Let's just come right out and address the one thing we're all thinking after last night's second quarterfinal results show: they picked the disc-catching dog over the Stevie Wonder singer? "They" being the judges -- more specifically David and Sharon -- who shockingly voted pet tricks act Tony Hoard & Rory into the semis. Did that really happen? Piers, with his usual bluster, claimed it would be the "biggest travesty in the history of America’s Got Talent” if competitor Charles DeWayne didn’t advance to the next round. He waited for Sharon to make the right decision…then could only shake his head in befuddlement when she voted the other way. Against the combined strength of Knight Rider and the founder of OzzFest, it was very nearly his only option.
Of course, Tony & Rory’s upset was the only surprising moment in a night filled with more of the same “duh” decisions that overran last week’s results episode. In the first match-up, tap dancing sisters the Fab Five beat out wild-card act Beale Street Flippers. Weren’t we expecting this? Shortly thereafter, Voices of Glory eliminated fellow kid contestant Eleisha Miller and dancing cashier Carol Loo. The sibling singers remain an endearing and impossibly likable trio that will likely make it to the finals on the strength of voter popularity. Here’s hoping Voices’ next performance dials in the harmonies a little stronger.
Paradizo Dance emerged victorious over SQ Entertainment and Alizma, the latter of which never really stood a chance. I thought it was a shame for SQ to be booted off after a promising (if not altogether tight) performance the night before; they looked poised for a breakout routine in the next round. Still, Paradizo Dance was always going to win in that match-up. Finally, the Texas Tenors took down mimic Pete Peterkin. Whether influenced by the judges' confusion about his act or simply a disconnect with the voting audience, Peterkin's dismissal seemed all but assured. Goodnight, Mr. President.
So we add to our Top 20 Tony Hoard & Rory, Fab Five, Voices of Glory, Paradizo Dance, and Texas Tenors. Congratulations to those acts pushing on, but still -- can't we surround them with a better show? What's so consistently frustrating about America's Got Talent is knowing that given a few tweaks, it could actually be a compelling program on par with American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance. Three suggestions immediately spring to mind:
1) Cut the "professional" special guests. Maybe Penn & Teller's lengthy Vegas resume gives their appearance last night a certain validity, but the other group to perform -- LMFAO? What?!? I'm hardly a sensitive person (you've been reading these recaps, right?), but a song with the lyrics "Naked Twister in my hotel," "I'm in L.A., trick," and "drink all day!" doesn''t exactly scream family-friendly. It wasn't any GOOD, anyway, which almost rubs salt in the wound of more talented AGT contestants who have just been (or will soon be) given the boot. Tacky. What's wrong with a 30 minute-long results show?
2) If producers are committed to filling an hour programming block, why not flesh out the time spent backstage with contestants and allow viewers to get to know their favorite acts a little better? So much of American Idol's success and popularity comes from the months-long journey we take with its singers, from sharing in the nervousness of a newbie learning the ropes to cheering for a confident, well-rehearsed performance at season's end. Along the way, we're treated to backstage interviews, rehearsal footage, and a look at their lives outside the competition. We feel like we know them! So why not close the Orville Redenbacher Lounge, producers, and increase your handheld camera budget. We want that human interest stuff.
3) Limit the Hoff to a maximum two “Hoffisms” each night. Saying something is “Hofftastic” doesn’t give us a clear idea what you’re talking about, David, especially when it’s used to describe several completely different acts. Likewise “weird, wacky, and wonderful” and – I mean, how could we not? – “you are what this show is all about!” We really need to reassess that last one.
Anyway, all easily implemented over the next month! Simply being America’s favorite summer show isn’t enough, AGT; it’s time to demand the same televisual perfection you (sometimes) demand of your performers. We good?
What do you guys think? Are you happy with the diversity of this first half of the Top 20, or is an MIA favorite performer bumming you out? What does your ideal America’s Got Talent format look and feel like? Until next week…