Our Pre-Final Strictly Round-Up!!!

The Winner?

Marieke: It should be Danny. He and Oti have been outstanding. No wait, Oti made him outstanding! They compliment each other. Yes he had training, but because of the daring, new choreography this duo reaches places where no couple has reached before. However, I fear it will be a Clifton win, because that is what the producers and judges seem to be aiming for. With his fourth final, Kevin has a huge chance, but it should be Danny.

Danielle: I think we’re in agreement here. Danny should be this year’s holder of the Glitterball trophy as the most accomplished dancer. Oti deserves the win as well. Her choreography has been my Strictly highlight this year.

Dance of the Series

Marieke: OP OP OP OPPA GANGNAM STYLE.
Whoever wins, this dance will never be forgotten. EVER. It is the dance I watched back the most, because it made me howl with laughter as tears streamed down my cheeks. The dance arrived in the week where the World  was turned to shit by a certain election, but Ed Balls showed that politicians can be fun. Katya shows she is an outstanding choreographer, with nods to the famous video throughout the dance. Not only that, she is extremely brave in relation to having Ed do those lifts, especially after it almost went wrong before. Sure, it wasn’t a salsa, but who cares? It’s Gangnam Style!

ed-balls-gangnam
Katya Jones and Ed Balls giving us their best Gangnam salsa.

Danielle: Perhaps it’s because I’m still a little salty that Claudia and AJ left before the finale, but I genuinely thought their quickstep in the semi-final was incredible. Finally we got to see the pocket-sized gymnast in her element and, boy, was it worth the wait! In other years that dance would have almost certainly have seen them into the final three with room to spare.

The New Professional Dancers

Marieke: Wow, did they do well or what? As said in the best dance section, Katya shows she is an outstanding choreographer with a great sense of humour. She didn’t simply dance and prance around Ed, but made him work for his money and votes. This was a bit of a first, in my opinion. I am very curious about what she can do with a very good celeb. Oksana seemed to gel incredibly well with Judge Rinder and only just missed out on the semi-finals with him. A modest and calmer person has been added to the mix. AJ actually grew the most. From just a vain boy he managed to become a man learning from his mistakes and giving Claudia her much needed confidence. He should’ve brought her all the way to the final, but not getting there was not his fault, looking at their final quickstep.

The other two new pros were only in the background, but Chloe will step into the limelight during the Christmas Special. Neil showed he is capable presenter, average kozak on It Takes Two and the the worst Pro Challenge candidate EVER. Wonder if these two will step up to the big game next year! Oh and not new but being able to properly show off her dance and choreo abilities, I want to mention last year’s new dancer and Strictly star of the year, Oti!

new-professional-dancers-2016
Gorka, Oksana, Chloe, AJ, Neil and Katja all fitted in perfectly as this year’s new professional dancers.

Danielle: There’s little else for me to add here other than to mention that the new dancers really shined in the professional dances as well, which have almost always been simply stunning so far. Neil especially. Hopefully he will be partnered up next year. It’s also a shame that we didn’t get to see more of Gorka as a result of Tameka’s untimely exit from the competition.

A Lookback at our Strictly Predictions

First to leave
Marieke: Ed Balls. (Lesley Joseph)

Danielle: Lesley Joseph.

In the weirdest exit so far, Melvin went on votes because an injury made it impossible for Anastacia to dance again. However he gets a rematch in the Christmas special. Lesley proved both of us terribly wrong and she should’ve at least made it to the Halloween show. She is in great shape for her age and she even managed to get out new kind of excitement and energy out of Anton, go figure!

Finale
Marieke: Ed Balls. (Clifton finale, hopefully Claudia and AJ.)

Danielle: Ore, Louise and Claudia.

It’s clear the producers did want an all Clifton finale, and it was perhaps Will’s voluntary departure that didn’t give them a clean sweep. Brother and sister are still in, accompanied by Danny. Sadly Claudia and AJ didn’t make it. They really should have.

Dark Horse

judge-rinder
Judge Rinder DID prove to be a dark horse, lasting well into the competition.

Marieke: Ed Balls. (Judge Rinder and Katya, Tameka and Gorka.)

Danielle: Anastacia.

The Judge did come pretty far, but it was clear his time was up. Also the judges didn’t hide wanting to get rid of him. I do feel Robert has been one of those celebs who received extra harsh treatment this year. He was definitely undermarked in the first show. Tameka and Gorka… We’re still not over them. That surprise finale didn’t really happen though, did it? Anastacia was definitely not a dark horse.

Performance/Nerves Issues
Marieke: Ed Balls. (Louise and Greg.)

Danielle: Will Young, Ed Balls and Judge Rinder.

Nathalie worked wonders and Greg surprised with his showmanship right out of the gate. Louise did have to be coaxed out of her shell and it was the sublime Argentine Tango that did that for her. It was also the first, and one of few times, they felt like a ‘connected’ couple. As it turns out the Strictly experience just wasn’t for Will after all.

Biggest Surprise
Marieke: Ed Balls. (Pasha and Naga.)

Danielle: The new dancers settling in so quickly.

ed-balls
Was Ed Balls the best worst celebrity they’ve had on Strictly?

Who knew Naga wouldn’t get over her nerves and Pasha wouldn’t be able to help her out with it? Definitely the most uncomfortable pair to watch this year. The real surprise though? The joke answer: Ed Balls. Not the best of this field, but certainly not the worst dancer ever. In fact, he could be the best of the worst dancers that have been on the show. He has rhythm, works hard, doesn’t just stand there, does hard lifts and gave us The Mask, a creepy, sexy scientist and Gangnam Style. We like those kind of surprises!

Not a Surprise at All
Marieke: Ed Balls. (Lesley and Anton, Claudia and AJ.)

Danielle: Claudia being paired with AJ.

Actually, as stated before, Lesley WAS a surprise and a true inspiration at 70! She could easily have hung around longer. It’s still hard to imagine Claudia being paired with anybody else other than AJ. Those gapping problems would have been even more pronounced with anybody else remotely taller.

First to Fly
Marieke: Ed Balls. (Lesley Joseph.)

Danielle: Ed Balls.

Nope, it was ‘Zorro Mac’!

First to Lose their Shirt
Marieke: Ed Balls (Danny Mac. No question.)

Danielle: Gorka or Pasha.

Did Danny though? It could’ve been the Judge!

First SE-VEN!
Marieke: Ed Balls. (Naga and Pasha.)

Danielle: Louise and Kevin.

It was Laura and Giovanni! Naga and Pasha were up second and didn’t even manage to get that coveted SE-VEN.

First Ten

ore-karen-first-ten
Ore and Karen received the first ten of the series. 

Marieke: Ed Balls. (Ore and Joanne.)

Danielle: Daisy and Aljaz.

One of us found the teachers’ pets before the show even hit first gear!

First Talkback to Craig
Marieke: Ed Balls. (Judge Rinder.)

Danielle: Judge Rinder.

We were both right. He didn’t do it as often as expected, however.

Fave Pairing
Marieke: Ed Balls. (Tameka and Gorka, Danny and Oti.)

Danielle: Tameka and Gorka, Lesley and Anton.

Well, Tameka and Gorka sadly didn’t last long, but they remained our faves! Danny and Oti shined as well, as did Lesley and Anton. On the other hand, it seems like Brendan was all outta love with Anastacia… The joke answer came true again. Ed and Katya were fabulous together!

Shock Exit
Marieke: Ed Balls. (Anastacia and Brendan.)

Danielle: Will.

Tameka and Gorka going out second was hard to bear; we both loved them!! The other shock exit was Will’s sudden departure. It’s hard to imagine him appearing in the finale. Claudia and AJ should get a mention too, even though it was expected.

So, 2016…
judges-tens
The judges’ scoring has been controversial to say the least in Series 14.

It was a year with an incredibly strong field, but there was also a lot of controversy. Black celebs being the first two to leave, and then Will’s sudden departure marred things somewhat. There was also Laura’s injury and bye, and Ed Balls drew criticism. We have to touch upon what happened in the semi-final as well. It’s been clear almost throughout the series who the judges would like to see progress and who they wanted to leave. It was just too obvious. There was a lot of undermarking as well as overmarking, and some couples received harsh criticism whilst mistakes from other couples were overlooked. The judges were blatantly scoring Louise and Ore high so they would be top of the leaderboard. The audience isn’t stupid. Seasoned viewers can spot mistakes even if they have no dance experience of their own. Ore’s Argentine tango was average at the very least, and Claudia should have unquestionably received four tens for that quickstep. Louise was the weakest of the night, but again that was not reflected in the marks. Even some of the professionals, past and present, have pointed this out.

None of these behind-the-scenes machinations are doing the show any favours, and sadly a very exciting year with a very high standard of dancing gets an incredibly predictable finale. This series deserved more. Maybe the voting will have to be made transparent in the future? How that might work is a mystery, nevertheless, it is getting harder and harder to deny that the show is deliberately pushing certain dancers to reach the finals. It’s not difficult to envisage people having been put off by last Saturday’s events. We will have to see what happens next year when good ol’ Len Goodman won’t be returning as head judge. Let the specualtion begin (Anton..?). We will watch the final, but with the unsettling feeling that the outcome might be what the show’s producers have wanted from the start. Oh well! We will always have Gangnam Style!

What do you think of this series so far? Who do you think will lift the Glitterball trophy? Let us know in the comments…

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