Strictly 2020 – Week 2, Main Show: Mammoth Roomba

Is it possible to cancel the entire animal kingdom?

For the first time in 5 years Halloween falls exactly on Saturday and for the first time in 10 years they have decided not to do Halloween Week, it’s probably for the best we put it on ice for a bit given that even 6 years in we had reached the point where they were panicking for costumes and dressing people up as…

Evil chocolatiers?

Not even Tess and Claudia acknowledged ooky-spooky season

Unless a disco shower curtain and a Maitre d’ at Zizzi were their costumes? Not even the judges got in the spirit, although Motsi did just look incredible:

I know I sound like I’m trying to defend the honour of Halloween Week (I’m really not) but it is a delicious mess and I miss the general vibe of everyone being stuck at a community party with a disappointing buffet and absolutely no booze – and I mean it still has that air to it because of the lack of audience or Bruno in the corner swigging from a hip flask between dances but it’s a bit sadder without people dressed as vampires, werewolves, a Conservative MP or witches in varying degrees of sexiness.

Max Power George, Dianne Buswell and MAX’S MASSIVE NECK
Jive / I’m a Believer – The Monkees

Oh poor Max, dancing the jive in week 2 and pushed firmly into the shadow of Jay’s Jive as they make sure to Skype in Jay during his training – there was never any real possibility of Max living up to The Mythical Jay Jive and apparently it’s all getting a bit much for Max as he goes a bit Single White Female as he tells Jay he’s been watching videos of him in bed every night. Lock your doors Jay.

For their jive they’re going to be dancing at a fairground – BECAUSE THE BBC IS COMPLETELY POLITICALLY UNBIASE AND FAIR. It’s a very calculated performance – you can actively see Max thinking about every single move that’s about to come next but it does a fun sort of Grease-ishness to it and it’s not just because of the gratuitous amount of knee slides Dianne made him do

seriously his knees are going to be JACKED.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 6
Shirley: 7
Motsi: 7

Clara Amfo and Aljaz Skorjanic
Viennese Waltz / You Don’t Own Me – SAYGRACE

Aljaz bursting into Not-Halloween Week with every piece of Halloween tat he could find at such short notice because SCREW THE RULES! I don’t know if the mounted animal skulls were part of his Halloween decorating:

Or are he and Clara training in a gymnasium belonging to a Scottish laird?

For their spooky Viennese Waltz they’re playing the role of a begrudgingly married pair of goth aristocrats who over catered and are now just very mad at one another:

I don’t know how much of Clara’s bungled footwork was just because she didn’t know what she was doing, or that she was just very aware of the fact she had torn her skirt and had a piece of tulle dangling between her legs and threatening to trip her up at every moment

It’s hard to recover from a mishap and I think she gave an admirable performance given that it went awry in the first 5 seconds of the routine but she is VERY TENSE – her shoulders rising increasingly higher throughout the dance – and then there’s this weird sort of Paso Doble element towards the end where she sort of his aggressively wafts her skirt and it completely cuts the flow of the waltz and by the end of the routine she herself seems to have completely given up

and I think ending on a bit of a bum note is maybe why the judges were a little harsh on her:

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 5
Shirley: 6
Motsi: 6

I think it deserved a couple of marks higher – and you best believe I threw all 3 of my free online votes at her.

Bill Bailey and Oti Mabuse Who Are Not Called Team Buse Pronounced Bussy
Quickstep / Talk to the Animals – Bobby Darin

Where does a 3 minute VT about wildlife conservation fall in the grand scheme of The BBC’s new anti-virtue signalling guidelines? Because in lieu of training montage Bill introduced Oti to his pet parrots and it almost instantly becomes a screaming match between Oti Mabuse and a cockatoo:

This is what the license fee is for!

Sadly their Doctor Dolittle routine didn’t pull from the Robert Downey Jr. version and Bill didn’t pull several suits of armour and some bagpipes out of Oti’s arse using only a leek – YES, THAT HAPPENED IN THAT MOVIE AND I THINK ABOUT IT EVERY DAY. No instead we’re cursed with a very good routine danced among an absolute hellscape of terrifying animal clip art including an uncanny valley baboon and an elephant that just slides across the floor towards them like a mammoth roomba

Can this show just accept that CGI is not its gig? It’s a crackingly styled and choreographed routine – I am excruciatingly jealous of Oti’s high slit silk trousers:

And Bill is so light and quick on his feet and perfectly in time with Oti throughout – partly because you can almost hear her barking orders at him the entire time – I hope to God they play that audio on It Takes Two. And his posture is amazing – it damn well should be because Oti did have him crucified for most of the week:

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 8
Shirley: 8
Motsi: 8

JJ Chalmers and Amy Dowden:
Paso Doble / Believer – Imagine Dragons

First of all, Amy introducing JJ to his cape and him greeting it with “Hey frieeeeeeend!” like an over-enthusiastic camp councillor is so delightfully dorky that I’m almost willing to forgive him for this routine. It’s just really not his thing – and obviously he struggled with upper-body rotation so it was always going to be slightly stiff – but he just failed to commit to the bit and lacked the authority and passion that a Paso lives and dies by. I mean it doesn’t help that he’s dancing to maybe the worst cover of an Imagine Dragons song I’ve ever heard – Sir, why are you reaching for high notes in A) an Imagine Dragons song and B) when you obviously do not have the range?
My favourite thing, other than Amy looking AMAZING,

is JJ once again cannot contain himself and starts singing along and just looks like a yowling cat

Which Amy immediately and obviously tells to stop doing and he completely retreats into himself even more. Bless him.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 5
Shirley: 6
Motsi: 6

I thoroughly AND COMPLETELY UNBIASEDLY believe Clara deserved more points than JJ.

Jamie Dodger and Karen Hauer:
American Smooth / Night and Day – Frank Sinatra

Given that Jamie and Karen spent the entire week gleefully celebrating how utterly crap Jamie is at dancing this was never going to be a feat of dance capability.
Their American Smooth is a sort of interstellar Fred and Ginger on a budget and it’s not only his lack of dance ability that Jamie is battling against as his shirt seems to be eating his neck:

He also has to combat Karen’s dress for everyone’s attention:

They’ll be hard pressed to make a better outfit this series. But he put up a worthwhile fight with his very splayed hands and the moment he tied himself into a bit of a pretzel

But hey at least he managed to remain relatively composed while on the swing – unlike someone who we shall talk about.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 5
Shirley: 6
Motsi: 6

Ringer, Ringer Chicken Dinner:
Tango / Midnight Sky – Miley Cyrus

Maisie tries her best to pretend she didn’t expect to gets 8 for her samba – it was about as convincing a performance as the Eastenders cast trying their best to not look like they’re socially distancing on screen. But now she has to practice her serious tango face, which just looks like a freshly turned zombie with a very urgent craving for brains

Which given the fact Hollyoaks have just done a Saw-esque plotline with the most terrifying porcelain doll, a zombie apocalypse doesn’t seem to far off the table for Eastenders.

It’s Maisie so it’s obviously a very good performance but it’s nice to see that she can go from that drunk girl at the club who wants to talk to everyone to the sultry tangoing siren, even with gauzy sleeves that make her look like a goth-y gift bag

and bugger her for looking this good in black lipstick

Because I would just look like Anton from the Russian band Little Big

The pace at which she whips her neck about is enough to send the entire at home audience to A&E – it’s so good that even the two 8s she got seem a bit unfair.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 8
Shirley: 9
Motsi: 8

Jacqui Smith and Anton du Beke
What We Shall Generously Call a Samba / Help Yourself – Tom Jones

BRACE POSITIONS EVERYONE. The first sign that this was going to go completely off the rails was that they brought in Ed Balls to give her (and let’s face it, Anton) a little lesson in Samba choreography – most of which was Ed just screaming “THAT’S IT! THAT’S BRILLIANT!” whenever Jacqui covered more than 80% of her body with a giant fan.

There’s a reason Prop Week used to be a thing – it’s very difficult to navigate a routine when you are trying to manoeuvre both of your left feet and two incredibly large and unwieldly feather fans and because that’s how the routine starts, within 5 seconds of the routine Jacqui looks like a slightly distressed ostrich dancing in a completely different time zone to Anton

and somehow it only gets worse as she sheds her feathers and becomes the reincarnation of Lisa Snowdon’s Showdance Turkey

She promptly gives up on the very concept of dance and just lets Anton kick her feet and drag her around the floor like someone giving a demonstration of the first prototype of the hoover before the whole thing culminates in Jacqui being lifted up on a swing while wobbling around and giving the floor manager and on-set medics a heart attack while Anton runs around beneath the airborne ex-Home Secretary wafting two huge feather fans at her like he’s a deranged and desperate Bird of Paradise during the mating season

They even broke Tess as she for a good few seconds just buffers and mutters “Vegas spirit” a few times and stares at her feet. It was a murder of rhythm, a calamity of good taste and misadventure of the highest order, even Craig’s 2 was a charitable offering, let alone the fives from Motsi and Shirley. GIVE HER A 1, I DARE YOU.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 2
Shirley: 5
Motsi: 5

HRVY No-Vowels and Janette Manrara
Viennese Waltz / Stuck With U – Ariana Grande & Justin Bieber

It’s that strictly staple theme of a young couple secretly meeting in the woods for…. let your imagination run wild. But for some reason they’ve given HRVY a mining lamp as a prop:

All in all it’s a pleasant little routine that will have the nans around the country saying “aww” so he’s paving his path to the final very nicely indeed. I don’t think it was a particularly demanding routine – a lot of its impressiveness was on Janette’s behalf – her ability to glamour the judges is unparalleled. And just to seal the deal on the Pensioner Vote, HRVY gets a message from HS NN JYC who is obviously sitting in front of his framed Gold Record Award


Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 7
Shirley: 8
Motsi: 9

Ranvir Singh and Giovanni Pernice’s Awful Hair
Quickstep / You Are The Sunshine of my Life – Stevie Wonder

Unfortunately for us because Ranvir is a Good Morning Britain alumna we will be hearing from Piers Morgan more times than I or anyone would care for and we have no choice but to honk like a goose through every VT he does.

Ranvir unfortunately this week got the QUICK! Buy Something Off The High Street Treatment with a dress that looks like it was pulled from the depths of a thrift store and looks like the meeting point of a 70s cult leader and a pair of 1950s kitchen curtains

I hope they kept the receipt.

At least Giovanni’s fringe actually got styled this week and wasn’t hanging down his face like a Tribble trying to escape. It’s weird because Ranvir is a perfectly good dancer but if I forget about anyone on this show, it will almost certainly be her – it’s weird but she just doesn’t stick despite having given us two of the stronger dances in each episode.

Also, don’t tell The Gammons but she and Giovanni weren’t wearing poppies – which is more in accordance to the No Virtue Signalling guidelines than wearing one.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 6
Shirley: 7
Motsi: 8

Nicola Adams and Katya Jones
Street / Shine – Years & Years

Unfortunately Covid can kill off Halloween Week but sadly couldn’t do us the courtesy of taking Couple’s Choice with it – and we’re already being subjected to the first go at it in episode 2 – it’s going to be a long series. Nicola and Katya are wanting to honour Nicola’s roots at the Haringey boxing club she joined in her teens, this is being done by a wild wafting of 4 massive sheets like they’re each trying to change a double bed duvet

It’s hard to critique these dances because the show always goes out of its way to make them as sentimental as possible, which I think is reflected in the final score for this rather muddled routine. It just didn’t gel, nothing felt organised or particularly smooth, Nicole constantly seemed to be 2 steps behind Katya and always standing just that little bit too far apart and facing in a completely abstract directions, it wasn’t even back to back:

Which just made it look under rehearsed – I also think the Street style doesn’t translate very well to just two people unless they are VERY good. There’s a reason every street dance team on BGT has like 20 members and it’s not just because a game of Guess Who? doesn’t really work with just two people

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 8
Shirley: 8
Motsi: 8

Caroline Quentin and Johannes Radebe
Paso Doble / El Gato Montes

Apparently the Strictly novelty wears off after only a week as Caroline has gone from joyfully crying her way through routines to just getting on with it and practicing her best paso face

Skewing a little constipated, but getting there.
They’re doing a very traditional paso and I could watch Johannes jumping up and down while throwing shapes all day

he’s just a joy isn’t he? I think purely by virtue of their characters, it doesn’t come across so much as Matador vs Bull as much as it does Mother Irritated At Her Foolhardy Son – but her shaping and form is good, it’s just a little slow and tentative in areas. The best part of the routine though is Maisie in the audience screaming “OLÉ!” every ten seconds like she’s 5 sheets to the wind.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 7
Shirley: 7
Motsi: 7

The Himboiest Himbo That Himboed and Luba Mushtuk:
Salsa / Get Lucky – Daft Punk

Weird choice of contestant to get the Pimp Slot in the first voting show but hey, plug who you wanna plug – but there was no way you would forget Jason regardless of where he was in the running order because he and Luba are dressed head to toe in neon yellow for their salsa

It’s rather boggling – kind of like trying to watch two tennis balls in an earthquake while also having a torch shone into your eyes – but my God Jason is having the time of his life:

2020 really is The Year of the Himbo huh? Because his dancing is ropy (and gangly, and uncoordinated) but his joy and enthusiasm just carry him through it and somehow are even more memorable than the fact Luba goes arse over tit at the end while trying to do the pot stirrer while Jason cackles:

Still no worse than Brendan and Charlotte Hawkins attempting it and looking like a Roomba getting stuck beneath the sofa.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 6
Shirley: 6
Motsi: 6


And that brings us to the end of the show, so let’s look at the Leaderboard, this is with the scores of Week 1 and Week 2 combined:

  1. Maisie and Gorka’s Vampiric Tango
    HRVY and Janette’s Salacious Midnight Rendezvous
  2. Nicola and Katya Changing The Linen
  3. Ranvir and Giovanni Join a Cult
    Caroline and Johannes Having a Domestic
  4. Bill and Oti’s Animal Kingdom Nightmare Realm
  5. Max and Dianne’s FUN AND FAIR Jive
  6. JJ and Amy’s Timid Rock Tango
  7. Clara vs Her Skirt
  8. Jason and Luba’s Corneal Burn
  9. Jamie and Karen’s Failed Astronomical Exam
  10. Jacqui and Anton Defying The Physics of Human Existence

I swear to God if Jacqui wiggles her way out of what should have just been a disqualification on the grounds of violating the Geneva Conventions I will FUME, especially if it means Clara goes home first.

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