before being flung to the floor and twirled around like a mop. Why do people think this is funny? AND WHEN WILL IT END? Craig labels it overwhelmingly awful (HE SPEAKS THE TRUTH), Len likens it to hemorrhoids – they keep coming back more painful than ever, Alesha says it was entertaining and they make the room light up (that yellow is very bright, granted), and Bruno calls Widdy a lame canary (hey!) that never took off. They get one from Craig, three from Bruno and four from Alesha. Len gives them a five, and this is where I get very cross indeed (prepare for all-caps rant): HOW IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY CAN HE JUSTIFY GIVING THAT JUST ONE POINT LESS THAN HE GAVE KARA AND ARTEM? Surely, following his argument that their American smooth wasn’t in hold enough, his scoring for Widdy and Anton should reflect the fact that it was patently NOT A SAMBA, FFS. Still, at least they get the lowest ever score for a samba with 13. Now I’m off to wipe my memory with the aid of wine.

    Sunday Results Show

    I am worried for Patsy tonight, I really feel she’ll be in the bottom two,probably with Felicity and Vincent. There’s a female pro dance to Bootylicious (I enjoy the sight of Craig singing along), and then the judges pronouncements (this week conducted standing in a corridor, oh the glamour of BLACKPOOL). Len says it was the best night of the series, while Craig loved the crowd booing Len. First safe are Kara and Artem, Scott and Natalie and Pamela and James, with Felicity and Vincent in the bottom two. We hear a little plaintive cry of “No, no, no!” from Vincent but Felicity looks unsurprised. Alesha says it’s the nature of the beast, and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Seriously, is she getting sponsored per cliché?

    After Cirque Du Soleil thrill us with a performance (the swingy bits are cool), we hear Pamela say that James will be insufferable now he’s had tens, and Scott promises to raise his game next week. The remaining couples through to week nine are Matt and Aliona, Widdy and Anton (AAAAAARRRGGGHHHHHHHHHHH) and Gavin and Katya, meaning that Patsy and Robin are indeed in the bottom two. *sob*

    Duffy appears to sing her new single (in which she tells us over and over that she’s not guilty, of something), and dances quite oddly. Then it’s the moment of truth, and I’m actually holding my breath – Felicity and Vincent’s time is up. Aaaand exhale……

    Were you thrilled by the magic of BLACKPOOL? Have you got a favourite? And who, pray, is voting for Widdy?

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