So most important things first – Claudia can’t be with us this evening because one of her children is unwell. The very idea of Hallowe’en without Claudia is a bit like Christmas without Santa, Thanksgiving without turkey and Easter without chocolate-bloat. We should have known that something would be a bit off tonight even before it happened. Not that Zoe doesn’t cover for her well but…CLAUDIA IS HALLOWE’EN.
That’s not to say that some people don’t seize the inherent campness of Strictly’s Annual Hallowe’en Dance Spectacular by the scruff of the neck and deliver. Alison Hammond makes an AMAZINGLY wafty Catherine Earnshawe from Wuthering Heights as she channels Kate Bush for a delirious American Smooth that’s so amazingly bonkers that I almost don’t even notice Aljaz is back on his very best trouser-game. Almost. Caroline & Pasha doing a disco-zombie-samba is so many layers of overtheming that it becomes a guilty pleasure. Pixie’s giant electrocuted Bride-Of-Frankenstein HAIR is a constant delight and really accentuates her staccato tango head-movement.
Others produce decent performances that are marred by just one thing that gets under the skin and doesn’t leave. Mark’s Magic Shop jive is light and charming and a good continuation of his samba last week but…he gives a truly cringey speech afterwards about how very humble he is and how much the judges are wonderful wonderful people and I’m not here for it. The sight of Judy Murray as Cruela De Vil is inspiring but an ill-advised incorporation of Dalmatians into her American Smooth routine goes horribly horribly wrong and it never quite recovers. A Hallowe’en paso face-off between Simon and Jake that could have been a frenzy of masculine duelism turns into a bit of a damp squib for both. Sunetra’s jive has nice theming with Brendan as the sex-monster under the bed and a killer frock but she can’t do the kicks, not even a little bit. Also Brendan is still more on Erin Island than even Erin was, is it just me that’s noticing this, please say not.
Two of the performances though don’t work on any level. Scott’s Addams Family foxtrot tries so so so so so so very hard to be funny that it can’t help but fail but even that’s less hard to watch than Steve falling to pieces in his Charleston, forgetting whole chunks of the routine, letting it show even through the seven layers of skeleton make-up on his face, and coming perilously close to murder-deading Ola in most of the lifts. This feels a bit like a “put him in the dance-off so he can do it correctly and have a moment” moment but…he seems too popular for that, so it’ll just have to stand as a blot on his permanent record.
The evening is probably best, in the end, emblemised by Frankie’s tango, which she does dressed up as The Wicked Witch Of The West to Defying Gravity. She dances it well (mostly), gives it loads of personality, the whole thing crescendos with a great special effect and it gets a 10 that’s even better for it prompting everyone to cackle about what an awful judge Donny was. It’s…still a tango being done to Defying Gravity. What can you do?
(Did any of you watch any of the VTs? I was drinking litres of water the whole way through to justify all the piss-breaks myself)