Take a bow Jessica Rowe.
You’re having so much fun in The Real Dirty Dancing you very nearly made this puzzled critic want to join in.
As strange as it seems I had never seen Dirty Dancing, so I forced myself to watch the original before partaking of Seven’s new
reality observational entertainment series. I finally got the context of putting Baby in the corner, carrying watermelons and athletic lifts in the lake. And yes Swayze was so terribly sexy…
Because I don’t really understand the premise of The Real Dirty Dancing (sorry, you’re recreating scenes because WHY…?) I’m just going to put this down to being aspirational for its very large fan base, most of whom I’m generalising are probably women of a certain age…
So we get 4 guys (Jamie Durie, Hugh Sheridan, Firass Dirani and Jude Bolton) and 4 gals (Jessica Rowe, Anne Edmonds, Stephanie Rice and Anna Heinrich) arriving at Kellerman’s Lodge, site of the 1987 film, to emulate key scenes before a live performance at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney. That Enmore Theatre is really getting some Seven workout lately.
Todd McKenney and Kym Johnson-Herjavec lead our nervous troupe through dance challenges and even acting scenes to determine who will be cast as Johnny and Baby. Sorry, why can’t they all do it? I’m confused.
The first episode (dear God there are 4?) thankfully includes original footage to remind numbskulls like me what actually took place, along with 80s choons by Tears for Fears, Katrina & the Waves, Toto, Pat Benatar, Starship & Chicago. Original songs are left for pivotal highlights.
One bizarre scene is to recreate Johnny’s arrival in the film, so poor Durie, Sheridan, Dirani & Bolton are made to put on their best macho act for no real reason. Gogglebox, you will dig this. They also get their best hip gyrations on with some hired young ladies. Jude Bolton is embarrassed being so intimate, Firass Dirani is at risk of falling big time for his new Cuban lady and Hugh Sheridan is told, “You’re the grinder of the group.” He replies, “That could be a bit wrong.” You think…?
Meanwhile the ladies must take to the famous log scene, balancing on a fallen log with 4 sexy Swayze-likes. It’s all a bit of awkward fun and Anne Edmonds hates wearing white. Sorry
Expect lots of master interviews with the words “comfort zone” sprinkled throughout as McKenney, in director / choreographer mode, makes demands and struggles to find jeopardy for each commercial break cliffhanger.
But you know what? While I was expecting a stinker with no foreseeable purpose (“We’re here to honour Patrick Swayze who died of cancer”), this is actually lightweight fun. Sure it’s too long at 90 minutes and there’s no way I’ll be sitting through 4 episodes of it, but for fans who love the movie, seeing locations -which still look identical- is escapist nostalgia.
Jessica Rowe, who I suspect embodies the audience the most, throws herself into this so much that she could invoice for a hosting fee. Anne Edmonds is daggy fun, and Firass can we talk about the hair?
Check you brain at the door, break out a glass of red and you may just have the time of your life.
The Real Dirty Dancing airs 7:30pm Monday & Tuesday on Seven.