The best of (half of) the best!
Here comes the judge…
So let’s see how this works then…
After last night’s relatively subdued and restrained affair (Rinder aside…) it’s time to UNLEASH THE RINGERS! Italia Conti gradates, Olympic gymnasts, trained stage dancers, video fly-girls and plug in and play Hollyoaks Triple Threats the lot of them. And Ed Balls. We might be on course to our highest average Week 1 score ever in the history of the show, but we still need at least a couple of anchors, and he and Melvin Odoom provide in spades. The latter can’t get his hips working at all in a really cringey 80s Miami Vice cha cha that not even Janette flopping and popping around like she’s double jointed at the waist can give, and the former is decent enough for a Week 1 waltz performed by a non-dancer with no rhythm but then becomes deeply cringey off-stage in that his inability to interact coherently and amusingly with Claudia Winkleman makes me appreciate Tess by comparison. TESS. TESS DALY.
Other than those two though, tonight’s worst performers clock in only one point lower with the judges than last night’s best, and, aside from Craig apparently accidentally falling asleep on his “8” button for a cha cha in which Anastacia almost face plants directly into Brenda’s crotch, that feels fair enough. If Friday was a presentation of a sampling plate of a variety of potential Journey Candidates, tonight is your notice of who are your Frontrunners. And nobody looks more satisfied to be chowing down on Endgame Potential than Oti, who is grinning from ear to ear through the entire episode as Danny Mac puts every single other male contestant in the competition on notice that they need to up their game, tighten their trousers (…not you Will), and get ready to showmance their hearts out, as he tears through his Cha Cha to Cake By The Ocean. Not even the godawful Bantz Hat he starts the routine off wearing can marr it completely. Both Clifton-Attached pop ringers also acquit themselves well with them both landing in the upper tier, Louise with a nautically themed jive and Will with Pondray’s tango from last year, but with chess swapped in poker. Karen Clifton – choregraphically inspired as ever. Whilst Louise perhaps has the edge in terms of technique she also probably loses points by having Kevin in full on “all she did in her pop videos was sit on a chair” RINGAH DEFLECT mode, which I don’t see ending well for anyone concerned. It’s Daisy though who claims top spot, despite no ringah credentials at all I can see, as Aljaz (for the third time in his four series on the show) bring out the Wistful Pretty Girl Week 1 Waltz. It’s sweet and endearing but you do wonder if Aljaz can do anything else to grab the attention early on. Daisy does at least seem more endearing than Abbey and more…stable than Helen.
Tonight isn’t just a chance for our celebs to make a first impression though – our two new male pros also show what they can do with decent raw materials, and despite the fact they get the same score (or perhaps because of this) it feels like Gorka makes the better start, as he mostly keeps quiet and lets Tameka do her thing in a campas-tits week 1 paso (our first ever) whilst AJ produces a cha cha routine that’s slightly fussy and doesn’t integrate Claudia’s gymnastics background as smoothly as it should do. Oh and also Claudia ruthlessly emasculates him from the minute he walks out on stage, and delivers a coup de grace by giving him a child’s toy to finish. I would suggest the show NOT couple this also with jokes from Bruno about how he wants to bang him, but that’s just me. I’m not a producer. Don’t mind me.
So that’s your frontrunners set up nicely. Daisy, Louise, Will, and Danny. Let’s knock at least one of them off by Hallowe’en Week right? For a laugh.
(The show also features an opening pro routine that’s ACTUALLY QUITE GOOD, so let’s hope that keeps up eh?)
It’s Week 1! And you may find yourself saying that after a lot of the scores come in, as justification, as in many cases we’re looking at a lot more heat than light (although, yes, it is WEEK ONE!). And not just from the contestants, as three of the judges score exclusively with 6s and 7s, meaning the leaderboard ends up both lacking range and featuring a surplus of ties. Even Craig only uses three paddles all evening, and only goes as low as a 5 – maybe he’s saving himself for Ed Balls?
At the bottom of the leaderboard are the waltzes, both on 23. For Lesley this feels like a case of her performing above her level, mostly via the deployment of nuclear levels of schmaltz, sentiment, and Linda Robson sat at the side crying her face off the entire time. For Naga, a case of her performing below her potential level, as she stumbles a little through a fairly dull Wk1 waltz (has Pasha ever made an impact wk 1? In a way that doesn’t involve descending from the ceiling clutching a raincloud with his top off?). Still, as Darcey tells her, she has a beautiful neck. And that’s it. Meow.
In the middle, the cha chasm both on 25, the judges obviously not subscribing to the “I like when two people do the same dance because it means you get to really compare them” school of Strictly thought. Laura’s is fairly nice and safe, with a “GIOVANNI IS ITALIAN!” theme (again!) and very “week 1 cha cha from a demi-ringah”, although I can’t remember when they’ve ever leant on the showmance angle so hard this early, with the entire pre-dance VT featuring them gazing into one another’s eyes like a Love Is cartoon. Judge Rinder on the other hand goes to…other extremes, leaping around gurning harder than has been seen on the Strictly floor since the halcyon days of Karen Hardy and immediately getting his tits, abs, and back-rolls out. AND with an over the top judge theme with him banging his gavel in time to Duffy. Does he have anything left for future weeks? Does he need to have?
Sat at the top on 27? Ore and Greg both, and in both cases the judges are being quite kind. Natalie’s jive for Greg is a masterpiece of Goddess Natalie shammery as she does everything she can to stop him…well, jiving. Because his jiving isn’t pretty. But he sure can jump off some stairs and goose the judges with energy. Ore on the other hand is clearly being given sympathy for having to deal with Joanne’s choreography, which comes across like a Scott Mills routine. Several Scott Mills routines. Layered on top of one another. Bicycles and comic books and park benches and balloons and nerd glasses and trousers that are FAR too tight, and music that sounds nothing like a tango at all. This isnt even to mention a VT where Joanne meets Ore’s wife (GIVE ME A MINUTE) and they both look the same and then they go off and have a threesome? Everything about this couple needs to calm right down to be honest. Right down.