Henning Fog
July 01, 2009 AT 02:59 PM EDT

Video Recaps | Full Episodes | Webisodes

Can anyone finish that headline for me? We’ve entered week 2 of the AGT audition rounds, and already each episode feels more predictable than New York weather (it’s going to RAIN) or your mom’s “you never call!” complaint. Not from a talent perspective — tonight’s crop was a marked improvement on last week’s – but definitely in show structure, which feels all too rigid. You know the timetable, guys:

0:00-2:00 — Meet the judges. Haven’t we already met the judges? You may have forgotten who the judges are. They’re Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne, and DAAAVVVIIDD HASSSEELLLHHOOOOFFFFF. He’s Germany’s best-selling pop artist!

3:00-10:00 —
Opening act that astonishes for the way it subverts expectations. In tonight’s case, Carol Lugo, a sweet 62-year-old supermarket cashier whose talent is…shaking rhythmically around the stage? Moonwalking a little bit? (RIP Michael — this one truly dies with you). The judges go nuts. Piers notes that “we’re looking for someone to drag us out of this recession.” Because that’s something she can do. The Hoff, holding back tears, calls her performance “amazing.” Are we watching the same show?

(Food for thought: I find the judging to be the most fascinating part of AGT, the way they seem to just lose it over mildly entertaining acts and then barely acknowledge some of the show’s more polished, legitimately talented performers. What’s that all about?)

13:00-17:00 — Montage of “weird” performances, featuring everything from yo-yo kings to fierce dancing drag queens (all of whom are given that coveted Vegas green light). Nick Cannon pulls off his first real laugh of the show when he tells glass-eating “Coney Island Chris” to change his name to “Rikers Island Chris.” The guy really should go to jail.

17:00-22:00 — “This is my dream” segment, where someone we all really like comes “one step closer” to realizing that dream. I don’t mean that to sound cynical; tonight’s magician, Jay Mattioli, deserves his props. This is the one part of AGT that feels truly authentic — hard-working, under-the-radar professional acts who talk about their showbiz dreams with undeniable passion. THIS IS WHAT THE SHOW [SHOULD BE] ALL ABOUT!

26:00-31:00 — The token no-talent loser we can all make fun of. This juvenile court judge thinks he can sing! Doesn’t he suck, America?! He totally sucks! (Says Piers, “What was a judge doing up there? He’s supposed to be a serious man.” Wait, what?)

31:00-37:00 — A sweet, talented kid to bring us back to the light. Fourteen-year-old Thia Megia wows all three judges with her powerful voice and restrained performance.

41:00-44:00 — Another weirdo montage, only this time none are asked to come back. Notable tonight was a 5’3″ librarian whose act comes dangerously close to haunting my dreams.

44:00-50:00 — Another upswing. Five sisters/moms walk out to the Spice Girls’ “Momma”…and tap-dance into our hearts. Minus some weird screaming from one of the sisters (probably the middle one), the “Fab Five” is synchronized and polished. You’re going to Vegas, ladies!

53:00-60:00 — The big finish. Kevin Skinner, a 35-year-old singer/songwriter (and former CHICKEN CATCHER) from Kentucky is trotted out as a “country bumpkin-type,” then, to no viewer’s surprise, delivers a powerful and moving performance (video embedded above). Best of the night. Says The Hoff, “You are what this show is all about!” DRINK.

How about you, PopWatchers? Do the show’s improved performances outweigh the predictability of its format? Any favorites yet?

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