Sunday, 14 July 2013

Hollyoaks – Dance Workout

This DVD starts by warning us that strobe effects are going to be used and so we had better take whatever appropriate precautions there are against strobing – deep breathing, tin foil hats, magically not being epileptic anymore – that sort of thing.

The other thing I saw recently with a strobe effects warning was Ben Wheatley’s “A Field in England” in which him off A League of Gentlemen takes magic mushrooms and trips his balls off in a field during the English Civil War. I am afraid that the Hollyoaks Dance Workout doesn’t fare that well in comparison.
This move doesn't feature in the workout, sadly.

The three Hollyoaks alumni here are Sarah Jayne Dunn, Jodi Albert and Ali Bastian who played Mandy Richardson, Debbie Dean and Becca Dean on the soap. They are joined by their trainer, Tristan Temple.
The gang's all here!

The DVD starts off with a quick interview and a fascinating behind the scenes look at their life on Hollyoaks in which we get the chance to see the sofa in the green room, learn that the girls like drinking tea in the morning and discover that nobody really appreciates just how hard soap stars work. It’s not all awards and parties, you know. Sometimes there is actual getting up in the morning involved.
I have the hardest job in the world.

Tristan asks the girls why they wanted to make a fitness video. “We just thought it would be something different” replies Sarah Jayne. Of course. Because soap stars releasing fitness DVDs is something that hardly ever happens. 

Ali tells us that they wanted the workout to be “fun and dance-based.” Which is a pity because it really isn’t either of those things. The producers have elected to take the ‘dance’ out of ‘dance workout’ and instead replace it with ‘grinding tedium’.

This is the least of its problems, frankly. The  Hollyoaks Dance Workout is the worst put together, cheapest-looking DVD that I’ve reviewed so far. And, you know, CLCW prides itself on its commitment to reviewing shoddily put-together bits of crap.

The whole thing is terrible. The picture quality and editing make it look like it was recorded on a mobile phone by a randy fifteen year old.
Not even slightly exaggerating.

The girls look unrehearsed and out of synch with one another. I’m not expecting Diversity-levels of co-ordination here but come on, at least try to maintain the illusion that you have the faintest idea what to do. Ali keeps having to look over her shoulder to check what the others are doing.

The music is both pointless and far too loud – Tristan is rendered almost inaudible during the first section. Even when his single word instructions aren’t being drowned out by the music, they aren’t much help. More than once I had to extrapolate what’s going on by focusing on Jodi’s midriff.

People who want to focus on Jodi’s midriff are without doubt the target audience for this DVD.

I imagine their ideal customer is someone who has already bought the Hollyoaks special episodes DVDs, books, calendars and limited edition Eau de Toilette and feels the need for just that bit more Hollyoaks in his life. Maybe he has set up a little shrine to Hollyoaks in the spare room – nothing fancy just a wall of photos and some candles. Somewhere to relax while he watches this dance workout on a continuous loop. The DVD looks like it has been shot in a tiny whitewashed basement somewhere which helps our viewer visualize exactly how the girls will look once he’s successfully managed to chloroform them and smuggle them into his specially-prepared suburban dungeon.
The typical viewer of this DVD.

There are three main sections to this DVD: the inspiringly named “Warm Up”, “Main Workout” and “Cool Down” sections. There is also a baffling extra section after the main workout where the girl don teeny tiny mini-skirts, stand in three inches of water and strut their funky stuff for 3 minutes. 

It has the flavour of one of those adverts that you get late at night for sex phone lines. The producers really do look after for their target audience. Because who doesn’t want to see girls who look like they’re being held against their will in the back room of a lap-dancing club after its suffered extensive flooding?
We checked with our focus group. That is exactly what they want to see.

Best Bit
In fairness to the girls, they do all seem perfectly lovely. (Apart from the flogging shoddy merchandise thing, obviously.) Sarah Jayne was in The Dark Knight, you know. And Jodi used to be in the Irish Girl group “Wonderland”. She’s married to one of the Westlifes.

Worst Bit
Look, I don’t want to get all schoolteachery here but I wish someone would take the makers of celeb workouts to one side and tell them that spelling does matter.

First there was Natalie Cassidy’s Eastenders character being referred to as “Sonja” rather than Sonia on the DVD box. A couple of weeks ago the DVD credits and enclosed booklet for Ministry of Sound couldn’t agree on whether one of the dancers was called ‘Stephen’ or ‘Steven’.

This week it’s Jodi Albert’s name which is clearly far too complicated for anyone to get right.
It’s Jodi not Jodie you imbeciles.

Seriously, if someone doesn’t sort this shit out I am going to start writing stiff letters of complaint to the newspapers. Probably in green ink and each one beginning “Why oh why oh why”.

Oh god, please help me.

Difficulty Level
We’re told this is a Dance workout – it’s right there in the name for goodness sake, but it really, really isn’t . It is a sequence of stretches interspersed with jogging on the spot. You know me, I’m no fan of dance workouts but I don’t think that pretending that you’re going to do a dance workout and then delivering something else is really the answer.

I was expecting a difficult dance workout. Instead I got a not-difficult not-dance workout. This should have made me happy but instead I feel cheated and let down. Stop playing with my emotions, Hollyoaks.

Would I do this workout again?
Definitely not. In fact, I’ll leave the final word to the guy who wrote the workouts only 5 star review on amazon.
Stay classy, James.

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