Strictly 2020 – Movie Week, Main Show: Xanaxed Batman

Just every man, woman and sex starved, locked down horndog seeing Gorka walking out of the ocean.

It’s Movie Week and as usual they’re bringing all of the glitz, glam and special effects of student films with bigger ideas than their shoe string budgets will allow. Your film needs a dog? Too bad, here’s a Lamb Chop hand puppet – good luck getting that grade hun.

We start off with a pro dance dedicated to James Bond and which was almost certainly conceptualised in the belief that No Time To Die would have maybe managed to have hit cinemas by now because of the massive spoiler at the end – you have to admire their blind optimism.

So who is playing our dashing 007? Well, it’s a competition between Gorka’s vanity

Giovanni’s Debonair charm:

And Aljaz looking like an alsatian puppy someone put in a tuxedo for Halloween:

Personally I’m sending in a last minute write in ballot for Karen:

Your tuxedos have NOTHING on a leather couch-like jumpsuit that somehow isn’t a part of Tess’ wardrobe. And you might be wondering – with all these tuxes and black tie costumes going on, where’s Anton? Well because they shot all of these pro dances in the space of a week and Anton is like 100 years old he is the casino waiter – it’s a vital role in every Bond film, SOMEONE has to make that martini. But really the only thing everyone cares about in a Bond film is who is our villain that wants to *checks notes* steal the sun? Get a lot of diamonds? Nuclear codes? Turn everything into gold? (I don’t know – I last watched a Bond film like 15 years ago – they’re 2 and a half hours it’s too big a commitment.) But I believe our villains are Patches, The Eye Patch Man – who is that silver haired pro? Because I feel like they occasionally try and convince us that he’s Anton and it is the least successful façade since Cecilia Giménez repainted The Ecce Homo.
But more importantly Johannes is playing the role of Grace Jones as he swoops into the scene with only a modicum more grace than David James being hoisted around as Xanaxed Batman

Our lovely Bond girls are Nancy who spends more of her time clinging to Gorka’s back as they pretend to ride a motorbike, the aforementioned Karen who deserved to be Bond, Nadiya in an awful wig who gets to play a thrilling game of Donkey Kong with Aljaz

Poor Luba who got spray painted gold for less than 10 seconds of screentime, an utterly thankless task:

And then absolutely best of all Janette gets whipped around on a giant rope like she’s your laundry in a hurricane and it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen because it dead-cuts from Aljaz looking wistful and admiring to just utter baffling chaos

give them a BAFTA immediately. The whole thing culminates in Giovanni looking into the mirror and seeing his reflection as Oti and might I just say – this is the trans agenda

But seriously imagine being a Bond fan watching this, having painstakingly avoided spoilers through its repeatedly pushed back release date and then finding out that Daniel Craig is going to be replaced by Lashana Lynch’s character through Strictly Come Dancing of all things? ICONIC – I love to see it.

So how Tess and Claudia honouring Movie Week? Well Claudia is going for generic and safe sparkling black number and Tess has come dressed as both Angelina Jolie Doing The Leg Thing and the literal red carpet

Meanwhile Shirley has I believe aimed for Cinderella but landed firmly in Bo-Peep

It is but a fine line of separation but an important distinction. Motsi brings some Black Panther regality to the proceedings

And Craig looks like every male film star that has walked the red carpet since time immemorial – he doesn’t deserve a picture. But what does is Tess Daly trying to walk off stage in her massive dress and clearly not realising they went to the wide shot:

The inelegance of TessBot is unmatched.

Onto the dances but first – the show sadly decided not to stick poppies on everyone because I imagine the rhetoric around horrifying live action Homer and Marge Simpson dancing with poppies glued to their outfits would have been terrible, hilarious, but terrible.

Danny Zuko and Zanny Duko
Jive / Greased Lightning from Grease

It is nothing short of a miracle that Nicola can get through a Movie Week, while doing a Grease routine, on this show and not end up in a wig that could be mistaken for a breed of ornamental chicken, instead both she and Katya get styled quiff-victory rolls that look like some kind of Danish pastry and it really works!

The actual routine is a little lacking in energy on Nicola’s part – I think she kicks out of time somewhere in the middle and for the rest of the dance has a panicked look on her face like a toddler who has found themselves lost and alone in the Household Cleaning Aisle.

Her tentativeness is also only highlighted by Katya going full ham like she’s the one theatre kid at the high school who is overly invested in their ill-advised production of Grease.
Nicola does at least manage the elaborate sequence of arm twisting things like a pro – Jamie last week tried just one and ended up looking like a pretzel.

And if it’s any consolation to Nicola’s slightly downward scores – Craig really believed her as a mechanic, which as we know is the most important thing.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 6
Shirley: 7
Motsi: 6
TOTAL: 19

And then there’s a quick break for dated comedy legend and noted transphobe John Cleese to read out the terms and conditions and I have no qualms about saying it was the most painful thing about this evening so far and by this point we had seen Dianne and Max’s makeup.

Elsa McFrozen and Miscellanious demi-Norseman
American Smooth / The Worst Cover of Into The Unknown from Frozen 2: Tundra Boogaloo

Maisie is very excited because she is getting to live out every girl’s dream by dancing to hit song Into The Unknown from Frozen 2: Frozener. Speak for yourself, I want to be Sven the reindeer. I’m slightly disappointed that after an entire week of Gorka teasing us with Naked Buff Olaf that he will be dancing as, maybe Jack Frost?

So they clearly got the Olaf costume together, realised how utterly terrible it was going to be to have Gorka trying to dance in a lumpy body stocking and scrapped it for whatever Prince Charming outfit the local pantomime companies weren’t going to be using this Christmas, right? Great, good. Glad we’re on the same page.

Maisie’s routine starts really well – the costume works wonders in motion, her movement is smooth and liquid – it’s all going well and then disaster strikes! Whichever unfortunate soul got lumbered singing this song suddenly starts singing out of their nose, sounding like Janis from Friends and Maisie just sort of crumbles. From there it’s just honking bum note after honking bum note like a goose stubbing its toe – couple that with Maisie trying to balance a labradoodle of a wig on her head and you’ve got a surefire disaster on your hands

There was a chance for redemption with a final big lift to finish off the American Smooth and then seemingly just to cater to this show’s new penchant for awful CGI the camera goes to a wide shot, obscuring the lift with 2 awful Copyright Avoiding DEFINITELY NOT DISNEY Castles and a blinding particle effect

What are we doing guys?

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 8
Shirley: 7
Motsi: 9
TOTAL: 24

What do we think Motsi has been drinking? I think she’s a tequila kind of girl.

The Ghost of Ethel Merman and Johannes Radebe
Jazz / Everything’s Coming Up Roses from [REDACTED MUSICAL NAME]

Before we can even get into Caroline and Johannes’s routine we get a whole VT dedicated to Caroline’s history in the theatre – I half expected the curtain reveal to be Trevor McDonald shouting “CAROLINE QUENTIN, THIS IS YOUR LIFE!” but alas it’s just her daughter. It’s an emotional reunion after several weeks of separation and if you thought Caroline had Luvvied it up in episode 1 – oh boy do you have something coming because she has vowed to launch a one woman campaign to save THE THEATRE through the medium of dance – WHAT HAVE YOU DONE ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER?

Caroline’s weapon of choice in this campaign? A gloriously self-indulgent production of Everything’s Coming up Roses from [REDACTED MUSICAL NAME] complete with an introductory monologue. Genuinely wonder how much time it took to convince Caroline that no, she would not be allowed to sing the song as well.

Caroline is always a joy to watch, her technique is so clean and precise – you can really relax while watching her, there’s no anticicpation that she’s going to wind up on her arse even when’s doing high kicks that put most of the contestants who are 30 years her junior to shame

But this routine, by the very nature of doing a Jazz routine based on the musical [REDACTED MUSICAL NAME], was very dated and a little ho-hum. It was done very well, but it never really had a moment of transcendent brilliance that Johannes usually manages to inject into his routines.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 6
Shirley: 7
Motsi: 8
TOTAL: 21

TOTALLY HETEROSEXUAL FINN and Rey Palpatine-Skywalker-Terwilliger-Smith
Paso Doble? / The Star Wars Theme from Star Wars (duh.)

Nothing has ever come closer to depicting the female film student experience than having Luba watching Star Wars while Jason stands beside her pointing at every character and explaining their very unimportant backstory while clutching a £15 toy lightsabre and trying not to get upset when Luba asks questions such as “Is that his grandpa?” when Obi Wan Kenobi comes on screen. I was never the biggest Luba fan, but I’m rapidly warming up to her this series – who knew a pandemic could do someone such wonders?

Unfortunately Luba didn’t get to go Full Amidala and we get a sort of hodge-podge contempowaft Rey:

Nothing about any of the choices really read as paso – a dance that I think is as much about the aesthetic and music as it is about the actual dance content, and the Star Wars theme was never going to translate to a paso. It’s a theme song specifically written to create a sense of awe and wonder so watching someone moodily stomp around and glower to it was just an extreme dissonance. I did love that at the theme’s first crescendo Jason does maybe the worst knee slide I’ve ever seen, he basically just pile drives himself into the floor and goes about half a foot forward and almost definitely screams in pain

I will give him so credit, he did manage to do the John Seargent Drag without looking like a teddy bear having a huff, but he did look like a soldier trying to drag his injured comrade back to the trenches

The whole thing, as Shirley said, was a little lacking.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 3
Shirley: 4
Motsi: 5
TOTAL: 12

I do however take issue with Shirley scoring this a 4 when she scored Jacqui Smith blindly hobby horsing her way through a samba a 5.

Mr. Peaky Blinders and His Cottagecore Wife
Foxtrot / Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Ok, so I apparently have a very different understanding of what Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is and they’ve entirely based this routine around the one scene where Butch Cassidy rides in on a bicycle, so obviously for his VT JJ goes to the velodrome! Alas JJ only gets to ride a static bicycle in the studio – I guess after Jacqui wobbling away while 10 feet off the ground gave the health and safety inspectors the willies.

The whole routine is incredibly sweet, to the point of being saccharine, but for someone who has been kind of questionable in the last couple of episodes, it’s more forgivable. It’s a testament to paring down the choreography and catering to your partner’s needs (here’s looking at you Janette). I was however a little distracted by Shirley Ballas in the background looming over her podium trying to get the best view of JJ’s footwork

Apparently it was all very good though:

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 8
Shirley: 8
Motsi: 8
TOTAL: 24

Bnjmn Bttn and Novelty Oktoberfest Gnome
Cha-Cha-Cha / Don’t Go Breaking My Heart from Gnomeo and Juliet

Fun Fact: they had to provide ID for HRVY to watch Gnomeo and Juliet.

First of all for someone doing Janette Manrara’s choreography in a fake beard, wellingtons and a waistcoat even too tight even for the twinkiest twink

HRVY did remarkably well. There are a lot of spins to navigate and he clearly never quite got the hang of them and has a few very slight slips – mostly down to the fact HE IS DANCING IN WELLIES. And speaking costumes I want to know which junior costuming assistant had to shop around for the best Sexy Oktoberfest Barmaid outfit for Janette’s gnome costume

Craig is particularly pissy about the routine and its absolute lack of cha-cha-cha which I suppose is a big issue when you’re dancing a cha-cha-cha. And we’ve had this issue with Janette before – with her funky barbershop Viennese Waltz that managed to get a RINGER eliminated so good luck this week HRVY.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 6
Shirley: 7
Motsi: 8
TOTAL: 21

Effie White and Curtis Taylor, Jr.
Foxtrot / Love You I Do from Dreamgirls

I really did not see Ranvir getting the Annual Poppy Weekend War Porn Fieldtrip. Especially considering there’s someone on the cast who literally served in the Marines and got injured in an IED explosion but I suppse that would be a bit on the nose. So Ranvir gets to go up in a Spitfire and because it was for her ITV gig the BBC couldn’t get a camera in the plane and have to settle for shots of Giovanni just screaming at space like an old man who is angry at clouds

I once again have to stress the absolute miracle of getting through Movie Week and not being subjected to an awful wig, but it is a deal with the devil that gets you through Movie Week with a wig that actually looks very good. She really suits short hair, and the dress is stunning, the whole routine is very good. But I do worry about this show’s investment in a celebrity who is almost certainly primed for a Week 6 Shock Boot

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 9
Shirley: 9
Motsi: 9
TOTAL: 27

We must admire Motsi’s restraint at staving off somehow giving Ranvir’s foxtrot a 15 given that both Shirley and Craig scored it 9.

Ancient Greek Mulletman and His Muse
Charleston / Zero to Hero from Hercules

I have A LOT of questions:

  1. Why is Jamie playing Hercules when Jason IS RIGHT THERE?
  2. The Wig?
  3. Why is Karen not Megara?
  4. Why did they allow Jamie to wear a cape given that it almost certainly went wrong in dress rehearsals too?

Talk about the Trials of Hercules because my God was this bonkers – and of course it was – it’s a Redemption Charleston during Movie Week which is the perfect storm of insanity. NOTHING about Jamie read as Hercules – he is a cinnamon roll of a man, he looked like a bootleg action figure that would simply be called Greek Hero

because Disney has probably copyrighted Hercules somehow.

The routine is as Charleston-y as you can get with Jamie throwing panicked glances at Karen throughout just to make sure he’s keeping up, which remarkably he is. And of course there are unflattering lifts aplenty

All of this culminating in Jamie lifting and dropping Karen to the floor with all the grace and chivalry of a Hermes courier dropping off your package

It’s iconic.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 7
Shirley: 8
Motsi: 8
TOTAL: 23

He does then lift Karen again and I imagine sent the floormanager and on-set paramedics into cat-like states of alertness

Clara Amfo Living Your Early 2000s Music Video Fantasy and Aljaz Looking Unreasonably Hot
Tango / Lady Marmalade from Moulin Rouge

Am I taking crazy pills? Because this was amazing – it was bombastic, fun, engaging – everything this show wants from Movie Week and yet apparently everyone hates Clara for some reason. I thought her VT might elaborate on this – you know show her kicking a puppy, stealing candy from babies, pissing in the cornflakes? WHAT HAS CLARA DONE?

This was literally everything you could want from a Moulin Rouge tango – except maybe sluttier costumes because Clara’s was very The Least Erotic Thing in Ann Summers but she still looks incredible:

Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t think Clara is The Best Dancer – there’s a few moments of footwork that go a little awry and she’s kind of doing pattery footstepping that ducks do sometimes – but the attitude, theatricality and persona should really have drawn her up one or two marks higher – a 6 is a vendetta.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 7
Shirley: 6
Motsi: 7
TOTAL: 20

This Marquis de Sade-esque Simpsons Nightmare
Street / The Simpsons Theme from The Simpsons (duh.)

12 hours later and I’m still not entirely sure what ANY of this is? Prior to this my weirdest sexual experience was watching Cats in the cinema 5 times. But now I’ve witnessed a clothed Marge Simpson jumping out of bed, covering her CLOTHED body as though she is naked and then Homer Simpson playing her leg like a saxophone

And then they sit on the couch to use two giant inflatable doughnuts to mime driving a car while Dianne sits like every man on the tube

Mind the gap indeed.

What’s really not helping this routine is the fact that obviously The Simpsons theme tune is entirely instrumental and more than that – it’s mostly just a tuba so it’s this sort of low monotonous honk that adds no atmosphere to the proceeding disaster in motion and only serves to make it look even more flat than it maybe was. And look, I don’t want to say this isn’t dancing but lads I’m having a tough time calling this dancing as opposed to A Cacophony of Poses and Ideas of an Unhinged Mind.

Now do we think it have been better or worse if they had drawn on the big oversized eyes? I’m tempted to say better? But this is Strictly so it probably would have been worse.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 8
Shirley: 8
Motsi: 8
TOTAL: 24

Those 8s are really trying to convince us to keep Couple’s Choice. CLARA GOT A SIX AND THIS GOT EIGHTS?

Gunslingers Bill and Oti
Paso Doble / The Good, The Bad and The Ugly from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (duh.)

I’ll eventually get over them not finding a way to Have Bill play Zoe Exotic this week – I can picture it now, Oti would make a very good tigress. But I do think it’s worth mentioning that this week Strictly did 2 western themed dances, both from films with problematic depiction of Native Americans, and managed to avoid anything too iffy – well done, we’ve cleared the lowest of bars.

This could have fallen into many of the same pitfalls as The Star Wars Paso but I think Oti is slightly better at navigating an overwhelming theme, by which I mean completely ignoring it – with any other pro we probably would have had some sort of gun fight in the middle, what we get is pandering to Bill and letting him play the guitar while Oti vamps around him, which was a delight

Play to your partner’s strengths! But while still maintaining the aggression and tension of a paso, they still managed to evoke that western feel – it helps that the music is so atmospheric and iconic – I think without the costuming I still would have read this as Spaghetti Western inspired.

Judges’ Scores:
Craig: 8
Shirley: 9
Motsi: 9
TOTAL: 26

After their scoring Claudia has to open the voting lines and for this Bill and Oti help out and Bill obviously hadn’t realised how long this would go on for and ends up trapped in 30 seconds of doing various dad dance moves while looking like a panicked dog.

Your Final Leaderboard:

  1. The Dreamy Dreamgirl’s Foxrot
  2. The Good, The Bill and The Oti
  3. Frozen 2: Ballroom Blizzard
    • Butch Cassidy and the Foxtrot Kid
    • The Treehouse of Horror XXXII
  4. Jamie’s Wig is All I Can Think About
  5. Caroline Quentin’s One Woman Campaign to Save Theatre
    • Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes
  6. Lady Undermarked
  7. The Greasemonkey Hand Jive
  8. A Vote of No Confidence in Chancellor Valorum’s Leadership.

2 thoughts on “Strictly 2020 – Movie Week, Main Show: Xanaxed Batman

  1. allie

    that silver-haired pro is Joshua Keefe – he was a finalist in Australian DWTS dancing in a same-sex partnership! he’s been an assistant choreographer on Strictly since last year

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