So…15 couples in one show then? More than they’ve ever had to get through before, and enough to get Bruce begging off with “the flu”. Fortunately Claudia is hanging around the studio, for whatever reason (isn’t she normally only there for the LIVE RESULTS SHOW on Sunday?) so she fills in with Tess in the usual formation. You can tell she’s been caught unawares, because she’s wearing COLOUR (green) and her make-up doesn’t look like it’s been done by a rabid blindfolded raccoon.
In a vain attempt to assay this bloated crop, let’s split them arbitrarily into four groups :
The People Who Got Worse, Apparently : So obviously you’ve got the usual suspects in this group, that is, the people who don’t handle the transition from ballroom to latin with aplomb. Abbey seems stunned into awkwardness by a VT in which it looks like she’s cheating on her husband with Aljaz but WAIT A MINUTE, IT TURNS OUT HER HUSBAND IS CHEATING ON HER WITH ALJAZ, THAT’S MUCH BETTER SOMEHOW! I would be a lot more interested in this storyline if Abbey’s husband was, say Gerard Pique rather than Peter Crouch. Fiona also struggles to make the switch, although you have to wonder as always in Latin how much Anton is helping, giving that he turns up for a cha cha dressed up for a Shooting Party episode of Donwton Abbey and…has a…no I can’t say it. A TROUSER SITUATION. Undisputed queen of the Latin bombsites though is Rachel Riley who wears a rictus grin throughout and squeals “I CAN’T BE SEXY!”. Well…not with that attitude you can’t. On the upside, Pasha appears to be growing his chest hair in, and lord knows positive Pasha Hair News has been thin on the ground recently.
On the male side, Mark also fails to switch genres successfully. Well…that’s what the judges say. The gloriously Eurotrashy salsambchambo mess he and Iveta conjure up says otherwise to me, but what do I know? Personally I also disagree with the judges assessment that Julien has got worse between weeks, but that is mostly because he’s stopped shouting. So much. All the time. His tango posture is all over the place, and it says a lot that he dances to a Lady Gaga single and it’s STILL not the most ill-advised music choice of the week, but, you know. My ears. Tony also slides even further down, breaking a record for the lowest ever Charleston score ever on the show. A record set by Widdy. That’s right, we’re at SUB-WIDDY levels here. Tony just grips a golf club whilst Aliona does awful cartwheels. Poor Tony.
The People Who Stayed About The Same, Apparently : Deborah performs a cha cha routine that’s so gay that Craig actually calls her an actual drag queen and it feels like it doesn’t nearly cover it. She flounces, she lip-syncs, she swings her bum around with abandon. There’s some Alesha-level “just making it up as I go along” in there, but it kind of works. Also plateauing quality-wise are Dave (I mean…it’d be hard to get much worse/amazing than last week delete where appropriate) who walks and bench-presses Karen through the entire 1950s, and Patrick, who dances a Michael Jackson/mechanical toy themed tango about as sloppy as his jive, and gets about the same score. The judges do give him notice that they’re about to lose interest REALLY SOON though. Anya remains impactless, sadly, apart from a comedy VT where she dresses up as Arlene Phillips. I presume it was a homage.
The People Who The Judges Said Got Better, BUT I’M SORRY, I JUST DON’T BUY IT : The show throws everything it can at Ben, including ballet lessons and BALLROOM BOY storylining and it’s still doing nothing for me. He moves slower than continental drift and I’m sorry, you can throw her a bone by pretending she invented the head roll all you want, but scoring this 5 points higher than the Week 1 Waltz work Natalie Lowe got out of Michael Vaughan is a CRIME. They also act like Susanna’s tango to Bruno Mars (?) was much better than her jive and I’m NOT BUYING THAT EITHER. HER JIVE WAS A WEEK 1 REVELATION AND THIS LOOKED LIKE SHE WAS ASLEEP FOR THE FIRST HALF OF IT. Come at me, stans.
The People Who The Judges Said Got Better, Apparently : Natalie’s journey through ringerdom continues, as Artem puts some bloody clothes on, chips the last layer of tan off, and keeps his gob shut so as not to blind passing pigeons, and choreographs a modernist waltz to Alicia Keys. It is in this waltz that we learn that Natalie, bless her, is a bit of a ham. This is where Natalie Lowe’s patented head rolls get mentioned, because there are a LOT of them. She looks a bit like a dog constantly scanning for its dinner. In the nicest possible way. Amazing dancing, as ever (/last week).
The big batallions though are saved for Ashley, Vanessa, and Sophie. Ashley in the obvious manner that his fiancee/wife/girlfriend/whatever just gave birth and that child is all over his VT like Julien on godet (/screaming about godet). His strictly-by-the-book American Smooth is also a vast improvement on his cha cha, if a bit more ginger than Fred. (arf). Vanessa in a marginally less obvious manner, in that she’s realised her cha cha last week was an embarrassment, and she has hours to put in. Both in terms of effort in training, and also in terms of having a reality tv friendly emotional breakdown (I KNOW, FROM VANESSA FELTZ, WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT). Last week the menopause, this week feeling pure artistic joy for the first time ever etc etc. I don’t think James gets to speak once.
It’s Sophie though, who owns the week, with a bearable Charleston (HOORAY!). She’s really heavy getting into and out of the (otherwise spectacular) lifts, but other than that it’s an absolute triumph. Vibrant, flirtatious, and very in-keeping with the age of the dance. She scores 36, tying the all-time record for highest score in a second dance (with Colin’s quickstep and Alesha and Louisa’s jives). BUT WHERE DOES SHE GO FROM HERE? Unfortunately for her, and for all us, straight into Love Week.