Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Any of the four could have achieved the victory": Strictly Come Dancing, Weeks 11-13

See, this was actually a reasonable idea before the last episode happened.

We can knock off the first couple of weeks easily enough - Christine Bleakley was 12th man out three whole weeks ago, having had it made abundantly clear to her that, in comparison to the rest of the competition, she was basically totally out of her depth. And, to be fair, she was. In one of the ineffably dull "[x] is having trouble getting to grips with [y], so [z] invited [a] along to give them a hand" segments, x = Christine, y = the tango, z = Matthew Cutler and a = Felicity Kendal. Felicity proceeded to smoulder all over Matthew in a manner he found slightly scary. Christine, however, couldn't manage that and so settled for looking like she had a mild case of seasonal affective disorder. Aside from that, her performances suffered from being composed of the same old moves (twisty-twisty-not-much-else), which were mildly spiced up by having her slide through Matthew's legs. Over and over again. Not entirely surprisingly, she found herself bottom of the leaderboard and not even the phone votes of "everyone in Northern Ireland" (according to her brother) could save her from the dance-off. Her opponent, Rachel Stevens, attempted to look nervous, but she and pretty much everyone else in the building knew La Bleakley's goose was cooked.

And so on to week 12, with (apparently) barely a sliver to separate the four remaining couples, what with all of them having topped the judges' leaderboard at least once during the competition. One thing, though - Rachel and Snowflake had both been in the dance-off twice. Phwoarrrr Austin and Our Tom had never been in the dance-off . Most notably, Tom had scored less than Rachel the week before, but the public vote had saved him. Though the judges couldn't seem to separate them, the public looked to have their order more or less sorted. All the gents needed to do was stay out of last place in the leaderboard, and they'd most likely be through...

Easier said than done, though, as Austin found out. 34 in the American Smooth would have seen him safe most weeks, but then the judges fell in love with the ballroom performances of all the other couples to the extent that each of them scored 39. That meant Austin needed to outscore at least one other pair by six points to not finish bottom, and though his salsa garnered him 36 points, nobody screwed up to the extent that he needed them to, meaning he found himself in the dance-off, playing a hopeless game of Top Trumps - he had to put his salsa up against Snowy's waltz, which three of the judges had awarded perfect scores to earlier in the evening. The gap could not be bridged, and the man who had been favourite for the competition for yonks was gone.

We should probably remember him like this, from week 11:

Positive Len thought there wasn't enough content, and started making his Cotton Hill noises. The other three judges gave it 10s.

Anyway, now that's all out the way - last week. You may have read about this. From what I can recall, what happened was as follows:

Lisa and Filthy Brendan did their Argentine Tango, which was slightly lacking in verve (Brendan's first time doing the dance as well as Lisa's, apparently) but pretty much smooth enough, and scored 35. Our Tom and Our Camilla then did a Jive whilst decked out in enough gold lame to sink Martin Fry, and sweet Jesus was it ever naff. 33 points worth of naff apparently, but naff all the same. Tom sort of wobbled and gurned a bit, so did Camilla, there was some moderate kicking action... his worst dance in quite some time, to be blunt. And it looked even shoddier when put up against Rachel and Vincent Simone's Argentine Tango, which was several kinds of fairly incredible, as the duo became a writhing mass clipping their way across the floor, legs knotting in and out and in and out... 39 points.

As such, Our Tom could have done with Lisa's quickstep being rather less immaculate than it turned out. Much less immaculate, in fact - it got her perfect scores from all of the judges, the first time she'd managed that in the competition. He needed to at least get close to perfect to stay in with a shot of not coming bottom. Instead, his Argentine tango wound up being the weakest of the three due to him doing specifically what the judges had asked him to do less of - acting. Too much time spent on that, not enough on the actual dancing bits, and he wound up with 34 points for his trouble. 67 overall, meaning he now needed Rachel to card 28 or less to stay out of bottom spot. Rachel's previous lowest score in the competition - 30. It was never going to happen. Rachel scored 36, leaving her tied for first with Lisa. Our Tom, mathematically, couldn't stay out of the dance-off now, and once there he'd have no chance of surviving.

Unbeknownst to him, however, the BBC were about to bust him out of jail. For, despite the fact that as recently as week 10 two couples had managed to get the same score, it had somehow not occurred to the programme makers that it would be possible for the same to happen when the couples performed two dances each rather than one. And so they hadn't realised that opening the voting lines for Our Tom was completely pointless, since the public couldn't keep him out of the dance-off. And so they opened the voting lines.

However, in the gap between the first and second shows, someone suddenly remembered what happened when Blue Peter tried to name their cat, and the panic switch got flipped. Lines were closed earlier than planned, and then:

This still wasn't enough of a fudge for the viewers, however, and so after two further days of fussing the BBC announced it would be offering refunds to anyone who was cross enough. I haven't been paying attention to this week's papers, so I don't know if any claimed it as a victory, but I'd not put it past them.

Anyway, have a look at the footage at the moment the couples realise what's happened, and you'll notice one face look distinctly less cheerful than the rest - namely, Filthy Brendan. He's realised that his last chance to get shot of Our Tom has gone, cos next week, the judges no longer have any influence on the scores. The couples will be ranked based on their combined score from last week added to their score from the public vote this week, with the lowest-scoring couple eliminated before the final two dance off for the title, which, I think, is based entirely on public votes. And based on how said voting's gone over the rest of the series, that means Our Tom's just escaped to victory...

Join us this weekend, as we get ready to finally slip this yoke.

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