"America’s Got Talent" Review
By Shawn McKenzie 07/10/2006
You gotta love Simon Cowell. Whether he is hosting a show, like FOX’s “American Idol,” or producing a show, like ABC’s “American Inventor,” his shows seem to remain constantly entertaining. His latest show, “America’s Got Talent,” proves that he knows what “America” wants to see.
The show (at least the audition episodes) is a combination of “Idol” and Chuck Barris’s “Gong Show.” Any person of any age (“Idol” restricts its contestants to the ages of 16-28) can audition any talent they have (so…not just singing…though there is plenty of that as well.) The auditions were held in Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and Atlanta. Their “talents” can range anywhere from ventriloquism to juggling to clog dancing. Host Regis Philbin calls out random contestants out of the studio audience to come up and do their audition (sort of like “The Price is Right,” only not as frantic in their journey up to the stage; also, it helps if they are oddly dressed, a la “Let’s Make a Deal.”) David Hasselhoff, Piers Morgan, and Brandy Norwood are judges, and the contestants do their act in front of them. Neither Regis nor the judges know ahead of time what their act is going to be (but they can sort of guess beforehand from the props or equipment the contestants bring with them.) The three judges have three buzzers in front of them in which they can press when they don’t like the act (a large “X” lights up when a judge presses his or her button; when the first two judges press their button, it dings; when the third judge presses it, it makes a “Family Feud”-like buzzing noise.) If all of the three judges have buzzed in, then the audition is over…but sometimes they can be convinced to stay. If the act passes, they go on to the semi-final round. In the next four episodes (the first of which airs this Wednesday), the contestants that advanced from the audition rounds will get another chance to impress the judges and the home audience. The judges will pick one winner and the home audience will pick another winner (which is revealed on a live results show the following night.) In the finale, America gets to pick the ultimate winner, and that act wins $1,000,000.
Simon not only knows what America wants, but he also has the ability of picking judges who are amusing to watch. Piers is the requisite snarky British judge, and he is a little too trigger-happy with the buzzer. You would think that Brandy would be the Paula Abdul, but she can actually dish out some criticism. Hasselhoff appears to be the Paula this time, because he will allow some truly awful acts go on for a while before he buzzes them (causing the other judges to have to reach over and push his buzzer for him.)
In the first episode (the Los Angeles auditions), which was a two-hour episode, we got our first chance to see the truly weird do their acts. Bobby Badfingers, a “professional finger snappist,” was the first one to go on to the semi-finals. Some of the memorable contestants who advanced to the next round were: an 8-year-old comedian; a ventriloquist with puppets who reenacted a Godzilla movie; a rapping Granny; and a 65-year-old male stripper (which was truly disturbing.) Some of the memorable contestants who didn’t advance were: a confusing act using a donkey; a “nose flute” player; a impersonator who did the worst impersonations I’ve ever seen; and a man breakdancing in a cow suit that shot milk at the judges.
In the second episode (the New York auditions), the show was only an hour, but it also had its share of wackiness. A couple of the memorable contestants who advanced to the next round were: Bianca Ryan, an 11-year-old singer (Brandy called Bianca her favorite contestant so far); and Leonid the Magnificent from Russia, who wore angel’s wings and did a sword-balancing act (he was rejected at first, but he pleaded his case, and they passed him through.) A couple of the memorable contestants who didn’t advance were: a man who sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” badly; and a man who balanced a motorbike and then a stove on his lower jaw.
In the third episode (the Chicago auditions; I’m not sure what happened to the Atlanta auditions), it was another one hour show with unusual acts. Some of the memorable contestants who advanced to the next round were: two comedians/jugglers who juggled lit torches while on the “Rola Bola of Death;” a contortionist who shot a bow and arrow with her feet; a yodeling girl; and a man and woman who changed outfits very quickly several times. Some of the memorable contestants who didn’t advance were: a bird caller who called to birds that weren’t there; a man who put himself inside a giant balloon; and a man who did yoga that tried to make people laugh.
I didn’t like the fact that they passed through some acts, but we didn’t get to see them, since they didn’t have time to show them. Other than that, I was a little unimpressed by Regis. I like the man, but there wasn’t enough of him. He should have been one of the judges! On ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” he commanded the stage, and on his daily talk show with Kelly Ripa, he does the same. It seems like this hosting gig is just to pick up a couple of extra bucks.
Despite those few minor criticisms, I have thoroughly enjoyed “America’s Got Talent.” Sure, it’s another Simon-produced freak show…but I seem to like watching the freaks before hunkering down and watching actual talent. If you hear that Simon is producing a show, I can guarantee you that other critics will hate it and TV audiences will love it (as long as it has the word “America” in the title; Simon’s first non-“Idol” project, CBS’s “Cupid,” was a bomb, even though I loved it myself.) I hope that next season they will bring the search for talent to Denver, so I might be able to display my talent (I’ll have to figure out what that talent is though…)
DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW!
Try to catch this show every week...
If a better show is on, tape this one...
If nothing else is on, maybe this will be good...
If this show is on, change the channel immediately!