Saturday, 22 November 2008

Sergeantgate and sickness

Just so you know, I haven't been ignoring you over the last week and a half - I have not been well.

It's actually been a bit of a mean virus which has made me feel very poorly indeed, but nothing serious. I hope it will go away soon - it's seriously annoying me, now, rather than overwhelming me, which has to be a good sign.

I have found it frustrating not to have had the energy to comment on so many of the week's news stories, particularly in such a momentous week for Strictly. For the record, I can understand why it was all getting a bit much for John Sergeant, but I don't necessarily think he would have made the Final. However, when his family were getting abusive phone calls suggesting he should apologise to better dancers who had left before him, you can kind of understand that he thought it was all getting out of hand.

Part of the joy of Strictly is that the contestants can captivate us either by their dance ability, their personality or both. I hope that the furore over Sergeant's departure doesn't detract from that.

The Judges have come in for criticism - I don't think they deserved it. They are there to comment on the dancing.

It's the public who have the choice on that show - and if they choose to take what the judges say with a pinch of salt, then they surely have the right to do so.

John's dance partner, Kristina Rihannof, deserves huge credit for helping us all to fall for John's charms. Her choreographic miracles showed a very shrewd understanding of British humour and she got the best out of John. I feel really sorry for her in all of this. The dancers are hugely competitive and it's a shame that she's had to leave before her time.

It has been quite amusing that as soon as the Sergeant departure hit the headlines (Newsnight, for goodness sake, Question Time - Jim Murphy, you should be ashamed of yourself) the X Factor mob went into overdrive to try to grab some of the attention back. A supposed row between Dannii Minogue and Louis Walsh over song choices was the best they could come up with. I suspect they'd need to wrestle naked on the live show to trump Sergeantgate.

What this now means, ironically, is that we are now going to lose a really good dancer every week. While John was there, there was always the chance that he would go and save the likes of Christine, Jodie, Rachel or Lisa who are now the most vulnerable. I have a feeling that the boys will be ok, but I am concerned that we could soon lose Christine and the adorable Matthew Cutler before we are ready to.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Week 8 Report - over half way through

While I'm glad that Christine is safe after her excellent, bright jive, I can't hide my shock at seeing Rachel and Vincent in the bottom 2. Their quickstep based American Smooth was innovative, technically very difficult and the lifts, I thought at least, were amazing. The judges had no choice but to keep them in. Heather and Brian danced better this week than at any other time since week 2 - I saw more passion and drama in their tango than the judges did and Heather looked absolutely beautiful in red.

And John is safe again. He must have come at least third in the public vote to have avoided the bottom two. Maybe if the judges didn't savage him quite as much, people wouldn't feel they had to save him. For heaven's sake, he's in his 60s, he's doing his best, but how many portly gentlemen would you see dancing cha cha cha with amazingly talented Russian choreographers? We can't really expect more of him, but it is probably, regrettably, time for him to go next week.

I was a bit annoyed with the judges for their comments on Austin's rumba. I have seen dances with a lot less connection and it was technically very good. It is horrendously difficult for, especially a man, to act out the heat of passion if they are already in a relationship. Austin did one of the best jobs I'd seen at this and is still in contention.

Lisa's American smooth gave me goosebumps. I actually didn't believe that she didn't get a 10. It was completely beautiful. I could kiss Brendan too for being restrained, not breaking the rules and bringing the best out in her.

Cherie's waltz was charming and romantic too. I thought her footwork was delicate and her upper body is absolutely gorgeous.

Tom and Camilla's Quickstep got better and better. I thought his first solo spot looked a tiny bit awkward - but by the end he had warmed up and was nailing it. A fabulous effort.

Finally, I felt Jodie and Ian's pasting from the judges wasn't quite fair. Jodie got the performance right, and, sure the technical stuff wasn't fair, but Craig ought to be ashamed of himself for giving them a 3.

If Rachel fans want her to stay in next week, they will have to support her and encourage others to do so - her public vote isn't great, although I can't see why. She's beautiful, full of energy and a consistently good performer.

Next week will be a bit of a nailbiter because, apart from John, whose time, much though I love him, has come, there is nobody I want to leave.

I'm also sad that we are passed the half way point - we need to savour every moment from now on.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

What will tonight hold for John and Christine?

I'm going to stick my neck out now and say that I am worried about both John and Christine for tonight. I love John to bits and he has made this season of Strictly really enjoyable. Kristina has shown that she is a very clever choreographer, playing to John's strengths. However, is it now time for them to bow out gracefully and keep the best dancers in the competition. I'm not one of the ideological purists who believe that Strictly is a dance competition. It's a Saturday night light entertainment show and John does entertain us. There's always a tension at about this stage of the competition as better dancers are sometimes voted off to keep the entertainers in. Sometimes that annoys me, but it's just part of the show.

By the looks of the footage on ITT, it seems that Craig is wild about Heather's tango so I expect high marks for her which will insulate her from the bottom 2. Jodie is on a roll at the moment, and her Samba looks marvellous. If Rachel's smooth doesn't excite Len, it's time to start putting viagra in his tea, frankly. Cherie's waltz is fabulous and suits her down to the ground. Christne's jive has received approval from the judges so far, and I hope that she can pull it off after a couple of rocky weeks. Christine and Cherie started well and have faltered in the past few weeks while Jodie started badly and is improving immeasurably. My worry is that if Christine ends up in the bottom 2 with any of the other girls, she'll go.

I haven't mentioned Tom or Austin yet as I am assuming that they are safe - but is that a dangerous thing to do?

At this point, I can't think of a single one of them that I actually want to see go. It's quite early to get to that stage which is an indicator of how high the standard is this year.

A few years ago on the Strictly forums, we had this mega thread going called "No-one Should Leave. In it we outlined ever more outrageous tactics for keeping everyone in the show for ever more. It was very funny, and went from the absurd to the ridiculous and back again on every page. Perhaps it is time to resurrect it.

Anyway, I'm out tonight for dinner with a friend who leaves the area tomorrow so I won't bbe able to watch the show until the morning. See you tomorrow.