So remember when Darcey was a Guest Judge in Series 7, and she was kind of dull and just gave everything a 9 and we all thought she was rubbish and didn’t want her to come back as a full time judge? And then Jennifer Grey happened and gave everything 8 and flirted with Bloody Lulu and clearly read everything off little cue-cards and we all apologised mentally to Darcey for thinking she had been the worst a Guest Judge could possibly be? Well…
Donny Osmond is here, talking utter nonsense constantly, making the show feel a whole hour or two longer than it is, suggesting that Judy should have led Anton in their quickstep, scoring entirely based on how stupid the costumes are (and some of them are pretty bloody stupid) constantly referencing every bloody stage role he’s ever played ever, and most unforgivably of all, giving out the first 10 of the series. We’re none of us counting it though, right? Even if we like Frankie & Kevin? THESE THINGS ARE IMPORTANT DONNY. THIS ISN’T DANCING WITH THE STARS, WE HAVE DELAYED GRATIFICATION IN THIS COUNTRY.
As if the black hole of Mormonism wasn’t bad enough, the show is front-loaded such that the only decent dance in the entire half-hour comes via Steve Backshall’s Jungle Book quickstep, and even that palls slightly for those of us who remember Scott Maslen’s peerless version of the same theme in Series 8. Also labouring under Strictly ghosts past is Simon, whose Top Gun rumba comes across as less sexually powerful than JULIAN CLARY managed to to the same song in his Showdance in Series 2. Also bombing are Jennifer and Judy both wandering looking slightly dazed through ballroom, Alison being really flat-footed and stompy and for the first time a little forced in her Footloose jive and Tim getting in a horrible muddle in his Cabaret themed Charleston. The latter does however have the benefit of provoking the first bit of genuine anger (or indeed any emotion other than utter cultish positivity) I’ve ever seen out of Natalie, as she looks like she wants to Tear A Strip off Craig for scoring it a 2 and questioning Tim’s abilities. Book the Octagon honey, I want to see this cage fight.
Things pick up a little in the second half, for those of you who haven’t medicated yourself into a coma after the sight of Natalie repeatedly erotically fumbling around in Tim’s front-pockets looking for prop jewellery she can’t quite grasp. It’s Caroline who jump-starts the evening swishing around giving mad-eyes and madder arms for her Armageddon themed rumba, a little bit more Fatal Attraction than perhaps Liv Tyler originally intended the part to be played but ok. I’m certainly happier to see Pasha with his top off than I would be Bruce Willis that’s for sure. Frankie and Jake also both put in decent performances, albeit slightly overpowered by their theming in both cases – using America for a paso doble means that be necessity it’s 90% skirt squishing for Frankie and a Godfather waltz means that Jake is a little stiff and starchy for a waltz. No dance though is more…characterised by theming than Mark Wright doing a Superman paso. To the Superman theme tune, after about a minute of Karen rolling around on the floor screaming. It’s hard to take the whole thing seriously, although I can’t imagine we were supposed to. Thank goodness Iveta and Brendan are here to do Old Hollywood right, the latter with an American Smooth that to be honest could have appeared in any non-themed week without comment being passed (funny that, that that should be one of the better ones, just saying) and the former with Thom really really really really really really really trying to push a bit of personality out and almost managing it with an On The Town style Charleston. And he thanks the choreographer afterwards because he’s well brought-up(/built) like that.
The worst thing though is that Pixie & Trent are genuinely interesting for the first time ever, even if only because of Trent’s attempts to sound French, but your votes last week have EVICTED THEM AND THEIR MODERATELY CHARMING BEAUTY AND THE BEAST THEMED QUICKSTEP FROM THE RECAP and instead I have to endure recapping…Scott titting around dressed as a crab/a sunburnt Papa Lazarou. I can empathise with Alesha now more than ever.
(Oh and the judges sing. Except Darcey. Because she’s dull like that)